Posts Tagged ‘alkalize’

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It s’easy. (HIJIKI AVOCADO SALAD)

July 20, 2009

hijiki_salad
We have lots of enthusiasm for seaweed when wolfing down sushi rolls or slurping miso soup but most people don’t give it much thought outside of a Japanese food context. Too bad! Since it is such an easy product to incorporate into a meal, packed with major health benefits, and there are both overt and covert ways of working with it for those who lack said enthusiasm. Sea vegetables are known to stabilize blood sugar, alkalize the blood and help your body to eliminate heavy metals: led, mercury and aluminum which are toxins from the environment, otherwise tough to get rid of. They also cleanse the lymphatic system which is responsible for the health of all the other systems. Uh-oh, I feel a ‘superfood’ rant coming on… luckily superfoods are one of my favorite things to rant about, especially when this easy aaaaand good for you to eat. Need I say delicious too?

Harvested in many parts of the world, so long as the waters are clean, sea vegetables are an age-old food not only in Asian traditions but in most sea-accessible parts of the world like Scandinavia, the UK, coasts of Australia, New Zealand and South America. In the US, seaweed is hand gathered from the cold, dark waters off the northern east and west coasts. Canada too. Unless you are at one of these sources, you will be very likely to purchase edible seaweed in dried form. It is widely available in health food stores, Asian markets and those really expensive bodegas-turned-gourmet shops in certain parts of Brooklyn… however convenient. Since it is dried, the shelf life is indefinite, which is great because you can keep a package of seaweed as a pantry item and use it when you wish. Varieties such as wakame, kombu, hijiki and arame need only to be rinsed and rehydrated in hot water and they grow like sea monkeys, up to three times the original volume (vegetarian sea monkeys). Others are eaten without rehydration and remain sort of crunchy like nori and dulse.

To subtly incorporate seaweed in a meal, start by adding a two inch piece of kombu to a pot of cooking water for beans, pasta, rice or grains. The nutrients in the seaweed which include vitamins A, B, C, E, and minerals like potassium, protein, fiber and calcium will fortify the water and the good water will be absorbed by the food in the pot. At the end, you can chop and eat the kombu or simply consider your duty done and remove it from the pot and toss it. Carrageen and agar are both sea products that are used as gelatin would be in helping both sweet and savory dishes to thicken and set. Great for panna cotta, puddings, glazes and the like, no one the wiser.

There are better tasting and textured seaweeds for eating straight, try a small handful of wakame or arame in a soup. Thinly sliced nori makes a lovely garnish on salads or soups as well. If you want a large helping, follow the recipe below for a briny hijiki salad coupled with smooth, silky avocado. The key is to marinate overnight in a great vinaigrette with a few crunchy carrots to round it out and sweeten the deal.

HIJIKI AVOCADO SALAD

1/2 cup dried hijiki seaweed
boiling water

1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

2 carrots, medium dice
2 avocados

  • Place hijiki in a bowl and pour boiling water over it to generously cover. Let stand 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly.
  • Meanwhile, place dressing ingredients: shallot, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper in a lidded jar or container and shake until well combined. Taste for seasoning, adjust.
  • Add chopped carrots to drained seaweed and pour on the vinaigrette. Place in the fridge covered for at least one hour, preferably overnight.
  • When ready to eat, half the avocados (remove seed) and slice the flesh lengthwise into about 5 strips inside the avocado skin, without piercing the skin. Using a spoon, lift out the strips in one scoop as intact as possible and lay them on a plate (4 servings).
  • Mound a heaping spoonful of marinated hijiki salad on top of each sliced avocado half. Pour on a little extra dressing if desired.

I almost forgot the rant!! Seaweed also has anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-boredom (i added that last one) properties. All that info is before even consulting wikipedia, which claims seaweed used in medicine fights tuberculosis, influenza, arthritis and even tumors. I hear it also helps dissolve cysts. It has no fat or calories, and combats sluggishness as it performs a house-cleaning on your insides. The only people who should steer clear of the sea crop are those who have a hyper-thyroid condition because the concentrated iodine content might cause trouble. For the rest of us, it means anti-goiter.

For the ultimate ease, try a seaweed shake… not the kind you drink with a straw, the kind you shake over things. Pictured here is a dulse and garlic shake which adds a great burst of flavor on top of soups, salads, roasted vegetables, stirfrys, popcorn, rice or just about anywhere you need a little seasoning. Other types may also contain sesame seeds, hot pepper flakes, salt, pepper. You can make your own combo with different ground seaweeds and the flavorings of your choice. Store in an airtight jar and shake! Use frequently. Enjoy.

hijiki_2seaweeds

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The dandelion fix. (GREEN SAUTE)

June 19, 2009

dandelion_greens
I am no botanist, but I have recently discovered dandelions to be fascinating creatures. We use the greens plenty in the kitchen for soups, salads or sautes, especially during spring and summer months, but lately I have been using them and craving them more than usual. In nature, they spread like weeds mostly because they are weeds, but also because of their famous, white fluffy head. Each delicate strand contains its own self-produced seed. By wishes or by wind, the fluff parachutes the seeds to the next location, no waiting around for birds or bees, and in an instant… lawns across America are toast.

Dandelion greens on your plate are recognizable by the jagged leaf edge and the tiny bitter burst they give your food. Until now I figured they were as beneficial as any dark, leafy green, but while snooping for info about wild, edible plants, I learned that culinary and medicinal uses for dandelions are thousands of years old and the health-supportive properties are better than great. I think it may be some sort of superfood.

After a typical winter of more eating and less exercise, spring supplies us with lots of fresh produce to restore and revive our bodies. Dandelion, being among the first to arrive, have powerful cleansing properties. An alkalizing food, dandelions help balance out the blood’s PH which is especially important after acidity accumulated during sleepy winter (or all of these rainy days!), or just by eating a regular old American-diet. Let’s face it, we are an acidic bunch. Ideally our blood should be slightly more alkaline than acid, so foods that help this to happen are really important. Miraculous dandelion is known to strengthen organs such as heart, kidney liver, skin and it is high in Vitamins A, C, D and B-complexes, as well as fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. You’ll also find an arsenal of trace minerals in there, some unique to the dandelion alone. A good botanist could name them for you, I am just a cook.

dandelion_saute

The leaves, the roots and bright, yellow flowers are all valuable parts of the plant. The roots and flowers are often dried (available at health food stores) and used in teas and tinctures.The greens can be purchased fresh at your local market or harvested from a safe source, (not a treated lawn, please!!~ but if your lawn is pesticide-free, go for it). Be sure best to pick them when they are young, before the plant flowers, as older greens are really bitter. Sneaking dandelions into juice or making a honey-laden tea can fool picky eaters into being healthy too. For simplicity’s sake, I like to mix some young, locally grown dandelions in with my favorite salad mix. This is a good way to introduce a new flavor; by mixing it with something familiar to see what it adds. In the saute recipe below, fennel and onions lend their sweetness and a few handfuls of arugula (you can substitute spinach, chard, mustard greens, etc.) help round out the dish. Now go, get alkalized and maybe even alkalize someone you love.

GREEN SAUTE
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 small bulb fennel
1 pound dandelion greens, rinsed
1 tablespoon vinegar
a few handfuls of something else green… arugula

salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and fennel with a pinch of salt and saute until softened and translucent. Put the greens in the skillet, it may seem like alot but they will quickly wilt from the heat and with the help of any water clinging to the leaves (add a splash of water if it seems too dry). Occasionally turn the greens with tongs so they cook evenly, about 7 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, allow to evaporate about one minute and toss the rest of the greens in, they should only take a minute or two to cook and become incorporated with the dandelions. Makes for a good, healthy side dish. Great with eggs too.

dandelion_mess
After.
dandelion_plate
Before.