Sesame Extends Its Sweet Reach Beyond the Middle East

Sesame Extends Its Sweet Reach Beyond the Middle East

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Pistachio halvah from Seed & Mill in Chelsea Market. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

When the chef Danielle Oron was growing up in the New Jersey suburbs, she knew that her Israeli family’s habits of dousing vanilla ice cream with tahini and spreading halvah on toast would be considered odd. Sesame was for cold Chinese noodles, bagels and not much else.

“My American friends wouldn’t have understood that tahini is an addiction for Israelis; that we eat it out of the jar,” she said. “Sesame cookies, chocolate halvah, tahini with silan,” a date honey — “those are the treats everyone grows up with.”

Throughout the Middle East, sesame sweets are the taste of childhood. For Philippe Massoud, the Lebanese-American chef at Ilili in New York, it came in a bowl of carob molasses, with a float of tahini to stir together and eat with bread.

“Tahini and carob molasses is the peanut butter and jelly of the Middle East,” said Mr. Massoud, who lived in Lebanon until the age of 15; his family has been in the business of sweets there for more than 100 years. “A sandwich of butter, halvah and chocolate shavings is the best after-school snack of all time.”

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Rose-water halvah from Seed & Mill, with tahini dip. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

Tahini, or pure sesame paste, and halvah, a soft sesame candy, are among the most ancient and beloved foods of that region. But outside traditional Middle Eastern enclaves like Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Dearborn, Mich., sesame has never been a favorite flavor in American desserts.

For decades, sesame bars and brittle were available only in health-food stores, a tip-off that any possible deliciousness would be trumped by nutrition. For American Jews, halvah has long been familiar but often feared as a strange beige loaf passing itself off as dessert and stored a little too close to the herring at venerable appetizing stores like Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side.

But no more. The updated Russ & Daughters Cafe that opened in 2014 serves a sundae of halvah ice cream and sesame crumble, drizzled with a deep salted caramel. New producers like Brooklyn Sesame and Soom Foods in Philadelphia are inventing mash-ups like coconut halvah spread and chocolate sesame butter. They are also making tahini that is fresh, light and creamy enough to remain emulsified in the jar, eliminating the hassle of stirring rock-solid sesame paste into oil.

“When I arrived, I couldn’t believe people here still thought that was tahini,” said Lisa Mendelson, an owner of Seed & Mill, a new all-sesame emporium in Chelsea, who was raised in Israel. “Americans just haven’t had a chance to develop a palate for it.”

As Americans have become enamored of Middle Eastern food (especially hummus, which is strongly flavored with tahini), sesame-forward dishes and desserts are popping up like crocuses. At Bar Bolonat in the West Village, a halvah crème brûlée; at Mr. Massoud’s Ilili, a crunchy topping composed of tahini, melted chocolate and crushed Rice Chex.

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Pure tahini being made from the mill at Seed and Mill. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

“Often, you don’t even taste the tahini,” he said. “It’s just this nutty, salty undertone that makes sweet things taste even better.”

For cooks who want to achieve this effect at home, salted tahini chocolate chip cookies are a great place to start. Rich, savory and sweet, they are one of the rare variations that are just as good as the original.

“For the American palate, that’s the gateway recipe for tahini,” said Ms. Oron, who devised the recipe.

Some observant Jews do not eat sesame during Passover, which begins at sunset on April 22, placing it in the category of kitniyot — foods that resemble wheat — which are forbidden during the eight days of the holiday.

But for many others, sesame in desserts is a timeless way to connect their home kitchens to Israeli tradition. In Israel, sesame cookies and pastries are everywhere, as are vendors of halvah: Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market is home to the most famous, Halva Kingdom, where nearly 100 different flavors are sold, and where each round cake sprouts its own paper label, like the wheels of cheese in a French fromagerie.

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A grilled halvah panini on challah at Seed & Mill. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

There, and elsewhere in the region, chefs are looking at tahini and halvah with new appreciation. “There has already been a major push on the savory side to reinvent our cuisine,” said Mr. Massoud of chefs in the Middle East. “Now there is an equally strong push to reinvent the sweet.”

Tahini and halvah were long considered peasant food, good enough for those who could not afford sweets with expensive ingredients like butter, white flour and sugar. But now the region’s modern chefs are embracing these ancient flavors, devising new treats like multilayered halvah, sesame ice creams and pâte brisée made with tahini instead of butter.

Like peanut butter, tahini is made by grinding a naturally oily seed or nut until the solids are minuscule enough to form a smooth emulsion with the oil. But before the grinding begins, the unhulled sesame seeds are soaked, roasted, hulled and dried. Connoisseurs say that every step, and other factors like sourcing and humidity, affect the taste and mouthfeel of the finished product.

Halvah is approximately half sesame paste and half sugar, but that doesn’t convey its luxurious lightness. The sugar is boiled and whipped to a foam in a particular way that produces the confection’s sandy, melting texture. Small producers all over the Middle East still use caldrons, paddles and troughs — and the strength of young men for some vigorous hand-kneading — to produce the most coveted, fluffy halvah.

Tahini and halvah are also staples in Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. For Eastern Orthodox Christians there, rich, oily tahini is a key ingredient during Great Lent (Orthodox Easter falls on May 1). All animals and animal products are forbidden, putting those who observe the fast on a vegan diet for 40 days.

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“As a child, I can’t say I looked forward to those tahini desserts,” said Aglaia Kremezi, a historian of Greek food; there, too, sesame was long considered a poor substitute for “real” sweets. But she’s now an enthusiast, especially for the pasteli — soft wedges of sesame seeds, thyme honey and orange zest — made for thousands of years on the Cycladic island of Kea, where she lives. In her own kitchen, she has rethought the traditional tahini filling for a Lenten cinnamon roll called tahinopita, and developed a super-easy recipe for halvah semifreddo, a frozen emulsion of fresh whipped cream and crystalline halvah. “Using tahini and halvah as flavorings, instead of things you eat on their own, has changed the way I taste them,” she said.

Maura Kilpatrick has been rethinking traditional sesame desserts for more than a decade as the pastry chef at Oleana, a refined Middle Eastern restaurant in Cambridge, Mass.

“Tahini is the most underrated ingredient in the dessert pantry,” said Ms. Kilpatrick, who said she had barely tasted the stuff when she began working with it but soon found herself compulsively pouring it into hot chocolate and adding it to brioche dough. Now, at her nearby bakery, Sofra, the sesame desserts are the stuff of dreams — and of doughnuts. First, she invented a stuffed doughnut, modeled on a Boston cream, with tahini in the dough and a brown-butter/tahini filling. Then came a coconut cake doughnut coated with sugar-spiked dukkah, an Egyptian mix of cumin, pepper, coriander, salt, sesame seeds and chopped nuts. Both are available only on weekends, and they sell out in a matter of hours.

Sesame desserts are not limited to the Eastern Mediterranean, of course. Halvah spread north through the Balkans and to Eastern Europe with Jewish migrants, for whom it served as useful kosher sweet, and by the 19th century it was already popular in Poland and Romania. (Coming full circle, this is why halvah is a staple in Jewish-American delicatessens.)

Sesame was one of the first plants people cultivated for oil, and it was grown for millenniums in hot climates around the world. Since the seeds must be harvested from the pods by hand, it is now mostly raised where labor is inexpensive: China, India, Myanmar and sub-Saharan Africa, where the plant originated.

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Coconut cake doughnuts coated with sugar-spiked dukkah, and stuffed doughnuts, modeled on a Boston cream, with tahini in the dough and a brown-butter/tahini filling, from Sofra, a bakery in Cambridge, Mass. Credit Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Black sesame paste is a sweet staple in East Asia, used in everything from traditional inky dessert soup to trendy Japanese chiffon cakes and cheesecakes (the results are an elegant shade of dove-gray). One of the most auspicious of Chinese New Year treats is jian due, balls of fluffy sweet rice dough coated in golden sesame seeds. Sesame candy balls and brittle are popular in India, especially in the winter, where the seed, “til” in Hindi, is considered a warming food in Ayurvedic tradition.

Sesame plants arrived with Africans in the American South, where the Bantu word “benne” is still used for the seeds — and where benne wafers, melting little savory crackers, are a classic recipe. The grain expert Glenn Roberts is part of a modest push to restore sesame cultivation to the South: His company, Anson Mills, sells small quantities of domestic sesame flour, oil and “benne cream,” which may be described as American tahini. That’s why, at innovative Southern restaurants like Eugene in Atlanta or Rhubarb in Asheville, N.C., benne flour may pop up in the pastry crust for peach pie, benne cream in the dressing for an updated hoppin’ John and benne seeds in a bar snack like Rhubarb’s brown sugar-benne popcorn.

Also boosting interest in and sales of tahini in the United States: the growing number of American vegans, who appreciate its natural richness; its high levels of protein, calcium, iron and fiber; and its smoothie-friendly texture.

In February, halvah completed its artisanal arc with the opening of the chic-simple Seed & Mill stall in the bustling Chelsea Market, where tahini is milled on site. Fluffy round cakes of halvah in flavors like rose, lemon, ginger and cardamom are artfully garnished with shiny coffee beans, leaf-green chopped pistachios and curling chocolate shards, the better to be cooed over and Instagrammed all day long. Its halvah is made by small producers in Israel to the owners’ specifications; some of their recipes include butter, to make the halvah especially light and melting.

“It’s hard to describe halvah to people who’ve never had it,” said Monica Molenaar, an owner. “If they are American, I tell them it’s like the inside of a Butterfinger. And if that doesn’t work, I just give them a taste.”

Recipes: Halvah Semifreddo With Hazelnuts | Chocolate-Sesame Crunch Bars | Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

What to Order on a Korean Menu: Go for the Soups – WSJ

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POT LUCK | Jogaetang (spicy clam soup) at Dancen in Chicago. Photo: Sam Horine

By

Matt Rodbard

Feb. 2, 2016 4:22 p.m. ET

BEVERLY KIM GREW UP outside Chicago eating in the traditional Korean way—a far cry from the towering platters of grilled beef and rice bowls that have come to define Korean food in the U.S. “We had at least two pots of soup firing on the stove at all times,” said the James Beard Award-nominated chef-owner of Parachute, a restaurant serving Korean and Korean-influenced dishes in the city’s Avondale neighborhood. “Broth is the foundation for everything I know.”

Americans’ relationship with Korean food has hit an exciting fork in the road, which I write about in my new book, “Koreatown: A Cookbook.” Many flock to Koreatowns across the country in search of the ever-popular Korean barbecue—hunks of tender short rib sizzled on tabletop grills and wrapped in lettuce leaves—and rightly so. Yet other, more ambitious eaters have started to seek out Korea’s deep bench of delicious soups and stews packed with unexpected flavors and textures that extend well beyond the sourness and funk of kimchi, the fermented vegetables that are another signature of this cuisine.

I’ve found Korean cooking in expected places—the big Koreatowns in L.A. and New York—but also in Duluth, Ga., Western Michigan and the kitchens of celebrated (and not explicitly Asian) restaurants like State Bird Provisions in San Francisco and Le Bernardin in Manhattan. The common starting point? More often than not, a simmering stock.

“You can taste the history,” said Deuki Hong one day while minding a hulking stockpot of mellow ox bone broth called seolleongtang in his midtown Manhattan apartment. Mr. Hong, the chef of New York’s Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, is my “Koreatown” co-author, and he wasn’t just talking about how the bones in the pot were releasing their creamy marrow through hours and hours of bubbling and boiling.

There’s a context to consider: Korea is a very cold place. Think Minneapolis or Helsinki cold. The winters are long and cruel. The mountainous terrain provides limited space for cattle grazing and hog raising; Korea’s meat prices are among the world’s highest. Add to that a long history of war, occupation and impoverishment, but also an abundance of fresh, clean water. Bodies needed warmth, meat had to stretch. You might say Koreans had no choice but to become the soup and stew masters of Asia.

Yes, I’m ranking Korea’s soups higher than Vietnam’s pho and Japan’s ramen.

Through deep assessment and countless evenings spent hunched over a roaring pot of jjigae—a spicy stew loaded with meat, seafood, vegetables or all three—I’ve come to the conclusion that Korean soups can be broken roughly into two categories: graceful broths and intense, umami-rich flavor bombs.

In the more delicate category, kongnamul guk is a soup of soybean sprouts boiled quickly in a light beef or anchovy broth. Another example: miyeok guk, a briny, nutrient-rich soup of seaweed and beef brisket sometimes called “happy birthday soup” because it’s eaten by nursing mothers and by Koreans celebrating their birth.

One of my favorites, jogaetang, a bowl of clear anchovy broth gets a little heat from jalapeños and substance from clams. This light and highly satisfying soup often appears at pojangmachas, late-night Korean taverns, where it’s served on a portable butane burner and washed down with beer and soju, the ubiquitous Korean firewater.

The more muscular side of Korea’s soup and stew canon plays its own cultural role. While many Americans go for a dollar pizza slice or a heap of greasy diner bacon to quell a hangover, Koreans turn to soup. In fact, haejangguk—a bracing bowl of tender ox-spine meat, coagulated blood cubes and beef broth—bears the name “hangover soup.”

This latter category does contain some acquired tastes. Ms. Kim recalls her mother’s beloved cheonggukjang jjigae, made with ripe fermented soybeans and sometimes called “dead body soup.” “My mom was really self-conscious about how our house smelled, and she would boil [the soup] on the grill outside,” she said. “But it’s really quite incredible and reminds me of a nutty cheese.”

‘Koreans had no choice but to become Asia’s soup masters.’

This group includes plenty of highly accessible crowd-pleasers, too. Kimchi jjigae, the great utility dish of Korean cooking—a piquant stew full of Napa-cabbage kimchi, the fermented soybean and red-pepper paste gochujang and rich pork belly—often arrives at the table boiling. (If you’re going to eat a lot of Korean soup, you must perfect a blowing-on-the-spoon technique.) My favorite kimchi jjigae contains the fizzy and deeply funky kimchi called mukeunji, aged for well over a year. Seek it out.

Another hearty bowl I’ll travel a long way for is gamjatang, which literally means “potato soup.” It’s so much more than that. While chunks of potato play their part, meaty pork necks, cooked to the point of falling off the bone, provide further ballast, and floral wild sesame seeds add their perfume. “It reminds me of a Oaxacan mole,” said Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold when we shared a large bowl at Ham Ji Park, a restaurant specializing in pork in L.A.’s sprawling Koreatown.

I think gamjatang has great crossover appeal for Korean food fans looking outside the lettuce wrap. As does another favorite: kalbijjim, beef short ribs stewed low and slow in a balanced blend of light soy sauce, sake, mirin, apple-and-Asian-pear purée and garlic. “This is one of the dishes that every Korean mom has a recipe for,” said Mr. Hong, calling it the “Korean coq au vin.” His uses a slow cooker, a fully Americanized approach to preparing a traditional Korean dish. “It’s one of those special-occasion stews, like if you were accepted to college or family was visiting from far away,” he added.

In Korean culture, soups and stews not only cure sickness and recalibrate the body after a long night of bar hopping; they’re the stuff of celebrations. At every meal and any time of day, they command the center of the table. The next time you look at a Korean menu, read on past the barbecue section and survey the vast spread of soups and stews—those mentioned here and many others—that lie beyond. Or prepare one of the recipes on this page, while the weather outside is as cold as Korea in February.

—The Korean ingredients in all of these recipes can be purchased at Asian markets or online at crazykoreanshopping.com

19 Recipes That’ll Make You Love Barley

Barley Recipes That Will Make You Love This Unsexy Grain

Natually Ella

Barley isn’t the most sexy grain, but who wants a sexy grain anyway? In the height of winter especially, we want a grain that will warm us like a very unsexy snuggy and nourish us like an even unsexier cup of Jewish penicillin. Barley is wholesome, and we like it that way.

Barley is also incredibly versatile. Beer isn’t the only thing this grain has going for it. It holds up well in soups and adds a nice texture and heartiness to salads. Barley also makes a perfect substitute for rice or risottos in most dishes, offering a pleasant nutty flavor. Did we mention it’s also incredibly healthy, too? It’s even been called a superfood. This is a grain you could take home to meet the parents.

Here are 19 recipes that will convince you to give barley a chance this winter, and then some.

[Catergory Grain, Recipe]

Planting Vegetables in California, a Woman Finds Her Korean Roots | The Plate

For a Korean girl adopted by an American family at five-months old, the love affair with food started with the perilla leaf.

Better known to some as the sesame or shiso leaf, Kristyn Leach found the prickly green and purple leaf in a Korean seed book and fell hard. And she credits the experience with inspiring her to launch Namu, a California farm specializing in Asian vegetables.

For those who have eaten it, perilla is unmistakable. It tastes like something between mint and spinach, and you either love it or loathe it. Koreans will usually pickle it or wrap meat in it for Korean barbeque. Leach likened perilla, the first plants she grew, to something like an awakening, or a reincarnation. “The plant remembered me before I remembered it,” she says.

Leach was no stranger to vegetables or farming. Growing up in the community gardens of New York with blue-collar parents, Leach learned two lessons to live by that would end up defining her career: Be of service and grow food.

As part of a white American family, Leach didn’t have Korean family recipes or even know what Korean produce was, aside from the occasional Asian pear or odd cabbage from the market. By teaching herself about Korean seeds and produce, she learned who she was and opened up a door to her sense of identity and heritage. This, she says, empowered her to start Namu farm.

To make it happen, Leach started small. Five years ago, she subleased one acre of land in the hills of San Francisco from Sage, a non-profit in Berkeley, California. There, she was exposed to a wide variety of produce and found many farmers willing to show her the way.

In addition to wanting to farm Korean vegetables, Leach also wanted to try the natural farming methods used in Korea, i.e. creating a no-till, biodynamic and organic farm; food you could trace back to its source.

This type of farming is not for the faint of heart or will. Succeeding takes years, but it was something she was determined to do the way her Korean ancestors had done, to “have a place within nature, and not one that’s dominating it.”

When Leach first began growing perilla, she brought some to chef Dennis Lee at Namu Gaji, an acclaimed modern Korean restaurant in San Francisco owned by Lee and his two brothers. California is home to a huge Korean population and in recent years Korean food and chefs have become much more mainstream. Kimchi and bi bim bap are showing up on menus around the U.S., now, but not so much back then. Lee was so impressed with Leach’s leaves, he asked her to grow chilies for Namu Gaji and soon after, Namu the farm was born. (Namu means “tree” in Korean, and emphasizes the branches of their collaboration.) Now Namu produces more produce than Namu Gaji needs—beans, peanuts, and more. Extra produce goes to Korean community centers and an Asian women’s shelter in the bay area. Recently, Namu has partnered with the Kitazawa Seed Company, the largest distributor of Asian seeds outside of Asia, to release Korean chili seeds with plans to sell a new heirloom crop each year.

Last fall Leach traveled to Korea for the first time to find seeds to bring back home. She worked on a farm and met Korean farmers, including Ms. Pyeon, an heirloom preservationist and farmer in Joellanam-do. They bonded over natural farming practices and preserving seeds, including the perilla leaf. Pyeon has three different varieties including the stone perilla, the wild ancestor of the perilla plants Leach grows.

Every September, Koreans celebrate Chuseok—think Korean Thanksgiving but over three days. It commemorates the year’s harvest and thanks the ancestors. This year at Namu, Korean drummers gathered at the farm to sow the cover crop seed and finish with a big feast. Leach says of the experience, “I felt more Korean than ever.”

Jeanne Modderman is a photo producer for National Geographic’s photo community Your Shot with a love for storytelling, art and good food. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Health Benefits of Barley | The Whole Grains Council

Barley Controls Blood Sugar Better
Dutch researchers used a crossover study with 10 healthy men to compare the effects of cooked barley kernels and refined wheat bread on blood sugar control. The men ate one or the other of these grains at dinner, then were given a high glycemic index breakfast (50g of glucose) the next morning for breakfast. When they had eaten the barley dinner, the men had 30% better insulin sensitivity the next morning after breakfast.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2010; 91(1):90-7. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Barley Lowers Glucose Levels

White rice, the staple food in Japan, is a high glycemic index food. Researchers at the University of Tokushima found that glucose levels were lower after meals when subjects switched from rice to barley.
Rinsho Byori. August 2009; 57(8):797-805

Barley Beta-Glucan Lowers Glycemic Index

Scientists at the Functional Food Centre at Oxfod Brookes University in England fed 8 healthy human subjects chapatis (unleavened Indian flatbreads) made with either 0g, 2g, 4g, 6g or 8g of barley beta-glucan fiber. They found that all amounts of barley beta-glucan lowered the glycemic index of the breads, with 4g or more making a significant difference.
Nutrition Research, July 2009; 29(7):4806

Insulin Response better with Barley Beta-Glucan

In a crossover study involving 17 obese women at increased risk for insulin resistance, USDA scientists studied the effects of 5 different breakfast cereal test meals on subjects’ insulin response. They found that consumption of 10g of barley beta-glucan significantly reduced insulin response.
European Journal of Nutrition, April 2009; 48(3):170-5. Epub 2009 Feb 5.

Barley Beats Oats in Glucose Response Study

USDA researchers fed barley flakes, barley flour, rolled oats, oat flour, and glucose to 10 overweight middle-aged women, then studied their bodies’ responses. They found that peak glucose and insulin levels after barley were significantly lower than those after glucose or oats. Particle size did not appear to be a factor, as both flour and flakes had similar effects.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, June 2005; 24(3):182-8

Barley Reduces Blood Pressure

For five weeks, adults with mildly high cholesterol were fed diets supplemented with one of three whole grain choices: whole wheat/brown rice, barley, or whole wheat/brown rice/barley. All three whole grain combinations reduced blood pressure, leading USDA researchers to conclude that “in a healthful diet, increasing whole grain foods, whether high in soluble or insoluble fiber, can reduce blood pressure and may help to control weight.”
Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 2006; 106(9):1445-9

Barley Lowers Serum Lipids

University of Connecticut researchers reviewed 8 studies evaluating the lipid-reducing effects of barley. They found that eating barley significantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides, but did not appear to significantly alter HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Annals of Family Medicine, March-April 2009; 7(2):157-63

Cholesterol and Visceral Fat Decrease with Barley

A randomized double-blind study in Japan followed 44 men with high cholesterol for twelve weeks, as the men ate either a standard white-rice diet or one with a mixture of rice and high-beta-glucan pearl barley. Barley intake significantly reduced serum cholesterol and visceral fat, both accepted markers of cardiovascular risk.
Plant Foods and Human Nutrition
, March 2008; 63(1):21-5. Epub 2007 Dec 12.

Barley Significantly Improves Lipids

25 adults with mildly high cholesterol were fed whole grain foods containing 0g, 3g or 6g of barley beta-glucan per day for five weeks, with blood samples taken twice weekly. Total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol significantly decreased with the addition of barley to the diet.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2004; 80(5):1185-93

Barley Pasta Lowers Cholesterol

University of California researchers fed two test meals to 11 healthy men, both containing beta-glucan. One meal was a high-fiber (15.7g) barley pasta and the other was  lower-fiber (5.0g) wheat pasta. The barley pasta blunted insulin response, and four hours after the meal, barley-eaters had significantly lower cholesterol concentration than wheat-eaters.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 1999; 69(1):55-63

Barley’s Slow Digestion may help Weight Control

Barley varieties such as Prowashonupana that are especially high in beta-glucan fiber may digest more slowly than standard barley varieties. Researchers at USDA and the Texas Children’s Hospital compared the two and concluded that Prowashonupana may indeed be especially appropriate for obese and diabetic patients.
Journal of Nutrition, September 2002; 132(9):2593-6

Greater Satiety, Fewer Calories Eaten with Barley

In a pilot study not yet published, six healthy subjects ate a 420-calorie breakfast bar after an overnight fast, then at lunch were offered an all-you-can-eat buffet. When subjects ate a Prowashonupana barley bar at breakfast they subsequently ate 100 calories less at lunch than when they ate a traditional granola bar for breakfast.

Improve Your Kidney Health With Blue Or Purple Colored Foods » Natural News Blogs

Improve Your Kidney Health With Blue Or Purple Colored Foods

Your kidneys work very hard every day. Why not give them some love through the food you eat? Did you know that purple or blue foods are nature’s best kidney healing foods?

They are bursting with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing phytonutrients, called anthocyanidins, to heal your kidneys naturally. This powerful antioxidant is what gives these foods their purple or blue color.

Having purple or blue foods on your plate at least once a day will not only improve your kidney health, but will keep your blood vessels healthy, prevent ageing, improve short-term memory, and may help prevent several types of cancer

1. Purple Cabbage

Cabbage is a master healer as it comes to protecting your gut and kidneys. Purple cabbage makes a tasty and quite sweet kidney healing juice compared to its green brother, which has more bitter aftertaste. Next to its kidney healing properties, purple cabbage is loaded with fiber, folic acid, vitamin B6, C, and K.

Kidney Healing Cabbage Juice: juice ¼ green apple, 3 cups purple cabbage, and 1 head fennel.

2. Blueberries

Blueberries are amongst the most nutrient-dense food sources out there. They work great in smoothies, cereal, raw refrigerator jams, and muffins. Or opt for fresh unsweetened blueberry juice to give your kidneys a break.

3. Black Plums

Black plums contain more protective antioxidants than red. Pick the ones that are darkest in color, as they will contain the most antioxidants. To make a healing summer treat, pit and freeze plums and puree them for a quick and healing plum sorbet.

4. Blackberries

Just as blueberries, blackberries are loaded with antioxidants to improve kidney health. Use them in smoothies or as a topping on your cereal or oatmeal.

5. Beets

Beets help to pre-filter the blood, reduce stress on the kidneys, and help prevent or dissolve calcium oxalate stones. Check out my previous article for a kidney and liver cleansing juice recipe[1].

6. Black or Kidney Beans

Its kidney shape and name already suggest which organ will benefit most by adding these to your diet on a regular basis. They have been used for ages as an effective remedy to reduce and prevent kidney stones.

Black bean kidney tonic: boil the pods in purified water in a slow cooker for about 6 hours. Strain the liquid, let cool, and drink throughout the day.

7. Blue Grapes

Red or dark purple colored grapes contain the most healing antioxidants to prevent oxidation, formation of blood cloths, inflammation, and help your kidneys to work more efficiently.

8. Other Purple Or Blue Kidney-Friendly Foods

  • Black Quinoa
  • Seaweed
  • Black or dark purple Rice
  • Eggplant
  • Purple Corn
  • Purple Carrots
  • Purple sweet potato
  • Raisins
  • Mulberries
  • Elderberries

Your kidneys love blue and purple food. So add more color to your plate and heal your kidneys and whole body from the inside out.

4 Proven Herbs for Reducing Cholesterol Naturally » Natural News Blogs

4 Proven Herbs for Reducing Cholesterol Naturally

The importance of lowering your cholesterol levels

As all of us known, heart disease is the NO.1 killer of men and women in the United States, one out of every two men and one out of every three women will get heart disease sometime in their life. Studies have shown that lowering cholesterol can reduce the risk of having a heart attack, so no matter for people with heart disease or without heart disease, it is critical for all adults to have their cholesterol levels tested.

How Can You Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

Your cholesterol level is influenced by several factors, including age, weight, foods you eat, stress, physical activity. People can reduce the cholesterol level by maintaining a healthy lifestyle: keep a healthy weight, eat foods with low saturated fat as well as low trans-fats, do exercise regularly, avoid alcohol, stop smoking and drug treatment.

How Can You Lower Your Cholesterol Levels Simply By Natural Herbs

There are some natural herbs you can include in your diet for managing, reducing and improving your cholesterol levels:

  • Alfalfa Herb

Studies have shown that alfalfa seeds may help people maintain a healthy cholesterol level by reducing the harmful types of cholesterol(LDL) in the blood while the good kind of cholesterol (HDL) seems to be unaffected. The fibers and chemicals in alfalfa seem to stick to cholesterol, keeping it from staying in the blood.

Besides, alfalfa is packed with vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, iron and other types of minerals which are all essential for the proper functioning of the various organs in the body. While taking alfalfa in moderation (80-120 grams daily is recommended) as it may cause damage to red blood cells in the body.

  • Garlic

Since ancient times, garlic has been used for treating several types of diseases, and studies have shown that garlic can help to keep the cholesterol levels in good balance by reducing the serum cholesterol levels while increasing the “good” HDL-cholesterol levels.

And garlic can lower your cholesterol levels without any side effects as other drug treatments, in addition to reducing blood pressure, protecting against infections and preventing blood clots. So if you want to keep a positive cholesterol levels, try to add this super herb to your meals.

  • Policosanol

As a herb obtained from sugar cane, policosanol has been shown to be effective in reducing cholesterol levels in the body by breaking down the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and it does not increase the blood sugar too. Researches have found that policosanol is particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol levels.

5-10mg per day of this supplement is suggested by experts for lowering your cholesterol levels and should not take more than 20mg in one day.

  • Green Tea

Green tea is a wonderful antioxidant and has been shown to prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract, making it a good tool for reducing the cholesterol levels.

A research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drink green tea for some months, have around 2% lower of the “bad” cholesterol levels than those who didn’t have green tea, and at the same time, the “good” cholesterol was not being affected.

Other Healthy Habits to Reduce Your Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is something that you can control by using some of the herbal treatments as well as other healthy lifestyle habits too:

– Try to limit the high cholesterol foods

– Make sure to eat enough healthy vegetables and fruits every day, as the fiber they providing may help to lower the risk of heart disease

– Limit foods which are naturally high in fat

– Adopt some form of exercise

– Keep your cholesterol levels tested sometimes every year, for managing and controlling it in a good manne

More from Alex Jordon:

20 Easy Home Remedies to Cure Indigestion[1]

Top 6 Health Benefits of Eating Kale[2]

4 key and natural ways to maintain your blood pressure[3]

10 Things You Need To Know About Soy

10 Things You Need To Know About Soy

Tackling the topic of soy is a little like trying to untangle my four year-old daughter’s hair. First, I feel overwhelmed just looking at the mess. And then, when I tackle it, more and more tangles keep appearing!

That’s why, for years, I avoided looking at all the data on soy.

Finally, folks, I did it for you. As a health professional, I get asked about soy a lot, as it’s one of the most common food allergens in the westernized world.

And it’s only gotten more confusing recently. A few years ago, soy manufacturers funded a PR push after some studies showed it helped ease some menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. But then the pendulum swung the other way and soy became the scapegoat for almost everything under the sun, including cancer.

If you’re adopting a plant-based lifestyle, this is an even trickier topic, since you’re faced with soy in practically every product in the vegetarian section of your grocery store. It’s difficult to completely remove soy from your diet as it’s practically everywhere; you’d have to drastically move away from all mainstream food choices to avoid it completely.

But what is the real risk of moderate consumption? And why is there so much polarized information?

I’ve tried to boil it all down to the top 10 facts you need to know about soy:

1. Soy feed is the major ingredient in modern animal feed.

Along with corn, fat-free (defatted) soybean meal is a significant and inexpensive source of protein for animal feeds. Without soy, it would be impossible to raise farm animals (such as chicken, hog, turkey) on a large industrial scale. Did you know that the US produced over 90 million tons of soy in 2011, making it the largest soy producer in the world?

2. It’s estrogen-like.

Soy’s role as a natural hormone replacement was touted for many years because soy contains isoflavones, which are similar to estrogen. While isoflavones may act like estrogen, they can block the more potent natural estrogens from binding to the estrogen receptor. So, it’s much more complex[1] than is usually presented in the media.

How does this affect kids? I am concerned about my son, who tends to like soy meat replacement products. How much is OK? A few experts on the subjects weighed in on this question[2] and concluded that about two servings a day should be the upper limit of soy intake for boys and girls.

3. It may contribute to breast cancer.

This, to me, was the thorniest issue. Some articles supported the idea that soy contributes to breast cancer, but most of them studied soy consumption at extremely high levels. Also, many of them were animal studies. And most of them had the participants eat processed soy.

However, the Weston A. Price foundation made a nice summary page of all literature that supports soy and breast cancer[3]. Quite a few sources say that soy does not correlate with an increase of risk of breast cancer and I found a good summary of it here[4].

4. Soy may affect your thyroid especially if you are already hypothyroid.

It’s now accepted, even by soy advocates, that people with hypothyroidism should avoid consuming more than 1 serving a day of soy[5].

Because soy is a goitrogen (meaning that it promotes the growth of a goiter), it can slow thyroid function, and sometimes, trigger thyroid disease[6] if taken in large quantities. Also, children who drink soy formula tend to develop problems with their thyroid at a higher rate than other children.

5. Most soy is GMO.

In fact, 93% of all soy in the US is genetically modified[7]. Also, in the US, there are no rules to separate GMO soy from non GMO fields of soy.

6. It is often highly processed.

Like wheat, part of the problem with soy is that it often presents itself in the processed form of snacks, cakes, and meat alternatives. In my practice, I find that cutting out soy and wheat from the diet is partially beneficial because it also means you cut out processed foods such as cakes, cookies and other junk food.

7. Soy is a complete protein.

Soybeans are a source of complete protein[8]. They are considered as being almost equivalent in protein quality to animal proteins.

8. Soybean oil is processed with Hexane.

Most of the soy crop in the U.S. is used to produce soybean oil, and uses hexane (a chemical solvent) in its intial stages of extraction[9]. If you choose organic soy products or unprocessed soy (like edamame)—you don’t have to worry about hexane use.

9. Soybean provide a large amount of protein with moderate amounts of fat.

This is a fact. 100g of soy contains 173 calories[10], with 9 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs (6 of which are fiber) and 17 grams of protein.

10. Soy has been eaten in Asian countries for thousands of years.

Soy farming in China and East asia started in 1100 BC. The Japanese and Chinese eat 10 grams of soy protein[11] per day (although some groups in these countries eat as much as 50 grams). Also much of the soy that is consumed is fermented, which makes it a healthier choice. But in America, many soy supplements and powders can have as much as 50 grams of soy protein in one serving.

Ok, so what’s the final verdict?

I’ll let you decide … but if I were you, I’d avoid consuming processed soy.

That said, having edamame at restaurant, or a couple of whole organic, non-GMO or fermented soy meals per week is fine for most people.

I know that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but I wanted to present the facts as I see them so you can make an informed decision. What’s your stance on soy?

You May Also Enjoy

10 Things People In Their 20s Should Do NOW To Be Healthy Later In Life[12]

Young men and women in their 20s don’t always do all that they can to prevent problems later in life. After all, a 20-something is young and healthy, right? The future is so far away! Read [13]

Natural News Blogs 7 Benefits of Coconut Water You Probably Don’t Know » Natural News Blogs

 

7 Benefits of Coconut Water You Probably Don’t Know

Coconut water, this low-fat health drink has been gaining popularity since many years and it’s a wise choice, as it’s cholesterol free, 99% fat-free, low in carbs and been considered as one of the healthiest foods. It’s recommended that you drink coconut water regularly, for your overall health and energy for the body, choose fresh young coconuts in the local markets for the best benefits, and remember, the fresher the coconut water, the better, as it rapidly loses its nutritional value once exposed to air.

Here are 7 benefits of coconut water that explain why it has become so popular:

  • Reduces blood pressure

According to research, coconut water helps reduce the risk of heart attacks by lowering high blood pressure, this is because of the unique nutritional content of coconut water, it’s rich in vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, which are linked to reduce the high blood pressure levels.

  • Aids Weight Loss

As mentioned above, coconut water is cholesterol free, 99% fat-free,low in carbs and a cup of coconut water contains only 46 calories. So if you want to lose more pounds, add coconut water in your diet chart. As it is packed with fiber, it also makes you feel full and reduce cravings.

  • Boosts the immune system

Coconut water is packed with vitamins and types of nutrients such as niacin, thiamin, folates and pyridoxine, all of which are essential to increase your body’s immune system and fight infections.

  • Relieves cold or flu

Hydrating is important when you get a cold or flu, and to keep proper hydrated, the body requires electrolytes, coconut water contain all five electrolytes your body needs,including potassium, it contains more potassium than other sports drinks, and once you’re more hydrated, you’ll feel better.

  • Keeps your skin youthful

Many beauty products such as creams, shampoos and conditioners with coconut extract are more effective, because coconut water is packed with antioxidants, which help to moisturize your skin from inside and slow the aging process. And apply coconut water on your face can help relieve the acne, pimple and other issues on the surface of your skin.

  • It’s good for diabetes patients

Coconut water has a lot of nutrients that are very helpful for diabetics, it helps to widen blood vessels to make blood flowing more smoothly. Besides, it contains several antioxidants, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids which are all important factors in diabetes management.

  • Cures a hangover

Many people believe that coconut water can cure a hangover, and for good reason. As alcohol robs your body of water, coconut water is very good for dehydration, drink it will enable your body and mind to function properly. Plus, you’ve got rid of minerals such as magnesium and potassium by passing lots of water, and coconut water is enriched with these minerals.

More from Alex Jordon:

6 Best Detox Foods You Should Start Eating

7 Fruits With Highest Calories

Diabetes: 10 Tips to Lose Weight without Losing Minds

4 amazing uses for aloe vera – NaturalNews.com

 

4 amazing uses for aloe vera

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 by: Michael Ravensthorpe
Tags: aloe vera, sunburn, skin care

(NaturalNews) Aloe vera (“true aloe”) is the best-known species of the aloe genus, which is native to Africa and certain parts of the Middle East. Renowned for its medicinal properties, aloe vera has been utilized for thousands of years to treat numerous medical conditions ranging from skin irritations and herpes to constipation and diabetes. Indeed, this succulent and mucilaginous plant was one of the most frequently prescribed medicines throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

For the most part, aloe vera remains just as popular in the 21st century. Its green, spear-shaped leaves are a rich source of disease-fighting vitamins and minerals, and it is a common ingredient in countless cosmetic products. Due to its incomparable versatility, however, aloe vera has far more uses than most people realize.

Shaving gel

Aloe vera is a perfect natural substitute for those awful, chemical-laden shaving gels and creams found in drug stores. Firstly, the plant consists of approximately 95 percent water, so it provides a nice, slippery surface that allows for a pleasant, close shave. Secondly, it is packed with anti-inflammatory enzymes, making it good for treating shaving nicks and rashes. Lastly, it moisturizes and nourishes the skin, leaving it feeling soft and rejuvenated. You can use aloe vera gel alone for this purpose, or mix it with other skin-friendly ingredients, such as almond oil or eucalyptus oil, for an even more luxurious shave.

Treats bad breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common medical condition that affects an estimated 1 in 4 people on a regular basis. Though commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes can help treat it, their aggressive and unnatural ingredients often leave a lot to be desired. Instead, consider aloe vera. Aside from being a potent antibacterial, aloe contains an anti-inflammatory compound named beta-Sisterol that is known to soothe acid indigestion, which (along with oral bacteria) is a common cause of bad breath.

Though aloe vera does work alone as a mouthwash and toothpaste, mixing it with baking soda seems to have a particularly powerful effect. Aloe vera oil can also be used for oil pulling, the ancient Ayurvedic practice of cleansing the mouth by swishing oil around it for between 15 and 20 minutes.

Makeup remover

Unlike commercial makeup removers, which often contain harsh chemicals that dehydrate the skin, aloe vera gel is a natural and gentle way to remove makeup (including makeup around the eye, where the skin is most delicate). Simply squeeze a dollop of the gel onto a cotton ball and gently rub the makeup from your face. Incidentally, refrigerated cotton balls soaked in aloe vera make an excellent compress for tired and puffy eyes.

Treats sunburn

Aloe vera’s benefits as a skin moisturizer are well-known, but it is often overlooked as a sunburn remedy. Yes, due to its cooling and hydrating properties, aloe vera is very effective at treating sun-damaged skin. Apply the gel or oil onto the affected area and leave it to soak. The aloe will act as protective layer atop the skin and allow it to replenish its moisture (hydrated skin recovers faster from sunburn than dry skin).

Sources for this article include:

http://www.twineagles.org/medicinal-uses-of-aloe-vera.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5880/5-Awesome-Uses-for-Aloe-Vera.html

http://science.naturalnews.com/aloe_vera.html

About the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world’s healthiest foods.