Tag Archives: food health

Yum Friday Recipe: Golden Sweet Potato and Cilantro Hummus

15 Jun

Yum Recipe: Golden Sweet Potato & Cilantro Hummus

This hummus was inspired by one served at a friend’s barbeque on Memorial Day.  I raved about it so much my friend gave me some to take home with me.  The next morning I made one of my favorite breakfasts with it.  I take a rice cake, spread on some hummus, add a couple slices of avocado, tomato, and onion. Mmmmmm.  And it’s so skin helpful.  My friend served the sweet potato hummus as a dip with some crackers.

Yum Recipe: Golden Sweet Potato & Cilantro Hummus on Rice Cake

I changed out the copper-skinned sweet potatoes she used for golden (pale-skinned) sweet potatoes.  They aren’t as sweet.  Also, they absorb the color of the other ingredients more readily.  So, when the cilantro is added to the hummus it turns a nice green. 

Yum Recipe: Golden Sweet Potato & Cilantro Hummus

What I had most fun with in making this recipe was  serving it.  While looking for something different to serve it in, I remembered the old China tea and dessert set I bought at a garage sale a few months ago.  I haven’t had a chance to put them to much use.  So, I decided to serve the hummus in the teacups with the vegetables and crackers surrounding it on the saucers and dessert plates. 

Yum Recipe: Sweet Potato & Cilantro Hummus

Yum Recipe: Golden Sweet Potato and Cilantro Hummus

1 ½ pound pale sweet potato
½ cup packed fresh cilantro minus coarse stems
1 ½ Tablespoon tahini (sesame oil paste)
1 ½ cloves garlic coarsely chopped
3 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 teaspoon pepper sauce (optional) i.e. Franks Red Hot Sauce
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Olive oil for drizzling.

Wash sweet potatoes.  Pierce with knife or fork.  Bake 350 degrees 45 – 60 min., depending on the size.  Allow them to cool to touch.  Peel off skin of sweet potatoes.  They can also be cut in half and the flesh scooped out.  Place the sweet potatoes in a food processor.  Process sweet potatoes for a few seconds until they start to become mashed.  Stop the food processor.  Add cilantro, tahini, garlic, lime juice, pepper sauce, salt and process again.  Pour olive oil in a stream through the lid opening.  Use enough olive oil to make a creamy hummus.  Continue to process until hummus is smooth and ingredients are well blended.  After moving to serving container, drizzle some olive oil over the hummus and garnish with some cilantro or chopped scallion.  Best served room temperature or chilled.

Serve with vegetables or crackers.  I served them with sesame rice and a cheese rice cracker.

Yum Recipe: Golden Sweet Potato & Cilantro Hummus

Sweet Potatoes Benefits for the Skin
Sweet potatoes are great for the skin because they are loaded with beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A.  Vitamin A is essential to keep skin healthy.  Because of its high anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant properties, it also helps the skin to heal, slows wrinkle formation, and helps with acne.  One cup of cooked sweet potato has over 400% of the daily value for vitamin A! 

Sweet potatoes are also high in another skin loving nutrient, vitamin C.  Collagen helps with prevention of wrinkles and helps maintain healthy skin.  It is synthesized by vitamin C.  Scurvy while extreme shows the importance of collagen for the skin–the skin breaks down with sores appearing.

Sweet Potatoes also have other skin friendly nutrients, such as some B’s and copper.

Cilantro Benefits for the Skin
Cilantro is high in phytonutrients that helps with anti-aging and fight free radicals.  Also, cilantro also contains anti-bacterial properties, which is good for fighting skin issues such as acne or eczema.

So, while this hummus is choked full of skin loving nutrients, it’s the taste of it that will have you making it again and again.

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Yum Friday Recipe: Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup

17 Feb

Yum Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup

East meets west in this hearty soup that combines  Thai/Indian seasonings with sweet potatoes and parsnips.  Besides taste, we love this soup for the nutritional bang it brings to skin.  Sweet potatoes are the main ingredient that delivers this nutritional punch; they’re loaded with beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body; vitamin A ramps up skin cell production and sloughs off old skin cells.

We added parsnips to the soup to bring a nice buttery and slightly spicy taste.  Another reason we added them is that parsnips like sweet potatoes are a root vegetable.  Root vegetables in eastern medical traditions are warming foods that aid in digestion.  Proper digestion is necessary for the body to absorb nutrients and to remove waste.  Also, root vegetables are grounding, just the thing we need in the cold winter months.  They are a good source of potassium and magnesium.  In case you are interested, the Romans considered parsnips an aphrodisiac.  So…well, that’s all we’ll say on that score.

A dollop of coconut milk cream placed on the soup when serving rounds out and heightens the richness of the soup.  As we have reported before, coconut milk is rich in lauric acid.  Lauric acid is in mother’s milk and is said to be antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.  Check out our post “Coconut Milk Shake” for details on benefits of coconut milk.

Eating sweet potatoes or other foods high in beta-carotene is absolutely necessary for anyone who wants healthy beautiful skin.  But is really important for those with skin issues such as dry skin, premature wrinkles, acne, eczema, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris, etc.  In addition, recent research indicates, sweet potatoes have a nutrient in them (batatosides) that have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  You can boost the absorption of vitamin A from foods by eating them with a bit of fat, such as olive oil, ghee, butter, etc.

If you are looking to attract a significant other into your life you may want to boost your consumption of cartenoid nutrient rich foods because researchers found they give the skin a healthy glow.  This healthy glow has yellow undertones, which people find attractive.  This attraction is true for all ethnicities.  We covered it in a post awhile back, “Carrots, Attraction, and Bugs Bunny – Huh?

I like sweet potatoes baked, oven fried, added to potato salad, in risotto, and mashed with some garlic, but I love them in this soup.  Come Thanksgiving, however, I pass those cloyingly sweet babies right by me.  It was those Thanksgiving sweet potatoes that kept me for years and years from embracing them and thereby missing out on their skin healthy benefits.  BTW–I do not get adding sweetener to an already sweet food.  They’re called sweet potatoes….  So, I love this recipe because their natural sweetness is balanced with some lime juice, and the flavor is tweaked with ginger and cilantro. The spiciness also chases winter chills away.  Those with eczema and psoriasis will want to make the soup without the jalapeno.  Spicy food is thought to exacerbate these conditions.

One cup of cooked sweet potatoes has 438% of daily value of vitamin A.  438%! Along with vitamin C, some B’s and copper, you can see why we think it’s one of skin’s ultimate foods. One other interesting and very beneficial aspects of sweet potatoes that researchers have recently discovered is that certain antioxidants in sweet potatoes bind heavy metals and helps to remove them from the body.

Cilantro another ingredient in the soup also helps to remove heavy metals from the body.   This detoxification of metals from the body is very important for everyone, but especially those with health conditions.  Cilantro is also rich in phytonutrients that are anti-oxidants and has anti-bacterial benefits.  In India, it is used for its anti-inflammatory benefits.  It is also a good source of the specific skin loving nutrients, zinc, copper, and the vitamins A, C, E, K, and some B’s.

Keep Cilantro Fresh in a Glass Jar

Yum Recipe: Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup –
serves 6

3 cups (approx. 1#) sweet potatoes
2 cups (approx. ½ #) parsnips
1 cup chopped onion
3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-3 teaspoons chopped jalapeno  (depending on amount of fire you want)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3 cups high quality chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped plus a few sprigs for garnish
salt and pepper
¼ – 1/3 cup of the cream from top of the coconut milk in a can (use the rest of the coconut milk in a smoothie – check our recipes for one–or use in another recipe.)

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in 1 to 2 inch cubes.  Peel and cut the parsnips in 1 inch slices.  Parsnips like potatoes do turn black after being peeled.  If you peel and cut them ahead of time, place them in a bowl of water.

Pour olive oil in a 4 quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  When the oil is hot add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the sweet potatoes and sauté for about 4 minutes.  Add the parsnips and cook for about an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so mixture does not burn.  Add the garlic, jalapeno, ginger, and 1 Tablespoon of the lime juice.  Also add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables occasionally so they don’t burn.

Pour in the stock and water.  Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat so the soup simmers.  Simmer soup until the sweet potatoes are very tender–about 20 to 30 minutes.  Remove soup from heat and add the cilantro and remaining 2 teaspoons of lime juice.  Stir and allow to sit a minute until the cilantro becomes a bit wilted.

Use an immersion blender or blender to make the soup smooth and creamy.  If you use a blender, do the soup in batches.  Be mindful because the soup is hot, and you don’t want to burn yourself.
Serve with a dollop of the coconut cream.  Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.


If you use homemade vegetable or chicken stock, don’t dilute it.  Commercial stock, especially vegetable, is stronger than homemade, so I always dilute it.

As mentioned in the text, if you have eczema or psoriasis don’t add the jalapeno.

Serving suggestions:

The soup can be served rustic style.  Do not blend the soup.

Top the soup with some parsnip crisps.  Cut some very thin peeled parsnip slices and cook until golden and crispy in some hot oil.  Drain on paper towel and sprinkle a pinch of salt on chips.


“Sweet Potatoes.”  The World’s Healthiest Foods.  Online: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

Yum Friday Recipe – Oatmeal Coconut Stuffed Figs

30 Sep

Figs–and not the Newtons–are in season right now.  So, we made a quick and easy guilt-free dessert that’s chalked full of yummy benefits.   These stuffed fig took only 10 minutes to prepare and more than satisfied our sweet tooth!  Figs are great treat for dieters.  Because of their high fiber content, they satiate the appetite, so you eat less.  Figs are also a low calorie fruit and have skin loving vitamins  vitamins A, E, some B’s, and K.  

YUM Recipe: Oatmeal Coconut Stuffed Figs: Serves 4

4- Black Mission Figs, washed and cut in half (you can substitute with Brown Turkey Figs)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon maple syrup
pinch of salt
1 banana, sliced
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Cut the figs in half lengthwise.  With a paring knife, carefully score around the flesh of the fig without cutting through the other side.   Scoop out the inside meat with a spoon and place it in a bowl.  Set aside the fig shells for plating later.  In a small sauté pan, add the water and allow it to come to a slow boil.   Stir in the oats and cook for two minutes.   Turn off heat.  Stir into the oatmeal the coconut flakes and maple syrup.  Stir in the fig meat and a pinch of salt.  Fully combine the ingredients.

Stuff each fig shell with the oatmeal mixture.  Top with a slice of banana.  If you really want an impressive dessert, sprinkle a little sugar on top of each banana slice and caramelize the sugar.  Enjoy!

Recipe by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson

YUM Friday Recipe – Patty Pan and Zucchini Squash Sauté

17 Jun

It’s national eat you veggies day. So, eat your veggies! Here’s a delicious recipe that’s versatile; it works either as a side dish, a main dish, or as a filling.

Patty Pan (almost sounds like we are going to play a child’s game…) is a cute scallop looking squash; it’s also called scallop squash.  Summer is a great time to enjoy this dish because both patty pan and zucchini are summer and winter vegetables.

Squashes tend to get overlooked when looking at the nutrient contribution of vegetables. And in some circles (gardeners and the like), zucchini becomes the bane of their veggie harvest as they try in vain to pawn off zucchini by the bags onto unsuspecting family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.  Zucchini produce like they’re the bunny rabbits of the garden.   Although…gardeners could keep their zucchini crop in line by eating the flowers.  Yes, the flowers of both patty pan and zucchini are edible and make a nice way to garnish a dish.

As far as nutrition goes, squash should not be overlooked. You wouldn’t think it (or maybe care), but summer squash is a good source of vitamin C and also has another antioxidant vitamin A.  The skin loving nutrients of vitamin K, seven of the B’s, zinc, copper, and selenium are present in squash along with other nutrients.  Interestingly, summer squash also has the two essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6 that the body needs.  The omega fatty acids are great for the skin, especially if there’s an inflammation problem.  Ricotta cheese rounds out the dish and brings some more omega 3 & 6 to the nutritional table as well as good dose of selenium and lots of calcium with some protein.

Yum Patty Pan and Zucchini Squash Sauté

4 shallots- finely chopped
1 onion chopped
3-4 patty pan squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic- minced
1Tablespoon crushed red peppers
3/4 cup fresh ricotta (or any semi soft cheese like feta or goat)

In a large skillet on medium heat, sauté shallots, onion, patty pan squash, zucchini, and crushed red peppers.  Sauté until the veggies are lightly browned.  Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and stir in the ricotta cheese.


Serve as side dish to something hot off the barbie.

Steam 2 red peppers that have been cut in half with seeds and membrane removed until just tender.  Remove from heat and steamer.  Fill each steamed red pepper half with the patty pan and zucchini squash sauté.  Top with a little extra cheese.  Place under a preheated broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is hot and bubbly.

Serve as a main luncheon dish along with a salad.

Recipe by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson

Yum Friday Recipe – Watermelon Gazpacho, Watermelon Mint Julep, & Salad

10 Jun

In our ongoing whole-body approach to skincare, weekly we share our healthy and delicious recipes.We have three  recipes using watermelon today.  Watermelon Mint Julep is our take on the mint julep; Watermelon Gazpacho is our version of the traditional summer soup, and we round it off with delicious Watermelon Feta Salad. 

Watermelon–the fruit of kings.  Watermelons are native to Africa, but were first cultivated in Egypt where watermelons were so valued that they were placed in some kings’ tombs. Watermelon is rich in vitamin C, carotene (vitamin A converter), and lycopene.  All of which are antioxidants.  Eating watermelon can help reduce inflammation, something most of us carry around in some degree.  Lycopene has also been shown to help prevent many cancers.  These antioxidants fight free radicals that contribute to wrinkles and sagging skin.  And the vitamin B’s found in watermelon are also skin loving.  Due to its high water content, watermelon gives you more nutrients per calorie than other fruits and vegetables. Watermelon is great for hydrating the body and skin since it contains 92% water.
And uhhhh…..um….certain men may be interested to know that watermelon does the same thing in the body that Viagra does.  Watermelon helps the body to make nitric oxide and expand blood vessels.  Watermelon has, however, fewer side effects than Viagra. Nitric oxide also lowers blood pressure.
BTW – watermelon rind is also edible and is where higher levels of the nutrients are.

Buying a Watermelon
Buy a watermelon that looks heavy for its size.  Also look for a side that has a yellowish tone to it–the side that sat on the ground while it was growing.  If there isn’t any yellowish tinge, it indicates that the fruit was picked before it was ripe and will not be as juicy or sweet tasting.  Also, the riper the fruit the more antioxidants that are present in it.  When you get the watermelon home, be sure to wash the watermelon in warm water and  some white vinegar. 

If you don’t use a seedless watermelon, then remove the seeds for the salad and gazpacho recipes. 

Watermelon Mint Julep – serves 2 – 3
This julep is sans the alcohol.  Alcohol is not skin friendly.
4 – 4 ½  cups of watermelon, seeded
2 cup loosely packed mint
1/2 cup lime juice
2 – 4 Tablespoon agave syrup
lime slices and mint leaves for garnish

Blend on high or puree the watermelon, mint, lime juice and agave syrup in a blender. Taste and add more agave if necessary; the amount will depend on the ripeness of the watermelon. Julep means sugary syrup, but sweeten it to your own taste buds. Strain mixture into a pitcher.  Add ice and additional mint leaves to tall glasses, pour watermelon mint julep into the glasses, garnish with mint leaves and lime slices.

Watermelon Feta Salad – serves 4 – 6
8 cups watermelon cut into bite size chunks
1/3  cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped mint
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt/Pepper to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Gently toss all ingredients together in a bowl.  Garnish with extra feta and mint leaves.

Watermelon Gazpacho – serves 4 – 6
1 cup watermelon finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, finely chopped
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, halved, seeded and finely chopped.  Leave the skin on.
1 jalapeño finely chopped (optional)
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
8 cups watermelon cubed, seeds removed
2 cups tomato juice
¼ lime juice
salt/pepper to taste

If you use a food processor to chop the vegetables, process them one at a time.  Chop the watermelon by hand.  Place the watermelon, vegetables, jalapeño, and cilantro in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and toss.  Set aside.

Place the 8 remaining cups of watermelon in a blender, puree it. Add the tomato juice and lime juice and blend thoroughly.
Pour the watermelon/tomato juice mixture in a noncorrosive bowl or saucepan.  Add the vegetable mixture and stir.  Taste to adjust seasonings.  Like all gazpachos, this one also gets better as it sits and the ingredients have time to meld.  So, you can make it a day or two ahead.

Recipes by: Denise Karson and Mackenzie Karson
copyright: Abhijit Chandra, LLC 2011

Yum Friday Recipe – Coconut Milk Fruit Shake

27 May

Summer is here–well almost. Yeah! This also means strawberries and blueberries are in season.  And what a way to shake-up, shape-up, and cool off, than with this version of a milkshake that is not only delicious but also very healthy.  It’s so rich and decadent you’ll think you are drinking something totally bad for you……………………………….

Coconuts Bad Rap
Coconut milk has gotten a bad rap for way too many years.  It’s because, well there are many reasons…some (or a lot…) of it political (don’t get me started…).  Coconuts poor image was because coconuts have saturated fat.  Saturated fat is a dirty word in America, sorry. Coconut’s saturated fat has become the boogeyman in food.  The thing is–saturated fats are not equal, and most Americans eat saturated fats from other source (meat and dairy).

The Coconut Boogeyman
Interestingly, at the same time coconut milk was being made into a boogeyman, things like margarine and consuming copious amounts of cheap meat where being toted as healthy. Well, we now know the score on the detriment of hydrogenated oils found in margarine.  And we also now know what a diet with too much meat can do to the body.  With the rise of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease in America, people are now realizing it’s time to rethink the typical American diet.

Here’s the other thing about coconut milk: People in parts of the world where coconuts grow having been eating it for thousands of years without problems. They also use it as part of their body-care regimen.  So, what makes coconut products healthy?

Not All Fats Are Created Equal
First, let’s get back saturated fat and their differences.  Briefly, most of the fatty acids in coconut and palms are medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) whereas the saturated fat from meats and dairy products are long chain fats acids (LCFA).  These fatty acids affect the body differently. One study has shown that the liver processes MCFA’s quicker than LCFA pointing in a direction that suggests that LCFA’s turn into fatty deposits whereas MCFA’s don’t.

The Need for Lauric Acid
Also, coconuts are filled with some great nutrients; one of the main ones is lauric acid.  Lauric acid, found in mother’s milk and coconuts, is considered to be antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal.  For people with acne or blemish problems, there are studies showing lauric acid helps with these skin conditions.  Many researchers and nutritionists say that Americans missing lauric acid in their diets may be a reason for health issues we have in our country.  Coconut milk also has calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, vitamins C and E.  And drum roll please…coconut is cholesterol free.  Only animal based foods have cholesterol.

Rounding out our shake are the strawberries and blueberries with their marvelous antioxidant properties.  Tufts University researched the antioxidant properties of 60 fruit and vegetables.  They found that blueberries had the most antioxidants of all.  Strawberries are also a good source of antioxidants.  And fruit has been shown to help with vision and prevention of certain eye diseases.

Note: Coconut milk can now be purchased in cartons in the refrigerated section.  But beware: The coconut milk in cartons may contain unnecessary ingredients such as sweeteners and other additives. This gets away from coconut milk being a healthy food. Buy coconut milk that has no additives such as the kinds that come in a can or in a tetra-pak.  You can also buy light coconut milk.  Vigorously shake or stir the coconut milk before using to blend the cream found on the top with the milky liquid below.  Store unused portions in the refrigerator.

Yum Coconut Milk Fruit Shake – Serves 1
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sliced strawberries (5 -6 strawberries depending on size)
¾ cup blueberries
2 – 3 teaspoons agave syrup (optional)
1 tsp lime juice

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 – 45 seconds.  It’s so delicious you’ll want to gobble it, but contain yourself…………


  • Get an electrolyte boost by replacing half the coconut milk with coconut water.
  • Try adding a few ice cubes for an even colder drink.
  • Chill coconut milk ahead of time.
  • Try other fruit combinations as they come into season


“Got Coconut Milk?,” Los Angeles Times, Mar. 22, 2010. Online: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/22/health/la-he-0322-nutrition-lab-20100322

“Worlds Healthiest Foods & Spices,” Whole Foods.  Online: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=32 http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8        

“Coconut,” Coconut Research Center. Online: http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/

“Lauric acid, found in breast milk…,” NY Daily News.  Online: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-04-20/entertainment/27062274_1_breast-milk-clinical-trials-acne

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