Tag Archives: healthy food

Food as Medicine: A Prescription for Clearing Acne

5 Jun

We have become so focused on satiating the tastes buds with fast, salty, sweet, and processed foods that we have forgotten the purpose of food: Food is medicine for the body. This concept seems to have become lost in both modern medicine and in our culture.

Rind  of orange cutaway in spiral shape

It is not just that we have forgotten the purpose of food. Our minds have become conditioned and in some ways addicted to eating foods low in nutrients, but high in satiating the taste buds and giving us emotional comfort. Eating like this when you have acne or any disease impedes the body’s ability to heal because you choose low nutrient-filled foods.

Low nutrient-filled foods do not have what it takes for the body to heal acne. As a result, maintaining clear skin is a constant battle as you yo-yo from one remedy to another with perhaps temporary results, but with no lasting results. Poor nutrition can also acerbate and contribute to the cause of acne.

Coconut Milk Fruit ShakeBy the way, nutrient rich foods also satiate the taste buds and emotions. It is a matter of becoming aware of your diet and adapting your mind to a different way of eating. Once you do, you will wonder how you ever ate any other way.

When the body is diseased in some way (acne is a disease), it needs all the nutrients it can get to heal. The current western diet that most people eat is for the most part nutritiously poor. The other problem with our misdirected perception of food and its purpose comes from the medical establishment. Many dermatologists and other doctors say there is no connection between acne and diet. They are wrong…period.Spinach

Their heads are in the sand. Hello! Scurvy is from a lack of vitamin C; rickets is from a deficiency in vitamin D, and some cases of blindness are caused by vitamin A defieiciencyy. So, logic dictates that if these diseases are cured or prevented when the body is supplied with them then food is medicine for the body and will help with other diseases.

The food, however, has to be nutrient rich. Food is not created equal when it comes to nutrients. The long-held misconception is that if we are eating then we must be getting the nutrients we need. Wrong thinking.

If your diet consists of food from fast food chains, out of boxes, foods processed with chemicals, pizza, pasta, soda (including diet), sugary drinks and food, then you are not getting enough nutrients need to clear your skin of acne. You need whole foods in your diet; foods that are fresh.

DSC_0044For way too long, the role of nutrition in clearing skin has been sorely neglected or ignored. However, there is a growing number of enlightened doctors who are teaching their patients that food is medicine. Nutrient rich food helps to prevent disease and aids in the body in maintaining homeostasis. Food as medicine for acne is very important because the body not only needs nutrients to maintain its balance; it also needs them to heal the skin at the same time. The nutrients are doing double duty.

It really is impossible to have great looking skin without proper nutrition. Besides individual choices when choosing what to eat, there are contributing elements that are creating detrimental consequences to the nutritional health of the country. More on this in the next post. For now, if you have acne take a hard look at your diet.

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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: Kombucha Salad Dressing and Kombucha Green Smoothie

25 May

We are very happy and exited to share two wonderful recipe from guest blogger, Lis Viehweg, M.A., CNFC.  Lis is a Denver-based Certified Natural Food Chef.  Lis created two fantastic recipes using kombuchaPassionberry Kombucha and Fresh Raspberry-Tarragon Salad Dressing and Green Kombucha Smoothie.  Can’t wait for you to try them.

Kombucha Salad Dressing by Lis Viehwig

Kombucha is a fermented tea loaded with probiotics enzymes.  It is said to have originated in Russia in late 19th century.  It comes in different flavors and is sold in most natural foods stores in the refrigerated section.  All the benefits Lis addresses below help the skin by allowing the skin to receive more nutrients.  Also, when toxins are prevented from forming or are reduced, they won’t show up on the skin in the form of  wrinkles, dry skin, blemishes, eczema, keratosis pilaris, etc.

Kombucha:  Fizzy, Fermented, and Fabulous


Lis Viehweg  M.A., CNFC
Certified Natural Foods Chef

Trust me, your stomach can use all the help it can get.  Friendly bacteria, contained in probiotic food sources, are just the guys for this job.  Probiotic enzymes improve immunity (so you don’t get sick) and help your body absorb vitamins and minerals better (so you don’t get sick AND you feel better, to boot).  Win-Win.  The fermentation process enhances the enzyme content of foods and chemically kick-starts digestion. 

Food that remains undigested in your gut can lead to such unappetizing outcomes as cell damage and toxic strain on the liver and kidneys, thus creating a “perfect storm” environment for allergies, inflammation that is a causative agent for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and immunity issues.  So drink your kombucha, children.  Or eat it!  Kombucha is an easy additive to smoothies-  I’ve included my favorite green smoothie recipe.  But one day, I said to myself:  I wonder how kombucha would work as a salad dressing?  Et voila. 

Passionberry Kombucha and Fresh Raspberry-Tarragon Salad Dressing

Ingredients for Dressing:

Kombucha Salad Dressing by Lis Viehwig

½ cup fresh raspberries
2 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
½ cup Passionberry kombucha ( any fruity kombucha will do)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
½ teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt or Grey Salt
Freshly-ground  Pepper to taste


Muddle raspberries and tarragon in the bottom of a mixing bowl.  Add kombucha, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice; whisk to blend.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield:  1 1/2 cups


Green Kombucha Smoothie


1 cup green kombucha
1 small apple (preferably organic), unpeeled and cut into chunks
1 banana
1 cup of frozen strawberries
A big handful of (organic) greens:  salad greens, baby spinach
1 Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)


Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and whirl until smooth.  If you like your smoothies thicker, add more frozen strawberries or ice cubes.
Note:  Chia seeds are a good source of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids, important for good digestion and a healthy heart, among other things.

Yield:  approximately 2 ½ cups

Besides being a natural foods personal chef in the Denver area, Lis is available for healthy food consultations and specializes in transforming cultural/traditional recipes into healthy ones.  You can contact her: lis@foodie1.com.

Lis Viehweg M.A., CNFC
Certified Natural Foods Chef
Honest Chow.  Real, good food prepared with care and a dash of humor by the curly girl….

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Yum Friday Recipe: Asian Style Anti-Inflammation Soup

16 Mar

I love soup; I could live on it.  They are easy to make; you can be very creative with ingredients; they are healthy and everything is in one bowl to eat.  Let me retrace my steps a bit to “healthy,” and add that most soups are healthy.  Those heavily creamy mixtures that are also cheese laden, not quite so healthy.  You know who you are broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, and one I just saw online, “Cream Cheese Potato Soup.”  Whoa!   My arteries are clogging at the thought while my mouth is watering with a craving.  Not for me, though, the dairy would send my stomach into a tailspin.

Lately, my soup tastes have been going  Asian  with a hunger for ginger, turmeric, and a thinner broth.  And that is where this recipe comes in.  It relies on those ingredients as the base spices.  It is also a very versatile soup, lending itself to easy adaptations.

While there are some really great nutrients in the vegetables in this soup, the stars are the spices and herbs.  It is heavily dosed with anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, and cilantro.  So, the bottom line is this soup is really good for the skin and because of its anti-inflammatory ingredients it’s great for skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris, etc.  Including this soup in your regular diet along with foods high in omega 3, fresh fruit, and fresh dark green vegetables will have your skin glowing.

Ginger has been used in eastern cultures for centuries as “food medicine.”  Turmeric in Ayurvedic medicine is considered a healing food for acne and other skin conditions.  If you can get fresh turmeric, it’s the best.  While dried is good, fresh turmeric has a smoother, less pungent taste then it’s dried form.  Asian markets and larger Whole Foods carry it.  It really makes a difference in the taste.  But, I don’t always have fresh turmeric on hand, so I use the dry form. 

The base of the soup always has either vegetable or chicken stock, onions, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, and garlic.  While I change-up certain vegetables, I always include onions, some type of mushroom and greens (spinach, kale, watercress, etc.).  Really, the soup is delicious with just those three vegetables.  And it great served with lime wedges.  Lime juice adds another level of flavor. 

I love using homemade stock, but hey, time doesn’t always allow for it.  When I use commercial stock, I use a very good quality stock and always organic.  I also find commercial stocks much more condensed in taste, so I dilute them.   Usually, I dilute them about half stock and half water.  Vegetable stock I may dilute a bit more.

This soup is a great one to play with for flavor and ingredients.  I usually serve it with bean thread or rice noodles.  Lately, however, we have eaten it without any starch, or I have really enjoyed serving it with sticky short grain rice.  That’s what I love about it, you can play around with the ingredients.  For examples, if I could eat shrimp I would probably add some at the end of the cooking process.

The other thing I enjoy about making this soup is that the vegetables are rough cut.  They aren’t diced in small pieces, so it really speeds up the time.  The soup can be made in about 30 minutes or less, depending on the vegetables added. 

Yum Asian Style Anti-Inflammation Soup – serves 6

64 oz homemade chicken or vegetable stock – if using commercial stock dilute 32 oz of stock with 32 oz of water
1 large onion cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced – about 4 cups

2 cups sliced mushrooms of any variety (frozen shitake nice to have on hand for this soup)
2  cups rough cut chopped greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, watercress)
½  cup chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh grated turmeric (if using dry turmeric, 2 teaspoons)
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped jalapeno or other hot pepper (optional)
salt/pepper to taste
6 lime wedges
4 – 5 cups prepared rice noodles, or 4 cups cooked rice (optional)

If serving with rice noodles, start the noodles soaking.  If serving with rice, start cooking rice.

In a large pot, add the stock, onions, ginger, turmeric, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat so soup simmers.  Cook about 12 minutes; add the mushrooms and greens, cook about 10 minutes; add cilantro.  Taste for seasonings. You want a nice balance between the ginger and turmeric.  Simmer for additional 5 minutes.  Serve as is or over rice noodles or rice.

other vegetables – If you use other vegetables, make sure to keep a nice balance of the amount of vegetables used so the soup remains brothy.  Also add the vegetables that take longer to cook first, so the softer vegetables, keep their color. 

Some vegetables suggestions: celery, carrots cut on diagonal.  If you use celery or carrots, add them with the onions and cook until tender soft.  Other vegetables, such as snow peas or peas, add in the last 5 minutes to keep their texture and color.

Add a couple tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce.  If you do this, reduce or eliminate the salt.

Add a little shrimp in the last few minutes.

Add some bean sprouts last 5 minutes of cooking

Sometimes I sauté the onion (carrots and celery too if being added) in some extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes then add half the spices (ginger, turmeric, garlic) and sauté for about a minute or so before adding the chicken stock.  Then I add the remaining portion of the spices after the stock begins to simmer.

Happy Eating

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Yum Friday Recipe: Scrambled Tofu with Vegetables

20 Jan

For a long time I was afraid of tofu. Yeah. I would buy it, and it would sit in the refrigerator until past the expiration date because I didn’t know how to use it.  And most of the recipes that I came across had this elaborate method of draining the liquid from it.  It involved placing the tofu a day ahead in a strainer over a bowl with something heavy on it.  For some reason, finding the heavy object to put on the tofu was a stumbling block for me as well as the day ahead process.  Tofu was a mystery.  Except for adding it to hot and sour soup, I gave up on making recipes with tofu and ate it when out at restaurants.


Yum Scrub Organics Recipe: Scrambled Tofu and Vegetables

Then one day I had scrambled tofu at a favorite vegetarian restaurant in Denver, the Watercourse Foods Restaurant.  The light bulb clicked; I could make scrambled tofu.  Bravo!  Other recipes followed including buffalo wing tofu; an adventurous and creative family member even cut the tofu into the shapes of wings.  Some might say he has too much time on his hands.  But, my basic tofu recipe is scrambled with vegetables.

Skin and Other Body Nutrients
Many people know that tofu is an excellent source of protein.  However, it also has some
pro-healthy skin nutrients, such as omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, and copper.  Copper helps with the formation of collagen and elastin.  Copper also has anti-oxidant properties along with the manganese found in tofu.  Tofu is also a source of phytoestrogens, which is good for peri-menopause and menopausal women.   Because estrogen in this group begins to wane, the skin becomes thinner and drier.  Phytoestrogens, specifically isoflavones, act like weak estrogen in the body.  Tofu is high in tryptophan and a good source of iron and calcium.

This recipe also uses turmeric for coloring.  However, turmeric has much more to offer than just pretty dressing.  Turmeric is valued in the Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medical traditions as an anti-inflammatory.  Turmeric is suggested for people who have acne and people with inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease.  It’s also high in the anti-oxidant manganese .

Yum Recipe: Scrambled Tofu with Vegetables
The recipe below is a basic outline.  While tofu is bland just straight from the carton, the great thing about it that it absorbs flavors easily.  So, it will taste like what you add to it. Potatoes, onions, spinach, peppers, and garlic are the vegetables I used for this recipe, but you can add whatever vegetables you want.  I flavored this recipe with poultry seasoning, but you can use others, such as a curry or Italian herbs, ginger, or just the basics of salt, pepper, and garlic.






Scrambled Tofu with Vegetables – serves 4



1 container of organic tofu
5 – 6 cups chopped or diced vegetables
(potatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, kale, etc.)
½ teaspoon turmeric (more for deeper color, but this needs to be balanced against how much turmeric flavor you want.)
1 Tablespoon + 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 -3 teaspoons herbs or spices (i.e poultry seasoning, curry, ginger, or Italian seasonings) – The amount depends on strength of spice.  i.e  Curry is very strong, so you would use less.
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper

Remove tofu from container and place in a colander over a bowl.  With clean hands squeeze the tofu, or use a spatula to press excess liquid from the tofu.  Tofu should break into pieces and look similar to scrambled eggs.  Empty the liquid from the bowl and place the “scrambled” tofu in it.  Sprinkle the turmeric over the tofu and mix it in until the tofu is colored uniformly.  Add the 1 Tablespoon olive oil, seasonings, garlic powder, and salt/pepper.  Mix thoroughly and then set aside.

Seasoned Tofu

Sauté the vegetables in the remaining olive oil.  Remember to add the vegetables according to how long they take to cook. For example, potatoes and onion take longer than most other vegetables.   Add spinach and other greens last.  Cook 1 minute then add the tofu.  Sauté the scramble for about 5 to 7 min, stirring occasionally.  Serve and Enjoy.

Light and Love to all.
A Yum Scrub Organics Recipe

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The George Mateljan Foundation for The World’s Healthiest Foods, “Tofu.” Online: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=111

 The George Mateljan Foundation for The World’s Healthiest Foods, “Turmeric.”  Online: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78

Yum Friday Recipe: Vegetarian Portuguese Caldo Verde (Green Soup)

16 Sep

For some odd reason “green soup” conjures up in my mind the blue soup in Bridget Jone’s Diary.  Although, the blue in Bridget’s soup was the result of some awful blue string.  No worries here though.  Our soup doesn’t have one bit of blue string in it, but it does have a lot of green deliciousness.

Caldo Verde is considered by many Portuguese to be the national soup of Portugal; that’s how popular it.  It’s served everywhere in Portugal.  We like it not only for its healthy nutritional punch, but Caldo Verde is also a comfort food.  What better time to turn to comfort foods than when the chill of fall is in the air.  The traditional version of green soup has sausage; we use cannellini beans for the protein.

Our garden is bursting with kale, so making this soup was a great way to make use of the abundant kale crop.  Although kale is available year round, in the fall and winter it is the sweetest.  In the summer kale can be bitter.  But don’t shy away from kale in the summer, just don’t cook it longer than 5 minutes, and it won’t be bitter.

Kale is high in vitamin K.  And the skin just loves, loves, loves vitamin K.  It’s also very high in two other skin loving nutrients, vitamin A and C.  It even has omega 3; we need to get omega 3 from food sources since our bodies don’t make it.  Since most western diets lack omega 3, we need to make an effort to eat foods with omega 3.  Kale has a slew of vitamins from the B family along with some copper and protein.  Kale is also very good for lowering cholesterol.

Potatoes are the other main ingredient in Portuguese green soup.  Potatoes get a bum rap because of the carbohydrates. This is unjustified.  For one thing, your body needs carbohydrates for energy.  And for another, it’s the way most people eat potatoes (french fries, potato chip, mashed with gravy, loaded baked potatoes) that makes them unhealthy. The nutrient level of potatoes out weigh the fear from getting to many carbohydrates from them.

Recent research has identified over 60 phytonutrients in potatoes that rival those found in spinach and broccoli.  Two of these, the flavonoids quercetin and kukoamines have only been found in one other plant–the goji berry. Goji Berries are very popular because of their antioxidant properties. Potatoes also have high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and copper.  In addition, potatoes are a good source of fiber; fiber removes toxins from the body so they don’t land on your skin.

Yum Vegetarian Portuguese Caldo Verde (Green Soup) – serves 6 – 8

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion – diced
3 – 4 garlic cloves – chopped or minced
32 ounces of high quality vegetable broth and 32 ounces of water
(Just water can also be used.  Using only water for the broth is the traditional way to make the soup)
8 medium size potatoes – cubed
(peeled or unpeeled – unpeeled provides more nutrients)
1 can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
¾ cup fresh cilantro – chopped
½ cup fresh parsley – chopped
¼ cup fresh chives – chopped
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
8 – 10 cups kale – chopped or julienne

In a large pot, heat the olive oil then add the onion and sauté until semi-soft.  Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable broth, 32 ounces of water (or 64 ounces of water if using all water as the broth), and the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes until they are very soft–about 40 to 45 minutes.  After the potatoes have become very soft and while still in the pot, mash them with a potato masher. You could also use an immersion blender to mash them; do leave some small pieces of potato.
Add the cannellini beans (juice included), cilantro, parsley, chives, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the kale and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the kale is semi-soft.  Serve.

Gostoso! (Yummy in Portuguese)

Serve with some crusty bread.
Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.
Serve with a dash of Balsamic vinegar and/or cayenne pepper sauce
Non vegetarians can also use chicken broth

A Yum Scrub Organics Recipe – adapted by Lisa Mackenzie Karson

“Worlds Healthiest Foods,” “Kale,” WH Foods. online: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=38&tname=foodspice

Yum Friday Recipe – Hearty Eggplant “Italian Sausage” Sandwiches

26 Aug

Japanese eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and spices combine to make not only a great Italian tasty dish, but a healthy one to boot.  The buns are gluten free and yeast free, which is especially good for people whose skin and digestion are aggravated by these two, and they are delicious.

We had some amazing Japanese eggplant and hot yellow peppers in our CSA this week!  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. How it works is at the beginning of the growing season you buy a share from a local farmer for that growing season. Shares are sold as individual or family, and you can have a share for just vegetables or fruit, or a combination.  Many CSA’s have shares for flowers and eggs as well.  Weekly, the farmer then delivers (at a designated pick-up place) your share.  The CSA deliveries go until the fall or late fall.  Short of growing your own veggies, it’s a great way to have fresh produce and support local farmers.

So, we decided to make a classic and hearty dish with the Japanese eggplant that still keeps the skin happy.   These meat-less sausage sandwiches are so yummy, you won’t even miss the sausage.  Because Japanese eggplant has a meaty texture, it makes a great substitute for the sausage, and with the fennel and anise seeds you’ll be tasting Italian.   The hot yellow peppers really turn up the heat!  Although, you can substitute sweet peppers for the hot, or do a combination.

Eggplant doesn’t have much protein, but don’t worry most Americans don’t have to worry about not getting enough protein.  Eggplant is also very low in carbohydrates, but what it does have is some wonderful phytonutrients that are powerful antioxidants.  The body and skin loves antioxidants because they fight free radicals and reduce inflammation.  Eggplant is also a very good source of fiber; fiber helps to remove toxins from the body.

While we used Japanese eggplant in our recipe, you can use another variety. There are at least 15 varieties of eggplant…who knew.  So, you’ve tried eggplant, but thought it too bitter.  Try it again, but this time buy a young (small) eggplant; they don’t have as many seeds, and it’s the seeds that contribute to the bitter taste.  Also, buy a male eggplant.  We’re not being sexist or anything, but the males are much less bitter.  Go figure.  Okay, so how do you tell the male from the female?  There’s some bawdy joke probably here, but we’ll refrain.  There’s an indentation at the end (opposite the stem) of an eggplant.  If the indentation is shallow and round, it’s male.  The indentation of the female is deep with a dash shape.

Our recipe also has tomatoes.  Tomatoes are bursting with Vitamin C, and as we’ve said before, the skin loves vitamin C–helps keeps those wrinkles at bay and fights inflammation.  Of course, tomatoes have their own antioxidant phytonutrient-lycopene.  The combined eggplant and the tomato in the recipe provide almost all the B vitamins and a good amount of copper–other skin loving nutrients.

As mentioned above, the rolls are not only gluten free, but are yeast free, light, and delicious. The rolls are made by Against The Grain.  They’re sold in many natural grocery stores and coops.  Check their website for locations in your area  (http://www.againstthegraingourmet.com).

Yum Hearty Eggplant “Italian Sausage” SandwichesRecipe  serves 4 – 6
3-4 Japanese Eggplant – sliced
4 hot yellow peppers sliced (can substitute sweet green or yellow peppers for hot ones)
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 medium white onion diced
2-3 Italian tomatoes
1-16 ounce can diced tomatoes and the juice
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2  Tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 Tablespoon anise seeds
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon salt

Prepare vegetables.  In a large skillet on medium heat add the olive oil, heat anise and fennel seeds for 1-2 minutes. Then add onions, peppers and saute until the onions are transparent.   Lower heat and add eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add canned tomatoes, and salt.   Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

To Serve: Lightly toast buns; pile on the Eggplant “Italian Sausage” with the juices.  Serve with a lettuce salad and corn on the cob!

Serving Suggestion: Instead on rolls, serve it over pasta or rice.

Recipe created by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson

The Cook’s Thesaurus
. http://www.foodsubs.com/Eggplants.html

Vegetarians in Paradise. http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch67.html

Yum Friday Recipe: Jicama & Canary Melon Salsa

22 Jul

The sweet juiciness of canary melon and the crunch of jicama don’t just make a perfect duo to dance on your taste buds; they benefit your skin (and body) as well.  Before we get to the benefits of the melon, a bit of trivia, canary melons are named “canary” because of their color and not because they come from the Canary Islands–they are yellow, oval, and taste similar to a cantaloupe, but much sweeter.

Canary Melons are extremely high in Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin A (beta-carotene).  Another bit of trivia: Did you know that humans are one of the few mammals that can’t make Vitamin C in the body? We’re up there hanging along with bats in this. We lack the enzyme and hence our need for foods that contain Vitamin C.

Vitamin C synthesizes collagen in the body.  Collagen is a protein that rebuilds and repairs the skin and gives it its elasticity.  Vitamin C along with vitamin A also fight free radicals. Free radicals cause wrinkles and contribute to dry skin.  Vitamin C also can help with skin damage from the sun.  As a side note: Dr. Andrew Weil recommends increasing Vitamin C intake before surgery, during (if the doctor will go along with it), and after surgery to heal surgical wounds.  Vitamin A also helps to rebuild and repair skin tissue.

Jicama (pronounced hic-ama) is crispy like an apple, but without the tart and juicy component; it’s more starchy.  Jicama is a great source of fiber.  Fiber is needed in the diet to eliminate toxins and waste, which is very beneficial for the skin.  Jicama comes from Central America and resembles an overgrown turnip.  Jicama is usually eaten raw and makes a great addition to salad.  Jicama also contains Vitamin C and some of the B vitamins.

Jicama Canary Melon Salsa —Serves 4 – 6     

1/2 jicama, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 canary melon, seeded and cut into cubes
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (leave the seeds if you want a little more spice)

½ lime, juiced
8 -10 fresh basil leaves, julienne
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Salt to taste

Preparing Jicama – Cut the jicama into quarters and use a peeler to remove the skin. Cut the jicama into matchsticks and then chop into cubes. 

In a large bowl, mix together the jicama, melon, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, olive oil, rice wine vinegar and salt.  If you have time, refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.   Before serving, toss in basil–leave some basil for garnish.  
Serve as a salsa on grilled fish or chicken breast. It also makes a refreshing side dish.  


Bouchez, Colleen “Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out.”  Online: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/skin-nutrition

Weil, Andrew MD, “Vitamin C for Surgery.” Online: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400331/Vitamin-C-for-Surgery.html

Recipe by: Lisa Mackenize Karson

Friday Yum Recipe – Pico de Gallo Vegetable Polenta

20 May

Today we’re combing two cultures, Italian and Mexican, to make one delicious dish.  If you are looking for a healthy comfort food that’s gluten-free and low in fat, try polenta. Polenta is a cornmeal dish that originated in northern Italy.  It was originally made from different grains, but now is generally made with a coarse cornmeal. Polenta is one of those all day foods; you can have it in the morning topped with maple syrup (probably not with this recipe), or for lunch or dinner.  Here we pair it with another favorite, Mexican pico de gallo. Pico de Gallo, which mean rooster’s beak….go figure…, is a fresh salsa (salsa fresca) sometimes made with chilies and sometimes not.  We aren’t using chilis in this recipe, but you can.   Delizioso!  Delicioso!  No matter which way you say delicious, this dish is good for a healthy body and  healthy skin.

Pico de Gallo Vegetable Polenta – Serves 6-8
Polenta Ingredients
2 cups polenta corn (coarse corn meal)
2 – 2.5 cups chopped mushrooms – (try a variety of mushrooms)
1 young zucchini chopped
1 cup onion chopped
2 gloves garlic finely chopped or minced
2 -3 TBL chopped cilantro
3 -4 TBL ghee or butter
1 Tsp. salt
6 – 7 cups water

Pico de Gallo Ingredients
3 tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2- 3 avocados sliced

Polenta Directions
Preheat Oven 350 degrees
Prepare Pan – Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a loaf pan.
Place 6 cups water, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cilantro, and 1 TBL of the butter or ghee in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook vegetables for about 4- 5 min.  Slowly add the coarse corn meal, cook mixture for another 5 minutes stirring constantly, adding more water if necessary.  Add the rest of the ghee or butter.
Pour polenta into prepared pan, place in  350 degree oven for 35- 50 min.
350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.
After the polenta bakes, allow to cool for a few minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the polenta to help release it.  Turn the loaf pan upside down over a serving plate.  Or place a serving plate over the top of the loaf pan and carefully flip both.

Pico de Gallo
Dice the tomatoes
Finely chop the garlic
Chop cilantro for 1/4 cup
Mix the ingredients adding salt/pepper to taste
The Pico de Gallo for this recipe is made without onions.  You may add 1/4 cup chopped scallions.                                                      

Garnish and Plating
1. Pour the pico de gallo over the polenta and arrange avocado slices around the plate.
2. Slice polenta and arrange on plate; pour pico de gallo over the slices and arrange avocados.
3. Individualy plate with a couple of polenta slices, pico de gallo and avocado.
Recipe by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson
copyright: Abhijit Chandra, LLC, 2009

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