Miso Tip #8 – Try Miso Spice!

Miso SpiceAnd, Miso Spice makes 8! In the post, ‘7-Tips for Using Miso,’ I shared some miso basics and a few tips for using miso paste in cooking. Now, here’s one more tip for using this detoxifying, gut-friendly, enzyme-rich fermented food. Sprinkle it on savory dishes, showering them with umami goodness. Sprinkle miso on dishes as a condiment?  Continue reading

Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili Without a Recipe

Vegetarian ChiliLast year, on a whim, I entered a vegetarian chili cook-off at my alma mater. It was a festive evening, a great learning experience with my chili won a prize!  However, I can’t share the recipe with you, because I didn’t use one. But, read on and check out the guidelines I always use and customize each time -as you should as well.
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Do This Before Your Holiday Baking!

Baking Soda and Baking Powder TestIf you shoved your baking staples to back of your cabinet since last holiday season, you may need this baking soda and baking powder test. Because, just like your other ingredients, baking soda and powder freshness counts. So, before you gather your ingredients and pre-heat the oven, do this quick test to make sure your gingerbread men emerge from the oven pleasantly plump and your cakes rise to the occasion!

Why You Should Test Baking Soda and Baking Powder Freshness.

Both lose their effectiveness over time, typically after anywhere from 6 months to 1 year after opening. But, if opened and stored under humid conditions, they may not last until the “best used by” date on the container.

What is the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?

The difference is that baking powder contains an acid, whereas baking soda does not. So, when using baking soda, an acid be added separately. Either way, when the acid interacts with the soda, carbon dioxide gas develops, giving your baked goods that pillow-like loft and airiness.

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How to Make Refrigerator Tea

Refrigerator Brewed Herbal Tea

Don’t say goodby to sun tea simply because summer is ending. Make refrigerator tea instead! Refrigerator tea is just as easy and an arguably safer way to enjoy your favorite cold teas year-round and at a fraction of the cost of bottled beverages. I’m hooked on the organic Hibiscus High Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs. The vibrant color and floral fragrance make it a treat for the eyes, nose and taste buds.

Is Sun Tea Safe?
Sun tea can be made safely. However, precautions must be taken to avoid growth of bacteria in the tea or those commonly found in water, such as Alcaligenes viscolactis. To ensure proper food safety, the water needs to either be heated to 195° for three to five minutes or kept at 40° or lower. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the sun’s rays used to steep tea in a jar won’t heat the water hotter than 130° Fahrenheit.

How to Make Refrigerator Tea
Making refrigerator tea is the same as making regular tea, but with cold water and with a longer steeping time. Into a glass container, add about 1 tablespoon of dried tea per quart of water. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Then, strain and serve straight up or over ice.

You can bump up the flavor and health benefits by getting creative with your cubes. For example, consider adding ginger juice cubes or turmeric ice cubes for an immune and anti-inflammatory benefit. No subtlety here. Pun intended!

Rose Mountain Herbs Tea

Add tea to a glass jar full of filtered water.

Sun Tea Brewing

Place the container in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. Steeping time will vary with different teas and the tea to water ratio. Then, strain and serve.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

I’m finally on board with the ‘vegetable pasta’ trend, especially spaghetti squash. Of course, spiralized or shredded vegetables are a very healthy dietary choice. However, calling them ‘pasta’ seems a bit of a stretch, prompting disappointment by all but the most hard-core veggie eaters. Let’s just call them shredded or spiralized vegetables —especially if it helps you eat more veggies overall. Here’s a few tricks to cook spaghetti squash.

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How to Clean and Prepare Leeks

How to Clean LeeksLeeks are not a mainstay of American cooking. Mellow in flavor and known for their subtlety, leeks are overshadowed by onions and garlic, their more assertive cousins. But, perhaps there is more to their underutilization than their demure nature. They can seem like a bit of effort. Grown in sandy soil, leeks require very thorough cleaning. But, according to David Lebovitz, culinary American-in-Paris, it is worth the effort to cook with leeks and break out of the onion routine.

“They do require a bit more preparation, but you don’t have to deal with those papery skins flying all over your kitchen, which I think is a pretty decent trade-off.”

David Lebovitz

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How to Make Fire Cider at Home

Fire Cider

Fire Cider, according to the Huffington Post, is “one of those grandma-style cold and hangover remedies that is designed to be one part soothing, one part refreshing and one part BURN-IT-OUT-OF-YOU.” That got my attention. Research ensues. In short, the tonic is a potent culinary alchemy of anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, sinus clearing, immune and circulation boosting ingredients. No wonder this herbalists’ treasure can supposedly remedy far more than just hangovers and the common cold. -As if that wasn’t enough!

At this point, I’m fully intrigued when I finally found it at a country store in the Berkshires. One sip later, I was hooked. But, several months and about a dozen 8 ounce bottles later (at $12.99 each), it was DIY-time.

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3 Ways to Get the Most From Turmeric

Turmeric Anti-Inflammation DrinkUsed for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, the healing powers of turmeric have now gained mainstream awareness. Turmeric and curcumin, the most active constituent of the spice, have been the subject of thousands of studies, revealing the following: Continue reading

Basic Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock IngredientsEvery poultry-eating cook needs a go-to chicken stock recipe. I never had one until recently as the yield from my single roasted chicken didn’t seem worth the effort. But, now I can’t imagine wasting a single carcass and simply wait until I have two of them. After all the meat has been eaten, I throw the bones  into a freezer bag, along with any kitchen scraps collected from juicing and cooking during the week (mostly carrot, celery, leek and onion ends). I also save onion skins, as they impart a pleasant caramel color to the stock. Continue reading

How to Make and Use Date Paste

Date Paste

Date paste may be the best alternative sweetener you’re not using. Dates are naturally moist and sticky with hints of carmel, brown sugar and often vanilla flavor. These qualities make blended date paste an excellent alternative to processed sugar in smoothies baked goods, such as breads, cookies and bars or as a spread. Date paste also has more than a few health advantages over the white stuff.

Adding sweetness with dates means adding nutrition without refined sugar’s roller coaster ride. The natural sugar in dates, invert sugar, is easily absorbed and assimilated by the body. Yet, their high fiber content makes them a low-glycemic index food. So, dates or date paste, not only support healthy blood sugar levels and elimination, but also helps you stay full longer. Dates are also high in iron, calcium, are even richer in potassium than bananas. Dates are also a rich source of minerals, such as chlorine, copper, magnesium, sulphur and phosphorus. Continue reading