Made with organic soybeans, fresh and local Ingredients

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chives - A-K

by Francine

photo via
My mom, who is Roumanian, but who moved to France when she was five and considers herself French, loves chives. In fact, she loves everything in the allium family, as do the French in general. I used to hate when she had onions, because as a child I hated them. And just like garlic--when someone is eating them and you're not--let's face it--their breath STINKS! I used to give her a hard time when I saw her eating her onion and sardine sandwiches, which of course now I realize are jam-packed with all kinds of amazing nutrition. Anyway, mom--if you happen to be reading this, know that I love you and have grown to appreciate many of what I used to consider less than appealing eating habits. (Although the raw ground beef topped with a raw egg is still in the same category it used to be--Ewwww!)

Interesting little tidbit about chives (particularly interesting if you are a gardener): Chives are beneficial to rose bushes, since they emit an odor which discourages aphids. I love this sort of thing as it pertains to growing. People into organic and biodynamic farming have devoted themselves to learning the natural ways to prevent "pests" and to work in harmony with plants and animals to grow healthily and bountifully.

As usual--when you eat fresh produce from the earth in the form of greens, roots, etc.(especially if it has been grown free of pesticides, sustainably, etc) --you're doing yourself a big favor. Not just in flavor, but in health benefits. And eating chives is no exception.  

Allium herbs were popular among the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The strong odor, so typical of these herbs, is due to a variety of sulfur compounds, such as alkyl sulfoxides and allyl sulfides. These are all reported to have beneficial effects on the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems. 

I found these interesting attributes on and the vegetarian nutrition link listed below:
  • Like in scallions, they contain more plant derived dietary fiber than fellow allium members like onions, shallots, leeks. . . etc. 100 g fresh leaves provide 2.5 g or 7% of daily-recommended levels of dietary fiber.
  • Like other allium members, they too possess thio-sulfinites anti-oxidants. Thio-sufinites such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide convert to allicin by enzymatic reaction when its leaves disrupted (crushing, cutting etc). Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal activities.
  • Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels, which helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
  • Chives have exceptionally more vitamin A than any other allium family member vegetables.100 g of fresh leaves contain 4353 IU of vitamin-A or 145% of daily recommended levels. In addition, their green leaves have other flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as carotenes, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Together, they help body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • They also have some other essential vitamins such as vitamin C and K. In fact, chives are one of the richest sources of vitamin K, slightly more than that of scallions. 100 g of fresh greens provide 212.7 µg or about 177% of daily recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet helps limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Fresh chives are rich source of folates.100 g fresh leaves provide 105 µg or 26% of DRI of folates. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate levels in the diet during pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
  • Furthermore, the leaves are packed with other B-complex vitamins as well as some essential minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and calcium. The leafy greens contain several vital vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in healthy proportions. 

    Population studies have shown that a higher intake of allium vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancers. The organosulfur compounds they contain inhibit tumor growth and cell proliferation, and arrest the cell cycle in tumor cells. Allium vegetables, including chives, especially have a protective effect against both esophageal and stomach cancer as well as prostate cancer. The highest antioxidant activity in chives is observed in the leaves, which are also rich in flavonoids. 

    Like most herbs (dare I say all?) chives are best when fresh--more flavor, more nutrition. Personally I love sauteed tofu and use it as a base for so many meals. Try some tofu sprinkled generously with chopped chives. (Add a little cilantro while you're at it. . . Go crazy!)


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cilantro- you do so much more than taste good!

photo via
I continue to be amazed by the health benefits of herbs and spices. I used to think they were around as tasty and decorative additions to our culinary art. With summer, the taste of cilantro plays big in so many dishes and mixed drinks. The aromatic herb is well known and adored in Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Thai food, but who knew how healthy it is?! (Maybe they knew  knew all along, and that's one of the reasons they've been using it!. . . )

Cilantro has been effectively used to help remove toxins from the body. The chemical compounds in cilantro actually bind to the heavy metals, loosening them from the tissues, blood and organs. Cilantro's chemical compounds then help to transport these damaging substances out of the body through elimination. Does this sound a bit like natural magic? It actually is! (BTW- at your grocer's or farmers markets, cilantro is usually right next to Italian or the "ordinary" frizzy type parsley we're usually most familiar with. The only way to tell for sure--unless it's labelled--is to sniff it. That's when you'll recognize the inimitable aroma of cilantro.) 

Many claims have been made suggesting that cilantro could be one of nature's best chelation agents, particularly for individuals who have been exposed to heightened levels of mercury. Mercury excess is a common problem that may be the result of metallic teeth fillings or over-consumption of predatory fish (tuna, for instance).

Also, the rich qualities of cilantro oil have a powerfully positive effect on our inner digestive tract. The oils aid our digestive system in its production of digestive enzymes, acids and juices. The oil also helps to stimulate digestion through peristaltic motion.

The known benefits of cilantro are extensive, and researchers are discovering more every day. Currently, there are several well-known, well-documented benefits of organic cilantro. Here is a list I found on

Cilantro Benefits:
  • Powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that may help symptoms of arthritis
  • Protective agents against bacterial infection from Salmonella in food products
  • Acts to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
  • Relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence and an overall digestive aid
  • Wards off urinary tract infections
  • Helps reduce feelings of nausea
  • Eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation
  • Has been shown to reduce menstrual cramping.
  • Adds fiber to the digestive tract
  • A source of iron, magnesium, and is helpful in fighting anemia
  • Gives relief for diarrhea, especially if caused by microbial or fungal infections
  • Helps promote healthy liver function.
  • Reduces minor swelling
  • Strong general antioxidant properties
  • Disinfects and helps detoxify the body
  • Stimulates the endocrine glands
  • Helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar
  • Acts as a natural anti-septic and anti-fungal agent for skin disorders like fungal infections and eczema
  • Contains immune-boosting properties
  • Acts as an expectorant
  • Helps ease conjunctivitis, as well as eye-aging, macular degeneration, and other stressors on the eyes.
  • Jam-packed with Vitamin A, 100gms provides 225% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin A helps protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Cilantro is also one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K; it has a potentially important role in bone mass building and has been used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients to limit neuronal damage in their brain.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Have-a Avo-cado!

by Francine
photo via
Did you know that avocados are part of the fruit family? And specifically—the berry? Well, they are. And here’s an even more surprising fact--there are nearly 500 varieties of this creamy, delightful food.

According to, avocadoes got their name from Spanish explorers who couldn't pronounce the Aztec word for the fruit, know as ahuacatl, "testicle," (because of its shape). The Spanish called it the aguacate, leading to the guacamole we know today.

And now researchers in Mexico are saying that avocado oil could be used to counteract the effects of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Avocado is already well known for its cholesterol-fighting properties but these research scientists are saying it contains antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by environmental factors like radiation or air pollution. Good stuff, considering how delicious and versatile these wondrous fruits are.

Avocado's anti-inflammatory nutrients fall into five basic categories:
                phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol
                carotenoid antioxidants, including lutein, neoxanthin, neochrome, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, violaxanthin , beta-carotene and alpha-carotene
                other (non-carotenoid) antioxidants, including the flavonoids epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc
                omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (approximately 160 milligrams per cup of sliced avocado)
                polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PSA)s

We know that heart health is improved by intake of oleic acid (the primary fatty acid in avocado) and by intake of omega-3 fatty acids (provided by avocado in the form of alpha-linolenic acid and in the amount of 160 milligrams per cup). Since elevated levels of homocysteine form a key risk factor for heart disease, and since B vitamins are very important for healthy regulation of homocysteine levels, avocado's significant amounts of vitamin B-6 and folic acid provide another channel of heart support.

The anti-cancer properties of avocado are related to its unusual mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. That relationship is to be expected since cancer risk factors almost always include excessive inflammation (related to lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients) and oxidative stress (related to lack of antioxidants). 

Avocadoes are delicious plain, or with a dash of pepper, or just about anything you like. I know someone who likes to put ketchup on them. Maybe some lemon juice or salsa! Just cut one in half and spoon out the deliciously textured fruit. You can also mash and make a variety of mouth-watering guacamoles, or as part of creamy salad dressing (the texture creates the creamy texture of the salad dressing--w/o mayonnaise). Or you can cube or slice and mix into your salads.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mix it up

photo via
by Francine

As the weather gets warmer/hotter, our desire to 'slave over a hot stove' usually lessens--especially if we've just returned from work and want to spend the evening relaxing outdoors, watching a good movie, gardening, or reading a great book (or maybe even vegging out in front of the tube. . . ). Salads are a great option anytime, but especially in hot weather. And the possibilities are essentially limitless. A fabulous salad of organic greens topped with grilled chicken or shrimp, or salmon  (unless you're a vegetarian) is always good. . . but those aren't the only options for a protein-packed meal--vegetarian or not!

An easy and tasty dinner salad can be put together in minutes with some tofu (and maybe some beans), as the protein partner to all those delightful veggies.

Now if you want to speed things up, get a package of flavored tofu. Either in a block or pasta form. You can of course also marinate your own, but obviously this takes longer. Another time-saver is to buy a box or bag of pre-washed organic lettuces. But even better would be to open the door to the backyard and go pick your greens fresh. Good for you if that's the case!

Suggested summer salad #1

Mixed greens
beets (steamed or roasted) -- blood purifier that helps in the building of red blood cells
red onion -- anti-inflammatory, Vit C, and fiber
garlic (about 2-3 cloves) -- cardio and cancer protective
celery  -good for blood pressure
snap peas --so delicious and great texture
tofu - your choice of flavor!
fresh corn (optional)
Bell pepper -- antioxidant, anti-inflmmatory, Vit C
fresh herbs--like tarragon, oregano, and basil (or dried)
salt and pepper to taste (salt is not necessary, because the 'bite' is derived from the garlic, onion, and lemon juice)

Make a vinaigrette from olive oil, wine vinegar, mustard, and a bit of lemon. Remember to let the garlic (crushed or diced really fine) sit out for awhile before eating. This enhances the release of beneficial enzymes.