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Bacopa monnieri is a creeping perennial with thick succulent oblong green leaves and white or pale purple flowers. As a water-loving species, also called water hyssop among other names, it grows in many tropical and semi-tropical locations often in marsh-like habitats around the world. It is believed to be native to India and Sri Lanka. Bacopa is one of two Ayurvedic varieties that go by the name "brahmi". The other is gotu kola which has similar but different properties.
Parsley leaves are a popular universal seasoning and culinary herb that comes in two main types, curly leaf and flat leaf.French or curly leaf parsley, with its ruffled course bright green leaves, is the one most commonly used as a garnish to savory meals. Italian or flat leaf usually has a stronger flavor and sometimes a darker green color. Parsley was named Herb of the Year for 2021 by the International Herb Association because of its versatile use as a culinary as well as medicinal species.
Blueberries are a small round blue berry with a white, purple to light yellow-green colored flesh and are related to cranberry, bilberry and huckleberry. The wild blueberry species is native to the colder climates of North America. Indigenous cultures in these regions used the entire blueberry plant from leaves to roots and called the berries "star berry" because of the flared five-pointed star-like pattern on the top of the fruit. This is the location where the white bell-shaped blossoms once formed.
Tofu is coagulated soymilk that is pressed into blocks, producing a firm yet soft sliceable texture that takes on the rectangular shape of the mold. Tofu is often called "bean curd" because it's made by a curdling method similar to cheese-making which involves separating the curds from the whey. However, it is not fermented, ripened or aged. Here we will cover the top 3 most frequently asked questions about tofu and soy products in general and their debated health concerns.
Coriander seeds are the dried fruits of the cilantro plant species Coriandrum sativum which comes from the celery, carrot and parsley family along with other popular spices such as caraway, dill, fennel and cumin. Coriander is considered one of the ancient spices cultivated by early Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations located in an area identified as the Fertile Crescent. As such it has had a long cultural history of herbal and culinary use. Here is our top 10 list of traditional coriander seed uses known throughout the ages.
In recent times, juicing raw fruits and vegetables has gained popularity among many health seekers worldwide as a way to increase general nutrition as well as aid detoxification processes. As far as "mono juicing" goes, there have been three trend-setting juice varieties that have become especially well-known for their distinct health-enhancing potentials. These are celery juice, cucumber juice and beet juice. Here we will be discussing the main positive attributes of these three varieties.
Mesquite powder comes from Prosopis genus of mesquite trees most commonly known for their mesquite wood, a type of firewood used to impart flavor to barbecued and smoked foods. One of the other prized treasures of the mesquite tree is also its edible seed pods which have been utilized as a food source by humans for a very long time. These are the sweet "fruits" of the tree that when ripe are ground whole and sifted into a fine flour-like powder.
There aren't many people in the world who haven't heard of ginseng, even the one native to the North American hemisphere known as American ginseng. Although related to the popular Asian ginsengs, generically referred to as Panax ginseng, the American variety (Panax quinquefolius) holds very different attributes. The American type, true to its name, is indigenous to eastern parts of North America, where wild plants once grew in abundance in deciduous forests of Canada and the United States.
What is avocado oil? Avocado Oil is derived from the ripe fatty yellow/green flesh surrounding the large pit of the avocado or Persea americana species, a tree native to regions of Mexico and Central America. The Hass cultivar is often the main one selected for oil extraction due to its high oil content and good flavor profile.Nutritionally speaking, avocado oil is comparable with olive oil because it's high in monounsaturated fats, mostly in the form of oleic acid. It also has good heat stability, antioxidant compounds and some polyphenol content.
Thyme is an herbaceous woody-based perennial that comes from the same mint family as other popular herb and spice varieties such as sage, oregano, rosemary, basil and lavender. The thyme plant, with its very tiny oval-shaped leaves, has the smallest leaf size of all these herbs. Learn more about this culinary favorite and how it can be used for other purposes.
Natto is boiled soybeans that have been fermented with a starter culture for a short incubation period.During this process, as the culture feeds on the bean substrate, it produces a wispy thread-like biofilm that has a rather slimy sticky texture. Hence natto's common name "sticky beans." Its distinct flavor and gooey texture is an acquired taste and mouthfeel to many Westerners, however, natto has long been a popular everyday food in Japan and other parts of Asia for centuries. Not only is natto a probiotic-rich food source to add to the diet, it is also famous for two health-promoting substances we discuss on this page.
Pistachios, commonly consumed raw or dry roasted, are probably one of the most popular tree nuts to snack on for their buttery-sweet texture and taste. Believed to be native to the Middle East region near Persia or present-day Iran, they're regarded as a type of culinary nut though botanically they are actually seed kernels. They come from the Pistacia vera tree species of which there are many different cultivars. Here, we'll take a brief look at other facts and benefits of pistachios, one of the world's most favorite nuts!
Adaptogenic mushrooms of the "medicinal" variety and their prepared supplements are very popular these days as people reach for ways to maintain healthier lifestyle practices. Medicinal supplement formulas are typically available in different forms as a powder, liquid or capsule, these are supplemental options that concentrate myco-nutrients into a convenient to take and easily absorbed format.
Coconut water is the juice produced from immature young green coconuts of the tropical Cocos nucifera coconut palm species. Typically harvested fresh from the tree when 5-7 months old, this is the ideal time frame that the clear slightly cloudy water is most abundant as well as when it’s the sweetest and most nutritive. The liquid water is packaged for distribution and has only in the past several decades become a trendy export product. Read our page for a summary list of four things coconut water might be good for...
Millet is a type of minor cereal grain that comes from the grass family. The proso millet variety (Panicum miliaceum) is the one most commonly sold in North America and has a nutty, sweet, mild corn-like flavor that goes well in both sweet and savory recipes. It is also a relatively inexpensive variation as well as a quick-cooking variety, taking only about 25-30 minutes. Now, let’s discuss more about what cooked millet is good for.
There are basically two categories of cinnamon spice, Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. Cassia is frequently used as a generic term for some species in the genus Cinnamomum. The major ones include C. cassia, C. burmannii and C. loureiroi. Ceylon cinnamon is the bark derived from the Cinnamomum verum tree species native to Sri Lanka, which was formerly known as Ceylon before 1972 and also the home of Ceylon black tea. Different than the common cassia cinnamon like Cinnamomum burmannii found in most kitchen spice racks; Ceylon is a less pungent variety that has a sweeter taste. Learn more about when Ceylon might be preferred.
Milk thistle seed comes from the Silybum marianum herb species and is different than other types of thistles because of its concentrated compounds. It is a wild hardy herbaceous "weed" with dense pink-purple thorny blossoms that can produce up to 200 hard shiny brown seeds per dried flower head. These seeds are considered to be the most medicinally potent part of this thistle variety. They are rarely eaten whole as they are quite fibrous to chew on but are frequently powdered for herbal use or prepared as an extract supplement. Here are the top three reasons milk thistle powder or extracts might be a useful ally to have handy in your pantry list of herbs.
Wanting more specifics about how to cook gluten-free grains? Well, we have all the basics here for making six of the top popular varieties. These are water to grain ratios that we personally use when cooked grains are on the menu. While soaking and rinsing grains is often a preferred method to reduce digestive inhibitors, it isn't always practical we realize. So, we give both water ratio options depending on how you want to cook them.
When discussing yogurt nutrition and its main benefits and drawbacks, it is important to first establish the general type we are referring to for the purpose of this review. Most nutritionists agree that the best commercial yogurt, from a health perspective, is one that contains a simple list of ingredients. Mostly this would include the type of milk used as well as the live active culture species. If you enjoy yogurt on a regular basis, it’s usually a good idea to add your own natural sweeteners and/or other toppings so you can control quantity as well as quality. Dairy yogurt brands frequently offer plain unsweetened varieties and this is the type we will examine below.
The lavender plant and many of its variations are most well-known around the world for their distinct aromatic perfume-like scent often used as an essential oil in aromatherapy treatments. But did you know that lavender flowers and leaves can also be utilized for their therapeutic potentials? In fact, one of the most traditional ways lavender has been used since the early days of herbal medicine is as a tea or hot water infusion. Learn more about lavender tea and its effects as an herbal nervine.
Cloves are the dried spike-like flower buds from an evergreen tree native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, historically known as the Spice Islands. Along with nutmeg, also exclusive to this region, clove was one of the commodities exchanged along famous trade routes of early civilizations. Whole clove and clove powder are now utilized in many parts of the world for its penetrating aroma and unique pungent spicy flavorful taste profile. Its versatility as a spice ingredient in both sweet and savory foods make it popular in the cuisine and desserts of many cultures. Cloves, also called "clove buds", are actually the dried unopened flower bud of the Syzygium aromaticum evergreen tree species that grows in warm humid tropical climate zones.
The health benefits of cranberries in modern times are also often utilized as a superfruit variety for their array of nutritional nourishment. Cranberries, and especially cranberry juice, have long been reputed to protect against urinary tract infections (or UTIs), particularly those caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria which accounts for about 80–85% of the cases. Learn about cranberry products use as a potential preventative strategy, plus info on 2020 FDA UTI claim specifications.
Canola oil Canola oil comes from a plant that was initially bred in Canada in the 1970s from the rapeseed plant (Brassica napus), a cruciferous vegetable in the mustard family. To produce a food-grade oil with a lower erucic acid content than rapeseed, another cultivar was developed through crossbreeding. Over the last several decades there has been a large debate about whether refined vegetable oils like canola are good fats we should be consuming on a regular basis. Here are our top reasons why you might want to consider other oil alternatives.
Cumin is a common culinary spice derived from the dried seeds of the Cuminum cyminum species. Not to be confused with black cumin seed (Nigella sativa) of which the trendsetting black seed oil is derived. The most popular type of cumin seed is sometimes referred to as "green cumin" which is the ground golden-brown powder common to kitchen spice racks around the world. Believed to be native to regions spanning from the Eastern Mediterranean to the subcontinent of India, the use of cumin dates back to cultures of this territory. The spice is well-known for its ancient historical use in Egypt, the Greek Minoan island of Crete as well as Morocco.
Consuming grapefruit and grapefruit juice for weight loss purposes has been long promoted since the 1930s as a healthy addition to the diet to encourage body fat reduction. Most versions of the "grapefruit diet" include ingesting 1/2 a grapefruit or 8 ounces of juice before meals. Along with low-carb/low-calorie foods and ample protein intake, this dietary regimen is reported to help individuals lose an average of 10 pounds in as little as 10-12 days. But is this claimed benefit based on truth or hype?
Wildfire season is upon us here in California. This is a time frame that seems to be extending every year, but usually begins in late summer and can last into early winter. Or, if and when adequate rainfall begins. In our opinion, the best solution is to leave polluted atmospheres and find clean breathable air if you are able to temporarily relocate. However, this is not always practical with the schedules of day to day life. For this reason, we chose to share our top superfoods for wildfire smoke pollution, a simple list of foods, herbs and supplements you may wish to consider when pollution from distant wildfire smoke is affecting the air quality where you live.
Herbal flavor enhancers are a must for providing pleasant tastes and aromas to your tea blends and herbal preparations. That's because smell and taste are two important senses that must not be overlooked when preparing your daily brews or tinctured formulations. It is important that what you eat and drink be a satisfying experience. That is one of the reasons we have senses after all... to feel joy and pleasure! Here is our list of top 18 favorites to enjoy in tea recipes, drinks and desserts.
Digestive enzyme supplements are lab-extracted enzyme powders often available in capsule form. They are usually derived from plant-based (or fungal) sources but certain types can also come from animal pancreas. Only recently developed in the last 50 years, digestive enzymes are designed to offer digestive support by essentially assisting in the breakdown of nutrients to help facilitate their uptake by the body. Plant-based enzymes are the most common types marketed for dietary supplement use in modern times. They contain a blend of different enzyme classes, most brands have at least 15-20 or more different enzymes in their formulas.
This jaljeera drink recipe is our Western version take on this Indian beverage classic. It is a traditional summertime drink served in India and filled with cooling and invigorating herbs and spices like cumin, mint and cilantro (or coriander leaves). Also spelled jal-jeera or jaljira, jaljeera in Hindi means water (jal) of cumin (jeera or jira). And, yes, cumin is always one of the star spices of this summertime favorite. It is often described as a type of Indian flavored lemonade but it is often made with other fruits like mango.
Licorice root has been one of the most widely used herbs in many herbal traditions of the world because of its concentrated triterpenoid saponins and other health-promoting constituents. All species come from the genus Glycyrrhiza and are members of the legume or pea family. The word Glycyrrhiza is derived from the Greek word glykorrhiza, meaning "sweet root." While the appearance of the root looks like an ordinary wood-like stick or branch you might find on a forest floor when you chew on a piece there is a distinctly sweet taste.
Tahini or sesame seed butter is a staple ingredient or condiment used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Most commonly known globally in foods like hummus, baba ganoush, desserts like halvah, and blended with lemon and garlic in dipping sauces. Next to peanut butter, it is probably one of the top nut and seed butters utilized around the world especially in recent decades. Tahini (pronounced tuh-hee-nee) is made from the sesame seed which contains a very high amount of oil content. Historically it is one of the oldest oilseed crops produced by humans. On this page we will discuss the main nutritional benefits of tahini as well as some potential disadvantages.
Cucumber juice is made from juicing common slicing cucumbers from the Cucumis sativus species of which there are many different cultivars. Related to the Cucurbitaceae family of melons and squashes, cucumbers have been widely utilized for their refreshing taste as well as healing qualities. While cucumbers as a whole food can be beneficial to include as part of a health-promoting diet, their nutraceutical attributes can be especially enhanced when juiced. They are frequently blended with other vegetables and leafy greens when making green juices, but they also provide therapeutic drinks all on their own.
Oregano is known for its bitter-sweet peppery taste that is popularized for its use as an Italian seasoning. However, there are some very good reasons to keep this potent herbal ally in your medicine cabinet as well as your kitchen spice rack. The main species Origanum vulgare is also referred to traditionally as "wild marjoram" and is related to but not the same as the sweet marjoram Origanum majorana species, which lacks the main essential oils of oregano. Mediterranean oreganos are known for their spicy robust flavor and aromatic potency. Sometimes a good quality oregano, like the Greek variety, can be so pungent that it actually numbs one's tongue.
Daikon sprouts are a variety of microgreens produced from the daikon radish; a long white root vegetable known for its mild spicy earthy flavor. First originating as a microgreen variety in Japan, their peppery pungent flavor, resembling fresh daikon root, is utilized as a garnish in Japanese cuisine, salads, and sushi. According to some sources, hydroponic commercial production of daikon sprouts began in the 1960s in Fukuoka Prefecture located in southern Japan. And, by the 1980s, they were widely available for most of the Japanese population.
Elderberry syrup is a classic herbal folk preparation made from the black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), other herbs, spices, and usually honey. The primary ingredient, however, is the elderberry fruit which is simmered down from fresh or dried berries to produce a thick dark purple-brown liquid. The berries are typically cooked before use and sweetened because they are not only quite tart but also contain mildly toxic substances that need to be deactivated via heating methods. Elderberries, as well as flower blossoms, have likewise been utilized historically to make preserves, elderberry wine, cordials, tinctures, and tea infusions.
Globe artichokes are one of those foods that undoubtedly stand out from other common vegetables at the produce market. Their tough thorny layered leaves and thick stems can at first glance be somewhat intimidating. However, what awaits after fully cooked are tender petals and a center heart that is considered a rich-tasting appetizer or side dish in many cultures around the globe. Most people describe them to have a soft meaty texture with an asparagus-like flavor and nutty sweet taste and aftertaste. The wild variety of artichoke called the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), is native to the Mediterranean where it was consumed and later cultivated by many countries in this region.
What are probiotics? Within the human gastrointestinal tract, probiotics are often referred to as the "health-friendly bacteria" that are known to have a huge influence on our human physiology and overall long-term well-being. The words "pro" and "biotic" literally mean "for life." This diverse array of gut microbiota are responsible for many functions including maintaining bowel regularity, synthesizing certain vitamins, regulating immune response, defending against pathogens, metabolism of certain carbohydrates, and much more.
Extra virgin olive oil is like other types of olive oil initially made by pressing raw whole olives. It is usually created from a combination of green and darkening olives in varying stages of ripeness which impart different taste qualities. Typically, the olives utilized are specific species known for their particular oil content. Because olive varieties and ratios of ripeness incorporated are unique to each producer, brands can differ greatly in flavor and overall nutritional quality. What do all extra virgin olive oils have in common? Although there is a large degree of variation among suppliers, essentially the term "Extra Virgin" is the highest grade an olive oil may obtain.
Sea buckthorn does not always grow by the sea, nor is it a type of seaweed or related to "true buckthorns" of the genus Rhamnus. It is from the genera Hippophae, a small genus of "sea buckthorn" species. The most common and widespread is the species Hippophae rhamnoides which currently includes about eight different subspecies that extend across many countries of the Northern Hemisphere. Sea buckthorns are deciduous shrubs with silvery green leaves, densely packed bright yellow-orange berries and thick branches with long dispersed thorns.
Brazil nuts come from the tree species Bertholletia excelsa, one of the tallest and longest-living canopy trees common to the Amazonian rainforests of Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, and Venezuela. Living close to 500 years or more, these trees have been utilized by humans for over 11,000 years, since the Upper Paleolithic Era. Growing as high as 160 feet (50 meters), the top portion of the tree is where most of its foliage is located. This is also where the large and heavy fruit pod capsules, weighing close to 4 pounds each, grow and naturally fall to the ground when ripe.
Grapefruit seed extract is a dietary supplement that has been around for many decades. We recall in the 90's it was especially popular for its claimed antibacterial and antifungal influence on conditions like systemic fungal/yeast infections when used internally. Its proposed antimicrobial compounds were also recognized to provide antioxidant support by helping to protect the body against harmful pathogens. On an industrial scale, grapefruit seed extracts have also been widely used in commercial agriculture for eliminating bacteria, mold, fungi, and parasites in animal feeds, as well as to disinfect water.
Cardamom pods can come from two different species in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. One is known as green cardamom and the other as black cardamom. Green cardamom or Elettaria cardamomum is the type most widely used for its versatility as an herbal culinary spice. Usually when a recipe calls for "cardamom", it is typically referring to this variety. Often referred to as the "queen of spices", Elettaria cardamomum is called elaichi in India or in Sanskrit goes by the name elā (एला) and was one of the popular commodities exchanged along historic spice trade routes.
Soaking nuts and seeds for several hours then straining the water can be a great way to remove some of the digestive inhibitors that may prevent the complete absorption of the nutrients they offer. Sometimes these substances are referred to as "antinutrients" because they cannot only prevent assimilation but also can cause digestive issues, like flatulence and bloating, especially when consumed in excess. The main antinutrients in many nut and seed types that can make it hard to digest the proteins, fats and nutrient content include phytates, lectins, oxalates and enzyme inhibitors.
Ancient grains have been a trending whole food staple promoted since the mid-90's. What are ancient grains? The term is not scientific but one that describes some of the original strains of staple grain crops that have been cultivated since the days of early agriculture. This was a time, indicated by archaeological evidence, that occurred about 10,000 or more years ago. Humans before this period were hunter-gatherers living a more nomadic lifestyle in small populations. The development of plant-based crop cultivation, as well as animal domestication, is what largely encouraged a sedentary lifestyle and the expansion of human society.
Blackstrap molasses is a thick, dark pourable syrup most commonly made from sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum). It is a by-product of making refined white sugar and is essentially the nutritional component of the sugarcane plant. During the sugar refining process, these nutritive elements are removed to concentrate the sucrose and crystallize the sugar. As a result, blackstrap molasses is much lower in sucrose and is a condensed source of some vitamins but especially minerals.
Carrot juice is the liquid extracted from juicing carrots and removing the fiber content. This process produces a unique rooty-sweet flavored bright orange juice that has been consumed for its nutritional qualities for many decades. It was especially popularized as a nutritious drink by health enthusiasts like Dr. Norman Walker, one of the first advocates of vegetable juice cleansing in the 1930's and author of the book "Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices." Carrot juice later became a signature juice during the early phases of the vegetarian food movement and is still today a top juicing selection.
Coconut flour flatbread is a gluten-free and keto-friendly alternative to other types of flatbreads made with grains. If you do a quick online search for "flatbreads", it doesn't take very long to realize that there are literally hundreds of different kinds of flatbread recipes around the world utilizing many different types of grain varieties. The use of straight coconut flour as the main flatbread ingredient is a relatively modern recipe invention. The main reasons it makes a great substitute is because...
Psyllium husk comes from the seeds of a plantain variety in the genus Plantago. Plantains (not related to the plantain banana) are one of the most widely dispersed wild herbs in the world. Common plantain or Plantago major and been used historically by herbalists for centuries as a nutritious edible and medicinal plant. While these types of plantains also produce psyllium seeds, the Plantago ovata species is the one most utilized for its prolific seed production and high mucilage content. This variation has long slender grass-like leaves rather than thick ribbed leaves like common plantains.
Pomegranates are an ancient fruit variety on the list with others like figs, grapes, dates and olives. Native to Persia or modern-day Iran, the Punica granatum species has been widely grown and consumed in regions of the Middle East as well as locations spanning from the Mediterranean to North India. In Latin, the term "pome" comes from the word pōmum, which means "apple", and the term "granate" comes from the word grānātum, which means "seeded." One single pomegranate can in fact yield over 600 flesh coated seeds, depending on the cultivar. We counted 698 in one deseeded large pomegranate.