Monthly Archives: May 2013

Why Greens Are the Perfect Food

“Yeah Right” you’re probably telling yourself after reading the title, when it was more than likely chocolate that popped into your mind, but you can enjoy chocolate and have your greens too. “Greens” are loaded with powerful health benefits and even better, they’re inexpensive year round. Brilliantly colored greens are bursting with vitamins and minerals, have anti-inflammatory properties, fight cancer, and are packed with disease preventing phytochemicals. Even better they’re low in carbs and calories so you can eat as much as you want (don’t worry – they’re great in salads, etc. and you’ll learn to love them). In addition, research has proven that boosting your daily intake of these leafy greens super foods, by as little as 1 1/2 serving, could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 14 percent. Even if you’re already dealing with diabetes, greens can still make a difference. Bottom line, greens are mother natures perfect food.

Chard
Chard has been proven to guard against diabetes complications when it comes to the kidneys. Rainbow chard leaves tend to be easier to prepare; basically you simmer in salted water until they’re tender, dab out the extra moisture and top off with extra virgin olive oil and perhaps a sprinkle of walnuts or croutons. One cup of prepared chard has 4 grams of fiber and is rich in vitamins A, B6, C, K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and riboflavin.

Spinach
All spinach is good for you but baby spinach is a favorite due to its mild tasting, soft texture, and its stems give it a pleasant crunch. Just 2 cups of uncooked baby spinach delivers 20 calories, 2 grams protein, 0 fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and only 65 mg of sodium. Baby spinach is also rich in several micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, K, folate and nourishing minerals calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Kale
Kale is the rock star when it comes to the perfect “green food”, brimming with phytonutrients and vitamins, with a virtual gold mine of health benefits, more than most foods. The nutrients packed in this amazing green food protects against is a variety of cancers, cataracts, and may even help protect against cardiovascular disease. Just 1 cup of prepared, cooked kale includes 7grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber.

Eat the tops
Don’t throw away the tops! Most of the tops of healthy root vegetables such as turnips, radishes and beets can be wilted (by steaming) and dished up with the meat of the vegetable. Just simmer on low just until tender yet crisp in a small amount of salted water, press out the remaining liquids, and top off with a bit of heart friendly extra virgin olive oil, diced garlic, and fresh pepper.

Recipe Ideas
You can jazz up any greens with some simple additions like warm, delicate tasting white beans (adds more fiber), sautéed with garlic, onion, a bit of rosemary, etc. This is especially flavorful over tasty raw baby arugula which has been tossed with a bit of your favorite virgin olive oil. While a 1/2 cup serving of white beans may have 23 grams of carbs in them, they are also high in fiber (10 grams), calcium, protein, minerals and iron. Arugula, always a healthy choice, can be used instead of spinach (or with), and 1 cup contains a scarce amount of carbs, and is loaded with calcium, folate and vitamins K, A and C.

Finely chopped greens work great in sauces, salads, added to soups and sauces, great for topping off burgers, mixed in with meatloaf and even dips, basically you can let your inner chef out and have fun with these vibrant green perfect foods.

These nutrient rich super foods are well worth making a part of a lifestyle, and while they may not be cheesecake or chocolate, it just makes sense to work them in; go ahead – try at lease one variety a week; your body will love you for it.

Cheryl, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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7 Weirdest Ice Cream Flavors

7 Weirdest Ice Cream Flavors


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Nobody’s really a stranger to unusual flavor pairings – it’s just that some happen to be more widely accepted than others. Like mint-flavored chocolate, or cheese with grapes, or prosciutto-wrapped melon. But while ice cream might acceptably be served alongside various types of pies or pastries, it’s a different ball game entirely to cram those flavors into ice cream itself. Or to try and turn dishes not remotely associated with ice cream at all into ice cream. Ever encountered these crazy combinations?

French Toast

Let’s start off with a less stomach-churning example: French toast ice cream! As mentioned, ice cream works well with sweet pastries, and French toast is no exception. Accordingly, French toast ice cream – while possibly too saccharine for some – is a far from unappetising inversion of the status quo. Served occasionally in Baskin Robbins, this particular flavor could well have French toast fans reaching for seconds. Or maybe even thirds. If they crave their cold treats with a side of diabetes.

Sheep Intestines

With that out of the way, why not leap right into a literally stomach-churning example? Haggis is polarising enough on its own, so obviously the best thing to do is divide haggis-lovers further into those who love the accordingly-flavored ice cream and those who don’t. And this isn’t some fly-by-night operation either – it’s available in no less than the Harrods food halls.

Bacon

Are you honestly surprised by this one? Somehow, the popularity of bacon is such that you can get bacon-flavored dental floss, let alone food. Not that bacon-flavored food products are in any shortage mind you, and ice cream is no exception. Since Ben & Jerry’s have never rallied for the bacon-loving population, the most popular recipe available is David Lebovitz’s candied bacon ice cream, accessible with a quick Google search.

Guinness

Unlike the others, Guinness-flavored ice cream might actually go down a treat for fans of its non-ice cream component. The next time you’re bored, why not give one of the recipes available online a whirl? Just don’t serve it to any teetotallers, unless you want them spewing ice cream everywhere. Best put down a nice clean tablecloth.

Foie Gras

To anyone who may be asking “Why combine gourmet foods with ice cream?”, someone clearly pre-empted your question by going “Why not?” and doing it. In France. Never mind the Seine or the Mona Lisa – next time you’re in Paris, give this a try.

Lobster

Maybe someone thought foie gras ice cream was lonely on the gourmet foods-turned-into-ice-cream list. Already famous for its lobsters, Maine’s now expanded its repertoire into lobster-flavored ice cream. One does wonder if a bib is still required. Maybe it’d be easier to just go with one of those nifty plastic tablecloths.

Garlic

If anything, this wards off vampires! If anyone actually wants to do so in this day and vampire-loving age, anyway. One of Japan’s many, many odd flavors on offer; it’s hard to imagine a more vile ingredient in a savory ice cream… It can also be found at most of the garlic festivals in the United States, such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

So there you go! Seven bizarre ice cream flavors – ever braved any of them? Or know of any more? Talk about them in the comments!

Elise  Lévêque loves food and blogging, and any reason to combine the two. She’s from England, which may explain the British references such as Harrods!

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The Gift Of Giving And How To Get It Completely Wrong

Phew, well that’s Mother’s Day out of the way.  Valentine’s Day is already a faded memory and Christmas – when was that?  However, along with Father’s Day looming, wedding season is around the corner and if you’re nearest and dearest are as thoughtless as mine, mid-summer will see an apparently unending series of birthdays.  The constant need to come up with new and refreshing birthday gifts ideas can be exhausting and even the most thoughtful and imaginative amongst us find it hard to keep coming up with fresh ideas.  It’s also easy to get things terribly wrong and although a gift should always inspire some emotional feelings it’s best to make sure that those aren’t anger, hatred and/or misery.  Here’s how not to find that perfect gift:

Flashy, Showy and Not as Welcome as You Might Think

Diamonds may well be a girl’s best friend but buying jewellery for the special person in your life can be fraught with difficulties.  It can also be a case of buying jewellery for the wrong reason; exactly who are you trying to impress with the flashy, showy diamonds?  If it’s your partner then the motivation at least is ok, but if you’re competing with your brother, mates or even boss and using your other half as a display case for your own ego then you might be the one to end up with a shiner.  Also, despite the rumors, women aren’t always wowed by your over-generous spending power, especially if money is tight in your household.  While as birthday gifts go jewellery can be a romantic gesture it’s often best to work with ‘she who must be obeyed’ and buy the piece together.

Call in the Troops – She’s Done it Again (How not to Re-Gift)

The biggest sign that the season of goodwill to all men, women and children has recently manifested itself is likely to be a pile of ‘stuff’ in the spare room.  It may seem like the perfect way to de-clutter by re-gifting some of these thoughtful but unwanted gifts.  However, the re-gift idea is guaranteed to make you look cheap and make the recipient feel small.  Clothing as a re-gift is rarely welcome; especially if you haven’t checked carefully for tell-tale things like a thoughtful personalised monogram.  In one incident that nearly required a UN peace keeping force, my mother re-gifted a gift to her from my mother-in-law.  Basically charity shops or better still eBay are the only place to re-home unwanted gifts.  In the case of eBay you can use the cash raised to buy more personal birthday gifts for the birthday boy or girl.

The Thought Does Count: Especially the Second one

Some of us are just too thoughtful for our own good.  The recent gift of some acne cream to a teenage relative by another relative who is older as expected went down like a lead balloon.  The problem was that the thought was in the right place but sometimes it’s important to have second thoughts and to focus on the feelings of the person at the receiving end of your largesse.  The same principle applies when it comes to buying moisturizers and (especially) anti-wrinkle/ageing creams.  The latter are basically a firm no, while you should be sure that the recipient has been using moisturisers for years and buy the best brand you can!  Men offering certain cosmetic surgeries for their partners are usually considered to be doing so for their own benefit and therefore may as well start constructing their own dog house immediately!

Perfect and Personalized

Thankfully in the modern birthday gifts market there are more than enough options; especially when it comes to online shopping.  Personalised gifts can be a great way to make that special statement and can hit exactly the right spot when it comes to the emotions.

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Pipa Rose is a freelance writer who is constantly on the lookout for great and original birthday gifts for the apparently unending list of family birthdays that we all have to deal with. She recommends buying personalised gifts to give that person something which is unique.

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Superfoods You Should Be Eating

You’d be surprised by just how powerful the following multi-tasking superfoods are and best of all how great they taste, how young they can make you look and feel, and more importantly how few calories are in them. Best of all the superfoods you should be eating are easy to find in your local grocery or farmer’s market.

Berries, Berries and More Berries
All berries, especially blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are rich in fiber which is essential for a healthy digestive system and also encourages weight loss. Raspberries provide the highest content of fiber at a robust 8 grams a cup, and also contain ellagic acid, a substance that has anti-cancer attributes. A cup of blueberries has 4 grams and is loaded with antioxidants called anthocyanins, that helps keep the memory sharp as we age. One cup of strawberries has 3 grams of fiber and over a full day’s suggested dose of vitamin C, a skin firming, overall health boosting supplement.

Broccoli
It just doesn’t get much better when it comes to a power packed superfood than Broccoli which is packed with vitamins A, C and K (enhances bone health) and folate. Broccoli also provides a wholesome serving of sulforaphane, which has been shown to combat cancer by stimulating the body’s detoxing enzymes.

Fiber Rich Beans
Beans are an excellent source of iron (about 13 mg in a 3/4 cup), Beans also provide a healthy dose of fiber with most of it being the soluble kind that is known to benefit blood cholesterol levels. Navy beans along provide 7 grams of fiber in only 1/2 a cup.

Heart Healthy Nuts
Heart Healthy nuts are an abundant source of unsaturated fats. Walnuts are one of the best nut choices because of their alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) levels which is an omega 3 fatty acid that has been known to improve moods and boost heart health. Walnuts high mono and polyunsaturated fat levels in most cases reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and helps maintain healthy “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

The Perfect Protein Source; Eggs
Eggs are the perfect protein source can even give your breakfast more staying power as well, leaving you more satisfied throughout the day. Even if you are required to keep an eye on the amount of cholesterol you consume, an egg a day will more than likely accommodate into your dietary plans. Egg yolks contain zeaxanthin and lutein, both antioxidants that support eye health and have been linked to reducing the risk of age related eye issues like macular degeneration. In Addition lutein is said to project the skin from the aging ravages of UV damage.

Eat Oranges
Oranges are a fantastic source of vitamin C, with a single orange containing a full day’s supply and is high in folate and fiber. Vitamin C is essential for generating white blood cells and the antibodies necessary for fighting off infections. Vitamin C also protects cells from the free radical damage, and helps produce collagen, a skin firming component.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain alpha and beta carotene which your body transforms into an active variety of vitamin A which helps keep your immune system, bones and eyes healthy. A single sweet potato (around a 1/2 cup) provides almost 4 times the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, B6, C, lutein, manganese, potassium and zeaxanthin, and it contained phytochemicals also work as antioxidants that fight cancer causing and aging free radicals

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