15 Health Benefits of Cardamom – Sunwarrior News

CardamomI’ve fallen head over heels for cardamom!  I’ve been drinking cardamom tea in the morning, and it has done great things to my mood.  It has definitely given me a fresh start to the day.

This article (see link at bottom), from Sunwarrior, lists 15 health benefits that are linked to this sweet, citrus-flavored spice.  My top three in the list are these:

  • Blood pressure – There are lots of reasons my blood pressure may be going down, such as weight loss of about 35 pounds in the last two months, but I continue to have as one of my goals, to be drug-free within the next 6 months.  My blood pressure medication is the only one still remaining.
  • Depression – Having been medicated for depression off an on for over 20 years, I am seeking a permanent “fix” that will continue to lift my mood and get me off these meds.  I am not currently taking anything for it, and I’m feeling great.  I’m cautious about it however, and I keep a close watch on my mood over extended periods of time.  I’ve been seriously depressed in the past, and I do NOT want to go there again.  I don’t know how much, if any, cardamom is helping, but I do know that the immediate result of smelling it and drinking it is a great mood and more energy.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Anything that can give me relief from psoriasis and other inflammatory problems, is welcomed into my life.  Cardamom is just one of many new things in my diet providing an arsenal against inflammation.

Read the entire list at Sunwarrior and, perhaps, find how useful cardamom may be in your life.  Even if it had nothing to do with better health, the flavor is a great reason to use it.

15 Health Benefits of Cardamom, from Sunwarrior News

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Rich Tomato and Tofu Salad Dressing

This one is flavor-filled, slightly tangy, and has a beautiful color!

Rich Tomato and Tofu Salad DressingTurmeric and black pepper

With this dressing I bring back one of my favorite spices, turmeric, paired with black pepper to maximize the anti-inflammatory benefits of this deliciously pungent spice (see links below for more info on the nutritional value of turmeric and black pepper.).  Turmeric is also responsible for the orangey color!  Warning: If you’re a nail model, be careful using this spice without wearing gloves.  It could be a career-ender!  Also, be careful not to stain your countertop, your hands, and whatever else matters.  I guess it would be fine to let it touch carrots, huh?

Another tofu dressing

As the story goes, if you’ve read my other posts about salad dressings, I am on the Eat To Live nutritional program, and I am especially interested in the anti-inflammatory benefits of the plan due to my psoriasis and the psoriatic arthritis that had started to show its monstrous head a year or so after getting off-plan two years ago!  No doubt the plan helped me with this condition, and I should have known better than to leave it in the first place, especially since the food is all homemade and tastes so good.

Dr. Fuhrman’s mantra (Eat To Live) is “the salad is the main course!”  And, truthfully, without great salad dressings, many people are apt to give up on receiving the great health benefits available to them through Eat To Live, because the plan does not allow added oils or salts to the diet.  Further, ETL’ers have to search for salad dressings that do not have sodium or oils.  It’s so much easier, and far tastier, to make them at home.

Silken tofu is the perfect medium for creating creamy dressings similar in appearance and flavor to the ones I used to eat when I didn’t have a care in the world about my health.  In a blender, the tofu combines easily with other ingredients, and it can be kept for at least a week in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar, without losing any of its flavor.  (See my other tofu salad dressing recipes here.)

Other food uses

Like all of my homemade dressings, this one works great as a vegetable topping.  When I made this dressing, I was also roasting some plain slices of eggplant for use in another recipe, so when the eggplant was done, I nabbed a couple of slices off the roasting rack and put them in a saucer, covering them with the new dressing!  Finger-lickin’ good!

Of course, it’s great on a lettuce and tomato salad, just to stay with the salad dressing theme, right?

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Rich Tomato and Tofu Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

28 oz can of “no salt added” crushed tomatoes with basil
1 pkg silken tofu
1 level tbsp of turmeric powder (a little less would be fine, if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy it.  Turmeric is about as subtle as this guy!)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 of roasted sweet bell pepper, sliced (I use yellow or orange ones to keep the color them going…and I like them better!)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup of your favorite vinegar (I used raw coconut vinegar I bought at Sprouts.)

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until the dressing is creamy in appearance, like this:

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The dressing recipe takes about 15 minutes to put together, once you have roasted the sweet bell pepper, and that can be done anytime you are roasting anything, just to have it handy for later.  It makes about 32 oz, if I can keep from tasting it a dozen times while I’m making it.

There you have it!  A perfect, rich dressing for a “no salt added” and “no oil added” diet!

Further reading:

Dr. Weil’s take on turmeric
Why Pepper Boosts Turmeric Blood Levels, Dr. Michael Greger
Turmeric and Black Pepper Fight Cancer Stem Cells, Anticancer: A New Way of Life

Avocado seeds put to healthful use

Could it be true!

I usually eat at least one avocado a day. I add them to smoothies, take them in my lunch, packed with a sharp knife from home so I can keep them whole and fresh until I’m ready to cut into them, and sometimes, I just eat them in the skin, adding some black pepper or red pepper sauce when it’s handy.

Until a few weeks ago, I had always done what I had always done — I threw the enormous seeds into the nearest trash can, figuring they would be impossible to crack without a jackhammer, and I did not have one in my garage.  And, then, I started reading about avocado seeds and found out that about 70 percent of the avocado’s nutrient value is in the seed itself! Holy guacamole! (I just had to say that.)

Health benefits of avocado seeds

So, thanks to Google and the pioneers on the natural foods front, I found that avocados are indeed healthful for a variety of health conditions.  Ranging from old wive’s tale practices to modern studies, the reported benefits are that avocado seeds provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, extraordinary benefits to digestion (very high in soluble fiber), and excellent collagen support for healthy skin.

As one who suffers from the autoimmune disease, psoriasis, as well as mild psoriatic arthritis — as well as one who refuses to get started on prescription drugs, many of which have severe and life-threatening sideshows — I’ve been adding natural foods to my diet for several weeks to battle inflammation and joint damaging arthritic diseases.  A sidenote: after only seven days on a pure Eat To Live diet, following Dr. Fuhrman’s arthritis protocol, my joint pain went away and has not returned.  This was also true of my previous stint on Eat To Live when I was mostly focused on weight loss instead of building my immune system.  When my weight loss was accomplished, and my doctor’s less than enthusiastic response to my taking myself off my blood pressure and cholesterol meds, I went back to bad habits.  All the joint problems returned in full force within a matter of a few months, and, of course, in a matter of two years, I had regained 70 of the 85 pounds I had lost.

Avocado seed prep

So, back to the main topic!  Being curious, I started collecting the seeds by washing them thoroughly and placing them in a bowl in my window sill where they could get some sunshine and would dry within a few days.  After I had a few of them ready for grinding, I assembled my arsenal and went to work.

avoseed1
I have my cutting board, chef’s knife, my seed (coffee) grinder, three seeds, and my Snapware storage container. the seed shown here on the bottom still has the thin outer layer of skin loosely attached. The darkest of the three (top right) is the driest, and consequently, the hardest to crack.  The top left seed is ideal because it is still a little soft at the core and provides a notch where the knife blade can be anchored when making the first cut.  Aside: some people use a hammer with the seed placed in a plastic bag, which is not a bad idea, though I did not find it necessary.

After making the first halving cut, lengthwise, the rest of the cuts were easy, using the heel of the chef’s knife.  Just make sure all fingers and curious cats are clear of the possible collateral damage and shrapnel that may be involved if the attempt fails.  If it does fail, go get the hammer!  Here it is split eight ways:

avoseed3

By the way, this is the driest of the seeds that I showed you above on the top right. It worked fine by anchoring the knife blade in the yellow portion.

I continued to cut the seeds into smaller and smaller sizes as long as I had enough yellow to anchor my knife blade.  Then, when I was satisfied that the sizes would be small enough not to tear up my seed grinder, I put a few pieces at a time into the grinder and ground them until they were powdery with a few small chunks remaining.

avoseed2

I store the ground seed in my Snapware container and use 1 tbsp a day in my morning breakfast smoothie.  Some bloggers have complained that the seed has a bitter taste.  The seeds are loaded with tannins, hence the mild bitterness.  I didn’t find it offensive at all, but then, my favorite wines were always the very dry red cabs.  No drinky alcohol any more, but it explains my tolerance for tannins.

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Sources (among many others who say pretty much the same thing):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23448442
http://dramyneuzil.com/tag/eating-avocado-pit/
http://dailysuperfoodlove.com/4448/the-surprising-benefits-of-avocado-seeds/