New Year, new recipes

Black eyed peas are a traditional good luck food for New Year’s Day that dates back to the Civil War. Soldiers would take all the food that was available but leave the black eyed peas because they were considered a food that was fed to farm animals. The slaves that were still on plantations were glad to have the high protein food and the flavorful peas became associated with good luck – lucky to have food. They were traditionally served with collard greens or some other greens, corn bread and pork. The pan drippings added flavor for the greens and the corn bread helped soak up any extra liquid. The gold color of the corn bread was associated with gold and good fortune – money due in the new year. Read more: tripsavvy.com.

To make plain black eyed peas or other larger beans such as pinto or kidney beans:

  1. Sort the beans for any that look discolored or shriveled and occasionally small rocks may have been missed by the sorting machines.
  2. Rinse the beans or peas in water and drain.
  3. In a large stock pot add water to cover the beans with about four inches extra at the top.
  4. Leave the beans or black eyed peas to soak over night, about eight hours; or for the quick method, put on the lid and place the stock pot on medium high heat. Bring it to a boil for one minute and then remove it from the heat and let it sit covered with the lid for one hour.  Split peas and lentils and very small beans such as adzuki don’t need the overnight or hour long presoak.
  5. Drain the soak water as it helps remove some of the gassy effect (by removing some less digestible starches or something like that) and replace with fresh water to cover plus a couple extra inches if the goal is to have beans without much extra soup stock liquid. For two pounds of beans add eight cups of water for a pot of beans intended to be served without much soup broth or add about 12 cups of water if more broth is desired.
  6. Place the stock pot back on medium high heat with the lid on and bring back to a slight boil, for a large pot it might take a few minutes. Reduce the heat to a medium low so the stock continues to bubble gently – a simmer. Cook for one and half hours total.
  7. For soup with vegetables I let the beans cook for the first half hour without additional spices or vegetables as those cook in less time. I added about 2-6 cloves of garlic depending on whether small or large, minced, 2-4 tablespoons of cumin/coriander mix, 1 tablespoon of rosemary, 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped in a half inch dice, about 3 cups, 6 large celery stalks chopped in half length wise and then sliced, about 1/4 inch dice, about 3 cups in all, 4 small carrots cut in half and sliced made about 1 cup chopped, add to the soup stock pot.
  8. In a separate pan saute 2 small or 1 large onion chopped in a 1/4 inch dice until wilted, but not necessarily caramelized – browned. Add the sauteed onion to the soup stock pot. Sauteed onion can be easier for some people to digest then boiled onion.
  9. After all that work another half hour is likely to have elapsed, add more herbs if desired. I added 1 teaspoon of thyme, and 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.

Since I am no longer lucky enough to be able to eat corn bread due to autoimmune symptoms I prepared two cups of rice in a separate pan and combined it with the soup when the vegetables and beans were done.

A large batch of soup ideally should be chilled in small glass or heat resistant containers or stir the soup in a large container or a couple larger containers in the refrigerator occasionally until the soup is chilled before adding to a plastic container.

I add salt at the table as we only taste salt that is on the surface of the food and unlike in baked goods there is no chemical reaction that requires stabilization by salt. If you forget the salt in a baked good it will likely have a crumblier texture. Baked goods are chemically recombining the ingredients into a new molecular form. Soup is more of a watery base with stuff floating in it.

Speaking of baked goods – a cookie modification to the eggless, gluten free recipe on my newer website (Chocolate Chip Cookie). These cookies are dairy free as I use baking cocoa and no chocolate chips. They are slightly less sweet and would have an increased amount of protein due to the substitution of almond meal for the buckwheat flour in the other recipe:

Chocolate Cookies

Makes 48 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20-25 minutes.

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flax meal, ground
  • 10 Tablespoons of Boiling Hot Water,

Step 1: — Combine the flax meal and boiling water and stir together for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and looks a little like a watery porridge. Then add the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, vanilla and apple cider vinegar, stir and set aside until later.

  • 3/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar (This is needed in the corn free version of the recipe in order to make the Baking Soda work properly as a leavening agent. Baking Powder has cornstarch and it also has an acidic ingredient that Baking Soda doesn’t have.)
  • 1/2 cup of water (The baking cocoa makes this a dry mixture and the flax meal works best with a moist dough, the amount of water needed to make a soft dough that doesn’t crumble may be slightly less or more depending on how packed or overflowing the cups of flour and spoonfuls of cocoa powder are. I added a couple tablespoons at a time and found I needed 8 in all which equals a 1/2 cup, and it would be easier to combine with the wet ingredients. This is a new recipe, first trial run with the baking cocoa, second try with the almond meal substitution, it made a nice chewy texture. I tried this recipe again and ended up adding a little extra flour. Depending on how rounded or how packed the measuring cups are the moisture/flour ratio may need to be adjusted at the end. The dough should be soft and sticky but be able to be rolled in balls if your hands are wet or sprayed with a little of the pan-spray oil.)

Step 2: — (actually step 1 combined several actions): — add the dry ingredients to a different larger bowl and mix together thoroughly:

  • 1/2 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 6 Tablespoons Baking Cocoa
  • 1/2 and 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda (*Baking Powder has cornstarch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour. It tastes a little like cinnamon but is not quite the same.

Step 3: — mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.

If desired these cookies could be made as double chocolate cookies by adding the chocolate chips at this stage as was included in the original recipe. I didn’t have any on hand.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. This batter is greasy seeming and the chips constantly pop out of the dough so I don’t even try to add a full package. It is easiest to work with the dough when the mix is more wet than dry, more like muffin batter than a typical “cookie dough“.

Step 5: — Preheat oven to 350’F., and form cookies with a scoop or with a pair of metal spoons as the batter is sticky and might even work in a cookie press if there weren’t chocolate chips. Form approximately one inch size balls of dough. Place about 24 on a pre-oiled or nonstick cookie sheet.

Step 6: — Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown.

Step 7: — Allow to cool slightly before eating and store in an airtight container once they are cool enough to no longer be emitting steam. The cookies keep for about a week or until they are all eaten, whichever happens first. They can also stored in the freezer once they are baked or as a cookie dough to be formed into cookies and baked at a later time for a treat fresh out of the oven with less work.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

 

Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel

Eight pomegranates later I’m glad to report that making pomegranate extract in the home kitchen is possible and the product can be used in a variety ways. Whether or not it has health benefits would need to be determined by clinical trials and chemical analysis and/or by the individual user at their own risk. But someone needs to be patient number one and being a professionally trained quantity foods and individual diet planner and producer helped give me the knowledge base I needed to turn the animal based research into a home kitchen recipe.

Background info – “an extract” of a food could be considered in Master Chef terms as either a raw, fresh squeezed juice or as a heated/simmered tea or soup stock.

Tea: A tea is generally made from dried herbs or dried fruit or flowers and is usually steeped for about 15-20 minutes for herbal tea or for one and half to four or five minutes for a green tea or black tea. Over steeping tea leaves can release an excess amount of the more bitter tannins which can have negative health effects of blood clotting for some people, (more on tannins in different types of tea: livestrong.com), and less healthy oxalic acid which can be a problem for people with kidney stones. (Rooibus, red tea, does not have oxalic acid. (beliefnet.com)) (Cold brewing (tching.com) may release less tannin content; although some tannins can have health benefits and some people get used to stronger more bitter black tea.

Soup stock: Soup stock may be made from washed and trimmed parts of vegetables that are not being used or are too fibrous for use in a food being prepared for direct consumption. A bone stock is simmered or roasted for a couple hours to release as much nutrient content as possible from the bone marrow (inner part of the bones) and cartilage and other trim that isn’t pure fats. A vegetable stock is simmered for less time as the nutrients from vegetables are released in a shorter amount of time, twenty to thirty minutes usually is adequate to release full flavor without destroying nutrients and flavor from over heating.

Juice: A good quality juicer is needed which the average home kitchen typically does not have. And a juicer can only handle soft fruits or vegetables of a consistent quality, carrots are generally possible but tougher seeds or peels need to be removed from other vegetables or fruits. Orange peel can not be juiced and would likely taste too bitter for making a quantity of juice. I use a sprinkle, 1/8 th teaspoon of minced dried lemon peel in soup which I add at the table rather than to the soup pot to retain more of the aroma and redcue risk of break down of the flavor or phytonutrients during the cooktime of a soup.

Pomegranate peel is very tough and is fairly dry. The soft whitish inner membrane could be run through a juicer but the brilliantly colored reddish peel also likely contains healthy phytonutrients and makes up more of the volume of the trim leftover after removing the juicy seeds.  Research on pumpkin seed kernels revealed that toasting them increases phospholipid content and that is a nutrient that can have health benefits for promoting Nrf2 and other health promoting needs for the body. So my kitchen trials focused on making a soup stock type of pomegranate peel/membrane extract. I tried batches simmered for 20 minutes which retained more color and for 30 minutes which broke down more of the pulp and resulted in a thicker, creamier extract. Both products seem to help my health symptoms and improve my energy level and mood.

Two large pomegranates.

Eight pomegranates later:

  1. For a concentrated product meant for frequent use I would recommend using organically grown pomegranates as the commercial growers may use glyphosate for weed control between the rows of pomegranate trees/shrubs. (Pomegranate trees/shrubs can survive 200 years – invest now – they can take 5-6 years to become fully producing but can have multiple trunks which resprout regularly and can be divided easily to create more rows of trees or should be pruned to reduce energy lost to the fruiting branches. they need a fairly dry climate but with some regular ground water or irrigation, excessive rainy or humid seasons increase risk of infection in the blossoms and tend to produce less quality fruit. So pomegranates are a good crop to consider investing in as we head into a drier, hotter planet, regions that are less ideal right now may become ideal in a decade or two. (Pomegranate growing tips: California, Georgia))
  2. The fruit is likely coated in a food grade wax to help it remain fresh longer. Washing the outer surface before cutting is a good idea, I just rinsed mine rather than using any special produce washing chemical. (Example of a product designed to remove food grade waxes. TraderJoe’s Fruit and Vegetable Wash) Glyphosate may be a chemical that is actually taken up into the produce or animal product so washing the exterior would not remove hypothetical risk from produce grown with it. (The chemical, glyphosate,is very similar to an amino acid, glycine, and it may be incorporated directly into protein structures in place of molecules of glycine, hypothetically. This theory needs more research; which wouldn’t be difficult for professional chemists with access to radioactive marking chemicals – radioactive label the glyposate; grow the product with the standard application rate of glyphosate/Roundup; and then test the produce, or animals that were fed with the produce, for presence of the radioactively labeled glyphosate – not a task for the home kitchen chef).
  3. Remove the juicy seeds and trim the peel and membrane of any discolored spots. It is not uncommon to have some brownish areas and a few bad seeds. Just trim away the discolored areas and discard. Cut away the discolored inner part that would be white from areas of the tougher rind that is still colorful rather than brownish to preserve more of the fruit. (math to add later, I measured yield to get an average . *details included at the end of the post.)
  4. If a larger quantity of pomegranates are available to make a big batch of extract then any excess seeds that won’t be able to be used fresh can simply be put in a freezer bag or container and frozen for later thawing to use fresh on salad or as a snack or dessert fruit. I rinsed the seeds before freezing to remove any residue left from the occasional bad/rotten seeds. The pomegranate tips I read suggested a simple method to trim many pomegranates was to score the rind in half and then sixths or eighths; and fill a clean sink or large container with water and remove the seeds under water. Good seeds tend to be heavy and sink and bad seeds and the membrane and rind tend to float. Skim off the top layer of floating seeds and membrane and separate and trim the good parts of the inner membrane and rind and discard any decayed rind or seeds. Drain the bowl or sink and remove the seeds and sort for any bits of membrane. I didn’t try this method. I sorted god and bad seeds into separate bowls and trimmed the pile of peel/membrane of discolored areas afterward. Using food safe gloves might help protect the skin if prepping a large batch. The juice is acidic and can be a little drying to the skin. Put the seeds in a refrigerator container to use fresh or a freezer container to store for later use.
  5. I chopped the trimmed peel and inner membrane into roughly a quarter inch dice to try to maximize how much phospholipid and other phytonutrients might be released during the simmering phase. The extract might be as potent with a larger chop or no extra chopping. I didn’t experiment with that aspect – all batches were made with a quarter inch dice.
  6. I tried varying amounts of water with the chopped membrane and found it was easiest to work with when more was used, about one cup of water per one cup of diced peel worked fairly well for draining afterwards. One large pomegranate produced about two cups of diced membrane. I added one teaspoon of cold pressed organic coconut oil to the water/peel mixture in a large nonstick stockpot (or saucepan depending on the amount I was making). A little extra oil can help some phytonutrients be released from produce – (tomato sauce made with a little oil has more available lycopene content then tomato products made without oil or the fresh tomato.)
  7. Bring the peel/water/coconut oil mixture to a simmer at medium high heat ( a few minutes) and promptly turn down the heat to medium or low, cover with a lid, and continue at a gentle simmer (barely bubbling) for 20-30 minutes. Try not to overheat which might be noticed as a caramelized sugary smell or membrane fiber sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stirring occasionally can help.
  8. Drain the extract in a metal colander or soup stock wire mesh skimmer (example). Store in glass or metal until cooled as hot liquids can interact with some types of plastic and cause plastic molecules to enter the food. I rinsed the leftover peel with a few additional cups of water and got a second and third batch of more dilute extract that also had flavor and some health symptom relief effects. Master Chef challenge – there’s probably easier ways to do this. I did try running one batch of the softened membranes through a juicer and it didn’t really work, turned it to pulp, a blender would have done that, but the taste is very bitter, the extract is bitter enough without adding the actual peel (I sampled a little, sugar can’t help everything taste better.)
  9. Use the extract fresh or freeze the excess. It is quite acidic and fairly concentrated. To drink it as a juice I diluted with water, doubling roughly the volume and adding an ounce of 100% cherry juice and a spoonful of sugar helped the flavor, but pH strips and my stomach told me the acidity is the main issue with making it tolerable to drink. It is more acidic than coffee. I started adding baking soda as I do to my coffee but instead of one pinch per cup of coffee I ended up needing four pinches to get the pH adjusted to around a 6.0 it started at 4 or less (water is ~ a 7.0) (I happened to have pH strips on hand).
  10. I also tried the extract in a thick bean/rice vegetable soup, adding about an 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the more concentrated extract per couple bowls of soup to thin it for reheating and a little addition of something acidic can help with digestion, especially for older people (about 3 cups of soup). I regularly add a spoonful or two of lemon/lime juice to my bowls of bean soup or one spoonful of apple cider vinegar Iit is slightly more acidic). I tried a slightly smaller amount in the same soup for a group of people and while they all weren’t regular bean soup eaters they all found it okay and a couple of them liked it. (The chocolate chip cookies were more popular.)

My health symptoms seem to be more stable with the addition of extract  to my diet than they were with the 1/3 to 2/3 cup of pomegranate seeds each day. The other advantage is that freezing extract and seeds could help make it easier to have a reliable year round source for something that is needed for a daily health need.

The unchopped peel in the scale, a large bowl of good seeds and a small bowl of a few discolored seeds. This pomegranate didn’t really have many bad spots.
The chopped, 1/4 inch dice, raw peel and inner membrane.
The raw chopped peel and water before heating.
A large batch of the extract with peel and membrane after cooking 30 minutes.
A pan with drained extract and a colander with the leftover larger peel – this batch was cooked for 20 minutes.
A little chilled coconut oil is floating on top of the containers prepped to freeze.

Math yield:

The large pomegranate averaged more seeds but the total peel/membrane ended up being only a little more than from the small size. However the small ones I had were fresher and had fewer bad spots to trim so less waste may have been the major difference. The size difference isn’t type, it depends on when the blossom was pollinated. The pomegranate can have a few blossom setting times during the spring and blossoms that pollinate early produce large fruit and later ones produce smaller fruit. Or a shorter or drier growing season or less fertilizer applied to the rows may also result in smaller fruit. Pomegranate are usually sold by unit price rather than by pound so a larger fruit averaged about twice the size of the small size and would be a better deal if the price was per unit/ per fruit rather than by weight.

The large fruit, (six), averaged 18 1/4 ounces, 510 grams. And provided an average of 11 1/4 ounces, 306 grams, good seeds, and 7 ounces good peel/membrane, 195 grams, and 3 1/4 ounces bad seed/peel, 106 grams.

The small fruit, (two), averaged 9 3/4 ounces, 270 grams. And provided an average of 4 ounces good seeds, 110 grams, and 4 3/4 ounces good peel/membrane, 123 grams, and 1/4 ounce bad seed/peel, 6 grams.

The total extract made depended on how much water I used and the concentration varied so it would be difficult to give any accurate yield but roughly the amount of water used resulted in a similar amount of extract produced. Each pomegranate roughly produced two to three cups of concentrated extract which needs to be diluted with another two t three cups of water or soup to be palatable.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Pomegranate peel may be the best part – medicinally

I’ve been experimenting with making pomegranate peel extract and it may be the best part medicinally but is quite acidic and quite bitter. Mary Poppins sang that a spoonful of sugar helped the medicine go down and she is on to something. Medicinal herbs may be the bitter ones.  Sugar does help with the taste, but excess amounts of it can help worsen inflammation, so just a spoonful is important. Diluting with extra water and adding a concentrated fruit juice also helped with flavor.

I’m taking notes but am still in the testing phase so this is a summary – yes it seems possible to make an extract from the peel and inner membrane part of the pomegranate. The taste is something that a sick person would tolerate because feeling better is worth a lot including drinking something not very good as quickly as possible. However the healthy person is still likely to prefer the pomegranate juice or juicy crunch of the seeds. If there are seasonal issues one simple experiment worked well – the juicy seeds freeze quite nicely so making a large batch of peel and membrane extract could include simply freezing the seeds for later use in salads or as a sweet and tangy treat. The juice is also tart but the peel extract I made was more acidic than coffee I added baking soda to make it less acidic and easier for the digestive system to tolerate.

The extract did help more of my symptoms than the seeds do. I’ve had early signs of finger numbness, possibly Raynaud’s Disease/Syndrome, which doesn’t really have any treatments. The extract helped restore feeling to my fingers but it was temporary, just that day so the larger quantity of the treatment mentioned in the last post on this topic which used 1 – 10 grams/kilogram for 8 weeks for hepatocellular carcinoma might be best spread out through the day for someone with a more severe illness. Half a cup per day for someone less ill and a half a cup every three to four hours throughout the hours spent awake for someone who is more severely ill might be what helps symptoms. If every cell of the body needs the substances, every hour of the twenty-four, then one dose one time per day might leave the body under-treated for most of the 24 hours and only relieve symptoms for a few hours.

Raynaud’s Syndrome/Disease is referred to by both names. It was mentioned in the search engine results but the article is only available as an Abstract which doesn’t mention any specific conditions: (1). The condition is discussed in an full text available article on oxidative stress and Nrf2. It mentions green tea extracts and Gingko biloba as possibly helping reduce oxidative stress: Review Article: Oxidative Damage and Antioxidative Therapy in Systemic Sclerosis,   (2).

Gingko biloba is also mentioned along with Raynaud’s Disease in this article. A standard dosage is mentioned as being used once or twice per day: “The standard clinical dose of EGb 761 is 120 mg (~1.7 mg/kg) once or twice daily;” Egb is a standardized formulation that contains a certain amount of the active phytonutrients of the Gingko biloba herb which are called gingkolides. It is a traditional herb that was used in cooking and as a medicine in Chinese and Japanese history for conditions such as asthma or as a cough medicine. In the discussion of Future Directions for research the authors suggest more study of dosing as the amount used in preclinical trials was significantly more than used in many clinical trials, “(100 mg/kg compared to <2 mg/kg, respectively),” although some used a larger dose, (300 mg daily).  (3).

I do take a capsule of Gingko biloba daily but not the Egb formulation. The dose I have been using is 60 mg standardized to include “24% Gingko Flavoglycosides = 14.4 mg and 6% Terpene Lactones = 3.6 mg” – which suggests it is a fairly low dose compared to some of the research studies that used 100-300 mg of the Egb formulation. (3)The Egb formulation also includes flavanoids which include one that has been found to help increase Nrf2:

“Beyond oxidant scavenging, the flavonoid isorhamnetin was able to upregulate antioxidant enzymes through Nrf2 activation.(3).

Take home point – clinical trials are a lot of work and accurate dosing, both amount used, concentration of the active phytonutrients, and frequency the dose is used throughout the day, and how large the patient is, are all important factors for effectiveness of the herbal preparation at relieving symptoms of a disease or preventing chronic illness.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. DaigoSumiAikoManjiYasuhiroShinkaiTakashiToyamaYoshitoKumagai., Activation of the Nrf2 pathway, but decreased γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase heavy subunit chain levels and caspase-3-dependent apoptosis during exposure of primary mouse hepatocytes to diphenylarsinic acid., Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Vol. 223Issue 3, 15 September 2007, Pages 218-224.    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X07002633 (1)
  2. Bogna Grygiel-Górniak and Mariusz Puszczewicz,Review Article: Oxidative Damage and Antioxidative Therapy in Systemic Sclerosis, Mediators of Inflammation, vol 2014 (2014), Article ID 389582, 11 pages. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2014/389582/. (2)
  3. Kevin M. Nash and Zahoor A. Shah., Current Perspectives on the Beneficial Role of Ginkgo biloba in Neurological and Cerebrovascular Disorders., Integr Med Insights. 2015; 10: 1–9.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4640423/ (3)