All posts tagged recipe

Recipe for Irony: DIY High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Finally!  No more need to run to the packaged food isle of your local grocery store to get your high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) fix.  Thanks to a Parsons Design graduate student, you can now make your own!  All you’ll need is some sulfuric acid, latex gloves, protective eye goggles and, of course, Yellow Dent #2 corn.

For her thesis project, Maya Weinstein decided to engineer the secret ingredient to the industrialized food system in a domestic kitchen and film it for the world to see.  Maya’s motivation,

There are a lot of videos and articles on the web that talk about how scary and bad HFCS is for you, but there’s not really any information about what it actually is or how it’s made.  I saw a void there that I wanted to fill.

Bravo, Maya.  Clearly, Parsons is also teaching tenacity, as I can report looking up the recipe to HFCS is not as simple as a quick Google search.

A few years ago a few colleagues and I were tasked with a project to dig into the definition of natural for food.  Instead of taking the typical route of creating an “unacceptable ingredients” list (which is common for most companies and retailers like Whole Foods Market), my part of the investigation quickly navigated into the world of processing.  My reasoning: if you walk back far enough into the processing steps, almost all ingredients are natural…I mean, they must come from the earth at some point, right?  So, focusing on finished ingredients is not really the best way to understand naturalness.  Instead, we should make this determination based on what happens to the ingredient between leaving the ground and ending up in a finished food.

Unfortunately, the steps between ground and finished food are often tightly guarded under the guise of “proprietary information” and “trade secrets”.  This is likely why Weinstein identified a void in the internet ethos.  I cannot tell you the number of flow charts I received from ingredient suppliers in the process of my own research with incredibly vague steps like “washing” and “extraction”.  Trade secrets are all well and good except when the secret information is needed to make determinations of health and safety to people and planet health.

Thanks to its celebrity status, HFCS has not managed to stay behind the veil of industry protection.

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Image by Alternative Heat

My Favorite Ginger Recipes

There are so many things to love about winter…soft, fluffy scarves to bundle up in, holidays to celebrate with loved ones, and of course all the many traditional dishes filled with hearty ingredients and warm spices.

The ingredient that symbolizes this time of year more than any other for me is ginger.  It’s a spicy spice in the best kind of way…one that warms you from the inside out.  It works in everything from a Thanksgiving cranberry chutney recipe to a simple herbal tea.  And ginger is not just about flavor and spice, it’s also one of the most well studied herbs in botanical medicine, with an impressive body of research to support its use for a variety of health conditions including improvement in muscle and joint pain, nausea due to pregnancy or chemotherapy and a variety of other conditions where inflammation plays a role (which is almost everything).

Fun fact: Dried ginger is ten times more heating than fresh

Here are a couple recipes with ginger that I love to make this time of year:

Simple Ginger Tea

I make this tea when I’m feeling cold and a bit lazy.  It leaves me feeling instantly warm and healthy.

  • Thoroughly wash a chunk of fresh ginger rhizome (root) and use a carrot grater to remove the outer skin
  • Slice lengthwise into two or three thick pieces and add one to two slices to a cup of very hot water or tea (green or raspberry leaf are some of my favorite choices)
  • Steep for 3-4 minutes and enjoy

Superfood Muesli

I’ve modified this recipe from one I was introduced to while in naturopathic medical school.  I love it because you can make a big batch that will last for weeks and it’s fun to get creative with different spices and ingredients.  Although this dish can be eaten warm or cold, I like to warm it up in the winter for a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast that provides excellent whole food nutrition and energy.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rolled grains (e.g. oats, rye, barley, and/or rolled rice flakes)
  • 2 cups oat bran
  • ½ cup dried, unsulphured fruit (e.g. raisins, dates, blueberries, cranberries)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds (can be ground)
  • 1 cup raw nuts (e.g. walnuts and almonds)
  • 1 cup seeds (e.g. ground flax seed, chia)
  • 1 tsp each of one or more of the following spices: ginger, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, turmeric

Combine all ingredients, mix well and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  To make a single serving, scoop a ½ cup into a bowl and add 1 cup liquid (e.g. water, soy, nut milk or dairy milk are all good options).  Soak overnight and then heat in microwave in the morning or, to prepare right away, heat in a saucepan until grains are soft and ingredients have absorbed most of the liquid.

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Image by Muy Yum

Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad with Fresh Lemon Dressing

My mother happens to be a fabulous vegan cook, and while I was visiting recently she taught me the following recipe.  I’m so in love with it at the moment that I’m compelled to share it here.

For all my nutrition and health expertise I rarely ever cook (I know, the irony!).  However, this entrée-sized salad is so simple and low-maintenance that even I can do it while juggling kids and my own hungry stomach at the end of the day.  If you’re really in a rush at dinner time, you can roast the vegetables in advance so all you have to do is whip up the dressing and add the mixed greens.  That’s dinner in five minutes, Folks!

From a nutrition and health perspective, we all know vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and all the colors in this salad mean lots of antioxidant and phytonutrient compounds to protect our cells from damage.  You may also be interested to note that vegetables, on average, have around 14% protein.  That means this entrée is not only delicious and beautiful but packed with nutrition.

Servings: 4

Ingredients for salad

4 bell peppers, assorted colors
3 summer squash or zucchini
2 ears of corn
10 Fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
6 cups mixed greens
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Ingredients for dressing

Juice from ½ fresh-squeezed lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Chop peppers and summer squash into bite size chunks and corn into  approx. 1” disks
  3. Add chopped veggies into a large bowl and toss with liberal olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour onto rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once at about the ½ way point
  5. Once veggies are done, set aside and cool to room temperature
  6. To make dressing; whisk all ingredients together and add salt and pepper to taste
  7. When you’re ready to serve the salad, divide the mixed greens into large bowls, top with the roasted veggies.  Drizzle over dressing and sprinkle on basil.

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