Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cancer Boost from Whole Carrots

Sometimes I come across a story that just makes good sense, and this is one of them so I want to share it with you.

If you've ever boiled a red beet you know that if you cut it before boiling it, all the red coloring leeches out into the water....and it stands to reason that many nutrients are moving right along with the color, too. You don't see this as well when you cook carrots because the color is not as vibrant, but the water does take on an orange tinge.

So, when I read this article about why carrots are more nutrtious if they are cooked before cutting, it was one of those "slap your forehead" kinda moments. Of course! And another added benefit is that they are much easier to cut, too, when they are just tender instead of rock hard.

Read on and change the way you have been cooking!

Cancer Boost from Whole Carrots
By Sharon Barbour BBC News

Chef's tip: Chop after cooking

The anti-cancer properties of carrots are more potent if the vegetable is not cut up before cooking, research shows. Scientists found "boiled before cut" carrots contained 25% more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those chopped up first. Experiments on rats fed falcarinol have shown they develop fewer tumours. The Newcastle University study will be presented at NutrEvent, a conference on nutrition and health, to be held in France.

Lead researcher Dr. Kirsten Brandt, from Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said: "Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked. "By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste, so the carrot is better for you all round."

The Newcastle scientist, along with colleagues at the University of Denmark, discovered the health benefits of falcarinol in carrots four years ago. Rats fed on a diet containing carrots or falcarinol were found to be one-third less likely to develop full-scale tumours than those in the control group.

Since then the scientists in Newcastle have been studying what happens when carrots are chopped and cooked. The latest findings show that when carrots are heated, the heat kills the cells, so they lose the ability to hold on to the water inside them, increasing the concentration of falcarinol as the carrots lose water. However, the heat also softens the cell walls, allowing water-soluble compounds such as sugar and vitamin C to be lost via the surface of the tissue, leading to the leaching out of other compounds such as falcarinol. If the carrot is cut before being boiled, the surface area becomes much greater - and so the loss of nutrients is increased.

Dr. Brandt added that in blind taste studies the whole carrots also tasted much better. Eight of ten people favoured the whole vegetables over those that were pre-chopped. This is because the naturally occurring sugars which are responsible for giving the carrot its distinctively sweet flavour were also found in higher concentrations in the carrot that had been cooked whole.

Dr. Brandt said: "The great thing about this is it's a simple way for people to increase their uptake of a compound we know is good for you. "All you need is a bigger saucepan."

Dr. Kat Arney, of the charity Cancer Research UK, remained unconvinced that keeping carrots whole would have any impact on cancer risk. She said: "When it comes to eating, we know that a healthy balanced diet - rich in a range of fruit and vegetables - plays an important part in reducing the risk of many types of cancer, rather than any one specific food."

Carrot on Foodista

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mrs. Lochman's Salad

A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of conducting a wine tasting at the home of one of Charlotte's nicest and most gracious hosts. She invited me to share her beautiful buffet table with her friends after the tasting and then emailed me the recipe for her delicious vegetable salad, which will always make me think of her and the wonderful evening I spent with her and her friends.

This salad makes the best use of all the vegetables that are available at our farmer's markets right now. If you can't get good fresh corn, then substitute it with frozen. This just tastes like summer.

Mrs. Lochman's Salad
(a.k.a. Fresh Zucchini and Corn Salad)

1 ½ lbs. medium zucchini
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 2 ears)
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup thinly sliced basil leaves

Trim off ends of zucchini. Cut into ribbons using a vegetable parer. Place strips in a colander over a bowl. Toss with 1 ½ tsp. salt and let drain, covered in refrigerator, for at least 1 hour. Rinse the zucchini in the colander under cold running water to rinse off some of the excess salt and then drain on paper towels.

If using fresh corn, husk and clean corn. Bring water to boil in large pot and add a tablespoon of salt to the water. Immerse the corn cobs in the water, cover, return to a boil and boil for 10 minutes or until just tender. Remove from water and cool to touch, then slice kernels off cob with a sharp knife.

Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, pepper, and remaining ½ tsp. salt in large bowl. Whisk in olive oil in a slow stream.

Add all veggies to dressing and toss well before serving.
Adjust seasoning if needed. Can be made 6 - 8 hours in advance.

Our icy cold
Kakadu Ridge Unoaked Chardonnay was delicious with this salad!
Serves 6.

Chef Debbie

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Ultimate Guacamole

I bought some unripe avocados one day last week, thinking that they would turn from hard nobs to nice soft fruits after a couple of days on my counter so that I could make a vegetable salad with them, but my timing was off and they weren't ready when I needed them. So yesterday, when I found that they were perfectly ripe (they give just slightly to the touch), I decided to make guacamole with them and now I'm sharing my recipe (method) with you! Just in case you've only had rather bland "guacamole" try this method because I like mine with very bold flavors.

Have all your ingredients ready before you cut open the avocadoes, which will turn brown unless they quickly come into contact with the lime juice. Dice the onion, tomato, clean the cilantro, and stem, seed, and dice the peppers. I just noticed that the garlic is not in this picture, but you will definitely like your guacamole better if it has garlic in it. It's all a matter of personal taste, though, so increase or omit ingredients to your palate's delight.

Here is the finished guacamole just begging for a tortilla chip! Keep this in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap in contact with the surface of the dip until you're ready to serve it.

The Ultimate Guacamole
3 medium avocados, just tender to the touch but not mushy soft
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced (or to taste)
2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 or 2 limes, to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
A dash of freshly grated black pepper
1/2 cup ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs.

To peel and seed avocado, run sharp knife around pit from stem to blossom end and back again. Gently grasp each half and twist. The will separate with one half retaining the round brown pit. Cup that half in one hand and tap pit with sharp side of chef knife, then twist the pit with the knife to remove it. Using a large serving spoon, run it around the avocado just under the skin and the half will easily come out in one piece.

Place avocado halves in a mediun bowl and mash with a large fork. Leave some lumps in it so it looks rustic. Add all remaining ingredients, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Add salt, pepper, or more lime juice as needed.

Place in serving bowl and garnish with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs.

Serve with tortilla chips.

A wonderfully cold tecate would be great with this, or if you are a wine lover, pull out a cold bottle of our Vina Cordilla Sauvignon Blanc or our Kakadu Ridge Unoaked Chardonnay.

Chef Debbie

Friday, June 12, 2009

Slowing Down

Zen Habits is one of my favorite blogs, and today I am bringing you author Leo Babauta's latest post because some days we just need to be reminded not to race through life. It is good to be able to appreciate each moment of each day of our life and not race to the end. Enjoy!

The 10 Essential Rules for Slowing Down and Enjoying Life More
Posted: 11 Jun 2009 04:00 PM PDT
Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

It’s an irony of our modern lives that while technology is continually invented that saves us time, we use that time to do more and more things, and so our lives are more fast-paced and hectic than ever.

Life moves at such a fast pace that it seems to pass us by before we can really enjoy it. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s rebel against a hectic lifestyle and slow down to enjoy life.

A slower-paced life means making time to enjoy your mornings, instead of rushing off to work in a frenzy. It means taking time to enjoy whatever you’re doing, to appreciate the outdoors, to actually focus on whoever you’re talking to or spending time with — instead of always being connected to a Blackberry or iPhone or laptop, instead of always thinking about work tasks and emails. It means single-tasking rather than switching between a multitude of tasks and focusing on none of them.

Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always an easy one, but it leads to a greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Do less. It’s hard to slow down when you are trying to do a million things. Instead, make the conscious choice to do less. Focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace. Read more.

2. Be present. It’s not enough to just slow down — you need to actually be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the moment. That means, when you find yourself thinking about something you need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen … gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Focus on what’s going on right now. On your actions, on your environment, on others around you. This takes practice but is essential.

3. Disconnect. Don’t always be connected. If you carry around an iPhone or Blackberry or other mobile device, shut it off. Better yet, learn to leave it behind when possible. If you work on a computer most of the day, have times when you disconnect so you can focus on other things. Being connected all the time means we’re subject to interruptions, we’re constantly stressed about information coming in, we are at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to slow down when you’re always checking new messages coming in.

4. Focus on people. Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues, and we’re not really there with them. We talk to them but are distracted by devices. We are there, but our minds are on things we need to do. We listen, but we’re really thinking about ourselves and what we want to say. None of us are immune to this, but with conscious effort you can shut off the outside world and just be present with the person you’re with. This means that just a little time spent with your family and friends can go a long way — a much more effective use of your time, by the way. It means we really connect with people rather than just meeting with them.

5. Appreciate nature. Many of us are shut in our homes and offices and cars and trains most of the time, and rarely do we get the chance to go outside. And often even when people are outside, they’re talking on their cell phones. Instead, take the time to go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and greenery. Exercise outdoors when you can, or find other outdoor activities to enjoy such as nature walks, hiking, swimming, etc. Feel the sensations of water and wind and earth against your skin. Try to do this daily — by yourself or with loved ones.

6. Eat slower. Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible — leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food — learn to eat slowly. Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavors and textures. Eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the food taste better. I suggest learning to eat more real food as well, with some great spices (instead of fat and salt and sugar and frying for flavor).

7. Drive slower. Speedy driving is a pretty prevalent habit in our fast-paced world, but it’s also responsible for a lot of traffic accidents, stress, and wasted fuel. Instead, make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life, and the things you’re passing. Driving will be more enjoyable, and much safer. You’ll use less fuel too.

8. Find pleasure in anything. This is related to being present, but taking it a step farther. Whatever you’re doing, be fully present … and also appreciate every aspect of it, and find the enjoyable aspects. For example, when washing dishes, instead of rushing through it as a boring chore to be finished quickly, really feel the sensations of the water, the suds, the dishes. It can really be an enjoyable task if you learn to see it that way. The same applies to other chores — washing the car, sweeping, dusting, laundry — and anything you do, actually. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit.

9. Single-task. The opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe, and pull yourself back. Read more.

10. Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause, and take a deep breath. Take a couple more. Really feel the air coming into your body, and feel the stress going out. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present, and slow yourself down. It’s also nice to take a deep breath or two — do it now and see what I mean. :)

—Read more about simplifying and focus in my book, The Power of Less.

Chef Debbie

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wines for Humanity

Wines for Humanity is a great company to be involved with, full of warm and sharing people who want to give back to their communities.

We just had a leadership conference in Chicago and I took my new Nikon D90 camera with me. I know that I irritated all my cohorts with all my "practice" shots, but some actually came out really good. Here they are!



Jose & Gina