Soup Cooking

Briefly about the circumstances

First, soups gets better than a lesser extent they are cooking. It is best to cook the soup for no more than 6 – 10 servings at a time, that is, in a saucepan to a maximum of 10 liters. Hence, homemade soup, cooked for 3 – 5 people is preferable of any other.

Second, crockery for soup should always be faience, porcelain, stone or enamel, but not metallic without the any coating. Thus, matters not only material, coating and protection of the inner surface of the dish, but also its thickness, and hence its heat capacity and thermal conductivity. The slower and quieter boiling soup, so it tastes better.

Third, the ratio of water and other products in soups must be exactly balanced. By the end of cooking, the amount of liquid per serving should not exceed 350 – 400 cubic centimeters or milliliters. And minimum 200 – 250 milliliters per serving. At the same time, during cooking, liquid cannot be drained, or added, because it significantly affect the taste. But precisely this condition is almost never observed either in catering or in the household. Properly balancing the amount of water and other products in the soup is necessary before start of cooking, considering how much water will boil away in the cooking process.

Six rules you need to know

  1. Soups require high freshness of all products and careful handling, removal of all defects by cleaning, cutting, scraping. Products for the soup should not only wash the dirt from the outside, but from odor that not everyone is able and willing to do. Cutting should be conducted carefully, so that each piece of meat, fish, vegetable, intended for soup, must be fully pre-cleaned, washed and dried.
  2.  When cutting food, should be strictly adhered to a form of cutting, which is characteristic for this soup, because it affects the taste. This means that in a one kind of soup should be added the whole onion and chopped into another; in one soup should be added a whole carrot, into other – diced or halved. This is not a decorative external differences, but the requirements dictated by the taste and the appointment of soup.
  3. The addition of products to the soup should be done in a certain order, so that none of the components are not digested and that the whole soup is not boiling too long, and keep up to a time when cooked all of its components. To do this, the cook should know and remember the cooking time of each product and each component.
  4. Soup should be always salted in the end of cooking, but not too late, at a time when the major products in it just cooked but not yet digested and able to absorb the salt evenly. If the soup is salted too early, even when the products are hard, then it is cooked long and becomes too salty, as the salt mostly remains in the liquid, and if salted too late, then it becomes salty (liquid) and tasteless (thick).
  5. During soup cooking you must constantly monitor it, do not give it boil over, often tasting, correcting mistakes in time, watching the changing taste of broth, with the consistence of meat, fish and vegetables. That is why the soup is an uncomfortable dish for cooks, because he does not let go away for a minute. In the home, and in the restaurant that is often neglected in practice, leaving the soup to its fate. A good cook is not considered with time, cooking the soup and knowing that these “losses” will be repaid with excellent quality.
  6. The most crucial moment comes after the soup mostly cooked, salted and left just a few minutes – from 3 to 7 – to its full readiness. During this time, it is necessary, said the cook-practices “to bring the soup to taste” – give it flavor, odor, piquancy, depending on the type and requirements of the recipe, as well as individual cook skills, from his personal taste and desires. Usually, this final operation cannot please everyone, and just at this point the soup can be thoroughly spoiled. Meanwhile, a cook with refined taste during this final moment, bringing a variety of seasonings, spices, can turn a seemingly mediocre soup into a masterpiece.

Darjeeling Tea

The First Flush

The first flush tea is the most prized and popular in the market. This type of tea variant only includes the first two green leaves of the plant, which has the most alluring flavour. For this fresh and aromatic flavour, the first flush is known as the “Champagne of Teas”. These early leaves are the most delicate and tender; therefore create a brisk and floral taste.

The Second Flush

The time of picking the second flush tea is early April to May or June. In this flush, the leaves become larger and more mature than the first flush. These matured leaves yield a stronger and smoother flavour for a perfect cup of Darjeeling Tea. The second flush tea is known for its full-bodied, matured, fruity touch.

The Monsoon Flush

This flush continues its growth from June or July to October. The leaves produced in this flush are larger, which brew into intense colour and bold flavour. The monsoon flush is commonly used in making ice tea or as commercial tea bags.

The Autumn Flush

The tealeaves that matured in October to November, is known as Autumn Flush. It is the last and final stage of Darjeeling Tea. In this stage, the leaves become more mature than the previous flushes; it creates a strong copper-colored beverage. In this stage, tea leaves grow slowly and produce a nutty, rich taste.

Perfect weather for Darjeeling Tea

To maintain the perfect growth of the tea plant, accurate soil, temperature and moisture is inevitable. As tea is a rain-fed plant, it cannot survive without rain. However, excessive rain can damage the plant entirely. The ideal temperature to grow Darjeeling Tea is between 18 to 30 degrees. The tea plant, can be spoiled, in high temperature and can lost its delicate flavour. Darjeeling’s cool, moist climate and slopping terrains are equally important to produce the muscatel flavor of the tea. Sometimes, strong wind, frost, excessive rainfall creates difficulties in growing the plant.

Asparagus

Whether you choose the white or purple or green variety, asparagus is high in fiber, almost no fat and low in calories which is ideal as integral part of an active fitness diet. Asparagus is also an anti-inflammatory and a natural source for the antioxidant glutathione containing three essential amino acids which defend against cell damage while detoxifying pollutants throughout the body. Additionally, the vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, manganese, potassium, chromium and selenium in asparagus all help to fight against bladder, stomach, breast, colon, lung, prostrate, pancreatic, cervical and ovarian and other types of cancers that can invade the body. Other antioxidants include lutein, zeaxanthin, carotene and crypto-xanthine which assist in removing harmful oxidant free radicals. Sapiens, found in asparagus, are naturally forming chemical compounds that have the potential to not only slow the growth of cancer cells but to actually assist in destruction of these cells.

The many nutrients in asparagus all help to fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune diseases and is excellent in promoting good heart health with a B complex vitamin called folate which is essential to the production of red blood cells while promoting a healthy cardiovascular system and rapid growth during infancy. Folate-deficiency in the body has also been linked to birth defects such as spina bifida.

The amino acid asparagine found in asparagus is a diuretic and is used mainly to treat swelling from water retention in muscle tissues which is hard on the kidneys, arthritis and rheumatism. Inulin, a carbohydrate, encourages the growth of two bacteria’s that can boost nutrient absorption, again helping to lower the risk of some cancers and prevent unfriendly bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Asparagus contains dietary fiber and protein which stabilizes digestion, curbs the appetite and overeating and helps to prevent constipation and to maintain a lower blood sugar for a healthy digestive tract.

Asparagus also contains vitamin K that helps to strengthen bone composition, prevent calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke. It has also been found to help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

The vitamin C in asparagus, as mentioned above, can also help to lower blood pressure and boost resistance to age-related ocular diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Another anti-aging property is that the vitamin A content may help the brain fight cognitive decline while allowing the brain to adapt and grow during learning.

Finally, asparagus is known as an aphrodisiac because of the nutrients folic acid and potassium, as we mentioned above. The folic acid aids in the production of chemicals that enhance libido. Due to the vitamin E, production of testosterone is also stimulated. Asparagus can increase the sex drive of both men and women, so it is good for both.

Now for the down side of asparagus. Even though the benefits are numerous and undeniable, do not overdose on asparagus! Too much can lead to kidney dysfunction and cause body enzymes to fluctuate abnormally. Asparagus is great for bodybuilders when taken in smaller quantities so maybe try combining it with other ingredients or make it into a soup.

Spirulina Benefits

Spirulina is an edible blue green algae that has been used as food for thousands of years for the high nutrition it provides. It was a part of some ancient civilizations that enjoyed its health benefits. I wanted to highlight some of the important nutrition facts that spirulina provides so that you too can benefit form it.

Spirulina Health Benefits

  1. Spirulina is easy to digest – Spirulina cell wall does not have cellulose which cannot be digested by our digestive system. Instead, spirulina cell wall is made up of mucopolysaccharides which are easily broken down and this makes the nutrients in the spirulina highly bio-available which makes these nutrients quickly absorbed in our body.
  2. Spirulina provides antioxidants – Spirulina provides antioxidants like Phycocyanin and phycocyanobilin. Both are very powerful antioxidants that fight free radical that cause damage to our cells. Free radicals are known to speed up aging process and cause chronic disease like cancer. The phycocyanobilin is known to protect kidneys from damage due to diabetes.
  3. Spirulina provides protein – Spirulina contains about 60% protein by weight which very higher than meat and chicken. Protein is required for many bio-chemical reactions within our body and are need to repair, regenerate and maintain our tissues. Scientist believe that Phycocyanin is a very powerful compound and has beneficial effect on the functions of our heart and brain.
  4. Spirulina provides vitamins and minerals – Spirulina provides vitamin B12 which is needed by our nerves to be healthy. It also provides Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) which an important fatty acid that help protect from eczema and psoriasis.

Goan Tofu Curry

Today, I came up with a tofu and vegetable curry. I used cauliflower, yellow squash, onions, garlic, sweet peppers, carrots and jalapeño peppers. This recipe calls for tamarind. You may find tamarind and garam masala spice at an Asian market. The other method is to soak the tamarind pods and strip the fiber strings off the pods. The paste in the jar is much easier to use. Trust me on this bit of advice.

  • 1 package or extra firm Tofu diced
  • ½ a head cauliflower chopped
  • ½ package of tiny cut carrots
  • ½ package of frozen peas
  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 green jalapeno pepper chopped
  • 8 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk reduced fat
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Large handful of fresh cilantro chopped fine for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste or ¼ cup of juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 2 inch peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lemon, lime juice or vinegar
  • 12 oz. of free range chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 tablespoon sesame or olive oil
  • ¼ each sweet red, yellow and orange peppers diced
  • 1 medium yellow squash peeled and diced
    Or use your veggies of choice.

The key to cooking Indian food to is to know when to add the spices, including salt and black pepper. A very commonly used spice is garam masala which is a combination of Indian spices and can be found in most health food stores. As for diabetics (I am one) the only real fat it the dish is the sesame oil and coconut milk. There are carbohydrates in the veggies but I divided this dish into 8-10 portions so the carbohydrates will be lower per serving.

In a food processor (I use mini processor) put in the jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic, lemon, lime juice and grated ginger. I have a little tip about ginger; I keep it in the freezer in an airtight bag, it so much easier to peel and grate. Pulse the mixture until it forms a wet paste. Put mixture into a deep pot, add all the spices at the same time keep stirring so the mixture does not burn or stick. It may take 5 minutes or more for the mixture to dry out and become paste like. Add the tablespoon of oil, it will thin the mixture and smooth it out. At this point add tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, vegetables, tomato paste and cook on medium heat until bubbling. Add coconut milk, stir until smooth, turn down heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all the vegetables are done and stew is thick. Add in the tofu, cover and simmer a few more minutes. Serve with rice, top with the chopped cilantro leaves.

Worst Food Additives

HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined artificial sweetener made from corn starch and found in almost all processed food such as: bread and baked goods, salad dressing, candies, yogurt, soda etc. And according to some studies has become the number one source of calories in the US.

Indeed, its easy handling and cheap cost made it the number one granulated sugar replacement: The amount of refined sugar we consume has declined over the past 40 years, while we’re consuming almost 20 times as much HFCS.

HFCS is linked with weight gaining, it increases your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects.

Also, recent researches published by the American Association for Cancer Research found that the fructose in HFCS promotes cancer growth, specifically pancreatic cancer.

Sodium Nitrate & Sodium Nitrite (NaNO3- NaNO2)

Both of them are chemical compound used as a food additive to preserve and give to cured meats, smoked fish and poultry a nice red pinkish color. Although their purpose seems harmless, these ingredients are highly carcinogen and their consume is linked with gastrointestinal cancer and heart diseases.

In fact, under certain conditions, they can form nitrosamines compounds, molecules that cause cancer in animals and humans.

Also, in massive doses, nitrite – and nitrate, which under some conditions changes to nitrite – can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia. In our body, nitrites, indeed, have the ability to change the structure of the hemoglobin into methemoglobin: the binding of oxygen to whom results in an increased affinity for oxygen in the remaining heme sites. This leads to an overall reduced ability of the red blood cell to release oxygen to tissue and it may occur in tissue hypoxia.

Can’t give up on eating salami, bacon or ham? Choose the uncured ones.

Sodium Nitrate is listed under its INS number 251 or E number E251, Sodium Nitrite has the E number E250.

MSG – Monosodium Glutammate

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. While the Glutamic acid is naturally present in our bodies, and in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheese, the ones exploited by the processed-foods industry is chemically produced through hydrolysis of vegetable proteins with hydrochloric acid to disrupt peptide bonds or by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses.

The substance produced has the ability to excite our taste buds and make everything taste delicious, which wouldn’t be a big deal if it hasn’t been shown that high levels of MSG can seriously screw with brain chemistry causing damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier.

Artificial Colors

Food dyes are one of the most common ingredients in processed food used with the purpose to make your meals or drinks more desirable and appealing.

Nothing against that if they wouldn’t have been linked to some serious health problems.

Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)

Banned in Norway, Finland, and France. May cause chromosomal damage.

Found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods.

Red dye #3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)

Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission.

Found in fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)

Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.

Found in American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more! (source Food Matters website)

The slogan “Eat the Rainbow” is still cool but go natural, please!

Oregano Tea

Oregano has anti-inflammatory, soothing, expectorant and digestive properties so it can contribute to the natural treatment of different health problems.

In the specific case of menstruation, it helps to arrive more quickly besides soothing the pains that frequently appear during the menstrual cycle.

Oregano tea also serves to relieve headaches and stomach pain, eliminating fluid retention and improving irritable moods, symptoms that are very common in menstruation and can be relieved thanks to this infusion.

It is known as an anti inflammatory and regulator of the function of the circulatory system, thanks to its content of naringenin, which is a flavonoid that has antiplatelet properties and that favors circulation, improving the risk of the brain and improving memory.

How to prepare a tea of oregano

To prepare this infusion you need a handful of fresh or dried leaves, two cups of water. Heat the water in a saucepan until it starts to boil, add the leaves of oregano and keep boiling for a minute more, get off the burner and let it rest. You can optionally add honey.

Other uses of oregano tea

Oregano is a stimulant of the stomach and very indicated when there is loss of appetite, slow digestion and flatulence.

For colds: Oregano oil can add extra protection to your immune system if used properly. In the same way that it protects against viruses helps to fight attacks of bacterial origin.

It promotes blood circulation: Prevents the appearance of thrombi and relieves headaches caused by poor blood supply to the brain.

According to the oregano, it is antiseptic, diuretic, sudorific (helps to eliminate toxins, purifying the body). It is good against insomnia, stress and fatigue. It relieves rheumatic and joint pains, we can use it to relieve musculoskeletal pain, sciatica, arthritis, blows and rheumatism.

Fights fungi and bacteria internally and externally. For the fungicide properties of oregano can be very effective in the fight against fungal infections in the skin.

Oregano oil is also used topically for the treatment of insect stings, since it is very strong, it must be diluted with a carrier oil. It is also used to fight toothache and ears.

Essential Foods for Runners

Cherries

Cherries are rich in a type of antioxidant known as anthocyanins. Antioxidants are useful for a variety of reasons, such as slowing the growth of cancerous tumors and maintaining healthy blood vessels. Plus, they are great to give a boost to athletic performance. For the athlete, a regular glass of cherry juice can help to reduce muscle soreness and the amount of strength loss.

Kale

Kale is one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables, as well as containing high levels of calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K. Plus, it contains useful anti-inflammatory properties. Adding kale to the diet can help to minimize issues with muscle damage related to daily exercise. Other anti-inflammatory foods that are useful for the runner include tomatoes, spinach, tuna, sardines, blueberries and strawberries.

Bananas

Bananas are a great pre-race or workout food for runners. It is rich in carbohydrates. A single large banana has no fat, 1 gram of protein, and 30 grams of carbohydrate. Plus, it is a useful source of potassium which is easily lost at the time of exercise through sweat. This light and soft fruit is easy to eat even when experiencing issues with pre-race nerves.

Oatmeal

Runners are best prepared for physical activity when at least 60% of their daily intake is sourced from carbohydrates. This helps to maximize the body’s ability to perform. A simple way to start the carbohydrate intake is with breakfast. A high-carb breakfast option is oatmeal, which has nearly 26 grams per serving. Plus, oatmeal is a low-glycemic index food and rich in fiber to give long-lasting energy.

Beneficial Fermented Foods

The Romans preserved cabbages with salt, and Genghis Khan fed his armies fermented cabbage to sustain them on their campaigns through Europe. This use of preserved, fermented foods was a common practice for travelers as a source of nutrients. As late as World War I, allied forces relied on fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut as we now know it, to supply nutrients to soldiers on the battlefields of Europe.

The process of fermentation helps to preserve the food for use many months later. Fermentation also generates many health benefits for the consumer. The essential nutrients and vitamins are preserved. Sugars are broken down so they are more easily absorbed with far less insulin or allergy reaction, in the case of lactose intolerance to dairy products. The process also generates enzymes that are essential to supporting the digestion of foods that we eat. Finally, they are natural probiotics, jam-packed with beneficial microorganisms.

A healthy gut, supported by a strong population of beneficial bacteria, serves as a powerful booster for your immune system. The digestive tract is where nutrients are extracted from food and absorbed by the body. Enzyme and microbial activity accelerates digestion and generates enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants that are essential to health. They also protect us from pathogens and flush out toxins from our bodies.

You can find a variety of ready-to-use fermented products at your local supermarket. They include yoghurt, which is fermented milk (usually cow’s milk). The fermentation process breaks down the milk lactose to make it easier to digest and the yoghurt supplies billions of helpful bacteria. Be careful of brands with large amounts of sugar added, as that will create other problems. Another healthy fermented product from milk is kefir, a drink often found in the supermarket refrigerator.

Kombucha tea is another good source of enzymes and beneficial microbes. Kombucha is made from fermenting black tea. Other products you may find in the supermarket include kimchi, a Korean version of fermented cabbage and a mixture of other vegetables. Raw apple cider vinegar is also loaded with beneficial bacteria and has many different uses apart from supporting a healthy digestive system. You may find Japanese products like miso, and natto, both loaded with microbes and used in cooking soups, marinades and sauces.

If you feel adventurous, the processes for making your own fermented yoghurt, kefir, pickles and kimchi are relatively easy and they require no special equipment. Select healthy organic ingredients and you will be able to rely on the process for creating your own healthy, nutritious probiotic foods.

Make a Sandwich

  1. Start with two pieces of bread. Choose bread that you enjoy. If you want to make the best sandwich possible you need to use the bread that personally satisfies you. If you are looking to eat healthier use a whole grain bread. Separate the two pieces of bread and lay them out on a clean table top or counter top.
  2. Try to pick pieces of meat that do not have patches of fat. There are two types of meat that are usually used in sandwiches. Those two types of meat are ham and turkey. What you choose is personal preference. Put 4 to 5 slices of meat on the piece of bread that you will use as the bottom piece.
  3. Apply the cheese. Cheddar cheese is usually used to build a sandwich but that is boring. Try to think outside of the box! Use all different types of cheese. After you try all the kinds of cheeses available you won’t want to go back to cheddar cheese. My personal favorites are provolone cheese and swiss cheese. Put the cheese on top of the meat.
  4. Pick out the sauce you want to use. This is a big part of how your sandwich will taste. Mayonnaise is a good choice but you are not limited to this choice. One of the best sauces out there to put on a sandwich like the one we are making is barbeque sauce! Try it for yourself and you will see that it is delicious. Put the sauce on the top piece of bread. Spread it out evenly and put on just enough so you can taste it.
  5. Add some bacon! This is my favorite part. Some people don’t like bacon but I think most people will agree that it is one of the best foods out there. You can buy pre-cooked bacon at most grocery stores which is what I would recommend for this type of sandwich. Put two or three strips of bacon on top of the sauce you spread over the top piece of bread.
  6. Put it all together. This is the last step. All you have to do is take the top piece of bread and put it on the bottom piece so that the contents of the sandwich are between the bread.