Military technology brings high-nutrient flours made from fruits and vegetables
Life on earth may start to resemble the Jetsons, and soon. A new procedure, currently being developed for the military, specializes in extracting chemical nutrients from fruits and vegetables and concentrating them in a versatile form. Nutrients are extracted from produce like kale and muscadine grapes, and blended with soy or hemp-based flours and protein powders to create a supercharged ingredient.
With all the science involved in manipulating these foods, those dedicated to traditions, or Paleo diets for that matter, may be wary at the very least.
The goal is to use these hyper-nutritious, shelf-stable substances to replace traditional flour in food products, thereby multiplying their nutritional values. The new flours are extremely durable and can be transported long distances to deliver nutrition where it is sorely needed.
The possibilities do not end with the military, however, but could extend to humanitarian efforts worldwide. Once the technology is fully developed, the lightweight and nutrient-rich flours could aid not only troops mired in battle, but also people in famines, droughts, or extreme poverty who don’t have access to the fresh produce their bodies need.
Unfortunately, when the fruits and vegetables are stripped of sugars, water, and fats during the nutrient concentration process, most of the flavor we know and love vanishes too. You may be missing that berry blast in your smoothie, but isn’t scientific discovery the sweetest taste there is?
A Well-Traveled Writer Wonders: Have I Stumbled Upon The Next Superfood?
Native to the Andean region in Peru, the sacha tomate is high in potassium and vitamins A and C.
Most of us who eat and travel for a living taste a lot of unusual foods — if you could even call some of them that (tarantulas, anyone?). Given my particular love for far-flung, out-of-the-way destinations, I run across many unheard-of edibles that seem like they could catch on back home if given a chance. Of course some of them are already known here, like the quinoa I ate at almost every meal in Peru, but haven’t become a mainstream part of our diets.
Since 2014 took me everywhere from remote islands in Cambodia to the Peruvian Amazon to Papua New Guinea’s highlands to the capitals of Ethiopia, Denmark and Israel, I thought I’d weigh in on some unlikely ingredients that caught my eye over the past year. If they become the world’s next superfoods, you can say you read it here first.
Laos: Dried river weed
Last spring I spent a whole week scurrying around Luang Prabang, Laos, on a borrowed bicycle, trying and largely failing, to get a handle on “real” Laotian cuisine. However, one evening I pestered a nightmarket vendor enough to gather that yes, you were supposed to dip these flat, green, nori-like sheets into the burgundy-hued paste they were always sold next to. I found this snack quite tasty: the sweetish chili jam complemented the earthy, nori-like stuff.
Later, doing some reading, I learned the sheets were called kai pen and made of river weed that’s dried in a similar fashion to nori. The chili jam is a jeow — a relish or dip that’s a daily snack in these parts, also commonly prepared with eggplant or tomato. Not only does kai pen sound appealingly like that cute Indian actor who was in Harold & Kumar and then went off to work for Obama, but it’s loaded with protein, iron and fiber. And the jeow are basically gussied-up vegetables, which we all need more of. The whole snack is crunchy and salty, yet vegan, and would make an excellent substitute for a problematic Cheetos habit.
Peru: Sacha tomate
I first tasted this oval-shaped, bright orange fruit in its native Andean region, over a dreamy al fresco lunch at Huayoccari Hacienda, a 300-year-old villa-turned-restaurant in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Stuffed on excellent cooking that has graced the mouths of Antonio Banderas and countless U.S. presidents, I went for the lightest-sounding dessert, dulce de sacha tomate. When the fruit arrived, it had been stripped of its smooth skin and stewed in sugar syrup — the effect was shockingly orange in the afternoon light and appealingly sweet and sour. A few days later, I encountered this fruit again for dessert at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in Aguas Calientes, where I learned that it’s high in potassium, manganese, vitamins A and C, and a million other things we all need. Word is that New Zealand has been cultivating this fruit, which is known as the tamarillo over in Kiwi-land. Better get on it, rest of the world!
Sure, I’d been to a handful of stateside Ethiopian restaurants before embarking on a visit to the country itself this past October, but I’d always come away feeling that the cuisine was so heavy. Turns out I’d been eating Gringo-fied injera, the spongy sourdough flatbread that’s served with every Ethiopian meal (so into this food are the country’s natives that, no joke, one common breakfast features stir-fried injera accompanied by regular injera for mopping it up). In the States, I was told, injera is sometimes made with rice flour, which is cheaper than traditional teff but which sits heavily in the belly.
However, in Ethiopia proper, you will find none of this rice flour-injera nonsense. There, the ubiquitous silverware substitute is light and springy and pleasantly sour. This is because it’s made of fermented teff, a grain that’s high-protein, high-fiber and also loaded with calcium, iron, Vitamin B6 and zinc. During my week of using injera to cradle everything from morsels of cooked greens to chickpea stew to chunks of beef, I found the bread filled stomach corners and prevented the blood sugar spike I generally get from say, a French baguette. Plus, this stuff is gluten-free! Which probably explains why Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow have already jumped on the teff grain wagon.
Saigon: Pennywort juice
When I hit Saigon at the end of a two-month trip bumming around Southeast Asia last year, I was worn out from many long, dusty Burmese bus rides and much excellent street food in Malaysia. My body was hurting for a health tonic, and though I’d developed a green juice habit back in New York, here I couldn’t exactly waltz into my local kale bar. However, I soon found the next best thing: Saigon streets are peppered with juice shops, where you can choose from a dazzling lineup of fruits and concoct a custom potion for around a buck. Perusing one such menu, the only green thing on there caught my eye: “rau ma,” the juice lady called it. So I ordered one and found it to be sufficiently chlorophyll-loaded to appease my cells, though next time I’d want the drink sans sugar.
After consulting a Vietnamese-speaking friend, the following morning I marched to the juice window off my hotel’s little alley to request “rau ma khong duong.” Without sugar, the frothy green liquid tasted grassy and bitter yet eminently nutritious, not unlike wheatgrass. I repeated this once or twice a day for the next few days and soon felt like myself again. And no wonder: Some internet research on my hotel’s spotty WiFi revealed that pennywort is an incredible superfood, credited with improving memory, eyesight and (nudge nudge) stamina, and it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. Some tai chi master dude supposedly lived to be 256 years old by consuming this stuff daily — and somehow Gwyneth hasn’t even caught on to it yet! This spring, I went back to Saigon and you can bet your bottom dong (that’s the currency — get those minds out of the gutter!) that the first thing I ordered was a “rau ma khong duong.”
Jerusalem: Wild herbs
As the purple-and-yellow tour bus ferrying me around Israel this past November zoomed its way toward Jerusalem, I spent more time gaping at the heavily fenced Jordanian border and the various seas we passed (Galilee, Dead) than the golden-colored mountains out the other window. Apparently I should’ve had my eye on the hills: That’s where chef-owner Moshe Basson of the Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem goes foraging at least a few times a week. Not to blaspheme, but René Redzepi has nothing on Basson, mainly because the Noma chef is rooting out fussy little nubbins of moss and sea buckthorn while Basson has fields of herbs and flowers — including something like 20-plus varieties of sage — at his disposal.
Basson even forages on the streets of Jerusalem, as I observed while accompanying him to a market in the old city: Along the way he gathered lemon verbena, mallow, olive leaves and other herbs growing next to the sidewalk. Back at his restaurant, the Iraq-born chef incorporates wild herbs into all of his menus. My incredible meal started out with a focaccia-like bread accompanied by various dips: tehine, garlicky aioli and several pestos, one with coriander and one with hyssop, both wild herbs. Later, there were sautéed mallow leaves to accompany chicken-stuffed figs in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce and eggplant garnished with pomegranate seeds.
Basson is a pioneer of a growing Israeli school of cooking called “biblical cuisine,” so many of the recipes he uses are thousands of years old. What’s more, the chef can prescribe remedies using wild plants: hyssop is good for gas in babies sage can be boiled into a tea for the stomach, he says. Wild herbs have scientific evidence backing up their high vitamin and mineral content, not to mention the presence of beneficial phytonutrients that are hard to come by in domesticated plants. Yet remedies like Basson’s have been known since biblical times and probably way before. Just call wild plants the original superfoods.
Could Breadfruit Be the Next Superfood?
The thought of a bread-flavored fruit may sound a bit far-fetched, but in the world's tropical regions, this starchy crop is a staple. Breadfruit, a prickly oval-shaped fruit grown from Southeast Asia to Hawaii (also known there as 'ulu), does in fact taste like a mix between freshly baked bread, plantains and potatoes.
But breadfruit's superpowers go well beyond flavor. This fruit — a relative of the increasingly popular jackfruit — is a promising solution to food insecurity, particularly in tropical places where breadfruit trees thrive with little care. One breadfruit alone weighs around 7 pounds (3.1 kilograms) — sometimes up to 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) — and contains enough carbohydrates for one meal for a family of five, according to Global Mana.
The breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) is considered one of the highest yielding food plants on the planet one can produce 50 to 150 fruits per year and sustain a family of four for decades.
According to Diane Ragone, director of Hawaii-based National Tropical Botanic Garden's (NTBG) Breadfruit Institute, breadfruit is also a highly sustainable crop. "It has long been an important subsistence crop for many tropical communities," Ragone says via email. "Over the past decade, farmers and families have begun planting more breadfruit trees for local food and economic security. Another factor is the critical need to adopt and expand sustainable, regenerative agriculture cropping systems for the health and well-being of people and the planet."
A Brief Breadfruit History
Breadfruit, which likely stemmed from its ancestor breadnut in New Guinea, has been a main crop among Pacific islanders for millennia, Ragone says. When early explorers saw breadfruit in the Pacific Islands, they took it with them to Jamaica as a "foodstuff for slaves," Encyclopedia Britannica reports. But slaves across Jamaica were more interested in plantains they didn't take to the fruit. It took roughly 50 years for breadfruit to make its way into Caribbean cuisine.
Its roots in Hawaii go back even further. Ancient voyaging Polynesians took the tree to present-day breadfruit haven, Hawaii. The fruit became integral to ancient Hawaiian culture and spiritual life for hundreds of years before the islands had contact with westerners. Tour Maui reports that ancient Hawaiian breadfruit groves were large enough to sustain 75,000 people. Some of Hawaii's present-day trees are the offspring of groves planted centuries ago.
Breadfruit trees now grow across Earth's tropical belt, including in Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Ghana and Myanmar. Ragone says it's easily perishable, "softening within one to a few days after harvest," which means it's tough to find outside the tropics. But online retailers like Miami Fruit do ship it across the mainland U.S.
Breadfruit is safe for eating and cooking across all development stages, according to the NTBG. Most people use it when it's mature but still firm, and either boil, steam or bake it. As a notoriously starchy crop, breadfruit can replace potatoes or pasta, and it's a great alternative for potato chips or french fries. When it's green and hard, it tastes similar to artichoke. But it's also tasty when simply eaten raw. When it's very ripe, breadfruit has a creamy, sweet flavor, perfect for desserts or pureed for baby food, the NTBG says.
Ragone says these serving methods hardly scratch the surface of breadfruit's potential. "Entrepreneurs are processing fresh fruit, such as steaming and freezing wedges or drying and grinding it into flour and making value-added products like fries, tostones, liquors and more to supply local and export markets," she says. "If you don't live in a breadfruit-growing area, can you readily order breadfruit on a restaurant menu? Not yet! But if you have the good fortune to do so, then do so. It will support breadfruit farmers and entrepreneurs."
Breadfruit Is Packed With Perks
Health benefits abound with breadfruit. The crop is an energy-rich food brimming with complex carbohydrates, fiber and minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and manganese, the NTBG reports. It's also gluten-free and can be dried and ground into gluten-free flour.
Beyond strictly health benefits, breadfruit boasts some other important advantages. It's a natural insect repellant the male breadfruit flower is known to repel mosquitoes, according to Global Breadfruit. The sap from breadfruit can also be used to caulk watercrafts and homes, while fibers from the breadfruit tree bark are used to create mosquito nets, clothing and artwork. The leaves and fallen fruit make nutritious feed for animals.
Breadfruit's bountiful harvests and ecosystem benefits don't disappoint, either. "Breadfruit trees provide food security and contribute to diversified regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, improved soil conditions and watersheds, and valuable environmental benefits including reduction of CO2," the NTBG says. The fruit also provides much-needed shelter to plant pollinators and seed dispersers like birds, bees and bats.
Breadfruit trees bear 50 to 150 fruits annually, but they're more than a means to an end. Trees, which grow to 85 feet (25.9 meters) tall, produce wood sturdy enough for canoe outriggers and even houses.
Seaweed Is the Next Superfood
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the world cannot sustain a future where food is consumed like it is today. According to a 2010 United Nations report, agriculture for meat and dairy production accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of total land use, and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions 1 . By 2050, it is predicted that 2.5 billion more people will be alive 2 and we will have to almost double our food production to cope with the extra mouths to feed. With climate change making farming more challenging, little more virgin land available, overfished oceans and water shortages, our future mealtimes must be reimagined with more sustainable food options. The sea, and specifically, its plants, may be our long-term solution for feeding future generations.
The need to feed requires humans to rethink the way we use land and water to grow and harvest food, and the sea is a potential source of food and fuel for the future. In particular, seaweed is one of the world’s most nutritious and sustainable crops. Algae are single-cell organisms that grow very rapidly at sea and in places where other food crops usually don’t survive. Seaweed is also incredibly resilient and low maintenance it is a zero-input food, meaning it does not require fresh water, fertilizer, feed or arid land to grow. It readily absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon dioxide directly from the sea and reproduces at a phenomenal rate—it can grow as much as three-quarters of an inch a day.
Nutritionally, seaweed packs a punch it has more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than orange juice, and more protein than soybeans. In fact, fish do not naturally produce omega-3 fatty acids they obtain these nutrients by eating seaweed.
It seems everything about seaweed as a future superfood makes perfect sense. But the biggest challenge is not in its production, but rather it in its culinary reputation. Aside from popularity in Japanese and Chinese dishes, seaweed is still to find its feet in mainstream cuisine. Many diners struggle with its slimy texture and briny flavor others are so familiar with it as the unwieldy weed washed up along the beach, that they fail to consider it as food. So how do we take seaweed consumption beyond nori and sushi and into the center of the plate?
Ultimately, if seaweed is to catch on as a viable sustainable food choice for the future, we must find a way to use it in everyday cooking. Bren Smith, the owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm, and one of the world’s leading lights in seaweed farming, is working with chefs to provide ocean plants that can be incorporated into creative dishes—think green sea butters with cheese and kelp-based umami-filled bouillons. And then there was the time a few years ago when Smith collaborated with Brooks Headley at New York’s Superiority Burger to supply them with kelp noodles for a side dish. Superiority Burger’s dish of kelp noodles and roasted carrots in barbecue sauce served with bread crumbs was not only inventive, but a complete sellout success. Seaweed, perhaps an acquired taste and texture for many, would surely benefit from a few more starring roles like this on mainstream menus in order to make its mark on the culinary world.
At home, our dishes need not be as elaborate. Try adding sea greens to your morning porridge for a savory take on a breakfast classic. Add a few wakame shards to your next brown rice bowl, or make kelp the star of your noodle salad. Seaweed as an everyday vegetable is not as challenging as you think.
3 Reasons Why Tiger Nuts are About to Become the Next Big Superfood
If you haven&rsquot yet heard of tiger nuts, you&rsquore about to.
The newest fiber-rich superfood isn’t actually a nut at all. A tiger nut, which tastes something like a coconut/almond hybrid, is actually a small root vegetable that resembles a shriveled peanut, roughly the size of a chickpea.
It has been suggested that the crop (cyperus esculentus) made up a large portion of ancient diets in the Eastern hemisphere, with records dating back to 4,000 years ago.
Perhaps it’s the connection to our ancestors that makes tiger nuts so appealing to today’s paleo-dieters. No matter what boosted the “nut” to mainstream popularity, its health benefits are undeniable:
1. They&rsquore incredibly high in fiber.
As you’ve likely a heard countless times before, a fiber-rich diet is essential to digestive health. Fiber is also key to maintaining a healthy weight—high-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, keeping you satisfied for longer and leaving you less likely to overeat. In addition, fiber-filled diets are proven to control your blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
2. They&rsquore a great source of magnesium and potassium.
Magnesium is essential to more than 300 reactions in the human body, according to the National Institutes of Health. Potassium, meanwhile, reduces your risk of mortality by 20 percent. One serving of tiger nuts contains between 13-17 percent of your recommended daily magnesium and exceeds the potassium levels of a banana.
3. Tiger nut milk is a lactose-free dairy alternative.
Milk derived from the tiger nut is a perfect dairy substitute for people living with lactose intolerance. Like cow’s milk, tiger nut milk is rich in calcium.
You can buy pre-made tiger nut milk, or you can make it in your own kitchen. All you really need is a high-powered blender and a cheesecloth to strain the milk from the pureed tiger nuts.
You can buy tiger nuts either peeled or unpeeled, though the peeled version tends to be softer and easier to eat by the handful. If you want to incorporate tiger nuts into your daily cooking, pre-made tigernut flour is available online and makes a great AP flour alternative for paleo cookies or pancakes.
The Next Big Superfood: Avocado Vs. Eggplant
Eggplant used to go by “garden egg” or, even “mad apple”, while the scaly green skin of avocado means it was once called the “alligator pear”.
The hipster dish “smashed avocado on sourdough toast” presented by Nigella, today is so widespread, even McDonald’s are making it. Eggplant-based brunches are still niche concern.
Baba ganoush is the classy, smoky highlight of each mezze platter, while guacamole has become a diluted, usually dolloped-on nacho topping.
The main claim of avocado to interiors fame is loaning its snooty green color to ill-advised bathroom suites in the Seventies. Eggplant has its own Farrow & Ball shade, baby!
Eggplant has lent its tag to 2 Michelin-starred joints: Paul Pollux’s Dutch fine dining room and Gordon Ramsay’s Chelsea brasserie. Avocado could just claim tediously-spelt sandwich chain called Abokado.
Eggplants have to settle for a guest role in some veggie lasagnas, while avocado not only comes in sandwiches and salads but pre-sliced in deeply lazy affordable pots.
Eggplant is rich in anti-oxidants but has not still caught on as much with the smug crowd. Avocado is a firm favorite of numerous wellness bloggers as “an incredible fat burner”.
Collecting 18 points to avocado’s paltry 7, eggplant romps home at Countdown.
Eggplant – Avocado: 5 – 3. Move aside, crocodile pear, and make it snappy.
Eggplant is the next big superfood, according to the best chefs in the world. It has a unique texture and taste making it a perfect ingredient in various dishes. Whether you want to bake, grill, or broil this fruit, you will receive numerous nutrients and amazing health benefits. Eggplant is very low in sodium and calories and is an incredible source of B vitamins, potassium, and fiber.
Avocado is still one of the most nutrient-dense foods. It is high in fiber and is one of the best foods that provide potassium, folate, magnesium, and vitamin E. Undoubtedly, avocado nutrition makes it a great superfood. Therefore, always try to include eggplant or avocado in your recipes to get the best of them.
Is Marijuana The Next Big Superfood?
Fan leaf pesto is one of author Robyn Lawrence’s favorite dishes, either with a marijuana-infused oil or without. (Photo: Povy Kendal Atchison)
It took nearly six years for Robyn Lawrence to finish her first cookbook. Blame that on the signature ingredient. “You can only test one of those recipes at a time,” she laughs. “Otherwise, it never would have gotten done.”
Lawrence is the author of The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook. Released in 2015, the 323-page tome is one of a dozen or so marijuana-themed cookbooks on the market today — a small but growing genre amid America’s changing attitudes toward the long-stigmatized (and still widely illegal) substance.
Her book tackles this distinct form of plant-based cooking a bit differently than most. “There wasn’t a book that really approached it from a healthy standpoint,” says Lawrence, a self-described “volleyball mom” from Boulder, Colorado. “There are a lot of books that approach it from a foodie standpoint, and there are a lot of them that are going to tell you how high you’re going to get. I wanted my book to approach it as, ‘I want to use this plant as a culinary ingredient and also a medicinal ingredient.’ It didn’t make any sense for me to always roll that into things that weren’t very healthy.”
In other words: You won’t find recipes for indulgent things like brownies, cupcakes or chicken wings. Instead, there are sections on raw food, green juice and “the importance of working with the whole plant as opposed to using it as just a deliverer of THC,” Lawrence says, referring to the plant’s main psychoactive chemical, “because there is so much more to it.”
Lawrence describes cannabis as “one of the most nutritious vegetables that we have around,” full of protein, vitamins, zinc, magnesium and antioxidants. “It’s just an amazing superfood,” she says. “The whole idea is how to take advantage of this amazing superfood, not how do you cook to get high.”
On May 24, Lawrence is scheduled to lead an educational session on cannabis-based cooking during the National Restaurant Association’s annual international food-service trade show in Chicago. It might seem like a pretty mainstream audience for this sort of revolutionary subject, especially when you consider that Illinois is a far cry from the fully legal weed-flowing enclave that her home state of Colorado has recently become. (That means no cooking demos at the Chicago show, Lawrence confirms.)
But the author suggests that’s a big part of the draw. “Whether or not people are in the legal space, they’re watching this happen,” Lawrence says, noting that 23 states (including Illinois) currently have some type of medical marijuana law on the books and that an additional three to five could soon join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C., in decriminalizing recreational marijuana during the upcoming fall elections.
“I kind of liken it to casinos,” Lawrence says. “States start to see that it’s going well and every other state is making money. I believe in the next five years, it will be federally legal. The smart people are getting on board early.”
Lawrence spoke with Food Republic at length about a number of cannabis cooking issues. Our discussion has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Author Robyn Lawrence. (Photo: Ashlee Burke.)
From a purely culinary standpoint, has there ever been another ingredient with the potential to revolutionize cooking like cannabis?
I don’t think there’s anything with this magnitude of being both food and medicine. Turmeric, I guess, would be the closest thing, being used in alternative cancer treatments and things like that. But not to this extent. [Cannabis] has the psychoactive element. It actually does work with our endocrine system. We’re built for this plant. It is very medicinal as well as culinary.
In the book, you talk about the importance of using organically grown cannabis. How do you know if your cannabis is organic? I haven’t been to Colorado in quite some time, but I can’t imagine seeing the USDA-certified organic label on this stuff just yet.
This, in my mind, is the biggest issue. Almost every week, it seems, for the past six months or so, we’ve had some sort of recall of raw cannabis that was grown with insecticides and things. What happens is, there is no regulation, so people are growing it with lawn chemicals, which is horrifying when you consider that people are not only using it as food but as medicine. There are independent organizations that are coming up, such as the Organic Cannabis Association. That’s a good thing to look for, but they still haven’t made huge inroads yet.
This is a huge part of this whole thing, educating people to be smart consumers. You have to go in there and ask very pointed questions. One of the biggest issues here, because prohibition really forced growers underground, is that so much of it is grown indoors still. And so you’re having to use these synthetic cultivation systems you’re having to force-feed the plants with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizers. None of those are healthy for human consumption. This, to me, is the biggest issue and why I believe it should be federally legal, so we can start to put in place some regulations, standardizations and organic certifications.
Up front in the book, you name-check some strains that are particularly good for cooking, and there are a lot of them, page after page after page. Are there some strains that are not so good for cooking?
It’s kind of a personal preference, but I generally don’t love the sours, just because it’s a rough taste to cook with. Something like a Sour Diesel, which, in the name, there are two things that I’m unsure about incorporating into the cooking. So, you know, any kind of a diesel, where it has that fuel-y kind of taste, those are the ones to stay away from.
Is there one main go-to strain that is good for cooking all sorts of things?
One of my favorites and the one chefs that mention probably the most is Golden Goat. It’s a pretty readily available strain. And it’s a very uplifting, Sativa-dominant strain. It’s got kind of a sweet tropical flavor to it that is pretty versatile. I grown my own now, so I don’t buy as much as I used to, you know, retail. But when I see that, that’s usually what I pick up. It also depends on what I’m cooking.
Talk to me about the issue of decarboxylation. I’ve interviewed another cannabis cookbook author who is very adamant about “decarbing” cannabis prior to cooking. Your book takes a more agnostic tone toward that.
Well, I mean, it’s so controversial, and it’s interesting because this is one of the things that I’ve had hours and hours of conversations about with the chefs that I worked with. If you want to have the strongest potency as far as psychoactivity, decarbing is definitely going to make it stronger. I’ve done it both ways, I’ve talked to people who’ve done it both ways. My sense is, if you’re making an infusion, you’re going to being heating the cannabis enough through the infusion process anyway. Now, if you’re making something like a tincture, where you’re not going to be heating it, you’re just putting it in the alcohol and letting it macerate, I definitely decarb. It also comes back to the question of, what are you using it for? If your entire motive here is to get as psychoactively stimulated as possible, then sure, decarb. But if it’s really to pull the terpenes and the cannabinoids and the flavors and have the health benefits, then, to me, it doesn’t seem necessary.
There’s another section in the book about cooking with the spent cannabis material from your vaporizer, the so-called ABV (already been vaped) stuff. It’s less potent than raw cannabis, as the book points out, but doesn’t this also impact the flavor?
Yes, it does. It’s going to be less strong and less flavorful in general. I don’t really vape, so I don’t really have it. But I have tried it. It works. What a lot of people are doing is kind of keeping the stuff and sprinkling it in and not even using it to make another infusion. It’s kind of one of those things that if you were counting on a super-potent recipe, then I wouldn’t use that. But if you want to make use of every single drop, it doesn’t hurt to have it on hand.
Since the book has come out, which recipes have proven the most popular?
The curries! Which surprises me. There’s a couple — the spinach and potato curry and the eggplant and lentil curry — people love those. The cannabis avocado mousse is also one that lots and lots of people have made and commented on. Interestingly, the Highland Yogi Smoothie, I think people are looking for easy breakfast foods. That’s been something I’ve gotten good reviews about. Then I think people are super-excited to find something they can do with the fan leaf [a less desirable part of the cannabis plant than the more potent flowering buds]. That Fresh Fan Leaf Pesto is a big hit, especially at harvest time.
What about your personal favorite?
I would say the Fan Leaf Pesto. It can be made with an infused coconut oil, or a non-infused coconut oil. So when I’m not looking to kind of get high, I’ll have [the non-infused variety] because I’m getting all the other benefits of the plant. When you use the raw fresh leaves, you’re getting every single part of the plant you’re not pulling anything out. So that, to me, is one of the healthiest, best recipes.
Now, you came to this because of your own health issues. How has this learning-to-cook-with-cannabis process affected your well-being?
I think I’m a nicer mom and a better colleague. It has helped me so much. This is always a little awkward to talk about, but my prescription [for medical marijuana] was actually for dysmenorrhea, which is severe menstrual cramps. What I found that it helps with as much as anything else, and this is what I think is the beauty of this plant and how versatile it is, is the crazy hormonal wackiness. Those black dark times that came with that — this eliminated that. And I tried everything just to get to that point. I tried homeopathy I tried pharmaceuticals. It was a really big problem that was slowing down my life, and now it’s gone.
Because I came to this kind of later in life, I kind of always just thought of cannabis as something for getting high. What I’ve learned since then is this whole idea of microdosing, and the idea that the exact right dose is not what’s going to get you super-high but what’s going to take care of the issue at hand. A little bit of this stuff goes a long way.
How has your life changed socially since you became known as one of the nation’s preeminent cannabis-cookbook authors?
[Laughs] The biggest thing for me is that I didn’t get swept up into some sort of stoner crowd. The people I’m working with now, these are moms, these are patients, these are doctors. To me, the people for whom this is saving their lives or their children’s lives, that’s really why I’m doing this, and why I think I need to.
Superfood Recipes to Try Now
by Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, AARP, January 10, 2020 | Comments: 0
Ken Wiedemann/Getty Images
En español | You've heard of “eating the rainbow” when it comes to getting lots of nutritional variety in your diet. Although that goal may seem easier when you're knee-deep in summer greens and produce, winter provides its own bounty of immune system boosters — right when cold and flu season means you really need them.
High on the list? Winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets (and don't forget their greens) and many green vegetables. Cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, collards, turnips and rutabaga, are at their best in winter, when they've had a bit of cold exposure when they are grown.
The exceptions to the rainbow rule are onions, garlic, turnips and cauliflower, all of which boast nutritional benefits, especially onions and garlic. They are known as alliums. Also including leeks, shallots, chives and green onions, alliums have a sulfur-containing compound that is naturally detoxifying and anti-inflammatory. Plus, a single cup of chopped onion provides 20 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. Both vitamins A and C are important for your immune system, and other winter produce provides more of each. Yellow or deep-orange vegetables, such as winter squash and sweet potatoes, contribute vitamin A, and one cup of red cabbage provides 43 percent of the daily value of C — at just 20 calories.
Herbs and spices contain powerful antioxidant compounds, along with adding flavor and, sometimes, color (think chili powder, turmeric and curry powder, which contains turmeric). Try using just a little as you cook vegetables even one-quarter to one-half teaspoon goes a long way to boosting health.
With all of its antioxidant activity and super nutrition, winter produce is ripe for the picking. Enjoy the variety to avoid that feeling that there's nothing to eat in winter. Here are some recipes to help you relish eating the rainbow.
Herb-Roasted Root and Other Vegetables
This is a satisfying and easy dish to make, with a pleasant aroma that fills the house. I make it whenever I want substantial leftovers to eat throughout the week. Use any root vegetables that you like, such as rutabaga, kohlrabies, leeks and shallots. Make sure to use only white or gold beets, if they are available, as red ones will color your entire dish of vegetables unless you find a way to segregate them. If you have brussels sprouts, try adding them to the mix. A key to good roasting is to give the veggies some space in the pan. In fact, it's better to use two dishes than to overcrowd one. Switch positions in the oven halfway through if you use two dishes.
- 2 onions, cut into quarters
- 10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
- 3 small turnips, peeled and cut in half to about 2-inch pieces
- 1–2 regular, Japanese or purple sweet potatoes (not yams), peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 to 2 cups winter squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (or use precut fresh squash, but not frozen types)
- 1 1/2 cups crimini or shiitake mushrooms, cut in half
- 1–2 white, gold or red beets (see note above), peeled and cut into quarters (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
- 3 sprigs rosemary or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried
- 3 sprigs thyme or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. Combine all vegetables in a large glass baking dish. Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss well.
3. Add the herb sprigs or dried herbs. Cover the dish. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the cover and see if the vegetables are cooked through. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but not mushy. Remove the sprigs of herbs and peel the garlic if you intend to eat it. Serve hot.
©2019 From The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD
Nutrients per serving: 241 calories, 7 grams total fat (saturated, 1 gram trans fat 0), 42 grams carbohydrates 15 grams total sugars (0 added sugar), 5 grams protein, 8.4 grams fiber, 154 milligrams sodium, 0 milligrams cholesterol
Cabbage and Red Apple Slaw
This recipe takes just a few minutes to make using a food processor. Since cabbage, apples and carrots are almost always available, you can make this anytime, but it's especially refreshing in the winter, when green salad may not seem as appealing and lettuce can be expensive. It's also terrific to bring to potlucks. And if you want to make it even easier, just buy a 14-ounce bag of prepared coleslaw use half or more with the carrot and apple plus the dressing. Voilà!
- 1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 medium red apple, grated
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Quarter the cabbage, removing and discarding the central white core. Shred the cabbage by cutting very thin slices along the length of each quarter or use the thin slicing blade of your food processor. You should have about 6 cups. Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl. While your processor is out, use the grating blade for the apple and carrot, or grate by hand.
2. Toss in the carrot and apple.
3. In a small jar, combine the maple syrup, vinegar, mustard and salt. Shake vigorously and pour over the cabbage. Mix well. Taste and add more vinegar if desired.
4. Refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.
©2019, From The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD
Nutrients per serving: 73 calories, 0 grams total fat (saturated fat 0, trans fat 0), 18 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams total sugar (3 grams added), 2 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, 297 milligrams sodium, 0 milligrams cholesterol
Fabian Plock / EyeEm / Getty Images
Curried Greens With Chickpeas
This recipe is perfect with the sweet collard greens you find in the winter. Instead of using lentils or split peas, which were in my original version and which would take longer to cook, here we use canned chickpeas, a pantry staple. If you don't like spicy food, leave out the chili. Any leftover tomato paste or canned tomatoes can be easily frozen for later use. I freeze tomato paste in 1- or 2-tablespoon amounts in ice cube trays. Or buy tomato paste in a tube, which keeps a long time in the refrigerator. The recipe yields an ample amount, which can be frozen to enjoy later.
- 2 teaspoons oil, optional
- 2 cups onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium hot chili, such as jalapeño or serrano, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon hot chili powder or cayenne
- 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated to equal at least 2 teaspoons, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 pound greens, such as collards (12 large leaves, stems removed) or kale, or a combination of greens, chopped very finely (such as you often find in chopped frozen spinach) to equal 6 cups, or a 16-ounce bag washed, chopped greens, thick stems removed
- 1 can low-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock or water
- 1 cup fire-roasted or regular diced canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1. Heat a nonstick or regular sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and let sit for 30 seconds. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Then add garlic, chile or cayenne, ginger, cumin seeds, curry powder and turmeric sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the collards, chickpeas, and stock or water.
2. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the collard greens turn bright green. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well. Simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes until the mixture has some liquid but is not soupy.
3. Add the lemon zest and stir well. Serve hot over rice, quinoa or your favorite grain.
To pressure-cook, sauté the first ingredients, as stated above. Add the stock, stir well, and then add the greens and chickpeas. Add the tomatoes but do not stir. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes and quick release. Remove the lid, carefully turning it away from you. Stir in the tomato paste. If the mixture looks too soupy, cook on low sauté for a minute or two. Add the lemon zest.
©2019 Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, Adapted from Vegan Under Pressure, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt
Nutritients per serving: 211 calories, 3 grams total fat (.4 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat), 38 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams total sugars (0 added sugar), 12 grams protein, 13 grams fiber, 387 milligrams sodium, 0 milligrams cholesterol
Tali Aiona / EyeEm / Getty Images
Savory, Raw Kale Salad
This recipe is easy to make, and you'll get a great dose of greens. Use your favorites types, or use what's on hand. The only limit to what goes into this salad is your imagination. If you don't want to deal with whole leaves of kale, you can buy the baby kale and use that. It usually comes in a 5-ounce package, and you can use all of it. You'll notice the greens shrink by about half when they are massaged with the tahini, miso and lemon juice. If you are eating this solo, make half a batch, although it will last in the refrigerator for a day or two.
- 1–2 bunches kale, collards or other greens, washed and spun dry, or a 5-ounce package of baby kale
- 2–3 teaspoons raw tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1–2 teaspoons miso or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/4 cup raw red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 avocado, cut into chunks (optional)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
1. Remove leaves from large ribs and slice thinly, or use baby kale. Put into a large bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice and miso. Put your hands into the bowl and massage the greens until they are wilted, about 3–5 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and avocado. Stir well to combine. Sprinkle with the seeds. This dish tastes best when eaten immediately.
©2019, Adapted from Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen's Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Wellness, Energy and Vitality, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD
Nutrients per serving: 294 calories, 19.8 grams total fat (saturated fat 2.4 grams), 25 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams total sugar, 12 grams protein, 11 grams fiber, 278 milligrams sodium, 0 milligrams cholesterol
Seaweed, Aisle 4: Why This Bacon-Flavored Superfood Could Be the Next Kale
If your seaweed consumption is limited to the miso soup and seaweed salad from the corner takeout sushi joint, you need to meet dulse. Researchers are betting you'll soon be downing this seaweed with an enthusiasm normally reserved for bacon because, well, it tastes like bacon.
"Fresh, raw dulse has a nice minerality and tastes very much like the ocean," says Jason Ball, a research chef who works extensively with dulse at Oregon State University's Food Innovation Center in Portland. "But when you pan-fry it, it takes on a lot of those smoky and savory characteristics that are very, very similar to bacon."
Ball is experimenting with ways to incorporate dulse (rhymes with "pulse") into commercial food products that could be on store shelves as soon as this fall. But more on that later—first, the basics.
Fresh dulse resembles a leafy, red lettuce. Photo: Stephen Ward/Oregon State University
Stephen Ward/Oregon State University
Dulse is a seaweed—a large category of edible saltwater plants and algae that also includes species such as nori and kelp. Like all edible seaweed, dulse provides a wealth of fiber and protein, and it's also rich in vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fatty acids, and antioxidants. It resembles a leafy, red lettuce, and grows wild on the northern Atlantic and Pacific coasts, where it's typically harvested during low tide from early summer to early fall. Unless you know someone who harvests wild dulse, you likely won't be able to buy it fresh—once harvested, it's normally dried immediately for maximum freshness before it's packaged. You can find dried dulse products from brands like Maine Coast Sea Vegetables at well-stocked grocery stores such as Whole Foods. Look for whole-leaf and flaked dulse, dulse powder, and seasoning mixes.
Wild dulse has long been a staple of diets in parts of northern Europe like Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. But the seaweed can also be cultivated, and professor Chris Langdon at OSU is doing just that with a patented strain of dulse that doesn't depend on the tides or seasons and is growable year-round (though it's not commercially available yet).
Clockwise, from top left: Ball's dulse rice crackers, smoked dulse peanut brittle, dulse trail mix, and dried dulse with sesame. Photo: Stephen Ward/Oregon State University
Stephen Ward/Oregon State University
Ball, a Nordic Food Lab alum, has been cooking with dulse delivered from Langdon's facilities for months, experimenting with all kinds of ways to make the nutrient-dense sea vegetable tantalizing to even the most seaweed-averse eaters. Some of his more out-there creations included a sourdough bread with dulse substituted for salt beer brewed with dried dulse instead of hops, an instant ramen with a dulse spice packet, a trail mix with dulse-and-banana fruit leather, smoked dulse popcorn brittle. Oh, and let's not forget about the dulse ice cream. In taste tests, Ball says the big winners were a puffed dulse rice cracker ("it's like a vegetarian chicharrón") and a dulse salad dressing made with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.
"My dad is this old guy from the Midwest who only eats meat and potatoes," Ball says. "If I give him a handful of dulse, he's just gonna look at me like I'm crazy. But if I give him chips, something he's familiar with, they could be a gateway."
Ball is currently working with a contractor to commercialize the dulse salad dressing and get it on shelves at a Portland food retailer by the middle of fall. Meanwhile, Langdon, who currently cultivates about 20 to 30 pounds of dulse weekly, is looking into moving some of the operations to eastern Oregon to up the production to 100 pounds a week.
Consider Ozuké's Beets, Dulse, and Kale your gateway to all things dulse. Photo: Ozuké
As we've mentioned, you're most likely going to be buying and cooking dried harvested dulse, not the fresh stuff. Dulse's nutritional value doesn't degrade after it's converted into powder or flakes, so choose the product that's most convenient for you. Store it in a dry and dark place (it'll last for at least two years), and before cooking pull apart the dulse fronds to make sure they're not housing any pebbles or other foreign matter.
To achieve that bacon-like effect, pan-fry some dried whole-leaf dulse with oil over medium-high heat until crisp, then slap it between two slices of bread with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise for a DLT. Eat raw or cooked dulse as a snack, or add it to sandwiches and salads. Try dulse flakes sprinkled over scrambled eggs or popcorn, or mixed into vinaigrettes. If you're feeling truly seaweed-shy, start with a product that has a manageable quantity of dulse in it, like Ozuké's pickled beets with dulse and kale (grab a jar of their umeboshi plums while you're at it). And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you're feeling extra-bold, add a small scoop of dulse powder to smoothies for a creamy seaweed shake.
"People have this negative idea of seaweed, but I would love for dulse to be as ubiquitous as mushrooms or tomatoes," Ball says. "I think we're on our way."
Sacha Inchi Is Supposedly The Next 'Superfood,' But Something's Fishy
Welcome to the era of superfoods, when eating just one won’t do. We’re always on the lookout for more, even though “superfood” is just a buzzword with no technical definition.
Let us introduce you to sacha inchi, a seed that’s eaten like a nut and might very well be the next big superfood. This is what it looks like:
At first crunch, it tastes mostly like a nut, but after about 10 seconds, there’s a . unique . finishing flavor. Some say it has a buttery finish, but others (all of us here at HuffPost who’ve tasted them) would say it’s a distinctly fishy flavor.
Sacha inchi ― also known as sacha peanut or mountain peanut ― is native to South America and Southeast Asia, and it is infiltrating our Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s supermarkets. When all’s said and done, one seed is about the size of a large peanut. But before it gets that way, the nutrient-dense seed grows in geometric pods like this:
And the pod looks like this when cut in half:
So why are we cultivating this fruit for its seeds? Because it has the highest levels of plant-based omega-3s out there. That makes it a great way for vegans and vegetarians to load up on their fatty acids. Imlak’esh Organics, a producer of the snack, claims sacha inchi contains 17 times the omega-3 oil content of salmon, as well as all eight essential amino acids.
Also, one ounce of these seeds contains about 8 grams of protein, which is more than almonds. And, before they’re cracked open to get the seed, they look beautiful like this:
Sacha inchi are being marketed stateside as a nut ― some salted and some flavored. They can be tossed on top of salads, used in trail mixes and even eaten as is.