citrus for the skin
Food waste is a huge problem. This has been true for years. In fact, we waste 150,000 tons of food per day here in America. But, the good news is, there is plenty we can do, as we cook and create, to help mitigate the effects of food waste, and cut back on the things we throw away.
For example, there are benefits hidden amongst the food scraps you might normally toss in the trash. Today, we're going to focus on one specific ingredient that is especially potent in winter: Citrus. We'll learn not only how to keep those special extra bits from ending up in landfills, but also how they can be turned into delicious treats sure to impress your friends and family.
No need to toss the peels after cooking with citrus, because you can save the peels to make your own skin care line. Vitamin C helps protect your skin while also giving it that glow, renewing damaged skin. Additionally, the citric acid from citrus kills bacteria and pathogens present on the skin, which leaves you feeling fresh and clean.
1. Dry your peel by removing the pith (white part of citrus) from the rind (the colored part) using a knife. Dehydrate for several hours using a dehydrator or oven (150F) for about 8 hours.
2. Grind when completely dry.
3. Combine 1 tbsp with 2 tbsp plain yogurt and 1 tsp honey until thoroughly mixed.
1. Massage into wet, damp skin.
3. Pat dry.
4. Store citrus scrub in refrigerator.
mint, orange skin toner
Makes 12 ounces
This will deep clean your skin and tighten your pores after cleansing, and is especially good for those with oily skin.
3 tbsp fresh mint leaves
Peel of 1 medium orange
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp witch hazel
1. Place mint leaves and peels in a ceramic bowl and pour boiling water over. Allow to steep and cool completely.
2. Strain out mint leaves and peels and stir in the witch hazel. Pour into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid.
Apply toner to your skin after cleansing with a clean cotton pad OR put in a spray bottle to spritz after bathing.
lemon face pack
Great for those with sensitive skin, frequent rashes, and sunburned skin. The yogurt helps reduce inflammation and irritation, while the lemon lightens the sin tone and acts as an astringent.
1 tsp yogurt
1 tsp lemon peel (dried and ground)
2 drops rose water
1 drop sandalwood oil
1. Add all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Apply to skin evenly. Allow to absorb in skin for 10 minutes.
3. Rinse with cold water.
There's more to citrus than just Vitamin C. We don't hear as much about the other health benefits and reasons to celebrate citrus, so, today, I'm going to do my best to redefine everything you thought you knew about citrus, and hopefully increase your appetite for more.
Rich in fiber, folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, B6, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and potassium, these nutritional compounds found in citrus can reduce the risk for many chronic diseases. In general, a piece of citrus the size of a baseball is equivalent to one serving of fruit, ranging from 60 - 80 kcal unless its lemon juice. One tablespoon of juice is equivalent to 4 kcal.
These calories come mostly from simple carbohydrates (fructose, glucose, sucrose, and even citric acid to a smaller extent). However, the fiber content, which is complex carbohydrate, is largely from pectin. This is especially important, as fiber allows for increased satiety and delay of gastric emptying (both are good!). Ultimately, promoting a heart healthy diet that keeps you fuller for longer.
The vitamin breakdown
Water-soluble, with an important role in the formation of collagen throughout the body, iron absorption, and antioxidant functions. Contrary to what many believe, vitamin C does not prevent colds; it reduces the length and severity of the symptoms.
Water-soluble that is essential for cell production and growth, specifically in the production of DNA and RNA.
Mineral that works to maintain body's water and acid balance. It is also an electrolyte with a key role in muscle contraction and maintenance of blood pressure.
Monoterpenes, limoniods (triterpenes), flavanoids, carotenoids, and hydroxycinnamic acid are some of more commonly studied phytochemicals. What most of these do for our bodies is still being explored as we continue to perform research. However, we do know these naturally occurring compounds have anticarcinogenic mechanisms, and antioxidant capabilities.
MORE in the work, under review for possible positive influence of citrus:
Examples of citrus
Now that we know it's good for us, what are examples of citrus...other than our trusted orange
How to add citrus to your diet
Citrus provides an amazing burst of flavor and color to break through these gray winter days. Now that you have the knowledge and ideas to get you started, get out there and get cooking!
If you're looking for help to achieve your food and nutrition goals, please reach out to me for a free 15-minute consultation. We can discuss how I can help you with goals, meal planning, and more.
Explore my page to learn more.
Still hungry? Check out my recipes page to get inspired, or to try something new. One of my favorites this time of year is the Brazilian fish stew.
DIY food gifts
Looking for last minute gifts that are extra special and unique? Try making one of the following food gifts that won't break the bank, and yet show you care.
DIY gifts are always a hit!
Make each recipe your own. Choose from a variety of vanilla beans and/or alcohol for the extract recipe & different herbs and syrups for the elixir recipe.
Homemade vanilla extract
It's as easy as pie...
except not, because it's actually easier!
Follow these simple steps to make your own extract and gift to loved ones.
You can use any vanilla bean, but know that each variety will have a different flavor and quality with unique characteristics. Bourbon and Madagascar are common and full bodied while the Tahitian is fruity with floral and Mexican is spicy. Blend different varieties for complexity. And while we're at it, a note about the alcohol. Keep it neutral using vodka OR bourbon, brandy, and rum for a sweeter, caramel flavor. Don't use top-shelf either; inexpensive alcohol works well.
4-6 vanilla beans*
8 ounces alcohol*
Split vanilla beans half lengthwise. You may need to cut into smaller pieces to fit your jar, so cut according to the size of your jar or bottle.
Place vanilla beans in a clean jar or bottle, submerge with alcohol. Cover, shake, and infuse for at least one month. Store in a cool, dry place and shake from time to time.
(option to strain).
Tie a bow around the neck of the bottle and gift away? If you decide to give as a gift, be sure to write the 'use' date.
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup mint syrup*
1/2 cup honey
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
Put all ingredients into a saucepan over low heat until all ingredients are well-combined. Pour into clean jars or bottles, and store.
*Mint can be substituted for other syrups as well. Explore your pantry or ethnic stores for other syrup ideas. Mint syrup can be purchased at Middle Eastern grocery store.
When gifting, consider pairing the elixir with gin or another spirit, club soda, citrus, and/or ice molds.
Dorayaki, simple and sweet, best enjoyed with a cup of green tea
Lately, I've been exploring various Japanese foods. Looking for breakfast, one recipe in particular one stood out: Dorayaki. It's appeared in cooking shows, and recently featured in Tasting Table, so I began to grow curious: What was all the hype about? It is just a pancake, after all. Right?
Dorayaki is not just any pancake. It's one of the most popular Japanese confections, filled with anko, a sweet adzuki red bean paste, sandwiched between two pancakes.
You heard me. Two pancakes! But they're small.
Typically, the pancakes are quite sweet, so I cut out a lot of the sugar; I don't do well with things that are overly-sweet, especially at breakfast. But if you're looking for the full-on, sweeter pancake made as intended, add the full amount (using 1/2 cup sugar instead) from the recipe below.
To make things interesting, I chose to make three different fillings. It was too difficult to choose just one: I was initially interested in trying the traditional bean paste version, but couldn't say no to a matcha green tea variation as well. It was around this time that I also noticed the abundance of ripe squash sitting on my kitchen counter, and decided to make a butternut squash filling for a third option.
Before you get off your seat to make some tasty sweet cakes, check out this clip from the popular manga-turned-anime-series Doraemon to get the full sense of what it's like to love dorayaki, below.
... and now the recipe: Dorayaki
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cup milk*
1-2 tablespoons butter
8 oz filling
*Can use animal or plant-based milk
1. Mix dry all-purpose flour and baking soda in one bowl with a whisk. In a second bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and milk.
2. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry.
3. In a nonstick pan, apply a small amount of butter. Ladle in a some of the batter into a circle and repeat. Flip after 2 minutes, or until golden brown, and cook the remaining side for 1-2 minutes. The idea is to make them snack worthy and be consistent in shape and size.
4. Work in batches until the batter is finished.
5. In the middle of one pancake place a dollop of filling in the center. Place another pancake on top and press along the edges to create a seal, enclosing the filling. It's OK if some of the filling seeps out, messy can be good sometimes.
Dorayaki filling recipes
Adzuki bean paste filling:
1 cup adzuki beans
1/8 cup sugar
1. Soak beans overnight or for 8 hours.
2. Drain, rinse, and cover with water. Cook for about 45 minutes or until softened.
3. Puree beans in a food processor.
4. Heat a frying pan and add bean puree with sugar. Cook until all it's dry and there's very little to no moisture.
Matcha cream cheese filling:
1/8 cup honey
2 tbsp matcha green tea
8 oz softened cream cheese
1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients until well-mixed.
Miso pumpkin filling:
2 cups squash, skinned, seeds and guts removed, roughly chopped
1 tbsp yellow miso
1. In a pot, combine squash with enough water to cover. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until soft.
2. Puree squash and add miso.
Still hungry? Check out the miso carrot spread (within the napa cabbage wrap recipe) for another alternative filling.
Three days after Thanksgiving.
There wasn’t a morning farmers market like most Saturdays, so we gradually, naturally awoke to the peppermint-infused air from the humidifier. I moved slowly, much like a sloth, without worry from bed. In the kitchen, I turned on the kettle for French pressed coffee on the stovetop. As I waited for the water to boil, I ground Sumatra beans to a coarse grind and prepared the press. Within minutes I had a fresh cup of coffee steaming in hand. I moved to the living room to relax on the dark velvet couch, wrapped in a blanket, yellow light from the lamp in the corner, cozy and warm.
As I softened into my space, sipping coffee and stretching out my arms and legs, I heard noise from the back door of the kitchen. It sounded like Adi was searching for root vegetables: I caught the faintest sound of rustling plastic bags that contained them in our back door “pantry.” Breakfast, I suspected. What will it be? Potatoes? Parsnips? Beets, I hoped…
Soon enough, I was called to the dining table, beckoned by the smell of garlic and butter. There sat mini Greek yogurt parfaits garnished with walnut and Haarlson apple slivers, and a dish of cow’s-milk cheese and a dollop of Dijon on the side. I eagerly took my seat, placed the pink floral print napkin across my lap, and waited for the main course.
“Bon Appetit,” Adi said as he placed my breakfast in front of me. It was a plate of pink and red-shaded vegetables with a poached egg draped over the hash. The eggs were a nice touch, with silky soft yolks seeping through the beets, turnips, carrots, and apple. But wait – an unexpected sweetness? Adi looked at me, puzzled, and said, “It almost tastes like chocolate. What do you think?”
I took a bite, then another, and another. I said, “I don’t get a strong cocoa flavor, but there is something familiar and sweet.” I took another bite and suddenly discovered what the mystery sweetness was: “You’re right,” I said, “It is chocolate. You’re tasting M&M’s!” That’s when I realized he must have used the raisin/M&M mix from Halloween still sitting on our octagon-shaped shelves by the sink.
Adi admitted to using the mix - thinking there were all raisins, with no candy leftover. We had quite the laugh and continued to enjoy our (chocolate) breakfast hash with a different sort of appreciation..
In honor of our somewhat unconventional morning feast, I present to you: My version of a simple, delicious root vegetable hash:
1 large turnip
1 large beet
2 scallions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 brown m&m's (optional) ?
2 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper
Use a food processor to shred the turnip, beet, carrots, and apple. Or, use a cheese grater to shred the vegetables. Combine scallions, garlic, and raisins (m&m's too, if you dare) with shredded produce and season with pinch of salt and pepper.
Heat a frying pan and add butter. When hot, add shredded vegetables into the frying pan and fry 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with enough water to reach depth of 3 inches. Add coarse salt and a tablespoon of 1 tsp vinegar; bring to a simmer. Gently create a vortex with a fork in the water and crack eggs into the pot gently. Cook just until whites are set, about 3 minutes depending on desired runniness of the yolk. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel and proceed with the remaining eggs. You can do both eggs at once or do them one by one.
On each plate, assemble hash with poached egg over top.
Kimchi. Sauerkraut. Kefir. Tempeh. Yogurt.
What do these foods all have in common? They are fermented foods that may promote good gut health and weight loss, improve immunity and even allergies. In it's most basic sense, As Sandor Katz explains, "Fermentation is the transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce." Katz is the expert if you didn't know - He's the author of The Art of Fermentation, and should be on every food enthusiasts bookshelves. It's more informative than recipe-based, designed to introduce and educate one on the variety of fermented foods and beverages.
Coupling Katz with Rene Redzepi and David Zilber's new book, The Noma Guide to Fermentation, will set you up to make a plethora of delicious, nutritious, fermented foods. In Redzepi's book, there's even a how-to guide on building an incubation chamber. I'm still putting together the supplies so that I can make koji. How nerdy is that? Ha! Watch the video below to learn more about koji:
Koji aside, many fermentations do not require you to create or purchase your very own chamber to ferment at home. In fact, you can make the most basic recipes with just about any vegetable -some fruits too- without any special equipment: All you need is a vessel, scale, salt, and the produce of your choice. Simple.
And there's no need to be afraid of getting started for fear of the wrong bacteria growing: Any microbiologist will tell you that "risky" is not a word used to describe the process of a simple vegetable fermentation. The lactic acid bacteria that is found on all plants develops quite quickly when fermenting, and can out-compete the incidental pathogenic bacteria.
Fear not: When you preserve in brine, things like botulism need not be of concern.
Here's how it works: When a plant is harvested, it contains many microorganisms that continue to multiply and diversify. Aerobic bacteria get replaced by anaerobes, which includes many different types of lactic acid bacteria. After the plant becomes submerged, fermentation then begins. Carbon dioxide, alcohol, and acetic acid are also produced.
Enough with the science, let's get to the kitchen and ferment something.
fermentation: getting started
Fermenting foods and beverages is not something new. It's been around for centuries, playing an instrumental role in human evolution.
Fermentation can be summed up with four words: "chop, salt, pack, wait." (Katz).
*salt* means the amount salt = 2% of the total weight of vegetable and liquid.
As you can see from my pictures above, I chose the brine method. Next time, I'll try grating my vegetables. The objective is to expose as much surface area as possible to pull out the juice from within the vegetable. Clearly, if you take a look at the picture, I couldn't help but ferment the carrot in it's original shape, so I kept it whole. Yes, it will take longer to ferment, but the shape was too gnarly to mess with... The beets were sliced into small quarters, and the remaining carrots were cut into large matchsticks.
My advice? Keep it simple the first go around. Taste what happens to the food every few days, and when you think it has reached its ideal taste, refrigerate. You can always make another batch and play with spice and aromatics to add to the flavor.
The point is to get you in your kitchen cooking and experimenting.
The verdict is still out on all the positive health benefits of fermented foods, but it's certainly a hot topic in the nutrition world, and it continues to be studied. If you live in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, you too could participate in a gut study involving fermented vegetables. Simply contact Ky from GYST Fermentation Bar to learn more about how to join.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out my Mac 'n' Chi post for more a different way to play with home fermentations.
banana meets sourdough
A coworker recently gave me a sourdough starter, so every week for the past month I've been experimenting with new foods. Every Tuesday, the day we work together, she comes into my office first thing and asks me, "What did you make this week? You should try..."
But these banana muffins have been by far my favorite.
The soft pretzels and cookies I tried turned out Okay: I would have liked to boil the pretzels before baking, but wasn't sure how the sourdough would react. Something to try for the next batch of pretzels, I suppose. And the cookies? Well, they had a softer texture and resembled something more like a scone. Still good, but tasted too, well, healthy. There are times when I want a hearty, grainy cookie, but other times, I want a classic, buttery, sweet cookie that melts in my mouth. This was not that cookie.
This ultimately led to the muffin recipe you'll find below. It is a healthier version of a muffin - one that doesn't weigh you down or add to the 'muffin top' (pun intended). Its soft center and banana goodness are just what your body needs to provide you with proper fuel. Plus, it's loaded with fiber to satiate your hunger, and isn't sweet or oily like many muffins. While it's a healthy version, however, I didn't run into the same problem as with the cookies: This was, in a word, delicious.
Don't take my word for it. Bake them yourself and try one or all. You won't want to share these banana beauties.
Serves 12 medium sized muffins
1 1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats, 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. five spice powder
1/4 cup raw sugar*
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 if frozen, then thawed)
1/4 cup safflower oil
*it doesn't have to be raw; use your favorite sugar here
1. At least 12 hours before you with to bake, mix the starter with the flour and allow to rest covered in a warm spot.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine starter blend with oats (except 2 tablespoons), salt, baking soda, baking powder, and five spice.
3. In another small bowl, combine the sugar, bananas, egg, and safflower oil.
4. Gradually add the liquid ingredients into the dry (plus starter) stirring just until combined.
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans (I like to spray oil into the paper cups to allow for easy muffin removal) about 3/4 full. Top with remaining oats and a light sprinkle of salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
for the love of tomatoes
Conditions are finally perfect. Not only because the tomatoes are abundantly in season, but also because the weather has turned cool and comfortable - ideal for canning/preserving. Long hours spent over a hot stove in the kitchen is a much more enticing, and bearable, proposition after the sweltering heat of summer has been tamed by the first days of September.
Another pro? This time of year is also when you'll find the the best deals, Your local farmers market should be the first place you visit to purchase tomatoes in bulk. Quarter and half bushels ($15 on average for a quarter) are going to be most affordable and freshest, with a higher nutrient content than what you'll find at the average grocery store.
Each year, I make around a half bushel of tomato preserves in various forms: whole tomatoes, quartered tomatoes, peeled tomatoes. Hot pepper tomato jelly, and tomapple (tomato, apple) jam. And, of course, a few eaten fresh. It can take several hours to process tomatoes, but more than worth your time. Something new I tried this year: dehydrate the tomato skins and, then grind them into a powder. A dash of flaked lycopene (aka tomato skin) is a great addition to garnish soups, stews, grain bowls, even popcorn, or anything else that could use that little extra something.
And, while time-consuming, peeling tomatoes is super easy. It can be somewhat dangerous, however, if you're impatient like myself. The heat from the tomatoes after blanching is boiling hot. Wear gloves, tough it out, or wait until they cool down (can put in an ice bath)
How to peel tomatoes
1. Score the tomatoes by marking an 'x' using a knife on the butt of the tomato.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanche the tomatoes for 30-60 seconds.
3. Remove tomatoes from water, allow to rest and cool (optional).
4. Peel tomatoes from scored end towards the crown.
5. Dehydrate skins or toss
6. Process tomatoes
Once you've got those tomatoes peeled, you're ready for canning. It's super easy, but, as I mentioned before, is time consuming. The more often you do it, the quicker and more efficient you will become. There are two methods you can follow: One uses a boiling water method, and the second utilizes pressure canning.
Prepares 2 each 3/4 lb glass jars. Double, triple, multiply accordingly
what you need
This recipe is a modification of an original Ball® Fresh Preserving recipe.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Share pictures and all your stories here. Or have your own favorite way to use tomatoes during this perfect time of year? I'd love to hear about it as well.
And, if you're looking for ideas, check out my pickled watermelon rinds for another unique preservation recipe.
Juicing was all the rage last year. I still have clients who ask about juicing.
What are the benefits? Should I juice? Is it healthy?
My response? When in moderation, it can be part of a healthy diet, especially when you juice at home. It's not as nutritious as eating whole fruits or vegetables, though, as you don't benefit from consuming the pulp (fiber, vitamins, minerals) of the fruit and/or vegetable your turning into liquid. However, you can use the pulp, or produce scraps that separate from the juice. You can bake with them by incorporating into crackers (e.g. as I did in the recipe below), breads (e.g. in a banana or zucchini loaf), or pancakes. Making soup stock from your produce scraps is another great idea, and especially useful come cold weather.
One of my favorite homemade juicing recipes is made with carrot, turmeric root, orange, and ginger. It's not something I prepare often, but when I have the craving (and a refrigerator full of carrots), I dust off my juicer to quench my carrot juice thirst.
Note: You can swap out the carrots for just about any vegetable. Beets, zucchini, and squash are some of my favorite substitutes.
recipe: carrot pulp crackers
Makes about 50 thin crackers
2 cups carrot pulp
1/4 cup ground chia seed
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoon black peppercorn
2 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoon sesame seed
Directions: Preheat oven to 325F
In a pan, toast black peppercorn, fennel and sesame until it begins to brown and becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I use a dedicated coffee grinder) until it becomes a powder consistency. Mix with carrot pulp, chia, and buckwheat.
Using parchment or two silpats, brush one side of a sheet with coconut oil using a pastry brush. Working in batches, about 3, roll between parchment (or silpat) using a wine bottle or rolling pin. Roll as thin as possible so that it still holds together, brush with more coconut oil, sprinkle lightly with maldon salt, and bake until golden brown and cooked thoroughly, about 20 minutes.
When it's cooled to room temperature, break into pieces and serve with meats and cheese, jam, mustard, pickles, or anything else your heart desires.
Love carrots? Then you MUST try thecarrot, parsnip cake. It's absolutely delicious.
purple, yellow, or green: all snap beans are welcome
This side dish is a fantastic way to use up your green beans, and those spicy, sweet nasturtiums that grow without care for other plants. I used yellow wax beans here, but I've also experimented with young scarlet runner beans, and green string beans as well. No two bean varieties taste the same, but they are quite similar and can easily be substituted here, and in like recipes. And, as long as we are on the subject of substitutions, other edible flowers can take the place of nasturtiums in the same way: I recently discovered the lovely taste of pole bean flowers from turtle beans (soft violet) and scarlet runners (crimson red), and they are amazing. They lack the spicy, peppery punch that nasturtiums have, however, so add a few spicy greens (like arugula or mizuna) to round out the flavor.
Let's brush up on your bean-age, starting with the basics: All beans are legumes, and are further classified according to whether you eat the entire pod (called snap or green beans) or remove the shell to eat the seeds inside (called shell or dried beans). Only when the beans have a fibrous string running down the bean is it called a string bean. Dozens of green bean varieties exist, but the headliners include: green (or multicolored, snap) beans, haricot vert, scarlet runner, and yard-long beans. To be even more confusing, the yellow snap bean variety is also called a wax bean.
Nutrition-wise, all types of beans are good sources of protein, fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and iron. Try to get in 3 cups a week for optimum health.
Read more about a bean nutrition overview here.
snap bean & nasturtium salad
4 cups, string beans cleaned
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1 cup packed nasturtium, flowers and greens removed from stem
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with a pinch of kosher salt. Add the string beans and cook (blanche) for 3 minutes. Immediately, remove from heat, drain, and cool down the beans under running water. You can add ice to help lower the temperature faster. When it's cool, add the remaining ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy.
If you like this salad, then check out the salad niçoise. It's a game changer.