Cookin’ Up Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who sacrificed their life for our freedoms and comforts. As we all know, many of us enjoy getting together with friends and family on this day to celebrate. Had COVID-19 locked us all in our homes, many of us would be with friends and family grilling our favorites. The truth is, much of what we grill isn’t the healthiest for us.

What if I told you that you could enjoy grilling amazing food? Or, what if I said you could grill everything from vegetables to fruit and it taste amazing? Better yet, what if your Memorial Day grill menu didn’t have to have any meat on it? Would you believe me?

Check out the video below to learn how to grill an amazing Memorial Day feast using absolutely no meat!




Biblical Herbs Complement Autumn Fruits and Veggies

Autumn is a spectacular time of year as leaves and flowered mums dot the landscape with shades of red, yellow, and orange. Just as the earth erupts with Fall colors, fruits and veggies also shine with brilliant colors. Truly, the Fall Harvest is a perfect time to increase dietary intake of fruits and veggies and reap the health benefits of produce loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. In fact, the USDA’s recommendation is to fill half of our plate with fruits and vegetables for every meal and each snack. Farmer’s markets are a great place to gather such produce as their shelves are bursting with colorful seasonal produce like apples, pears, cranberries, pumpkins, and butternut squash.

But Autumn is not just a great season for fruits and vegetables, it’s also a great season for herbs. In fact, the body gains additional health benefits when combining flavor enhancing fresh herbs with fruits and veggies. Scientific research proves that herbs contain an impressive list of vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and minerals known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.

Food in the Scriptures

Did you know that Autumn fruits and veggies pair well with the Biblical herbs mint and dill? Here’s an interesting fact: the Pharisees offered mint for tithing in accordance with Mosaic law (Matthew 23:23 NKJV). Used for thousands of years to sooth indigestion, modern research proves that mint’s numerous health benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This seasoning contains vitamins A and C and the minerals calcium, zinc, and copper. And all flavors of mint include the aromatic decongestant menthol which loosens phlegm and mucus (Hosseinzadeh, 2015). This is why mint continues to be used medicinally. Its calming effects can be used as a natural aid for common concerns like flatulence, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, nausea, and headaches.

Tender mint leaves are best used fresh as they add a sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste.

Peppermint in particular, boasts an intense peppery tang while spearmint offers a milder sweet flavor. By incorporating peppermint or spearmint into your cooking you can augment a variety of autumn fruits such as tomatoes, limes, cranberries, figs, and pomegranates with a refreshing zesty flavor. For example, create a mint limeade or lemonade for a thirst-quenching drink. Roasted veggies such as cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, and squash are also enhanced by fresh mint.

The Benefits of Dill

Dill is another herbal plant used in Biblical times for tithing, food preparation, and medicine (Matthew 23:23). The ancient people applied dill’s essential oil eugenol as a local anesthetic and antiseptic. Research proves that dill essential oil is a natural antimicrobial and antioxidant (Singh, 2005).

Dill weed is a good source of calcium, manganese, and iron, and as an antioxidant food, its flavonoids such as quercetin provide anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Quercetin plays an important part in fighting free radical damage, the effects of aging, and inflammation (Zhang, 2017). Dill contains vitamins A and C, folate, iron, and amino acids. By Including dill in one’s diet these important fatty acids improve wellbeing (Nguyen, 2015).

Herbs for your Health

Tomatoes, figs, cranberries, and apples combine scrumptiously with dill’s slightly sweet taste and hints of caraway, lemon, anise, and parsley. Dill heightens the flavors of Fall veggies such as cauliflower, beets, and squash. Try a butternut squash and dill soup for a hearty and warming autumn lunch.

These complimentary herbs enhance fruit’s sweet taste and the bold flavors of veggies. By incorporating dill into your cooking preparation, favorite dishes become an extraordinary food experience rich in vitamins and nutrients, as well as, color and flavor. Discover the combinations that please personal palates by sprinkling with herbs from the cupboard or windowsill herb garden onto various fruits and vegetable dishes.

Nature’s garden feeds, heals, and brings joy. In the words of the 9th century Emperor Charlemagne, “Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.”

Roasted Apples and Butternut Squash with Dill Recipe

This recipe combining two autumn favorites is a sweet and savory side dish for any meal.

Serves 6- 8

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

1 large sweet onion (I use Vidalia)

2 apples (good choices are Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith)

2 tablespoons fresh dill

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Chop the butternut squash, apples, and sweet onion into bite sized pieces. Mince the fresh dill. Mix the squash, sweet onion, and apples into a large bowl and add the olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper. Place the chopped vegetables in a covered baking dish and roast for approximately 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with the fresh dill. Serve immediately and enjoy!

***

References

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

Hosseinzadeh, S., Jafarikukhdan, A., Hosseini, A. and Armand, R. (2015) The Application of Medicinal Plants in Traditional and Modern Medicine: A Review of Thymus vulgaris. International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 6, 635-642. doi: 10.4236/ijcm.2015.69084.

Singh, G., Maurya, S., de Lampasona P., & Catalan, C., Chemical constituents, antimicrobial investigations, and antioxidative potentials of Anethum graveolens L. essential oil and acetone extract: Part 52. Journal of Food Science, 2005. 70, M208-M215.

Zhang, M, et al. “Antioxidant properties of quercetin.” Advances in experimental medicine and biology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21445799. Accessed 15 Sept. 2017.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Database. Quercetin, CID=5280343, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Quercetin (accessed on Sept. 3, 2019)

Nguyen, T., Aparicio, M., & Saleh, M. A. (2015). Accurate Mass GC/LC-Quadrupole Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Fatty Acids and Triacylglycerols of Spicy Fruits from the Apiaceae Family. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 20(12), 21421-32. doi:10.3390/molecules201219779

www.azquotes.com/author/38108-Charlemagne




Ruby Red: The Power of Pomegranates

For centuries, people cherished pomegranates for their ruby red color, flavor, and healing properties.

They were symbols of prosperity and abundance in many civilizations. In fact, the Bible mentions the pomegranate as this plump fruit that appeared prominently in religious traditions and as a decoration. The red dye created from crushing the blossoms embellished the robes of Jewish priests (Exodus 28:33-34 NKJV). Bronze pomegranates are mentioned as decoration for King Solomon’s temple (Jeremiah 52:22-23 NKJV). The biblical people not only ate the fruit, they used it for medicinal purposes as the flowers were used to treat dysentery (Bible Gateway Encyclopedia 2019).

The Power of Pomegranates

Today, the consumption of pomegranates continues to increase as more research studies prove its powerful health benefits. Pomegranates exhibit potent antioxidative, antimicrobial, and anticarcinogenic properties. A recent study shows that pomegranates, a rich source of natural ingredients, have protective effects on the cardiovascular system. Substances derived from the fruit reduce oxidative stress and platelet aggregation, decrease lipids, and regulate blood pressure. Clinical studies demonstrated that daily intake of pomegranate juice lessens hypertension and reduces atherosclerosis (Wang, 2018).

Another research study indicates that pomegranates are really the superfood that will counteract aging. Scientists discovered a molecule that when transformed by microbes in the gut, enables musclecells to protect themselves against the major causes of aging (Dongryeol, 2016).

Further research shows that different foods play a role in arthritis inflammation. Foods that are rich in nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants may help neutralize Rheumatoid Arthritis inflammation and alleviate symptoms. Pomegranates are often recommended for symptom and inflammation reduction as the fruit is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and rich in nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. A study found that pomegranate juice is rich in polyphenolic compounds that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits which decreases inflammation and oxidative stress. Participants in the study experienced significantly less joint tenderness, swelling, and pain intensity (Ghavipour, 2017).

Arils: The Secret’s Inside

The thick skin of the pomegranate is inedible, but the hundreds of seeds called arils can be eaten raw or juiced. Pomegranate seeds burst with a delicious, tangy, slightly acidic flavor and emit a distinctly perfumed and invigorating aroma. Incorporating pomegranate arils into favorite recipes is easy. Sprinkle the arils on guacamole, green and fruit salads, and yogurt for an extra bite of flavor and crunch. The seeds make a delicious topping for oatmeal. Another option is drinking pomegranate juice as it contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for a healthy body.

The pomegranate fruit season in the Northern Hemisphere is from September through February. When selecting fresh pomegranates, look for a ripe, intensely red colored fruit that feels heavy for its size.

From their distinctive crown to their ruby red arils that burst with sweet and tart flavors, pomegranates are considered royalty among fruit. Rich in vitamin C and potassium, an excellent source of fiber, and plenty of antioxidants make pomegranates a superfood. Enjoy the powerful pomegranate and reap its countless nutritional benefits.

3 Steps, No Mess Method for removing the arils (seeds) from Pomegranates

Cut off the crown and cut the pomegranate into sections. Place the sections in a bowl of water and then roll out the arils with your fingers. Discard everything but the seeds. Strain out the water. Then eat the remaining succulent arils whole.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Recipe  

Ingredients

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 pinch of salt

1 pinch ground pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a container. Cover and shake.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

References

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/encyclopedia-of-the-bible/Pomegranate

Tabor, Aaron, MD. www.beliefnet.com/followingjesus/features/10-medicines-used-during-jesus-times.aspx?p=7

Wang, D., Özen, C., Abu-Reidah, I. M., Chigurupati, S., Patra, J. K., Horbanczuk, J.O. Atanasov, A. G. (2018). Vasculoprotective Effects of Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.). Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 544. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00544

Dongryeol Ryu, Laurent Mouchiroud, Pénélope A. Andreux, Elena Katsyuba, Norman Moullan, Amandine A Nicolet-dit-Félix, Evan G Williams, Pooja Jha, Giuseppe Lo Sasso, Damien Huzard, Patrick Aebischer, Carmen Sandi, Chris Rinsch & Johan Auwerx. Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nature Medicine, July 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nm.4132

M Ghavipour, G Sotoudeh, E Tavakoli, K Mowla, J Hasanzadeh & Z Mazloom. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. volume 71, pages 92–96 (2017)




A Fourth of July Fruit Tart

Freedom in Christ is the sweetest treat we could ever receive.

Why do we celebrate the 4th of July? It was actually on July 2, 1776 that the United States of American became an independent nation. So then why the fourth? Well, it was on July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress approved the final wording for the Declaration of Independence. On July 4th our government embraced these famous words by Thomas Jefferson:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness!

Spiritual Independence

It is these words that cause me to think how sweet freedom is, and how divine a right it is for all people. It reminds me of the greatest kind of freedom – being free in Christ. The Bible tells us, “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Because Christ died on the cross we now have an opportunity to accept the final wording for our spiritual declaration of independence. It is through His death and resurrection that can have “life and life more abundantly.” In other words, in Christ we receive life, liberty, and the power to pursue true happiness.

No longer are we bound by the control of Satan. Now we are free entities capable of choosing a life of power and freedom in Jesus. His love is so sweet it allows us to choose Him. We don’t have to love God. We don’t have to be in relationship with Him. His love is not forced. It is not obtained through manipulation, or any other means of coercion. No, His love, His grace, His freedom is an all encompassing gift that we receive and will never be able pay back. Christ gave His life so that we could have this kind of freedom. And if you ask me it’s the sweetest thing i’ve ever tasted.

Fun on the Fourth

As you take this day to celebrate with friends and family, I encourage to think about how sweet it is to be loved by God. And to help you enjoy your day here’s a quick and easy healthy dessert for your Fourth of July! It’s the perfect summer dessert. Great for barbecues and picnics. Trust me, everyone will love it and beg you for more.

Happy Fourth of July! May your national and spiritual freedom be as sweet as this Red White and Blue Fruit Tart.

Photo taken by: Emma Tchamba

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

1 ½ packs of graham crackers

8 tbsp of unsalted butter

3 tbsp of sugar

Cream Filling:

8 oz of cream cheese (room temperature)

¼ cup of sugar

¾ cup of heavy cream

½ tsp of vanilla

Fruits:

2 cup blueberries

1 cup blackberries

2 cups raspberries

1 cup strawberries

1 tbsp apricot jam or any jam (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven at 350 degrees F, in a food processor, pulse the graham crackers with the 3 tbsp of sugar. Once that is finely ground, add the melted butter and pulse until well combined.
  • Transfer the crust to a tart pan and press firmly in bottom and sides of the tart pan. You can use the bottom of a glass cup or measuring cup or you can use your hands. Bake for about 11-12 minutes or until the crust is browned. Remove from oven and let crust cool completely.
  • Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer whip together the cream cheese with sugar until nice and fluffy, add in vanilla, and slowly add in heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  • Spread the filling over the cooled crust and arrange you berries over the top.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Can be chilled for up to 24 hrs before serving.

Optional Glaze:

  • In a saucepan heat 1 tbsp of jam with 1 tbsp of water and stir until water is well incorporated. Use a pastry brush and brush glaze over the fruits. This glaze is totally optional but it does give the fruit a pastry shop finished look.