Tags: Andes, Bolivia, Chenopodium, Controlled Ecological Life Support System, Eastern Agricultural Complex, NASA, Northern Hemisphere, Quinoa
a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach and tumbleweeds.
Quinoa (the name is derived from the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name kinwa or occasionally “Qin-wah”) originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was successfully domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption, though archeological evidence shows a non-domesticated association with pastoral herding some 5,200 to 7,000 years ago.
Similar Chenopodium species, such as pitseed goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri) and fat hen (Chenopodium album), were grown and domesticated in North America as part of the Eastern Agricultural Complex before maize agriculture became popular. Fat hen, which has a widespread distribution in the Northern Hemisphere, produces edible seeds and greens much like quinoa, but in smaller quantities.
The nutrient composition is very good compared with common cereals. Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
After harvest, the seeds need to be processed to remove the coating containing the bitter-tasting saponins. Quinoa seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes. Quinoa leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is limited.
The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or ‘mother of all grains’, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using ‘golden implements.’ During the Spanish conquest of South America, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as ‘food for Indians’, and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous non-Christian ceremonies. In fact, the conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.
2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations.
Quinoa was of great importance in the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, quinoa has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (14% by mass), yet not as high as most beans and legumes. Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein. Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.
Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous.
Most boxed/packaged quinoa has already been rinsed for convenience, and cooking instructions therefore suggest only a brief rinse before cooking, if at all. If quinoa has not been rinsed, the first step is to remove the saponins, a process that requires rinsing the quinoa in ample running water for several minutes in either a fine strainer or a cheesecloth. Removal of the saponin helps with digestion; the soapy nature of the compound makes it act as a laxative.
One cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups (or less) of water to a boil with one cup of seed, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 10–15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).
Vegetables and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. Chicken or vegetable stock can be substituted for water during cooking, adding flavor. It is also suited to vegetable pilafs, complementing bitter greens like kale.
Quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food when mixed with, for example, honey, almonds, or berries; it is also sold as a dry product, much like corn flakes. Quinoa flour can be used in wheat-free and gluten-free baking.
Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content. In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, e.g., 12 hours with wheat. This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the seeds, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.
Tags: American Chestnut, Castanea, Castanea sativa, Fagaceae, Japanese Chestnut, Northern Hemisphere, United States
Chestnut (Castanea), some species called chinkapin or chinquapin, is a genus of eight or nine species of deciduous trees and shrubs in the beech family Fagaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts they
The chestnut belongs to the same Fagaceae family as the oak and beech. There are four main species, commonly known as European, Chinese, Japanese and American chestnuts:
European species sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) (also called “Spanish chestnut” in the US) is the only European species of chestnut, though successfully introduced to the Himalayas and other temperate parts of Asia.
Asiatic species Castanea crenata (Japanese chestnut), Castanea mollissima (Chinese chestnut), Castanea davidii (China), Castanea henryi (Chinese chinkapin, also called Henry’s chestnut – China) and Castanea seguinii (also called Seguin’s chestnut – China).
American species These include Castanea dentata (American chestnut – Eastern states), Castanea pumila (American- or Allegheny chinkapin, also known as “dwarf chestnut” – Eastern states), Castanea alnifolia (Southern states), Castanea ashei (Southern states), Castanea floridana (Southern states) and Castanea paupispina (Southern states).
Chestnuts should not be confused with horse chestnuts (genus Aesculus), which are unrelated to Castanea and are named for producing nuts of similar appearance but of no notable edibility. Nor should they be confused with water chestnut (family Cyperaceae), which are also unrelated to Castanea and are tubers of similar taste from an aquatic herbaceous plant. Other trees commonly mistaken for the chestnut tree are the chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) and the American beech (Fagus grandifolia).
Chestnut trees are of moderate growth rate (for the Chinese chestnut tree) to fast-growing for American and European species. Their mature heights vary from the smallest species of chinkapins, often shrubby, to the giant of past American forests, Castanea dentata that could reach 60 m. In between these extremes are found the Japanese chestnut (Castanea crenata) at 10 m average; followed by the Chinese Chestnut (Castanea mollissima) at about 15 m, then the European chestnut (Castanea sativa) around 30 m.
The Chinese and more so the Japanese chestnuts are both often multileadered and wide-spreading, whereas European and especially American species tend to grow very erect when planted among others, with little tapering of their columnar trunk, which is firmly set and massive. When standing on their own, they spread on the sides and develop broad, rounded, dense crowns at maturity. The two latter’s foliage has striking yellow autumn coloring.
Its bark is smooth when young, of a vinous maroon or red-brown colour for the American chestnut, grey for the European chestnut. With age American species’ becomes grey and darker, thick and deeply furrowed; the furrows run longitudinally, and tend to twist around the trunk as the tree ages; it sometimes reminds one of a large cable with twisted strands.
The leaves are simple, ovate or lanceolate, 10–30 cm long and 4–10 cm wide, with sharply pointed, widely-spaced teeth, with shallow rounded sinuates between.
The flowers follow the leaves, appearing in late spring or early summer or onto July. They are arranged in long catkins of two kinds, with both kinds being borne on every tree. Some catkins are made of only male flowers, which mature first. Each flower has eight stamens, or 10 to 12 for Castanea mollissima. The ripe pollen carries a heavy sweet odor that some people find too sweet or unpleasant. Other catkins have these pollen-bearing flowers, but also carry near the twig from which these spring, small clusters of female or fruit-producing flowers. Two or three flowers together form a four-lobed prickly calybium, which ultimately grows completely together to make the brown hull, or husk, covering the fruits.
The fruit is contained in a spiny (very sharp) cupule 5–11 cm in diameter, also called “bur” or “burr”. The burrs are often paired or clustered on the branch and contain one to seven nuts according to the different species, varieties and cultivars. Around the time the fruits reach maturity, the burrs turn yellow-brown and split open in 2 or 4 sections. They can remain on the tree longer than they hold the fruit, but more often achieve complete opening and release the fruits only after having fallen on the ground; opening is partly due to soil humidity.
The chestnut fruit has a pointed end with a small tuft at its tip (called “flame” in Italian, and at the other end, a hilum – a pale brown attachment scar. In many varieties, the fruit is flattened on one or two sides. It has two skins. The first one is a hard outer shiny brown hull or husk, called the pericarpus; the industry calls this the peel. Underneath the pericarpus is another thinner skin, called the “pellicle” or “episperm”. The pellicle closely adheres to the seed itself, following the grooves usually present at the surface of the fruit. These grooves are of variable sizes and depth according to the species and variety.
The fruit inside these shows two cotyledons with a creamy-white flesh throughout, except in some varieties which show only one cotyledon, and whose episperm is only slightly or not intruded at all. Usually these varieties have only one large fruit per burr, well rounded (no flat face) and which is called “marron” (“marron de Lyon” in France, “marron di Mugello” in Italy, or “Paragon”).
The superior fruiting varieties among European chestnuts have good size, sweet taste and easy-to-remove inner skins. American chestnuts are usually very small (around 5 g), but sweet-tasting with easy-to-remove pellicles. Some Japanese varieties have very large nuts (around 40 g), with typically difficult-to-remove pellicles. Chinese chestnut pellicles are usually easy to remove, and their sizes vary greatly according to the varieties, although usually smaller than the Japanese chestnut.
Fresh chestnut fruits have about 180 calories (800 kJ) per 100 grams of edible parts, which is much lower than walnuts, almonds, other nuts and dried fruit (about 600 kcal/100 g). Chestnuts, as with all plant foods, contain no cholesterol and contain very little fat, mostly unsaturated, and no gluten.
Their carbohydrate content compares with that of wheat and rice; chestnuts have twice as much starch as the potato. In addition, chestnuts contain about 8 percent of various sugars, mainly sucrose, glucose, fructose, and, in less amount, stachyose, and raffinose. In some areas, sweet chestnut trees are called “the bread tree”. When chestnuts are just starting to ripen, the fruit is mostly starch and is very firm under finger pressure from the high water content. As the chestnuts ripen, the starch is slowly converted into sugars; and moisture content also starts decreasing. Upon pressing the chestnut, a slight ‘give’ can be felt; the hull is not so tense, and there is space between it and the flesh of the fruit. The water is being replaced by sugars, which means better conservation.
They are the only “nuts” that contain vitamin C, with about 40 mg per 100 g of raw product, which is about 65 percent of the U.S. recommended daily intake. The amount of vitamin C decreases by about 40 percent after heating. Fresh chestnuts contain about 52 percent water by weight, which will evaporate relatively quickly during storage; they can lose even 1 percent of weight in one day at 20 °C and 70% relative humidity.
Tannin is contained in the bark as well as in the wood, leaves and seed husks. The husks contain 10–13% tannin.
The fruit can be peeled and eaten raw, but it can be somewhat astringent, especially if the pellicle is not removed.
Another method of eating the fruit involves roasting, which does not require peeling. Roasting requires scoring the fruit beforehand to prevent undue expansion and “explosion” of the fruit. Once cooked, its texture is similar to that of a baked potato, with a delicate, sweet, and nutty flavour. This method of preparation is popular in northern China as well as in Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Korea and Southeast Asia, where the scored chestnuts may be cooked in a tub of heated coal pebbles[clarification needed] mixed with a little sugar.
Chestnuts can be dried and milled into flour, which can then be used to prepare breads, cakes, pancakes, pastas (it is the original ingredient for polenta, known in Corsica as pulenda), or used as thickener for stews, soups, and sauces. In Corsica, the flour is fried into doughnut-like fritters called fritelli and made into necci, pattoni, castagnacci, and cialdi.
The flour can be light beige like that from Castagniccia, or darker in other regions. It is a good solution for long storage of a nutritious food. Chestnut bread can stay fresh for as long as two weeks.
The nuts can also be eaten candied, boiled, steamed, grilled, or roasted in sweet or savoury recipes. They can be used to stuff vegetables, poultry, fowl and other edibles. They are available fresh, dried, ground or canned (whole or in puree).
A fine granular sugar can be obtained from the fermentation of the juice, as well as a beer; the roasted fruit provides a coffee substitute. Parmentier, who among other things was a famous potato promoter, extracted sugar from chestnuts and sent a chestnut sugarloaf weighing several pounds to the Academy of Lyon. The continental blockade following shortly after (1806–1814) increased the research into developing chestnuts as a source of sugar, but Napoleon chose beets instead.
Candied chestnuts (whole chestnuts candied in sugar syrup, then iced are sold under the French name maroons glacés or Turkish name kestane şekeri (“sugared chestnuts”). They appeared in France in the 16th century. Towards the end of 19th century, Lyon went into a recession with the collapse of the textile market, notably silk. Clément Faugier ingénieur des Ponts et Chaussées was looking for a way to revitalize the regional economy. In 1882 at Privas, he invented the technology to make maroons glacés on an industrial scale (although a great deal of the over-twenty necessary steps from harvest to the finished product are still accomplished manually). Chestnuts are picked in autumn, and candied from the start of the following summer for the ensuing Christmas. Thus the maroons glacés eaten at Christmas are those picked the year before.
Sweet chestnuts are not easy to peel when cold. One kilogram of untainted chestnuts yields about 700 g of shelled chestnuts.
Chestnut flavors vary slightly from one to the next, but it is somewhat sweet and certainly unique. Chestnut-based recipes and preparations are making a comeback in Italian cuisine, as part of the trend toward rediscovery of traditional dishes and better nutrition.
Chestnut wood is a useful source of natural tannin and was used for tanning leather before the introduction of synthetic tannins. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 6.8% tannin and the wood 13.4%. The bark imparts a dark colour to the tannin, and has a higher sugar content, which increases the percentage of soluble non-tans, or impurities, in the extract; so it was not employed in this use.
Chestnut tannin has a naturally low pH value, relatively low salts content and a high acids content. It is one of the pyrogallol class of tannins (also known as hydrolysable tannin). As it tends to give a reddish tone to the leather, it is most often used in combination with quebracho, mimosa, myrabolans, and valonia.
The wood seems to reach its highest tannin content after the trees reach 30 years old. The southern European chestnut wood usually contains at least 10 to 13% more tannin than chestnut trees in northern climates. Today, the largest producer of extract for tanning is Italy.
Fabric can be starched with chestnut meal.
Linen cloth can be whitened with chestnut meal.
The leaves and the skins (husk and pellicle) of the fruits provide a hair shampoo.
Tags: Bitter melon, cook, Home, India, Northern Hemisphere, Philippines, Saint Louis University, Southeast Asia
Momordica charantia, called bitter melon or bitter gourd in English, is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae,
widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all fruits. There are many varieties that differ substantially in the shape and bitterness of the fruit. This is a plant of the tropics, but its original native range is unknown.
This herbaceous, tendril-bearing vine grows to 5 meters. It bears simple, alternate leaves 4–12 cm across, with 3–7 deeply separated lobes. Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers. In the Northern Hemisphere, flowering occurs during June to July and fruiting during September to November.
The fruit has a distinct warty exterior and an oblong shape. It is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large flat seeds and pith. The fruit is most often eaten green, or as it is beginning to turn yellow. At this stage, the fruit’s flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar to cucumber, chayote or green bell pepper, but bitter. The skin is tender and edible. Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruits; they are not intensely bitter and can be removed before cooking.
As the fruit ripens, the flesh becomes tougher, more bitter, and too distasteful to eat. On the other hand, the pith becomes sweet and intensely red; it can be eaten uncooked in this state, and is a popular ingredient in some southeast Asian salads.
When the fruit is fully ripe it turns orange and mushy, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered
in bright red pulp.
Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The China phenotype is 20–30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color, with a gently undulating, warty surface. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular “teeth” and ridges. It is green to white in color. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. Some bear miniature fruit of only 6–10 cm in length, which may be served individually as stuffed vegetables. These miniature fruit are popular in India and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Bitter melon is generally consumed cooked in the green or early yellowing stage. The young shoots and leaves of the bitter melon may also be eaten as greens.
Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-fries (often with pork and douchi), soups, and also as tea. It has also been used in place of hops as the bittering ingredient in some Chinese beers.
It is very popular throughout South Asia. In Northern India, it is often prepared with potatoes and served with yogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, or used in sabji. In North Indian cuisine it is stuffed with spices and then cooked in oil. In Southern India it is used in the dishes thoran/thuvaran (mixed with grated coconut), theeyal (cooked with roasted coconut) and pachadi (which is considered a medicinal food for diabetics). Other popular recipes include preparations with curry, deep fried with peanuts or other ground nuts, and pachi pulusu, a soup with fried onions and other spices.In Tamil Nadu a special preparation in Brahmins’ cuisine called ‘pagarkai pitla’.
In Pakistan and Bangladesh, bitter melon is often cooked with onions, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, and a pinch of cumin seeds. Another dish in Pakistan calls for whole, unpeeled bitter melon to be boiled and then stuffed with cooked ground beef, served with either hot tandoori bread, naan, chappati, or with khichri (a mixture of lentils and rice).
Bitter melon is a significant ingredient in Okinawan cuisine, and is increasingly used in mainland Japan. It is popularly credited with
Okinawan life expectancies being higher than the already long Japanese ones.
In Indonesia, bitter melon is prepared in various dishes, such as gado-gado, and also stir fried, cooked in coconut milk, or steamed.
In Vietnam, raw bitter melon slices consumed with dried meat floss and bitter melon soup with shrimp are popular dishes. Bitter melons stuffed with ground pork are served as a popular summer soup in the South. It is also used as the main ingredient of “stewed bitter melon”. This dish is usually cooked for the Tết holiday, where its “bitter” name is taken as a reminder of the poor living conditions experienced in the past.
In the Philippines, bitter melon may be stir-fried with ground beef and oyster sauce, or with eggs and diced tomato. The dish pinakbet, popular in the Ilocos region of Luzon, consists mainly of bitter melons, eggplant, okra, string beans, tomatoes, lima beans, and other various regional vegetables altogether stewed with a little bagoong-based stock.
In Nepal, bitter melon is prepared as a fresh pickle called achar. For this the bitter gourd is cut into cubes or slices and sautéed covered in oil and a sprinkle of water. When it is softened and reduced, it is minced in a mortar with a few cloves of garlic, salt and a red or green pepper. It is also sauteed to golden-brown, stuffed, or as a curry on its own or with potatoes.
In Trinidad and Tobago, bitter melons are usually sauteed with onion, garlic and scotch bonnet pepper until almost crisp.
Bitter melon has been used in various Asian and African traditional medicine systems for a long time.in Turkey it has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly stomach complaints. The fruit is broken up and soaked in either olive oil or honey.
In 1962, Lolitkar and Rao extracted from the plant a substance, which they called charantin, which had hypoglycaemic effect on normal and diabetic rabbits. Another principle, active only on diabetic rabbits, was isolated by Visarata and Ungsurungsie in 1981. Bitter melon has been found to increase insulin sensitivity. In 2007, a study by the Philippine Department of Health determined that a daily dose of 100 mg per kilogram of body weight is comparable to 2.5 mg/kg of the anti-diabetes drug glibenclamide taken twice per day. Tablets of bitter melon extract are sold in the Philippines as a food supplement and exported to many countries.
Other compounds in bitter melon have been found to activate the AMPK, the protein that regulates glucose uptake (a process which is impaired in diabetics
Bitter melon also contains a lectin that has insulin-like activity due to its non-protein-specific linking together to insulin receptors. This lectin lowers blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and, similar to insulin’s effects in the brain, suppressing appetite. This lectin is likely a major contributor to the hypoglycemic effect that develops after eating bitter melon.
Two compounds extracted from bitter melon, α-eleostearic acid (from seeds) and 15,16-dihydroxy-α-eleostearic acid (from the fruit) have been found to induce apoptosis of leukemia cells in vitro. Diets containing 0.01% bitter melon oil (0.006% as α-eleostearic acid) were found to prevent azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis in rats.
Researchers at Saint Louis University claims that an extract from bitter melon, commonly eaten and known as karela in India, causes a chain of events which helps to kill breast cancer cells and prevents them from multiplying.
Bitter melon has been used in traditional medicine for several other ailments, including dysentery, colic, fevers, burns, painful menstruation, scabies and other skin problems. It has also been used as abortifacient, for birth control, and to help childbirth.
Tags: Earth, Google, Latin, Northern Hemisphere, Solstice, Summer solstice, Sun, Winter solstice
The summer solstice heralds the beginning of summer. The timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. This occurs annually on June 20 or June 21 in North America, depending on your time zone. The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice). In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. In the winter, just the opposite occurs: The Sun is at its southernmost point and is low in the sky. Its rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at an oblique angle, creating the feeble winter sunlight.