The Webmd Web Site

August 17, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Posted in diabetes, diabetes friendly, Food | 2 Comments
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If you haven’t been on webmd.com web site check it out! Full of great advice, health tips, recipes, and more. I thought I would pass this article along on Spices.

6 Spices and Herbs You’re Not Using
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Expert Column

Gone are the days of seasoning food with just salt and pepper, or of jars of herbs and spices collecting dust for a decade in a kitchen cabinet.

The exciting era of herbs and spices has begun and you can either let it boost your home cooking to a higher level of flavor and health or be left behind clutching your jar of Old Bay Seasoning.

There’s a whole world of exotic herbs and spices available to you now over the Internet or at specialty stores that you might not know about because they aren’t called for in Grandma Martha’s recipes. You might not even see the following up-and-coming herbs and spices in magazine and cookbook recipes either — yet.

Herbs and spices aren’t just about adding flavor. They may also have health perks related to their antioxidants. And using herbs and spices in your foods may help you cut back on fat, sugar, and salt, which could help your waistline, blood pressure, and overall health.

Here are six herbs and spices that you probably aren’t using yet, but should.
1. Smoked Serrano Chili Powder

Serrano chili peppers are known for their bold, spicy heat. Now you can find serrano chilies that are smoked and ground into a fragrant powder.

How it improves dishes: Smoked serrano chili powder adds a rich, smoky flavor and lively heat to your favorite dishes, including a variety of Mexican and Southwestern dishes, stews, casseroles, egg dishes, and chili.
2. Turmeric

Turmeric, a favorite ingredient since ancient times, is the root stalk of a tropical plant in the ginger family. It adds a bright golden color and a pungent flavor found in everything from Indian curry powder to traditional American mustard.

How it improves dishes: Turmeric can be added to Southeast Asian recipes including curries; soups; rice and pilaf dishes; and vegetable, chicken, or lentil dishes. It can also be used to add some punch to relishes and chutneys.
3. Saigon Cinnamon

Cinnamon is not a new spice, but Saigon cinnamon, prized for its sweet and spicy taste and aroma, is considered the finest and most flavorful cinnamon in the world.

How it improves dishes: Cinnamon is an old favorite called for in fancy coffee drinks, hot oatmeal, cookies, and fruit crisps. It’s also a popular spice for main dishes (including chicken, seafood, and lamb) from international cuisines such as Indian, Greek, Mexican, and Middle Eastern. Saigon cinnamon is an important ingredient in the popular Vietnamese noodle soup called pho.
4. Vanilla Paste

Vanilla extract is ubiquitous in dessert recipes, but the next generation of recipes might start calling for vanilla paste instead. Vanilla paste is much more preferable to vanilla extract because of flavorful flecks of vanilla bean dispersed throughout its syrup consistency. Vanilla paste has the benefits of using the actual vanilla bean (where you cut the long, thin bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the center) but is so much easier.

How it improves dishes: Vanilla paste has a more concentrated flavor than extract, and the flecks of vanilla bean can be particularly appetizing used in single-color dishes such as ice cream, sugar cookies, and vanilla frosting. It’s a treat to see and taste those flavor-packed little black dots.

This is an up-and-coming herb, according to the Spice Island Marketplace at the Culinary Institute of America. Although this is a relatively new herb to many American cooks, epazote has been used in Mexico for cooking and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

In Mexico, epazote is best known for flavoring bean dishes and making herb tea. One new use, suggested by the Spice Island Marketplace, is to drizzle some olive oil on top of flat bread, then sprinkle epazote over the top, heat, then serve.

How it improves dishes: Epazote has a powerful flavor similar to licorice and can be used in bean dishes as well as eggs, burritos, rice, soups and stews, salad, quesadillas, and meat dishes. There is one way that epazote may improve your bean dishes beyond flavor: It’s known in Mexico for helping to diffuse the gas-inducing effect of beans.
6. Herbs de Provence

Herbs de Provence (also called Herbs of Provence) is a blend of five or six herbs reminiscent of France’s sunny Provence region. The herbs included in the blend vary by brand but usually include thyme, basil, savory, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, and/or lavender. When you buy it in a blend, the individual herbs are already in balanced amounts ready to inspire flavorful and convenient cooking.

How it improves dishes: This sweet and fragrant aromatic herb blend adds depth and complexity to your hot dishes. It can be used as a rub on roast, meats, and fish and works great on the grill. It can be added to marinades, sprinkled into sautés, omelets, vegetable dishes, sauces, and soups.
Tips for Buying, Using, and Storing Dried Herbs

If your grocery store doesn’t stock the spices or herbs mentioned in this story, try searching for them online.

1. Store dried herbs in a cool, dark place, especially if they come in a clear glass container.
2. Dried herbs are usually stronger-tasting than fresh. So if a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you’re using dried instead, use about 1/3 less. If the recipe calls for a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, a teaspoon of dried herbs will do.
3. Dried herbs lose flavor over time. If stored correctly, they will last about a year. Sniff the herbs before you use them. If you can’t smell anything, they’re past their prime.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the “Recipe Doctor” for WebMD and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/exotic-spices-and-herbs

http://www.webmd.com/default.htm

Duff Goldman’s new Food Network show to debut Aug. 8

July 7, 2011 at 10:56 PM | Posted in baking, dessert, Food | 3 Comments
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Duff Goldman made famous by Ace of Cakes, has a knack for satisfying America’s sugary curiosity. In his new series, Sugar High, premiering Monday, August 8th at 10:30pm ET/PT, Duff takes a cross-country trek to capture the sweet secrets and tasty techniques that keep the cookies from crumbling in the top dessert destinations around the country. In the six-episode premiere season Duff visits a bevy of sweet spots from diners and snow cone machines to food carts and boutique bakeries, getting a full view of what it takes to sweeten up any soiree. His stops include Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia where in each city he brings his expertise and personality to his search to find the nation’s best baked goods.

“As a staple Food Network icon, Duff has developed a loyal following and this new show gives him an avenue to showcase a different side of his personality while celebrating the food category he loves and the people who create it,” said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Programming & Production, Food Network.

Throughout the season Duff highlights decadent desserts that are anything but ordinary from chilled bread pudding on the Venice boardwalk in California and tableside s’mores in Dallas, to Sno Ballz from the first-ever, shaved-ice machine in New Orleans and a slice of apple strudel in Chicago. Duff also satisfies his sweet tooth with lemon ginger mousse at a hip Asian diner in Boston and traditional rice pudding at a dessert boutique in Philadelphia.

Duff has been cooking since the age of four and started working professionally at a bagel shop in a mall when he was 14, and since then, Duff’s been putting his own crazy spin on food. After graduating from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with degrees in History and Philosophy, he went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California. He worked at several acclaimed culinary destinations, including the French Laundry, the Vail Cascade Hotel, and Todd English‘s Olives before returning to Baltimore in 2000 to become a personal chef. In March 2002, he opened Charm City Cakes where he was able to show off his creativity, and the bakery became a household name on Ace of Cakes, which aired for ten seasons on Food Network. Most recently, Duff and his team have headed to Los Angeles to open a second location of the bakery, Charm City Cakes West, which is scheduled to open in August.

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