Know Your Ingredient – Borage

Borage

General Description

A type of herb with edible leaves that is native to the Mediterranean region. Its seed is also cultivated commercially for extraction of borage seed oil. It grows up to 60-100 cm tall. This is also known as “starflower”.

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Borage is the highest plant-source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is a type of fatty acid. Its seed oil contains stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid and nervonic acid, which are vital supplements for our body.

Medical Use

This herb is used to treat hyperactive gastrointestinal (cramps, colic, diarrhea), cardiovascular (hypertension) and respiratory (bronchitis and asthma) disorders. It can also help in correcting urinary problems.

Culinary Use

Borage can be used a fresh vegetable. It has a cucumber-like taste which makes it fit for making salads or garnish. The flowers are also edible which are often used as cake toppers or decorations. They can also be made into sweet syrups.

Know Your Ingredient – Nutmeg

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Description

This is a brown-colored hard seed from the nutmeg tree that gives a spicy sweet taste. This originates from Indonesia but can also be found in the Caribbean (Grenada).

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Nutmeg has anti-oxidant, health promoting and disease preventing properties. It’s a good source of minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. It has also B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, and folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin A.

Medical Use

In traditional medicine, it is used as anti-depressant, anti-fungal, aphrodisiac and carminative agent. It also aids digestion and prevents constipation.

Culinary Use

Nutmeg is a popular spice. It can be used in preparing many dishes and recipes. It can be used in making cakes and pastries, and can also be added in making smoothies. Nutmeg is considered a natural flavoring in baked goods, syrups, sweets and beverages.

Know Your Ingredient – Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Description
Lemon Balm is a herbal plant that belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. Its leaves are heart-shaped and deeply veined characterized by a mild lemon scent. It grows up to 150 cm tall. It produces white flowers during summer, which attracts the bees. The flavor of this herbal plant comes from its contents like citronellal, geranial, linalyl acetate and caryophyllene.

Nutrients
Lemon Balm contains phenolic compounds, rosmarinic, protocatechuic acids, caffeic, and flavonoids.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use
This herbal plant has been known to cure cold sores, stomach upset, sleep disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used to cure colic to breastfed babies. It also helps in maintaining a normal blood pressure. The leaves are known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s a good treatment for flu, insomnia, indigestion, depression, and Herpes virus. It also acts a memory booster.

Culinary Use
Lemon Balm has a delicate lemon flavor and has been widely used in making dishes. It is a good garnish to fruit salads and drinks.

Know Your Ingredient – Oregano

OREGANO

Description

Oregano is a small shrub with many stems covered with small grayish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers. It is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe because it is very much related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. Oregano is a wonderful herb that adds a warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor to many different dishes, especially those of the Mediterranean cuisine.

Nutrients

Oregano is not just for aroma and flavor but it is also composed of several nutrients. It has 14% Vitamin K, 5% Manganese, 4% Iron, 3% Calcium, and 3% Fiber per 2 teaspoons serving.

Health Benefits and Medical Use

Oregano is an effective anti-bacterial agent. It reduces the growth of bacteria hence, decreases the risk of infection. Oregano contains numerous phytonutrients that have also been shown to function as powerful antioxidants that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures all over the body. It is also proven that it is a good source of fiber which aids in the prevention of cancer.

Culinary Use

Oregano is famous among pizzas. In addition to that, it is widely used in making special cuisine.

Know Your Ingredient – Chives

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General Description
These herbs are the smallest members of the onion family. They have flavor similar to onion and a distinctive smell and taste. They are commonly used in plural form (chives) because they grow as clumps and not individually.

Nutrients and Health Benefits
Chives contain low calories and are rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. They comprise more vitamin A than any other allium family member veges. Folates can also be found in fresh chives. In addition to that, its leaves have B-complex vitamins and other essential minerals like copper, iron, zinc, manganese and calcium.

Medical Use
Chives can be used to treat flatulence, stomach upset, clogged nose, and also helps prevent bad breath. These herbs also lower down cholesterol level in our body and since they’re high in Vitamin C, they boost our immune system preventing influenza. They also lower the blood pressure if combined with a low salt diet.

Culinary Use
Fresh chopped chives (leaves) are added to mint, parsley, shallot, and cucumber and tomato salad to have a great taste. In China and Japan, garlic chives are used to add flavor to dumplings, stews and soups. While in Europe, they are used as a garnish especially in baked or mashed potatoes.

Know Your Ingredient – Stevia

stevia

Description

Stevia is a green leafy plant native to South America. It is unique among food ingredients because it’s most valued for what it doesn’t have. It has no calories. Its leaves produce sweet components, known as steviol glycosides, which are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, and can be extracted from the leaves of the Stevia plant to sweeten food without adding calories. Unlike other sugar substitutes, Stevia is derived from a plant. It is part of the Asteraceae family, related to the daisy and ragweed.

Nutrients

Stevia is ironically healthy because it contains zero sugar, zero calories, and zero other macronutrients. However, it is sweeter than sugar up to 300 times.

Health Benefits and Medical Use

Stevia has a component named stevioside which lowers the blood pressure. Hence, it is found out that by taking Stevia, the risk of hypertension is reduced as well as its potential complications like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Aside from that, Stevia has been studied in diabetic patients with impressive results. It is known to prevent type 2 Diabetes.

Stevia has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, diuretic and immunomodulatory effects in animals. But of course, not all that works in rats works in humans, too.

Culinary Use

Stevia is a well known sugar substitute. It is used by many to serve healthy and, at the same time, tasty food.

Know Your Ingredient – Cardamom

cardamom

Description

Cardamom is native to the evergreen rain forest of southern Indian Kerala state and grown in only a few tropical countries. The spice features three-sided pods with a thin, yet tough papery outer cover. Inside, tiny, deep-brown to black, aromatic seeds are arranged in vertical rows with each grain unsheathed again inside a very thin membrane. There are two types of cardamom pods: the green cardamom pod and the black cardamom pod. Generally, the plant can grow up to four meters in length.

Nutrients 

Cardamom is a good source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of iron and manganese. In addition to that, it is rich in many vital vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health. It as well contains many essential volatile oils that include pinene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, limonene, 1, 8-cineole, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-oil, a-terpineol, a-terpineol acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol, and trans-nerolidol.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use

Cardamom has antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic properties. It also helps control heart rate and blood pressure. It is a good source of manganese which is a very powerful free-radical scavenger. It helps in red blood cell formation and cellular metabolism.

Culinary Use

Cardamom is being used as flavoring agent in both soups, foods, and revitalizing drinks. Many sweet dishes in Asian countries use cardamom.

Know Your Ingredient – Sage

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General Description

Sage is a grayish green colored herb that has a soft, sweet flavor. It is grown and available anytime of the year. It had been declared as the “Herb of the Year” in 2001.

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Sage contains volatile oils and flavonoids that help maintain stability of oxygen-related metabolism. It also promotes better brain functioning and increases I.Q. It is ads, and also a rich source of carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, sodium, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids and amino acids.

Medical Use

Sage is found effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It can also lower bad cholesterol and increase mental performance. Diarrhea, heartburn, stomach pain and other gastrointestinal problems can be corrected by sage. Asthmatic people also use it as inhaler and some found it effective for dysmenorrhea, and reduction of hot flashes during menopause.

Culinary Use

Sage is used as a seasoning or a spice. It can be added in tomato sauce, or to omelets and frittatas. Pizzas are also sprinkled with sage. It can also be found in salads and in baked chicken.

Know Your Ingredient – Caraway

caraway

Description
Caraway is a Eurasian plant that has finely divided leaves and clusters of white and pinkish flowers. Its seeds called the caraway seeds are commonly used in cooking and medicine. Its leaves are sparingly used in stews and soups.

Nutrients
Caraway seeds are rich in dietary fiber that helps prevent constipation. Caraway contains several health benefiting essential oils like carvone, limonene, carveol, pinen, cumuninic aldehyde, furfurol, and thujone. Caraway is an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C as well as many B-complex vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and niacin are concentrated in the caraway seeds.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use
Caraway helps lower blood cholesterol levels and prevents constipation. It’s also known to have antioxidant properties which protect the body from cancers, infection, aging, and degenerative disorders. Sometime, it’s used in the treatment of flatulence and indigestion, especially to relieve infantile colic. It’s also used as flavoring agent in mouthwash and gargle preparations. It can also be a remedy in bronchitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Culinary Use
Caraway seeds have a warm, sweet and peppery aroma when squeezed. It is generally roasted under low heat and ground just before using them to keep its flavor.

Non-Dairy Milk Options

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Often, when we think of milk, usually the first thing that comes into mind is “cows”. Most milk comes from them. But there’s also milk that comes from other sources like rice, coconut, and more. These are called non-dairy milk and are perfect for those who are lactose-intolerant, or have restricted diet. Let’s take these non-dairy milk alternatives one by one.

Soy Milk

Taste: It has a light sweetness initially that becomes a slightly sharp, bean-like pleasant aftertaste.

Health Benefits and Nutrients: This has no cholesterol and is free from saturated fat which is considered an unhealthy fat, preventing heart related diseases. It is high in protein which makes it the people’s choice for healthy living.

Downside: It has low levels of calcium. Soy is also considered a common food allergy especially for children.

Oat Milk

Taste: From its name, this one tastes like oats. It is creamy with a slightly powdery aftertaste.

Nutrients and Health Benefits: It is enriched with calcium and vitamins, low in saturated fat, and good for the heart. It is also a good source of Vitamin E and folic acid.

Downside: It is high in sugar and doesn’t contain very much protein or fiber. If you’re gluten-intolerant, it’s not good for you. And since it’s just new, it’s hard to find in the market.

Rice Milk

Taste: It has a descent sweet flavor.

Nutrients and Health Benefits: It is low in fat and calories which is good news for adults.

Downside: It lacks protein and Vitamin A. Since it’s made from rice, it is high in sugar which is not good for diabetic consumers.

Almond Milk

Taste: This has a slightly sour with salty, nutty taste.

Nutrients and Health Benefits: It’s a good source of vitamin E and magnesium. It is also considered healthy because it’s low in fat and sugar than cow’s and soy milks.

Downside: It is very low in protein. It’s not safe for those who are allergic to nuts.

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Hemp Milk

Taste: It has a moderately creamy taste with a pleasant slight maltiness.

Nutrients and Health Benefits: It is high in Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. It doesn’t pose allergy threats. It is low in sugar and has zero cholesterol which will prevent diabetes and other heart problems.

Downside: Studies show that protein in hemp milk is not as good as protein in soy milk. It is more expensive and harder to find.

Coconut Milk

Taste: It has a mild taste with a hint of coconut.

Nutrients and Health Benefits: It contains a lot of vitamin B12 and healthy fats which are rich in lauric acid (that can treat viral infections such as influenza). It has calcium, too.

Downside: It has the highest amount of saturated fats and is low in protein. If you’re not really a coconut lover, maybe you’ll find the taste overwhelming.

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Cashew Milk

Taste: It has a creamy, sweet, and the least nutty flavor of all nut milks.

Nutrients and Health Benefits: It has copper, manganese, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. It helps your body produce more energy and develop stronger immune system.

Downside: Not good for pregnancy and breastfeeding mommies. It may increase blood sugar levels and is not good if you have nut allergies.

Flax Milk

Taste: It has a smooth and lightly creamy yet refreshing taste.

Nutrients and Health Benefits: It is fortified with vitamin A, D, B12 and calcium. It also contains Omega 3 from flax oil, which is good for the heart. It is low in sugar reducing the risk of diabetes. It is known to prevent cancer and heart diseases, too.

Downside: It may have laxative effects which may lead to stomach upset and abdominal discomfort.