You’re Cleaning Mushrooms Wrong

This is a public service announcement, and it won’t take long. If you’ve been reading Heated this month, you may have noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about meat alternatives — such as high-tech burgers that “bleed” like beef but are made mostly of plants (that sort of thing), and this mushroom-nut burger. Well, before any of this stuff existed, people who wanted something “meaty” without eating meat ate mushrooms. For better or worse, the default “oh, so you don’t eat any meat?” dish served to vegetarians at restaurants and parties was a portobello “burger” or some analogous concoction where the mushrooms masquerade as meat.

Whether you cook mushrooms constantly, infrequently, or somewhere in between, there’s a decent chance you’re cleaning them wrong.

There’s this myth that you should never ever wash mushrooms because they’ll absorb too much water. Instead, what we’ve been taught to do is daintily wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth or paper towel.

This is maddeningly slow and a huge waste of time. To clean mushrooms, you should rinse them under running water. Yes, mushrooms are porous, and if you leave them sitting in a bowl of water they will soak it up like a sponge. But a quick blast of running water to wipe the dirt off will not make them any worse for wear, and will save you a lot of time and frustration in the kitchen.

If cleaning mushrooms is less frustrating, maybe we’ll cook more mushrooms. If we cook more mushrooms, maybe we’ll eat less meat. If we eat less meat, maybe (definitely) we’ll be healthier and so will the earth. PSA over.

By: Mark Bittman

Advertisements

What I’m Reading Now?

I’m journeying on a new path to learn how to meditate. I need to bring calm, stillness, and peacefulness to my mind. I’ve heard and read about the many amazing benefits on practicing meditation, and I’m at the right stage in my life where I need it the most. With a full time career, three children, husband, and a dog; it’s a time much needed. I chose The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe to kick start my journey because it came highly recommended by Bill Gates. No, I don’t know him personally, although I wish! I follow his blog, gatesnotes. If you don’t, you should. He’s brilliant, Google him. Bill is the reason why I researched Andy in the first place. Andy is 47 with many years of training in monasteries in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Australia, Russia, and Scotland. He’s even an ordained Buddhist monk.

Andy’s approach to meditation is clear and easy to understand. He teaches amazing techniques, and they’re easy to apply to your everyday busy lifestyle. Andy also believes all you need is 10 minutes a day. Obviously, if you have the ability and time to meditate longer, by all means meditate. When you think of 10 minutes, it’s actually not that long; however, it’s hard for the average person to sit still with a clear mind. More importantly, the practice of meditation is about much more than simply sitting down for a set period of time each day. Andy says, “it’s about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do, and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process.” His book also looks deeper in the differences between understanding mindfulness and headspace. He even have an app called, Headspace available on IOS. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I intend to. Let’s take a look at mindfulness, Andy explains it as the temptation to judge whatever emotion that comes up, and therefore neither opposing or getting carried away with a feeling. And headspace is the result of applying this approach. Headspace delivers a sense of ease with whatever emotion is present.

How many times you’ve been in a situation where someone pissed you off? It angers you, and you feel like you just want to explode. Then you move through your day retelling that scenario over and over to everyone you possibly can share it with. Instead of moving forward productively with your day, you dwell and relive that situation over and over again transferring that negative energy to your friends, love ones, and even into your workplace. This behavior is toxic and becomes debilitating to your mind, body and soul. Who wants to go through life this way? Surely not me! Knowing how to let go and release these toxic thoughts and energy is my goal.

Andy’s book offers four steps to help you achieve meditation. His Take10 summary is recommended to follow each and every time before you meditate.

  1. Getting Ready
  2. Checking-in
  3. Focusing the mind
  4. Finishing-off

The book explains in detail what you need to do in each step to get your mind and body ready. I’m almost midway finish reading the book. I feel more confident than ever. This book has already taught me about the layers of my thoughts, dealing with my emotions, and how to tackle each one as they come to mind. I’ve re-read many chapters and made side notes. It’s definitely a page turner. If you’re interested in learning how to meditate, this book may help you. I would love to hear about your journey or any suggestions on meditation.

Pickled Hot Peppers

Pickling hot peppers is an island delight for Jamaicans. I’ve watched my mother preserve her peppers this way for decades, and now it has become one of my favorite things to do with my homegrown hot peppers.  This is also a wonderful way to preserve your hot peppers.  You can use any type of hot pepper or vegetables to add to your jars.  My mom loves to put carrots in hers. I’ve done it before in the past and it comes out just as great.  For this recipe, I’m keeping it simple.  I had a lot of peppers to start with so these 4 jars is equivalent to 4 pints/16 oz. You can also modify this recipe by decreasing the vinegar to 2 cups per jar. 

Ingredients 

  • 4 Large onions sliced
  • 4 Green bell peppers 
  • 8 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • 4 Ghost peppers
  • 24 Habanero peppers 
  • 4 Tbsp Dried Pimento seeds (whole allspice)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar 
  • 8 Cups White Vinegar 

Cooking tip: Wear protective gloves and goggles (optional). When done, wash all tools and surface with cold water and soap. 

Instructions

  1. Sterilize the mason jars in a large pot with boiling water for 30 minutes. 
  2. While your jars are boiling slice your onions and peppers into desired shapes. Leave the seeds. 
  3. Remove jars with a tong and set aside to cool. 
  4. After about 10 minutes, layer the vegetables, peppers, and pimento seed in the jars. 
  5. Warm the vinegar and sugar in a pot on the stove.  Do not bring to a boil. 
  6. Pour warm vinegar into jars and set aside to cool.  
  7. Tighten carefully with the lids. 

You do not have to refrigerate your jars.  I know some people who do.  It’s optional. These jars are beautiful to give away as gifts. Just add a ribbon to make them even more special.  

Enjoy! 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

     When August and September rolls around and you have a sea of freshly picked tomatoes, there’s only one thing I could think of, pasta sauce. After I’ve shared and eaten and picked, it’s time to preserve for the winter. As if I live in the wilderness. I don’t obviously, but it’s cost effective to preserve for later uses.  My tomatoes were at its ripest and that’s what you want. The reddest, sweetest and densest tomatoes. 


INGREDIENTS

  • 10 pounds fresh tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 garlic clove, halved
  • 2 basil springs 
  • 3 bay leaf

PREPARATION

Step 1:  Cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze out the seeds and discard, if you wish. Press the cut side of tomato against the large holes of a box grater and grate tomato flesh into a bowl. Discard skins. You should have about 8-9 cups.

Step 2:  Put tomato pulp in a low wide saucepan over high heat. Add salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a brisk simmer.

Step 3:  Reduce the sauce by almost half, stirring occasionally, to produce about 4 1/2 cups medium-thick sauce, 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. It will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator or may be frozen.

I freeze mines. Let it cool completely and insert desired amount in ziplock freezer bags. I like the quart sizes. Enjoy!!

Happy Earth Day


Today, Saturday, April 22, 2017 is Earth Day. On this day we all should embrace our environment and take time out to do something for our environment. I’m not referring to the one in a shopping mall, nail salon, or in your bed. I’m referring to Mother Nature.  Earth day is a special day too.  The founder Gaylord Nelson, who was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin got the idea after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.  That catastrophe brought out many people, mostly students who supported the anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that same energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator.  Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.  April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected for Earth Day. 

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.  This is the day we honor our land, sea, and climate. Doing nothing is worst.  Look at Earth Day like any other special day like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and even Christmas.  We honor our love ones by doing something special for them. Well, on Earth Day do something special for the earth.  Here are some great ideas:

  • Take action and donate
  • Plant wildflowers
  • Start a organic vegetable garden
  • Ways to Conserve water 
  • Recycle ♻️ Zero Waste Programs
  • This is my favorite: Eat Less Meat: The meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Help make a difference by limiting your meat consumption.

Take action and let’s Celebrate Earth Day!


Resources:

Care2.com: For Earth Day: RESIST Trump’s Offshore Oil Drilling Agenda petitions

The Old Farmers Almanac Earth Day 

Earthday.org:  This year’s campaign is all about environmental & climate literacy.

 

Homeopathic Cough Remedy with Raw Honey

     My grandmother on my paternal side taugh me this homemade remedy for coughs and sore throats. Since the weather has changed here in New York, one of my kids already caught a sore throat. ‘Tis the season of battling sicknesses, so what’s the best remedy for treating a sore throat? It’s Honey!  I actually remember the first time my grandmother whipped this honey concoction up for me. I had a sore throat with a dry cough, and I was constantly gargling with salt water. I must have been between eleven or twelve years old. She said, I was irritating my throat even more and that I needed something to soothe it.  We went into the kitchen and she chopped up onions and covered it with raw honey in a glass. It sat for one hour before I had a table spoon full.  

     Surprisingly, it tasted good and within a few minutes my throat felt less irritated and after about ten minute my cough was lesser.  The taste of the onions was pronounced but the honey makes up for it.  My twist on my granny’s recipe is adding garlic. I make this every year around the fall and throughout the winter months. I give it to all my children from the youngest of six years to the eldest, who is fifteen.  It is a very simple and effective remedy, and it works for us, and it may even work for you.  
Recipe 

  • 2 Medium Onions
  • Raw honey
  • Half head of garlic (5 gloves) 

Directions

     Peel and slice the onions evenly. Peel and cut each garlic in half.  Place everything in your jar (I purchased mines from IKEA). Pour the raw honey over everything until majority of contents are covered. Cover lid and let it sit on your counter overnight for 6-8 hours. I like to give it a little stir after the times up.  I give 1 table spoonful which is equivalent to 2 teaspoons to my children. Depends on the severity of the situation, a child may get 2 spoonful an hour.  Overtime, I store on the counter or even in the fridge. You could always add more ingredients overtime if you’re running low. The onions will eventually breakdown. I usually eat them when I take a spoonful. The hardest part is to get the kids to eat it. 

     I highly recommend using raw honey for this recipe because store bought honey sometimes have additives like high fructose corn syrup. Please read your labels!  These three natural ingredients have the capability to fight colds, coughs, allergies, sore throats and even boost your bodies immunity.  Honey is truly an amazing substance.  It is a natural sweetener and it encompasses an intricate chemical composition of carbohydrates, free amino acids, vitamins, trace elements and flavonoids/antioxidants. Not to forget anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.  Studies of the antimicrobial effect of honey have demonstrated its broad-spectrum antimicrobial actions against upper-respiratory tract infections.  Honey has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of coughs for a very long time (1).  Research shows honey works as well as dextromethorphan, which is a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications to soothe cough(2).  This home remedy, works better according to the study.   Honey naturally soothes. 

     The antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic controls infection from bacterias and viruses.  Onions and garlic are members of the Allium family, and both are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects.  Onions antioxidant rich flavonoids provides us with the benefits to keep chronic unwanted inflammation under control (3). The use of honey is also prohibited under the age of one due to poor immunity against Clostridium Botulinum, a potential contaminant (4).  Richard S. Rivlin wrote in the Journal of Nutrition that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known today as “the father of Western medicine”, prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses.  Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion and fatigue. It’s great for flavoring your food and to treat illnesses. 



Resources: 

(1) Study: Bactericidal activity of different types of honey against clinical and environmental isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

(2) Study: Honey for Treatment of Cough in Children

(3) Study: Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of quercetin oxidation products from yellow onion (Allium cepa) skin.

(4) Study: Incidence of Clostridium botulinum in honey of various origins.

WARNINGS ⚠️ 

Homey is NOT for children under one years old. My mission is to extend the knowledge of healthly eating through this blog. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.

Study: Clinical Trials Funded by Big Pharma

     In the United States, all drugs potentially destined for use have to undergo clinical trials for safety and efficacy.  Now, the question here is, who is conducting those studies? Have you heard of the term, ‘Big Pharma‘?  It means big pharmaceutical companies essentially like Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer to name a few who have an enormous amount of monetary power to do as they please or manipulate outcomes. New data from the Johns Hopkins University suggests that the funding of clinical trials by corporations with vested interests is now the norm.  These clinical trials are more than likely funded by the pharmaceutical industry.  Third party testings are not required, so the drug industry is basically policing itself. Go figure!  Clinical trials funded directly by the United States National Institute of Health (NIH) are considered independent, a large portion of trials conducted by the NIH are now funded by major pharmaceutical corporations.  

     The Johns Hopkins report showed that the number of independent NIH-funded trials fell by 24 peecent from 2006 to 2014, while pharmaceutical-funded NIH trails increased by 43 percent in the same time period. Fewer independent trials means that the FDA is not acting with impartiality.  It is also worth noting that NIH has less money for running independent studies because Congress has cut its funding. Big Pharma is willing to fund the clinical trials, however, and is not held accountable for lack of transparency in drug testing.  

     The pharmaceutical industry have one goal, and that’s to make money. Not to cure people, to basically collect collateral, and be the first to put out that wonder drug that promises positive results.  They hate everything natural, organic,  homeopathic, alternative, or herbalist practices because they cannot make money from it. If doctors stop writing prescriptions for pain, what do you think will happen?  Profits will fall dramatically.  The marijuana industry is booming now, and that’s an herb.  How do you think they feel about that? Marijuana takes away pain, period.  There’s a new body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption. A new study conducted by Ashley B. Bradford and W. David Bradford found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented.  


According to the Washington Post, the Bradfords took their analysis a step further by estimating the cost savings to Medicare from the decreased prescribing. They found that about $165 million was saved in the 17 medical marijuana states in 2013.  In a back-of-the-envelope calculation, the estimated annual Medicare prescription savings would be nearly half a billion dollars if all 50 states were to implement similar programs.  This is outstanding.  Big Pharma is real and scary people. I’ve included these cartoon clippings below to describe the reality of our country’s situation. Choose your care wisely. I’m a huge advocate for eating a whole food plant-based diet. This diet has proven success for reducing, reversing, and even curing illnesses. For more information on nutritiously regaining your health back to normalcy, visit www.nutritionstudies.org




Resources:  “Unsettling Truth: Most Clinical Trials Are Funded by Big Pharma,” by Christina Sarich, at http://www.naturalsociety.com 

WP Article:  One striking chart shows why pharma companies are fighting legal marijuana

Fresh Cut From OrganicREADY’s Garden


My first cucumber from the garden. There’s nothing better than picking fresh vegetables and eating it on the same day. The taste is fresher than any store bought produce on the market, even organic vegetables. Plus, all the nutrients are all there.  Store bought vegetables travel from afar and takes days even weeks before we get them. By the time we buy them in the supermarket, they have already lost most of their nutrients.  


I’m looking forward to juicing these lovely cucumbers. If you didn’t know, eating the skin of organically grown cucumbers are highly beneficial. One, the wax on organic cucumbers are non-synthetic and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, and two the skin contains more nutrients than the flesh.  Conventionally grown is another story.  Those cucumbers contains pesticides, synthetic wax and nasty chemicals. Wash it thoroughly with vinegar and water, then peel and peel the skin all off.  Since I grow my own, a simple cold water rinse is sufficient.  As you see above, nothing’s going to waste😘. For more information about the health benefits of cucumbers click here

Eat organically and be happy🌱

Me and My Lady Friends


I woke up thinking it was Friday this morning. SMH! You could just imagine the feeling that overcame me when my reality settled in.  It’s not TGIF, instead Hump Day.  I was even planning out my weekend laying in bed. Oh well, it’s Wednesday, so I thank God for waking me up, and I got myself and the family ready to hit the city pavement.  The night before, I was pretty busy cooking, cleaning, and entertaining one of my favorite cousins, Ken.  I gave him a grand tour of OrganicREADY’s garden and of course shared some of my harvest with him. Ken left with a yellow squash, kale, callaloo, a green bell pepper and two eggplants.  After all of that and putting the kids to bed, guess where I went, back in the garden. 

Gardening is exceedingly rewarding, as you see here, but time consuming. That’s my beautiful organic eggplant above.  I grilled it on the stove yesterday and it was yummy!!  Growing my own vegetables have significantly cut down the cost of my monthly grocery bill.  I’m practically growing a little of everything. There’s carrots, cucumbers, garlic, yard beans, cabbages, tomatoes, peppers, hot and sweet and much more. It’s a wonderful feeling and my hobby. Gardening takes patience, planning, strength, and tender loving care.  Me and the family prune, weed, till, mulch, fertilize, water and so much more.  My body is extremly limited due to injuries I sustained in an accident earlier this year.  Lucky for me, my family helps out immensely. I wouldn’t give up gardening for anything.  Come to think of it, it’s my stress reliever.  I just wish I had an extra three hours in my day to get everything done.  Summertime is a busy time for me, especially; during the week because I also work. I average about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, where as, during the fall and winter months, it’s between 8-9 hours.  


Look at my eyes and my hairline, LOL! Last night, I got four hours of sleep time and my eyes are feeling heavy, dry and they even look dark.  Thank goodness for undereye concealers.  Hopefully, I’ll make up for it tonight.  My edges (hairline), on the other hand, needs some tender loving care or more like a dye job. Not going to happen this weekend! The grays will have to wait.  My priorities have shifted to my garden so my eye pencil will have to suffice for now.  


Check out my beets and some of my beautiful garden friends, the Ladybug. They play a natural/organic role in controlling unwanted pests in the garden. Ladybugs feast on aphids and anything smaller than them.  I ordered these from GrowOrganic. Aphids are annoying but so far, my ladybugs are keeping them at bay. 


Are you planting a garden this year? What’s in it? I would love to share ideas and tips🌱

My Favorite Flower, Peony

Freshly cut peonies from my garden.  Why should I just let my neighbors and random strangers enjoy them.  I have three big plants in the front yard so there’s a huge amount of flowers on them for me to cut. Plus, un-opened buds for later. According to the Old Farmers Almanac, peonies are hardy to Zone 3 and grow well as far south as Zones 7 and 8. In most of the country, the rules for success are simply full sun and well-drained soil.  Where I’m located, the sun is bountiful. 

Peonies even relish cold winters, because they need chilling for bud formation.  To find out which zone you’re in click here. Plant these beauties for a gorgeous garden. For more planting tips visit the Old Farmers Almanac for growing a successful bountiful garden. 


From my garden to yours. Enjoy!