Hibiscus – An Elixir From The Tropics

Hibiscus - An Elixir From The Tropics

The hibiscus is native to tropical regions of the world, though to pinpoint its exact origin, is unknown. The plant will grow in some arid regions, like California. In the USA, the hibiscus grows well in Florida, and Hawaii.

It is the national flower in the Republic of Haiti, and is the flower of the Hindu goddess Kali, the red flower in particular.

The hibiscus was introduced to the “New World” when it was brought over by African slaves.

Medicinal Benefits of the Hibiscus

The hibiscus has medicinal benefits, as it a good therapeutic for the heart, and kidneys (diuretic). Medical studies have documented that the hibiscus potent antioxidant activity and beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol. Antioxidants help to boost cell growth, immune system and decreases the risk of cancer and cataracts.

It appears the flower has beneficial effects on blood pressure as it is a diuretic, and the compounds in the flower bud inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), a chemical compound that can increase blood pressure.

Purchasing and Using the Hibiscus

The hibiscus can be purchased dried, as a tincture, or in capsule form. Buying it dry has a great benefit as you can make a tea with it. To receive the health benefits of hibiscus if using it as a tincture, it is recommended to take 1 teaspoon twice a day, and in capsule form, take 1,000 mg  2 to 3 times a day.

There are no known detrimental side effects to using this elixir from the tropics. It is advised though, to have caution when consuming it if you are taking doctor prescribed diuretics.

Hibiscus is a great skin cleanser. Scrubbing the hibiscus leaves on the face and neck helps to remove dead skin, and can help to clear up acne, as the leaves can also remove blackheads and whiteheads.

Hibiscus oil for smooth skinHibiscus oil, which is extracted from the hibiscus leaves, can  help to smooth and soften skin.

Hibiscus has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-aging properties, helping to slow the aging process of the skin.

The hibiscus acts as an antispasmodic, reducing muscle cramps, stomach cramps and menstrual cramps.

It is highly effective in losing and controlling weight. The flower bud has an enzyme called amylase, and it breaks down the starch and sugar in the body, thus helping to loss and reduce weight.

Preparing Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus is sold prepared in tea bags, though it is better to buy the whole flower dried and prepare the tea yourself. There are several different recipes for making homemade Hibiscus tea, also known as Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Water).

If you want to make an individual cup of tea, just pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of chopped hibiscus. Let steep for about 15 minutes, then strain, and add raw honey or coconut sugar. You can also pour it over ice to drink cold.

Agua de JamaicaHere’s a great recipe to make a gallon of Agua de Jamaica.

6 cups water

2 cups dried hibiscus petals

1 cinnamon stick

1 pinch ground cloves

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 pinch ground allspice

1/2 cup chopped piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar cones)

1 1/2 cups white sugar optional to use coconut sugar

Place 6 cups of water in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.

Stir in the hibiscus, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer until the water has turned a deep red, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Stir the chopped piloncillo into the hibiscus water until dissolved, then set aside to cool 15 minutes.

After cooling, strain the warm liquid into a 1 gallon pitcher through a wire mesh strainer. Squeeze as much liquid from the petals as you can, then discard the petals.

Stir in the white sugar or coconut sugar until dissolved, then pour in enough cold water to fill the pitcher, but be careful not to dilute the flavor. Serve immediately or let stand overnight for best flavor.

 

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Food Color and Your Appetite

Food Color and Your Appetite

Some colors on the light spectrum can diminish our appetite and have been used to help individuals maintain a well-balanced diet. These colors are gray, brown, black and blue.

Studies on the subject of color and appetite have shown that these colors just noted have a calming effect on our subconscious and can lead us to eat slower and a lot less. The study recommended eating off plates that are crafted in one of these colors to maintain a healthy diet.

Colors and appetite can also work together to create the opposite effect. Red and yellow are incorporated into dishes or table wear as a way to stimulate the appetites of those dining out. Both colors are considered energetic, happy and in many studies, have shown the ability to slightly raise blood pressure.

resturant color schemes - Food Color and Your AppetiteRed is considered particularly intense and yellow is believed to help people concentrate. Together, these colors encourage a strong focus on increasing your appetite.

They are warm and welcoming colors that make people comfortable in their surroundings. While existing in this positive emotional state, there is a tendency to consume greater amounts than one normally might.

Colors and appetite seemed to be linked as shown by the studies. But they can also be adjusted to fit our tastes, diets and styles. So next time you dine out, fast food place or not, notice the colors.

Or the next time you browse a farmer’s market stand, take note of the color schemes around you and note the tactics they are using to entice your appetite to buy more then you may have intended.

bananas and strawberries - Food Color and Your AppetiteThis study should lead us to think about the colors in the food we eat, food that should be more important to us, fruits and vegetables.

Now we can look at these raw, clean healthy foods in a different way.

Not only is the RED strawberry packed with lots of vitamin C, or the YELLOW banana filled with heart healthy potassium, but the color also draws the food closer to you, so you will eat it, and therefore, getting the nutrition you need.

 

Article Source:

Food Pyramid Caring for Your Health

 

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Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

There has been a lot of new information on processed foods, seed oils high in omega-6, refined sugar, as being the cause of bodily inflammation. We have also read about lowering our carbohydrate intake, as too much carb’s over works the pancreas and heightens insulin levels. Refined grains is the big culprit to weight gain. Refined grains digest fast and causing rapid use of glucose or a spike of sugar levels in the blood stream, causing the body to store the excess sugar not used, as fat.

But what about whole wheat pasta? Or better yet 100% whole wheat pasta? When consumed, can it be to blame for weight gain as well? No!!

When the fiber is not taken away from the grain, but processed together, is actually better for the body. Fiber causes food to digest slower and at the same time move faster through the digestive tract.  As  the whole grain pasta is digested, it releases a stead flow of glucose (not all at once as does white pasta without the fiber) giving sustained energy. The fiber then pushes the digested food out, not being stored as fat.

A 1-cup serving of cooked whole-grain pasta contains 3.9 total grams of fiber, while the same amount of white pasta contains 2.3 grams.

It is also worthy of noting, that whole grains lower blood pressure, were as grains with the fiber removed can cause blood pressure to raise.

Now for our featured recipe: Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta. Here is what you will need:

12 0z. 100% whole wheat Penne pasta, cooked

1 package Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce

3/4 cup bell pepper strips, mixed colors

1/2 cup french stringed beans

For the vegetables, I just buy them fresh frozen from the Whole Foods Market. You can use a jar of Alfredo Sauce, but I make my own.

1/4 cup butter

1 cup Heavy cream

1/2 to 3/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated fresh

Heat a small sauce pan, medium-high. Add butter and melt, not allowing to scorch, next add cream and stir while pouring. After the two are well incorporated, add grated cheese and mix in as it melts. Bring to a small rapid bowl, remove from heat and set aside.

Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken SausageSome Al Fresco brand sausages you can buy already cooked and at some markets they package it fresh, uncooked. Al Fresco is my preferred brand, as it is minimally processed and no preservatives added.  Click on image to go to their web-site to receive a $1.00 coupon off. I have been buying the package at about $3.50 to 3.99.

I prefer to buy the fresh uncooked sausage.

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat. Let sausage crumble to small bits. Add Alfredo sauce, cooked pasta and vegetables. Stir until all are mixed well together.

Plate and serve.

Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta  with Italian Rustic Bread and melted Provolone

We had an Italian Rustic Bread loaf and melted provolone cheese on slices of the bread. Wow what a great addition to the plated pasta.

 

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