Menestra

Menestra By Marta Diaz Megias Menestra, a vegetable stew found in many parts of Spain, and which usually contains a nice mix of root and green leaf veggies. Some menestras are so substantial they can be served as a main course for lunch. There is no single recipe for a menestra and the dishes that go under this name are more than simple variations on a theme. All of them make use of vegetables in season and some include other ingredients for which a particular area is famous. But menestra usually means a dish of vegetables, so it's ideal for vegetarians. This dish is a very traditional recipe in northern Spain, especially around Navarra or La Rioja where they grow many of the ingredients needed for this dish. Ingredients: 2 medium potatoes 12 green asparagus spears 2 carrots 10 artichokes 1/2 lemon ½ lb. grams of green beans 1 finely chopped onion 1 lb. petite green peas Vegetable broth ¼ cup dry sherry wine Extra virgin olive oil Salt Preparation: 1. Peel the artichokes. To do so, cut the top part, remove all the outer leaves and the tail as well. Cut the artichoke in half and remove the “hairy” part that you’ll find in the middle using a spoon. Keep the peeled artichokes in a bowl with cold water and a few drops of lemon juice.2. Peel the green beans and carrots. Chop the carrot horizontally into medium-size pieces. Wash the asparagus spears and cut them into pieces as well. You can get rid of the thick bottom part. Peel and diced the potato into cubes. 3. Heat a small pan with two fingers of olive oil and fry the potato over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it starts to brown on the outside. 4. Remove the potato chips and place them in a bowl lined with paper towels. 5. Boil the peeled artichokes for 20 minutes, or until soft (you can pinch them with a fork to check them). Boil the broad beans for 5 minutes in the second saucepan. Strain them and reserve 1/4 cup of water from the artichokes. (Skip this step if you have bought pre-cooked artichokes). 6. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, green beans and cook for 20 minutes. Add the green peas and 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and cover the pan. 7.…

Caponata Siciliana

Caponata Siciliana By Elisabetta Ciardullo There is nothing more summery than this fiery Sicilian dish, based on one of the most easily available and cheap vegetable worldwide: eggplant. This weird looking, deep purple and shiny vegetable used to have a bitter aftertaste. In my youth I remember cut and salted eggplant layered on clean kitchen towels staying for hours to purge on the kitchen table. But this characteristic is not present anymore in the varieties commercialized in the US, so you can skip this step, making it even easier to use. The plant was probably introduced in Southern Europe by the Moors in the 8th century, as the Arabic name “al-badinjan” proves, slowly changed in many European languages as “aubergine” in French and “berengena” in Spanish. The Italian name, Melanzana, comes from the Greek version of it, where it took from the word “melas”, meaning the color black. Interesting enough the English name comes from a variety very rarely seen nowadays of small white round plants, resembling... eggs! In any case the consistency of eggplants is unmistakable: sponge-like and with the capacity to absorbs flavors. Select the varieties with as little seeds as possible, as they can be a little bitter and annoying in the mouth. Eggplant is particularly low in calories and high in fiber, which makes it a great food for a diet. But careful, because it can absorb a lot of sauce and oil, becoming a very rich dish! Caponata is a vegetable stew with just a few more ingredients apart from eggplant. It has a cousin in France called ratatouille, that has a similar preparation but much more mellow taste, and similar dishes in the whole Mediterranean area. But the unique characteristic of caponata is the sweet and sour taste, probably inherited from the Arab influence on Sicilian food. It was born as a vegetarian dish but is now mostly served as an appetizer or side dish. The fact that it is best when prepared the day before and served cold, makes it a fantastic recipe for entertaining or for those summer picnics on the beach. Variations on this recipe are numerous, as always in Italian cuisine, but I like to propose to you this one, who has accompanied me all my life without ever letting me down! [foogallery id="6926"] Ingredients (6 Servings): 2 large eggplants, washed, peeled following a zebra pattern Celery, approximately 3 sticks,…

The Increasing Prevalence of Food Allergies

The Increasing Prevalence of Food Allergies By Ana Schilke Ever since I was a child, eating acidic fruits, such as strawberries and mangos, always left my tongue with a strange feeling about the texture of the food I had just eaten. Exposure to these foods would result in small reddish patches on my tongue, with strange patterns. While often these patches were not painful, at other times they prevented me from eating anything acidic for the next week. I later learned that condition is called “geographic tongue” , a condition that affects around 3 million people per year. It is a mild allergic reaction which occurs as a consequence of taking in acidic foods, which erode away the tiny bumps found on the surface of the tongue, called papillae, and thus creates reddish patches where the papillae are missing. In the United States, 90% of food related allergies are caused by “The Big 9”. The term food allergy accounts for the nine major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soybeans, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and sesame. Peanuts are the most common food allergy in children, affecting 25% of children, making it the leading cause of allergy-related death. It wasn’t until January of 2021 that sesame was included in the big nine list, as recent studies suggest sesame is of the same allergic severity as other tree nut allergies, and thus, just as prevalent. In the Medical Encyclopedia last updated in September of 2021, an allergic reaction is defined as “sensitivities to substances called allergens that come into contact with the skin, nose, eyes, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract. These substances can be inhaled, swallowed or injected”. Allergic reactions are very common, and the vast majority will cause mild reactions such as hives, rashes, itching, coughing, or wheezing. More severe reactions can result in difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, vomiting or diarrhea. The most severe reaction is called anaphylaxis- “a severe, life-threatening systemic hypersensitivity reaction characterized by being rapid in onset with potentially life-threatening airway, breathing, or circulatory problems and is usually, although not always, associated with skin and mucosal changes”. This allergic reaction is also called anaphylactic shock, which accounts for (1.6-5.1)% of allergic reactions. It is of importance to note the term “food allergy” is often confused with a hypersensitivity reaction to certain foods. In contrast to food allergies, food hypersensitivities can cause abdominal discomfort and certain gastrointestinal sensations…

How Do We Prevent the Next Pandemic?

How Do We Prevent the Next Pandemic? By Emeran Mayer, MD Even at a time when the world is still struggling to end the COVID-19 pandemic, many scientists and public health experts believe that future pandemics are unavoidable. At the same time, suggestions have been made how to prevent such a scenario and how to attenuate its impact when it occurs. The big question is, will these recommendations be implemented soon enough to prevent the next pandemic? Or will they go the path of increasingly urgent recommendations by politicians about climate change, without effective implementation? The Harvard Global Health Institute and the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently published a comprehensive report of the Scientific Task Force on Preventing Pandemics, which is “intended to serve as a scientifically sound reference for the many important discussions taking place globally about the steps needed to greatly reduce the chances of a future pandemic. “…preventing another pandemic with the magnitude of COVID-19 should be on top of the priority list of every human concern.” Considering the devastating widespread impact on human physical and mental health, as well as the world economy, preventing another pandemic with the magnitude of COVID-19 should be on top of the priority list for every human-being on this planet. According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is, “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.” Vaccines, drugs, tests, reducing vulnerabilities to severe forms of infection and strengthening of the healthcare system are all critical to contain disease outbreaks once they occur, and have had remarkable successes in these areas. In particular, widespread testing as well as rapidly developed and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines have greatly reduced the impact of the current pandemic. Current evidence suggests that pre-existing conditions, like diseases that make up our current chronic non-communicable disease epidemic, not only increase the risk for COVID-19 infections, but also for a greater severity and long-term complications of the disease. As I have laid out in The Gut Immune Connection, healthy diets with anti-inflammatory effects on the gut’s immune system, attenuating its hyper-reactivity to the virus in the lungs and other organs, are not only able to reduce the prevalence of these pre-existing conditions, but may also be able to reduce the acute and long-term…

The Power of the Mind-Body Connection

The Power of the Mind-Body Connection By Sharon Brock In April of 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was treated at UCLA Medical Center and received chemotherapy every three weeks for an entire year. The way chemotherapy “works” (generally speaking) is that it targets cells that multiply quickly, such as cancer cells. However, there are other types of cells in the body that also multiply quickly, such as the tongue, the skin and hair, and the gut. The side effects in these areas after the first couple of my chemo sessions were terrible. I had sharp pain in my intestines, my tongue felt metallic, and my hair was falling out in chunks. It was the most challenging time of my life and in order to ease my suffering, I was committed to a daily mindfulness meditation practice. Since my physical body was experiencing so much pain, I did my best to soothe it by staying positive. On the mornings of my chemo sessions, I gave my body a little “pep” talk. I told all of my cells that they would be having a “visitor” today, one that may make them feel strange and contracted. But I reassured my cells that this visitor was here to help, and rather than resist, they should welcome this medicine and be a good host to this healing nectar. I instructed my cells to escort the chemo to the cancer cells, and then escort it out of the body to detox. As I sat down in the infusion chair, this “pep” talk helped me to feel “ready” for the experience. As I received the chemo, I continually said, “Thank you, chemo. You are welcome here. My cells will show you where to go. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” As I sat in the chair with the IV in my arm, I closed my eyes and visualized my healthy cells escorting the chemo to the cancer cells and the chemo effectively dissolving the cancer cells, while not harming my healthy cells. The day after each treatment, I spent at least an hour offering my body a compassionate body scan meditation. Starting at the top of my head, I offered compassion to my scalp and my hair follicles. Then I offered compassion and kindness to my tongue, which was inflamed and growing canker sores. I offered gratitude for…