Chai Tea Latte

I’m not sure what I enjoy the most about Chai tea; its flavour or its smell.  Perhaps it’s the combination of the two that has won my heart.

Chai tea is made from a combination of black tea, ginger and other spices like cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper and cloves.  And it is these spices that give Chai its many health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic properties:

The chemopreventative benefit of a whole foods diet is often attributed to phytochemicals, such as terpenoids and polyphenols, found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Spices, (which) tend to have high concentrations of these classes of potentially therapeutic agents…Many spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, clove and ginger, have shown promise as chemopreventative and therapeutic agents in cancer. In vitro and in vivo, each of these compounds has demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic properties. Thus, chai tea, which contains a combination of all the aforementioned spices, represents an enjoyable means of chemoprevention.

~The Anti-Inflammatory and Chemopreventative Effects of Chai Tea; Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

The recipe below is a twist on the normal Chai tea latte that is milk-based.  As well as tasting great, this latte offers you:

  • Antioxidants
  • Healthy fats
  • Fiber

And you can enjoy it cooled, outside on a hot summer day. Or hot, snuggled up by the fire on a cool winter’s night. A true functional food that can really be enjoyed all year long!

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 1-2 dates 
  • Cinnamon (optional)

Directions

  1. Cover the teabag and dates with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Discard the tea bag and place tea, soaked dates, tahini and almond butter into a blender.
  3. Blend mixture until creamy.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon (if using) and serve right away.

If you want a cold beverage, simply chill it in your refrigerator for a bit and serve over ice.

Enjoy!


References:How Chai Tea Can Improve Your Health: Healthline

The Anti-Inflammatory and Chemopreventative Effects of Chai Tea; Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Who doesn’t love a good salsa!  (I’m not sure if that is actually a question or a statement but I will go with the later:))

As with the great majority of recipes that I share with you, this is a simple, whole foods gem that likely includes many of the ingredients that you already have in your pantry.

Salsa and chips is a perfect snack for Saturday night hockey, Sunday afternoon football or your monthly book club meetings.

I included this recipe in the ‘Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen’ section of my October Newsletter and got some great feedback on it!

This salsa provides you with cancer-fighting nutrients like healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as gut healthy fibre.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white onions, chopped
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp raw honey
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 10-12 black olives, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Organic corn chips
For added protein you can add leftover roast chicken or cooked Chickpeas 
Directions:
  1. Sauté the onions with the olive oil in a medium frying pan until slightly translucent
  2. Add the tomatoes, honey, garlic, and oregano
  3. Continue to cook on medium heat
  4. If using, add the chicken or beans and cook until juice has evaporated
  5. Remove from the heat and add the olives and pineapple
  6. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper
  7. Serve with organic corn chips
Tips:
  • If you like a little heat don’t be afraid to spice it up by adding chilli flakes or even jalapenos to the salsa before serving
  • If corn chips are not your thing, then try whole grain pita chips or your favourite whole grain cracker.

 

hot peppers

Why Do Hot Peppers Bring the Heat?

There are three basic groups of peppers: bell, sweet, and hot. People all over the world eat them in one form or another.  Some eat for them the flavour, some eat them for the challenge and many for a combination of the two.

I am going to focus here on the hot variety and just why they are so.

Peppers are hot because they contain a chemical called capsaicin and related chemicals called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin acts by binding with nerve receptors generally used to transmit heat and heat-related pain in the body. The higher the capsaicin content the hotter the pepper.

Scoville Heat Unit

In 1912 a chemist named Wilbur Scoville invented a scale to measure the heat of peppers.  To this day pepper heat is measured in the Scoville Heat Unit.  Bell and sweet peppers have zero Scoville units since they have no capsaicin. Jalepeno peppers measure from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units and the pepper that I mistakenly planted this year, the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper or ghost pepper, which holds the distinction of being the world’s hottest chili pepper, measures 1,001,304 Scoville.

Back to capsaicin. It’s a flavourless and odourless substance found on the inside flesh of peppers. The experience of heat happens when the chemical binds to receptors that are made to respond to pain and heat in the throat and mouth. This tricks the brain into thinking that your mouth is on fire, causing your body to fight the “heat” by boosting your metabolism (increasing circulation) and cooling via perspiration.

After the brain gets this heat alert it sends out the cooling troops to neutralize and remove the heat.  These troops work to increased circulation by initiating cooling perspiration and reactions like a runny nose and teary eyes.

Myth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the seeds so removing them minimizes the heat.

Truth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the pith and ribs of the pepper, not the seeds.

The seeds may be coated with some of the capsaicin because they are in contact with the rib.  But the seeds themselves don’t actually contain any heat.

The ribs contain a good deal of the capsaicin heat but the flesh itself contains a good amount of heat as well.

So why can some people beat the heat while others suffer the fire?

There are 3 reasons proposed to answer this question.

1. Less Capsaicin Detecting Receptors

This theory states that some people inherit fewer of the capsaicin-detecting receptors that line your mouth and throat, making them less sensitive to hot peppers.

2. Training our heat receptors

An associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, William Phillips, pointed out that people in some parts of the world such as Mexico or India naturally have higher tolerance for spicy food because they begin eating them at a very young age.

This receptor training desensitizes a person to capsaicin over time so they actually perceive less burn from capsaicin.

3. Thrill Seekers Love the Burn

This is interesting.  There was a  study done in 2012 that showed sensation-seeking individuals are more likely to like spicy food. The researchers found that people who are more open to new experiences and enjoy thrill-based activities, think roller coaster and rock climbing, tend to enjoy spicy food even if the immediate sensation is unpleasant.

Nadia Byrnes, one of the researchers stated that “Biologically, spice creates a sensation in the mouth that the brain interprets as burning or being on fire. When your body realizes there’s no real danger, it begins to interpret the sensation as a ‘thrill’ similar to gambling or riding roller coasters.”

Why are peppers healthy?

Hot peppers are healthy and here is why:

  • Capsaicin
    On top of being “hot,” capsaicin has been shown to be anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-diabetic.
  • Vitamins
    Peppers are a rich source of vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants like vitamin A and also B-complex vitamins like vitamin B-6 and B-1.
  • Minerals
    Chillies have a good amount of minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

There are countless ways to incorporate hot peppers in to your diet. Your first decision however is to determine what types of peppers pack just the right amount of heat for you.

Hot Pepper Oil

Here is a handy dandy way to use hot peppers.

Is it a recipe?  Not sure but here is how it goes.

In a glass jar with a lid (I use 125ml one) cut up a a few peppers (I use 2-3 different types usually) enough to fill about half of the jar.

Fill the jar with a very good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil making sure all pepper are covered. Put the lid on the jar and let it sit for at least one day before using it.

This condiment is great on just so many dishes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Let’s address the elephant in the post here shall we.  What are Coconut Aminos?

Coconut Aminos are a  yummy sauce made from coconut sap.   The sauce is dark, rich and salty. It is gluten free and is a great replacement for soy sauce.

Unbeknownst to many is the fact that, unless otherwise stated, soy sauce is made with wheat.  The wheat is roasted and fermented with the soy to achieve the familiar soy sauce taste that we know and love.

Coconut Aminos don’t offer a powerhouse of nutritional content but if you are trying to maintain a gluten free diet they are the way to go when you need an alternative to soy sauce in your recipes.

The salmon recipe below is a family favourite of ours.  It is not only simple, it is also a great way to introduce Coconut Aminos in to your diet if they are a new addition to your pantry.

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ kg salmon fillets
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp.ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Mix the maple syrup, Coconut Aminos, garlic and pepper together in a small bowl
  3. Place salmon fillets in to a dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate 30 minutes – 1 hour
  4. Transfer salmon fillets to a baking dish lined with parchment paper, saving the marinade, and bake the salmon until it is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes
  5. Pour the saved marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce to 1/4 cup.
  7. When the salmon is done place it on a serving tray and drizzle the glaze over top of it.

Serve immediately.

For simple sides that really complement the salmon try serving this dish with roasted asparagus and wild rice.

Enjoy!

 

Try this Yummy Kombucha Cocktail!

Want a delicious holiday drink?

Try this yummy Kombucha cocktail!

Fermented foods boost our immune system, help to strengthen our bones, support weight loss and promote nutrient absorption.

Kombucha is a fermented beverage that has been enjoyed for many, many years.  It is most commonly made with black tea and sugar.  The fermenting is done with a colony of bacteria and yeast called a ‘Scoby’.

As with other fermented foods, Kombucha is high in antioxidants and it packs a punch of health benefits for the gut being rich in probiotics.

Kombucha has been studied for its anti-cancer properties.  The tea polyphenols and antioxidants found in Kombucha were shown in these studies to prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells.

You can learn more about the benefits of fermented foods in my blog ‘5 Reasons to Use Fermented Foods in Your Cancer Fighting Diet”

Fermented foods are not a common staple for many people so the versatility of Kombucha makes it the perfect fermented food to start with.fermented foods

Health up your guests over the holidays and give this recipe a try!

Kombucha Cocktail

Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups Kombucha (either homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)
  • 1 cup frozen cherries* (about 16-20 cherries) (raspberries or strawberries can also be used)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or raw honey
  • Dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds and orange wedges for garnish
  • Sparkling or regular white wine (optional)

Directions:

  • Juice the oranges and place in  blender.
  • Add the cherries, the ginger, nutmeg and maple syrup.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour into a bowl or pitcher. Add the kombucha and stir.
  • Chill for at least an hour.
  • When ready to serve pour into wine glasses. (If you are adding sparkling wine do this now)
  • Add a few dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds (or both) and an orange wedge to each glass.

*Option: make extra kombucha cocktail and use it to make some ice cubes and add one to each glass

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18979556

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221052391200044X