Thursday, January 29, 2009

Home remedy for high blood pressure?

I have high blood pressure. I manage it by taking a $2 pill every day. I don't like the idea of artificially managing my blood pressure so it was with extreme interest to see's health tip for the day.

Home Remedy: Eat a papaya on an empty stomach daily for a month. avoid eating anything for two hours after eating the papaya.

I'm going to try it. I love papaya, need to keep my blood pressure at a low levels. Papaya will be my breakfast for the next month. I usually eat oatmeal so I hope my cholesterol doesn't go wax as the blood pressure wanes. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Avocado turning brown?

Spritzing with lime juice, of course keeps the green in the avocado. But did you know you could keep the avocado half you didn't eat today in a air tight container with a little water in the bottom? No brown avocado in the morning?

Try it. With SlimCado avocados being so big you always have leftovers. Here's a great way for yesterday's fruit to be ready for its closeup tomorrow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Chinese New Year

January 26th begins the year of the ox. A great opportunity to talk about a citrus fruit favored during this festival: kumquats.

The tiny green leaves of the kumquat symbolize wealth. The shape of the kumquat is a Chinese symbol of unity and perfection. The fruit is eaten at New Years for good fortune, prosperity and happiness.

To welcome the new year, which is a 15 day celebration, the Chinese love to decorate and use an abundance of flowers and fruit.

Flowers from fruit trees are seen as a sign of bounty, which indeed it is. Avocados, mangos, kumquats and other trees baring fruit, flower before the fruit appears. Generally speaking the more flowers the fruit tree has, the more fruit it bears.

A favorite way to decorate for the Chinese New Year is to put out a bowl of kumquats with flowers.

If you look at kumquats and see a tiny orange, they'll seem like a lot of trouble to eat. But unlike oranges, kumquats' sweet skin can be eaten and provide a combination of pleasing textures to go with the somewhat tart taste inside.

Growing up, my bus stop in Miami had a kumquat tree shading our wait, I loved just picking and munching on them. Nowadays I slice ripe kumquats into salads or use as a garnish. Kumquats preserves and marmalades are fantastic and preferred over orange marmalade.

Enjoy this mid-winter citrus treat. Here's an easy recipe that takes salsa to the far east.


12 kumquats, thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, equally thinly sliced
2 pieces of crushed garlic
2 pieces of shallots, thinly sliced
the juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
salt, pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve on top of seafood or with chips.

And if you can't get enough of kumquats, go to Dade City Florida for the Annual Kumquat festival. Along with the recipe contest and the beauty pageant there's a decorating contest. I can't wait to see the winner in that category.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Healthier cooking techniques for tropical cuisine

Cooking skills tend to be passed down from generation to generation. This is especially true of households in the tropics where it is common for children to learn how to cook by helping their mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen.

However, many of the cooking techniques used in tropical cuisine aren't the healthiest options for everyday use. Below are some alternatives to cooking traditional tropical foods:

Instead of frying, steam foods such as fish and veggies, or sautée them in a little broth. If family members resist, top the dish with a favorite tropical fruit salsa that will have your family begging for more. Or squeeze a lot of lemon or lime on the foods to get maximum zing of tropical flavor.

Steaming is easier, healthier, and less messy than frying. To the taste up a few notches, use meat or vegetable flavored both instead of water or add seasonings to the water (dried herbs and red chiles), it'll flavor the food as it cooks.

Buy extra-virgin olive oil whenever possible and use it for sauteeing or drizzling over vegetables. If you find the flavor of olive oil too strong, try heart-healthy canola oil instead. Remember, when frying or sauteeing use only 2-3 tablespoons of oil per pan.

Another healthy tip: don't reuse oil, as our grandmothers commonly did.

Limit your use of lard; use it only special occasions when making traditional dishes that absolutely need it for flavor. When using lard choose the fresh variety and stay away from hydrogenated shortenings such as Crisco.

You can bake seafood, poultry, lean meat, vegetables and even fruit. Baking makes for an easier clean up if you line your baking dish with foil.

Roasting is like baking, but typically at higher temperatures; it's a good technique for sturdy veggies such as boniatos, calabaza, etc.

You can bake traditional tropical ingredients such as plantains for a healthier version of tostones. Also, bake corn tortillas to make them crunchier and use them with tostadas or corn chips.

When pressed for time, quick-steam vegetables in the microwave with a little water and covered with wax paper (never use plastic wrap).