Coconut water used to be that fun drink you had on vacation — down at the beach, the hot sun on your back, a big bowling ball-sized coconut between your hands, a straw in your mouth. Nowadays, it’s in stock at virtually every deli, grocery and specialty food market. And it only continues to gain popularity. Here’s the skinny on its nutritional value, and our favorite brands to drink right now.
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Kefir, pronounced just like the first name of actor Kiefer Sutherland and not to be confused with kaffir, a type of lime, is a cultured milk. “So many people don’t know what it is,” says Jennifer Lynn Bice, owner of Redwood Hill Farm and Green Valley Organics, who starting making kefir on her family farm back in 1978. “It’s like a sister or cousin to yogurt in that it starts out with milk and we add beneficial bacteria or cultures.” Bice says the process leaves kefir liquidy and drinkable, whereas yogurt remains spoonable. The differences don’t stop there.
Sipping a mug of hot chocolate after sledding and snowman building is one of the great joys of the season. But an envelope of powdered hot chocolate zapped in the microwave isn’t what we’re talking about. Sure the instant version is simple, but the list of ingredients generally includes hydrogenated oil, corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, and mono- and diglycerides — none of which are necessary to make a great-tasting hot chocolate. Real cocoa powder contains copper, potassium and iron. In addition, it’s rich in fiber, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine, which helps manage stress. So ditch the packets and try these from-scratch versions with festive peppermint, healing ginger and soothing cardamom.
Basic Classic Cocoa
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch processed)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hot water
1 cup reduced-fat milk
2 teaspoons sugar, agave or maple syrup
Microwave: In a microwave-safe mug, combine cocoa, salt and vanilla. Add 2 tablespoons hot water and combine until it forms a paste. Add the milk, leaving an inch from the rim. Microwave on high for 1 minute, being careful the milk does not boil over. Stir in sweetener and serve.
Stovetop: Heat milk, salt, vanilla and sugar in a small saucepan over medium to low temperature until scalding. Watch the milk so that it does not reach a boil. Combine cocoa and water in a mug and carefully add hot milk. Stir until blended.
Mint is a therapeutic herb believed to alleviate colic and digestive, gall bladder and stomach problems. The truth is, only peppermint, which is 92 percent menthol, has these medicinal properties. Spearmint does not contain menthol and offers no digestive benefits. Before adding cocoa, steep fresh peppermint leaves in the hot milk. Remove after 10 minutes and pour according to directions.
Cinnamon and Cardamom
The Aztecs used spices in their chocolatl, and today traditional Mexican hot chocolate has a spicy kick. Cinnamon may soothe digestive problems and is considered an antispasmodic and antiseptic. Cardamom offers the same digestive benefits and acts to decrease gas. Sprinkle in cinnamon and cardamom to your liking.
Peel fresh ginger and add a few slices to hot milk, then steep for 10 minutes. Remove from milk before adding to cocoa mixture. Not only will you get a spicy kick, but the ginger’s qualities can reduce fever, gas and pain, and aid in digestion. It’s also believed ginger helps combat winter’s many coughs and colds.
Kiri Tannenbaum is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris and holds an M.A. in food studies from New York University where she is currently an adjunct professor. When her schedule allows, she leads culinary walking tours in New York City and is currently at work on her first book.
Fruits and vegetables do a body good. That’s not exactly news. But if you can eat them, why not, well, slather them all over your body? A fresh selection of face and body products made with nourishing ingredients like pumpkins, pomegranates, and mangosteens (!) makes it easy to wonder whether you’re standing in the green market or at the cosmetics counter. We’ve rounded up seven of our favorite products (at every price point) that are made of all-natural ingredients (almost) good enough to eat. Get them for all your BFFs (and a couple for yourself!).
What is Grapeseed Oil?
Made from the same grapes used for wine making, grapeseed oil is extracted from the tiny inner seeds. Commonly imported from countries like France and Switzerland, this light and fresh oil is becoming more widely available in the United States.
Its clean and mild flavor makes it a better choice in dishes where you don’t want the flavor of the oil to compete with the other ingredients.
Grapeseed also has an extremely high smoke point, making it ideal for high cooking temps in cooking techniques like stir frying, sautéing, baking and frying,
What is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is made from the pulverized flesh of coconut, blended with water. Shoppers can most commonly find it in the Asian, Indian or international section of the grocery store, packaged in 13.5 ounce cans.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that anchovies are chock full of nutritional goodness. Now is the perfect time to give these small fish a first or second chance.
What Are Anchovies?
These small, silvery fish are members of the herring family. They are about 1 to 4 inches in length and have been eaten around the world for thousands of years. These fish taste pretty fishy and salty—which can make them overwhelming if you don’t know how to balance their flavor. Anchovies also have a fifth taste, called umami, a savory taste found in foods high in the amino acid glutamate.
Anchovies are typically filleted, salt-cured and canned in oil. They can be found in the canned tuna and salmon section at your grocery store. Canned anchovies can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place. Once opened, store in the refrigerator in a sealed container covered with oil for up to 2 months. To decrease its saltiness, soak in cool water for about 20-30 minutes, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
What Are Artichoke Hearts?
Buried within the rough leaves of an artichoke, is the sweet and tender “heart.” These little treasures have a buttery texture and earthy flavor that you can deepen with olive oil and garlic or liven up with a squirt of fresh lemon. You can find them bagged and frozen, canned in water or jarred, marinated in olive oil and spices. The oil-packed ones are a little higher in healthy fat but draining the oil will help save some calories.
Lemon curd is an outstanding combination of smooth, sweet, tart and tangy. You may be familiar with lemon meringue pie but have you paid attention to the star ingredient?
What Is Lemon Curd?
The basic recipe is simple. Cook down sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs and butter until thick. Once the mixture cools, you’re left with a silky spread that’s bursting with sweet citrus flavor.