Monthly Archives: May 2016

Avoid Them, Do Not Tempt Fate

images-12Try not to laugh in the face of any potential risk, particularly when somebody lets you know something is terrible for you. Taking a risk with harmful sustenances we want to eat could really be life-undermining. Pay regard then, for avoidance is constantly superior to cure.

Watch what you eat! You never know, you may fall flat on the ground like Snow White, poisoned by the very food that is essential for you. Unlike Snow White’s case of being poisoned by someone else, the food that you like to experiment with, could plummet you into serious health issues or in the worst-case scenario, to your own deathbed. We do not wish to startle you, but merely going by the statistics, hundreds of people lose their lives unknowingly; their fault: consuming food that actually spells danger. Just to keep you and your loved ones safe, we have come up with a list of foods that you could stay away from.

Poisonous Foods We Love to Consume
Finding the foodstuff that you simply cannot do without in this list can be baffling, yet having a knowledge of the facts is always welcome; for it is best, when we surge ahead with precaution.

Pufferfish

Toxin: Tetrodotoxin (a neurotoxin)
You would have to reconsider your decision of going in for a sushi, if it is ‘fugu sushi’ that you are planning to eat. Although it is considered a delicacy in Japan, the fish itself is listed as the second most poisonous vertebrate. The eyes, skin and internal organs are particularly toxic and can lead to numbness, paralysis and eventual death.

Bivalve Molluscs

Toxin: Domoic Acid (an exotoxin)
All shellfishes like mussels, oysters, clams, etc., are filter feeders and accumulate high levels of toxins produced by microscopic algae. The cause of concern with this toxin is that it is soluble in water and remains unaffected by steaming or cooking. Consumption of shellfish can lead to facial numbness and could eventually lead to paralysis and even death.

Castor Beans

Toxin: Ricin
Castor oil works benefits for deworming children; besides, I do not think anyone is unaware of the benefits of castor oil. What most do not know is that the castor beans are horrendously deadly. Consuming even a single seed can lead to instant death. Besides, it can also be the cause of severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, liver and kidney failure.

Cassava

Toxin: Cyanogenic Glycosides
The cassava plant contains the toxin, cyanide which is extremely poisonous. Generally, the leaves are pounded along with flour and left in the shade for a few hours for the cyanide to break down; if this mixture is prepared incorrectly, it can be deadly. Consuming cassava can lead to paralysis and eventually, death of the person. Care to have a tapioca chip anyone?

Mushrooms

Toxin: Ibotenic Acid, Muscimol, etc. Varied toxins are found in different varieties of mushrooms.
Come on, you know this already, “All things bright and beautiful aren’t very good for health”. The prettier a mushroom looks, the deadlier and unsafe for consumption it is. Consuming wild mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal problems or even result in severe lung damage. As a precautionary measure, I would recommend to go in for the locally available mushroom, and as far as possible, stay away from wild mushrooms.

Cashew Apple

Toxin: Urushiol (same chemical as poison ivy)
Think of the many things you can do with cashew nuts; marzipan, desserts, etc. Cashew apples are a good source of vitamin C and some countries even distill the juice to make a strong flavored alcohol.
The cashew apples, if eaten raw, can cause allergies and skin rashes. The seed, however, needs to be heat-treated before consumption. Roast cashew seeds outside though, as the smoke released contains droplets of the toxin, which can cause health hazards.

Green Almonds

Toxin: Cyanide
Like cashews, almonds too need to be heat-treated before consumption. Crushing, chewing or causing any kind of damage to the seed releases the toxin. Though almonds are said to be relatively good for health, stay away from bitter almonds as they contain higher amounts of cyanide.

Rhubarb Leaves

Toxin: Oxalic Acid
Leave your worries aside, consuming the stalk won’t harm you; however, the leaves are poisonous. Cooking the leaves with soda is a definite way of increasing its ghastly oxalate proportions. Consuming rhubarb leaves can result in kidney disorders, convulsions and as a worst-case scenario, can also plummet the individual into coma.

Chillies

Toxin: Capsaicin
Yeah, the toxin is what gives the chillies that fiery irritation. Also, eating chillies gives out a radioactive burn. Consuming large amount of chillies is not good anyway, and I need not elaborate on that! Chillies are known to burn, irritate and can be highly toxic, if consumed in large quantities.

Red Kidney Beans

Toxin: Phytohaemagglutinin (a lectin compound)
Red kidney beans have reportedly higher amounts of the compound. Boiling or cooking the beans at high temperature breaks down the compound and destroys the toxicity. However, consuming uncooked beans or partly cooked beans will result in nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Those suffering from gout are asked not to indulge in having any beans, as it can aggravate their condition.

Ackee Fruit

Toxin: Hypoglycin
Do not be deceived by its looks, it appears like a pear when ripe. Timing is the key word here, if you are planning to eat an ackee fruit. Eating this fruit raw or when it is overripe can be a poisonous affair. Be sure to discard the seeds as they contain the toxin, hypoglycin B.

Cherry Pip

Toxin: Cyanogenic Glycosides
This is no cherry on the top! The fruit isn’t the problem here, the problem lies with the pip of the cherry. The stones of the cherry are known to produce hydrogen cyanide which can cause dizziness, vomiting, breathing difficulties and even result in kidney failure. As a safety measure, avoid rolling the pip in your mouth for a long time.

Apples

Toxin: Amygdalin (a cyanogenic glycoside)
Let’s do a little rephrasing of the good old quote, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as long as you manage to keep the pips away’. Like cherries, apple pips too are dangerous and they can be the cause behind confusion, anxiety, headache, dizziness and depression.

Tomatoes

Toxin: Atropine, Tropane, Tomatine
Consuming the fruit is fine as long as you avoid using the stem and the leaves. The raw fruit has tomatine alkaloid, which is broken down during the cooking process. Avoid using the leaves to prepare tea though, as it can result in death.

Potatoes

Toxin: Glycoalkaloid
I bet you cannot do without those chips and mashed potatoes. No one is telling you to stop, but it’s good to give it a thought. The toxin is present in the roots, stem, leaves, sprouts and fruits. Green potatoes, especially, are high in the toxin and are deadly if eaten too. Consumption of green potatoes or leaves can result in headaches, diarrhea, cramps, and in some very rare cases, coma and death.

Chocolates

Toxin: Theobromine
I do not know about you, but I am devastated seeing my comfort food in this list. Chocolate is addictive, you simply can’t resist the temptation, but hold your horses, for an overdose of chocolate can be toxic. I assume you are well-acquainted with the effect of chocolate on your brain, aren’t you?

With the increase in pollution all around the world, consuming just about anything can be toxic for our bodies; however, we cannot stop eating and nourishing our bodies, right? It’s always good to be safe, and eating things after washing and preparing it in the right way, may not harm as much. Take care though, you never know what might harm you!

Ways to Use Chutney Along with Other Foods

Chutney or chatni is a sauce that began in India. It is served as a backup with the principle course in Indian food. It is likewise presented with numerous Indian snacks. Nowadays, it has spread its wings as it goes with American and European dishes.

Chutney is sweet, sour, or hot and spicy. It is either wet or dry. It is usually savory in flavor unlike jam which is only sweet. Sweeteners like sugar, jaggery, and honey may be added to chutney, but vinegar and spices are also added. So a chutney can also be sweet, sour, and savory like raw mango chutney. In a chutney, either fruits or vegetables and herbs are used as the main ingredient. It is flavored by adding spices, souring agents, sweeteners, and herbs. It can have chunks of vegetables or fruits, or like in Indian cuisine, a chutney can be ground to a paste.

Most Common Chutney Ingredients

  • Fruits: raw mango, apple, peach, pear, cranberry, green or brown tamarind, pineapple, raisins, coconut, plum, dates
  • Vegetables: tomato, onion, beetroot, bell pepper
  • Herbs: cilantro (coriander), mint, parsley, basil
  • Spices: garlic, ginger, green and red chillies, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
  • Nuts: peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts
  • Sweeteners: sugar, honey, jaggery
  • Souring agents: curd, lemon, vinegar
  • Mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream or crème fraîche
  • Oils like olive oil or mustard oil are also added

In this article, we present some ideas to use chutney along with other foods.

Spread on Sandwiches

Chutney can be used as a spread on sandwiches along with mayonnaise and cream cheese. Spicy chutneys like coriander or cilantro chutney, or raw mango chutney can be used for this.

With Crackers and Breads

Chutney has been traditionally used with Indian breads like roti, puri, naan, paratha, etc. Similarly, it can be used with different kinds of breads from cuisines belonging to other parts of the world, like crackers, bagels, croissants, pita bread, etc.

With French Fries

Tomato, tamarind, or dates chutney can be used as a dip to go along with French fries.

With Puff Pastry

Chutney can be used as an accompaniment with puff pastries. Alternatively, it can also be used as a filling for a puff pastry. One such idea is to stuff spicy spinach chutney inside a puff pastry.

With a Pizza

You can experiment with chutneys even further. Spicy and tangy chutneys can be used as a spread pizza. If you don’t like it as a spread, it can also be used as a dip with pizzas.

With Pasta

Revolutionize your pasta by trying chutneys with a subtle flavor like pumpkin chutney (oh, what an experiment!) with it.

With Tortilla/Potato Chips

You can savor mango or tamarind chutney with tortilla or potato chips as a snack while watching TV.

With Burgers

Just like sandwiches, chutneys like bell pepper chutney can be used as a spread on burgers. Apart from that, mint or tamarind chutney are also good to go.

With Mexican Wraps

We suggest trying beetroot chutney as a spread on Mexican wraps, which will make them even more delightful.

With Cutlets

Chutneys can provide a delectable taste to your cutlets or patties. Just dip them into tamarind, cilantro, tomato, or mint chutneys, and experience the difference.

With Indian Snacks

Aloo tikki

Various types of chutneys are traditionally used to accompany Indian snacks like samosa, kachori, dhokla, bhel, aloo tikki, idli, and dosa.

With Pancakes and Crepes

Sweet and sour chutneys can be used to accompany pancakes. You can also try hot and spicy chutneys to compliment the taste of pancakes. One idea is to have pancakes with pomegranate chutney. You can also enjoy crepes with strawberry chutney as shown in the image below.

As you can see from the above ideas, there’s a lot you can try to do with chutneys. Use the different variations of this store-cupboard relish to compliment different foods and enjoy the synergy.

How to Combat Food Waste at Home

Fortunate are the individuals who don’t recognize what it resemble to abandon sustenance. It is up to these fortunate ones who are furnished with more than adequate stores, to minimize nourishment wastage which has been a worldwide issue for a long time now. The majority of the squandered nourishment winds up in landfills, where it is prepared to shape methane―a gas which influences the atmosphere in an unfriendly way. Also the quantity of individuals who go to bed on an unfilled stomach because of such wastage.

Food is wasted in large quantities at different levels; edible crops are rejected for not being visually appealing, a lot of produce is lost in transportation, consumers buy bulk food, consumption is less than what is cooked. All these factors contribute towards food wastage. There are a number of ways in which you can avoid wasting food. Some of them have been mentioned in this Buzzle article. Read, learn, and do your bit.

Shop Wisely

Plan

Make a weekly plan that enlists the meals you will be cooking on each day of the week. This way, you know what to buy and how much to buy.

Buy only what you need

Based on your plan for the week, make a shopping list, and then go food and grocery shopping. Stick to what you need to buy, and refrain from impulsive, off-the-shelf shopping.

Avoid getting trapped by promotional sales

Stay away from promotional offers and sales. You end up buying stuff that you don’t really need, causing unnecessary wastage.

Buy in parts, instead of whole

If you wish to try out a new recipe, and the recipe needs just four slices of pineapple, buy fresh and loose produce, instead of buying a whole can of processed pineapples. Make bulk purchases when it comes to grains, nuts, and spices.

Don’t Waste

Prioritize

Choose to cook those items first that will perish faster if stored for too long.

Don’t prepare more than what is required

Storing food for later use is okay, but try not to cook or prepare elaborate meals when you are sure about how much will be really sufficient.

Carry a doggie bag

When eating out at restaurants, feel free to ask the waiters to pack the leftovers that you can carry home. Reheat the next day and eat it. This avoids wastage to a great extent.

Use what is bought

No matter how perfectly you try to follow your weekly meal plans, emergencies are bound to happen. You might be invited to a dinner, or might decide to eat out. But make sure you utilize whatever you bought before it gets spoiled, and you don’t have to throw it away.

Remember what’s in your pantry

An uncluttered and clean kitchen is not only necessary for hygienic reasons, it also lets you keep a check on your store. Regularly check your cupboards and pantry, so that you are aware about the available ingredients or the ones you need to refill.

Take/Serve smaller portions

At the dinner table, whether in a restaurant, or at home, fill your plate with smaller servings. If needed, you can always ask for a second helping. This is good for restricting waste as well as the waist.
Store Appropriately

Keep it fresh

Educate yourself on the ways to store food in a way that will keep them fresh for the longest duration. For example, certain fruits need to be stored inside the fridge, while certain vegetables should never be washed before storing them in the fridge.

Learn to read labels

These labels include information about manufacturing date, best-by date, use-by date, sell-by date, and its expiry date. The sell-by date is the last date on which you should ideally buy that product, but can use it until a week later too. The best-by date is the day the food reaches its peak quality, and should preferably not be used after that.

Maintain the temperature of the refrigerator

Warm storage tends to spoil food faster, and hence, is not recommended, unless a particular food item demands it. To ensure freshness and longevity, store food in a refrigerator which is set at a temperature of 1 to 5 °C.

Freeze

Freezing food items stabilizes the oil present in them, thus, preventing them from getting spoiled. Maintain the temperature of the freezer at -18 °C.

Preserve and Share

Reuse leftovers

Reheat last night’s pizza slices, and eat them at lunch the next day. Leftover vegetables can be used to toss-up a salad, softer and less fresh fruits can be blended into juices or smoothies, and leftover pasta can be filled into tacos.

Compost scraps

Apart from meat, fish, dairy products, and peels of certain citrus fruits like oranges, limes, and lemons, you can compost food scraps, and use it in your garden. Uncooked vegetables that have gone soggy, soiled fruits, salads, etc., can be used to create compost.

Share your food

Do this not only because you want to avoid throwing away your leftover food, but also because someone out there is starving, and is not privileged enough to have food.

Keep these essential tips in mind, and reduce as much wastage of food as possible. Since it starts at home, do your bit and educate others too. It will eventually add up to the betterment of the condition that affects the world when it comes to minimizing food wastage.

Tips to Navigate a Farmers’ Market

It’s mid year, which implies that now through the greater part of fall, there will be an abundance of deliver readily available at the nearby ranchers’ market. Here are a few tips for benefitting as much as possible from it.

Did You Know?
Farmers’ markets have grown in popularity, due to the availability of fresh products directly from the farm.
The local and organic food movement is growing. People are starting to realize that they want their families to eat well, and part of that means eating food without tons of preservatives and pesticides in it. That’s where local food comes in. Local farms that sell produce at the farmers’ markets are not going to add preservatives to their foods because they don’t have to; they aren’t shipping the food far enough to warrant preservative use. If they are organic farmers, they are also not going to use as many pesticides on their food. Of course, local and organic food can be found in supermarkets if you know where to look, but shopping at your local farmers’ market is a fantastic way to ensure that your produce is fresh and local. However, the first trip to the farmers’ market can be intimidating for anyone, so here are some tips for making the most of your bounty.

Don’t Shop Hungry
This is the cardinal rule for shopping anywhere, but it is especially important at the farmers’ market. The delicious produce sitting outside with all of its bright colors will make you want to take it all home, but that isn’t practical. You’ll also pass all sorts of vendors selling cookies and freshly baked breads and maybe even some fried food booths that will smell amazing. If you don’t want to be tempted by these things, be sure to eat a light meal before you go. However, the fresh-baked breads are delicious if you do find yourself hungry while you’re there.

Go Either Very Early or Late
If you’re an early riser, then plan accordingly and go to the market early in the morning, so that you can purchase a variety of fresh produce at a better price. You can also visit the market late in the evening, and get good discounts and bargains on the produce, since farmers start giving huge discounts in order to avoid taking home whatever is left at the end of the day.

What to Bring with You
The only thing you really have to bring with you is cash. Some vendors are starting to accept credit and debit cards, but not all of them will, so you’ll want to have some cash on hand in case there isn’t an ATM nearby. Vendors will provide plastic bags for your haul, but if you want to lower your impact on the environment, bring your own plastic or canvas tote bags. If you are planning to buy meat, which is usually sold frozen from portable freezers, bring an insulated bag so the meat doesn’t start to thaw before you can get it home.

Talk to the Farmers
It’s important to talk to the farmers and build a better rapport with them, by asking questions relating to the food quality and organic farming methods they use. By introducing yourself to the farmers, you can also get the best deals on the produce. And whenever you want to buy in bulk, you might get a better price for your purchase.

Take Stock of What’s there Before You Buy
Making a quick loop around the entire market before making your first purchase is a great way to see what’s there before you buy anything. Many vendors will sell the same kinds of produce, so you want to make sure you get what looks best and most fresh rather than buy the first thing you see and regret your purchase when you reach the next vendor. You will also find that there are many booths that sell other things like pies, honey, flowers, and crafts. You’ll want to know what your options are before spending all your money in one place. Walk around and see everything before you decide what to spend your money on.

Wash, Cut, and Store as soon as You Get Home
Since local foods aren’t chock-full of preservatives, you may find it doesn’t last as long on your counter as food you purchase from the supermarket. Believe it or not, that’s actually a good thing! You can prevent food from rotting quickly by storing it properly. Refrigerating or freezing food is a great way to extend shelf life. Also, if you clean and cut your produce in right away, making it ready-to-eat, you’ll be more likely to eat it rather than sitting and watching it go bad. Eating a handful of pre-washed berries from a container is much easier than washing berries every time you want to eat them.

The farmers’ market is a great way to get food for your whole family that’s safe and healthy. It’s also a great way to support local farmers and help the environment by buying locally grown produce. These tips should help you become a pro at navigating the farmers’ markets in your area, so enjoy your shopping and your delicious food!