Natural Foods Guides

Sesame Seeds: Health Benefits and Uses

Unhulled_sesame_seeds.jpg

Sesame seeds are worth more than their weight in gold! Sesame seeds’ health benefits and uses in the kitchen are plentiful. Their flavor is mild and nutty, though it greatly intensifies when expressed into oil or are ground into a paste (known as tahini) or into a butter.

When buying sesame seeds, look for the whole, unhulled variety, which have not been stripped of their nutritious, deep-tan hulls. If they look shiny and white, this tips you off that they’ve ben refined. Look for black sesame seeds as well. They add visual interest to simple dishes. Whole sesame seeds will keep well for many months in a tightly lidded jar in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate them during the summer.  more→

Chile Peppers 101— a Beginner’s Guide

Red chili peppers

Excerpted from Hot Vegan: 200 sultry & full-flavored recipes from around the world by Robin Robertson/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC © 2014. Reprinted by permission. To put the “hot” in “hot and spicy,” we generally look to chiles as the world’s most universally popular heat source. Erroneously called chile “peppers,” attributed to an error by Christopher Columbus, chiles are not peppers at all, but actually fruits. They are used in a wide variety of cuisines throughout the world in a variety of forms. You can buy them whole, fresh, dried, canned, and jarred in the form of chili oil, paste, and powder, as well as hot red pepper flakes and ground red pepper, or cayenne. Many hot condiments are made with chiles, and these include chili sauce, hot bean sauce, salsas, and various chutneys. Tabasco, a particularly popular brand of hot chili sauce, is in such wide use that it goes by its brand name. more→

8 Amazing Vegan Cheese Recipes

Smoky vegan cheddar cheez recipe

There’s no dairy in these vegan cheese recipes, but even your dairy-eating friends will be amazed by them! A good vegan cheese seems impossible, but certain ingredients lend a cheesy flavor. One of my favorites is nutritional yeast. It tastes good, and it’s good for you. Cashews, which are delicious just plain by the handful, create a magical texture that is reminiscent of goat cheese. Make sure to scroll to the end to see each one of these 8 vegan cheeses, all of which will knock your socks off!

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Pumpkin Seeds: Health Benefits and Tips on Using Them

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and have a unique flavor that makes them especially enticing to eat as a snack, unadorned. When buying pumpkin seeds, you can choose between raw or roasted, shelled or unshelled, salted or unsalted. Roasting brings out their flavor and crunch, and you can easily roast them at home. Roasted pumpkin seeds are often marketed as pepitas. more→

Millet — How to Cook it and Use it

Millet uncooked

Bland in flavor and rather mushy in texture, is no cause for culinary excitement, but it is nonetheless versatile and nourishing. It is available in natural-food stores as well as Indian food shops.  more→

Wild Rice — How to Cook and Use it

wild rice in a spoon

Wild rice is actually the seed of a tall aquatic grass that is not a form of rice, nor even a grain at all. Native to North America, most of our domestic crop is harvested by Native Americans in and around Minnesota and other Great Lakes states, where it thrives in freshwater lakes or rivers. The fact that wild rice is literally a wild grass has made attempts at large-scale commercial cultivation difficult. Its relative scarcity makes it very expensive. Because its flavor is quite pronounced, however, it can be successfully mixed with regular rice. Even in small quantities it lends elegance to any meal. The most economical way to buy wild rice is in bulk.  more→

Brown Rice Recipes: Vegan, Healthy, & Easy

cauliflower rice pilaf with cashews

If you’re looking for healthy brown rice recipes (that happen to be vegan and most are also gluten-free), here are lots of easy, tasty choices. For information on brown rice nutrition and how to cook brown rice, visit our Brown Rice: Cooking Tips and Varieties page; and for even more on the nutritional benefits of brown rice, see Top 10 Health Benefits of Brown Rice. And if we have to choose our favorites, they’d be  6 Filling and Flavorful Brown Rice Recipes.

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Barley: A Nourishing Grain for Everyone

Pearl barley

Two kinds of barley are available in natural food stores: pearl barley  and pot barley, sometimes called Scotch barley. Unhulled barley is occasionally available, but it is not recommended except for the purposes of sprouting , since it takes a very long time to cook–and to chew. The most familiar form of barley is the pearled variety. Pearling is accomplished by grinding off the tenacious hulls of the grain with the use of abrasive disks called carborundum wheels. Pearl barley goes through five or six pearlings, removing all of the hull, plus most of the bran and germ. To make pot or Scotch barley, the grain goes through three pearlings to remove the most of the hull and some of the bran. It is therefore more nutritious than pearl barley. more→

How to Cook Quinoa, and Tasty Recipes

Quinoa varieties - red, tan, and black

Here’s a basic guide on how to cook quinoa, along with an array of easy recipes for this tasty, quick-cooking grain. Nutritious and versatile, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient food indigenous to the South American Andes. Considered a “superfood” for its superior nutritional profile, it was revived for the American natural foods market in the 1980s. Your basic quinoa grain is a kind of yellowish-tan, but red and black varieties are now available as well. They cook up the same way and taste pretty much the same as well; their appeal is mainly visual.

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Loving Your Lentils: How to Cook and Use Them

Brown lentils

Long considered a “poor man’s food,” lentils are actually a rich source of protein and nutrients and are easily digested. Best known as a main component of thick, filling soups, lentils are an important staple in Indian cuisine. Small and rather flat, lentils cook quickly and are highly flavored and aromatic.  more→

Amaranth, an Underused Ancient Grain

Grain amaranth

Amazing amaranth, once a revered drop of the ancient Aztecs, is now coming back into use via the natural-food market. Native to Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and Bolivia, grain amaranth (as it is often called, to distinguish it from vegetable amaranth, a closely related plant) is a tiny, round seed, about half the size of a millet seed. 
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Avocado Oil: Expeller-Pressed, Naturally Refined

With so many choices in cooking oil, its hard to know if you’re using the right thing. Most people are unaware of the dangers that come from conventional and over-processed vegetable oil. Even good olive oil isn’t suitable for all cooking purposes – especially high heat cooking. Chosen Foods avocado oil is the perfect, healthy, all-purpose cooking oil, but is especially suited for higher temperatures. more→

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