FEEL GOOD FACTOR

Q: How do colds and flus impact our ability to enjoy food? 

This week’s bulletin was inspired by this week’s SMH article on natural remedies and the validity of using food as medicine. There is no doubt that over the last decade there has been a significant cultural shift towards wellness, so much so that Australians last year spent $1.4 billion dollars on vitamins and dietary supplements. For those of use not keen on lining up our pills every morning or drinking 15 cups of herbal tea a day, this week’s bulletin is dedicated to fresh produce that not only serves up a powerful flavour hit in the kitchen but also offers impressive health benefits. 

HABANERO CHILLI:

Image: www.chillies-down-under.com

Flavour hit: very spicy but with a distinctive, almost fruity aroma

Appearance: current stock is hydroponic- look like very small, red lanterns 

Availability: all year, best Nov – Mar

Selection: look for taut, even skin with a bright colour 

Storage: wrap in paper towel and store in fridge

Preparation: chop into an angry sauce, be careful to protect eyes as it is very strong

Health bonus: helps prevent artherosclerosis (heart disease). For those with a cold, the spicy heat will clear the nose, while the beta carotene (Vit A) in red chillies keeps the skin/mucus membranes healthy. The capsaicin in chillies is also proven to reduce inflammation 

 

GINGER:

www.freepik.com

Flavour hit: hot, spicy aromatic and pungent with a smooth texture 

Appearance: firm, striated root with light-brown skin and light-yellow flesh 

Availability: all year, best Mar – Nov

Selection: firm, smooth, plump rhizomes

Storage: unpeeled in a zip lock back in the refrigerator

Preparation: peel then chop, grate or slice into soups, stir fries, curries etc 

Health bonus: nature’s wonder drug – anti-nausea (carminative), anti-inflammatory (arthritis), anti-bacterial and anti-microbial (colds/antiseptic), proven anti-cancer properties, stimulates circulation and combats chills/fevers and heart disease

 

GALANGAL: aka Siamese Ginger

Image: www.taste.com.au

Flavour hit: pungent mustard with slight fruit undertones- popular in South East Asian cuisine

Appearance: similar to ginger but with pink-tan skin and white flesh

Availability: all year

Selection: firm, smooth, plump rhizomes

Storage: do not refrigerate as it will blacken the galangal. wrap in absorbent paper and place in a plastic bag in cool, dry area

Preparation: peel then chop, grate or slice into soups, stir fries, curries etc

Health bonus: similarly to ginger- anti-nausea (carminative), anti-inflammatory (arthritis), anti-bacterial and anti-microbial (colds/antiseptic), stimulates circulation and combats chills/fevers

 

GARLIC:

Image: herbnursery.com.au

Flavour hit: rich & pungent, onion tones though roasting brings our nutty flavours  

Appearance: white, purple or pink bulbs with a thin neck, covered in a papery skin

Availability: all year – Australian seasons are Oct – May

Selection: choose dry, firm, plump bulbs

Storage: store in cool, dark well ventilated place

Preparation: as per wasabi/horseradish it is the chemical reaction caused by preparing garlic that gives it its flavour. Crushing results in an intense aroma and taste while slicing will cause a milder reaction and therefore flavour

Health bonus: natural antibiotic, also assists in management of blood pressure & cholesterol 

 

TURMERIC:

www.tumericwhole.com.au

Flavour hit: strong peppery taste with hints of ginger & orange – used widely in Indian cuisine

Appearance: appears similar to ginger but distinct deep yellow-orange flesh 

Availability: All Year

Selection: firm, smooth, plump rhizome

Storage: store unwashed in the fridge, wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag

Preparation: unless you want orange hands handle with care, can be ground, chopped, minced, grated or sliced into dishes

Health bonus: reduces risk of Alzheimers by 50%, anti-inflammatory, gargled with water its anti-bacterial properties ease a sore throat

 

HORSERADISH: 

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Flavour hit: spicy mustard hit- bright, pungent and aromatic – used mainly as a condiment 

Appearance: white, tapered root covered in light-brown, hairy skin 

Availability: Mar – Nov 

Selection: avoid shrivelled or dry roots with soft, green spots 

Storage: loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator

Preperation: fresh roots aren’t pungent but (similar to wasabi) the process of cutting, grating or grinding causes a chemical reaction and releases oils responsible for the pungent aroma and taste. Once prepared, use quickly or it will lose potency (and if left exposed a bitter taste)

Health bonus: anti-oxidant and detoxification functions-great for colds as it has high vitamin C content is a strong antibiotic, bronchodilator (asthma, bronchitis) and stimulates the immune system

 

KAFFIR LIME LEAVES:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Flavour hit: intense, acidic, citrus flavour used in Thai, Indonesian and Cambodian cuisine

Appearance: dark green glossy leaves in figure of eight shape

Availability: All Year

Selection: look for a deep, glossy colour on the leaf

Storage: store in zip lock bag in refrigerator

Preparation: remove centre vein, slice finely or tear into stir fries, soups, curries or salads 

Health bonus: small amounts of beta-carotene 

 

LEMONGRASS: aka Takrai 

Image: www.foodsubs.com

Flavour hit: pungent, distinctive lemon hit features heavily in South East Asian cuisine

Appearance: long grass-like stalks 

Availability: All Year – peaks in warm weather

Selection: look for plump, firm stalks

Storage: keep in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator

Preparation: peel tough outer layers of stem and trim base. If using as an infusion, bruise the stem to release oils before adding. Or finely chop into stir-fries, curries etc

Health bonus: the citral in lemon grass has anti-bacterial properties that help to ward of colds & coughs, it is also moderately high in folate and helps detoxify the body

 

SAW TOOTH CORIANDER: aka Saw leaf herb, Ngo Gai, Thai Coriander, long leaf coriander

Image: www.us.123rf com

Flavour hit: intense coriander – peppery & pungent, used Vietnamese, Thai & Punjabi cuisine

Appearance: thick, long, serrated green leaves

Availability: Apr – Sept

Selection: choose vibrant green leaves that look fresh and not wilted

Storage: good shelf life, store as per other cut herbs (either refrigerate dry in sealed bag or cut stems and sit in water then refrigerate)

Preparation: tougher than usual coriander it is torn or chopped into soups, stir-fries, curries and salads. Good for drying as it holds flavour & colour better than regular coriander. 

Health bonus: often prepared in tea to stimulate appetite & soothes stomach ache

 

VIETNAMESE MINT: aka laksa leaf

www.foodlovers.co.nz

Flavour hit: spicy, citrusy, pepper flavour – common in South East Asian, Vietnamese cuisine

Appearance: long, narrow leaves with red-brown tint at base & green tip

Availability: All Year

Selection: choose vibrant green leaves that look fresh and not wilted

Storage: wrap loosely in paper towel & store in zip-lock back in fridge

Preparation: rinse gently and used raw in salads, summer rolls, shredded into laksa or stews

Health bonus: traditionally used to treat stomach complaints and reduce swelling.

 

WASABI STEMS:

Image: www.shimawasabi.com.au

Flavour hit: intensely hot, peppery, sweet mustard – similar to horseradish

Appearance: short, thick, green knobbly stems 

Availability: All Year

Selection: choose fresh, firm stems

Storage: wrap unused stems in a paper towel and store in a sealed bag in the refrigerator

Preparation: similarly to horseradish it is the chemical reaction caused by grating that releases the signature flavour of wasabi. grate to a fine paste allow to rest for 2-3 minutes to achieve full flavour then serve 

Health bonus: many believe wasabi is good for clearing the sinuses however the opposite it true. It is the anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties of wasabi that are notable

 

A: Approximately 80-90% of what we taste is thanks to our sense of smell. The taste receptors on the tongue only distinguish between sweet, salty, sour and bitter,  it is actually the scent or aroma of the food that allows us to enjoy  complex, subtle flavour combinations. Therefore when you suffer from a cold/flu or any condition that interferes with your ability to detect these scent particles, it stops the brain being able to communicate the usual taste information stored for that food.    


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