May 12, 2015

The Moringa Tree is a fast growing tree that yields seed pods and a feathery canopy of leaves.

The tree grows best in tropical areas. Leaves are produced even during the dry season and in times of drought. All parts of the tree are edible, however the root and root extracts may have toxic substances that if consumed could result in paralysis and fatality. The leaves are used fresh or dried and ground into a powder. The seed pods are picked while they’re still green and can be eaten fresh or cooked. The seed oil is sweet, doesn’t stick or dry, and doesn’t go rancid. The seeds are eaten green, roasted, powdered, and steeped for tea or used I curries.

The moringa has a wide array of health benefits. It is a god source of protein, vitamins, amino acids, fiber, and iron. It can act as a cardiac and circulatory stimulant. It can lower cholesterol and is a natural diuretic. It has antitumor, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antihypertensive, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It can also reduce fevers and protect your liver.

More simply, here is a list of some of the common conditions it can help treat:

Anemia

Arthritis

Asthma

Athlete’s foot

Cancer

Constipation

Dandruff

Diabetes

Diarrhea

Epilepsy

Gastritis

Gingivitis

Heart conditions

Headaches

High blood pressure

Infections

Inflammation

Intestinal ulcers

Kidney stones

Low breast milk production

Sex drive

Snake bites

Stimulate immunity

Stomach ulcers

Thyroid disorders

Warts

The anti-inflammatory effects can also influence resultant conditions like asthma and pain. The Moringa plant alkaloid resembles ephedrine and can be used in the treatment of asthma. It relaxes the bronchioles. Also, the seed kernels show promise in treating bronchial asthma. The effects of the Moringa plant on asthma are still being studied.

The leaves of the plant are used to treat headaches. They are rubbed against the temple to reduce pain. They can also stop the bleeding from a shallow cut. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can treat small cuts and insect bites. Leaf tea can treat gastric ulcers and diarrhea. It’s high iron content improves anemia. Also, it can reduce fevers, bronchitis, eye and ear infections, and inflammation of the mucus membranes.

Eating the actual fruit treats malnutrition and diarrhea. If eaten raw, the fruit can act as a de-wormer. It can treat liver and spleen problems as well as joint pain.

The seeds of the tree can treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramps, STDs, and boils. They are used as a relaxant for epilepsy. They have also been effective against skin infecting bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts from the seeds may decrease fever also.

Finally, there is one thing to watch out for regarding the moringa fruit. At one time moringa root was used as a permanent form of birth control. It prevents the fertilized egg from being able to attach to the lining of the uterine wall. Over time it can decrease fertility. If consumed while pregnant, it can cause fetal resorption or induce contractions leading to miscarriage. Therefore, it is recommended to stay away from moringa in general if pregnant.

However, moringa leaf can help breastfeeding mothers produce milk. (Remember it is the root and root bark that have antifertility effects). Moringa leaf is safe.

But root bark does have a redeeming quality. Actually, a very redeeming quality. It may help fight against post-menopausal epithelial ovarian cancer. After menopause, when fertility is no longer a concern, root bark is safe, and may fight cancer. So as long as one stays away from it during their childbearing years, go for it later in life!

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May 12, 2015

The Imbe is a small, bright orange, oblong fruit that is native to Africa. This berry has a thin skin and one large seed inside. The imbe has a very sweet, yet acidic taste. Some have likened the taste to that of an apricot.

An antibacterial component has been found in the leaves. Also, the bark and root of the Imbe tree can be used to treat meningitis, tuberculosis, and cancer. Other uses of the fruit include landscaping using imbe trees and of course eating the fruit. It can be eaten raw, crushed into a drink, seeded and dried, cooked into desserts, or fermented to make a purplish wine. Another option is to soak imbes in alcohol and mix it with syrup to make liqueur.

These trees can be grown in USDA growing zones 9 and above. They are drought tolerant, but in order for fruit to grow, water is necessary. The tree usually fruits between July and August. The fruit ripens to a bright orange in August and is gone within two weeks. The fruit is between 1.5-2 inches long and 1-2 inches in diameter. The skin is quite tender, so shipping this fruit is not practical.

The tree itself is rather slow growing, but ultimately can grow to 15-20 feet tall. However, the evergreen like tree usually has one large trunk with other thick branches stemming from it. This puts the fruit closer to the ground than if they grew off just the main trunk. Also, it gives the tree a unique appearance, making it a popular choice in landscaping. In fact, imbe trees can be found at Mozambique’s capitol and near Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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April 13, 2015

The miracle fruit is a small, bright red berry only 2-3 cm long. So how did it get such a big name? It doesn’t have a spectacular taste itself. It has a mildly sweet and tangy taste that has been likened to a cranberry. But it isn’t the taste of the fruit that warrants its name. Instead, it’s the effects the fruit has on one’s taste buds afterwards.

After eating a miracle fruit, if you eat anything acidic, it will taste incredibly sweet. This happens because of a protein called miraculin. This protein binds very strongly to sweet receptors on our tongues, however it does not activate the receptors at neutral pH. When acid is introduced, the miraculin changes shape. It then turns on the sweet receptors which creates an incredibly sweet sensation. Once the acidic food is swallowed, the miraculin returns to the inactive shape, but does remain bound to the sweet receptors for up to an hour.

Theoretically, miraculin could be used as an artificial sweetener. This idea was introduced almost 50 years ago. Despite initial success, drama and suspected foul play by the sugar industry prevented this from happening. The FDA, although previously supportive of the endeavor, declared that miraculin was an additive which meant that the berries could not be sold as a sugar substitute without further testing.

A new idea to integrate the powder into desserts has arisen, but there are problems with this too. Refrigerating and heating the miraculin cause the protein to activate, so its ability to modify one’s ability to taste would be gone by the time the food was consumed. Scientists are trying to create a heat stable form of miraculin that can be cooked with.

There has been a recent push for miraculin to take the place of sugar. Some benefits are obvious, like getting the taste of sweetness without the sugar. Sugar-free desserts could still be sugar free but without tasting sugar-free. With obesity being such a concern, this is a legitimate reason to pursue miraculin. In addition to this benefit, it could be a great discovery for diabetics since it provides sweetness with no sugar. It also can be useful for chemotherapy patients whose tastes are sometimes altered during treatment making it difficult to eat at all.

In general, some restaurants serve miracle fruits and they are at some parties. These are usually high end restaurants or parties with the sole purpose of “flavor-tripping.” Miraculin is native to West Africa, and is currently being produced and sold in Japan. It is possible to by in the US, but it is not as readily available. You can purchase your own Miracle Fruit plant from PlantOGram. It can be grown in your backyard or in a container on your patio.

In the future, if anyone were to procure enough funding, they would likely be able to convince the FDA to overturn their 1970s ruling as there is nothing dangerous about miraculin. Rather than concerns about the fruit itself, the drawback at the current time is funding.

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March 19, 2015

Fruit trees have always been very much valued in Irish culture. Apples and wild strawberries are some of the most commonly grown fruits in Ireland. Another very common fruit is the bilberry. In Ireland it is referred to as a fraughan. It is also called the blaeberry, whortleberry, winberry, and fraughan. While closely related to the blueberry, the bilberry is a different fruit. The blueberry is native to North America while the bilberry is native to Europe.

Bilberry fruits grow on low shrubs and are nearly black berries. Theybilberry produce single or paired berries on the bush rather than clusters like blueberries. The bilberry is smaller than a blueberry, has a fuller taste, and is softer and juicier. They appear nearly black with a hint of purple. The pulp is red or purple, often staining the hands, lips, and tongue of those eating the raw fruit. Bilberry extract is even used in edible ink for stamping meats.

These fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, desserts, juices, or pies. In some areas they are used to flavor crepes and liqueurs.

Another common fruit in Ireland is the sloe tree or blackthorn. The sloe tree is a large shrub or small tree that grows to about 16 feet in height. It has dark, often blackish bark and stiff spiny branches. The leaves are ovblackthornal with serrated edges. The flowers are about a half inch in diameter with five white petals. The fruit itself is just under a half inch in diameter and is black with an indigo waxy bloom. The flesh is thin with a strong astringent flavor.

The sloe is similar to a small plum. It is rather tart if eaten unless picked after the first few days of the autumn frost or frozen after harvest. However, they are suitable for preservatives and desserts. The juice is also used in liqueurs and wines.

Other uses of the sloe include providing a “cattle-proof” hedge. Because of its thorns, the shrubs stop cattle from crossing. Also, the juice of the berries can be used to dye linen a reddish color. When washed out it leaves the linen a pale blue. Blackthorn is also an excellent firewood. It burns slowly with good heat and little smoke. It can also be polished and used for tool handles and canes.

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March 19, 2015

Day 1 - Shamrock Smoothie

Makes 5 8oz. Smoothiesshamrock-smoothies-R160300-ss

  • kiwi fruit, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 6 ounce carton key lime- or vanilla-flavored yogurt
  • 1 cup orange juice or white grape juice, well-chilled
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons rum (optional)
  • 1 - 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • Fresh kiwifruit slices

1. Place kiwi fruit and banana in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Freeze uncovered for 2 hours or until frozen.

2. In a blender, combine grapes, yogurt, orange juice, honey, rum and 1/3 of the frozen fruit. Cover and blend until nearly smooth. Gradually add remaining fruit, blending after each addition until almost smooth. Add food coloring.

3. Pour into glasses and garnish with kiwifruit slices.

Come back tomorrow for another fruit filled St. Patrick's Day recipe.

Image courtesy of http://www.recipe.com/shamrock-smoothies/

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March 19, 2015

Fruit Kabobs - Day 2

To make 5 kabobs, follow the recipe below. fruit kabobs st pattys

  • 1 green apple
  • 3 kiwis
  • 2 bananas
  • green grapes
  • wooden skewers

Add fruits to the skewers in an alternating pattern. The kids can even choose their own unique pattern. For an added bit of fun, try dipping the kabobs in cool whip with green sugar sprinkles.

image courtesy of http://fitcraftystylishandhappy.blogspot.com/2012/02/fruit-kabobs-and-dip-for-st-pattys-day.html

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March 19, 2015

Avocado Deviled Eggs - Day 3

To make 12 avocado deviled eggs, follow the recipe below.

Ingredients
  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
  • 1 fully ripened avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 tablespoon plain low or no-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • Chopped chives (optional)
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, place egg yolks; add the avocado and mash until smooth.
  2. Stir in yogurt, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir in jalapeño and onion, then spoon into egg white shells, dividing equally.
  4. Arrange on a serving plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. (Don't serve long after 3 hours as the avocado will start to darken.)
  5. Garnish with chives, if desired.

Image and recipe courtesy of http://www.thismamacooks.com/2013/03/healthy-st-patricks-day-snacks-avocado-deviled-eggs.html

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March 19, 2015

Emerald Fluff - Day 4

To make a dessert salad serving 6-8 people, follow the recipe below.

Ingredients
  • 9 oz cool whip
  • 20 oz crushed pineapple with juice
  • 11 oz mandarin oranges, drained
  • 3 oz instant pistachio pudding
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill until served.

2. Food coloring can be added if you want a darker shade of green.

images courtesy of Melissa Snow at http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/salad/other-salad/emerald-fluff.html?p=32

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March 19, 2015

Leprechaun Fruit Snack - Day 5

To make 1 fun leprechaun fruit snack follow the recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 1 Green Apple
  • 1 Clementine
  • 1 Strawberry
  • 2 Edible Candy Eyes
  • 4 mini Heart Sprinkles
  • Peanut Butter or Toothpicks

Directions

1. Cut the front off the apple. Cut out a hat from that slice.

2. Use half a toothpick (or peanut butter) to attach it to the top of the apple.

3. Cut a nose out of your apple scraps.

4. Cut a mouth out of a slice of strawberry.

5. Press on edible eyes. Use peanut butter to secure if necessary.

6. Cut clementines in half for the beard. Use broken toothpicks to secure if necessary.

7. Press heart sprinkles on the hat in the shape of a shamrock.

images courtesy of http://www.kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com/2014/02/st-patricks-day-leprechaun-fruit-snack.html

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March 19, 2015

Fruit Rainbow - Day 6

Ingredients:
  • Red- Strawberries
  • Orange – Orange Slices
  • Yellow – Pineapple Chunks
  • Green- Granny Apples
  • Blue- Blueberries
  • Purple – Red Grapes
  • Cloud- Marshmallows or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Gold - Pineapple Chunks

Simply arrange the fruit to form a rainbow. Put a cloud at one end of the rainbow and a pot of gold at the other.

Images courtesy of http://blog.naturebox.com/posts/st-patricks-day-rainbow-fruit

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