The Tree Tomato: Tamarillo

Last week I was shown a small egg-shaped fruit that had a bitter soury taste. At the first glance, I didn’t know what it is. I ate it with the skin on, that was hard and bitter along with it’s loads of inner seeds. As I searched to know what is this fruit, I was amazed by the information I got and all the delicoius recipes used with it.

What’s Tamarillo?

A fruit originally from South America. An egg-shaped edible fruit, also known as the tree tomato or Dutch eggplant; the color varies from yellow, orange to red and purple. The taste is “sweet and sour” varying between tomatoes and cherries.

Tamarillos are and excellent source of Vit A, Vit C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium. When ripe, they are usually eaten raw with a sprinkle of either salt or sugar. Yet, it’s widley used for cooking purposes, in purees, flavored yoghurts, ice cream and drinks. On the other hand it can replace tomatoes; it’s cooked in the same way and accompanies meat, chicken and fish. Moroever, it’s also cooked into jams.

For delicious recipes check out Pan Fried Salmon with Tamarillo Salas via Fuss Free Cooking and Chicken Tamarillo via the Food Network.

Reference:

Book: The Visual Food Lover’s Guide

The Nutritional Health Benefits of Pine Nuts


Overview
Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pine trees. Pine Trees grow wild in the forests and they do not need water or fertilizers to grow. The trees can live over 150 years.
The seeds are contained in kernels inside the pine tree cones. When the cones gets dry (sun dried), the kernels are shaken out of the cone and cracked to get the pine nuts. Harvesting the nuts is labor intensive that’s why they are generally more expensive than the other nuts.


Cuisine
Pine nuts have been used in Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years. They are either used raw, roasted or pan fried. They are mostly incorporated in stuffings (kebbeh, fatayer etc.), used as a garnish (Hommos with meat), with some drinks (Jellab) and in sauces (pesto sauce). They are also preserved in honey jars.


Nutritional Health Benefits
Pine nuts contain high amount of proteins, fats and dietary fibers. 100g of pine nuts contains around 600 – 700 calories.

1.Appetite Suppressant: (Pinoleic acid)
Pine nuts contain “Pinoleic acid” that helps the stomach stimulate a hormone (the hormone is named: CCK) that act as an appetite suppressant (slows down rate of digestion and gives the feeling of full stomach).

2.Cholesterol Reduction: (Oleic acid)
Pine nuts contain “Oleic acid” that is a mono-saturated fat (a good fat, like olive oil) that helps reduce cholesterol and protects the arteries from damage (heart healthy).

3.Rich in Antioxidants
Pine nuts have high concentrations of antioxidants, which help protect the cells from free radical damage.

4.Decrease Muscle Cramps: (Magnesium)
Pine nuts contain “Magnesium” that helps in relieving muscle cramps, fatigue and tension.

Caution:
Some people may be allergic to pine nuts.

EGGPLANT… Does it contain High Concentrations of NICOTINE?

Eggplant, also known as Aubergine, is a vegetable found in several shapes, sizes and colors. It’s widely used in cooking: baked, stewed, roasted, stuffed or fried.

For example, it’s used to make (in the Lebanese Cuisine):
-Baba Ghannouj: roasted eggplant w tahina
-Shaykhil Mihshee: fried eggplant stuffed with minced meat and tomato
-Mousakaa: vegetarian style, fried eggplant with chickpeas and tomato sauce
-Makdous. stuffed eggplant pickles with walnuts and red pepper

Eggplant is a good source of dietary fiber, B vitamins, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, and folic acid. It’s rich in antioxidants and free-radical scavengers thus help in decreasing cholesterol. It’s also good for diabetic patients where it helps the absorption of glucose into the body and lowers blood pressure.

As for the Nicotine content; yes eggplant does contain nicotine. Yet, the amount of nicotine within the eggplant is NEGLIGIBLE (0.01 mg nicotine per 100g eggplant). That means to have an adverse health effect from the nicotine in the eggplant one needs to consume more than 10 to 12 large eggplants (more than a kilogram) every single day, which in normal cases does not happen.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine 100g of eggplant contains 0.01mg of nicotine thus, 10kg of eggplant is equivalent to 1 cigarette, therefore eggplant nicotine no negative effect.

In conclusion, always remember the dose makes the poison. Everything we eat can be transformed into a remedy or changed into a toxic substance depending on exposure, thus everything should be consumed in moderation, within the acceptable daily intake levels.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199308053290619

Artichoke Overview and Health Benefits

Overview

Artichoke is the unopened flower of a Thistle (a flowering plant characterized by leaves of sharp tips).
Artichoke is well known in the Mediterranean region.
In Lebanon, it is widely served as a cold “mezza” (Lebanese cold appetizers) with Lemon, garlic, and olive oil dressing. The Artichoke hearts can be processed into pickles, or cooked (Meat and Artichoke Stew or with white sauce or with tahina: sesame paste).

Health Benefits

– Reduces bad cholesterol (LDL Cholesterol)
– Contains “inulin” a carbohydrate that stabilizes blood sugar levels in diabetic patients
– Improves liver functioning
– Relief Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms
– Helps improve digestive problem such as dyspepsia and helps the digestion process
– Reduce risk of cancer (ex. Breast cancer)

How?

Artichoke is an excellent source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin A, potassium, and manganese. Moreover, it contains compounds that help the flow of bile from the gallbladder (bile is essential for cholesterol regulation, liver and digestive functioning).

Sumac and Lebanese Cuisine

Sumac is the berries of a shrub that mainly grows in the Mediterranean area. It is well known in all regions and harvested from almost all the mountains of Lebanon.

The sumac hangs on the branches of the shrub as clusters of dark red balls.

Sumac is harvested during the month of August, they are harvested during this season and then they are sun dried, the drying process can take several days up to weeks, when the sumac is completely dried; it is then grounded into a coarse powder. The main purpose of drying the sumac is to be able to use it during winter times.

The grounded sumac has a strong astringent acidic taste, where it’s used as a seasoning and a souring flavouring agent in the Lebanese cuisine, mainly in the “meza”. For example, the traditional Lebanese salad “fattouch” is characteristically served with sumac sprinkled on top. Traditionally, it was used with fried eggs, kabab, in stuffing { Fatayer ex. Fatayer Sulik}, and the famous Lebanese thyme mankoushe, others also add it to the tabboule salad.

Moreover, it is can be used as a substitute for lemon juice in salad dressing, and can also be added to meat and chicken marinades.

Sumac has considerable amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, some antioxidants (such as Tanin), and around 140Kcal per 100g. Some say it’s used as a herbal remedy for urinary disorders (yet I still don’t have any scientific evidence).

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