Posts Tagged ‘anti-inflammatory’

Orange Peel in the Thrifty Kitchen

I’m  an almost-diabetic who uses low-carb food intake to maintain my excellent blood sugar, so citrus juice, which is a pretty concentrated belt of sugar, is mostly out of my diet.  I also love oranges and orange flavored things, and don’t like artificial flavors. So for a while I have been following with interest the analyses showing very high antioxidant activity in citrus peel and wondering how to incorporate it into my diet, and recently I got a chance to test this when I came across a bonanza of 20 large organic navel oranges that could not be sold because they had soft spots. I could have made orange-cello liqueur, but wanted something I could drink with lunch.  So I washed the oranges carefully, cut out the soft spots, cut them into chunks, and puréed  them in batches in my blender with only enough water to keep the purée  moving.  Each batch was blended at the highest speed for over a minute, to make sure it was completely liquefied.  I have a Vitamix, and I don’t really know how well this would work with other blenders, but probably well enough.

Please note that the oranges I was using were seedless. If you try this with seeded oranges, the seeds have to be carefully removed because they are intensely bitter, and this technique will not work at all with lemons because their inner white pith is so bitter.  I haven’t experimented with other citrus. I would say that tasting a little slice of the white pith might be a good test. If it’s very bitter, it might not work to use it this way. I think that blood oranges would work well, and I plan to try as soon as they come into season. Also, organic really matters when you are using the peel.

You end up with a thick smooth purée  that is only very slightly sweet, has a hint of bitterness, and is loaded with orange flavor and all the nutritional value than oranges have to offer. I use two or three tablespoons in a water glass, fill it with sparkling water, and sweeten with stevia sweetener. When you get near the bottom of the glass, be sure to swirl it around and drink up all the particles that settle to the bottom. Overall I’m probably taking in about a tablespoon of pure orange juice per glass, so the carb content is not high enough to worry me. I have also added it to a low-carb coffee cake with good results. Because of the intense flavor that the peel adds, you don’t need much.

Orange trees are strikingly beautiful, and if you live in the citrus zone they are great edible landscaping material.

If you do a web search on citrus peel you will find articles suggesting that there are few diseases it won’t prevent or cure. Let’s not get carried away. The antioxidants that it contains, including  naringinen, hesperadin, and rutin, have some interesting anti-inflammatory activities, and there is no documented evidence that ingesting some amount of citrus peel and pith is harmful. It’s also a superb natural source of vitamin C, which can be a bit short in a ketogenic diet. It makes thrifty use of something ordinarily discarded, and it tastes good, adding strong flavor and a touch of bitterness that makes an adult drink out of a fruit that can otherwise be too sweet to enjoy very much of. You can read about its various possible benefits at the links below, including the interesting demographic information from the REGARDS study that higher levels of citrus consumption correlated with lower levels of ischemic stroke. Make of that what you will.

 

REGARDS study analysis indicating possible inverse relationship between citrus consumption and ischemic stroke:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086785/

A survey of antioxidants and anti inflammatory activities in citrus peel:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27719891

An animal study showing inhibitory effects on human prostate cancer tissue grafted into mice:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23673480

An animal study showing effects in reducing neuroinflammation:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26423872

There are other possibilities for eating citrus peel. I came across the following recipe while searching, and haven’t tried it yet, but it does look lovely, doesn’t it? Personally I would roast the fruit-veggie mixture first to soften them more, then the salmon by itself, since I despise overcooked salmon.

http://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/roasted-salmon-oranges-beets-and-carrots

 

My Southeast Asian Summer: Turmeric

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      Turmeric and its constituent components the curcuminoids, a complex of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, are getting attention and medical research dollars these days. But this blog is not about disease treatment or medical research, it’s about healthy and delicious food, and turmeric is here for its culinary qualities.  Both the roots and the leaves are a common seasoning in many parts of southeast Asia, and the leaves are impossible to buy in this area, which led to my experiments in growing them. It’s a tropical and needs to be brought indoors when the nights start to cool off, and during the summer it needs light shade and plenty of moisture. Initially I bought plants from an herb supplier, but since then have done better with plants I started at home.

       You need some roots from the store to get started. Put them on top of a pot of good organic potting soil and press them into the soil. Put in a warm place (a seed-starting warming mat will really speed things up,) keep moist, and within a month you’ll see small buds growing off the roots. In another month or so, you’ll have turmeric leaves to use.  It will prosper in a sunny window over the winter, but does best if it can go outdoors in the summer. Remember, part shade is important.

     To begin with the root, it can be grown in a pot but you are unlikely to get enough to use it freely. I don’t recommend the dried powder for most applications; to my palate if lacks the fresh vibrancy of the fresh root. I advise buying organic root, and you can often find it among the other fresh vegetables at La Montanita Co-op. Ask the produce manager if you don’t see it. It’s used in a lot of the seasoning pastes that I make for my southeast Asian cooking, so you’ll notice it in several of the recipes on this blog (use the search function to find them). But one of my favorite ways to use it is as a brilliant yellow-orange “juice” concentrate which I keep in a corked bottle in the refrigerator and add to water to make “sun juice.” The color alone is irresistible and cheers me up just to look at it.

     The leaves are large, glossy and handsome, and look attractive when the pot is brought indoors for the winter, but remember that any plant you’re always snipping at for kitchen use won’t look great for long. When cut they smell very like a fresh, sweet carrot, and I love to season carrots with them. Clich the link below the picture for recipes.

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