Thursday, February 13, 2014

Orange Peel

By Marie Lasater, Guest Blogger

In the category of never throwing away nutritious foods, orange peel ranks at the top. There are dozens of uses for orange peel, and it provides benefits that can’t be found elsewhere.

Peels can be prepared with or without added sugar.

With generous amounts of Vitamin A and calcium, 1 Tbs. of orange peel also provides 14% of your vitamin C requirement and 3% of a daily dose of dietary fiber, with only 6 calories. In addition, it offers potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and some zinc as well.

Orange peel contains natural pectin, useful in making jams and jellies, and also decreases the rise in blood sugar after a meal.
Nutritional benefits aside, orange peel also contains large amounts of limonene and hesperidin, components that have huge health benefits.


The major component in oil extracted from the orange peel, limonene has exceptional tissue healing properties. It is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects, and in addition to its anti-cancer properties, it is effective for many other metabolic and health problems – even helping with weight management.

Anyone who has used orange oil as a cleaning agent is aware of its degreasing properties. In the body it serves as a unique fat cleanser, helping to clear cholesterol sludge, including the sludge in the gall bladder that can form stones. Limonene helps reduce appetite and improve metabolism, making it one more nutrient to assist with healthy weight management. And of great importance, it is a superior nutrient for breast cancer prevention.
Hesperidin has been studied for about 50 years. The highest concentration of hesperidin can be found in the white parts (pith) of the orange peel. Flavonoids such as hesperidin have been identified as the anti-diabetic components in a number of traditional remedies.

Hesperidin has a strong impact on blood cells and is used to help treat varicose veins. In Europe, this natural ingredient is used to make Diosmin, a prescription medication for treating venous insufficiency.

Hesperidin is also used to reduce hay fever and other allergic conditions by inhibiting the release of histamine from mast cells.

Orange peels can be prepared in several ways: processing them to make candied peel, drying them and grinding them to an orange zest, or finely grinding them to a powder.

My family loves candied orange peels!

The final product

Here is the simple recipe:

Candied Orange Peel

· 2 large oranges, 1/8 inch of top and bottom cut off
· 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
· 2 cups water

Cut peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (including white pith) in 1 piece. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. If you squeeze your own orange juice, just cut strips from the peels after extracting the juice. Cook in large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse, and drain again.

Bring 1 1/2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring to
dissolve sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 min. Drain.

Toss peel and 1/4 cup sugar on a plate, separating strips. (You can also skip this step to lower the sugar content.)Transfer peels to sheet of foil. Let stand until coating is dry, about 24 hours. The peels will transform after about a day into a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth treat.

Peels curing for 24 hours.

Note: Save any remaining liquid after removing the peels, and you will have a delicious orange
syrup for pancakes, stir-fried dishes, etc.The original water that you first boiled the peels in can be saved for use in cleaning products, or as an additive to homemade facial tonic. I make homemade laundry detergent, and I have found that adding one cup of my “orange water” greatly boosts the cleansing power.

Orange zest in coffee grinder

Dried orange peels can be ground in your coffee grinder to make a fabulous orange zest. Add it to stir-fry dishes or to cornmeal for breading fish prior to frying for enhanced flavor and nutrition. Grind an extra minute or two for a fine orange powder. Lime and lemon peels can also be processed with your oranges.

Limes and lemons together with oranges

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Super Foods Are Poverty Foods

by Sena Brothers ,  Guest Blogger

These are listed as “super foods”: oats, eggs, potatoes, cabbage, tuna, beans, rice, bananas, olive oil, lemons, tomatoes.

They add fiber, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and essential fats as well as being cheap.

Except for the potatoes and eggs, they can be purchased in a readily edible state – beans, tomatoes, and tuna come canned; bananas, cabbage, lemons, and tomatoes can be eaten raw; oats (old fashioned rolled oats, not instant oats!) and rice simply require hot water to pour over (and then cover and let soak for 10 [oats] - 40 minutes [rice]). Eggs and potatoes do require some cooking, which means access to a heat source and a container in which to cook them.

This means that these "super foods" are accessible and affordable for the poor and/or homeless.

It's not the best diet, but it's certainly a diet that will keep you alive and relatively healthy.

I think it needs the addition of a sweetener – honey, cane sugar, and a few herbs and spices to make it palatable:  cinnamon, salt, pepper, onions, garlic, parsley, and some greens like turnip or mustard or spinach.

I keep tuna, canned beans, rice, and oats at work and in my car as emergency foods in case of getting iced in. I also have rice noodles (they only need hot water poured over them, like the oats and rice, to be edible). If I have access to hot water (boiling temp hot), I can eat well, if somewhat boringly, for very little money.

Sometimes, you have to get a little creative with these, and there are equally inexpensive alternatives:  canned chicken costs almost the same now as canned tuna, so they can be alternated for variety. While bananas are good, apples are equally as good. Lemons can be traded for oranges or grapefruit. Sometimes, other seasonal fruits and vegetables can be cheap. I like keeping celery and carrots on hand because they add flavor, color and more nutrition to change things up.

A complete super foods/poverty foods shopping list would then look like this:

  • Old fashioned rolled oats
  • Eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Tuna (or canned chicken or ham)
  • Beans (red kidneys, pintos, turtle or black beans, black eyed peas, split peas...)
  • Rice (long grain jasmati, texmati, basmati are tastiest and still inexpensive)
  • Bananas, apples, seasonal fruit
  • Olive oil, butter, canola oil
  • Lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Greens (mustard, turnip, spinach, bok choy...)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Garlic (fresh or spice jar)
  • Onions (fresh or spice jar)
  • Cinnamon
  • Optional:  a brick of cheddar cheese.

There are tricks to make these foods palatable when this is all you have to eat. One trick I like using is toasting the oats. Toasted, they can be used as a crisp topping, like croutons on a salad or a soup, or to add depth of flavor to other dishes, and as a “breading” for tuna patties. The oats can be toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat or on a baking sheet in the oven at 425 degrees F. It takes 3 – 8 minutes to get them toasty brown, and they need to be stirred often to prevent scorching.

Potatoes can also be used like croutons for salads and soups.  Simply dice the potatoes into small pieces, brown them in the oven or a skillet over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil until they are crispy and richly brown.

The oats can be cooked very simply and practically fool proof by adding a pinch of salt and pouring boiling water over them - ½ cup of oats and ¾ cup boiling water, covering it and waiting about 5 minutes.  You can use less or more water, depending on how thick you want the oats to be.  Once the water is absorbed, mash half a banana in to sweeten it, and maybe a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon – cheap, healthy, tasty, and fast, with no dirty pans to wash – you can make this right in the serving bowl.

A simple “cookie” can be made of the cooked oats mashed with banana and seasoned with a bit of cinnamon – simply drop the cooked oats by the teaspoonful onto a lightly oiled baking sheet, flatten slightly, and bake at 375 degrees F for 8 – 10 minutes, until browned and crisp on the edges. They'll still be slightly chewy.

Or, instead of using cooked oats, use 1 cup toasted oats, mash with one banana, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of salt.  Mix until crumbly and spread out in crumbles across a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 8 – 10 minutes, until dried and crispy and browned.  Let cool, and you have a simple crumb topping to eat as is for a snack, or to sprinkle onto hot applesauce or fried apples, or scatter over a tomato soup or a salad.

Using just the toasted oats (no banana!), you can mix in a can of tuna and an egg to make tuna patties.  One can of tuna, mixed with ½ cup toasted oats and 1 whole egg will give you 6 patties.  Fry them in a lightly oiled hot skillet, and serve with rice and greens for a super food, delicious, and cheap meal. You can also mix the tuna with cooked rice to make patties – or mix rice and canned chicken for chicken patties.  The patties can also be used as a filling for sandwiches.

Rice can be cooked the traditional way, but I find I have really good results cooking rice the same way I do oats – pour boiling water over the rice with a pinch of salt, cover and let it sit for about 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  For ½ cup of raw rice, use about 1 to 1 ¼ cups boiling water. The rice doesn't burn, doesn't develop that crisp bottom layer (which I adore, as it makes for a lovely bowl of Singing Rice Soup...), and usually comes out fluffy and soft.

Cooked rice forms the foundation of many meals, and can then be stir fried with greens, carrots, onions, garlic, and a drained can of chicken for a meal suitable for 4 people – densely nutritious, filled with fiber, and cheap.

Beans are equally as versatile. They can be cooked tender, drained, and mashed to make bean sammies:  spread on bread, top with some optional shredded cheese, run under a broiler just long enough to melt the cheese, or with diced tomatoes and spinach, and you have a super nutritious, cheap meal.

Beans can be added to nearly anything – they make great spreads, soups, dips, “meatloafs” and desserts. Chili is a great favorite with beans – they can stretch a pound of ground turkey or beef from 4 servings to 8 or even 10 servings without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

Potatoes have entire cookbooks devoted to them. My favorite is to shred a potato, mix in an egg and some salt, pepper, and ground celery seed, then fry it in a bit of butter and top it with cold applesauce. Potato soup, chowders, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, there are so many ways to eat potatoes.

A filling breakfast is to shred a couple of potatoes, press them into a lightly oiled 6 portion muffin pan, tear or chiffonade some spinach and press that on, then crack an egg into each one, sprinkle on some chili powder, salt, pepper, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees F for 3 minutes or until the egg is set to your preference.  Sprinkle on some diced tomato and cheese to serve.

And one last recipe:


1 egg yolk
juice of half a lemon
1 cup cooking oil (olive, corn, canola, safflower...)

Reserve the egg white for another recipe. Whisk the yolk and add 1 or 2 drops of lemon juice.  Continue whisking.  Add a drop of oil and whisk some more.  Now, while whisking madly, slowly add the oil a few drops at a time.  As the mixture begins to come together, add the oil in a slow trickle.  Keep whisking! Whisk until all the oil has been added. It should now look like mayonnaise. Whisk in a few drops of lemon juice to brighten it up. This is enough mayonnaise for a potato or egg or tuna salad or a couple of sandwiches.  It will keep in the refrigerator 2 or 3 days. It takes about 10 – 15 minutes of mad whisking to make this and it's so cheap!

It's good to know that being homeless or poor doesn't mean eating badly or starving.