Little Shutterbugs

Friday, September 28, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff


Photography is a prominent and widely recognized art form, and increasingly, a popular hobby among children of school-going age. With digital cameras and computers becoming commonplace in many households, photography is now accessible to all members of the family, including the little ones.

Photography is a unique way to cultivate an aesthetic sense in kids. Armed with a lens and with the purpose of taking a good shot, children learn to look more carefully at the world around them, become more observant. They learn to recognize beauty everywhere they look. They forget to be "bored" all the time, and instead to enjoy observing their surroundings. The resulting photographs can provide a glimpse into the unique perspective of a child. Like any good hobby, photography can help kids develop their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. A shy child may be able to express herself through pictures. A hyperactive one may learn to calm down and focus on the task on hand. Photography is a great way to develop a young mind's interest in science and nature. When outdoors on hikes or picnics, it provides a way to reinforce the wise saying, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints". A child who learns to capture memories and appreciate beauty is much less likely to vandalize and sully nature.

Recently, photography has been used as a tool to empower children who live in marginalized communities or who face crisis situations, to give them a voice and a means to express themselves and to boost their self-esteem. I highly recommend watching the Oscar award winning documentary Born into Brothels. This is a heartbreakingly beautiful chronicle of a project where photographer Zana Briski went into the red light district of Calcutta, India and armed children with cameras. The perspective of these little photographers provides an unforgettable glimpse into an otherwise bleak and oft-forgotten world. Another example is a UNICEF project allowing tsunami-affected children in Thailand to express themselves through photography.


For parents interested in getting their child involved in photography, there are several ways to go about doing it. There are photography resources available on the internet, as well as book devoted to photography for young ones. While photography equipment can be astronomically expensive, it is important to start with relatively inexpensive equipment so that the child can be allowed to "play" with the camera without a major crisis developing if the camera is accidentally broken or dropped. Digital cameras are ideal because one can shoot hundreds of pictures without having to spend the money on film, printing only the ones that are desired. Perhaps the whole family (aunts, uncles, grandparents) could get together and gift the child a camera as one "big" birthday or holiday present. Perhaps the parents could purchase a basic no-frills digital camera at a low price, or even find a used (second-hand) camera that may be perfect as a starting point. Don't forget to remind the child of the responsibility that goes along with taking pictures: that they need to ask their subjects politely before they take pictures, and respect their subjects' privacy.

Here are some ideas for Photography Projects for Kids:
  1. For very young photographers, one could play games where the child takes pictures based on a theme: it could be a color (parent and child walking around the neighborhood taking pictures of everything
    that is "red", say), or a letter theme (taking pictures of things in the kitchen that start with the letter "L", say), or a pattern theme (find "stripes" in the garden and take pictures of them).
  2. Host a mystery photo contest: have the child take pictures of common household objects in strange angles and close-ups and then see if the rest of the family members can identify what they are.
  3. Let the child take pictures, then convert the best picture into customized gifts for family and friends- such as a jigsaw puzzle for a friend or a sibling, or a photo calendar for a
    grandparent, or a T-shirt for a special aunt.
  4. Older kids can be nominated as the "official photographer"for events such as a family reunion or their sibling's birthday party, and asked to document the event as completely as they can.
  5. With the help of parents, kids can make a travel guide to their city- a scrapbook with captioned pictures of all the touristy places, attractions, parks and restaurants they love best.

I'll be back next month with an article on Clutter-Free Gifts.
See you then!

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This post was contributed by Nupur from One Hot Stove

Tiffin Tuesday - putting the RAT in Ratatouille!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits

I can't wait to see Ratatouille! It's not out in here Sweden yet, sadly. But it has rats AND cooking so it's already a hit with me!

The thermos container holds homemade ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper and champignon mushrooms, and the side container has grapes, wholewheat toast with cheese and a toast crust, bell pepper, nori and carrot Remy. (Dang. I forgot to add his tail! >.<;)

Boring vegetables? Not me. I took the advice about five portions a day to heart and now feel odd if I can't have vegetables with a meal!
I also enjoy the thermal container a lot. Bringing stews is no problem! Ratatouille has a reputation for retaining heat well, so it's ideal food to pack and bring on a hike or a day trip.

There are probably as many ratatouille recipes as there are cooks, but this one is my favourite. It can be stretched and varied depending on what's in the house, but is always nummy!
I am of the opinion that my secret is the Dijon mustard, but try for yourself.

Basic ingredients:
1-2Tsp. Olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1-2 bell peppers (I prefer yellow, or hungarian white), sliced
1 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1 medium-sized eggplant, diced and salted
1-2 cloves of garlic, roughly diced
1 can/pack of peeled crushed tomatoes
French herbs (or at least pizza spices)
Salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, reduced tomato paste

Everything else is optional. I add mushrooms if I have them, or roast some potatoes with the onions and cook them in the broth. Or beans, or pasta... I also usually add a bit of chili to the oil to add spice. As liquid I normally just use very little water, but if you have vegetable broth or wine (red or white doesn't matter... really!) feel free to add it for even more taste.

The main principle of a good ratatouille is to judge when to add which vegetable so they are all cooked to perfection when the stew is done.
Start with the onions and garlic (and chili), and cook them in some olive oil until they are starting to become glazed. Then add the bell peppers, then the eggplant. If you have potatoes or something else slow cooking, add it now too. Cook everything in the olive oil, then add water (or wine, or broth, or...) but only so the veggies are just-quite-not covered. Add a spoonful or two of Dijon mustard, some salt and pepper and upend a bottle of french herbs in the stew. Yes, really :) I add several tablespoons now and usually a bit more when more liquid is added.
Boil on medium heat, adding more water only when absolutely necessary.
Add the mushrooms a little after adding the water, etc. etc. When the eggplant looks cooked (check that everything slow cooking is mostly cooked through now), add the crushed tomatoes and the zucchini and bring to a boil again. Taste and add more herbs, salt, pepper, sugar... now. If the sauce is too liquid, bind it with reduced tomato paste from a tube. When the sauce has boiled and reduced a little the zucchini will be perfectly cooked!

Now the stew is technically ready to serve, and if you can't stand waiting any longer, do that now. However, it will taste even better if you take it off the heat and let it stand for some 10 minutes. Also, then it won't feel like liquid napalm on your tongue... the stuff retains heat incredibly well!
Serve with fresh herbs and baguette, and a spoon of sourcream if you feel like it.

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This Post was written by jokergirl from Were Rabbits.

The Best After School Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Posted by YumSugar

All the little ones (and big ones too) are headed back to school, and I don't know about you, but school always makes me think of chocolate chip cookies. My mom wasn't the kind of gal to make them for us after school (we had "weird" Chinese food like runny rice or chinese cake instead), but I always fantasized about having a huge batch waiting for me. When I went to college I decided that if I was going to have a batch of cookies waiting for me, I was going to have to make them myself.

So I made batch, after batch, after batch. All in hopes of discovering the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Many years later I think I've finally come close. My recipe after the jump.

My Fave Cookies!
2 1/4 cups flour (this time I used all-purpose, but it works great with 1 1/2 cups wheat 3/4 cups all-purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tbsp milk
1 12oz package of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt into small bowl. Set aside.
3. In large bowl, beat butter until creamy - add granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
4. Mix in vanilla extract.
5. Add 1 egg, mix well. Add 2nd egg, mix well.
6. Gradually mix in flour mixture (I do it in thirds).
7. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Add in milk. Mix well - batter should be slightly creamy, but not smooth like cake batter.
8. Once batter is thoroughly combined, mix in chocolate chips.
9. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture (level off with the back side of a knife) and place onto baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or silpat).
10. Scoop dough out until pan is full (about 2-3 inches apart).
11. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.
12. Leave on pan for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack for cooling.

These result in large puffy cookies that start to crisp on the outside, but are good and chewy on the inside. Make a huge batch, grab a glass of milk and turn on the afterschool cartoons

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This Post was written by Sabrina from YumSugar

Tiffin Tuesday - Autumn soup

Monday, September 17, 2007

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits

The autumn leaves are starting to drop and the temperatures with it. It feels like we didn't even get a proper summer here at all. Should it already be over for good?
In my home country, I loved autumn. The wine and fruit ripening in the orchards, nuts on every bush and tree, and wonderful clear sunny autumn days...
Here, it proves to be much like the summer: cold and rainy. But what is better to get into the proper autumn appreciation mode than delicious food?

I love pumpkins. They are the embodiment of autumn taste for me. And I especially love pumpkin soup!

There are many variations on pumpkin cream soup, all of which are delicious. This time I found a butternut squash pumpkin in the supermarket and tried out a recipe from for it. I heartily recommend it! I used soy sauce instead of fish sauce, which works just as well.

The thermal lunchbox holds the butternut squash coconut cream soup decorated with a drizzle of olive oil, a thai basil leaf and some sesame seeds.
The small side box condiments for it (cherry tomatoes, wholewheat toast croutons, grated carrots and leek, bell peppers, thai basil leaves).

Traditionally, pumpkin soup should perfected and decorated with not olive oil, but just a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, which has a dark green, almost crude-oil-black color and is also called "the black gold of autumn". Mmm... get your hands on some of that oil if you can!

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This Post was written by jokergirl from Were Rabbits.

Family Foraging - more reasons to celebrate Autumn

Posted by Amanda at Little Foodies

I know, I know... it's just that I love Autumn... We've now been out for several Autumnal walks which have incorporated a little foodie foraging along the way. Our best haul were lots of yummy blackberries and I do believe I promised a blackberry recipe in my last post.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble (could serve 8)
3-4 cups of blackberries
2-3 cups of peeled, chopped cooking apples
2 cups of fruit juice
200g/7oz plain flour
125g/4.5oz butter cut into cubes (I use whatever we have, salted or unsalted)
75g/3oz caster sugar (we use unrefined)
2 dessertspoons of brown sugar
(Extra sugar if you like your fruit to be sweet too. We prefer it to be slightly tart and therefore do not add sugar to the fruit).

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 5
You could use one large ovenproof bowl or individual bowls.
Into the ovenproof bowl add washed blackberries and chopped apples and the fruit juice. (If you like your fruit to be sweet then sprinkle some sugar over the top of the fruit, we prefer it to taste slightly tart and therefore don't add sugar).
In a separate, large mixing bowl add the flour and cubes of butter and with your hands rub them together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and give it a quick mix with your hands. Add the brown sugar and quick mix. Sprinkle this over the fruit and then cook in the oven for approximately 30-45 minutes until the top is a lovely golden brown colour.

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This Post was written by Amanda from Little Foodies

How To Break Fitness Plateaus

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Posted by Helene

We say you have hit a plateau when you have been exercising for a while and you are not seeing the results you had at the beginning. Before you throw in the towel (literally), let’s look more closely at three areas that may need a little tweaking in order to help you break that plateau:

1/ Nutrition
- Make sure you are still on track calorie wise. Are you still keeping track of your portion sizes or just eyeballing the quantities of the foods you eat? It is important to take the measuring cups or the scale out of the drawer once in a while just to make sure you are not eating more than you think, a ½ cup can easily turn into ¾ or one whole cup thus sneaking extra calories to your plate. It’s not because an item is healthy that it is calorie free.
- Following the same idea, make sure you are eating enough: some of us over estimate the amout s we eat or do not pay close attention at the amout of calories we burn throughout the day. Too little fuel in the tank can prevent you from burning body fat and does not help boosting your energy level.
- Eat well: make sure you are still eating whole foods versus process, and that extra fats and sugars have not found their way into your daily food intake(drinks,snacks,…)
After a workout, refuel with a balanced snack or meal within 30 minutes to 2 hours. Carbohydrates are actually more important at this time, as your body needs to uptake glycogen into the cells to replace the energy you just used up during your workout.
Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day, sometimes it is as simple as that, ok not really but it is crucial!

2/ Workouts
- Allow sufficient rest, 1-2 days, between working muscle groups. When you workout your muscle fibers suffer tiny tears which cause you to experience soreness for a couple days after a weight lifting session. These tears need to repair themselves in order to build muscle mass, and the only way to do so is to rest. If you don’t, your muscles will get weaker, which is like pulling on a rubber band day after day…it will get loose or snap, preventing you from reaching your goals.
- You may feel strange not working out while you rest, so think about an active recovery time: take a less intense walk or jog, a Pilates or Yoga class, work on the lower body while your upper rests, etc…
- Last thing: get plenty of sleep! It is after all an obvious part of resting that most people do not pay close attention to Muscle repair occurs during your sleep and inadequate amounts of it slows your ability to recover from exercise, making plateaus more likely. While every individual’s needs for sleep are different, experts recommend getting 7- 8 hours a night.

3/ Spice it up!
Variety in your exercise routine is essential so that your muscles don’t get accustomed to the same things and keep being efficient. Challenge your muscles with harder exercises or heavier weights (every 6 to 8 weeks), adding a set of risers during your step class, increasing the incline on the treadmill, the duration of your run/walk, etc… It might seem tough at first as your newly challenged muscles will have to work harder but you will burn more calories and build more lean muscle mass in the process.

The concepts of proper nutrition, rest and variety work closely together to make sure you keep your body revved up and to prevent those depressing plateaus, so before you reach for that cookie, grab an extra set of weights and get going!

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This Post was written by Helen from Tartelette

Inside A German Bakery: My Breakfast Rolls

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

I call them my breakfast rolls simply because I enjoy these rolls for our relaxing Sunday morning breakfast.

On most occasions Sunday breakfasts are a bit more relaxed than our weekday routine. We kick back and make sure we take time for this important family ritual. Often our breakfast will be a typical continental style breakfast with half boiled eggs, cheeses, ham, salami, honeys and jams/preserves.

Then there simply has to be a variety of freshly baked rolls from our baker. We are blessed really - as Herr Becker's bakery is open even on a Sunday - a luxury in Germany where everything is closed on this particular day. So when Tom comes back from his Sunday morning jog he has a bag full of rolls and we can smell the wonderful aroma as he enters the house. Of course coffee is already freshly brewed, the eggs are the perfect 6-minute-egg and my homemade preserves are colorfully displayed on the table.

Although there are always several varieties of rolls to choose from, I typically enjoy this one. It's made with rye flour, yeast and milk - no big deal really - but the taste of this roll paired with my special strawberry chili preserve is out of this world.

Strawberry Chili Preserve

900 g strawberries - washed and coarsely chopped
2-3 red chilies - cut in half lengthwise and the seeds removed, then finally chopped
100 g Black current liqueur
500 g Dr. Oetker gelling sugar

Incorporate all the ingredients in a saucepan well. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously and cook on a high heat for approx 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Immediately fill the mixture into sterilized jars with twist-off lids. Place the jars upside down for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely then store in a cool dry place.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

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This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Silicone baking cups, and salmon box lunches

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Posted by Biggie @ Lunch in a Box

Salmon & salad lunch

Silicone cupcake liners work well as removable food cups in packed lunches, separating foods to keep different textures and flavors from mingling. Because the cups are made of silicone, they're flexible and fit into odd spaces, with the added benefit of being reusable. They come in all sorts of fun shapes, sizes and colors to fit a variety of food and containers (click for a representative sample of silicone baking cups). Housewares, kitchen, and crafts stores such as Michael's often sell them -- if you find a coupon you can bring down the initial cost as well as save on the cost of disposable paper cups down the line. I finally found the large ones for a good price at Bed Bath & Beyond and used a 20% off coupon. Hooray, I'm finally a little greener!

Contents of husband's lunch: Slow-cooked salmon with a container of sweet-hot Nonya sambal sauce, chicken fried rice, blueberries, and salad with mango, strawberry tree fruit (a.k.a. arbutus berries) and poppy seed dressing.

Morning prep time: 7 minutes, using leftover salmon, fried rice, torn lettuce, and a pre-filled sauce container with salad dressing to save time. In the morning I just cut the mango and arbutus berries, briefly microwaved the fried rice to restore the texture, and packed everything together.
Silicone cupcake liners
Packing: The silicone baking cup kept the fried rice away from the salad and blueberries, and was tough enough to stand up to salad dressing once the salad was dressed (more durable than a paper cupcake liner). There are two layers of salmon, one on top of the other. Packed in a 650ml Leaflet box with movable divider, and both sauces in small containers.

Equipment: The standard-size silicon baking cups (Wilton brand) were 12 for US$6 at Bed Bath & Beyond (use their omnipresent 20% off coupon and it gets even more reasonable). I got the four pastel mini cups as a set for US$1.50 at Daiso in Daly City (Japanese dollar store with branches internationally).

Salmon & fried rice lunch
Contents of my lunch: Same as my husband's, but with pesto sauce instead of sambal, and no salad.

Morning prep time: 5 minutes.

Packing: A little Clickety Clack sauce container holds the pesto sauce, and the lunch is packed in a 500ml Leaflet box with movable divider.
Chicken & fried rice lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: Roast chicken drumstick, chicken breast, strawberry tree fruit, mango, blueberries, and fried rice. I wrapped the end of the drumstick in decorative aluminum foil to create a clean "handle" (similar lunch and foil details are here).

Morning prep time: 5 minutes.

Packing: I included a small Anpanman pick for the chicken breast and mangos, and packed a spoon on the side for the rice. The silicone cup squished nicely into the available space to hold the fruit without touching the chicken. Packed in two tiers (280ml and 180ml) of a four-tier nesting Thomas the Tank Engine bento box set.

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This Post was written by Biggie from Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento.

simple summer meals: ready in 10 minutes or less

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Posted by Abby

Last month’s Observer Food Monthly contained a feature on simple summer meals which was 101 “recipes” that’d be ready in 10 minutes or less.

I was quite excited by the headline but looking through the ideas I was disappointed at how few of the recipes excited me.

In fact, only one was particularly interesting, but I did go through the list circling those that tickled my fancy and thought I’d share my top 15 with you. Obviously you can also go through the long list to see what delights I missed!

1. prawns with white beans - open a tin of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, prawns, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. cook, stirring, until the prawns are done; garnish with more olive oil. (4)

2. paprika prawns - warm olive oil in a pan with at least three cloves of sliced garlic. when the garlic colours, add at least a tsp each of cumin and paprika. a minute later, add a dozen or so prawns, salt and pepper. garnish with parsley. (10)

3. rhubarb mess - preheat oven to 180c/gas 4. sprinkle a tin with caster sugar and cover base with slices of rhubarb, cut about 2 cm thick. douse the rhubarb with orange juice. transfer to oven and bake for 10 mins. as the rhubarb cools it will release juices and make a syrup. beat a tub of cream until just whipped. break up a packet of meringues into the cream, add a glug of fresh custard and the rhubarb and fold everything together. (11)

4. chilli and garlic pasta - sauté 10 whole peeled garlic cloves in olive oil. meanwhile, grate pecorino, grind lots of black pepper, chop parsley and cook some pasta. toss all together, along with crushed dried chilli flakes and salt. (42)

5. fusilli with cherry tomatoes, crème fraiche and rocket - get some pasta going. chop 100g cherry tomatoes in half. roughly tear up a couple of handfuls of rocket and some mint leaves, mix with the toms. drain pasta then stir in the tomatoes and leaves. add a couple of splodges of crème fraiche, a squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper and a glug of olive oil. (43)

6. bean salad - mix tinned tuna with white and kidney beans, chopped peppers, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, spinach, parsley, capers and anchovies. dress with lemon juice and olive oil. (50)

7. courgette pasta - sauté shredded courgette in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. serve with pasta. (56)

8. pasta with crispy prosciutto - grill a few slices prosciutto until crisp; crumble and toss with parsley, parmesan, olive oil and pasta. (58)

9. the waldorf - toast a handful of walnuts in a dry pan. chop an apple or pear; toss with green leaves, walnuts and dressing made with olive oil, sherry vinegar, dijon mustard and a shallot. top, if you like, with crumbled goats' or blue cheese. (61)

10. mackerel on toast - buy fresh mackerel fillets. heat a knob of butter and an equal amount of olive oil in a pan. when the butter is fizzing add the fish, flesh-side down. fry for 2 minutes then turn. while the fish fries chop a fistful of parsley. transfer the mackerel to some toast and season with salt, lemon juice and parsley. (67)

11. chicken livers on toast - cook 175g chicken livers in butter or oil with garlic; do not overcook. finish with parsley, lemon juice and coarse salt; serve on toast. (69)

12. southeast asian steak salad - pan-fry or grill steak. slice and serve on a pile of greens with a sauce of one tbs each of nam pla and lime juice, black pepper, a tsp each of sugar and garlic, crushed red chilli flakes and thai basil. (72)

13. squid salad - sauté about 200g squid rings and tentacles in olive oil with salt and pepper. make a sauce of minced garlic, smoked paprika, mayo, lots of lemon juice and fresh parsley. serve with a lightly dressed salad of chopped cucumber, tomato, lettuce, grated carrot and spring onions. (78)

14. chilli-miso salmon with steamed greens - cut 4 bok choi in half lengthways, put in the bottom of a pan and grate a little ginger and garlic on top. mix a tbs of fresh miso paste with a chopped chilli and smear this over the top of 2 pieces of salmon. sit fish on greens then scatter on some coriander and chopped spring onion. pour 150ml water into bottom of the pan, and a splash of soy and fish sauce. put a lid on and cook on a high heat for 5 mins. finish with a squeeze of lime. serve with rice. (91)

15. pan-fried calves liver - dip 250g calves liver in flour. sear in olive oil or butter or a combination until crisp on both sides, about one or 2 minutes a side, adding salt and pepper as it cooks; it should be medium-rare. garnish with parsley and lemon juice. (94)

these tuna recipes also sound quite good if, unlike me, you’re a fan of tinned tuna:

1. upscale tuna salad - mix good tinned tuna (packed in olive oil), capers, dill or parsley, lemon juice but no mayo. (30)

2. nicoise-ish salad - steam green beans or asparagus. arrange on a plate with good tinned tuna, hard-boiled eggs, green salad, sliced cucumber and tomato. dress with oil and vinegar. (44)

3. tuna pasta - combine tinned tuna in olive oil, halved cherry tomatoes, black olives, mint, lemon zest and red chilli flakes. serve with pasta. (88)

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Abby from eat the right stuff

Superfoods: Buckwheat

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

Seed, Grain and Health Powerhouse

Though it is usually thought of as a grain, buckwheat is actually the seed of a broadleaf plant related to rhubarb. While it is not a true grain, it is used like one in cooking, and it surpasses rice, wheat and corn on almost every measure of healthfulness (including the fact that rice, wheat, and corn are high on the glycemic scale, thus provoking a quick spike in blood sugar levels, a proven promoter of systemic inflammation). Buckwheat, on the other hand, ranks low on the glycemic scale.

Hulled buckwheat kernels (called groats) are pale tan-to-green, while the roasted buckwheat groats known as Kasha—a staple food in Eastern Europe—are dark brown with a nutty flavor. Kasha is often steamed in a stock with onions, olive oil, and fresh parsley, and you can combine equal parts plain buckwheat groats and oats, and cook the mix to enjoy as a hot breakfast cereal topped with berries. Buckwheat has been cultivated for at least 1,000 years in China, Korea and Japan, where it is often enjoyed in the form of buckwheat “soba” noodles—a form that’s become increasingly popular in the West as a healthy substitute for wheat pasta.

Buckwheat has more protein than rice, wheat, millet, or corn, and is high in the essential amino acids lysine and arginine, in which major cereal crops are deficient. Its unique amino acid profile gives buckwheat the power to boost the protein value of beans and cereal grains eaten the same day. Yet, buckwheat contains no gluten—the source of protein in true grains—and is therefore safe for people with gluten allergy or celiac disease.

Buckwheat Protein's Unique Health-Promoting Properties:

The specific characteristics of buckwheat proteins, and the relative proportions of its amino acids, make buckwheat the unsurpassed cholesterol-lowering food studied to date.
Its protein characteristics also enhance buckwheat’s ability to reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels following meals—a key factor in preventing diabetes and obesity.
Like the widely prescribed “ACE” hypertension drugs, buckwheat proteins reduce the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), thereby reducing hypertension.

Why Buckwheat is Better Than Grains

More vitamins and minerals. Compared with true grains, buckwheat is high in minerals: especially zinc, copper, and manganese.
Healthier fat profile. Unlike true grains, buckwheat’s low fat content is skewed toward mono unsaturated fatty acids—the type that makes olive oil so heart-healthful.
Healthier starch and fiber profile. The fiber in true grains other than barley is largely insoluble, while a considerable portion of buckwheat dietary fiber is the soluble type that makes oats so heart-healthful, and yields digestion byproducts that reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of colon cancer. Buckwheat is also high in “resistant starch,” which also enhances colon health, and serves to reduce blood sugar levels.
Reduces high blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and discourages obesity. Most recently, a buckwheat extract substantially reduced blood glucose levels in diabetic rats: a promising finding that should lead to similar research in human diabetics. This blood sugar benefit is attributed in part to rare carbohydrate compounds called fagopyritols (especially D-chiro-inositol), of which buckwheat is by far the richest food source yet discovered.
Contains flavonoids for heart and circulatory health. In addition to its marked nutritional benefits, buckwheat has been traditionally prized as a “blood-building” food. Modern science attributes this ancient reputation to buckwheat’s high levels of antioxidant polyphenols—especially rutin (a bioflavonoid), which supports the circulatory system and helps preventing recurrent bleeding caused by weakened blood vessels, as in hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Finally, rutin acts as an ACE inhibitor, and contributes to buckwheat’s ability to reduce high blood pressure.

(Source: Dr. Perricone’s 10 Superfoods)

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This Post was contributed by Pintoo from Zaayka

Cool Weather is Coming. We Hope

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Posted by Glenna

In preparation for fall I wanted to test my skills in remembering how to make my favorite cool weather soup.

It's September. It's Back-to-School. It's almost FALL, my favorite season of the year. I love that first week when the temps start dropping and the rain moves in to the central U.S. where I am. Okay, perhaps I shouldn't be so happy without saying I feel bad for the hurricanes coming in off the Gulf to Central America and our Gulf Coast states, but being in Missouri, September means lots of rain and a re-greening of the lawns as the temperatures drop. Wait. Maybe I should define "drop". Sure, it's a balmy 85 degrees (farenheit) here right now but that feels like refridgerator temperatures compared to the last month of 105 degrees with shirt-sticking humidities. The windows are open without that death-suck of hot air coming in from outside and people are less cranky than they have been for weeks. THAT'S what I like about Fall.

To kick off September and hopefully hasten the cool temperatures along by suggestion, I made a pot of three bean soup this week and gladly took it in my dinner for work. Unfortunately, we had an extremely busy evening so I didn't get to eat it but right before I left the hospital one of my co-workers was spooning it into her mouth and simultaneously moaning and thanking me for sharing. I bet she also enjoyed my two almond windmill cookies that have been a favorite of mine, and most of the people I know, since childhood. I don't know the official name but I confess that even more than loving home-made cookies at Grandma's house, I loved those almond ginger windmills

You'll notice that I used a regular plastic-ware bowl for the soup. I know I can be slow on the uptake but has anyone else noticed that soup doesn't do very well in the bento-style lunch boxes? Perhaps it's just me that's had soup juice spilled all over my scrubs but hey, I'm a quick learner. It only took two, three, maybe four times before I learned my lesson and picked up the Glad bowls with screw on lids just for soup days. :-)

One of the things I love about this soup is how easy it is. I make it in the crockpot so it's all about sauteing the vegetables, throwing the rest of the ingredients in the pot, and forgetting it until dinner time.

Easy 3 Bean Soup

1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tbsp oil or butter
Sauté over medium heat until tender.
Into the crockpot they go, along with:
1/2 cup each dried pinto, kidney, and great northern beans
1 cup ham, diced (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
32 oz beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
salt to taste
Directions: Cook on "high" for 5 hours or "low" all day while you're at work. Voila!

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This post was written by Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food.

Autumn - a reason to celebrate

Monday, September 03, 2007

Posted by Amanda at Little Foodies

I love Autumn in England and everything it has to offer. The nights start to draw in, the leaves on the trees start to change colour and the foods available change to resemble the warmer, comforting foods that we want in the colder months. Although Autumn hasn't officially begun I always feel that it starts on 1st September.

There's always something to celebrate in Autumn - Diwali, Guy Fawkes, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Harvest Festival and if you're anything like us in this household you'll embrace and celebrate them all.

The thing I love most is getting active and outside as much as we possibly can before it really gets cold. This time last year we were picking blackberries and sloes in the fields and hedgerows near where we live. We made sloe gin which we gave as presents to grown ups for Christmas and with the blackberries we made a whole host of things including jam, apple and blackberry crumble, hot sauce for ice cream and better still, we ate them raw, freshly picked.

If you look carefully you can just about make me out picking sloes as the boys made their way towards me.

We only recently finished the last of the blackberry jam. There really is nothing like spreading your own homemade jam on toast, especially if it's coupled with fond memories of a family walk picking the fruit before you made it.

I'll pop back later and add a recipe for blackberries, for now we have to go shopping, and quickly as they close in less than an hour and a half... Too busy enjoying the Summer Holidays, Autumn snuck up on me there and school starts tomorrow. Can't have them going back without new shoes.

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This Post was written by Amanda from Little Foodies