When something (or someone) is bland and unexciting, we usually say they are like vanilla. Simple, colorless, ordinary, easily overlooked – that describes vanilla accurately, right? Well, not exactly. The more you learn about vanilla – its origins, its popularity and what it takes to get it to our pantry shelves – you may refrain from ever describing anything or anyone as “just plain vanilla.”
Have you ever suffered through a bout of insomnia and had someone tell you to try drinking a cup of chamomile tea to help you sleep? Chamomile is a daisy-
Barley is one of the oldest domesticated cereal grains still being grown around the world today. It originated in Ethiopia and southeast Asia. It is most often used in bread and malted beverages such as beer (barley beer was likely one of the first alcoholic drinks humans developed). Over the centuries, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes; it is good for clearing up urinary tract infections and is also said to be a good remedy for kidney stones.
Remember the scene in “The Wizard of Oz,” where the Cowardly Lion, awaiting his turn before Oz the Great and Powerful, sings a song about courage and asks, “Who put the ‘ape’ in ‘apricot’?” Well, thankfully, no one did. Who would eat it then? Instead we have a juicy fruit that has been around since ancient times and is enjoyed either fresh or dried. You can also indulge in apricot brandy or jam. The word “apricot” comes from a term meaning “early ripening.”
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginkgo biloba is one of the best-
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world, according to WebMD. The plant gets its name from a Chinese term meaning “person plant root” because the root is shaped like human legs. There are 11 species of ginseng. (Many other herbs are called ginseng, but they do not contain the active ingredient ginsenosides.) Ginseng grows in North America, where it is endangered in the wild, as well as Asia and Korea. It is especially prevalent in traditional Chinese medicine and holistic healing arts.
Who didn’t grow up watching those Popeye cartoons and envying the sassy sailor his guns, which popped up from his previously puny arms right after he ate a can of spinach? And who, despite that, didn’t turn up his or her nose when Mom put a bowl of spinach on the dinner table? Luckily, we’ve come a long way from despising spinach. It has quickly evolved into a must-
Although quinoa (pronounced keenwah) is the new trendy superfood, in reality it’s been around for thousands of years. It was the “mother grain” of the ancient Andean civilization; the Incans considered it sacred. It has recently been revived as a new crop of global interest.
OK, so it’s not really beautiful, what with all its spikes (its name means “thorny fruit”) and its inside pulp with its wrinkled appearance. And it smells awful, making you question the wisdom of opening it. It’s durian, an exotic fruit from Malaysia that is slowly making inroads to the United States.
You almost have to feel sorry for school kids today. So many of them have peanut allergies, which means they are missing out on enjoying that age-
Peanuts are a great healthy snack. According to Planters.com (and they know their peanuts), eating nuts in moderation – including peanuts and most tree nuts....
If you were like most kids, you probably turned up your nose at peas when they appeared on your dinner plate – and held your nose as you ate them. Hopefully, you are now mature enough to realize how very good for you peas are, and you no longer leave them to roll around on your plate untouched.
Most likely when you think of macadamia nuts, you think of Hawaii. In reality, macadamia is a genus of trees that are native to Australia. There are at least seven species of macadamia trees, but only two of them produce fruit that is non-
When autumn arrives, the seasonal decorations come out. Among the cornstalks and scarecrows you’ll undoubtedly find see squat orange shapes and you’ll know it’s pumpkin time again.
Pumpkins, a cultivar of the squash plant, are also known as winter squash. They are native to North America, and according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Land of Lincoln....
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Remember the scene in “The Wizard of Oz,” where the Cowardly Lion, awaiting his turn before Oz the Great and Powerful, sings a song about courage and asks, “Who put the ‘ape’ in ‘apricot’?”
Well, thankfully, no one did. Who would eat it then? Instead we have a juicy fruit that has been around since ancient times and is enjoyed either fresh or dried. You can also indulge in apricot brandy or jam. The word “apricot” comes from a term meaning “early ripening.” Apricots are related to peaches and nectarines. This fruit is a drupe; it has a centrally located single pit or stone surrounded by edible flesh.
There is some dispute about whether the apricot originated from Armenia, China or India. It’s said Alexander the Great introduced the apricot to Greece. The Greeks called them “golden eggs of the sun.” English settlers who came to the New World in the 17th century brought the apricot to the colonies. Almost the entire U.S. commercial production of apricots is in California, whose climate suits them well. These trees came from seedlings carried to the West Coast by Spanish missionaries. Blending apricots with plums produces a hybrid called a plumcot, a pluot, an aprium or an apriplum.
Apricots have been used medicinally through the ages. Apricot seeds were used against tumors as early as A.D. 502, and in England in the
1800s, apricot oil was also used to cure tumors, as well as ulcers. Apricots were once considered to be an aphrodisiac. Apricot kernels are a component in traditional Chinese medicine. Back in the early 1990s, there was much excitement over a substance in apricots called laetril. It was touted as a miracle possibility for curing cancer. But in 2011, researchers said the claim that laetrile had beneficial effects for cancer patients was not supported by sound clinical data. There have been reports of serious adverse effects from cyanide poisoning after laetrile use. Cyanogenic glycosides are found in high concentration in apricot seeds.
You should nevertheless nosh on apricots once in a while. They contain many good-
Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine