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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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. The drink is prepared by mixing barley flour with water. During the Middle Ages, wheat was very expensive and not widely available, so many Europeans of the time made bread from a combination of barley and rye. English and Dutch settlers brought barley to the United States, and this country is a top producer of the grain. In recent years, barley ranked fourth behind corn, rice and wheat in terms of quantity produced.
Barley’s health benefits are hard to beat. According to Medical News Today, barley provides a high percentage of the daily requirement of selenium, which is not found in most foods. Selenium detoxifies cancer-
Its folate and vitamin B6 support heart health by preventing the buildup of homocysteine, which can damage blood vessels. Other minerals in barley include manganese and copper. Barley has no cholesterol but it does have plenty of fiber, and that promotes regularity and digestive tract health. That fiber is also high in beta glucan, which lowers cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body. And it helps regulate blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes.
Barley is usually available in two forms: hulled and pearled. With hulled barley, the inedible outer shell is removed, leaving the bran and germ intact. If you want to cook with hulled barley, it must be soaked overnight to draw out its flavor and texture, then drained and rinsed. With pearled barley, the layer of bran has been removed along with the hull. Pearl barley is not as chewy as hulled barley and cooks more quickly, but it also has fewer nutrients and is not considered to be whole grain. Whole grains are important sources of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Numerous studies suggest increasing the consumption of plant foods will lower your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. You can add barley to your diet by using it in soups, stews, salad or bread. Replace your morning
can add barley to your diet by using it in soups, stews, salad or bread. Replace your morning oatmeal with a warm bowl of barley. A study showed barley was much more effective in reducing both glucose and insulin responses than oats. Barley contains gluten, so if you have celiac disease, it is best to avoid eating it.
Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine