Medicine Woman’s Larder – Carrots – All the way from Afghanistan.


Medicine Womans larder

The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan.  The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac.  Don’t all rush to the supermarket!

carrotsIn Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century.  It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite!  In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white.  They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.

The Elizabethans on receiving the carrots from mainland Europe did some rather strange things with them.  Some ate the roots but others used the feathery foliage for decoration in hats (Ascot) and on their clothes.  I am sure like every fashion statement this may come and revisit us at some point.  The colonists took the carrot to America but they were not cultivated there until the last couple of centuries.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CARROTS

Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium.  Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot.  As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist.

Vitamin A also prevents night blindness. If the vitamin A deficiency causing night blindness is not corrected, it can then lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, causing extremely dry eyes, possibly corneal ulcers and swollen eyelids. If left untreated, xerophthalmia can lead to blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness in developing countries. Vitamin A may possibly prevent cataracts from forming and may help prevent macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

Beta-carotene is one of about 500 compounds called carotenoids, which are present in most fruit and vegetables. The body changes beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which promotes a healthy immune system and healthy cell growth.  The body can only change so much beta-carotene into Vitamin A and any excess boosts the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant in its own right.  Antioxidants prevent free radical damage to cells, tissues and most importantly to the fat in our bloodstream that can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease.

Alpha carotene has often been overlooked in carrots but some interesting studies in Japan indicate that Alpha carotene might be even more powerful than Beta-carotene in the fight against cancer. As far as our general health is concerned, carrots play an important role in neutralising acid in the body.

ACIDITY AND ALKALINITY IN THE BODY

The word acid comes from the Latin word acere, which means sour.  The term has been applied to chemical compounds containing the element hydrogen and having the ability to supply positively charged hydrogen ions to a chemical reaction.

Most acids are sour as opposed to most alkalis, which are bitter.  Acid is also corrosive to metals and will change litmus (a dye from lichens) red and neutralise alkalis.

All acids have similar properties to each other because they all release hydrogen into solutions. Acidity is measure using the pH (potential of hydrogen) scales.   The scale runs from 0 to 14.  All acids have a pH measurement between 0 to below 7 on the scale.

Acids are present in all living organisms including the human body.  Acids in plants react differently than acids in protein rich foods such as animal products. All foods are burned in the body leaving an ash as a result, if the food contains a predominance of sulphur, phosphorus, chlorine then an acid ash is produced.

The body has developed different strategies to ensure that the balance between acid and alkali is optimum for each of its different organs and systemic functions.

For example citrus fruit, in particular one that has a sour taste like the lemon, contains high levels of citric acid and is classified as an acid food.  However, the ash that is produced is alkaline. The negative charges on the citrate ions are balanced by positively charged metal ions, such as calcium and potassium.  The citrate is oxidised away during this process to carbon dioxide and water and excreted leaving the calcium and potassium behind.  As alkalis they in turn are balanced by other acidic properties such as bicarbonate or chloride to ensure that the correct pH balance is maintained.  This is an alkaline reaction resulting from ingesting an acid food.

Most animal proteins contain sulphur amino acids and phosphoprotein.  When these are metabolised by the body they become sulphuric and phosphoric acids.  Therefore these foods are said to be acid forming. The lower the pH level, the higher the acidity forming property of the food.

Optimum health and energy begins as with every function in our bodies with balance.  The pH balance of our bodies is not only crucial, it is the essence of our survival and the body has evolved very efficient methods of maintaining this critical balance of acidity and alkalinity in our blood and the major organs of the body.  All cells, organs and fluids have their own preferred pH values in order to operate at peak performance.

Outside influences as well as internal balancing strategies play a part in effecting the pH balance of the body.  Stress, diet, nutrition, levels of exercise and environmental pollution are a major part of our lives today and most of our chronic illnesses are associated with our bodies becoming more acidic than alkaline.

A minor deviation from the optimum balance can have a devastating effect on the operating systems of the body and can lead to coma and death so the body has a number of buffer systems to maintain that balance. When the blood is too alkaline the heart contracts and ceases to beat and when too acidic it relaxes and ceases to beat.

Eating carrots and other vegetables and fruits that burn to an alkaline ash in the body help balance both the acidic ash foods we consume and some external stress triggers.  This means that your proportion of vegetables and some fruits should be higher in relation to grains and some proteins in your diet.  Eating more fish than red meat will help reduce the acidic load as will reducing the sugar content in your daily diet.

The vegetable is versatile and apart from eating regularly with a main meal during the week you can amplify its nutritional punch by combining it with sweet potatoes or squash in soups and oranges in a fresh pressed juice. They are lovely with a little butter and also mashed or roasted with other root vegetables.

Next time…Aubergines.. eat your purples.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2007

Please feel free to share and if you have a favourite carrot recipe then please let us have it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Fourth Day of Christmas, Carrots, Champagne, Ginger Beer and Hot Guests.


So here we are all again and it is now day four of the party. I have been looking back over photographs of Christmas past and I came across a gathering we hosted in Tring in 1984 just before David and I left for Houston for two years. It had all happened very quickly. We had moved into our little house in the May when David moved from Liverpool with his job to a new cable television division that had been set up. Unfortunately we had only been there six months when the powers that be shut down the division and made David redundant. A bit of a shock to say the least.

While we were in the process of making plans for the future his previous boss rang and offered David a very different prospect. Two years in Texas responsible for sales for the United States. It was really a no brainer, there were only two of us, the money was great and all we had to do was sell our house which we did quickly thank goodness.

 sally wedding day 1980

We were leaving early January and wanted to see as much of the family as possible. Despite heavy snow falls our visitors arrived on the 24th of December. David’s parents came from Ireland, my parents and brother from Portsmouth, David’s uncle from London – with only three bedrooms it meant that David and I camped out on mattresses in the dining room and my brother had the conservatory. Money was a bit tight but David brewed up a keg of beer – twice – because the first one was sampled a couple of weeks before by friends who came over to play darts!!

beer keg

Nine of us crammed around the dining room table and we had a wonderful day with charades in the afternoon which disintegrated into a hilarious debacle. Everybody stayed on until the 27th and then we put all our belongings into storage, except for two suitcases of clothes, and flew off knowing we would probably not see them again for at least two years. Two replete diners my father-in-law and his brother David who thought the home brew was spectacular!

sally wedding day 1980

A great Christmas and when I look at the photos I realise how easy it is to let those memories fade when actually being together and the laughter was more important than fancy food and presents.

TRADITIONALLY.

Day four is officially 28th December: The Feast of the Holy Innocents – when prayers are said for the innocent baby boys that Herod allegedly had killed in his efforts to overturn the prophesy that had been passed on by the Magi. They terrified Herod with the thought that the King of the Jews, the baby Jesus would take his throne. There has been much research into this massacre and theologians and historians are fairly sure that it did not take place. It may well be that around that time there could have been an epidemic that took the lives of many infants and someone put two and two together and got five. Herod’s marketing department may have taken advantage of a natural event to instil fear and loathing into the king’s subjects and it seemed to have been effective.

Anyway, perhaps it is a time to remember all young innocents who are taken before their time, as just the loss of one young life is always a tragedy.

FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

four calling birds

There is much debate about the origins of ‘Four Calling Birds’ but in fact the original was ‘Four Colly Birds’ and this meant that they were grimy and sooty and actually referred to Blackbirds.. Even more confusing was that they were not really Blackbirds but Thrushes…I suggest that you go directly to the drink section and partake of a very pleasant glass of champagne and forget the four birds of whatever origin all together….

FOOD

 carrots

The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan. The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac. Don’t all rush to the supermarket! In Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century. It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite! In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white. They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.

Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium. Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot. As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist. Follow the link to the full version.  There is a recipe for glazed carrots later in the post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/food-pharmacy-carrots-winning-racehorses-are-fed-them-and-you-can-even-decorate-your-hat-for-ascot/

DRINK

champagne

We all love some sparkling wine at Christmas and if really pushing the boat out then buying the finest Champagne can not only add some luxury sparkle to your celebrations but also add quite a bit to the housekeeping bill….

Some supermarkets now bottle their own Champagne and the budget stores of Aldi and Lidl have had some really good press in recent years.

http://www.supermarketwine.com/aldi/?c=11-sparkling

http://www.lifehacker.co.uk/2014/11/04/best-champagne-christmas-2014-waitrose-wins-11-99-lidl-fizz-top-bargain-buy

Here in Spain we tend to drink really good Cava rather than Champagne and even some of the best brands are less than 15Euro. Cordornìu Cava and Freixenet are great buys at the high end but we also have some smaller vineyards that produce very enjoyable Brut Cava for around 5Euro.

When we lived in the States we got the taste for Korbel Champagne and can highly recommend

http://www.brown-forman.com/news/releases/release.aspx?rid=1194

To be honest I am very partial to a drop of ginger beer at Christmas (as you will have gathered from the earlier comments we enjoy beer at Christmas) but I am delighted to have found that our local supermarket stocks Crabbies …

crabbies beer

It is now time to meet some more party guests – both of whom have exceptional blogs as well as creative talent.  One a writer and the other a superb wildlife photographer from Tofino, Vancouver Island.

Matt Kruze

images

My first party guest today is a crime thriller author who has just embarked on The Storm Trilogy with the first book The Coming of the Storm published earlier this year. He is also a blogger and you will find some fascinating interviews on his site with some of the most successful people in the news such as Olympic Gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, MBE and artists of the stage, screen and music industry.

http://www.thesecretsoftheirsuccess.com/steve-redgrave/#comment-65

When I asked Matt for his music choice he replied with this note that I thought was worth sharing as it mirrors my own views.

‘I’m a fan of Christmas songs in general but I guess I have to go with Do
They Know it’s Christmas by Band Aid 30. They’ve come under fire a bit
recently because their lyrics are supposedly corny and I understand one of
the front-liners in the fight against Ebola called it cringe-worthy. But
really – it’s a pop song, it has to sell. That’s the point of it. And the
writers are experts at selling music so who are we to criticize? The more
sales, the more money goes to charity. And it all goes to charity, not
just a percentage. Of course the participants will get some publicity from
it – but great: I mean don’t we all want a bit of legacy to our names? To
be able to say, ‘I participated in Band Aid’ shows you did something good.
The problem is that people jump on the media bandwagon without really
knowing why. It’s like getting on a bus just because it’s going somewhere.
It’s the same over immigration, the economy, and yes: charitable causes.
So use your own minds I say! Buy the song, save some lives.’

You can find out more about Matt and his work at

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/the-sunday-show-matt-kruze-author-and-host-of-the-secrets-to-their-success/

LINKS
http://www.thesecretsoftheirsuccess.com/
https://twitter.com/MattKruze
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matt-Kruze

RECIPE FOR GLAZED CARROTS.

glazed carrots

Ingredients
I large carrot per person – Peeled and sliced lengthwise into 2 inch sticks.
4oz of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste.

Directions
1 Place the carrots in a large broad based pan. Dot with the cubes of butter and sprinkle with the sugar and a little salt – you can always add a little more later to taste. Gently pour in sufficient cold water to come to about 3/4 up the carrot sticks.
2 Simmer, partially covered, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want them to burn.
3 Alternatively you can roast the carrots in the oven having parboiled for about 7 minutes and then added the glaze with a brush – take about 20 minutes and can be put in while your Turkey is resting.

merrychristmastp

My second guest today is Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography who spends all his time behind the lens of his camera than in front so in lieu of a profile picture I am using one that he sent me recently of a Wild Christmas tree mysteriously decorated by someone who will be nameless!  He also has sent me the link to a tongue in cheek version of The Twelve Days of Christmas – Canuck Style.

You will find some wonderful images on the two Sunday Shows that Wayne starred in earlier this year and also a link to his site with thousands of images of the beautiful wildlife and scenery of Tofino.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/the-sunday-show-w-c-barnes-wildlife-and-landscape-photographer-vancouver-island-part-two/

LINKS to more Tofino Photography
http://tofinophotography.wordpress.com
http://www.gotofino.com/

And finally at the end of the meal it is time to pull the crackers and to find which horrible joke you have been graced with….

cracker 11

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?
Tinsilitis!

 

Tomorrow we are at the Five Gold Rings stage of the party with more guests and music…. I hope you will drop by.

The Previous Days of Christmas can be found here…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-twelve-days-of-christmas/

This post qualifies for the Free Book promotion.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/one-of-my-books-free-for-christmas-just-comment-and-your-name-is-in-the-hat/

I would love to give you a copy of one of my E-books of which there is seven available. I am giving one a day away until Christmas Eve.

Please remember before you comment to check out which book you would like to receive if your name is drawn out of the hat and mention in your comment….

  1. Visit my books link

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

  1. Choose the book you would like to receive and in Mobi or EPub or tell me your reader.
  2. Comment on the day’s posts that are my own – not reblogs – with the title of the book. I will put a note on those that are relevant.
  3. I will let you know if you are the recipient the next day.