As a general rule women require less food to maintain a healthy balanced diet than men. The exception is salt and fiber intake, which should be the same for men and women.
Here are some easy ways to help you measure out how big meal portions of everything you should have as a woman.
Carbohydrates like cereal, rice, pasta, or potatoes – Clench your fist; this is the size of portion of carbohydrates you should have.
Proteins like meat, poultry, and fish – You should measure your protein to be the size of the palm of your hand.
Popcorn should just be enough to fit in two cupped hands.
Limit your baked goods to the size of two of your fingers.
Butter and spreads should be the size of the tip of your thumb.
So here are the balanced meals a woman should eat throughout her day.
This is truly the most important meal of the day. Kick-start your metabolism with protein. Be sure to include things like eggs, fish, lean ham or low-fat dairy. Stay away from the carbs in the morning. The protein will keep you full longer, helping you to eat fewer calories throughout the day.
Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps maintain your blood sugar. This doesn’t mean you eat more; it should be just a small pick-me-up. Some rice cakes spread with peanut butter and a banana are great for keeping your energy up.
Keep lunch to starchy carbs and lean proteins. The carbs will provide you with energy to keep you from falling victim to the mid-day slump that most people experience. You need to choose carbs that will give you a steady rise in blood sugar, so stay away from the sugar and white foods and opt for high fiber whole grain options. Try rye bread with salmon, chicken, or dairy. Don’t forget the greens. Whole grain toast with baked beans is another good lunch choice.
Is your sugar tooth starting to come out around this time of the day? Well, it’s a good time then to take care of that sweet tooth. But opt for fruit. A handful of dried fruit with some nuts are a good sweet and savory pick-me-up for a mid-afternoon snack. Combining dried fruits with nuts will help slow down the release of the sugar from the dried fruit, keeping you energized longer. Quick healthy snacks on hand like cherry tomatoes, grapes, and small vegetables will be great to keep in your fridge and grab for your mid-day snack.
Go ahead and have carbs at dinner. They’re low in fat, high in fiber, and help you relax in the evening. Have healthy fats like what you can get from salmon, mackerel, and sardines as well as nuts and seeds. Your body will use the fat overnight to regenerate and repair, which is great for healthy skin and hair.
Fill half of your plate with colorful vegetables, or a salad covered with a dressing made from flaxseed oil. Have meat, fish, or beans with brown rice or whole grain pasta.
Following these guidelines and making healthy choices throughout the day will keep you satisfied all day long, and ready to tackle a busy day.
The key to balanced nutrition in men is really quite simple. It’s what we all should follow. Eat at least three square meals a day, don’t skip breakfast, and eat food from every food group at every meal.
Here are some essential steps towards making sure men’s nutrition is balanced, providing the right nutrients for your needs.
Yes, carbohydrates are necessary to men’s health. This is the main source of energy for the body. You need to have simple carbohydrates (sugar) and complex carbohydrates (starches). You should get 60% of your calories from carbohydrates. Generally speaking the average man should consume 2,200 calories a day, meaning that 1320 of your calories should come from carbohydrates. Aim for more of the complex carbohydrates from things like fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, and dairy products.
A good way to start off your day is with a bowl of oatmeal with low-fat milk and some fruit preserves and peanut butter.
This is essential to have for survival. Fat is needed to help absorb essential vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K. You should have 15-20% of your daily calories come from fat. Aim to get unsaturated fat in your diet as you’ll need the energy. Try to avoid fats from butter, margarine, oil, and Crisco. Eat lean meats and fish like tilapia and tuna steaks. These contain healthy fatty acids of omega-3 and omega-6.
Be wary of low-fat options because the fat is usually replaced with refined sugar. Portion control is important, too. A good lunch option is tuna, chicken or turkey breast on whole grain bread with Gouda cheese, greens, and honey mustard.
Protein builds and repairs tissue. It’s of course good for muscles, but also skin, hair, and nails. The average man needs about 86 grams of protein a day. So if you eat a 16-ounce steak, then you should go easy on the protein for the rest of the week as the steak has 207 grams of protein. Shoot for 15-20% of your daily calories to be from protein. If you have a smoothie with milk, banana, strawberry, mango, yogurt, and peanut butter post workout, that’s a good source of protein to help repair your muscles.
Meat and potatoes are great, but your protein is best coming from lean meats and fish on a regular basis. The occasional 16-ounce steak is okay, but don’t aim to get an entire month’s worth of protein in one day. Too much of a good thing is never good. So a great balanced dinner option might be a salad sprinkled with almonds or pecans, shrimp, cheese, and black beans. This will be a good source of protein while also being sure to hit those food groups in a balanced way.
Skip the fad diets; they aren’t going to provide you with the balance and healthy nutrition you need. Eating in moderation while following the food pyramid will be the key to balanced health and nutrition. You will have to adjust things based on how active you are and whether you are trying to lose or gain weight, but including carbs, fats, and protein in your diet is going to be essential no matter what your weight goals are.
You ve now started your new weight training program and you have your eyes on your goal to burn some fat and put on some muscle. Some think that working out really hard is all you need to achieve weight loss. This approach is false. The foundation for any fitness regimen will always be a proper nutrition program.
Implementing a new nutrition program is a process. Here are 6 simple steps to start your new weight loss and nutrition program.
Don t let the details slow you down. Jump in and learn as you go. It s best to start with small moves. Since most people s diet consists primarily of starch and processed food, this is a good place to start. Try minimizing or eliminating packaged food and foods that are high in sugar.
Keep your grocery cart full of items you would find along the perimeter of the grocery store. Your meals should be made up of fresh meats combined with colorful fruits and vegetables. Food found inside the aisles are processed and preserved with ingredients that can be harmful towards your long term health.
Your body will tell you everything you need to know. Your goal is small balanced meals about every 3 hours. So start by evaluating the way you feel 3 hours after every meal. If you are sleepy, you probably had too many carbohydrates. If you are really hungry, there was likely a miscalculation in your portions or food combination. If you are still full, you probably had a portion too big for your frame. Set an alarm and evaluate the way you feel every few hours.
Do your research before you take any advice. Knowledge is power. When you have a good understanding why something is good (or bad) it makes the decision making process much easier.
Record what you eat. Make notes of portions and combinations. It s also a good idea to document how you feel throughout the day. Are you feeling mentally sharper or sluggish? Do you jump out of bed or do you hate your alarm clock? Find an accountability partner or coach to help review your journal. A journal will help you understand what works best for you.
With our busy lifestyles, most people will never be 100% with their fitness and nutrition. Strive for 85%. Many people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to nutrition, which eventually leads to yo-yo diet failure. Realize that things happen. If you stumble, it is ok. Get back on track with your next meal.
These 6 tips will help you get started in your pursuit of weight loss, health and wellness. Fitness and nutrition are lifelong endeavors. Make these 6 steps part of your lifestyle and look at the big picture. Your current weight and body composition are a result of many years of your current nutrition and fitness program.
It will not get reversed over night. Be patient and stick with it. These are simple guidelines that will help you get started in a good direction towards your goal of achieving an elite level of fitness, health and wellness.
Elderly nutrition is obviously an important part of a senior s overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, proper elderly nutrition in Long Beach is often overlooked when you consider all of the issues seniors face on a daily basis. Regular activities become more difficult, medication must be taken at specific times, and the home must be made safe.
But what about elderly nutrition? Just like the rest of us, seniors need to eat right to stay healthy. Like anything else, a healthy diet can become more difficult as we age.
Follow these tips for Long Beach seniors to ensure your loved ones maintain a healthy diet:
Eat meals with high nutritional values: Elderly nutrition begins with eating the right amount of vitamins and minerals. Since many seniors experience a decrease in appetite as they age, it s important for their smaller meals to be high in nutrients and calories. The best food includes fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and meat and dairy products that are high in protein.
Sensible snacking: If your loved one won t eat three full meals a day, another smart strategy is to encourage them to have several small snacks throughout the day that are rich with nutrients. Again, focus on fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, which are high in Vitamins E and B12, calcium, and zinc.
Add additional flavors: If your loved one s sense of taste is also on the decline, adding dressings, sauces, spices, and herbs to their food can provide that much-needed boost to their appetite. Another way to stimulate the appetite is to have a variety of a small amount of food at each meal.
Avoid eating alone: Mealtime can be depressing when you have to eat alone, so whenever possible try to have your loved one eat with someone. Whether it s a family member or a homecare services professional, many seniors are more likely to eat more and have better elderly nutrition when they eat with someone rather than eating alone.
Get groceries with them: If you re not available, hire a homecare services company in Long Beach to go to the store with them. This is a fool-proof way to make sure your loved ones are buying the right foods to maintain good nutrition.
Watch for dental issues: It s difficult to expect the elderly to focus on nutrition if they re having problems chewing food. Ask if they have any pain when eating, and have them visit the dentist regularly to make sure their dentures fit right and they don t have any cavities.
Seniors who live alone should keep plenty of non-perishable foods in the home. Unless they have a homecare services company managing their care, health problems or bad weather can make it difficult to go to the grocery store.
Provide reminders: Don t let a poor memory get in the way of good elderly nutrition. Make sure your loved ones stay on a regular eating schedule, and provide visual reminders where they spend the most time.
Elderly nutrition is a serious health concern among many seniors. It can make a huge difference in their quality of life, as well as add stability to their daily routines.
The frenzied lifestyles we lead these days barely give us any time to think of what we will be having for the next meal of the day. But with some effort, you can easily chalk up a menu (for a week or two) that is nutritious and cost effective as well. A menu plan not only helps you save a whole lot of money, but it also lets you know what you will be eating.
It is far more healthier to have an idea of what you will be preparing, instead of pulling out the first thing you see in the pantry/freezer and deciding to make a meal out of it. To create a menu plan that saves time and money, here are some tips that you can follow:
The first step of menu planning is to find out what you have in hand. Make a mental note of the meals you can prepare using what is available in the freezer, pantry and fridge. Prepare a shopping list of the things you have to buy to help you shop smartly, avoid impulse purchases and save money and time. Remember the essentials like fresh fruits, cereal and milk which you always buy.
Before you set out, plan your expenses. Have a look at the grocery ads and food coupons you already have. Maintain a price book in which you record how much things cost at different stores to help you know where you will find the best bargains for different items.
When you plan the menu for different meals, pay attention to serving enough vegetables and fruits and remember to balance your meals. Keep note of the requirements of your family, based on their ages, activity rates etc to ensure that food does not get wasted. The trick to make a meal appealing is by offering a variety that is both tasty and nutritious.
While planning a menu, you should think of how you will utilize leftovers. Leftovers can come handy on a day when you don’t have time to do elaborate cooking. Making use of a part of a meal to make a completely new meal can help you reduce your cooking time and food costs.
There are bound to be times when you will have to come up with quick alternatives when things don’t go according to plans. A hectic day at work, your kid’s illness, surprise visitors at home or weeks when you need to stretch the paycheck are situations when you should be prepared to make changes to your menu and reschedule your plans accordingly.
When our fast paced routines give us no time to breathe, having a menu plan means one less thing to worry about. With a clear plan of healthy and cost-effective meals for the day and week, you can be content about taking care of your family’s dietary requirements without spending too much money.
It’s important to eat right at all times. But when you live an activelifestyle you have got to be sure you’re fueling your body right in order to keep up and not get run down and even get sick. If you don’t have the proper nutrients and end up running around like crazy, then you are more likely to have faster crashes and burns and even to end up catching colds and other illnesses much easier.
So here’s how to eat to fuel your body so you can keep up with everything you want to do.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants. What this does for your body is protect it from damage due to free radicals which will cause you to age faster and break down the cells in the body. Lots of colorful fruits and vegetables will help to neutralize the effects of free radicals on your body. So fill up your plate, or at least half of it, with these foods.
Whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables all provide the vitamins and minerals needed for energy to fuel an active lifestyle. Our bodies aren’t very efficient at producing the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly, so we have to choose the right foods with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Instead of eating three large meals a day, eat smaller, healthy, well-balanced meals throughout the day. Eating six to eight smaller meals a day instead of three large meals will keep you energized throughout the day so you can maintain your active lifestyle. It will keep your energy up and metabolism high.
You cannot avoid fat. Most foods contain fat and your body is in need of fat. But you need to choose healthy fats, not empty calories. Eating fats with key fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 will provide you with good heart health and will lubricate your joints. A great healthy fat to eat would be nuts like walnuts.
Don’t follow the old adage of waiting 30 minutes before you can swim. Eating prior to exercise will fuel that workout. But be smart about what you eat. You don’t want a big heavy four-course meal; it should be sensible. This way you aren’t hungry in the middle of your workout.
Remember to drink water throughout the day. An important part of nutrition is to remain hydrated, no matter what kind of lifestyle you live.
What you put into your body – your food and drink – is going to have a huge impact on how you perform throughout the day. So choose the right diet, but then fine-tune how you eat throughout the day based on how you perform. Be open to making changes and space out your eating schedule differently. Doing this will improve your performance, and will help you maintain your active lifestyle and remain in good health while doing it.
So overall, the cons might just outweigh the pros when it comes to using nootropic to increase or decrease quantities of specific neurotransmitters.But that is not to say there’s no way you can effectively increase your brain power with a little outside assistance. The key is simply to switch your focus to your long term brain health rather than trying to get an immediate boost to your intelligence.
And doing this is very easy with the right diet. Diet is absolutely essential for brain health and many of us don’t realize just how critical it is in this regard. Let’s take a look at just some of the nutrients and supplements that you can use to enhance your brain power.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When you eat any meat, your brain will break it down into the amino acids and then recombine these to build tissues around your body. These tissues include use in the brain and so consuming more amino acids can be used to actually improve the body’s ability to repair and grow the brain!
But this is not where the importance of amino acids ends.
Amino acids are also crucial for creating many neurotransmitters. For example, l-tyrosine is used to create dopamine, whereas tryptophan (discussed earlier) is used to create serotonin. Others, like l-theanine, can have direct effects on the brain and in this case it’s a somewhat calming effect. L-carnitine meanwhile has an energy boosting effect on the brain by increasing the performance of the mitochondria (more on this in a second!).
As we’ve seen with 5-HTP, it is possible to consume many of these amino acids on their own, in order to trigger immediate changes in the levels of neurotransmitters. However, this leads to imbalances as we’ve discovered and despite popular opinion, this is never a positive thing.
So instead, the best advice is to focus on trying to get a healthy mix of as many amino acids as possible. By simply eating lots of protein, or supplementing with amino acid products, it’s possible to provide the brain with all the materials it needs to create all of the different neurotransmitters as and when it needs them.
This then makes it better at entering every mental state and ensures that you can maximize your focus, concentration, memory and relaxation all at the same time. The best way to conveniently get lots of amino acids? To consume plenty of eggs. Eggs are one of the only ‘complete proteins’ meaning that they contain all of the amino acids that the brain doesn’t create on its own.
On top of this, they also contain choline, which is the precursor to excitatory neurotransmitter acetylcholine. They’re a great source of healthy saturated fat too and seeing as the brain is predominantly made from fat, this is also a very important and beneficial factor.
The same goes for countless vitamins and minerals. These too are used to create a lot of the neurotransmitters that are so highly sought after by people trying to enhance their productivity and focus. Vitamin B6 in particular is used to create a huge number of neurotransmitters. Vitamin C meanwhile is key for increasing serotonin and boosting the mood, while also providing protection against illness (which brings with it cytokines – an inhibitory neurotransmitter).
And there are plenty of other roles for vitamins and minerals too. Iron and vitamin B12 both help with blood flow by producing more red blood cells. Vitamin D helps with the regulation of hormones, especially testosterone. Zinc plays a key role in enhancing neuroplasticity. Magnesium meanwhile helps to combat depression and anxiety. In short, if you are not getting the micronutrients you need, then you are not giving your brain everything it needs to function optimally.And this is why you need to avoid processed foods.
Anything that is very artificial like a Mars Bar, bag of crisps or McDonald’s burger will contain calories to fill you up but won’t contain the nutrients you need to function. You’ll stay alive but you’ll feel tired, sluggish and far less productive as a result. Eat healthy salads, smoothies and lots of fruit and veg and you’ll find that you start feeling healthier and alert. The next best thing is a multivitamin and if you get the right one of these then it can do a lot to improve the function of your brain as well as your overall health and wellbeing.
If you’re looking for an immediate brain boost that you can get from safe supplements and foods, then look for vasodilators. A vasodilator is any substance that dilates the blood vessels (veins and arteries). These will allow more blood and more oxygen to get around the body, which in turn will result in more making it to your brain.
A particular favorite among nootropic-fans is vinpocetine because this vasodilator focusses on the brain specifically – and the prefrontal cortex even more specifically. This means you’re getting more energy right to the part of the brain that you use for planning and problem solving and some people describe the feeling as being like ‘a cold shower for your brain’.
Cognitive Metabolic Enhancers
This is a fancy term for anything that increases your brain’s energy levels and often this means things that will increase the efficiency of your mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy factories of your cells. They float around inside the cytoplasm and they use glucose and ATP to power your bodily functions – including brain function!
Numerous things can help your mitochondria to perform better and these include CoQ10, lutein, l-carnitine, PQQ and more. In other words, a mixture of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and all kinds of lesser known nutrients available in supplement form.Again, the best strategy is just to eat a very balanced and nutritious diet but you can also increase your energy levels further by using creatine.
Creatine is a supplement that is very often used by athletes and bodybuilders. Its main function is to convert used ATP (adenosine and ADP) back into more useable ATP. In other words, it recycles adenosine which thereby provides you with extra energy to use in your training. The more recent surprise though is that this also enhances brain function by improving the energy efficiency of brain cells.
Basically, it allows the brain to recycle its ATP too, which means you get just a second or two of extra energy at maximum exertion. Studies show that individuals who take creatine get a slight boost to their IQ, so this is definitely a very effective nootropic – and one with zero side effects or risks! Creatine is produced naturally in the liver and can also be obtains from your diet (sources such as beef). However, the best way to see a significant boost is to use it in supplement form – look for creatine monohydrate.
Omega 3 fatty acid is a great antioxidant that is found in tuna and other oily fish, as well as some nuts and various other sources. What makes omega 3 useful for the brain though, is the fact that it can improve ‘cell membrane permeability’. Essentially, this means that it makes the cell walls of the neurons just a little more permeable, thereby allowing things to pass through a little more easily. That includes neurotransmitters, nutrients and more – so it essentially makes brain cells more responsive and thereby gives you a slight boost yet again.
Antioxidants are key for looking after your brain’s long term health. These include vitamin C, omega 3, resveratrol and tons of other micronutrients. Essentially, antioxidants work by destroying ‘free radicals’ – substances that damage cells when they come into contact with them and which can even lead to cancer if they make it through the nucleus and cause damage to the DNA!
Consuming antioxidants is thus a very important strategy for your overall health and will also help you to reduce your likelihood of illness by strengthening your immune system. However, what we’re interested in right now is how this can boost your brain power in the long term by protecting brain cells from damage and potentially lowering your chances of developing tumors later in life.
Exercising is one of the best ways to keep the human body in optimum shape besides the more obvious elements like proper diet and food choices.
A good nutrition will allow the body to function well during and after a workout session.
Being aware of the protein intake when physical activity is being practiced on a regular basis is important as it helps to ensure the correct amounts of macronutrient needs are being met. The carbohydrate and protein intake must be adequate to help maintain the body weight, replenish the glycogen store and help with the building and repairing of any tissue damage.
The diet should ideally consists of energy derived from fat which should be about 20 – 25% of the overall energy contributor, anything less would not be able to yield the desired results.
Having a good pre workout meal or hydrating liquid concoction would be most beneficial in ensuring all the right nutrients are available within the body system to help the body cope with the exercise regimen designed.
This may include some orange juice, water and whey protein, or some Endurathon mixed in with water, or a vanilla whey protein smoothie with berries and orange juice. Even some yoghurt and cereal or some toast and peanut butter are good pre workout boosters.
The post workout meal is also very important as this is provides the necessary elements to repair any damage done during the exercising session or to simply replenish the nutrients for the body.
Drinking a shake or a sports drink or even eating an energy bar after a good work out session will help maximize the muscle building process and hasten the body recovery time..
The energy needed to get the best out of any exercise routine is often not simply available without the aid of essential supplements. There are many different ways of getting these supplements, some of which are through natural sources while other are taken in the form of pre processed supplements.
The following are some examples of essential supplements for extra energy sources:
Caffeine – this particular item has always been known for its “pick me up” qualities. Acting as a good energy booster this convenient and easily available item is a good stimulant that increases the energy, focus and endurance levels of an individual, and this is especially beneficial for high intensity workouts.
Energy drinks – these drinks are usually specially designed to help replenish the body during and after a workout. The energy boosting angle of this drink will be a good and easy source for the rejuvenation feeling. It is also a cheap and fuss free way of being re-energized.
Energy bars – these are food items that are specifically designed to be compact enough to conveniently carry around and they are filled with energy packed ingredients.
Energy shots – another conveniently small packaged drink that contains all the necessary stimulants to support energy and performance. This will help the individual stay refreshed and energized even after a strenuous workout.
Other essential supplements, that are usually ideal for workouts would include a good dose of carbohydrates as this also provides a good source of energy and fuel for the body.
Vitamin B is also another essential need for the body as it helps to promote overall healthy and optimizes the energy and metabolism within the body. Ribose is a natural occurring sugar that may increase the ATP production and performance while supporting the energy levels.
Growing your own edible flowers can be a fun and interesting hobby that will add wonderful tastes, colors and nutrients to your diet. However, they are not for everyone.
Starting slowly is the safest way to decide whether they are right for you.
Those who have seasonal allergies might react to eating edible flowers, so they should exercise caution. Watch out for trouble breathing or a swollen tongue. In terms of preparation, in most cases the pollen from the flowers should be removed, to reduce allergens and improve the flavor overall.
Know Which Are Edible
Some flowers look and smell gorgeous, but are poisonous. Others might not look too appetizing, but are great to add to recipes. A good book on edible flowers can get you started. So too can buying small amounts of dried flowers. In this way, you can explore what each tastes like. Then you can decide if you would like to grow and harvest them yourself by setting up a container garden indoors, or flower garden outdoors.
With so many to choose from, it will take some time to find your favorites, but it can be a fun and tasty journey of exploration.
Slowly Add Them to Recipes
As with most plants, edible flowers can have various digestive effects – including a laxative one. Gas and upset stomach can also occur when trying new foods. Eat small amounts first to see how well the flowers agree with you. You might like to keep a food journal to note your results.
The best thing about growing your own edible flowers is that you can go organic. Certain flowers and herbs serve as natural insect repellents, such as mint and rosemary, so you can keep bugs at bay.
Be Careful with Composting
Compost is organic matter from food, such as orange rinds, tea leaves and so on, that are used to fertilize plants. Always put your compost on the soil, never on the leaves or flowers of your plants.
Get a Detailed Book
A detailed book of edible plants should have a photo, the English name, the Latin name, and basic details about the care of the plant. Use sticky notes to help you identify the plants you have tried that you like the taste of, and be sure to bring the book with you to your local nursery or garden center when you visit to buy seeds or plants.
Above all, check which parts of the plant can be eaten, and how they should be prepared. For some, it might be the flowers only; for others, the leaves as well.
Be Sure You Get the Species Right
Some edible flowers are part of a larger family of related plants, some of which might be poisonous. When buying seeds or plants, use the exact Latin name of the species listed in the book you are using.
Keep the Seed Packets and/or Plant Tags
Be sure to keep these items so you have instructions on care and feeding readily and hand.
Label or Tag Everything
The last thing you want is to get confused and ruin a recipe because you have put in the wrong flowers.
When growing these plants, you are going to be prolonging the harvest and keeping the flowers active for longer than they would be in nature (when they turn to seed and then never flower again until the following year). There are lots of fertilizers available, but aim for an all-natural one like liquid seaweed or cocoa mulch to keep the nutrition levels in the soil high throughout your growing period.
Test Your Soil
If you have a garden, take a sample to your local garden center to have it tested. In this way, you can be sure you are making the right choices of plants and will get healthy blooms that will not get mildewed and become inedible.
Follow these precautions to get the most out of your harvest.
Cooking with edible flowers and herbs can be a wonderful new way to add flavor and interest to your favorite recipes, and to branch out to try new recipes.
Here are some tips to help get you started.
A World of Flavor
There are many edible plants with wonderful tastes and visual appeal. Taking the time to research what is edible and which recipes it can be used in will not only add variety to your meals, but also phytonutrients (plant nutrients), vitamins and minerals.
In terms of herbs, just take a look at any spice rack in a supermarket, and chances are you will see both old favorites, like oregano and basil, with new, intriguing herbs lie borage and cilantro. Most herbs can be grown at home in containers or in the garden. They will be cheaper than store bought, and delightful-tasting when used fresh.
You can also dry your harvested herbs, which will be a lot less expensive than commercial brands. Best of all, your own herbs will be organic and pesticide-free.
Our ancestors wasted nothing. They started as hunter-gatherers, and through a process of elimination, discovered which flowers and herbs could be eaten. This knowledge got passed down through the centuries, and eventually made it into the earliest cookbooks. Many of these are free online, so you can discover popular dishes from the Middle Ages, or how Shakespeare would have dined.
A World of Recipes
There is also a world of cuisines to explore, each with their own herb combinations. Italian food, Indian, Thai, Chinese… learning about the herbs and spices used can help you add variety to your weekly meals, without expensive restaurants or takeaway.
Soups and Stews
Soups and stews are an excellent way to cook for two reasons. The first is that everything goes into one pot to simmer, for easy cooking and clean-up. The second is that everything is cooked together, so no nutrition is lost.
Soups and stews tend to also be very hearty and filling. They are ideal during chilly weather. Chances are you won’t overeat either, because the food will be so flavorful and satisfying.
The herbs you use will depend on the main ingredients in the soup. For lamb, seasonings like sage, rosemary and thyme will enhance the food. Just add a range of vegetables such as peas and carrots, and some wedges of potato for a complete meal.
One of the most popular sauces is Italian tomato sauce to pour over pasta. You can make your own in minutes with some fresh tomatoes that have been cored and quartered, and some oregano, basil and a dash of olive oil. Some people lightly sauté the herbs in the olive oil to release more of the flavor.
Other sauces can liven up chicken, fish and beef. It is all a question of learning which herbs you prefer, which can be a fun journey of exploration.
Garnishes and Decoration
Edible flowers and herbs have also been used for centuries to make food more attractive, in addition to adding flavor if the items used are intended to be eaten. You can add flowers to ice cubes to add beauty and flavor to a pitcher of drinks, or a platter of cheese. Your salads can take on new and vibrant colors with the help of nasturtiums and other edible flowers.
Edible flowers and some herbs were also the foundation of the desserts our ancestors loved. Rose petals and rose water were highly prized and used in many different recipes. Violets and other flowers were candied and eaten as is, or used to decorate cakes and puddings. Jellies were also very popular, and were both tasty and nutritious.
Safety first. Take the time to research what is safe to eat, and what it can be used for. In some cases, you can use the flowers, in others the leaves. Sometimes with herbs, you might be able to use the entire plant. There are many websites online with free information.
If you tend to have seasonal allergies, you might wish to avoid eating flowers. Most people should avoid eating the pollen, in order to avoid allergic reactions and to improve the taste of the flowers.
Good edible options include roses, mums, nasturtium, lavender and pansy.
Know What You Like
Edible flowers and herbs are very much a personal taste and preference. Think about the kind of herbs you use in your cooking these days, and how handy it might be to grow your own. As for flowers, check the descriptions of common edible flowers in relation to taste, whether they are sweet or savory, and so on. Then you can start planning your growing, harvesting and drying.
Not all edible flowers and herbs dry well, so choose ones you know will be hardy enough to survive the process, and ones you use regularly.
Hang Them Upside Down
Hanging the flowers and herbs upside down on a rack in a cool, dry place will help preserve them. They should be completely dry when you start; that is, with no dew on them. You can tie them into loose bunches with some cotton thread and hang them by the thread from hooks. They will usually take four to seven days to dry completely.
Once they are dried, you can remove flowers, leaves and so on from the stems and harvest the edible parts of the plant. For flowers, cut them in half and clean out any pollen or other inedible parts.
Store your harvest in cool, dry containers. Be sure to label each one so you don’t get any surprises when you use them in cooking.
Set your oven to 140 degrees F. Line some cookie sheets with paper towels. Lay the herbs in a single row on the towels. Heat for about 30 minutes, then check on them and turn them over. Heat through for another 20 to 30 minutes, but do not allow them to burn, or else all their nutrients and their taste will be gone.
Trim the edible parts and store in a cool, dry place.
Keep Things Dry
No matter which method you use, be sure the flowers and herbs are completely dry before storing them. Otherwise, they will develop mildew and become useless.
There are many recipes that call for dried herbs, so have fun experimenting. As for edible flowers, you will need to do some research, but you should be able to find a range of soups, stews, sauces, salads and desserts. Dried herbs are three times stronger in taste than fresh, so use sparingly.
Edible flowers work great in a range of recipes, from soups and stews to salads. But their vivid colors and pretty appearance can also help you create a whole new level of interest and flavor as you produce more exotic-looking dishes, or use the flowers as vibrant garnishes.
Place a flower or two in each compartment of an ice cube tray. Add water and freeze. Add to clear drinks. Also uses fresh flowers as garnish. Depending on what flowers you choose, they can add a lemony tang, taste of cucumber, and more.
Add flowers to your popsicle containers, fill with liquid, add the stick and freeze. You can have a colorful array of sunny-looking popsicles laden with flowers and interesting tastes, such as lemon mint or lavender.
You can make your own lollipops with sugar syrup and sticks. Try to find one perfect flower per pop. You can then arrange them on a stand and dazzle people with the colors.
Candied violets have been used for centuries, both as a sweet treat and as an elegant way to decorate cakes. Create a box of your own to pass around when guests come, or give as gifts.
Clear gelatin and some sugar can be the foundation of vividly-colored jellied candies. You can also add rosewater and rose petals if you like, to make your own Turkish delight. Make a tray of it, chill well, and cut into small squares. Toss the squares in some powdered sugar to stop them sticking together.
Fresh or dried edible flowers can dress up any cake. You can also use candied flowers. Some people use buttercream frosting and place the flowers around the top and sides of the cake.
Other cooks use fondant icing, a soft sugar paste that you roll out until it is large enough to cover the cake you wish to frost. Consider scattering flowers and petals onto the fondant as you give it a last roll out before you place it on top of the cake.
Use edible flowers as charming cupcake toppers. You can also make frosting from the flowers, such as rose.
Make your usual sugar cookie dough. Roll it out, cut into cookies, and roll a fresh flower into the top of each cookie. Use a variety of blossoms and you will be able to create a stunning-looking cookie platter.
Garnish can really make your platters stand out, such as cheese and fruit or dessert platters.
Some liquors can be enhanced with flowers, such as adding them to a bottle of vodka. You can also create various syrups out of edible flowers to add color, flavor and consistency to cocktails and mocktails (you can use seltzer instead of alcohol in most cases).
Some edible flowers and botanicals like hibiscus and rose hip are actually the basis for most commercial herbal teas on the market, so you can have fun experimenting with different blends. The most basic herbal tea can be made with fresh or dried chamomile flowers. It is pretty, and good for the digestion.
Layer the flowers with layers of yogurt, and perhaps some granola or nuts, for a light, refreshing dessert or breakfast.
Use these and your own ideas to brighten up your dishes with edible flowers.