Green Chilli

 

Capsaicin is a substance that occurs naturally in chili peppers, giving them their spicy flavor. The hotter the chili, the more capsaicin it contains. There is clinical evidence that capsaicin can be used to treat nerve-related disorders like persistent pain, psoriasis, and neuropathy. Capsaicin also releases endorphins in the brain and puts chili eaters in a better mood.

Several cultivars of peppers are grown all around the world. The chili plant is native to Central American region where it was used as the chief spice ingredients in Mexican cuisine for centuries. It was introduced to the rest of the world by Spanish and Portuguese explorers during 16th and 17th centuries and now grown widely in many parts of the world as an important commercial crop. Chili plant is a perennial small shrub with woody stem growing up to a meter height and bears white colored flowers. The pods are very variable in size, shape, color, and pungency. Depending on the cultivar type, they range from the mild, fleshy, Mexican bell peppers to the tiny, fiery, finger-like chili peppers, commonly grown in Indian subcontinent. Interiorly, each fruit features numerous tiny, white, or cream colored, circular and flat seeds. The seeds are actually clinging around the central white-placenta.

Puradaradasa (1480-1564) wrote the poem about Chilli –

“I saw you green, the turning redder as you ripened, nice to look at and tasty in a dish, but too hot if an excess is used. Saviour of the poor, enhancer of the good food, fiery when bitten, even to think of (the deity) Panduranga Vittala is difficult”

To harvest, chilies can be picked up while they are green or when they reach complete maturity and dried in the plant. Usually, the fruits are picked up by hand when they are matured and turned red. They are then left to dry, which causes them to shrivel. Chilies have a strong spicy taste that comes to them from the active alkaloid compounds: capsaicin, capsanthin and capsorubin.

Experimented 3 types of Hot peppers in iThottam. They are Agni, Green Bullet & Hot Bajji.

 

Health Facts:

  • Rich in fiber with no fat, cholesterol, or sodium, green chilies are a healthy food with super flavor.
  • Vitamin A, which is essential for the health and maintenance of bones, teeth, mucous membranes, eyes, and skin. This vitamin is also essential for healthy eyes—as it produces retina pigmentation and promotes night vision.
  • Vitamin C is also abundant in green chili. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) acts as both an antioxidant and a vitamin. Vitamin C helps the body to maintain and repair wounds, bones, teeth and cartilage. As an antioxidant, it strengthens overall health and helps the body fight infections. Green chilies are also rich in phytochemicals, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Chilies contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
  • Chilies are also good in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.

Some Recipes:

Links (Sources):

GMO

What is GMO?

non-gmoGMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism and is most often referred to when it comes to our food.

The DNA from other plants, viruses, animals and bacteria are injected into the cells of existing species. This is supposed to make them more resistant to the rain, drought, pests, etc. Up until this point, these viruses and bacteria have never been a part of the human food supply.

Even though we tend to see Organic that way, you have to do more research on where the farmer got the seeds from. A GMO seed could be organic and has still the same issue as GMO seeds. Monsanto owns most of the seed supplies in US and there are higher chances that you are growing them in your backyard.

According to the Just Label It campaign:

  • 59% of sugar produced in the US is made from sugar beets and 90% of the beets are genetically engineered
  • Over 90% of canola oil is genetically engineered
  • 90% of the cotton planted in the US is genetically modified
  • 94% of all soybeans planted in the US are genetically modified
  • 88% of US Corn is genetically modified

You should avoid consuming the above if you live in US. GMO hasn’t been proven safe so far. Read more about it from Seeds Now since the source of this article is from there and they have several video’s to educate yourself about GMO.

Read also the same topic at 8 Things You can do for safely ignore GMO products from your shopping list.

Vandana Shiva

220px-Vandana_shiva_20070610Vandana Shiva (born 5 November 1952), is an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author. Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books. She was trained as a physicist and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in 1978 with the doctoral dissertation “Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory.”

She discusses this topic too deep on the sad truth behind GMO and growing plants or vegetables naturally. It’s very important to know what we consume as a food to save us. She is a phenomenal women advocating against patenting seeds and organic movement.

Organic Food

What is Organic?

Wikipedia says: Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control. Organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides but excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured (synthetic) fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, genetically modified organisms, human sewage sludge, and nanomaterials.

Basically, don’t stand between nature. Organic farming is based on holistic, ecologically balanced agricultural principles involving soil fertility, crop rotation and natural pest control. Many everyday products can be produced on organic farms, including vegetables, grains, meat, dairy, eggs and fibers such as cotton. What makes these things organic is how close to their natural state they stay. When growing organic goods, farmers do not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers on crops, and they reject the use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics or other medications in their livestock. Animals are provided with organic feed and allowed access to the outdoors.

Why?

  • Healthy
  • Taste better
  • No chemicals or pesticides
  • Prevent soil erosion
  • Stop polluting ground water

Compost

Compost is organic material used with success in both home gardens and farms. It is made of decaying and decayed organic wastes and is spread on garden beds and organically farmed fields. Examples include:

  • Yard trimmings — wood chips, grass clippings and leaves
  • Food waste — coffee grounds, tea bags, and fruits and vegetables
  • Manures — poultry, cow and horse

Using compost can encourage beneficial bacteria and fungi to grow, helping to create nutrient-rich, moist soil while also eliminating or reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

Green Manure

Green manures and cover crops also improve soil quality. Plants are grown specifically to benefit the soil and the main crops on the farm — farmers choose from a variety of cover crop plants depending on the needs of their fields. Cover crops in general are used to protect the soil’s surface from water and wind erosion, help maintain soil structure, and help maintain the level of organic matter of the soil, all of which keeps soil healthy. Green manure is a type of cover crop grown specifically to add nutrients back into the soil; manure is plowed together with the soil, positively increasing the soil’s organic matter.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotations are also part of the strategy organic farmers use to help sustain soil fertility. For example, this year an organic farmer may grow wheat on a field, graze sheep on that field next, and plan to plant a cover crop of clover the year after.

The great thing about supporting your local Organic farm stand is that you know where the food source come from. You will know the farmer who grows them.

Bananas – Who do they all look alike?

Bananas – Why do they all look alike?

Common Bananas are all genetically same because they come from trees that have been cloned for decades. The variety we get at stores are called “Cavendish” variety. United Fruit Corporation in 1950 chose this variety to best serve their profits and train consumers to expect all bananas to look alike. Another sad thing is that Cavendish bananas are never allowed to reproduce. I hate to accept this fact but we left with no choices.

I visited India in Nov 2014. I visited an agriculture event, AGRI INTEX in Coimbatore. It was different from the one’s I have attended here in states. Just on bananas, I saw more than 100 varieties. I have some pictures from there.

Eventually, US will slowly kill some of the other vegetables and fruit varieties, so that we will all know one type of fruit in the future. No confusion, right! Welcome to Genetic Engineering application in real world.

Thulsi

Thulsi

Thulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Holy Basil, also known as basil leaves, is a fairly common plant in Indian households. Considered holy by many religions, the thulsi plant is revered for its divine properties. Tulasi leaves is an essential part in the worship of God Vishnu (Narayana) and his Avatars including God Krishna, God Rama and other Vaishnava deities like Hanuman, Balarama, Garuda. Tulasi is a sacred plant for Hindus and is worshipped as the avatar of goddess Lakshmi. Water mixed with the petals is given to the dying to raise their deserting souls to heaven. Tulasi, which is Sanskrit for “the incomparable one”, is most often regarded as a consort of Krishna in the form of Lakshmi.

Besides it being considered a holy plant, the leaves and roots of the plant are used in various medical decoctions. With immense benefits right from clear skin to dissolving kidney stones, thulsi is tonic for the entire body.

Health Benefits

  • Cures a fever: Thulsi has very potent germicidal, fungicidal, anti-bacterial and anti-biotic properties that are great for resolving fevers. Boil a few leaves of thulsi with powdered cardamom in half a liter of water (The proportion of thulsi to cardamom powder should be in the ratio 1:0.3). Let it reduce to half its total volume. Mix this decoction with sugar and milk. Sip every 2 -3 hours. This remedy is especially good for children.
  • Beats diabetes: Increases sensitivity to insulin. Lowering one’s blood sugar and treating diabetes effectively.
  • Protects the heart: Thulsi has a powerful anti-oxidant component called Eugenol. This compound helps protect the heart by keeping one’s blood pressure under control and lowering his/her cholesterol levels. Chewing a few leaves of thulsi on an empty stomach everyday can both prevent and protect any heart ailments.
  • Beats stress: According to a study conducted by the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India, thulsi helps to maintain the normal levels of the stress hormone – cortisol in the body. People who have high stress jobs can chew about 12 leaves of thulsi twice a day to beat stress naturally.
  • Dissolves kidney stones: The holy basil being a great diuretic and detoxifier is great for the kidneys. To relieve kidney stones one must have the juice of thulsi leaves with honey, every day for six months to help wash out the stone from the kidney.
  • Beats cancer: With strong anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties thulsi has been found to help stop the progression of breast cancer and oral cancer (caused due to chewing tobacco). This is because its compounds restrict the flow of blood to the tumor by attacking the blood vessels supplying it. Have the extract of thulsi every day to keep these conditions at bay.
  • Helps to quit smoking: Thulsi is known to have very strong anti- stress compounds and is great to help one quit smoking.
  • Keeps your skin and hair healthy and glowing: The holy basil has powerful purifying properties. When eaten raw, it purifies the blood giving the skin a beautiful glow, and prevents the appearance of acne and blemishes.
  • Heals respiratory conditions: Thulsi has immunomodulatory (helps to modulate the immune system), antitussive (suppresses the cough center, reducing the amount of cough) and expectorant properties (helps expel phlegm from the chest), that make it a great relief for coughs, cold, and other respiratory disorders including chronic and acute bronchitis.
  • Cures a headache: Thulsi helps to relieve headaches caused due to sinusitis, allergies, cold or even migraines.

 

Lemon Basil

Lemon-Basil-Ocimum-americanum--NEW-FOR-2014-252-333Lemon Basil is a very popular in Southeast asia region, and Persian, Arabic cuisines. It’s called Kemangi in Indonesia. Adding basil to any soup or salad brings a nice fresh green beauty and flavor.

As per Wikipedia:

“Lemon basil is often used to season certain Indonesian dishes, such as curries, soup, stew and steamed or grilled dishes. In Thailand, Lemon basil, called maenglak, is one of several types of basil used in Thai cuisine. The leaves are used in certain Thai curries and it is also indispensable for the noodle dish khanom chin nam ya. It is also used in North East part of India state Manipur. In Manipur, it is used in curry like pumpkin, used in singju (a form of salad), and in red or green chilli pickles type.”

Other links:

Eggplant

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Long prized for its deeply purple, glossy beauty as well as its unique taste and texture, eggplants are now available in markets throughout the year, but they are at their very best from August through October when they are in season.

Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. They grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height. While the different varieties do range slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe the eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture.

We tried 2 types of Eggplants in iThottam and they are Bali & Hari (http://www.seedsofindia.com/search/eggplant/match_criteria/all/searchCat/0/rec/6). You have to be very careful about Flea Beetles when the plant is small.

How to Select and Store

Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.

The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant that has been waxed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while if an indentation remains, it is not.

Although they look hardy, eggplants are actually very perishable and care should be taken in their storage. Eggplants are sensitive to both heat and cold and should ideally be stored at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Do not cut eggplant before you store it as it perishes quickly once its skin has been punctured or its inner flesh exposed.

Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days. If it is too large for the crisper, do not try to force it in; this will damage the skin and cause the eggplant to spoil and decay. Instead, place it on a shelf within the refrigerator.

If you purchase eggplant that is wrapped in plastic film, remove it as soon as possible since it will inhibit the eggplant from breathing and degrade its freshness.

Individual Concerns

Eggplant and Oxalates

Eggplant is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating eggplant. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan.

Eggplant Belongs to the Nightshade Family

Eggplant is one of the vegetables in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, which includes bell pepper, tomatoes and potatoes. Anecdotal case histories link improvement in arthritis symptoms with removal of these foods; however, no case-controlled scientific studies confirm these observations.

Health Benefits

In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin.

Brain Food

Research on eggplant has focused on an anthocyanin phytonutrient found in eggplant skin called nasunin. Nasunin is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage. In animal studies, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals, letting nutrients in and wastes out, and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell which activities it should perform.

Rich in Phenolic Antioxidant Compounds

Researchers at the US Agricultural Service in Beltsville, Maryland, have found that eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from exposure to the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi.

The good news concerning eggplant is that the predominant phenolic compound found in all varieties tested is chlorogenic acid, which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues. Benefits attributed to chlorogenic acid include antimutagenic (anti-cancer), antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral activities.

Cardiovascular Health and Free Radical Protection

When laboratory animals with high cholesterol were given eggplant juice, their blood cholesterol, the cholesterol in their artery walls and the cholesterol in their aortas (the aorta is the artery that returns blood from the heart back into circulation into the body) was significantly reduced, while the walls of their blood vessels relaxed, improving blood flow. These positive effects were likely due not only to nasunin but also to several other terpene phytonutrients in eggplant.

Additional Links

Totakoora

68-189Amaranthus-Totakoora (Thotakura)

Green variety of Amaranthus popular in Andhra Pradesh. It is often cooked with dals. Totakoora (or totakura) provides excellent roughage in your diet and is rich in calcium, iron and vitamin A and C. This is a tasty green consumed extensively in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Recipes made of this green are very tasty as well as healthy. It cools and energizes the body. The more mature greens of this family is the ‘thandu keerai’. A very good blood cleanser, this green is also strengthens the heart. It loosens stools and helps treat painful and difficult urination due to increase in body ‘heat’.

However, some health enthusiasts say that

  • You should not heat amaranth leaves. (They say they release toxins when reheated.)
  • Avoid eating them if you are prone to kidney stones
  • And ignore them if you are allergic

Different Names:

  • English — Amaranth greens
  • Chinese –Hinn Choy, Yin tsoi
  • Tamil – Mulai Keerai, Mula Keerai, முளைக் கீரை
  • Telugu —Thotakura
  • kannada – Dhantinasoppu
  • Malayalam — Cheera
  • Hindi – Chauli

Health Benefits:

  • Amaranth leaves are rich in Potassium, Vitamin C, protein, folic acid and other vital nutrients. So you can’t say you can’t toss off starch rich potatoes for the sake of potassium.
  • Juice derived from amaranth leaves are a good remedy for bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses.
  • Amaranth juice will give you a lot of essential amino acids and proteins. Children can be given the fresh juice with honey.
  • Include all green leafy veggies for cancer prevention and cholesterol management. Amaranth leaves and grains (rajgeera) have a magic on high lipids.
  • Amaranth would give you a lot of dietary fibre and roughage.
  • Amaranth leaf juice is a great mouthwash.
  • Squeeze some fresh juice and apply for hair loss and premature greying.
  • Apply the remaining juice on skin for acne and eczema.

Links (Sources):

Bitter Gourd

bgBitter Gourd (Momordica charantia) or karela, also known as bitter melon in the Chinese markets, is a delicacy that is nutritious and is renowned to have medicinal qualities. It can be fried, stuffed, pickled, baked or curried. Varieties of this vegetable include those with very light, almost whitish green skin to the dark bottle green colored skin. Some are almost a foot-and-a-half, while others are just about 2″-3″ long. Cooking this vegetable seems to reduce some of the bitter taste.

We used Jawahar style bitter gourd in our iThottam. Jawahar is emerald green, quite bitter, a heavy yielder, 45-50 days from sowing. The vegetable is very low in calories, providing just 17 calories per 100g. Nevertheless, its pods are rich in phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

This green melon that is shaped more like a cucumber has uneven grooves and a rough texture and is unlike any others in the melon family. It is also the most bitter of edible vegetables. Just as chili peppers vary in size and degree of heat, there are many varieties of bitter gourd that differ substantially in the shape and bitterness. The Indian variety is dark green and spiky while the Chinese variety is lighter in color with a bumpy peel. Some Taiwanese, Japanese and Filipino varieties are ivory to white-colored.

Bitter gourds grow on vines in tropical and subtropical climates. They are cultivated in most parts of Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. They have a hollow center with a thin layer of flesh surrounding a seed cavity filled with large flat seeds and pith. Young bitter gourds tend to be bitterer than the ripe vegetable.

When a bitter gourd begins to ripen its color changes to shades of yellow, the interior has a reddish hue and it has less bitterness. When it is fully ripe it turns orange and splits into segments that curl back to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp. Bitter gourd is mostly cooked when green, or when it just starts turning yellow. The young shoots and leaves of the bitter gourd are also edible.

 

Health Benefits:

  • Reduces Blood Glucose levels
  • Lowers dietary carbohydrate digestion
  • Reverses insulin resistance
  • Prevents diabetic complications
  • Excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fiber

Links (Sources):

Full Circle Earth

Jimi

Full Circle Earth is a non profit organization dedicated to education, empowerment, and growth for the whole community. Within these three focused pillars – Educate, Empower, Grow Full Circle Earth will meet the environmental needs of the community, while creating rewarding vocational and learning service opportunities for students, youth and individuals with developmental disabilities.

Jimi Carnazza – Founder, Chair of Board and Executive Director of FCE. With an education in sociology, social work, and organic land care; background in art and performance, Jimi has been working in several key areas including special needs education, permaculture, organic land care and music. Currently he works at a School to Work Specialist with various high schools in the North Shore area and is focused on launching FCE (Full Circle Earth).

Jimi is my farming neighbor where we both leased the land from David Burns. Jimi makes the Compost Tea, Vermicompost Tea and educate/help us do our Organic farming here in Woburn. He is very impressive with the knowledge he has on farming and the nature of helping out to do something great back to the community. Every conversation we had were very helpful doing the right thing back to the soil. Visit his Greenhouse to see his work and the outcome of it.

His mission statements are very impressive:

  1. To Educate the focus community on sustainable solutions and how to live sustainably for the betterment of humanity and the earth;
  2. To Empower people in the community through learning opportunities at our environmental education center and through our public outreach.
  3. To Grow (food, herbs, flowers, social capital) and in so doing demonstrating how growth is necessary to life.  to find beneficial relationships from which to maximize that growth within novel and overlapping relationships.

Simple man with a great vision and courage to change the world

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