Probiotics help balance the microflora in the gut, helping the digestive system and offering protection from harmful bacteria. Common benefits claimed from taking probiotics include the reduction of gastrointestinal discomfort, strengthening of the immune system, improvement of bowl regularity and reduced bloating. Choose a capsule or powder containing a high number of live bacteria strains. Some form of probiotic should be consumed every day, I sneak some in my breakfast smoothie, fermented vegetables are an excellent source. I add probiotic capsules to ferment my Cashew Probiotic Cheeze on page 301 of The JOYful Table.
A prune is a dried plum. Prunes can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking. Remove the pit before using in cooking. Prunes contain a mild laxative. They are high in dietary fibre and vitamin K and also high in antioxidants. Purchase organic prunes that contain no preservatives (sulphur).
Psyllium powder is ground down psyllium husks to produce a very fine powder. Psyllium is a source of soluble dietary fibre, it expands when mixed with liquid. It can help relieve constipation and diarrhea. Psyllium is used in gluten free baking, as the finely ground husks bind moisture and help make breads rise and less crumbly. You can purchase psyllium husk powder from a supermarket or make your own by using a blender or food processor to ground to a very fine powder.
Psyllium husks are indigestible and are a source of soluble dietary fibre. They expand when added to liquid and are used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. Psyllium is also used in gluten free baking, where the ground husks bind moisture and help make breads less crumbly.
Like all orange pigmented vegetables, pumpkins are rich in beta carotene (vitamin A) and studies show pumpkin contains more than carrots.
Pumpkin seeds or pepitas are an amazing health food, a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. They are small packages full of nutrition (plant based omega 3 fats, zinc, anti-inflammatory benefits). Sprinkle over salads, add to snack bars, granola, smoothies and they can also be ground down to add to grain free baked goods.
The purple red skinned variety of sweet potato with it's white flesh, is the second most popular variety of sweet potato in Australia. It is also know as 'Northern Star'. It isn't as sweet as the most popular golden orange variety and has a nutty flavour. It has a firmer dry flesh and will take a bit longer to cook. It's perfect for people unable to eat nightshade vegetables but would like a white fleshed potato. It isn't high in beta-carotene (vitamin A) like the orange variety.
Quinoa flakes are essentially just pressed quinoa, each little quinoa seed is rolled flat to make a flake. Quinoa flakes are an excellent replacement for rolled oats which are a grain and high in phytic acid. Quinoa flakes are a complete protein, which means they contain all the essential amino acids and they are full of good fibre. They are very quick to cook as they are small and thin flakes and make great gluten-free porridge.
The radish is an edible root vegetable and is mostly eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable. There are many varieties ranging in different flavours, colours, shapes and sizes. The most common are the European radishes (small/round red) and the Daikon Asian radish (large/oblong white). Radishes are high in vitamin C and fibre, they also contain a group of compounds called isothiocyanates, which have been shown to be effective against certain cancers.
Raspberries are a perennial fruit with woody stems, they are cultivated to provide both fresh and frozen fruit. Raspberries spoil faster than most berries because of their delicate structure and hollow core. If frozen they will preserve for up to a year. Raspberries are usually quite expensive and purchased as a special treat. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, a source of folate and contain useful amounts of iron and potassium. High in fibre.
There are many different kinds of cabbage. Red cabbage also known as purple cabbage is similar to the green varieties but it is much higher in vitamin C, vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage. It's high in fibre and a good source of potassium, the red colour is a bonus, it can help you with achieving your rainbow of daily vegetables (when cooked it turns more blue, adding a little vinegar will help keep it's deeper red colour).
Red curry paste is ideal for flavouring meat, chicken, fish and vegetables dishes. The paste is usually a mix of, lemon grass, shallots, garlic, ginger, red chilli, salt, coriander, kefir lime, pepper and cumin. Purchase a brand that contains no MSG, artificial colours or flavourings, preservatives or trans oils. My favourite brand is Thai Gourmet Red Curry Paste.
Red onions are sometimes called purple onions and have a mild to sweet flavour. They are normally eaten raw or lightly cooked. Raw they add colour to salads, when lightly cooked some colour is lost. Red onions are packed with quercetin, aside from its antioxidant properties, quercetin has been found to possess cancer fighting, ani-fungal, aniti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Use organic red wine vinegar if possible produced by slow fermentation.
Rocket are green salad leaves that can't be classed as a true herb or vegetable. Rocket has a peppery, nutty flavour and has a texture similar to English Spinach. Also referred to as 'Arugula'. It's one of the nutritious green leafy herb/vegetables from the Mediterranean region, it has many vital phytochemicals antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
The herb rosemary is a woody perennial herb with evergreen, needle-like leaves and has a strong fragrance. Rosemary is often cooked with lamb or in Italian dishes and is added to stews, soups and broth to give extra flavour, also the oil is extracted and used for many purposes including body creams and shampoos. Rosemary leaves are used fresh or dried.
Sage is native to the Mediterranean area. The herb is a member of the mint family and has many healing properties. Use sage leaves to season fish, meat, salads and soups. Sage is a good source of vitamin A, calcium, iron and potassium. Sage has been used to treat a wide range of conditions like cold, sore throat, fever respiratory problems, sinusitis, skin problems, menstrual disorders, digestive ailments and memory loss.
When purchasing seafood opt for wild caught fish, not farmed. Salmon is one of the best choices as it contains good amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. When purchasing canned fish, look for “pole and line caught” on the label.
Sauerkraut is fermented finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. It has a long shelf life and a sour flavour, both result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage (a process of pickling). There are many health benefits claimed for sauerkraut. it is a source of vitamins C, B and K, it is also high in calcium, magnesium and fibre. The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients. The unpasteurized and uncooked, sauerkraut also contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes and is rich in enzymes. The probiotics that sauerkraut contains, improves digestion and promotes the growth of healthy gut flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract.
Savoy cabbage has ruffled green outer leaves and is higher in beta carotene than other varieties. Savoy cabbage has less water content than regular green cabbage which makes it a much better choice to use in a coleslaw. Using it will help prevent the watering down of your dressing.