It is helpful and inspiring to think about all the wonderful, colorful, tasty food plants at our fingertips. Some days I feel like concocting a fancy meat substitute dish, but other days I can just slice an avocado or dig into a watermelon, and go to the beach! I hope you find the glossary helpful and will refer to it often as more items are added.
I am bilingual and bicultural, so I included names in English and Spanish. Since food names vary greatly from place to place, I settled on Southwest American English and Central Mexican Spanish. The links contain details about specfic items.
Broccoli is still one of the super plant foods when it comes to nutrition, but questions have been raised about a certain hybrid. Even though it is not genetically modified, Monsanto is involved in the project. This article from Planet Natural details the controversy, but it may be biased since they are selling an alternative product (heirloom seeds).
Some environmentally and politically conscientious people may boycott the product. Marion Nestle, a New York University nutrition professor and author of Food Politics says that it’s just part of Monsanto’s drive to control the seed and food industry. “Should one corporation have that level of control over things people depend on?” she asks. The article also states that Bjokman and Monsanto say they don’t intend to use genetic engineering techniques when it comes to broccoli. Monsanto has already engineered both GMO summer squash and sweet corn.
Personally, I will continue to buy and consume whatever broccoli looks freshest without researching exactly where it came from. If it’s labeled organic and reasonably priced, I will probably give it preference.
Hibiscus flowers are used in Mexico to make a cold, sweetened beverage or to brew a relaxing tea that can also be used to treat hipertension (high blood pressure). The flowers are usually discarded after brewing, but they can be used as a meat substitute. I have discovered in the process that I can get a lot more beverage from a batch of flowers than I thought. The chewy texture resembles shredded beef or pork, and they absorb the flavors of garlic and onion when sauteed. If you don’t live in Mexico, you may be able to find hibiscus in a supermarket or Mexican grocery, or you can order it on Amazon. These tacos got a hearty thumbs-up even from the non-vegans at my house in Cancún.
PRIOR TO MAKING THE TACOS Cover 1 c HIBISCUS FLOWERS with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and keep the liquid to make tea or beverage. Repeat with the same flowers 2 more times, until the liquid is very light in color. Drain the flowers well and set them aside.
INGREDIENTS 1 c hibiscus flowers, boiled and drained / 1/2 c onion, finely chopped, for sauteeing / 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped / 1 Tbsp olive oil for sauteeing / salt to taste / 8 corn tortillas / 1 c lettuce, finely chopped / 1 c onion, finely chopped / 1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped (optional) / salsa, to taste (about 2 Tbsp for each taco)
PREP TIME 20 min / COOK TIME 10-15 min, med heat / NEED skillet / MAKES 8-10 tacos
When I first came to Mexico, I learned to love agua de jamaica, a delicious beverage that was a little bit tart, usually sweetened and served cold. Many years later, I learned that agua de jamaica was made from dried hibiscus flowers. Recently, I have learned that this delicious drink has many health benefits, even medicinal uses, and that after they are boiled and strained, the flowers can be used as a meat substitute in tacos and other dishes!
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||1.279mg||85.00%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.099mg||6.00%|
Hibiscus tacos / Tacos de flor de jamaica (Recipe)
Source: Doctors Health Press
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup cooked and drained CHICKPEAS / 1/4 cup TAHINI / 1/8 cup OLIVE OIL (optional) / 1 clove GARLIC / juice of 1 LEMON / to taste: SALT / PEPPER / CUMIN (optional) / PAPRIKA for garnish
PREP TIME 14 min / COOK TIME none / NEED food processor / MAKES 1 1/2 cups
Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until creamy.
INGREDIENTS: 1 lb TOMATOES / 2 cloves GARLIC / 1/4 medium ONION / small amt WATER / 1 cup RICE / 1/2 tsp SALT or to taste / 1/8 tsp CUMIN (optional) / 1/8 tsp BLACK PEPPER (optional) / 1 cup WATER
PREP TIME 30 min / COOK TIME 20 min / NEED blender / non-stick skillet / MAKES 2 cups
Amaranth is a pseudocereal grown for its edible starchy seeds; it is not in the same botanical family as true cereals such as wheat and rice. Amaranth, which is gluten-free, is a good source of fiber, protein, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Uncooked amaranth is not digested. It can be boiled and eaten as a cereal like oatmeal or added to granola and many other dishes.
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It is considered a pseudocereal, cultivated for its edible, seed. The word “chia” is derived from the Nahuatl word chian, meaning oily.
Chia seeds may be added to other foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and bread. They also may be made into a gelatin-like substance or consumed raw. The gel from ground seeds may be used to replace the egg content in cakes and is a common substitute in vegan baking.
Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by Curcuma longa plants. It is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, a member of the ginger family. There is some confusion in the two names because curcumin is a component of turmeric. Turmeric is better for some conditions, while curcumin alone is better for others. Turmeric, commonly used in Asian food, is the main spice in curry.
Turmeric or curcumin is recommended for pain and inflammation, such as that associated with osteoarthritis. It is also used for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a liver disease, and itching. Some people use turmeric for heartburn, thinking and memory skills, inflammatory bowel disease, stress, and many other conditions, but there no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
WARNINGS: In small amounts, turmeric has few reported side effects, though there have been reports of nausea, dizziness or diarrhea. You should consult a health professional if you are taking therapeutic amounts of turmeric or curcumin.