A Spotlight on Hot Sauce

Everyone has heard of hot sauce in one form or another.  Hot sauce has been around for a long time and can even be tracked back to Mayan culture! Hot sauce became bottled and industrialized by the Tabasco company in the 19th century, and almost all cultures have their own rendition of hot sauce. The chemical that gives the sauce its spicy flavor naturally occurs in peppers, and is called capsaicin. Capsaicin has been shown to be beneficial to one’s health, it has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes a healthy metabolism. Peppers are ranked on the Scoville scale, a scale that measures the amount of capsaicinoids in the pepper. Scoville units range from zero, sweet bell peppers, all the way to 5,000,000 units, law enforcement pepper spray. You can tell how hot a hot sauce is based on its Scoville units.

Most commonly hot sauce consists of chili peppers, vinegar, and salt but there are many different combinations. Some sauces can be fermented to give a more tangy flavor. Naked hot sauces has many different varieties of hot sauces and can be found at some farmers markets, to learn more you can go to their website. The hot sauce I tried is called The One, and it is both spicy and savory. I used the hot sauce by making crispy breaded tofu and tossing it with this sauce, it was a tasty treat! What is your favorite variety of hot sauce? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

A Spotlight on Camelina Oil

Camelina oil comes from the pressing of the camelina plant, also known as false flax. The oil was first used hundreds of years ago in Northern Europe for food, lamp oil, and medicine. However, after World War II, Camelina was replaced with higher yield crops. The Camelina plant is classified as a Brassicaceae and is related to broccoli and cabbage, the smell of the oil is similar to a subtle broccoli scent. The plant grows well in cold and arid climates and the rain fall and air temperature can have drastic effects on the oil content of the plant.

When compared to other oils like olive, canola, or sunflower, Camelina oil has a healthier balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. It’s generally recommended for individuals to consume more Omega-3s than Omega-6s, and over consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids has been linked to heart disease and inflammation. The average western diet contains higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 oils are commonly found in fish and flaxseed, soybean, and canola oil and include EPA, DHA, and ALA (which Camelina oil is high in). ALA, alpha-linolenic acid, has been linked to a protective effect on heart health and proper nervous system function. The higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in this oil have also been linked with improving blood lipid profiles and reducing the bad cholesterol, known as LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein).

Camelina has a high Vitamin E content in the form of tocopherols. These tocopherols allow the shelf life of the oil to be up to 18 months and also prevent rancidity and oxidation. The oil has a high smoke point which makes it perfect for cooking. The smoke point of Camelina oil is 475 degrees Fahrenheit! Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant and assists in preventing free radical damage. The benefits of Camelina oil are not limited to the diet. The oil can be used in skincare as a moisturizer that improves skin tone and it can be warmed and used on the scalp to reduce dandruff and keep hair moisturized. Camelina oil is also used for biodiesel and renewable jet fuel production. This oil has so many uses from cooking to jet fuel, it comes as a surprise that more people don’t know about it. Coppal House Farm in Lee, NH is a local producer of cold-pressed, non GMO Camelina oil and they can be found at the Seacoast Eat Local Farmers’ Markets this winter.

 

Sources: 1, 2, 3.

A Spotlight on Microgreens

Microgreens are the young version of a vegetable or herb that are cut just after the first leaves develop. They are not the same as sprouts, sprouts are simply germinated seeds. Sprouts are grown in water whereas microgreens are grown in soil or peat moss. Most microgreens grow in 1-2 weeks, but some can take 4-6 weeks. The taste varies depending on the variety of microgreen, but it can be said that the flavors pack a punch. You can purchase microgreens from farms including Andy’s Edible Gardens and Stout Oak Farm. Microgreens can be grown year round, making them easy to find no matter the weather, and they are very easy to grow at home.

Microgreens are great to mix into a salad to up the nutrient density, sprinkled over avocado toast, or placed on the top of crostini just to name a few ideas. My favorite variety are cilantro microgreens, they taste amazing on top of a crostini with Baba Ganoush. Microgreens have not been around for very long, they actually originated in San Francisco in the 1980’s and didn’t gain popularity until the 90’s. The first varieties grown included beet, arugula, cilantro, basil, and kale. The different types of microgreens continue to increase and there are different varieties every year. They may have a shorter shelf life than their fully grown counterparts, but the nutritional value is much higher. Microgreens are high in vitamins C, K, and E and they also contain powerful antioxidants called carotenoids and polyphenols. This makes them a perfect snack during the peak of cold and flu season. What is your favorite variety of microgreen?

A Spotlight on Pierogi

This past Saturday at the Exeter Farmers’ Market located in Exeter High School, the pierogi being sold by Jaju stood out. Believe it or not, locally produced pierogi are rare if nonexistent in Seacoast New Hampshire, a google search even shows that not many local restaurants offer them on their menu. Jaju, out of Lynn, Massachusetts is the closest producer of them and offer a variety of fillings (vegan pierogi can even be special ordered according to their website), you can purchase them from these local stores. I was extremely interested in the varieties offered by Jaju and decided to purchase the sweet potato and caramelized onion variety, yum!

That led me on a search to learn more about them, their origin, and how they are made. Pierogi are a thinly rolled dough dumpling (similar to a ravioli or gyoza) and can be filled with a variety of fillings. Pierogi can be filled with savory foods like meats, potatoes, caramelized onions, cheese or even sweet foods like berries for a tasty dessert. The only variety I have ever tried are the common frozen potato, cheese, and onion variety that come to many people’s minds when the word pierogi is spoken. The common potato and cheese pierogi that many people are familiar with are actually referred to as “ruskie” pierogi.

Pierogi are one of the national foods of Poland and the word pierogi is Slavic for the word festival. It’s actually incorrect to call them “pierogies,” because the word pierogi is already plural. The tasty dumplings first popped up in Poland around the 13th century however, recipes didn’t start to appear in literature until the 17th century. Polish immigrants first brought pierogi to the United States over 100 years ago. The largest pierogi ever created was 92 pounds, and there is a Guinness Book record for making pierogi (in 100 minutes, 1663 dumplings were created)! Pierogi also spelled pyrogy are so popular in Canada, there is even a statue located in Glendon, Alberta dedicated to the dumpling!

Nutritionally, the pierogi varies depending on the filling, but the majority of the pierogi is carbohydrate. To be honest, most people are not eating pierogi because of their health benefits, mostly because of their flavor. Pierogi can be part of a balanced diet. When preparing the dumplings they can be pan fried or boiled depending on your preference and the filling. I pan fried the sweet potato and caramelized onion pierogi in a garlic butter sauce and served with shrimp and they were extremely tasty. Pan frying gives a nice airy, yet crispy texture to the dough which is a treat to bite into. It can be both difficult and time consuming to make these delicious treats from scratch if you are not experienced in the kitchen, but here is a recipe for homemade pierogi if you want to give it a try.

Tasty Kale Guacamole

This guacamole recipe is a great way to incorporate more greens and nutrients into the diet in the up coming colder weather. This would be a wonderful holiday party dish served with tortilla chips, and kale is in season and can be found at your local winter farmers’ market right now.

Ingredients

3 cups chopped kale

4 ripe avocados

1/2 red onion chopped

1/2 jalapeño deseeded and chopped into small pieces

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Juice of two limes

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Wash and massage the kale and then chop 3 cups.

Cut the avocados in half from stem to base and remove the seed by tapping with a knife. An easy way to get the avocado out is to slide a spoon between the skin and flesh.

Add the kale, avocados, chopped red onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lime juice to a food processor and pulse until smooth, if you want a chunkier dip you can also just mash with a potato masher or fork to your desired consistency.

Remove from the food processor and add to a bowl.

Mix in salt and pepper and any other desired spices.

Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Three Onion Soup

With the Seacoast of New Hampshire just getting its first snowfall of the season yesterday, I thought focusing on a warming recipe would be appropriate. This three onion soup is versatile, and with onions being so easy to find at farms and farmers’ markets right now, it makes it super easy to throw together for a chilly evening’s dinner. You can also throw this in the slow cooker to get the most out of the flavors.

Ingredients

1 pound yellow onion

1 pound white onion

1 cup shallots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons butter

4 cups vegetable broth

1 Tablespoon coconut aminos or Worcestershire sauce

2 cups water

1 tablespoon flour

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

Your choice of cheese for melting over the top

 

Directions

Heat the butter in a dutch oven until melted and starting to bubble.

Add chopped onion, garlic, and salt and pepper.

Cover and cook until the onions start to brown and are fork tender.

Take the cover off and continue to cook the onions until they are brown and fully caramelized.

Once the onions start to stick add a little water, about a teaspoon to get them off the bottom.

Add the flour and cook with the onions for 2 minutes.

At this point you can transfer to a slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients or continue with the directions as follows.

Add the broth, water, thyme, sage, and rosemary.

Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the bits stuck to the bottom off as it is cooking.

Cook for 30 minutes and then add the Worcestershire sauce, mix well.

Transfer to individual bowls and sprinkle with cheese (you can also put oven safe dishes in the oven to melt the cheese even more if you prefer).

Enjoy!