Foods that brighten your skin

If your skin care routine primarily revolves around expensive skin creams and serums, it’s time you put your money (and lots less of it) towards a healthy diet. The foods you eat have a significant impact on the health and appearance of your skin. Here are a few tasty foods that can brighten your skin and overall complexion.

Posted by Michele Borboa, in Food & Recipes / Healthy Recipes & Nutrition

Water is essential for the healthy function of all of your body’s cells. Maintaining adequate hydration will keep your cellular metabolism at its peak. Since your energy level is often reflected in the appearance of your skin, drinking enough water (eight 8-ounce glasses) in addition to following a skin-healthy diet can help you feel and look your most vibrant.

Teeming with antioxidants, berries – blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and goji to name a few – offer many complexion-boosting nutrients. In addition to being tasty, low-calorie health-promoting fruits, the pigments in these bright-colored gems contain phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can keep your skin glowing and smooth.

Along with the other lush selection of dark leafy greens, spinach is a powerhouse food that is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. A diet high in vegetables (and fruits) is a tasty and nutrient-dense way to bolster your skin health. Since vitamins tend to be heat sensitive, aim to eat your spinach raw or lightly cooked.

Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and other fatty fish are a delicious defense against skin issues. In addition to being an anti-inflammatory food, salmon is a quality source of protein and healthy fats, which can improve the health of all of your cells, including your skin cells. The fat in salmon can also help you better absorb fat-soluble nutrients you consume from other healthy foods.

Almonds and other nuts and seeds are a crunchy-good way to brighten your skin. Offering an abundance of antioxidants and good-for-you fats, these nuts are a yummy source of skin-healthy essential oils. Because of their anti-inflammatory effects, almonds can help reduce the symptoms of inflammatory-based skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Not specifically linked to radiant skin, quinoa and other whole grains, are instrumental in your skin health because they are tasty sources of complex carbohydrates. While refined white flour carbohydrates can stress skin and lead to premature aging, complex carbohydrates offer a wide range of nutrients, such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that can nourish the skin and the rest of your body. Quinoa, in particular, is a great source of plant-based protein.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Please check the original article here on SHEKNOWS FOOD & RECIPES!!

Seaweed is Healthy, Delicious and Low-Cal – Japanese Dried Foods Part III

It has been said that at the end of the Edo period, an American who came to Japan by the great Black Ship reported that Japanese “live in houses made of paper and wood and eat black sheets of paper.” You might say, “How rude of him to say that.” However, the American’s expression is not totally wrong. It is true that traditional Japanese houses are made of wood and inside the house, Japanese-style fittings called shoji and fusuma – doors and partitions – are really made of wood and paper. Well then, do the Japanese really eat black sheets of paper?

That black sheet of paper is actually nori (dried seaweed). Yes, it is an edible black sheet of paper. Nori is one of the essential foods in the Japanese diet. Now that Japanese sushi is popular all over the world, many people probably know nori is a fine food made of seaweed. However, maybe because many western people are reluctant to eat sushi rolls with black sheets on the outside, California rolls are made inside out; nori is rolled inside the rice.

Nori has been highly valued as a premium food item since around the 7th century. Only a limited number of people knew its delicious taste. It was only after the Edo period that common people were able to acquire nori. Tokugawa Iyeyasu, who established the Edo Shogenate, loved nori very much and promoted the farming of this seaweed. Later, itanori, the nori processed in sheet form, was created incorporating the traditional Japanese paper making method and the nori was later called Asakusa nori. Today this type of sheet nori is used throughout the world.

Nori goes well with rice, our staple food, and onigiri and bento using nori are always popular items for lunch. Why is nori so popular? The seaweed is tasty. Nori contains lots of protein, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, taurine, EPA, etc. The amino acids contained in nori enrich the flavor of rice. Just lightly roast some nori and eat it. You will know it smells and tastes good all by itself.

In addition to nori, popular dried seaweeds in Japan are hijiki and tengusa. Hijiki, shown above left, used to be a luxury food item like nori and became popular with people after the Edo period. Hijiki cooked with vegetables and aburaage (fried tofu) is used as a staple dish for otoshi (starters) in Izakaya, bento, and set meals at lunchtime. It contains lots of dietary fiber and minerals including calcium and iron. Tengusa, shown above right, is the material used for tokoroten and kanten (agar).

Tokoroten, shown above left, is made from jelly extracted from tengusa by boiling, then cut like noodles. It is mainly served cold with rice vinegar, soy source, and mustard. Tokoroten contains lots of dietary fiber. It has a jelly-like texture and is refreshing when you eat it cold on a hot summer day.

Kanten or agar is made from tokoroten produced during cold months by allowing it to freeze in the field and then drying it. It has a finer texture than tokoroten and smells less of seaweed. Because of its jelly-like texture it is mostly used for sweet desserts. Mitsumame containing boiled kanten cubes, boiled red peas, gyuhi (soft and sweet mochi), and some fruit served with black sugar syrup is one of the most popular Japanese sweets since the Meiji period. Mamekan, shown above right, is a dessert consisting simply of boiled kanten cubes, boiled red peas, and black sugar syrup. It is popular because it’s sweet but light and healthy.

Seaweed, as a whole, is comprised of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates, and is very low in calories. Due to its dietary fiber content, it provides a sense of fullness and tastes good with little seasoning. While dieting, have some tokoroten or kanten sweets when hungry or craving something sweet and you will feel better and be able to shed weight. Though plain-looking, dried seaweed is full of wonderful ingredients and Japanese make great use of it.

Reported by Yukari Aoike, Sugahara Institute

Source of Umami and Lucky Items – Japanese Dried Foods Part II

These days most Japanese people only go to the supermarket to buy daily necessities like food, including dried foods. Back when every local region had streets lined with specialty stores selling rice, vegetables, fish, etc., grocery stores that specialized in dried foods also did business on the street. I remember going to a grocer’s shop when I was a child. There were many katsuobushi (dried bonito) in the shop and I remember touching and picking some. I also remember the shop smelling very good.

When making a delicious Japanese dish, the key ingredient is soup and cooking stock called dashi. Today, in stores you can buy various types of processed dashi in liquid and granular forms with a long shelf life, so many people probably don’t realize that up until a generation ago, people would make dashi every day.

For instance, when Japanese people make miso soup they use dashi from katsuobushi, kombu (kelp) or niboshi (dried infant sardines) depending on where they live in Japan. In the Kanto area, the overwhelming majority of people make miso soup with katsuobushi dashi, while in the Kansai area, they mainly use a mixture of katsuobushi and kombu dashi. In the Kyushu and Shikoku areas where people like fish the large majority of people use niboshi dashi.

It is particularly worth noting that in authentic Japanese restaurants such as ryotei, ichiban dashi, made from katsuobushi and kombu, is regarded as the finest dashi. Amongst all the umami elements in Japanese cuisine, the combination of inosinic acid from katsuobushi and glutamic acid from kombu supposedly has the best flavor.

Japan has over 75,000 temples. Japanese Buddhist monks were prohibited from eating meat and fish because of Buddhist precepts not to kill living creatures. In temples, monks made shojin ryori (Buddhist cuisine) themselves without using meat or fish. This custom continues though not universally. Instead of using katsuobushi they use kombu, dried shiitake mushrooms, and dried soy beans to make a special soup stock called shojin dashi. Shojin dashi has a lighter flavor than soup stocks made from fish but its aromas and umami are comparable to other dashi.

Japanese dried foods like katsuobushi and kombu are indispensable not only as the basis for dashi but also for ceremonial occasions. Take yuinou, the betrothal ceremony, for example. Yuinou is an event in which the couple to be married conduct a ceremony with both families present to confirm their engagement. In recent years, many couples have tended to skip the ceremony and just have a family dinner, but families in areas where the tradition is upheld conduct the ceremony according to proper formalities.

On the day of yuinou, the family of the groom-to-be sends a set of betrothal gifts to the family of the bride-to-be. The formal set of the betrothal gifts consist of nine items including betrothal money, katsuobushi, surume (dried squid), kombu, tomoshiraga (linen yarn), suehiro (folding fan), yagagidaru (money for food and drink), awabi noshi (dried abalone), and mokuroku (catalog). The family of the bride-to-be sends a similar betrothal gift to the family of the groom-to-be so both families exchange gifts to confirm their approaching marriage. Originally the kimono and obi (belt) were exchanged instead of money and the rest of the items had significance as lucky charms. Katsuobushi is a symbol of masculine strength, surume for long-lasting happiness, kombu for prosperity of descendants, white linen yarn for long life and bonds, suehiro for prosperity, and awabi noshi for eternal youth. Dried foods like katsuobushi, surume, kombu and awabi thus play an essential part in people’s special occasions as both lucky charms and precious long-life foods.

As previously mentioned, a stone-like hard mass was actually a magic seasoning that used to be highly valued for ceremonial and trading purposes. Therefore, Japanese dried foods are extraordinarily valuable though unassuming in appearance. More to come in the next blog.

Reported by Yukari Aoike, Sugahara Institute

Blessings of the Sun, the Mountain, and the Sea – Japanese Dried Foods Part I

Since time immemorial, people have racked their brains contemplating how to get adequate nutrition for living. They obtained foods through hunting and agriculture and found ways to preserve the foods for times of shortage. The oldest method of preserving foods was drying. By exposing foods to the sun to remove water, they were able to inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes decomposition, thereby preserving foods for the long-term.

Grains and legumes, including rice, wheat/barley, corn, beans have been preserved throughout the world by drying since early times. Accordingly, dried meat was made in the regions where people mainly ate meat, while dried fish and seafood were made in coastal areas.

In Japan, there are a lot of different varieties of dried foods and many of them are the traditional foods essential to our daily meal. We collectively call these traditional dried foods kanbutsu. Examples of kanbutsu include: seafood such as dried abalones and scallops, katsuobushi (dried bonito) and surume (dried squid), seaweeds such as kombu, hijiki, nori, grains like soba and udon, vegetables such as dried shiitake mushroom, kanpyo (dried gourd strips), kiriboshi daikon (dried radish strips), and many more. They are all blessings of the sun, the mountain, and the sea.

For the Japanese, kanbutsu provide benefits beyond just preserved foods. Firstly, they are premium food items, some of which are essential for special ceremonial occasions. Secondly, they work as magic seasonings that enhance the flavor of your dish. And further, they are considered natural supplements with nutrients that are essential for health and whose value is found to be increasing.

Long ago, Japanese people who believed in countless kami (gods) built shrines all over the country where they conducted Shinto rituals including festivals and misogi and harai purifications. Making an offering to the kami is an essential part of the rituals. In Shinto, the offerings are referred to as shinsen (or mike) and many such items are kanbutsu. Items included in the offering vary by shrine, and usually foods in season in the region and local specialties were chosen. Shinsen, offered to the kami during the ritual, are consumed by all participants with the offered sacred sake during the ceremony called naorai, which means feast. Naturally, since foods that kept well were chosen as shinsen, many of them were kanbutsu dried foods. After the Kofun period (250 to 600 AD), processed dried foods, especially dried bonito and kombu, were highly valued as tributes to the Emperor. As premium foods, many kanbutsu later were developed to be used for trading with foreign countries.

On the other hand, Japanese people hadn’t eaten meats for a long time. Meats contain a lot of inosinic acid, which produces the taste of umami, but the Japanese as non-meat eaters extracted alternative umami tastes mainly from kanbutsu. Kombu, katsuobushi, niboshi, dried shiitake mushrooms are examples and they are also known as dashi stock ingredients. The Japanese word umami is now used worldwide. Because those who found the fifth taste after sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness were Japanese researchers – they found umami constituents such as glutamic acid, inosinic acid, and guanylic acid from kombu, katsuobushi and shiitake mushrooms, respectively. Restaurants in many cities of Japan now receive outstanding evaluation marks from Michelin Guide. Could this be because the Japanese have a sense of mastering umami? I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that kanbutsu play a part in such an excellent reputation.

Since kanbutsu fully absorb sunlight and their water is removed, their nutrients are highly concentrated and enriched compared to raw ingredients. For example, seaweeds such as kombu, hijiki and nori contain plenty of minerals including calcium, potassium and iron. Dried shiitake mushrooms contain ten times as much vitamin D as raw ones. Kiriboshi daikon contains rich amounts of dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. For contemporary Japanese whose dietary habits have been largely Westernized and who live a busy life, kanbutsu is the ideal food ingredient for receiving the nutrients they need. Kanbutsu are absolutely natural supplements.

I would like to show you some of the Japanese kanbutsu, each of which has its history and episodes, in the next few blogs.

Reported by Yukari Aoike, Sugahara Institute

Hydroponic Tomato Experiment⑯ – Growing Too High To Hold

As you see in the photo above, the tomato plants that rapidly grew in a vertical direction later grew downward because they became too tall to support. When I came to check the plants one morning, I found them as shown in the picture. The stems were not broken, but bent down. The bowing of the plants caused their leaves and branches to become entangled, so I had quite a hard time untangling the mess. Afterwards, I suspended strings from the curtain rail to support the branches of the plants. The supporting poles had not been long enough.

To cope with the situation, I lifted the stems until the plants managed to support themselves and let the farthest ends drop down. I wish I could have extended the plants horizontally, but space limitations wouldn’t allow for this. Further, I had to provide space for the top of each plant to develop and avoid getting tangled with other nearby branches and leaves. It requires hard work, but you need to provide support to the plants relative to their development. Since the plants grow more and more every day, you need to keep an eye on them every day.

Applying and Taking-in Essential Oils

In my last blog entry I explained about fragrance of essential oils. This time I would like to focus on the methods of apply and taking-in essential oils.
Applying method is literally to apply essential oils onto our skin. In this way, essential oils work on our mind and bodies. I assume many people have been already aware of it being used in spas or beauty salons. This is a great way to ease our exhausted or tensioned bodies as well as to calm our feelings down.

However, it is very important to know whether our body does not overreact against the essential oil to be used. For that reason, please make sure to conduct a patch test on a soft part of your skin like the inside of the upper arm. Even the same kind of essential oils from different manufacturers may act on differently, so I recommend checking the products of each manufacturer.

Also, in most occasion, so-called “carrier oils” such as coconut oils are used to dilute essential oils because some essential oils stimulate our skin too much for its highly-concentrated components. Diluted by carrier oils enables essential oils to spread more widely and smoothly on the skin; thus, the wide range of our body can receive benefits of essential oils. Besides apply onto our body, another good way is to pour some drops of diluted essential oils into a bathtub. Wouldn’t it be a great way to remove our daily stress?

And lastly, the third way of using essential oils is to take them into our body. Recently, some essential oils are produced for a purpose to aromatize. You can add some drops in your drinks or meals. Please make sure to follow the specific directions of the manufacturers when you take in essential oils.

Fragrance of Essential Oils

I would like to talk about the most common way to use essential oils. Fragrance of essential oils exerts its effects when people smell it. There are several ways to make essential oils fragrant: to use drops directly, to drop in hot water and volatilize the fragrant components by heat of an aroma pot or a candle, or to diffuse aroma using a diffuser. These are the easiest ways so that we can smell essential oils directly.

The volatilized components go into our noses and they transmit signals straight to our brain. Essential oils have great impact on our mind and body enough to brighten up our feelings, moods, so as to make us feel relaxed. Some essential oils have the effect of sterilizing. By diffusing the fragrance throughout the room can refresh the sir. Essential oils will bring us about much different effectiveness.

For example, when essential oils of citrus fruits are used in an office, the workers reported that the levels of unpleasantness and stress had lessened. In addition, pepper mint is effective to stimulate people to concentrate more and better. Well, I would like to expand the details of essential oils in another blog entry. This is indeed an easy way so please make good use of essential oils.

Hydroponic Tomato Experiment⑮ –Steady Growth

As we say in Japanese “san-kan shi-on,” which means to have “three cold days and four warm days” cycle repeatedly in early spring. The weather alternated between cold and warm days. However, now it’s warm enough to dispense with heating. The cherry tomatoes, initially inhibited in development, have increased their growth rate as if they wanted to catch up.

The plants in the above pictures were the most vigorously developed of the cherry tomatoes grown through the winter. Unlike the tomato seedlings that had grown in a vertical direction, these plants had spread in all directions. The leaf color, stem thickness, and vividness of the plants’ flowers were firm and consistent. These plants differed from others because they caught the sunlight slightly better and had supported themselves since supporting poles were unavailable in the early stage of growth.

Still green, yet they bear a lot of fruit. The tomatoes grew steadily and looked shiny. There were many other branches abundant with fruit like this throughout the rest of the plants. Since I assisted the pollination, most flowers were able to bear fruit. I expect that they will continue to grow well.

Hydroponic Tomato Experiment⑭ – Tiny Cherry Tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes have been harvested regularly. They varied in size but were perfectly formed. Some of them developed color and ripened without attaining full size. The tomatoes in the above picture are very small. You can probably tell even without a reference for size comparison.

The tomatoes in the above picture are extremely small; they are about one centimeter in diameter. They looked like tiny cherry tomatoes, but they were not very shiny and lacked firmness. I wondered how they would taste but upon consumption they tasted like normal cherry tomatoes. Many of those tiny cherry tomatoes were from dense-setting plants. In these, nutrients didn’t spread well throughout the plants, or there were differences in nutrient absorption among the seedlings. Though very small, they tasted good as average-sized tomatoes and could be used nicely as a garnish.
As a byproduct, tiny cherry tomatoes were harvested.