Friday, March 25, 2016

Mustard Greens

Brassica juncea, mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, Jie Cai (in Mandarin) or Kai Choi (in Cantonese),or leaf mustard is a species of mustard plant.

Subvarieties include southern giant curled mustard, which resembles a headless cabbage such as kale, but with a distinct horseradish-mustard flavor. It is also known as green mustard cabbage

The leaves, the seeds, and the stem of this mustard variety are edible. The plant appears in some form in African, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and African-American (soul food) cuisine. Cultivars of B. juncea are grown as greens, and for the production of oilseed. In Russia, this is the main variety grown for production of mustard oil. It is widely used in canning, baking and margarine production in Russia, and the majority of table mustard there is also made from this species of mustard plant.

Because it may contain erucic acid, a potential toxin, mustard oil is restricted from import as a vegetable oil into the United States.Essential oil of mustard, however, is accepted as GRAS.

The leaves are used in African cooking, and leaves, seeds, and stems are used in Indian cuisine, particularly in mountain regions of Nepal, as well as in the Punjab cuisine of India and Pakistan, where a famous dish called sarson da saag (mustard greens)is prepared. B. juncea subsp. tatsai, which has a particularly thick stem, is used to make the Indian pickle called achar, and the Chinese pickle zha cai. The mustard made from the seeds of the B. juncea is called brown mustard. The leaves and seeds are used in many Indian dishes.

The Gorkhas of Darjeeling and Sikkim prepare pork with mustard greens (also called rayo in Nepali). It is usually eaten with relish with steamed rice, but could also be eaten with chapati (griddle breads).

Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely related Brassica oleracea greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens, et cetera), and is frequently mixed with these milder greens in a dish of "mixed greens", which may include wild greens such as dandelion. As with other greens in soul food cooking, mustard greens are generally flavored by being cooked for a long period with ham hocks or other smoked pork products. Mustard greens are high in vitamin A and vitamin K.

Chinese and Japanese cuisines also make use of mustard greens. In Japanese cuisine it is known as takana and is often pickled and used as filling in onigiri or as a condiment. A large variety of B. juncea cultivars are used, including zha cai, mizuna, takana , juk gai choy, and xuelihong. Asian mustard greens are most often stir-fried or pickled. A Southeast Asian dish called asam gai choy or kiam chai boey is often made with leftovers from a large meal. It involves stewing mustard greens with tamarind, dried chillies and leftover meat on the bone.

In 100 grams, cooked mustard greens provide 26 calories and are a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamins A, C and K which is especially high as a multiple of its DV (table). Mustard greens are a moderate source of vitamin E and calcium (table). Greens are 92% water, 4.5% carbohydrates, 2.6% protein and 0.5% fat (table).

Mustard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 110 kJ (26 kcal)
Carbohydrates 4.51 g
Sugars 1.41 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Fat 0.47 g
Protein 2.56 g
Vitamin A equiv. 618 μg (77%) 
beta-carotene   7400 μg (69%) 
lutein zeaxanthin  10400 μg
Thiamine (B1) (4%) 0.041 mg
Riboflavin (B2) (5%) 0.063 mg
Niacin (B3) (3%) 0.433 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) (2%) 0.12 mg
Vitamin B6 (8%) 0.098 mg
Folate (B9) (2%) 9 μg
Vitamin C (30%) 25.3 mg
Vitamin E (12%) 1.78 mg
Vitamin K (564%) 592.7 μg
Calcium (12%) 118 mg
Iron (7%) 0.87 mg
Magnesium (4%) 13 mg
Phosphorus (6%) 42 mg
Potassium (3%) 162 mg
Sodium (1%) 9 mg
Zinc (2%)

Mustard greens are available in a number of types that every have got distinctive features and also including these types of outstanding leaves in your food preparations will definitely boost the appeal of any kind of meal. Most mustard greens are in fact emerald green in color, however, many usually are not green at all but instead shades of dark red or even deep purple.

Health benefits of Mustard Greens
Mustard greens consist of nutrition. They offer an abundant mixture of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber as well as protein. Let’s take a look at the advantages of ingesting mustard greens. Listed here are 9 health advantages of mustard greens.

Mustard greens contribute to cancer prevention by supporting three critical body systems: antioxidant, detoxification and anti-inflammatory. Studies have linked mustard greens to the prevention of bladder, colon, breast, lung, prostate and ovarian cancers.

Amongst leafy vegetables, mustard greens supply a number of the greatest amounts of three powerful antioxidants: vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C. Just one single cup of mustard greens offers 524% the DV of vitamin K, 177% the DV of vitamin A and 59% the DV of vitamin C. Also, they are an excellent source of manganese, foliate and also vitamin E.

Mustard Greens is also said to be of considerable value in treating a wide variety of disorders such as: gout, sciatica, neuralgia, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, bruises, tendonitis, flu and common cold and eruptive sores and boils. Indeed there are many health benefits of Mustard Greens or Mustasa to our body.

Folic acid, found in mustard greens, is an important component to our cardiovascular health. Mustard greens contain about 47% of the RDA, more than spinach, kale or broccoli. Folic acid, being a key nutrient in heart health, helps prevent an increase of homocysteine, an inflammatory marker of cardiovascular risk.

By adding mustard greens to your dinner you can fall asleep fast. Mustard greens are a rich source of calcium. Calcium helps in converting tryptophan into the sleep hormone melatonin. Increase in the melatonin level in the brain helps you to fall asleep.

Mustard greens contain vitamin C and anti-inflammatory compounds that help in reducing asthma attacks. The anti-inflammatory effect of vitamin K and glucosinolates help in reducing the inflammation of the airways.

Rich in vitamin A, mustard greens help in maintaining healthy eyesight. Mustard greens also contain antioxidant compounds that help in preventing degeneration of the retinal cells.

Mustard greens are a wonderful food for pregnant women. They are rich in folate, a nutrient essential for healthy development of the brain and nervous system of the fetus. Folate deficiency in pregnant women causes neural tube defects in newborns.

Mustard greens are a fantastic method of obtaining dietary fiber, that encourages good colon health, manages the metabolism and also helps with digestion of food.

An excellent source of both calcium and potassium, mustard greens might help encourage good bone health and assist in preventing bone diseases just like brittle bones.

Poultice or plaster made from mustard seeds helps in curing pains and spasms as well. Mustard has rubefacient properties and hence when applied as plaster, exercises analgesic effects and provides relief in the paralysis of limbs, rheumatism and other muscular aches. Another important advice to note here is that mustard plaster has warmer effects and may cause sore blistering if applied directly on the naked skin. To avoid that, linen sheet should be used amidst the skin and the mustard plaster.

Mustard greens may prove valuable for women during menopausal phase. Magnesium along with calcium present in mustard greens encourages bone heath and prevents bone loss associated with menopause. It helps in recompensing the low magnesium content in bones and other magnesium deficiencies and may helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women.

Insufficient consumption of dietary fiber is one of the leading causes of constipation. The fiber rich mustard greens help in restoring the normal bowel movement.

Vitamin K helps in reducing premenstrual cramps. It works by balancing the hormones. Furthermore, it also helps in reducing excessive menstrual bleeding and alleviates discomfort and pain. Hence, the vitamin K rich mustard greens are the ideal food for women.

Boil mustard greens for a side dish
Rinse 3 bunches of mustard greens under water and drain them well.
Trim the stems of the greens and chop, if desired.
Boil 2 cups (474 ml) of water or broth in a pot and add the mustard greens. You may need to push them down in the pot to make room. If they are overflowing, add more as they cook down.
Boil young leaves for about 20 minutes and more mature leaves for about 45 minutes.
Drain and season the greens with salt and pepper to taste or add other ingredients such as chopped meat.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Okra Health Benefits

Okra or Okro, known in many English-speaking countries as ladies' fingers, bhendi, bhindi, bamia, ochro or gumbo, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of West African, Ethiopian, and South Asian origins. The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world

Okra, also known as “lady’s fingers” and “gumbo,” is a green flowering plant. Okra belongs to the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton. The term “okra” most commonly refers to the edible seedpods of the plant.

The name okra is most often used in the UK, United States and the Philippines, with a variant pronunciation in Caribbean English and Nigeria of okro. The word okra is from the Igbo The plant and its seed pods are also known as "lady's fingers". In various Bantu languages, okra is called (ki)ngombo or a variant, and this is possibly the origin of the name "gumbo", used in parts of the United States and the English-speaking Caribbean. In much of South Asia, it is called by some variant of bhindi, a name also heard in the United Kingdom, but English-speakers in Bengal call it dharosh.

The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic "goo" or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains soluble fiber. Some people prefer to minimize the sliminess; keeping the pods intact, and brief cooking, for example stir-frying, help to achieve this. Cooking with acidic ingredients such as a few drops of lemon juice, tomatoes, or vinegar may also help. Alternatively, the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time so the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo. The immature pods may be pickled.

Okra is a popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. Okra is also known for being high in antioxidants. Okra is also a good source of calcium and potassium.

Okra leaves may be cooked in a similar way to the greens of beets or dandelions. Since the entire plant is edible, the leaves are also eaten raw in salads. Okra seeds may be roasted and ground to form a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. When importation of coffee was disrupted by the American Civil War in 1861, the Austin State Gazette said, "An acre of okra will produce seed enough to furnish a plantation with coffee in every way equal to that imported from Rio."

Greenish-yellow edible okra oil is pressed from okra seeds; it has a pleasant taste and odor, and is high in unsaturated fats such as oleic acid and linoleic acid. The oil content of some varieties of the seed can be quite high, about 40%. Oil yields from okra crops are also high. At 794 kg/ha, the yield was exceeded only by that of sunflower oil in one trial. A 1920 study found that a sample contained 15% oil. A 2009 study found okra oil suitable for use as a biofuel.

Health Benefits of Okra

Okra has long been favored as a food for the health-conscious. It contains potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content. Recently, a new benefit of including okra in your diet is being considered. Okra has been suggested to help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.

There is evidence that the seed extracts of okra have an antioxidant, anti-stress effect in the bloodstream of mice. Managing stress levels is an important part of managing diabetes. Long-term, high stress levels can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Mental health should be a part of any diabetes treatment plan, and using okra and its derivative seeds can be a part of that plan.

Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra's mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids). These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. Okra is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most individuals unlike over-the-counter drugs.

Okra has been found to lower cholesterol levels in diabetic lab mice. Foods with high fiber content and antioxidant qualities are recommended for those with diabetes because they lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association points out that people with diabetes are more likely to have unhealthy cholesterol levels. When high cholesterol levels are combined with diabetes, the outlook is not good.

Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.

Okra is good for summer heat treatment.

Okra is good for constipation.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Okra, and rich vitamin C content, curtail the development of asthma symptoms and prevent fatal attacks.

Those suffering from summer heat and sun strokes should include Okra in their diet. Relieves from weakness, exhaustion, and overall depression.

The high antioxidants and vitamin C content make Okra a good immune booster food. Other essential minerals like magnesium, manganese, calcium and iron fight against harmful free radicals and promote healthy immune system.

Iron, Folate, and Vitamin K aid in hemoglobin formation, blood coagulation, and red blood cells production, providing a supreme defense against anemia.

Okra increases sexual potency and is beneficial in treating genital disorders like syphilis, gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, dysuria and excessive menstrual bleeding.

Okra Recipes



1⁄2 cup canola oil
12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chiles de árbol, chopped
1 small red onion, sliced
1 lb. okra, sliced ⅓" thick
1 1⁄2 tbsp. garam masala
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 plum tomato, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste

Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high. Cook garlic, chiles, and onion until golden, 4–6 minutes. Add okra, garam masala, coriander, tomato, salt, and ⅓ cup water; cook until okra is crisp-tender, 3–4 minutes.