Vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron because growing the vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. Nevertheless, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture, and aromatherapy.
The four main commercial preparations of natural vanilla are:
Powder (ground pods, kept pure or blended with sugar, starch, or other ingredients)
Extract (in alcoholic or occasionally glycerol solution; both pure and imitation forms of vanilla contain at least 35% alcohol)
Vanilla sugar, a packaged mix of sugar and vanilla extract
Vanilla flavoring in food may be achieved by adding vanilla extract or by cooking vanilla pods in the liquid preparation. A stronger aroma may be attained if the pods are split in two, exposing more of a pod's surface area to the liquid. In this case, the pods' seeds are mixed into the preparation. Natural vanilla gives a brown or yellow color to preparations, depending on the concentration. Good-quality vanilla has a strong, aromatic flavor, but food with small amounts of low-quality vanilla or artificial vanilla-like flavorings are far more common, since true vanilla is much more expensive.
Regarded as the world's most popular aroma and flavor, vanilla is a widely used aroma and flavor compound for foods, beverages and cosmetics, as indicated by its popularity as an ice cream flavor. Although vanilla is a prized flavoring agent on its own, it is also used to enhance the flavor of other substances, to which its own flavor is often complementary, such as chocolate, custard, caramel, coffee, and others. Vanilla is a common ingredient in Western sweet baked goods, such as cookies and cakes. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavor.
The food industry uses methyl and ethyl vanillin as less-expensive substitutes for real vanilla. Ethyl vanillin is more expensive, but has a stronger note. Cook's Illustrated ran several taste tests pitting vanilla against vanillin in baked goods and other applications, and to the consternation of the magazine editors, tasters could not differentiate the flavor of vanillin from vanilla; however, for the case of vanilla ice cream, natural vanilla won out. A more recent and thorough test by the same group produced a more interesting variety of results; namely, high-quality artificial vanilla flavoring is best for cookies, while high-quality real vanilla is slightly better for cakes and significantly better for unheated or lightly heated foods. The liquid extracted from vanilla pods was once believed to have medical properties, helping with various stomach ailments.
|Benefits of Legumes||
Primary BenefitsAs an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber, legumes are a highly satiating food. This means that for a relatively low amount of calories legumes make you feel fuller longer and, therefore, help prevent the hunger that can lead to unhealthy snacking and unwanted pounds. For about 115 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked lentils provides about 9 grams of protein, 20 grams of mostly complex carbohydrates and less than half a gram of fat. It also supplies nearly 8 grams of fiber, or 31 percent of the recommended daily value. Most legumes contain significant amounts of insoluble and soluble fiber. Eating legumes several times a week promotes bowel regularity and helps keep blood sugar levels in check.
Secondary BenefitsLegumes are sometimes called “poor people’s meat” because they’re an inexpensive source of quality plant protein. They truly are an ideal meat substitute, however, because the vitamin and mineral profiles of legumes and meat are comparable. Whereas meat is also a source of cholesterol and saturated fat, however, legumes are a cholesterol-free food that contains virtually no saturated fat. For just over 110 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked black beans delivers 32 percent, 15 percent and 14 percent of the daily values for folate, magnesium and thiamine, respectively, and about 10 percent each of the daily values for iron and potassium. Opting for legumes instead of meat two or three times a week promotes healthy cholesterol levels and helps protect against heart disease.
|Benefit of Nuts/Seeds||Nuts and seeds benefit your health by providing a source of dietary fiber. Fiber is a specialized type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. It does not break down as it passes through your digestive tract, and the undigested fiber adds bulk to your stool to promote regular bowel movements. Fiber also helps slow the rate of digestion. This means that sugar from your meal enters your bloodstream slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar that leaves you feeling energized after you eat. Opt for flax seeds as an excellent source of fiber -- an ounce of the seeds contains a whopping 7.7 grams. An ounce of almonds boosts your fiber intake by 3.5 grams, while sunflower seeds contain 3.1 grams of fiber per ounce. An equivalent an serving of pistachios and pecans offers 2.9 and 2.7 grams,
A diet rich in nuts and seeds also helps keep you healthy as you age by preventing disease. People who regularly consume nuts tend to weigh less than those who rarely eat nuts, as well as face a lower risk for weight gain in the future. Nuts and seeds both help reduce the levels of inflammation in your body, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, which might reduce your risk of heart disease. Nut consumption also correlates with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
|Benefits of Seeds/Oils||Cardamom is packed with antioxidants. There are two kinds of cardamoms, green and black. Black cardamoms help in curing colds and cough and certain respiratory problems," shares Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood. Steep some pods in water along with honey and drink this cardamom tea as an effective natural remedy for flu. It imparts warmth to the body.Cloves can help protect your stomach from ulcers. Most ulcers are caused by thinning in the layers of mucus that protect your stomach lining. Preliminary studies show that cloves can thicken this mucus, lowering your risk of developing ulcers and helping existing ulcers heal.Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.
Sunflower oil is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin E which help in promoting skin health. These vitamins act as antioxidants. They help in regenerating damaged skin cells and getting rid of the acne causing bacteria. The oil is light and non-greasy and thus, it gets absorbed in the skin easily without blocking the pores. Sunflower oil also acts as a natural moisturizer and helps in treating dry, sensitive skin.