Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchi—The What Else—Star Anise

Star anise is another spice to look for on your journey through an Asian market or website.

Star anise comes from the seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum plant, a small evergreen shrub which is native to Southwest China and northeast Vietnam.

As far as shape, the star anise that comes from this tree has a unique dark brown star shape with six to eight points, each of the points containing a single pea-sized seed.

As far as taste, star anise has a very strong, distinct licorice-like flavor that is both sweet and spicy.

 

Star Anise—The Why

Star anise is an awesome addition to not only your adventures in Asian cooking, but also for your health.

Star anise provides powerful antioxidants that can prevent cell death and DNA damage.

Star anise can be steam-distilled to produce a pale yellow essential oil with a highly fragrant, licorice-like aroma that is often added to such products as soaps,  perfumes, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams.

Star anise can be beneficial to your body by helping with…

  • abdominal cramps
  • arthritis
  • bronchitis
  • calming nerves
  • colds
  • colic
  • cough
  • digestion
  • digestive problems and complaints—such as gas, indigestion, bloating, constipation
  • immune system function
  • influenza
  • painful muscles
  • sleep disorders
  • sore throat

 

Buying/Storing                      

Star anise can be found either whole or ground into a powder…and of course you could also make ground star anise by grinding whole star anise with your coffee mill.

Whole star anise will maintain its flavor for about a year.

Ground star anise powder will maintain its flavor for about six months.

Regardless, all spices that you buy should be stored in an airtight container in a cool and dark place that isn’t exposed to heat, moisture or sunlight.

 

Tips for Using Star Anise

  • Grund star anise is much easier to work with, but the flavor diminishes faster.
  • Toasting the ground spice sometimes heightens the flavor.
  • Use it sparingly…a little goes a long way.
  • Whole pods are best for simmering—such as in sauces, marinades, and soups—and then removing before serving.

 

Recipes for Using Star Anise

Baking…Star anise is often seen in recipes also calling for cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Beverages…Bring water to a boil in a stove-top pan.Add 2 whole star anise pods per cup of water, along with any additional other spices—such as cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, ginger root, solomon seal root, and cloves—that you like. Steep for 15 minutes.Strain away any large chunks.

Eggs…Star anise is commonly incorporated in egg recipes. I particularly liked this recie for Star Anise Tea Eggs from Nest Fresh.

Fruits and Vegetables…Stay on the lookout for star anise to be used in recipes that also contain citrus, leeks, onions, pears, and pumpkin.

Garam masala...Star anise is used to make this Indian spice blend that can be then used to make countless traditional Indian dishes.

Meats…Star anise is used to add a licorice flavor to beef, shrimp, duck, fish, pork, and poultry.

Soup…Star anise is commonly used in soup, such as this recipe from Martha Stewart.

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Getting Healthy

Protein Bites

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Getting adequate amounts of protein is important for all women, not only die-hard athletes.

Adequate protein is important for both appearance and long-term health, especially among active women….(okay, now find me one woman who is not active…usually we have more on our plate than one person could possibly handle, right)…

So why is protein so important…and why should we find ways to eat more protein at breakfast…and how…

  1. Protein can keep us, or help us get, skinny. Replacing calories consumed in carbs with calories containing protein contributes to a decrease in fat tissue.
  2. Protein can prevent damage to our cells caused by stress.
  3. Protein controls hunger all day. Eating a high-protein meal, such as Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, early in the day triggers a hormonal response that helps keep hunger at bay all day.
  4. Protein is good for your bones, especially important given the high risk of osteoperosis in women. Protein is vital to proper calcium absorption and bone growth.
  5. Protein is good for your hair. A well-balanced diet is important to keep your hair growing to its fullest. Protein deficiency can cause your hair to grow slowly or not at all.
  6. Protein is good for your muscles. Protein can help our bodies maintain and build muscle mass, important to women as we age. Drinking a protein shake or eating a high-protein snack after working out also helps promote muscle repair.
  7. Protein is good for your skin. Protein can help reduce aging and skin damage caused by the sun.
  8. Protein triggers thermogenesis, also known as a “faster metabolism,” and signals the body to burn more calories before, during, and after meals.
  9. Protein will keep you fuller longer. Eating foods high in protein makes you feel fuller sooner than foods classified as carbs or fat and helps controls appetite later on.

 

“Protein bites” are a great way to boost your energy levels and “recharge” your batteries throughout the day…plus they are super-easy to make…

 

(Simply combine the ingredients, chill for thirty minutes, and roll into 1″ balls, Store in airtight container in fridge, unless indicated otherwise…so this is why I’ve simply listed ingredients, instead of directions with each of the following “recipes.”)

 

 

 

 

1. Peanut Butter No-Bake Energy Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

 

2.  Chocolate Protein Bite…(roll in cocoa after shaped)

  • 1 1/2C pitted dates
  • 1/2C rolled oats
  • 1/4C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4C flaxseed meal
  • 1/4C chocolate protein powder
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp espresso powder

 

 

 

3. Coconut Peanut Butter Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

 

 

4. Nutella Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned, rolled oats
  • ½C crispy rice cereal (or shredded coconut)
  • ½C Nutella
  • ¼C peanut butter
  • ½C ground flaxseed
  • ⅓C honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • ½C chocolate chips

 

 

5. Pumpkin Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 1/4C pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2C wheat germ
  • 1/3C honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate morsels

 

 

6. Raw Cookie Dough Bites

  • 2C blanched almond flour
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
  • 1/4C coconut oil (solid but soft)
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 2Tbsp almond butter
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • mini dark chocolate chips
  • stevia to taste, if additional sweetener is needed