Black is the New Black

My Mom was known for wearing a lot of black and she could have coined the word fashionista. She had hot pants, gogo boots, and an assortment of wigs for every look. Through my Mom, black became the symbol of everything chic, classic and timeless. Can you guess the predominant colour in my wardrobe? Yup. And I married a man who also has a love affair with black.  My affinity for black has transferred over to my taste buds.

How many of you can say that one of your favourite desserts is a bowl of black goo?  And I mean black, like shoe polish black, Aretha Franklin music black, sleeping in a tent miles away from the city, black. One of my fondest childhood memories of family dim sum in Hong Kong was the cart with the big cauldron of the deepest, darkest, blacker than all the hair on our heads, black. It is called Tsee Mah Woo, literally black sesame paste. “Woo” is Cantonese for any dessert made of nuts or seeds that are ground up, then cooked with water and sugar; it is a cross between a soup and a paste. It’s not the most visually appealing dessert, but in those days the look of food was pretty irrelevant next to taste. It basically looked like a bowl of hot black tar. Traditionally, almonds, walnuts or peanuts could also be made into a “Woo”. To this day, the memory of seeing the dim sum cart lady pushing that cauldron makes me feel like a 5 year old again, without a care in the world except how to get my brother to share his Batman toy’s with me. This dessert is like a hug for your taste buds. You can still have it at places that serve dim sum, and {Kale} and I always order it if it’s available.

{Kale}’s Mom used to make black sesame “Woo”. She would even grind the sesame seeds herself, using an old fashioned stone grinder. {Kale}’s Mom would fit right in with the Paleo lifestyle! Apparently it was quite the process, grinding it so fine to a smooth silky texture without any graininess. Well, I have made it myself successfully with a Vitamix, which replaces the stone grinder quite nicely.

Black Sesame Kake2Kale

What is the difference between white and black sesame seeds?  Well, black seeds still have the protective hull intact, while the white seeds have had the hulls removed.  White seeds are usually used for food preparations (ie. tahini paste) and the black seeds are usually pressed into oil.  Because the hull has been removed, the white seeds are less nutritious as the black.  It’s like comparing white bread with whole grain bread.

My grandmother would always tell me that eating black sesame will keep my hair from turning grey. She isn’t the only one who says this and is a common belief amongst the Chinese. But is there evidence for this? In my readings, I only came across one person who claims to have turned some of her graying hair to black after eating black sesame seeds for a year. In any case, black sesame seeds is a superfood as they are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, protein and vitamin E.  In Chinese medicine these seeds support the kidney and liver meridians (pathways). The adrenal glands sit right above the kidneys, so by nourishing them you also do the same for the adrenals. These glands secrete hormones (ie. estrogen, testosterone and cortisol), and its main function is in helping your body react to stress. Over time our adrenal glands may become over taxed, and greying hair can be a sign of this. If black sesame seeds can help with my adrenals and perhaps darken some of my just-starting-to-grey hair, then bring it on. To read more about adrenal fatigue go to adrenalfatigue.org.

{Kale} challenged me to come up with a recipe for black sesame because it is rare to see it served anywhere apart from Tsee Mah Woo at dim sum.  So I came up with two – i) a green soup and ii) banana brulee.  Salads do not cut it for me now that the temperature has dropped and I don’t feel like eating stir fries; therefore, a soup with green veggies topped off with black sesame pesto seemed like a good idea.  And, I love a caramelized banana as a base for dessert and my fun recipe version is included below.

Other Superfoods in the two recipes are:

leek – Contains vitamins A,K, and B, also kaempferol, a phytochemical that may lower risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
onion – Contains a high amount of quercetin, which is an anti-histamine and helps to combat allergies.
watercress – Has high amounts of vitamins C and A.  It also has strong detoxing properties, especially targetting heavy metals.
avocado – Besides being a good source of vitamins C, B’s, E and K, it is also a rich source of monosaturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol.
banana – Contains Vitamin C, fibre, and a significant amount of potassium. High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

Black Sesame pesto leek soup 3 Kake2Kale

Green with a touch of Black Soup serves 6
Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 leek
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 medium potatoes (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 large handful of watercress

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large pot at medium high heat then add onion and leek.  Sauté for 5 minutes until softened, then add the stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes can be broken up with a fork.
  • Add the avocado and watercress to the pot and then puree with a blender.
  • After pouring the soup into bowls put a dollop of the black pesto on top.

Black Pesto
Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • A handful of Italian parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 T. applesauce or finely chopped apple
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Puree black sesame with olive oil and parsley, then add the rest of the ingredients and continuing pureeing until mixture is smooth.

Black Sesame pesto leek soup 2 Kake2Kale

Banana Brulee serves 1

  • 1 banana
  • sugar (enough to sprinkle)
  • 1 T. almond
  • 1 T. black sesame seeds

Directions:

  • Cut a banana into two halves, dip in sugar.
  • Broil for about 5 minutes (keeping an eye on it), until sugar caramelizes.  Or alternately use a mini torch to brulee the banana.
  • Then spread with almond butter and sprinkle black sesame seeds over the almond butter.

Black Sesame Banana 2 Kake2Kale

I’ve wanted to get a mini torch for quite some time and making this dessert was a good excuse to get one.  For those who want one, note that you’ll also have to get a butane refill.  The torch does not include butane.  Tip: do not get butane for lighters as the nozzle is too small.  I found this out during the photo shoot and had to run out to get the proper refill.

Black Sesame Banana 3 Kake2Kale

There are many ways to incorporate black sesame seeds into your diet besides what I’ve done here in this post.  I encourage you to add them to your smoothies, oatmeal, cookies, or as a coating for salmon as Natalie (The Peaceful Paleo) had done in the previous post.

Black Sesame Banana 1 Kake2Kale

Get your adrenal glands acquainted with this power packed seed!

Eat well, live great! {Kake}

Keen for Zucchini

Imagine you are a 10 year old girl from Hong Kong and tasting lots of strange food, like anemic cottage cheese, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, cheese with fruit, now throw in CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE???????  Chocolate with a vegetable? No, no, no!  But once I had a bite and didn’t taste vegetable,  just chocolate cake, my mind was boggled and intrigued.  Later I realized zucchini essentially added moisture without flavour to the cake.  This might have been one of my earliest lightbulb moments that delicious dessert can also mean healthy.

As part of the summer squash family, the zucchini, also known as a courgette in other parts of the world, orginated in Italy, hmmmm it seems {kale} and I are on an Italian theme this summer.  We’ve got some growing to gigantic proportions as usual, because they grow so easily and sometimes we just forget the squash is secretly growing under their children’s umbrella sized leaves.  It is best to eat them when they are smaller because they are sweeter, but alas.  So with our bounty I’ve been making frittatas, baked zucchini sticks, zucchini muffins and stuffed zucchini blossoms.

One of the bonuses of having your own zucchini plant is having access to the blossoms.  I remember the heavenly stuffed blossoms we had in Italy.  The blossoms were filled with a creamy ricotta and then lightly breaded and fried.  I did make a vegan version, substituting with tofu and mushrooms, which turned out quite nicely.  But for a quick lunch, I dip the blossoms first in egg, then seasoned bread crumbs, and fry in a little oil.  Now before you go and pluck off all the blossoms from your zucchini plant, pluck only the ones that do not have the actual zucchini ”fruit” growing out of them. These are considered the male flowers. They should be eaten on the same day as they are picked because of their delicate quality.

Zuchini Bread 2 Kake2Kale

Years ago I had clipped a recipe out of a magazine that has served me well, a nutty seed quick bread.  Hmmmm, what if I added zucchini to this classic.  So I did and it turned out pretty well, I’ve cut down the sugar, but if more sweetness is needed, feel free to increase the sugar.  I like to serve this bread with jam.  And in this case, we’ve got {Kale’s} homemade blueberry jam.

 

The Superfoods in my recipe:
Zucchini – contain a high amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, manganese, potassium and also lutein, which protects the eye against light damage and macular degeneration.
Black sesame seeds – are a good source of calcium, phosphorous, protein, magnesium, iron and is rich in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant.  In Chinese medicine prescribed to reverse black hair going grey.
Pumpkin seeds –  Good source of protein, minerals, Omega 3, tryptophan (which is an amino acid which helps with sleep). Because of the high amount of zinc in this seed, not only is it good for immune health, it can also have positive results for prostate health.
Flax – Has a high amount of Omega 3’s. High in soluble fibre, which lowers cholesterol, and a good of the bone strengthening mineral boron. Contains lignans which helps your body to rid itself of toxins ie. xenoestrogens (see broccoli). Make sure the flax seeds are ground/milled when you eat them, if not, the whole seed will just pass through your system undigested. Also, I store mine in the freezer, as they have oils in them and can go rancid quickly.

Zuchini Bread 3 Kake2Kale

  Zucchini Bread makes one 9” x 5 “ loaf

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil (or any other vegetable oil)
  •  1 cup light spelt flour
  • 1 cup oat flour1/4 cup coconut sugar (can add more if desire)
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts*
  • 2 T. each: flax, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds*

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 9″x5″ loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Whisk egg and oil together in a large bowl.
  • Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl.
  • Then add the dry to the wet ingredients until just mixed.
  • Then add the zucchini, nuts, and seeds to the batter, stir to mix.
  • Pour into the loaf pan and bake 50-60 mintues, or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

*Feel free to substitute other nuts and seeds.
Eat well, live great! {Kake}