Flavors for the New Year

As I was thinking this morning about what to share on this blog, I realized that most folks would be considering their New Year’s resolutions at this time. I also realized that most of us overindulged during the holiday season and will be looking for ways to change this habit for the new year. (too many cookies and fudge for me 😦 Anyway, even though the number on the bathroom scale has been a factor for me throughout my life, I, personally want to change this for 2016. I will be concentrating on how I feel rather than on how much I weigh. To accomplish this, I will be working on using flavor to enhance the eating experience rather than eating what I have been told (by the media, and other diet junkies) to eat. Don’t get me wrong. I also believe that vegetables, whole grains, fruit and even water can be a heathy part of the an eating program. But when you rely soley on the type of food you consume and not on whether or not it tastes good and is satisfying, it can create a problem. (Usually what happens is the diet fails and previous eating habits return. Why do you think sugar is such a large part of the diets for most Americans? One big reason is because it tastes good.) Another problem occurs when food is consumed too quickly and the taste is not savored. This leads to the satisfaction part of my plan. Taste has to be savored before the body and mind can fully appreciate the eating experience and not crave more. Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for our bodies to know whether or not they are full? Think about this. 20 minutes before eating dessert or another portion.
My mission for the new year then is to enhance my own food choices with flavor and slow down while eating, thus allowing my body to determine whether or not it has had enough. I will also be using herbs, spices and seasonings to create meals and snacks that are flavorful and satisfying thus eliminating the need to attempt to satisfy my appetite by overindulging. Along the way, I will be sharing herbal recipes (flavors) and ideas that really do bring out the joy of eating. You are invited to come along with me. Let’s make 2016 the year when we stop following every diet guru out there and instead listen to our own bodies for guidance.
An easy way to start flavoring foods is with herbal vinegars. Herbal vinegars are fun and easy to make and can be created with herbs, spices and produce found in the local grocery store (if you do not grow your own.) They can then be used to add flavor without adding additional calories to all sorts of dishes. This morning, I created a lemon dill vinegar blend. After a period of 10 days, it will be used to create a viniagrette, flavor fish, steam vegetables, flavor potato salad or even to marinate chicken. I just put the bottle in a dark place away from direct heat and light and let the magic happen.
To make lemon dill vinegar you will need:
a bottle of white wine vinegar (I used a 12 ounce bottle from Walmart)
4-5 sprigs of fresh dill
1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice                 5 lemon rinds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fresh peppercorns (I used white)
2-3 garlic cloves (peeled)
funnel and wooden skewer
Pour the vinegar into a clean ( preferably sterilized) container. Place the herbs, spices, garlic, lemon rinds and lemon juice in the vinegar bottle (using the wooden skewer) and pour the vinegar back in. (Keep in mind that there will be about 1 tablespoon of vinegar left over due to the space occupied by the additives. The lemon rinds can also be slightly dehydrated ahead of time for a clearer vinegar if you wish.) That’s it. Let it sit for 10 days, strain if desired and it’s ready to use. Enjoy!

Beginning the last Saturday of January, The Simple Heart of Life herb shop will once again be offering hands-on events to the public (in rural Scott county, Illinois.) Our 2016 schedule includes classes sharing tips on using herbs in the kitchen, garden celebrations that feature herbal flavors, classes on growing herbs and even free events to help save garden pollinators (Monarch butterflies). Just send a reply below if interested in our classes or events and we will gladly place you on our mailing list.

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