Friday, September 7, 2012

Boiling Versus Steaming Vegetables in a Pressure Cooker

We cooks who have used traditional cooking methods for years are used to immersing food in water and boiling until tender... carrots, or potatoes or vegetables of various sorts. We've even done that with meat and chicken. And then we poured all those good nutrients and vitamins that were cooked out of the food down the drain. We've even used steamers from time to time. Where did that insert go?

The proper way to cook veggies is to clean them and try to make sure they are somewhat uniform in size so that they cook in about the same amount of time. For example, you may wish to cube potatoes or slice carrots. (Note the tip on salvaging your food should your first try turn out badly.)

First add the desired amount of water to the pot. Refer to your manual for estimated amounts of water for the desired period of cooking time. One-half to two-thirds cup of water is generally sufficient. (If you live at a higher altitude, you will need to adjust the time and water as it takes longer to heat water at higher levels.)

The cooking time for most vegetables is one to four minutes.
· Asparagus - two minutes
· Whole green beans - two to three minutes
· Broccoli, chopped, florets or spears - two minutes
· Kernel Corn - one minute
· Medium whole onions - two to three minutes
· White potatoes, cubed - five minutes

If the vegetables are frozen, add a minute or two. The water need not touch the vegetables but should be sufficient to pressure steam the vegetables while they are cooking.

Place the prepared vegetables into the basket or rack that comes with the pressure cooker, or even that little-used collapsible steamer basket, and place the basket into the cooker. Close the lid and bring to full pressure, usually the high (15 psi) pressure setting. Once the cooker has reached full pressure you need to time the process. Don't stray from the kitchen now as the time is extremely short and you don't want to burn or overcook. Use a cold water release method to retain crispness.
Season and serve. Vegetables will retain their vibrant colors and taste better than you've ever experienced. Your family and guests might even begin to like vegetables!

Don't despair should you have added too much water or overcooked those vegetables, don't just throw them away. You can make a wonderful homemade stock for use in your next soup or stew. Add more vegetables, even some of the skins, stems and peelings from your vegetable preparation, add flavorings such as thyme, rosemary and bay leaves, onions, and so on, add water to cover and pressure cook for an additional 20 minutes. Be sure you do not exceed the maximum fill line in your pressure cooker. Let the pressure drop naturally. Strain and discard the vegetables, retaining the stock in your refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for 3 months.

Sue Wiskowski-Fair has developed a special site to provide a one-stop experience for the busy cook to assist in today's stress-filled lives. Check out the wide variety of pressure cookers and pressure canners and determine what fits your lifestyle. Cookbooks to help you. Recipes and advice at Save time and energy and enjoy a more healthful lifestyle.

Yoga Benefits for Stroke Survivors

The effects of a stroke vary, depending on the severity of it. When a stroke occurs, the brain is deprived of oxygen resulting in loss of memory and speech, agility, movement and balance. Along with the physical side effects of a stroke come a host of emotional issues as a result of these drastic life changes. Yoga has proven to be an effective type of therapy for stroke patients as it helps with both the physical and mental side effects of the stroke. There are many benefits of incorporating yoga training into a rehabilitation program.

Improved Balance
Asanas improve balance, even when they are modified to accommodate patients who cannot walk, stand or even sit on their own. Patients can use a number of different props when working with a trained yoga therapist or yoga instructor. Over time, patients can learn which poses are most beneficial for them. They can then employ the postures during other times of the day when they are not in a physical therapy session.

Greater Independence
As patients improve their balance, it becomes easier to perform tasks unassisted. Getting dressed, tying shoes and other daily tasks become easier so patients have more independence than when the stroke initially occurred. Many patients will live with the side effects of a stroke for the rest of their lives, so it's important to become as independent as possible.

Better Attitude
A natural companion to greater independence achieved through yoga therapy is a better attitude toward life and recovery. A stroke can have huge emotional effects on patients, as there lives are forever changed. Suddenly, they are unable to do the most ordinary of tasks unassisted. As mobility returns, so does confidence and motivation to press on. The meditative portion of a yoga routine teaches patients healthy ways to release negative emotions while replacing them with positive thoughts. Breathing techniques can allow patients to live in the moment and be grateful for every small gift each day brings.

Long-Term Benefits
Depending on the severity of the stroke, many patients visit a physical or occupational therapist for a designated period of time. After that, the patient must decide whether they need to hire in-home care or enlist friends and family to help. Yoga can be an on-going therapy that will continue to produce results over time. Once patients know the asanas they can continue to do them on a daily basis, continually improving balance, agility, strength, stamina and attitude.

Specialist Yoga Teacher Training
Some patients are looking for teachers with specialized Yoga certification. With this in mind, specific Yoga instructor training for teaching therapeutic Yogic exercises to patients is a wise decision for the teacher who wants to work with diversified students.

© Copyright 2006 - Aura Wellness Center - Publications Division
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit:

Eye Exercises for Better Vision - 4 Natural Techniques to Improve Farsightedness

Nature gave us one pair of eyes to last a lifetime and as such, vision care should be a critically important part of our health and fitness routine. Don't allow vision conditions to hinder your ability to see clearly especially when there is something that you can do to prevent it. According to the

American Academy of Ophthalmology, an estimated 12 million Americans suffer from farsightedness. This is defined as the inability of the eyes to focus properly on near objects. Eye exercises have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the eyes reducing problems like farsightedness. Here are 4 simple, quick and easy eye exercises that improve farsightedness.

1. Palming - You can perform this technique effectively by keeping your eyes open. Use both hands to cover them. Avoid touching your eye balls. However, it is important to ensure that your hands are tightly covered so that you can see darkness. Keep your eyes covered for a few minutes. Imagine that you are outside staring into the darkness of the night, into the distance. Staring into the distance is beneficial as it releases stress and tension in the eyes.

2. Practice flutter blinking - This is defined as blinking your eyes rapidly at different intervals.Inhale and exhale while performing this technique. Breathing is essential as 30% of the air we breathe nourishes the visual system. Blinking increases the natural moisture in the eyes thereby lubricating them. This is a natural remedy for dry eyes. You can also perform this technique at a slower pace by closing your eyes for 3 seconds and holding them open for another 3 seconds.

3. Visual Flexibility Exercise - According to Eye Exercises for Good Vision, the objective of this exercise is to improve the focusing ability of the eyes. This enhances its ability to shift from near to distant objects. To effectively perform this technique, choose an object that is 20 feet away. Be seated in such a position that you can clearly see the distant object you have selected. Hold a pen or pencil 6 inches from your nose and focus on the pen. Then, shift your focus to the object in the distance. This technique promotes eye health by improving the ability of the eyes to refocus to a different depth and distance. As you shift your focus, inhale and exhale deeply. Keep shifting your focus back and forth from the pen to the distant object, moving your eyes only not your head 7 times.

4. Stretching - This is an important eye strengthening technique. It involves moving your eyes only not your head, as far as you can to the right and then to the left. Then move your eyes all the way up and then all the way down. Repeat 3 times. It is helpful to complete this technique with eye rolls to relieve any additional tension in the eyes.

To perform eye rolls simply roll your eyes in a clockwise direction.

A reduction in farsightedness is just one of the many benefits of eye exercises. Additionally, they are a natural remedy for dry eyes. They strengthen the visual system improving the focusing power and flexibility of the eye muscles. Nature gave us one pair of eyes and eye exercises can help us keep them healthy for a lifetime.

Top 10 Natural Remedies to Lower Your High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or is a tough nut to crack. There are more than 300 possible causes of hypertension; however, most of us have the condition because we are:
  • overweight,
  • not as young as we once were, and
  • are out of condition.
We cannot do anything about our age, but we have to change the other two factors if we are to lower our BP readings to within normal levels.

Here are 10 natural remedies to lower your high blood pressure:

#1. Weight Loss: For most of us, being overweight is the result of our own poor lifestyle choices. Yet it is something we can easily do something about. All we have to do is burn up more calories (energy) than we consume and we will lose weight.
For every 10kg of weight we lose, we can expect to see our systolic pressure go down by between 5 and 20 points.

#2. The DASH Diet: Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension is a set of healthy, low-fat and low sodium dietary guidelines that, if followed, can significantly lower your BP readings. Because the DASH diet is based on 2000 calories a day, it will also help you lose weight.
The DASH dietary principles ensure that you get sufficient quantities of all essential vitamins and minerals. This is important as most people's diets are deficient in:
  • Magnesium: Magnesium relaxes the smooth muscle surrounding your arteries, causing your arteries to dilate which results in a drop of blood pressure;
  • Potassium: most anti-hypertensives are potassium depleting. Green leafed vegetables and bananas are good sources of this mineral;
  • Calcium: We need about 800 mg a day. Most people do not achieve this in their diet. Research has shown that calcium helps to lower blood pressure;
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent the LDL from "oxidizing" and forming the hardened plaques in our arteries that cause them to lose their elasticity, thereby increasing blood pressure. Think of vitamin C as the nutrient that keeps your pipes from rusting. The simplest way to get enough of this essential vitamin is by eating vitamin C rich foods.
#3. Garlic: Garlic is an effective anti-hypertensive agent. Add fresh raw garlic liberally to your diet. Cooking reduces the allicin content. You can also take a good quality garlic supplement.

#4. Eat celery and parsley: We tend to think of these as garnishes on the side of our plate to make the dish look more attractive. Did you know that they are also naturally diuretic?

#5. Reduce or cut out caffeine: Drinking caffeinated beverages is just like throwing gasoline on the hypertension fire.
We are used to caffeine restricting all our blood vessels, which increases our blood pressure. However, once our body metabolizes all the caffeine our arteries dilate causing a throbbing headache.

#6. Drink plenty of water: We need to keep our bodies properly hydrated to maintain optimum health. We should aim to drink about 8 glasses of cold water each day. This helps to keep our arteries supple and removes toxins from our body.

#7. Drink green tea: Studies have shown that drinking green tea can lower your blood pressure. Drink about 3 to 4 cups a day to maintain the benefit.

#8. Cut out refined sugar: Although not directly associated with hypertension, refined sugar may be the underlying cause. Try eliminating sugar or cutting back for a few weeks and monitor your systolic and diastolic pressures. Cutting out or reducing refined sugar from your diet will also help you lose weight.

#9. Manage stress: Our modern lifestyle is stressful and that can cause hypertension. It is important for our wellbeing to take time each day to relax.

#10. Exercise: One of the main reasons why you probably have high blood pressure is because you don't exercise. Half an hour of cardiovascular exercise can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 points for almost 24 hours. That is why it is important to exercise most days of the week.
The most effective way to reduce hypertension is by having:
  • a healthy balance diet,
  • maintaining an appropriate weight, and
  • having an active lifestyle.
The other natural remedies described above are most effective when forming part of such a healthy lifestyle and will help you to crack the tough nut of lowering your high blood pressure.

Robert Reddin suffers from high blood pressure. He lowered his blood pressure to normal levels using natural methods. Click here if you want to lower your blood pressure naturally.

Why Women Age Slower Than Men and What You Can Do to Help Yourself

It's no secret that women, on average, outlive men. Right now, that number seems to be about five years difference. For the longest time, no one really knew why this was, but scientists are finally beginning to discover the reasons behind this mystery of life.

Apparently, slight mutations in our cells mitochondria play a role in this difference in lifespan. Mitochondria exist in the cells of the vast majority of animals and help convert food into energy. These are an essential part of our existence, and when mutations occur it can make the difference in how long we live by affecting the speed of the aging process.

One recently concluded study looked at fruit flies and made a surprising discovery. They found that mitochondrial mutations had a significant effect upon the males of this species but there was no effect upon female fruit flies. Researchers believe that males are simply more susceptible to the mutations that occur naturally and that females are not prone to the effect that mitochondrial changes have on the aging process. Apparently this affects the rate of aging in males all across the animal kingdom.

The difference is occurring in how mitochondrial genes are passed down from parent to child. When genes are passed down, mitochondrial genes are only passed down from the mother. Over the millennia, there have been many mutations and conditions that only effect males, so when genes are passed down, the males' genes here are not taken into the equation. This leaves females unharmed by the potential for speedier aging and leaves males totally at the mercy of natural selection.

Women live about five years longer than men, and while the exact science behind this is not conclusively known, it is safe to say that scientists are making progress toward understanding why.

Mitochondrial mutations look like they speed up the aging process in some males, and this brings down the average lifespan for men across the board. Not all men will pass away five years earlier than all women, but there are enough of these mutations present that the general population is significantly affected.

There are many things that you can do to increase your own chances of having a long lifespan. Stopping smoking and drinking can help, as can eating right and exercising. These things are all very important and while there is certainly no guarantee that you will live to 100 years old, these activities have been proven to be beneficial to increasing an individual's health. If you want to make sure you have a healthy and long life, taking steps in this direction can be a huge help. If you have further concerns about what you can do, it is important that you see a doctor for advice.

Save Money by Eating Soup

Eating soup stretches your food dollars and is healthy to boot. Mixing in a pot of water whatever ingredients you have on hand is cheap and filling. It is possible soup has been around since the first pots could be placed over a fire. The word "soup" most likely derived from the bread one poured it over called "sop" or "sup". Before that, soup was known variously as broth or pottage or even gruel (although now we think of gruel as being strictly a mashed cereal grain boiled in water).

Cultures came up with different approaches to soup depending on what was available locally. Borscht made from beets is from Russia. Bouillabaisse is a fish soup, from the port city of Marseille, France. Minestrone, made of fresh vegetables and beans, is from Italy. Scotch broth, made of mutton or lamb, root vegetables, and barley, is from Scotland. You will find there are soups specific to most locales.

There are two main classifications of soup: clear soups and thick soups. The French classifications of clear soups include bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified by their thickening agents. Purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch. Bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream. Cream soups use a béchamel sauce for thickening. Veloutés are thickened with butter, cream, and eggs. Soups can also be thickened with rice, flour, grains, lentils, mashed potatoes or puréed carrots.

In addition to being delicious, soups are also generally quite healthy. You do have to be careful about the sodium level in processed soups. Many manufacturers' now offer lower salt level options. Salt caution aside, soups offer a filling meal often rich in vegetables (increasing fiber intake) and a high liquid level (perfect for keeping hydrated).

Augment canned or ready-to-eat soups by adding extra vegetables. Add a fried egg, slender slices of lunch meat, a sprinkle of green beans and green onions to Ramen to increase its nutritional value.
Often the most budget friendly option is to make your own soup. Soups are simple to make and are a good way to use any bits and pieces you have leftover from other meals. Freeze leftovers in freezer bags or containers marked with the date and the contents. When you are ready to make the soup, pull out these valuable leftovers for additions to your soup.

To make a pot of soup, pull out an 8-quart pot. Brown any uncooked meat and onions you will be using. Then add your leftovers, up to 4 cups of vegetables in any combination, a handful of noodles of any type, pour in up to 16 ounces of tomato in whatever form you have (puree, sauce, soup, diced, fresh), and add enough water to bring the mixture to within an inch of the pot's brim. Sprinkle in spices. Try a tablespoon of an Italian mix, or teaspoon each of basil and oregano, and a quarter teaspoon of pepper (hot red or black as you prefer). Add a teaspoon of "Kitchen Bouquet" if you wish for extra flavor and a rich color. Stir in a teaspoon of "Better Than Bouillon" or salt. Bring to a rolling boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the noodles do not stick to the bottom. The flavors will meld beautifully.

Serve soup with a carbohydrate. I like to switch between corn bread, fresh bread, toast, and crackers. Add a serving of cheese, peanut butter, or tuna fish. Finish your meal with a piece of fresh fruit or a serving of canned fruit.

Eat a soup meal every day. You will find your food dollar goes further and you will also notice improvements in your overall health. "Like what?" you ask. Hydration. Hydration levels are improved because of the high amount of water in soup. Hydration affects how your body functions.

Digestion works more smoothly, bowel movements become regular and easier. Proper hydration is also important to the functioning of the brain. Dehydration can lead to confusion, poor mental processing, forgetfulness, and other dementia-type symptoms. Generally, the lower calorie level of soup helps maintain ideal weight (cream-based soups should form only a small part of your soup regime). Soup also retains the vitamins and minerals which leach out during cooking, because the liquid the vegetables and meats are cooked in is eaten instead of being poured down the drain.

So, eat your healthful soup and be happy!

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes in 7 Steps

Many people around the world today love cakes. There are various forms and types of cakes that you would find being made in various parts of the world today. These differentiations are intended to suit the needs of a diverse market segment whose demand for cakes has been on an exponential rise in the recent couple of years. One of the most common types of cakes is the cup cake. A Cup cake? Probably you might want to ask.

Well, these are no different from the normal large size cakes that you see at birthdays and weddings. The only difference is that these kinds of cakes are baked in thin paper or aluminum cups. The cakes are still made with the same basic ingredients that are used in baking normal cakes. These ingredients include sugar, flour, eggs and butter. Once they are fully baked, the thin paper foil or cup is removed gently before they can be eaten. They are also referred to as "queen cakes" in most states around the world.

There is basically not much disparity between the mode of baking normal cakes and that which is used for cup cakes. If you need to use decorations, icing and sprinkles, you can still apply them to cup cakes. The only major difference that exists between cup cakes and the larger size cakes is that the cup cakes generally cook faster, thanks to their small size.
  1. Making cupcakes the right way - Cupcakes can be used in whichever occasion. There are diverse modes of cooking these kinds of cakes. If you want the best results, it is important for you to try, and to be versatile. Here are some easy steps that you can use so as to come up with the best cupcakes ever.
  2. Choose a recipe - There are plenty of recipes that you would come across on the internet today regarding how to best bake cupcakes. You can use a variety of flavors to achieve your final result. You can find a couple of recipes on the internet to help you in this case. In order to bake the cupcakes right, you need to pre-heat your oven for ten minutes or so.
  3. Choose the cupcake liners and pans - These cups and liners come in varied shapes and sizes. Whichever kind you choose to go with will depend on your own personal preferences. There are plenty of these liners and pans in the market today. Whichever you choose to go with will still serve the intended purpose.
  4. Bake your cupcakes - You would need to use a measuring cup to fill the liners with the mixture up to ½ of the liner. The rest has to be butter. This mode has been proved to translate to the best kinds of cupcakes. You need to however stick to the instructions that are provided in your chosen recipe so as to come up with the best results.
  5. Full the cupcakes - This step in most instances is optional. If you need your cupcakes to fill past the brim, you can add more mixture to the cooked ingredients. Most people love them plain and therefore would not strain themselves to fill up the liners and cups.
  6. Frost the cupcake - Frosting has to be done with much care. If the frosting had been refrigerated earlier, you need to allow it to come to room temperature before applying it. You need to use a spatula for this step so that you do not destroy the cakes.
  7. Decorations - The kind of decorations you would choose to apply on your cakes would depend on your own level of creativity and personal preferences. Use diverse means of decorations. If you are making these cakes for kids, using edible decorations is much more advisable. You can decorate the cakes using candy, icing, butter, sprinkles, sum paste and also butter cream.
Now that you know the basic facts about the baking cupcakes, it's time to look for some unique and delicious recipes. Looking for best cupcakes, there is no better place than Cupcakes Garden - cupcake recipes and ideas blog. You can find cupcakes for every occasion or search for your favorite cupcake recipe by flavor.