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Simple Things To Spice Up Simple Foods #2

Updated on March 19, 2014

The Sick Nursed Gingerly

You got a cold, a fever, or just feeling really cruddy? Fear not! Those ginger roots you bought for your food can also be used to help with your healing process. Mix up a small pot of boiling water (1/2 gallon, fill only 1/2 with water). While the water boils, add in two green onions (cut into 2-3 inch stocks) and a sliced ginger root (about the size of your thumb). Allow to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off fire and let settle for 1 minute. Serve hot. Good for multiple servings. Throw out or reheat if it gets cold or mildly warm. NEVER leave overnight. It must be finished the day you make it.

Root Me A Ginger

What does your mind say when you hear "Ginger Roots"? Disgusting, right? When eaten directly, yes. However, it is one of the best things to use when cooking different dishes. It also has many great medicinal purposes, too. In properly small amounts, it does wonders for your body and health.

A minced up piece of ginger root (about the size of your pinky's fingernail) gives you the extra zing if you're cooking up a nice 12-18oz steak with some choice sauces (nothing too heavy, but a nice amount). Also, if you enjoy seared or BBQ chicken wings/legs, having some minced up ginger root really brings out the flavour. In fact, ginger brings out the flavor in a lot of meats, making it one of the best seasonings to have.

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The Plain Becomes Extraordinary

One of the most overlooked things for meals is the grains for your diet. By eating bread or rice together with your meals, not just eating the entrees by themselves, you can actually enjoy it more. The taste melding with the grains' "blandness" actually reduces sauces that are too heavy and at the same time, brings out the actual flavours of the grain products. Not only is this healthier, the grains will expand in your stomach, lowering the amount that you will need to eat. This will help lower your appetite and allow you to eat the proper, healthy amounts of food, rather than potentially overeating. If you're afraid of getting fat and want to get that balance of flavours in your meals, mixing your entrée with grain products like bread and rice will be perfect for you!

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Affordable College Meal

Can't afford that lavish dinner, especially when finals are around the corner? Not to worry, you can spend little, but still have that delicious gourmet-like taste. As you know, ramen noodles are common college food, and are surprising affordable at only $2 for a pack of 12. However, with a little tweaking, it can go from something very simple and overwhelmingly unhealthy, to something fairly gourmet.

Here are the following items you'll want to get your hands on:

  • Bok Choy (or mustard greens)
  • Portion of Ham (or an entire shank portion, to save money)
  • Ginger Root (One root portion is generally around 2-4oz in actual weight)
  • Bottle of Sesame Seed Oil (Optional)

Bok Choy and Mustard greens are similar in cost, at around $3.00/pound or sometimes around $2 per bunch. You don't need much as 1 bunch is good for an entire week, and it's best to work with fresh ingredients. The Sesame Seed Oil bottle costs $3-8 per bottle, depending on the brand, but the bottle will last you a couple months. Shank portions of ham are usually the most affordable, and have plenty of taste to go around, costing between $1-$1.5 per pound. Finally, ginger roots are good for 2 weeks, so you only need 1 root, which will cost you around $0.50-$1.00. So overall, if you spread everything out to using it all up, you're looking at roughly a total cost of $9/week in the course of 2-3 months.

The following steps will show you how to make it:

  1. Boil water in a small, 1/2 gallon pot.
  2. While water heats, take out a handled strainer or fill a bowl with water and ice.
  3. When water boils, add in ramen noodles.
  4. Stir ramen in boiling water as it gets soft.
  5. As soon as ramen completely separates, quickly take out and put in strainer.
  6. Quickly place strainer with ramen into the bowl of ice water. Use utensil (tongs or chopsticks recommended) to stir, allowing a faster cool-down.
  7. Put ramen in the bowl to be served in. (Refill pot with 1/2 cup of water, if water level drops below 3/4)
  8. Keep flame on high and add 2 Mustard Green roots or 2 Pieces of the Bok Choy along with a minced piece of the ginger root (about the size of your pinky nail) and roughly a slice of ham about the size of your palm (not counting fingers).
  9. Maintain high flame and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  10. Turn off flame and pour the soup you just made into your bowl of ramen through the strainer. (This will prevent the fatty oils that came out of the ham from getting onto your meal)
  11. Take out your greens and ham, and add it to your ramen. Serve warm or hot.
  12. (Optional) For a little extra, add only 1/2 teaspoon of Sesame Seed Oil to your meal and mix with ramen and soup. This will boost the flavour, giving that "professional" taste.

With a little time, and only a few dollars per week, you now have a very delicious and beautiful dinner or even lunch. It's a very simple dish, and a heck of a lot healthier than using that MSG packet. Now you have a soup you made with your own hands, and you can throw away those flavour packets and eat healthier! If you want, you can add 1/2 of a boiled egg (without the shell).

Ramen is meant to be an elegant meal. Bring it back to its roots.
Ramen is meant to be an elegant meal. Bring it back to its roots. | Source

Healthy Snack

Snacks can be healthy, and they don't have to be processed. Something as simple as washing and slicing up a red bell-pepper into sticks can easily make a nice little afternoon snack. It's mildly sweet and the natural flavours that come out when fresh bring a perfect balance that will delight your taste buds.

Another great snack is a little box with 2 fresh, peeled, sliced carrots (non-packaged). Do NOT get baby carrots as many actually contain chemicals that are actually bad for you, and they usually leave a bad after-taste in your mouth. Fresh, full-sized carrots are all natural and won't leave a bad taste in your mouth. There's also no need to add anything like like ranch or other dips as a truly fresh carrot is filled with plenty of flavour. Plus, dips tend to be less than healthy, and end up defeating the purpose of having a veggie snack.

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Be Clean. Be Healthy.

One of the biggest problems with the household, especially for those between 12 and 30, is cleanliness in the kitchen. We're not just talking about cleaning the dirtiness, but also keeping cleaning agents from getting in our food. When you wash your hands, also be sure to thoroughly rinse off all soap. Ingesting some of the soap can sometimes lead to indigestion or an upset stomach.

Also, keep this same practice when washing dishes. If you're washing by machine, always spend the extra 5 seconds to just quickly rinse any potential residue before using a utensil or dish. Soap residue from your washer tends to be more powerful than from simple hand-soap. It's been known to cause upset stomachs and sometimes diarrhea.

So remember, make sure everything is clean, but always be thorough!

Sports Are Fun, Not Torture.

Whether you're working out, or playing your favourite sports, you should not be feeling pains outside of fatigue. By constantly drinking water in your daily life, practice and during activities, you allow your body to develop proper lubrication at your joints. This will give you the edge you'll need to keep going, and allow you to enjoy what you're doing, rather than pushing through unnecessary pain. Let the burns stay in your muscles, not your joints.

Sometimes It's Best To Keep It Simple

We're thirst throughout our days. Working, playing sports, jogging, etc. Whether it's to beat the whether or to compensate for heavy sweating, we're always thirsty, and we're constantly looking for things to drink. Many have forgotten, but water is always going to be the best choice. Just good old fashioned water. It's the most natural drink, and gives the greatest, refreshing feeling.

You've seen ads and people telling you to drink sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and water additives. However, these will not have as much of a perfect impact as water.

Sports drinks do replace more electrolytes in your body, however, it does that with the higher concentration of salts in them. And, as all salts do, it doesn't hydrate you very much. In fact, when you drink it, it still ends up leaving a gooey, and even a dry feeling in the back of your throat. Also, sports drinks do not lubricate your joints as well as water, due to the chemical additives in them. They're great for playing heavy sports, but they should not be consumed outside of that.

Soda has high sodium concentrations, they actually dehydrate you rather than hydrate. It is the same for energy drinks.

Water additives like tea mixes and squeeze bottles ultimately have the same effect as drinking sports drinks, but with one major difference, they have no real health benefits. Similar to adding a pound of bacon to a small plate of salad, additives defeat the purpose of drinking water to hydrate.

Water is our natural fuel, and our body is mostly made up of water. By only drinking water when you're thirsty, as a life-long habit, you will give yourself more energy, and mobility in your daily life. You'll feel more invigorated and more energized every single day, allowing you to be at your best.

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