Categories
Recipes

How to Cook With a Dutch Oven: A Simple Guide

Cooking great new recipes can be exciting, but oftentimes, it can seem like too much work. Trying new recipes can be time-consuming, and the cleanup afterward might make it seem not worth it.

Luckily, you can easily use a Dutch oven to cook a variety of different meals. Keep reading for a full breakdown on how to cook with a Dutch oven.

What Is a Dutch Oven?

If you’re unfamiliar with it, a Dutch oven is a heavy cast iron cooking pot. It has a pair of handles on either side and a lid that fits tightly on top.

Because cast iron is not a good heat conductor, when a Dutch oven gets hot, it stays hot for a long time. When you need to cook with a lower temperature at a slower pace, a Dutch oven can be perfect.

But what are some different things you can make when cooking with a Dutch oven?

Use it For Soups and Stews

Soups and stews require a low and steady temperature. This tenderizes the meat (think of meat that “falls off the bone”) and also causes the different ingredient flavors to meld together. Because of this, they pair perfectly with a Dutch oven.

Pork shoulder, beef chuck, and anything else with a lot of fat will braise perfectly in a  Dutch oven. 

Similarly, you can also use it to soften different types of vegetables. Greens such as kale and collards and root vegetables such as carrots and turnips are delicious when brewed in a Dutch oven.

Sear Meat

The cast iron material of Dutch ovens allows them to do a lot of things all in the same pot.

After you get it hot and smokey on the stove, you can then directly add your meat to brown it. Follow it up by then adding liquid and any other ingredients, and they’ll all cook easily together.

The same pot can handle everything!

This makes it even easier to use than a Crockpot, which requires a separate skillet to sear the meat.

Cook Over a Campfire

Are you a fan of camping? If so, consider bringing a Dutch oven on your next camping trip!

Dutch ovens have been used to cook in the wilderness for hundreds of years. Even when your miles away from civilization, with nothing but stars and a campfire, you can still cook some delicious meals. Just put it directly over the fire!

Wondering what sorts of things you can cook over a fire? Check out this guide for a list of camping Dutch oven recipes.

How to Cook With a Dutch Oven? It’s Easy!

If you’re wondering how to cook with a Dutch oven, know that it’s easy! With a simple cast iron pot, you can cook a huge variety of dishes, and in a number of different places.

Do you have any other suggestions for dishes you can make with a Dutch Oven? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out our blog posts for more food-related guides and tips.

Categories
Drink

How to Make Espresso in 7 Simple Steps

You sigh in complete bliss as you leave the coffee shop and take the first sip of your drink. Nobody makes coffee quite like your favorite shop. What if we told you that with the right equipment, you could?

Learning how to make espresso isn’t too hard and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to save a few bucks by making a café quality cup every single morning in the comfort of your own home.

Ready to get started? Check out this espresso guide for everything you need to know to brew the perfect cup of joe.   

1. Choose Your Equipment 

The first step to making espresso is investing in the right equipment. The best espresso machines aren’t cheap but they’re worth it. They come in all sorts of different settings and features so be sure to do plenty of research before you pick one out. 

A good burr grinder won’t come cheap either but if you want your coffee grounds to be consistent, it’s a necessary purchase. Blade grinders are much cheaper but you’ll be able to taste the cheap in your drink. 

When it comes to choosing coffee beans, pretty much any high-quality dark roast blend will do. Other things you’ll need is a timer, tamper, and scale. It’s a lot of stuff and we won’t lie, it will hit your wallet pretty hard but it’s the price you pay to make quality espresso at home. 

2. Preheat Your Espresso Maker 

Now that you have all your equipment in front of you, it’s time to learn how to make espresso coffees with it. The first step is to turn on your espresso maker and allow it to preheat. 

This process can take up to 25 minutes to complete so make sure you give yourself plenty of time in the morning. If you do need to speed things along, you can brew a blank espresso shot. Essentially, making a cup of hot water. 

3. Prepare the Coffee Beans 

If you have an espresso machine that comes complete with a grinder, you can skip this step. If you don’t then keep reading. Set your grinder to its fine coffee setting. 

Set the portafilter on the scale and grind about 20 grams of freshly ground coffee into it. You may have a little lump of coffee grounds peeking up out of the portafilter. Even it out with your finger. 

4. Tamp the Coffee Grounds 

Next, you’re going to pack the ground down and get rid of any air pockets through a process known as tamping. Before you start tamping, it’s important that your coffee grounds are evenly distributed in the portafilter. You can do that by tapping the side of the filter. 

The secret to good tamping is to press straight down on the coffee grounds. If you don’t the entire thing will be uneven and your end product will taste off. Keep applying about 30 lbs. of pressure until it feels like the grounds aren’t going to budge anymore. 

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get this down right away. It takes time and practice to pull off the perfect tamp. We didn’t say your first time making espresso would go absolutely perfect. 

After you feel like you’ve tamped the grounds enough, brush any escaped coffee off the brim of the portafilter. You’re now ready to pull your first espresso shot. 

5. Create Your First Espresso Shot

Insert your portafilter into the machine and begin brewing. Start brewing as soon as you put the filter in place or you may end up burning your coffee grounds which doesn’t make for a good espresso drinking experience at all. 

Time how long it takes your machine to pull your shot. The sweet spot is around 30 seconds. If it takes any longer or shorter than that it means that you got something off when you were performing the steps above. 

Take the portafilter out and start from square one until your machine is pulling the shot within 30 seconds. The end product may have a bit of a sour taste otherwise. 

6. Steam Some Milk  

Pour your milk into the container and dip the steamer wand in a little bit below the surface of the liquid. Turn the wand on and froth the milk until it reaches the consistency that you want. 

For the best results, hold the steamer wand a little bit off-center while you froth. Pay attention to the heat. If the container gets to be too hot, stop frothing, or else your milk will have a burnt taste. 

On the flip side of this, if you don’t use enough heat then you’ll have bubbly unpleasantness instead of a silky froth. It might take you a couple of tries to get this right. 

7. Keep Practicing

The last step in how to make espresso at home is practice. It’s likely that you won’t make the perfect cup of coffee on your first try. Instead of getting discouraged when your drink comes out tasting slightly burned, go watch a few tutorials. 

There are plenty of videos out there that can walk you through the process and tell you how you can improve. There are also books that you can read. So, keep working at it! 

How to Make Espresso in the Comfort of Your Own Home

Do you want to replicate your favorite cafe drinks in the comfort of your house? Learning how to make espresso is an art form. It takes a lot of expensive equipment and practice to get it right.

Once you get the hang of it though, all your hard work will be worth it when you never have to spend five dollars for a cup of coffee again. 

Want to learn how to make even more tasty drinks at home? Check out the drinks section of our blog daily for more tutorials like this one. 

Categories
Health

8 Ways to support intestinal microbial balance and proper digestion

The body’s digestive system contains almost 100 trillion bacteria. The majority of these bacteria are found in your intestines and they can be both good and bad. Whilst some protect you against disease, others can actually lead to the development of disease. As such, supporting a positive intestinal microbial balance can help you to lead a healthier life. In this post, we will look at 8 to promote a good microbial balance and proper digestion.

8 science-backed ways improved digestion

A good microbial balance fosters proper digestion. Moreover, it can help prevent and/or ameliorate health conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer. Here, we outline 8 ways you can improve your natural microbial balance and support your good gut microbiota.

  1. Vegetables, fruits, and legumes are your friends

Everyone knows that fruit and vegetables are good for their health. When it comes to the bacteria in your gut, this is because of them being high in fiber. Fiber is great for digestion and also helps good bacteria grow. Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and beans generally are also all high in fiber. 

Studies have shown that fiber is particularly good for preventing heart disease, chronic diseases, and colon cancers. However, it is always important to remember that no one supplement, mineral, or vitamin is a magic bullet cure for these things. Nevertheless, a high fiber diet full of vegetables, fruit, and legumes will be a vital component of a healthy digestive system and a healthy body and mind.

  1. Eat a wide range of foods

It can be tempting to look up the foods that are high in fiber and focus on getting as many of them into your system as possible. However, it is also important to eat a varied diet to foster a positive intestinal microbial balance. This is because the trillions of bacteria in your gut are varied and made up of different species. Different ones benefit from different nutrients.

You also want to encourage a diverse range of microbiota to thrive in your gut. This will lead to a healthier digestive system with a greater chance of overall health benefits. However, according to the IDRC, just 15 plant and 5 animal species account for 75% of the world’s food production. Rural areas tend to offer more diversity in the sorts of foods available whilst foraging also offers rewards here for added variety.

  1. Avoid artificial sweeteners

The Western diet is full of sugar which can be bad for bodily health and digestion. However,  simply replacing sugar with things like artificial sweeteners doesn’t solve the problem. Studies show they can change the composition of the intestinal microbiota. They can also actually have negative effects on people’s blood sugar levels. 

As such, whilst artificial sweeteners can be beneficial in terms of preventing weight gain, it is best to seek your sweetness elsewhere. Particularly if you want to promote a healthy microbial balance and proper digestion.

  1. Add fermented foods to your diet

Most people have probably heard someone mention the benefits of fermented foods. Indeed, whilst they can be a bit of an acquired taste, they are great for the gut. This is because they are full of microbes like Lactobacilli and Enterobacteriaceae. These bacteria have been shown to have digestive benefits and help to prevent inflammatory and chronic diseases.

Fermented foods that are high in beneficial microbes included things like sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough, and tempeh. Natural yogurt and kefir are also a good source of these types of beneficial microbes. Kombucha tea can also be drunk with similar benefits.

  1. Take prebiotics, probiotics, and essential oils

Prebiotics are foods and supplements that encourage beneficial microbe growth. Probiotics are the beneficial microorganisms themselves. Essential oils are also designed to support intestinal balance and proper digestion. These things can be particularly important if you have had to take a course of antibiotics as these kill off many of the beneficial gut microbiota. These essential oils can also be used by people with a lactose intolerance.

The bacteria fostered by prebiotics can be beneficial for people with high cholesterol levels as well as people who are obese. The key is fostering the growth of bifidobacteria which is good for gut health and fosters proper digestion.

  1. Eat more whole grains

Whole grains are packed full of fiber which already makes them a winner when it comes to good digestive health. However, they are also full of something even better, known as non-digestible carbs. Doesn’t sound great at first, but their non-digestible nature means they get further through your body and into your large intestine. 

Once in the large intestine, they are broken down and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Studies have shown that this can reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, reduce inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  1. Make sure you’re eating foods high in polyphenols

This bit of advice is the fun one as red wine is full of this stuff. Polyphenols can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation. They are also hard for the body to break down and make it even further than through the body than whole grains. Indeed, they don’t get broken down until they reach the colon where they promote good bacteria to grow.

As well as being found in red wine, there is more good news. They can also be found in cocoa, chocolate, grapes, almonds, blueberries, and green tea, amongst other things. If you suffer from health conditions brought on by inflammation, then try adding these into your diet.

  1. Cut out (or down on) meat

Whilst it is important to eat a varied diet meat actually encourages the growth of bad bacteria. As such, it is best to cut it out of your diet or reduce how much of it you consume if you prefer not to give it up altogether. Plant-based diets are naturally high in fiber too which makes it easier to foster the right sort of bacterial growth. 

A healthy intestinal microbial balance fosters good health and proper digestion. The tips above are simple ways to achieve this backed up by science. Follow as many of them as possible and you’ll soon notice the benefits and reap the rewards.

Categories
Health

How to Cut Back on Carbs: A Guide on Tasty Low-Carb Foods

Humans need carbohydrates to survive. Yet, we don’t need them in the huge quantities that we’re accustomed to.

This overindulgence in carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates, is the reason why 34 million American citizens suffer from diabetes today.

Nowadays, people view low-carb diets as a way to combat both these health issues as well as prevent weight gain.

If you’re interested in following this type of diet, here’s how to cut back on carbs without compromising on taste.

Say Goodbye to Bread 

White bread’s a weakness for most people. While this convenient food is readily available and easy to eat, it’s also high in carbs and very little else.

Even nutritious bread, like rye bread, contains around 15 g of carbs per slice and little fiber. 

Whole grain bread also contains many useful minerals and vitamins, but you can get these health benefits from other low-carb foods too. Vegetables, nuts, and seeds are good alternatives to bread. 

Nowadays there’s a wide range of vegetable-based bread available too. Try sweet potato bread, cauliflower bread, or lettuce leaves in place of wraps.

Cut Out the Sugary Drinks

Soda and alcohol are the best examples of high carb drinks around but fruit juice is also high in a type of sugar called fructose.

Rather opt for iced tea or club soda with a slice of orange or lemon. These drinks are just as refreshing as their high-sugar counterparts. 

How to Cut Back on Carbs for Breakfast

Breakfast is the one area where we’re conditioned to load up with carbs. Most traditional breakfast foods are high in carbs.

Toast, pastries, pancakes, and waffles are the obvious culprits, but even small amounts of healthy foods like granola are often high in carbohydrates.

The answer lies in eggs. Each egg contains only 1 gram of carbs, yet they’re full of high-quality protein which helps you feel satisfied for hours.

In this way, an egg breakfast helps you avoid adding to the problem by preventing carb cravings throughout the day. 

Boiling or poaching is the best way to enjoy the benefits of eggs without adding any fats to the equation. 

Opt for Low-Carb Snacks

It’s difficult to stay away from snacks at parties or while relaxing in front of the TV.

The good news is that you don’t have to without when you’re dedicated to eating food with low carbs.

Ditch the chips and popcorn, and choose some of these high-fiber tasty alternatives instead:

  • Almonds 
  • Cheese
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts 
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts

Be sure to keep ample supplies of these snack foods on hand to help you resist high-carb snacks when the craving strikes.

Use Sugar Alternatives

If you can’t go without sweetness in your warm beverages, there are plenty of alternatives to sugar.

Honey might seem like a good option but, like fruit, it’s full of fructose and glucose, which are carbs.

You can try some of these commercially-available alternatives instead:

  • Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that not only raises blood sugar in the same way sugar does, but it also kills bacteria and could help prevent cavities
  • Stevia’s a product of the stevia plant from South America and can help lower blood sugar while increasing insulin sensitivity 
  • Xylitol is another sugar alcohol which combats tooth decay, reduces insulin resistance, and guards against obesity

Remember, it’s best to wean yourself off sweeteners totally but these alternatives can help you make the break. 

Find Alternatives to Milk

Believe it or not, milk and all dairy products also contain sugar in the form of lactose. A small splash of milk in your coffee or tea won’t do much harm, but drinking it by the glass is a no-no.

Coconut and almond milk are good alternatives and often come pre-prepared with added vitamins and minerals for a healthy kick. These drinks contain very small amounts of carbs, but they’re mostly comprised of water.

Check the labels when buying coconut or almond milk. Some varieties have added sugar. 

Greek yogurt and cheese are good low-carb dairy products with all the health benefits of milk. 

What About Eating Out?

When you’re following a low-carb diet, you don’t need to forego meals out or convenient deliveries either. To get an idea of what’s available out there, check it out

Some restaurants also offer low-carb options, but it’s easy to choose menu items containing food with little carbs too. 

Most meat dishes come with a side of starchy carbohydrates, like French fries. Ask your server to bring vegetables instead. If your meal comes with vegetables and starch, ask for an extra vegetable serving instead of potato or rice. 

Alternatively, order a side salad and choose a dish with no starch on the side.

Avoid gravy and sauces, they’re usually high in sugar, cream, and fat.  

Avoid High-Carb Vegetables

While vegetables are generally a food with few carbs, there are a few you should avoid while you’re on a low-carb diet. 

Potatoes, rice, corn, squash, and peas are high in carbs. Instead, stick to vegetables like peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, and green beans.

Vegetables are a vital source of minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants so you should never cut them out of your diet totally. 

Get Started on Your Low-Carb Journey

After a while, being conscious of how to cut back on carbs becomes second-nature. Take this article as a starting point in your learning curve towards a healthier, low-carb way of life.

There’s no reason to skimp on flavor, regardless of the diet you’re following.

Read some of our other posts for all the best advice on incorporating delicious, healthy eating into your life no matter what. 

Categories
Food

Dining Out – Here are Some Great Reasons to Choose a Fish Dish

Fish is a great source of protein; most types of fish are also packed full of essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish helps you to control your weight and it keeps your muscles strong. If you like dining out, but you are concerned about the type of food you choose. Fish is a healthy option that has several benefits.

Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

Many restaurants offer healthy fish dishes, so you do not have to worry about what you are eating when you dine out. You will find that plenty of waterfront restaurants offer delicious seafood meals which contain healthy fish ingredients.

Eating fish helps to lower your risk of heart disease by keeping your heart healthy. Some people are under the impression that fatty acids are bad, but this is incorrect. Fatty acids, such as omega 3, which is found in fish, is an essential nutrient for our body.

When dining out, take a look at the menu and try to choose a fish dish instead of meat or poultry. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and they help to stop chronic disease.

Maintain Your Brain

Did you know that fish is great for your brain? Even moderate seafood consumption has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Many studies have found that people who consume fish on a regular basis reduce brain shrinkage and stop deterioration. Furthermore, they have increased brain function and better memory.

When dining out the next time, try to look for a local waterfront restaurant as they generally have excellent seafood options due to their proximity to the coast.

Boost Your Mental Health

Eating fish doesn’t just reduce the risk of neurodegenerative brain disorders, it is also amazing for your mental health. Many people throughout the world suffer from depression and eating fish can help.

The oil you find in fish can make you feel better, boosting your mood and helping to fight off depression. Consuming fish ensures your brain stays balanced, promoting a healthy environment.

Eye Health

When dining out at your favourite restaurant, think about your eye health when you order. Essential nutrients in fish are beneficial for your vision and maintaining eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids are critical when it comes to functioning mechanism in your eyes.

Lowers the Risk of Cancer

Eating fish at home or in a restaurant can help to reduce your risk of getting cancer. Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acid, which is found in fish such as salmon, sea bass, oysters and shrimp can actually lower the risk of digestive cancers and pancreatic cancers.

So, the next time you dine out, consider going to a seafront restaurant and ordering a healthy fish dish. If you are visiting a fine dining establishment, they will have a range of fish dishes on offer. When you pick a seafront restaurant, you are almost guaranteed a fresh seafood dish that makes the mouth water. Fish has so many health benefits which is why it should be consumed regularly.