Apricot-cardamom Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are delicious and pretty! They highlight fresh apricots, cardamom, dates, tahini (ground sesame paste), and white sesame seeds.  I took these to a recent potluck and they got rave reviews from everyone who tried them! Print Apricot-cardamom Oatmeal Cookies Prep time:  25 mins Cook time:  17 mins Total time:  42 mins Serves: 24 (1...

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Finding a granola that doesn’t contain oil is nearly impossible. This is another food that can be perfectly delicious (and still crunchy) without added oil. Making your own homemade granola is very easy, and you don’t even need a food dehydrator. Print Granola Prep time:  15 mins Cook time:  60 mins Total time:  1 hour...

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Vanilla Is Anything But Plain

This Enticing, Aromatic Spice Protects Your Health In Five Ways

Vanilla has an image problem. The run-of-the-mill perception is that vanilla is a plain and boring choice. Once you learn about this extraordinary spice, your appreciation may change. In fact, vanilla is a rare, expensive, and health-enhancing vanilla flower and dried pods smaller.jpgflavor.

Vanilla is produced from the seeds of a tropical climbing orchid that grows as a vine. Native to Mexico, vanilla was used by the Aztecs in the chocolate drink of their royalty. The bees and hummingbirds that pollinate this orchid are confined to Mexico, so for centuries after this spice became popular around the world, cultivation was limited to its home country.

The discovery of a method to pollinate the vanilla flower by hand allowed for its cultivation in Madagascar and some other tropical locations. However, the vine is fussy about light and shade, drainage, elevation, and rainfall, so locations to grow high-quality vanilla are limited.

In addition, it takes three years from planting to first flowering of the vanilla orchid. Growers need to be super attentive, as each flower blooms for less than a day, and must be pollinated in that short timeframe, then left on the vines for nine months to ripen before the vanilla beans are ready to harvest.

The green, newly-picked beans must go through a multistep curing process to develop the rich flavors and aromas of the spice, which is the product of the seeds in the cured pods. This process takes another six to eight months. The long, labor-intensive process to produce natural vanilla makes this the second most expensive spice in the world, second only to saffron.

The Health Benefits of Vanilla

At least 250 components of the seeds harmonize to produce the flavor, aroma, and health benefits of vanilla.

Click here to learn more about the health benefits of vanilla and tips to use this spice in your food

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Pumpkin Pie

It’s time for some good ol’ pumpkin pie! Serve this at any holiday table, and people will ask for more. The filling is sweetened with dates and thickened with a bit of oat flour. The pecan-date crust is like a sweet, crumbly cookie. Grab a fork and dig in! Pecan-Date Pie Crust See below for […]

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