Rhonda’s Cooking


Archive for July, 2009

Rhonda’s Food Review: Baby Bananas

Posted by rhondascooking on July 27, 2009

I absolutely love baby bananas. A friend told me about these petite delights at the end of 2008, but I was I unable to find them until  few months ago at Super Wal-mart! I was surprised when I saw them but I knew instantly that these were the bananas that she told me about many months ago. I could not wait to peel this wonderful, tender fruit when I got into my car! I must admit that when I first tasted it, I did taste a slight difference than the familiar taste of  the “regular” or mature banana. The biggest difference was that  it was much sweeter than the mature banana.

Baby bananas are typically grown in more humid climates like South America or Central America. Many of the baby bananas that I have seen come from Ecuador and sold by Chiquita or Dole.   These delicious bananas are about 3 inches long and are sold in about 10 to 12 in a bunch.  Sometimes they are also known as lady fingers or baby fingers.  In addition to Super Wal-mart, these bananas are sold at Whole Foods or at most ethnic grocery stores, especially those focused on Latin/Spanish cuisine.  You will pay twice as much for these wonderful delights (~ $1.49 – $1.99/lb), but they are worth it!

Also, baby bananas are awesome when darn brown with a few yellow areas and used in a smoothie.  So, if you can’t eat them fast enough, have no few, just save for use in a smoothie!  Click picture below to watch the food review video!

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How to Select Green Tea?

Posted by rhondascooking on July 17, 2009

Okay, I am sure that you have seen several varieties of tea at the supermarket that range from bagged tea leaves to loose tea leaves to bottled teas to herbal teas, like mint, chamomile, jasmine, etc. There are so many types that it may be hard for “neo-tea drinker”s to choose. I used to be one of those neo-tea drinkers, but after traveling to China, my appreciation for tea grew tremendously! Not only did I learn about the history, I learned what to look for when selecting tea and how to steep the perfect cup of tea! In fact, my first tea party was in Shanghai, China!

One of the biggest things that I learned is that full tea leaves that are mostly sold loose are far better than the crushed tea leaves that you get in most bagged tea. The flavor profile is far more intense and you get more of the wonderful antioxidants.

My recommendations for selecting green tea:
1. Select a green tea that is 100% green tea leaves or green tea leaves mixed with other tea leaves or natural herbs/spices such as mint leaves paired with green tea leaves. Avoid the tea that is mixed or infused with flavors such as vanilla, caramel, etc. The tea will lose more of its natural properties as these flavors are processed and added to the tea leaves.

2. Stay clear away from those bottled green teas that have a long list of ingredients that includes high fructose corn syrup and food coloring! This is not good for the body.

3. Purchase loose green tea leaves at least once to experience its natural flavor. You will need to purchase a tea ball or a cup with a basket to hold the leaves as the tea steeps or else you will have leaves floating in your cup, which is how it is consumed in China!

My top 3 favorite brands of tea when I am not drinking Longjing Green Tea from China are as follows:
1. Revolution® Tea – full-leaf tea; available in silk bags or loose in several varieties.
2. Mighty Leaf® Tea – full tea leaves; available in a proprietary silk Tea Pouch™ or loose in several varieties.

Both of these brands can be purchased from selected grocery stores/specialty stores or ordered online. If you unable to purchase these brands then I recommend that you purchase Tazo® tea. This tea is also available both full leaf and in regular tea filter bags. Though it did not make my top list it is in 3rd place.

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A Perfect Cup of Green Tea

Posted by rhondascooking on July 17, 2009

1 teaspoon loose green tea leaves (or 1 tea bag)
1 cup water
½ teaspoon raw honey or raw agave nectar (optional)

Add tea leaves to a tea ball or strainer and place in a large ceramic cup.  Bring water to a boil (be careful not to allow the water to come to a rolling boil). Pour hot water over tea ball and let steep 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove tea ball and serve.  If desired, add honey or agave nectar to tea.

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Gadget of the Week: Tea Ball

Posted by rhondascooking on July 17, 2009

There are so many different types of tea accessories available that you can purchase to make sipping on a perfect cup of tea enjoyable.  When I first started drinking tea, of course it was in the tea bags, but later I transitioned to full leaf tea and for that I needed something to hold the leaves.  So, I found a number of accessories, which include stainless steel tea balls, infusers, mesh strainers, etc.  Which should I choose?!  Everyone has their own preference, but over time, I began to favor those accessories that would allow me to have the full flavor of the tea after steeping.  So, my favorite tea accessories are the mesh balls and strainers.

Tea accessories can be purchased anywhere tea is sold, as well as online http://bit.ly/J9vmy.

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The Short Story of Green Tea

Posted by rhondascooking on July 16, 2009

Green tea originated in China thousands of years ago and was used for medicinal purposes. Botanical studies indicate that India and China were among the first countries to cultivate tea.1 Tea is made from the leaves of a single plant species called Camellia sinensis.2 There are three main varieties of tea—green, black and oolong. The differences between them are the processing techniques. Green tea is the least processed made from non-oxidized leaves whereas black and oolong tea leaves are fermented (oxidized).

Tea, especially green tea, is packed with lots of wonderful benefits such as antioxidants, EGCG—epigallocatechin gallate, that have been known to reduce high blood sugar, lower risks of heart attack, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and to slow cancer growth. Green tea naturally has caffeine that ranges between 30 and 35mg per cup (black tea has about 40 to 60mg per cup) and coffee has 100 to 150mg per cup.2 So as you see, not all caffeine is bad for you! In fact in 2006, The Journal of the American Medical Association published that by drinking green tea you may prolong your life! Now isn’t that worth a cup of tea?!

Studies have shown that women who drank 5 or more daily cups of green tea benefited most, decreasing their heart disease mortality risk by 31% compared with women who drank one cup or less per day. Men who drank the most tea also did well with a 22% risk reduction.

1“Green Tea.” Wikipedia. July 15, 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_tea. July 15, 2009.
2Chappell, Mary Margaret. “What’s Brewing.” Wildoats. January/February., 2007.

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