Monday, January 10, 2011

A Slice of Sunshine...

The Mighty Lemon
    Lemons are very common, and can be found almost anywhere. They are used for cleaning, for their aroma, and in food and drinks... as both an ingredient and a garnish. But these little yellow jewels are far beyond an ordinary fruit. And although life may hand you a lemon... you can do so much more than just make lemonade!                                                                               

   The perks lemons can provide to the body are endless.

For the Skin:   Lemon water cleans the skin, ridding it of bacteria and preventing breakouts.  This leaves your skin looking fresh and healthy!  Lemon pulp is also excellent for the skin and can also soothe insect bites and stings.  Topically applied, it can help stop bleeding (though it may sting a bit).  If you add equal parts of water, lemon, and sugar, the mixture can be used to keep the hands smooth.

Relieve Fevers:  Lemon is very good for cooling the body.  It does this by encouraging the body to sweat. Lemon juice combined with water and honey is the best natural tonic to take when you have a fever. 

Relieve Hiccups:  For  every person that hates the hiccups, there is an equal amount of theories on how to get rid of them.  The best way...  lemon and warm water! So stop standing on your head and take a drink!

Digestion:  Lemon with hot water acts as a liver tonic and eases a multitude of digestion problems including nausea, heartburn, and gallstones.  Lemon stimulates your body's production of bile, aiding in prompt food  digestion.

Weight loss: Lemon is a natural diuretic and helps flush out toxins and bacteria. On top of being an easy calorie burner, lemon and water help detoxify your system.
    Two super easy tips to help you incorporate lemon into your diet are to add slices of fresh lemon to all of your beverages, especially water. It will give it and you a refreshing boost. Use lemon as a flavoring to eliminate some sodium in your dishes.

    Here are some great recipes to start you off on your journey with lemons.

Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
1/8 cup Olive Oil                                                                                                 
1 Tbl Dijon Mustard
½ Lemon, juice and zest
TT Black Pepper
TT Salt
1Tbl Basil, chopped
1 tsp Honey

1- Mix Olive Oil, Mustard, Lemon, Salt, Pepper, Basil, and Honey until thoroughly combined.

Blueberry Lemon Poptarts
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbs sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1/2 lb unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and frozen
6 tbs coconut butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3/4 cup ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten
Blueberry filling (recipe follows)

1- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Freeze the flour mixture, butter, shortening.
2- Pulse the mixture in food processor, in five second bursts until the butter and shortening are the size of small peas. Add the ice water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
3- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, divide in half, flatten each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
4- Preheat oven to 350F.
5- Remove one dough from the refrigerator and roll until 1/8 inch thick.
6- Cut 14 - 3"x2" rectangles of dough.
7- Place 2 teaspoons of blueberry filling on 7 of the rectangles, leaving a 1/4 inch border all around. Lightly brush border with egg wash and top each with another rectangle of dough. Crimp edges of the pocket with the tines of a fork to seal and slash the tops of the pockets with a very sharp knife.
8-  Place pockets on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Lightly brush the tops of the pockets with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sugar.
9- Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees at the halfway point, until the pockets are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Poptarts are best served warm.

    Blueberry Lemon Filling
           1 cup blueberries
           1/4 cup water
           Zest of 1 lemon
           2 tbs cornstarch
           1/4 cup lemon juice
           1/4 cup sugar
           Pinch of salt

1- In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is smooth.
2- In a small saucepan, combine the water, blueberries and lemon zest and heat to a simmer. Let cook for 3-4 minutes, until the berries soften.
3- Add the cornstarch mixture, sugar and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until the mixture is translucent.
4- Remove from heat and let cool completely before using as blueberry pocket filling.

“If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice.” -Conan O’brien

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