Probiotics important to good health

Jessica Kerr / Delta Optimist

There is room in everyone’s diet for a little probiotics, and they can help with a myriad of health concerns.

“They’re crucial,” said Halina Kwiatkowska, who owns Parsley, Sage and Thyme Health Store in Ladner.

The human digestive system is made up of millions of microorganisms. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can be ingested through certain foods or supplements. Once in the colon, they multiply and help balance the good and bad bacteria that live there.

However, Kwiatkowska said, research is showing that probiotics can help more than just colon health.

“Eighty to 90 per cent of the immune system is in our gut,” she said, adding that poor gut flora can lead increased susceptibility to colds and the flu, and other diseases.

Kwiatkowska said that people with intestinal issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, have poor gut flora. Ongoing poor intestinal health can lead to a host of health problems throughout the body – allergies, asthma, eczema and even mood are all linked to the gut, she said.

Serotonin, the human hormone also known as the “happy hormone,” is produced largely in the digestive track and is responsible for maintaining mood balance.

“It goes beyond that whole gastric upset,” Kwiatkowska said. “All the research in the world is now done on probiotics.”

Taking probiotics is especially important following surgery, a round of antibiotics, or a gastro intestinal illness, she said, adding that one bout of stomach flu can “pretty much wipe out” all the good bacteria.

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, such as yogurt and kefir (a fermented milk drink), sauerkraut, kosher pickles (pickles made with a salt brine instead of vinegar), kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) and miso paste (Japanese fermented soybean paste). At Parsley, Sage and Thyme, they recommend eating some kind of fermented food with the largest meal of the day, Kwiatkowska said.

There are also a variety of probiotic supplements on the market, which provide a much more potent dose of the beneficial bacteria, she said.

There are many different supplements out there today ranging from six to 10 billion per capsule up to 100 billion. Kwiatkowska recommends looking at the potency, as well as the types of probiotics included.

Some formulas are designed to address specific areas, such as colon, urinary or genital health, while other can help with general health and wellbeing.

© 2015 Delta Optimist

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Tour de’ Tangipahoa welcomes 450 riders plus pickles

Tori E. Pajares –

Cyclists from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida came out Saturday to ride in the Hammond Kiwanis Club’s 23rd annual Tour de’ Tangipahoa.

As the club’s largest fundraising event, this year had a turnout of 450 participants between both ride times. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., the first ride consisted of a 60-mile radius. The 30-mile ride began at 9 a.m. Both rides began and ended at the University Center.

Along the routes were several rest stops with portable restrooms, soaked towels, refreshments and snacks.

“We added pickles and pickle juice because they asked for that,” volunteer Arlene Anzalone said.

J.D. Schooner of Houma, who has ridden in Tour de’ Tangipahoa for six years, said pickle juice is a good resource for riders.

“Pickle juice is salty. When you sweat, you lose a lot of salt. So pickle juice helps put salt back in your body.” Schooner explained.

Other snacks at the rest stop included Gatorade, water, oranges, bananas and pretzels. Some rest stops were busier than others Saturday, and volunteers were in constant communication to put leftover supplies to good use.

Cyclists usually skip the first stop, “but we get pretty busy here,” Anzalone said at Rest Stop 5.

Many precautionary measures were in place for safety. Following along the riders, vehicles designated as “sag wagons” were ready to transport any rider who could not finish due to injury or to escort bikes to repair.

Riders who need bike repairs were taken to David Moeller, owner of The Bike Path in Mandeville. Moeller has brought a van complete with tools and spare bike parts to Tour de’ Tangipahoa for the past four years.

“We pretty much have any part that might break on the bike,” Moeller said.

He sets up at the start of the race to help air up tires and shift adjustments. After both races had left, he moved to rest stops in case cyclists needed repairs.

Only a few minutes into the race, Moeller said one cyclist got two flat tires and needed immediate help to continue riding. Also, The Bike Path help about 20 riders in simple repairs such as air and adjustments.

“Sometimes there are more catastrophic needs that arise, but we try to prepare for what we can,” Moeller said.

Although riders were warned in advance to be careful on the roads and stay on the designated routes, Couvillion says not all listen. At least two crashes took place during the ride.

“They were both rider fault accidents,” said tour chairman Judy Couvillion.

The first involved a tire collision between riders. The second incident occurred when a rider unintentionally pressed her brakes.

At the end of the rides, Hammond Kiwanis Club provided riders with pastalaya, potato salad and coleslaw for lunch and All-American Healthcare gave free 10-minute massages.

All proceeds from Tour de’ Tangipahoa go back to the community via programs that Hammond Kiwanis Club supports.

Jalapeno Twinkies: Sales are, well, hot

Perhaps fair vendors lie awake at night dreaming of the most unusual foods to blend together into a dish at the Kansas State Fair.

Shelly Starks and Robert Base with the Carousel Cafe came up with Jalapeno Twinkies to add to their menu.

“The past two days they’ve been really selling,” said Christopher Michael, manager of the Carousel Cafe.

To prepare this delicacy, Michael very carefully slices Twinkies in half lengthwise. Then he places three to four jalapenos inside and puts it back together and dips it in funnel cake batter. Then he lightly fries each side for 30 seconds and then sprinkles the finished product with powdered sugar.

If you like Twinkies and you like jalapenos, why wouldn’t you like Jalapeno Twinkies? Yum.

Cost: $6

Benefits Of Pickles For Health

Reprinted from an article appearing on

Pickles have always been a part and parcel of our lives. The simultaneous amalgamation of sweet, spice and sour flavours on one’s palate is every Indian foodie’s delight. Pickles are made with oil, salt and sugar content along with other hot spices.Adding one or two dollops of pickle to every meal should do to add taste to your dish. On the other hand, it is important for the elderly to skip consuming pickle twice in the day as it contain acids which might not be healthy.Here are some health benefits of pickles.

Health benefits of pickles are:

1.Good During Pregnancy: Almost every pregnant woman craves for spicy food and one of them being pickles. Mango and lemon are two types of aachar which prevents morning sickness.

2.Aids In Weight Loss: Pickles aid in rapid weight loss since they contain few calories. Due to the presence of spice it also helps to break fats easily.

3.Rich In Antioxidants: Pickles are rich in antioxidants which protect the body against free radicals. It is important to add this spice to your meal.

4.Good For Diabetics Too: According to few sources, pickles in small measure is good for diabetics. Once in a week it is safe to enjoy this humble treat, not otherwise. FYI: Only opt for amla pickles.

5.Nutritional Value Is High: No heat is involved in the production of traditionally fermented pickles which is why it helps to preserve the nutrients in the vegetables thereby being a health benefit.

6.Rich In Vitamin K: Pickles are also high in vitamin K. This vitamin is good in clotting of blood especially after an injury. This is one of the best health benefits of aachar.

7.Boosts One’s Metabolism: The vinegar used for curing aachar can increase the body’s metabolism. So, if your metabolism is low add pickles to your diet.

8.High In Fibre: The fruit and vegetables which is added to achar are also good sources of dietary fibre as well as vitamins A and C. This is another health benefit of aachar.

9.Improve Digestion: Amla pickle improves digestion, so it is safe and best to add this pickle to your meal if you suffer from digestion problems.

10.Protects Thy Liver: One of the health benefits of amla or gooseberry pickle is it heals and protects the liver due to it hepatoprotective properties.

11.Reduces Ulcers: Regular consumption of amla or Indian gooseberry pickles also help in reducing ulcers. Benefit from this healthy treat.

12.People who to avoid pickles: Old people who are suffering from stroke, heart diseases and hypertension should avoid pickles as the salt in the chutney will increase the medical issue.

These are the health benefits of pickles.

Carnegie Deli is hiring a pickle mascot


Carnegie Deli, which was forced to close in April after it was caught illegally siphoning gas from Con Ed, will hold interviews for its first-ever pickle mascot on Wednesday ahead of its reopening next month.

“Applicants can be green, as in inexperienced, or seasoned just like Carnegie’s delicious real pickles,” deli spokeswoman Cristyne Nicholas told The Post. “And no salty language, please; it’s a family establishment.”

Marian and Sarri Harper, co-owners of the Midtown eatery, hatched the idea.

They said they never considered any other character to be their mascot because pickles are an “essential” part of every gut-busting Carnegie meal.

The seasonal mascot will pass out pickles while dressed in a green body suit with white clown hands, Nicholas said, adding the deli will take suggestions for the mascot’s name.

The deli posted ads for the job outside its Seventh Avenue eatery and online.

Matthew Sacks, 23, plans to apply for the gig.

“A pickle — that’s American,” the Queens resident said. “When you bite into a pickle, there’s not a better sensation.”

Pickle-making epitome of culinary strength: Celebrity chef Kunal Kapur

By Vishnu Makhijani –
New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS): It can’t get more micro than this: an 18-episode TV show on Indian pickles that celebrity chef Kunal Kapur is hosting as he says making preserves “is the epitome of culinary strength”.

“Making a pickle is the epitome of culinary strength; it is an art that is combined with a high level of science of preserving food,” Kapur, whose “Pickle Nation” show went on air Friday evening, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

“It is said that pickles were first made in India. It was here in India that, for the first time, the art form of cooking was taken to a higher level science, which is preservation. This preservation of art is to most of us just an accompaniment, whereas seldom do we realise how it is the reason for our existence and a living proof of the genius that exists in our country,” Kapur said, explaining the rationale behind the show, which will air at 8.30 pm on Friday-Saturday on Living Foods channel, the successor to Zee Khana Khazana.

The show took him to 11 cities of India, including Ahmedabad, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi, Panaji, Pondicherry, Shillong, Udaipur and Varanasi to unravel an interesting pickle tale of each region.

“There are ingredients and techniques that keep you intrigued and surprised. Not just each region but each community has some unique pickles and their own unique reasons and stories behind how and why they prepare them.

“As I have discovered, pickles are an integral part of how people define their food culture, and each region is intensely passionate about their pickles,” Kapur said.

For instance, with the Parsis in Ahmedabad, it is mandatory to make lagan nu achar and give it to the elders and relatives in the family before they formalise the marriage of a couple, said Kapur, who has been a judge on the Master Chef India show and has authored a book titled “A Chef In Every Kitchen”.

“In another fascinating instance, the Karbi tribe in Meghalaya has evolved a special dance that enacts the recipe of the Bamboo pickle. The ancestors knew that if the bamboo was not pickled in the right season then it might lead to hunger in the winters, and so the recipe for this crucial pickle was made into a dance form and till date the couples enact this dance to reveal the recipe,” said Kapur, who has also been seen on popular cooking show “My Yellow Table” on NDTV Good Times, with whom he is in talks for season II.

Towards the far west, in Jodhpur, the ker sangri ka achar is the legacy of love for nature of the Bishnoi tribe.

“The ker shrub and the sangri tree are the few that grow in this otherwise difficult region. The cattle would eat it and give milk. The roots would hold on to the soil, and at the same time, the tree would give shelter. The fruits of the khejri tree is the sangri and this tree is a very critical tree to the ecology of the place. Many have sacrificed their lives to protect this tree. The ker sangri pickle made from this tree is one of the reasons for the survival of the Bishnoi tribe,” Kapur said.

Another fine example is the Mahali pickle made by the Tamilian Brahmins.

“Mahalo is a root that smells of intense vanilla, bitter almond and cinnamon, and it is pickled in yogurt. It is not short of a miracle that no vinegar or oil is used yet the pickle survives for over two years in curd,” the chef noted.

Then, a Hyderabadi style of mango pickle breaks the long held notion by me that a drop of water can destroy a pickle, as this mango pickle is made in water! “Limestone or chuna is added to preserve the pickle,” said Kapur, who also anchored a travel show titled “Foodie Comes to America” that was telecast on Times Now in the US and is now shooting for its second season in New York.

“The depth of taste and passion along with the personality of the pickle maker is one common thread that I found in my wonderful journeys of discovery,” Kapur said, adding: “It is very easy to buy a pickle off the shelf and settle with it, but it takes a whole lot of love to go out to buy the right ingredient, put in the hard work, take the utmost care and then patiently wait as it pickles.”

“Love, honesty and dedication are what every pickle requires,” Kapur maintained.

Despite this, “we have never really given a pickle Maker his/her due importance. This show explores not just pickles but the unique pickle makers that have relentlessly been at it,” Kapur concluded.

Pickles In India – As Varied And Diverse As The Country Itself

Name any ingredient and some region of India probably has a pickle recipe for that. Think back to your childhood and about pickles in particular – from the special bottles, known as barnis, to the faint aroma of the spices that our grandmums used, pickles are about more than just taste and flavour. They are about nostalgia, memories and diversity, something that commercial pickles can only hope to match. In this episode of The Real Food Podcast, Vikram Doctor takes you on a journey across India, telling you about the mind-boggling variety of pickles that we make and what sets our pickles apart.

Unlike the vinegar and brine-based pickles usually found in Western countries, our pickles are predominately made using oil. This is a bit unusual. Oil, unlike salt and vinegar, doesn’t destroy bacteria or desiccate the produce, two crucial aspects of pickling any ingredient. But, oil is where all the magic happens. Ananda Solomon, the executive chef at Vivanta by Taj – President, explains, “Pickle has life in it – it keeps on maturing, and oil helps in enhancing that.” Simply put, the chemicals that give spices their flavour and aroma are enhanced by the use of oil.

The use of oil is also why pickle making in India is such an intricate ritual. Not only do we prefer using certain kinds of oil (mustard in the north and sesame down south), which are known to last longer, we also have elaborate processes of pre-cooking ingredients and drying them in the sun. Bangalore-based writer and author Kaveri Ponnapa has written an excellent piece in Scroll, which details the craft of making traditional Coorg pickles.

Unsurprisingly, Coorg isn’t the only place that boasts of pickles endemic to a region. From the carrot pickle in North India to the mussels pickle in south, India has an impressive and unmatchable array of pickles. In fact, in a Google search with a generic term “pickle types”, the first search result is Wikipedia’s page on the list of Indianpickles. As Rita D’souza, the author of Pickles and Chutneys of India, tells Vikram,everything can be pickled. “Even potato can be pickled – that was surprising even for me!” says Rita.

It’s difficult to get your hands on Rita’s book, as well as others such as Usha’s Pickle Digest. And, with more and more pickles being mass produced, it may seem as though we are forgetting the delightful flavours of homemade pickles in favour of the convenience that commercial pickles provide. But, there are some restaurants, like Taj Connemara’s Raintree with its pickle trolley, that are giving them the importance they deserve. And, as a hopeful Rita points out, thanks to the internet, the pendulum is swinging towards the discovery of our culinary history and tradition.

Pickles are crucial to Indian cuisine and we need to enjoy them all.

This Dutch Family Has Been Pickling Vegetables Longer Than You



There’s at least one food truck on every street corner these days, but driving around with a cart full of edible items is hardly a new concept. Being a food vendor in the Netherlands has been an occupation here since 1850. Roasted chestnuts, fish, and pastries used to be sold on the street. Pickled items such as onions and cucumbers were sold from traditional Amsterdam pickle carts. Jewish vendors from five different families sold the pickled vegetables with their signature sweet-and-sour tastes in their neighborhoods, traveling rain or shine to supply the entire city.

And yet one of those founding families, De Leeuw, is still going strong today.

Things have dramatically changed though since the family began their business, as they swapped hawking their pickles on the street for a storefront in Rivierenbuurt, an Amsterdam neighborhood. “Starting in the 60s, the roads became too busy from there on out. Cars honked behind the carts, so we wanted to find a brick-and-mortar location. The times simply caught up with us,” says Fred de Leeuw, the fourth-generation pickle seller.

Isaac de Leeuw

Isaac de Leeuw in Amsterdam with his pickle cart. Photo courtesy of the de Leeuw family.

Fred tells me that the pickle carts were born out of need in a time of great poverty. To make sure that seasonal produce was available year-round, many types of fruits and vegetables were pickled.

The fruit and vegetables—pearl onions, shallots, and cucumbers, for example–are put on salt until they can’t absorb anymore. At this point, they are considered “afgeflauwd,” the process of getting the right level of saltiness. Then, the “opgiet” follows, the critical moment when wine vinegar and a secret blend of spice are added, which will determine the signature taste. Depending on the size of the fruit or vegetable, this process takes at least six weeks.

Familie de Leeuw in hun winkel

Fred and Monique in their shop. Photo by the author.

According to Fred, the combination of sweet and sour is what makes their product so unique. “The Jewish kitchen leans towards sweetness because of things like the fruit sugars in wine. That is our trademark: a sweet treat with a sour note.”

The cooking process hasn’t changed in 165 years, so much so that everything is sold exactly as it was back in the day when the De Leeuw’s were still operating their carts. “We run the store with old merchants permits which means that we don’t have to weigh anything. We sell everything per scoop or per unit,” Fred explains.

In recent years, the family has added some experimental items to the menu, such as pesto, mustard pickles, pickled grapes, and olives.

In Dutch Jewish homes, at dinnertime, there is always something pickled on the table. “It’s not the main dish, but something to go with the rest of the food,” says Fred. “The sour neutralizes and resets your taste buds in a way,” Monique continues. The onions and pickles that were made during times of famine and food shortages have moved outside of the traditional Yiddish kitchen. At restaurants like Rijks in the famous Rijksmuseum, chef Joris Bijdendijk adds sour notes to some of his dishes, while chef Dennis Kuipers of Vinkeles in the Dylan Hotel likes to cook with pickled grapes.

Is the love for sweet-and-sour foods typically Jewish or really just an Amsterdam thing? “The unique, sweet taste makes it Jewish, but Judaism and Amsterdam go hand in hand,” says Fred, as he proudly looks onto his pickled products.


A different kind of cucumber: Sea cucumber operation gets more than $30,000 from province

Staff, The Telegram –

CAPE BROYLE  – Cape Broyle Sea Products Ltd. is getting a cash injection from the provincial government to help with its sea cucumber operation on the Southern Shore.

The $30,157 grant comes out of the Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program, and will help the company hire consultants to look at technology and processes, according to a news release from the provincial government. That work will include market analysis, research into processing methods, a productivity evaluation and research into new processing technology in other jurisdictions.

“Cape Broyle Sea Products Ltd. is committed to advancing the sea cucumber business in the province and we greatly appreciate the Provincial Government’s support. We believe this project will help us further develop our product line and improve efficiencies as we move forward,” Edgar Coffey, senior manager of the company, said in the release.

The government notes that any processing improvements that come out of this project can also benefit other sea cucumber processing operations in the province.

Reporter’s Notebook: Spicy assignment too much to stomach

 However, my confidence began to wane when Carey brought over a paper thimble with a sample of the Carolina reaper chile pepper mash. The aroma was reminiscent of sriracha hot sauce, but much stronger and more acidic. I knew it was going to burn. Really burn.

Can I do this? Should I do this?

But it was too late to run. I had to go through with it.

Carey set my double-patty Nuke Burger and wings in front of me. My stomach started to turn, and any remaining confidence was quickly snuffed out. He said he usually delivers the burger wearing a gas mask but said he’d spare me the theatrics.

Slightly trembling with fear, I locked my eyes on the burger and thought about a quote my girlfriend had sent me by “Parks and Recreation” TV character Ron Swanson: “When I eat, it is the food that is scared.”

I was ready. I thanked Carey, grabbed the burger, peeled back some of the wrapper and took a big bite.

I was hit by a barrage of spicy punches. The reaper mash hit me with a hook, the ghost pepper chili jack cheese followed with an uppercut, and then I was bombarded by a salvo of jabs from the seasoned patties, jalapenos and sauce.

The first two or three bites were fine, but the heat quickly built up. I couldn’t feel my lips or tongue, and every tissue in my mouth seemed to be on fire. I was sweating profusely, and tears flowed from my eyes to the burger. Nothing eased the pain.

I threw my glasses off my face and continued to take bites, but every one felt like I was shoving pins into my mouth.

I got about halfway through the burger before calling it quits.

Carey gave me a cup of the most heavenly vanilla ice cream I’ve ever eaten. But as I was shoveling it down, Carey reminded me of the wings.

How could I forget about the wings? Why did I order wings?

So I put the ice cream down, picked up a wing, took a bite, swallowed, threw the wing back in the basket and began jumping around from the pain in my mouth.

My stomach hurt, and I left work early. That night, my girlfriend laughed at the video Brittany had taken of me at the restaurant.

We went to an outdoor screening of “E.T.” and I sat in my camping chair watching the little alien heal Elliott’s cut finger.

I wish E.T. had been there to heal the “ouch” in my stomach.