Author Jean Morrison
Food facts: Chicken - Cumin
Facts and quirky pieces of information about the food we eat always interest me, both from an historical and a nutritional point of view.
Did you know that people who eat a fair amount of fish have lower chances of depression? Or that Australians on average eat 8 - 9 times more salt per day than is required by our bodies.
Up until just over 100 years ago Americans didn't eat tomatoes - they thought they were poisonous! I'm including lots of these food facts on each of the recipe pages on this web site. More are listed here on this page:
The chicken is a descendant of the Southeast Asian red jungle fowl, first domesticated in India around 2000 B.C. Chickens and turkeys are known to cross-breed, these breeds are known as "Turkins". There are more chickens than people in the world. Chicken meat is a good source of the mineral selenium that is an infection-fighting anti oxidant. Chicken contains lysene which is an anti viral amino acid. It also contains good amounts of vitamin B3, B6 and potassium. Chicken is a useful source of protein if the skin is removed.
Chickpeas are also known as Garbanzo Beans. The peas grow in pods with only 2 – 3 peas in each pod. The chickpea plant grows from 20 cm to 50 cm high and has feathery delicate leaves.
Chickpeas have neither a sweet nor savoury taste so they are good to use in a variety of recipes. The taste is mild but slightly nutty. Dried chickpeas take a couple of hours to cook but are they easily available in their cooked form in tins at the supermarket. They are widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine but because of their versatility they are now popular throughout the world. Chickpeas are most often used in stews and soups but they are delicious cold in salads too. They are used ground into a flour called Besan which I use frequently when making gluten-free bread. Cooked and ground chickpeas are a main ingredient in hommus dip.
They are very healthy, being high in fibre and flavonoids. They lower cholesterol and help keep the digestive system healthy. They are rich in zinc and vitamin E so they promote healthy cell growth and they help fight infection.
Because they are such a healthy food we eat a lot of chickpeas in our family. I try to always buy the Edgell tinned variety to ensure we are eating Australian grown and manufactured foods.
Chicory is a perennial herb that is grown for its leaves and its roots. The roots are roasted and ground into a coffee like substitute. There is a salad version of chicory which is often called endive. It has a slightly bitter taste so it is best mixed with other salad greens. In natural medicine it is sometimes used to treat gout and rheumatism. It is also used as a digestive stimulant.
Chilies contain more vitamin C than an orange. They stimulate the production of endorphins, which are chemicals that make us feel good. Chilies are also great decongestants that help open blocked sinuses.
Chives are the smallest members of the onion family but they have a much milder flavour. They are spoken about in the plural term because they grow and are used in clumps or bunches. Chives are popular household herbs and can be chopped finely and used as a flavour or as a garnish. Because they belong to the onion family they are naturally antiseptic and they are said to aid the digestion.
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree. As the bark dries out it curls into long quills. The quills are then cut into cinnamon sticks or ground into cinnamon powder. It is a very old spice and is suspected of being used back in 3000 BC in Egypt. Cinnamon is a symbol of good luck in the Far East. Cinnamon implants a warm rich flavour to both desserts and to savoury recipes.
Cloves are the dried un-opened flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. Cloves are native to Indonesia. They are frequently used in baked recipes and in particular in Christmas cooking. They are also used in pickles and preserved foods. Oil of cloves is both antiseptic and anaesthetic and is used to treat toothache.
Early Spanish explorers called them coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. If you are really interested in further information on the medicinal aspects of coconut this site is well worth checking out - Coconut Research Centre
Ground coriander is a spice made from the seed of the Cilantro plant which is an annual herb. The seeds can be dry roasted and ground. Coriander is one of the main ingredients in Indian curry powder. Fresh coriander leaves can also be eaten but they have a very different taste to the seeds. Both coriander seeds and leaves were used in medieval times to disguise the taste and smell of rotten food.
Corn - Sweet
Corn is also known as maize and it belongs to the grass family of plants. We are mainly accustomed to the yellow variety but corn can also be blue, red, black and multi coloured. Humans have cultivated corn for over 10,000 years. Corn can not only be eaten as corn on the cob but it can be processed into cornflour, corn syrup, grits and popcorn. It is also used in the manufacturing industry for products that are not edible such as for cardboard and for bio degradable containers. It is also needed for the manufacture of alcohol and ethanol.
Couscous is made from semolina, flour, slat and water. It is a form of pasta. It is a staple food in north African countries and is popular in the Middle East. Couscous is now widely available in shops in a pre-steamed (and then dried) version. This means it takes virtually no time to cook. Boiling water is poured onto it and in less than five minutes this pasta is ready to eat - a very fast and healthy food. It is seasoned with various items depending on where in the world it is being eaten. Couscous takes on the flavours of whatever food it is cooked with. It is generally eaten hot but is equally delicious when served in salads. It can also be used in desserts. It is a low fat complex carbohydrate.
It is thought that cucumbers were cultivated as far back as 10,000 BC. Cucumbers contain vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. If cucumbers are pickled most of their nutrients are removed.
Cumin is a flowering plant that produces a compact, tiny fruit that holds one seed. The ground seed is mainly used in Indian and Mexican cuisine but also is used in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia. It has a slightly bitter-sweet, nutty and peppery taste. Cumin is a key ingredient in curry powder. It aids digestive problems so it is good to eat at the same time as beans. Historically it has been said to relieve diarrhoea, nausea, morning sickness and ease respiratory diseases. Animal studies, released in July 2011 are showing that cumin appears to have anti-stress properties too. This research also showed cumin assisted with cognition and memory. A 2009 anti-oxidant study showed that consumption of cumin, along with other spices such as coriander, dill, caraway and fennel was far more potent than Vitamin C. Other studies are showing cumin has anti-diabetic and anti-asthma properties too. Every time you add spices to your food you are upgrading the nutrient value of the meal without adding one single calorie. Cumin's main nutritional contribution to our diet is by way of iron. It also contains manganese, calcium and magnesium.
Read other interesting food facts (in alphabetical order):
Allspice - Avocados
Allspice, almonds,amaranth, apples, apricots, asparagus, aubergines, avocados
Bananas - Buckwheat
Bananas, barley, basil, bay leaves, beans, beetroot, black berries, black currants, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, buckwheat
Cabbage - Chestnuts
Cabbage, capsicum, caraway, cardamom, carrots, cashews, cauliflower, cayenne, celeriac, celery, cheese, cherries, chestnuts
Chicken - Cumin
Chicken, chickpeas, chicory, chilies, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, coriander, corn, couscous, cucumbers, cumin
Dates - Fish
Dates, dill, eggplant, eggs, fennel, fenugreek, figs, fish
Galangal - Green Beans
Galangal, garlic, ginger, globe artichokes, gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, green beans
Hazelnuts - Limes
Hazel nuts, honey, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kafir lime leaves, kale, leeks, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemons, lentils, lettuce, limes
Macadamia Nuts - Mustard
Macadamia nuts, mace, mandarins, mangoes, maple syrup, marjoram, mar ow, melons, milk, millet, mint, miso, molasses, mushrooms, mustard
Nectarines - Oregano
Nectarines, nutmeg, oats, olive oil, onions, oranges, oregano
Papayas - Pumpkin
Papayas, paprika, parsley, parsnips, peaches, peanuts, pears, peas, pecans, pineapples, pine nuts, plums, potatoes, pumpkin
Quince - Rye
Quinces, quinoa, radishes, raspberries, rice, rosemary, rye
Sage - Sweet Corn
Sage, sea vegetables, seeds, silver beet, soy sauce, sprouted seeds, squash, strawberries, swede, sweet corn
Tamari - Zucchini
Tamari, tarragon, tempeh, thyme, tofu, tomatoes, triticale, turkey, turmeric, turnips, vanilla, walnuts, wheat, zucchini