Saturday, September 26, 2009

Natural Digestive Aid: Papaya Enzyme Tablets

When I was a kid, my mom gave me chewable papaya enzymes if I ate a big meal to help me with digestion. I never thought a thing about it until 2 weeks ago when I started to get heart burn. Indigestion is common with pregnancy. Many people suffer from heart burn or indigestion, without being pregnant. "Heart burn" gives you a painful burning sensation at the bottom of your throat and it is most likely a symptom of acid reflux.

Instead of popping antacids (Tums) all the time, I wanted to find a natural, holistic solution. I turned to my favorite Whole Foods when Aaron and I were back in Chicago spending time at our condo and visiting friends. The helpful worker in the vitamins and health supplements section showed me a entire shelf of digestive aids and I remembered my mom's wisdom when I spotted this Tropical Papaya Enzyme.

Papayas are native fruits to Mexico and Central America. The enzymes are made from under-ripe papayas. When I was a kid in California, I remember my family eating papaya with a meal. I had no idea why. Now, I know that it helps with digestion.

The bottle suggests taking up to 2 chewable tablets after you eat. I only use them when I eat a heavier meal with meat and lots of spices, for example. It really helps relieve the burning sensation and tones down the uncomfortable effects.

I found these tablets at Whole Foods, but if you don't live near a store, you can also purchase them online at vitamin and health supplement providers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quick Meal to Serve a Crowd: Chicken Chili Verde

Sometimes you feel inspiration by one ingredient. That happened to me this weekend. I get a weekly, local organic produce box delivery and this week I received tomatillos, cilantro, peppers. That inspired me to make a green chili and away I went!

I made this for my family and everyone liked it, including my father-in-law, who is a traditional Midwest eater. No leftovers for this chili! From start to finish, this took me about 40 minutes to make.

Chicken Chili Verde (Serves 6)
The honey in this chili helps balance the spices and tartness of the tomatillos.

  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 1 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 sweet Italian pepper (light green)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Sour cream (for garnish)
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 avocado, diced for garnish


  • Wash vegetables and take off the husks of the tomatillos. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the whole tomatotillos and the light green pepper, cut in half skin up, on the cookie sheet. Cook under the broiler for 8 minutes. Let cook on the stove when done.
  • While cooking vegetables in the broiler, dice onion and peppers. Preheat large soup pot on medium heat. Add olive oil to the bottom of the pot. Add onions, peppers, and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add ground chicken and break apart with a spoon. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Cook chicken until it's no longer pink in the middle (about 8 minutes), stirring frequently. Keep warm.
  • In a food processor, add broiled vegetables with a bit of salt and pepper, honey, and 1 cup of chicken broth. Process until pureed. Add to the soup pot.
  • Rinse and drain pinto and garbanzo beans. Add to the soup pot. Add remaining 2 cups of chicken broth and bring chili to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  • While soup is simmering, chop fresh cilantro and dice avocado.
  • Serve with sour cream, cilantro, and avocado. Chips or warmed tortillas are a good compliment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reader Tip: Cooking Corn in the Oven

The summer produce season is tapering off, but there is still fresh corn in the markets.

Here's a trick for cooking corn that I've never seen before! Our neighbors at the lake told me how they cook their sweet corn in the summer and I had to share their clever idea!

The Gaylord family, Jack, Susi, and their daughter, Megen have spent their summers on Lake Oliver since before their daughter was born! Susi has been perfecting her method for cooking corn in the oven for so long she can't remember the first time she did it. You can see the corn in this picture was from our other lake neighbor, the Malley's, who shared dozens of ears of corn with our family. The corn was plump, super sweet, and perfectly ripe!!!

Corn Cooked in the Oven by the Gaylord Family
  • Clean the corn by removing the husks and the silks.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wrap each ear of corn with a damp paper towel. This helps steam the corn to retain it's moisture.
  • Then, wrap the covered corn with a piece of aluminum foil (see the picture on the right).
  • Place on a cookie sheet seam facing upwards to control drips. Susi places foil on the bottom of the oven in case there are any drips.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately.
The corn stays warm until you're ready to eat it since it's wrapped in the foil. And the family uses the paper towel at the end to clean their hands. See the picture on the left from their picnic table.

To save time and money, they also re-use the foil pieces all summer. Isn't that so clever??!!

Here's another reader recipe for cooking fresh corn on the stove top, from my friend Betsy.