Legumes are a class of vegetables that include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts and clover. Legumes are high in
protein, but don't contain all of the necessary amino acids, so they are commonly served with other types of
food like grains, to provide complete proteins. Beans and rice, peanut butter and wheat bread, tofu and rice
are all examples of foods with a complete set of amino acids.
Legumes are high in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, and are relatively inexpensive. The high fiber in
legumes helps them lower cholesterol, and also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Legumes provide a long, slow
energy source when compared to simple carbohydrates, so they are an excellent staple for many diabetics.
Legumes are high in carbohydrates too, but they are complex carbohydrates which have a relatively low glycemic
Legumes have a long shelf life and can be kept for months without losing much of their nutritional benefits.
A wide variety of beans, lentils, peas and tofu products are readily available and relatively inexpensive.
Legumes are consumed in many countries, so there are an abundance of recipes to choose from. They contain more
protein than any other plant food, and are rich in antioxidants, and in most cases low in fat. When legumes do
contain fat it's predominantly unsaturated. Legumes are an important part of a healthy diet plan.
Epicurean Specialty Legumes include: Heirloom Bean Blend, Gourmet Lentil Blend
Mushrooms (fungi) and humans have a storied history, dating back thousands of years. Mushrooms have always been shrouded in mystery and accused of magic, so their place in traditional medicine is
well documented. Mushrooms are low in fat, sodium, carbohydrates and cholesterol, and are a good source of protein and minerals. Mushrooms are not a vegetable, even though you'll usually
find them in the produce section. Mushrooms are fungi and are related to yeast, and are considered neither plants nor animals. There are thousands of edible mushrooms, but the most
common is the white button mushroom (Champignon). Other common edible mushrooms include portabella, shiitake, porcini, truffles, morel, oyster, and woodear.
Some mushrooms, like the white button mushroom, have been domesticated and can be grown commercially. But many have resisted commercialization and must be hand picked in the wild by
mushrooms "hunters". The wild mushrooms are naturally more expensive and harder to find so they have an air of exclusivity. Truffles, as an example, grow underground and are hunted by
trained pigs or dogs because of their sensitive noses. Truffles are very expensive, but they are also very flavorful and a little bit goes a long way.
Mushrooms are high in protein, minerals, and can contain certain compounds and antioxidants that may regulate beneficial human enzymes, boost immune systems, and may fight cancer.
Mushrooms have their place in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, boosting immune systems to fight cold and flu. They contain a natural form of insulin with enzymes that can break
down sugars, so they may be part of a healthy diabetes diet. There are so many health benefits associated with eating mushrooms that including them in a daily meal plan is an
excellent idea. The wide variety and easy availability make a mushroom healthy diet something everyone can enjoy.
Epicurean Specialty Mushrooms include: Kibbled Boletes, Porcini Extra A
The world's most popular food, rice is grown in over 100 countries and is available in almost 150,000 varieties. Rice is worshiped, praised, reserved for royalty, considered a symbol of
fertility, used for luck, offered up to the Gods, and thrown at weddings. It can be long, short, sticky, creamy, chewy, aged, wild, red, black, purple, sweet, nutty, aromatic, converted
Rice is well known for it's carbohydrate content, filling the bellies of people from all walks of life. But rice is more than a source of energy. Rice, particularly brown and whole grain
varieties, is low in sodium and cholesterol and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Rice is good for the digestion, helpful in relieving high blood pressure, and can help fight
diabetes, cancer, and alzheimer's. And rice is gluten free!
Rice can be used in many dishes, from all parts of the world including Italian risottos, Japanese sushi, Chinese stir fries, Asian rice desserts, rice cakes, breakfast cereals, and pilafs are just a
few examples. Daily rice consumption can help improve chronic health issues like indigestion, heartburn, and dyspepsia. As you would expect, whole grain versions like brown and wild rices
contain the germ and hull/bran and are more beneficial than processed white rice varieties. For better health, and more interesting recipes, eat a wide variety of rices and do it often!
Whole grains are a necessary part of a healthy diet. Whole Grains are grass seeds and there are many different grasses, bearing witness to the variety of whole grains that are available
for culinary use. As an example, popcorn is a grain, as are other types of corn. Because grasses grow easily, and virtually everywhere, whole grains have always been an important part of
the human diet. Modern processing techniques remove the nutritional parts of the grain and reserve the carbohydrate rich "endosperm". As a result, beginning in the 1920's, many grain
products have been artificially "enriched" with some of the vitamins and minerals that processing removes. Whole grains are still the best choice, unprocessed whole grains contain more fiber,
minerals, antioxidants and vitamins than processed varieties, even with artificial enrichment. Whole grains can also be sprouted for added nutrition. Processing removes the germinating part of the
seed and so makes spouting impossible.
Whole grains have many health benefits and nutritional advantages over a diet of refined, processed grains and flours. For instance, whole grains are an integral part of a heart healthy
diet. The "bran" and "germ" components of the grains can help lower your cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, regulate your blood sugar, and may reduce your chances of getting certain
types of cancer. The natural B vitamins and minerals ( like iron, magnesium, and selenium ) in whole grains are also beneficial and can help maintain a healthy immune system.
Even though the nutritional benefits are well documented, most Americans don't include enough whole grains in their daily diet. Whole grains are easily added to many recipes: salads,
bread, baked goods, pancakes, desserts, encrusted meats, soups... It's easy to be healthier, just eat more whole grains!
Epicurean Specialty Grains include: Farro, Giant White Corn
Herbs & Spices
Herbs and spices have a long history in traditional medicines. From cinnamon to garlic, almost every herb has some health benefits associated with it. Spices add flavor and nutrition to dishes. It's
said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it's no wonder most herbs are sold by the ounce!
Epicurean Specialty Herbs & Spices include: Habanero, Grains of Paradise
The list of available herbs and spices is long, but don't let that scare you. Nearly every one has something positive to offer, so keeping a variety of herbs and spices on hand is an
excellent idea. Some of the most common herbs have surprising health benefits, so you don't need to get too fancy about it either. Oregano, for instance, is very high in antioxidants, good
for digestion, and also has some respiratory benefits. Cinnamon is known to have an effect on diabetes and blood sugar issues. Curry contains many healthy herbs and can improve cognitive
function. Garlic is good for pretty much anything that ails you. Pick any herb or spice and you'll find any number of reasons why it's good for you.
Because herbs and spices are added as flavoring, they also carry the benefits of the food they enhance. In some cases the right spices can make a healthy but otherwise unpopular food item more
palatable. If your children don't like vegetables you can disguise them, change the flavor, and add nutrition, all at the same time with herbs and spices. Foods that are popular but can be dull on
their own ( like potatoes, noodles, or rice ) can be jazzed up into a tasty side dish with just a few choice herbs and spices. Serve a food item with Italian herbs like oregano and basil one night,
and then serve the same food with garlic and curry the next, and then again with rosemary and pepper a few days later. A selection of popular herbs and spices can make your meals healthier, more
interesting, and less expensive!
Pasta & Noodles
Pasta is one of the world's most popular foods. Pasta comes in many shapes and sizes, and can be made using a variety of ingredients. The most common form of pasta contains semolina and
durum wheat flour. Other common pastas usually contain only durum flour, like tortellini, macaroni, noodles and ravioli. There are flavored pastas like spinach, tomato, garlic, lemon, and
there are also whole grains pastas, and pasta made from spelt, quinoa, soy, rice and other gluten conscious ingredients. Pasta comes dried, fresh, frozen, and canned. In all, there
is a world of pasta waiting for you to explore!
Pasta has a low glycemic index, this is particularly true of pastas that contain semolina. Complex carbohydrates are slowly broken down by the body, avoiding the "sugar shock" that accompany
many carbohydrates including rice and potatoes. Pasta's carbs are so good at producing an extended source of energy that athletes "carb up" by eating large portions prior to an event. Low
carb diets have given people the impression that foods like pasta should be avoided, when in fact a diet of complex carbs can help you lose weight by giving you more energy over a longer period of
time compared to equal caloric intake from other sources. A healthy diet requires a certain amount of carbohydrates, and pasta is a smart carb source.
Carbohydrates are the body's fuel. They provide energy for the brain, blood, muscles, and organs. A low carb diet has as many health issues as a high carb diet. Balancing calories,
protein, carbs, whole foods, and nutrients is the smartest path to a healthy diet. Variety helps you keep your diet interesting, and pasta in it's many forms and formulas can provide a
bounty of variety. The wide variety of available pastas ( couscous, orzo, spaghetti, macaroni, ravioli... ) help make it an easy and healthy addition to any meal plan.
Noodles are almost as much fun as pasta! There are so many types of noodles, made from so many good grains and staples, that it's hard to pick one! Noodles are an integral part of many
ethnic cuisines, so they fit into many meal plans and diets. Unlike pasta, many noodles are gluten free. Noodles can be made from rice, buckwheat, mung beans, potatoes, yams and other
ingredients suitable for people with gluten issues.
Noodles are inexpensive and easy to cook. And while offering good nutritional value on their own, noodles are usually served with vegetables, soups, sauces, and other ingredients that add
to their nutritional value. Noodles also add variety because they're made from foods like buckwheat and mung beans that are not common to Western diets but do offer many health benefits.
As an example, Japanese soba noodles are made from Buckwheat which contains beneficial compounds not found in other grains. Buckwheat is not a staple of Western diets, so soba noodles are
one of very few good sources. Rice noodles, another popular noodle, can add variety and nutrition in many forms providing interesting options for serving rice with meals.
Epicurean Specialty Pasta & Noodles include: Golden Harvest Pasta
Grain Blend Tri-color Orzo