Sea-buckthorns are bright orange edible berries that can be used to make delicious fresh jam of unique sharp flavour.
Rip berries teem on branches of a sun-loving shrub that naturally grows in mountainous regions. Several domestic species have been cultivated that exceed the wild plant in the size of berries and their properties and this tree is very popular in Russian gardens or private lots for growing home vegetables and fruits.
Sea-buckthorn contains 15 times more vitamin C than oranges which places this tiny orange fruit among the most enriched plant sources of vitamin C (perhaps, only rose hips could compete). The high content of this vitamin accounts for quite a tangy taste of berries – you wouldn’t want to eat them on their own – but mixing it with sweeter substances like apple or grape juice to reduce the astringency certainly pays off both in taste and goodness.
Sea-bucktorn is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids (the same fatty acids you get from eating fish) which are essential to good health and play a crucial role in brain function.
The berries have high content in Omega 7 that help with weight loss and cholesterol control and is important for healthy clear skin. Also, “beauty” vitamins A and E can also be found in abundance in these wonderful little berries.
This richness in goodness can explain why sea-buckthorn is finding their way into many nutraceutical products on the market today.
You can buy those frozen berries in Russian shops, and actually the freezing helps reduce the astringency. You can use the berries for your smoothies and make very quick food condiment or dessert sauces.
5 min sea-buckthorn dip/dessert sauce
½ glass of frozen sea-buckthorns
splash of water
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Put the buckthorns in a glass, fill it up with water and let the berries defrost for several minutes. Pour the water out, wash the berries and put them into a blender.
2. Add a splash of water and sugar, blitz up. Sieve to remove pulp and seeds and enjoy.
This will be great with pancakes, blini or syrniki. The sharp and rich taste will add a new elegant note to a sweet meal.
Buckwheat (Rus. grechka) is a gluten-free whole grain and an amazing super healthy product. There are only several similar groats that can serve as a tasty garnish and are good for you – and buckwheat is one of them. For instance, if you are aware of your diet you will have to control your consumption of white rice, couscous – not to mention fries – but buckwheat will give you a perfect side dish full of vitamins and nutrients.
There are some of the buckwheat health benefits:
- it’s gluten free
- it helps maintain blood flow and thus is good for cardiovascular system
- it is linked to lowering risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- it has antioxidant properties
- it is low in calories (1 cup of cooked groats contains 155 calories – fat not added in cooking)
This is a diagram of nutrients in Buckwheat as given on the site www.whfoods.com The world’s healthiest foods
You can read more on the site The world’s healthiest food by following the link: Buckwheat.
HOW TO COOK
The healthy properties of Buckwheat are very well known in Russia and several meals feature this product.
Kasha is the most straightforward recipe and you can have it for breakfast, or use as a side dish.
You will need:
1/2 cups Buckwheat
1 cup water
Butter to taste
Rinse buckwheat thoroughly under running water and remove any debris or any black seeds
Add water and salt, and bring to boil leaving the lid slightly open
When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes
Switch off the heat, add and mix in some butter, cover with the lid and leave for 10 minutes
* In Russian this is called “grechka”, but in English it is also known as “kasha”.
* For bigger portions use the proportion: 1 part of buckwheat to 2 parts of water (i.e. for one cup of buckwheat use 2 cups of water etc.)
* Serving idea#1: With some zucchini caviar it is simply amazing!
* Serving idea#2: Once kasha cools down you can mix it with milk to get a healthy buckwheat snack.
Other Russian health boosting products:
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Processed cheese Druzhba (plavlennyi syrok Druzhba) has been a popular and available snack product in Soviet times. When the choice in the shops was scarce and the earnings low, this affordable product won the hearts of the masses. People ate it as a snack or used as an ingredient for salads, finger foods and even soups.
In modern Russia Druzhba (literally meaning Friendship) is recognized as a cult Soviet product and spotting it on the supermarket shelves among fancy French and Swiss cheeses, one can feel nostalgic about old days.
The manufacturer of the cheese has put up a funky monument to the syrok in front of its headquarter in Moscow. Two characters of a world- famous fable (translated in Russian in 19 century by poet Krylov and now a studied at elementary schools) – a fox and a crow, hold a piece of Druzhba cheese with love and care.
The manufacturer produces many other similar products, for instance the cheese Coral with shrimp taste. One can argue that these extra flavoured spread cheeses are more delicate and intricate than their predecessor.
Other Russian snack products.
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Kefir is a fermented milk drink and an organic health booster. Similar in taste to yoghurt, it has a thinner consistency and thus sold as a drink. It originated in the Caucasus mountains where people are known for their longevity and it is treated there as a heavenly gift.
These are some of the constituents of kefir that speak for themselves:
- Micro-organisms: lactic acid bacteria, yeasts
- Vitamins or pro-vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin K2, folic acid
- Minerals: calcium, iron, iodine
Health benefits of kefir are considered higher than that of yoghurt because kefir has much more microorganisms. Kefir is good for ingestion and is believed to reduce cholesterol and have an antioxidant effect.
Kefir is widely popular in Russia since Soviet times. It can be drank at breakfast, or mixed with cereal the night before so it gets into a porridge substance by morning. It is also used in cold summer soup Okroshka. Also, kefir is used for a thick kind of blini (pancakes).
Kefir is considered as a diet food and is often a used for a detox day. On this day kefir becomes the main food of the day’s diet with little amount of other healthy products – some nuts, vegetables or buckwheat.
If you find that kefir is a bit too tangy for your taste try drinking it with some sweeter fruit and you’ll soon grow into it.
It is a health fashion these days to make your own kefir from kefir grains. You can always find packed kefir in Russian shops.
Curd snack (Rus. “glazirovannyi syrok”, literally coated cheese) is a compact size dairy snack made of sweet pressed mass of curd or quark cheese and coated with chocolate or icing.
Curd snacks can have a filing of poppy seeds, condensed milk or jam.
This tiny treat is a great tea-time dessert. Even if you are not a fan of dairy products, you’re going to love this snack.
Curd snacks are popular in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia – this site has a loving collection of curd snacks brands.