NUTRITION: Antioxidants- What are they and do they really help?

From the Nutrition Tab lets learn about – Antioxidants and Free Radicals

A free radical is an unstable molecule.  If you can remember from your high school chemistry an unstable molecule will seek to gain an electron from a weaker stable molecule in order to satisfy its need to become stable.  This is known as oxidation.   WiseGeek has it defined as “the loss of at least one electron when two or more substances interact. Those substances may or may not include oxygen.”  In doing so, this free radical destabilizes the stable molecule and creates another free radical in a chain reaction of cellular destruction.

This process isn’t good for our bodies.  When we are young our body has a greater ability to fight the “free radical” attack, but as we age, it can be overwhelmed by cancer causing free radicals and needs the help of Antioxidants.

Wikipedia defines an Antioxidant:

An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death. When the chain reaction occurs in a purified monomer, it produces a polymer resin, such as a plastic, a synthetic fiber, or an oil paint film. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates, and inhibit other oxidation reactions. They do this by being oxidized themselves, so antioxidants are often reducing agents such as thiolsascorbic acid or polyphenols.[1]

Although oxidation reactions are crucial for life, they can also be damaging; hence, plants and animals maintain complex systems of multiple types of antioxidants, such as glutathionevitamin C, and vitamin E as well as enzymes such as catalasesuperoxide dismutase and various peroxidases. Low levels of antioxidants, or inhibition of the antioxidant enzymes, cause oxidative stress and may damage or kill cells.[citation needed]

As oxidative stress appears to be an important part of many human diseases, the use of antioxidants in pharmacology is intensively studied, particularly as treatments for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is unknown whether oxidative stress is the cause or the consequence of disease.

Antioxidants are widely used as ingredients in dietary supplements and have been investigated for the prevention of diseases such as cancercoronary heart disease and even altitude sickness. Although initial studies suggested that antioxidant supplements might promote health, later large clinical trials did not detect any benefit and suggested instead that excess supplementation is harmful.[2][3] In addition to these uses of natural antioxidants in medicine, these compounds have many industrial uses, such as preservatives in food and cosmetics and preventing the degradation of rubber and gasoline.

Free radicals attack us from many different environmental sources every day. Some of which are: alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, smoked and barbecued food, harmful chemicals and additives in the foods we eat, sun bathing and pollutants in the air we breath. They assault your cells, large enzyme complexes, Vitamin C, and DNA. After age 28, the major source of aging is the production of free radicals. And with age, the amount of free radicals we produce increases. Scientists have determined that very large amounts of free radicals accumulated in your body, may significantly shorten your life span.


Free radical fighters found in a certain group of nutrients, namely antioxidants, can help protect against a great many free radical initiated diseases. Antioxidants remove free radicals.

It is also believed that antioxidants also stimulate the immune system’s response to help fight existing diseases.

via Benefits of Antioxidants Protect Immune System Antioxidant Formulas.


Natural Antioxidant

The following is a list of what WebMD considers the top 20 antioxidant food sources:

Here’s the list of the top 20 food sources of antioxidants, based on their total antioxidant capacity per serving size:



Food item


Serving size
Total antioxidant capacity per serving size


Small Red Bean (dried)

Half cup



Wild blueberry

1 cup



Red kidney bean (dried)

Half cup



Pinto bean

Half cup



Blueberry (cultivated)

1 cup




1 cup (whole)



Artichoke (cooked)

1 cup (hearts)




1 cup



Dried Prune

Half cup




1 cup




1 cup



Red Delicious apple




Granny Smith apple





1 ounce



Sweet cherry

1 cup



Black plum




Russet potato (cooked)




Black bean (dried)

Half cup







Gala apple



Researchers also found that cooking method also had a significant effect on the antioxidant content of the foods tested, but those effects were not consistent.

For example, cooked Russet and red potatoes had much lower antioxidant levels than those found in raw potatoes. Boiling also decreased antioxidant levels in carrots, but cooking tomatoes increased their antioxidant content.


Ok, I think we can agree that antioxidants are a good thing, so should we use supplements to get more of them?  If so, then which ones and how much?

Keep in mind that many vitamins only work well in conjunction with other vitamins.  An example is vitamin C and E.  Vitamin C helps restore Vitamin E to active form.

Vitamin A is a “fat-soluble” vitamin, meaning that it is oily and won’t dissolve in water.  The good news about Vitamin A is that it is stored in the fat (oil) of our body and is used over a longer time than a water soluble vitamin such as Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is water soluble and therefore is carried by the blood but as such must be replenished daily.

Vitamin E is also fat soluble.  It helps protect the cell membranes.  It is a strong antioxidant.

These three vitamins are important to our health and can be found in many foods.  It is possible when eating a healthy balanced diet to get 100% of the vitamins we need in our food.  But, if you believe your diet is falling short, a simple daily vitamin pill containing at least, A,C and E would be helpful.


Farm On you Fat Farmers,



Pantry 101-Baking and Spices 1-5

Today I’m going to start discussing what staples to always have on hand.  We’ll start with Baking and Spices.  Even if you don’t “cook” or “bake”, you will need these things, trust me for just a little longer.  There are a lot of items here so I won’t talk about them all at once.  But you need to know why you use things to be able to properly apply them when you don’t have a recipe and are just winging it.  That is when you know you are a cook.

Here goes: Baking & Spice Staples

1. baking soda  –
2. baking powder
3. Cornstarch
4. yeast
5. flour
6. salt
7. pepper
8. peppercorns
9. sugar
10. confectioner’s sugar
11. brown sugar
12 light corn syrup
13. vanilla extract
14. ground cinnamon
15. whole nutmeg
16. ground cloves
17. powdered ginger
18. dried basil
19. dried oregano
20. chili powder
21. dry mustard
22. paprika
23. thyme
24. tarragon
25. dried dill
26. bay leaves
27. poultry seasoning
28. beef, chicken and vegetable bouillon
29. cream of tartar
30. unseasoned bread crumbs
31. unsweetened cocoa powder
32. unsweetened baking chocolate
33. chocolate chips

Most of these “dry” staples will last a long time if unopened, but if you open them use them or throw them a way every couple of years.  I removed pancake mix from this list because of a potential toxic mold that can grow in it.  Besides, pancake mix is easy to make and better than store bought.

Let’s start at the top:

Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which means they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to ‘rise’. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.
1) Baking Soda

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey, lemon), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat!

2) Baking Powder

Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch). Baking powder is available as single-acting baking powder and as double-acting baking powder. Single-acting powders are activated by moisture, so you must bake recipes which include this product immediately after mixing. Double-acting powders react in two phases and can stand for a while before baking. With double-acting powder, some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is added to dough, but the majority of the gas is released after the temperature of the dough increases in the oven.


How Are Recipes Determined?

Some recipes call for baking soda, while others call for baking powder. Which ingredient is used depends on the other ingredients in the recipe. The ultimate goal is to produce a tasty product with a pleasing texture. Baking soda is basic and will yield a bitter taste unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk. You’ll find baking soda in cookie recipes. Baking powder contains both an acid and a base and has an overall neutral effect in terms of taste. Recipes that call for baking powder often call for other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Baking powder is a common ingredient in cakes and biscuits.

Substituting in Recipes

You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (you’ll need more baking powder and it may affect the taste), but you can’t use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder. Baking soda by itself lacks the acidity to make a cake rise. However, you can make your own baking powder if you have baking soda and cream of tartar. Simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda.
This article was copied from the following website –

There should be a date on the box of each.  If your soda or powder is more than 2 years old throw it out and buy more, it’s pretty cheap.

3) Cornstarch

Cornstarch is just what it sounds like: starch derived from corn. It is ground from the white endosperm at the heart of a kernel of corn.  It is so fine that if you pinch a little your fingers will squeak.   Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent in cooking, a health-conscious alternative to talc, and the main ingredient in a biodegradable plastic. It is also mixed with sugar to make powdered sugar.

In the kitchen, cornstarch can be used as a binder for puddings or similar foods, or as a thickener for sauces, stews, and similar dishes. A simple pudding can be made with milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Cornstarch can form unappetizing clumps in hot water, so if you need to thicken something that is already cooking on the stove, mixing a bit of cornstarch in a glass with cold water before adding it to the pot is advised.

copied from

I also use cornstarch to coat fish fillets before pan searing as a lighter substitute for flour.  It allows you to get a nice brown crust with out being heavy.

4) yeast
I think most everyone knows that bakers yeast is a dried active fungi culture that is used in making breads, beer and wine.  But, did you know that there are thousands of different yeast cultures in the air?  As a mater of fact the sour taste of Sourdough bread comes from yeast that is picked up from the air into the “starter” batter.  That’s why the sourdough in San Francisco for example is usually better than other places.

Yeast physiology can be either obligately aerobic or facultatively fermentative. There is no known obligately anaerobic yeast. In the absence of oxygen, fermentative yeasts produce their energy by converting sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol). In brewing, the ethanol is used, while in baking the carbon dioxide raises the bread and the ethanol evaporates.”

That means when you soften dried yeast in 105 deg F water and add sugar as a food source, the culture becomes active and starts to reproduce.  The by-products of the reproduction are carbon dioxide and alcohol.  In baking the carbon dioxide trapped in the gluten web of the dough makes the bread rise and the alcohol evaporates.  In beer or wine making the alcohol is dissolved in the liquid and the carbon dioxide gas dissipates into the air.
5) Flour

Flour is a very important pantry staple.  You will use it in everything from, cookies to fried food to gravy.  Try to buy whole grain flours but you’ll probably need some white flour too.  There are white whole grain flours that are good.  You will want bread flour for making things that you want to rise, like bread, rolls, etc.  Bread flour has more gluten in it which forms long strings that stick together and trap the carbon dioxide in it making it rise.  Plain flour, either whole grain or white, can be used for anything else.  For example you’d want to use a low gluten flour like plain or cake flour to make a nice flaky biscuit or pie crust.   Everyone has their favorite brand, and some brands work better in different parts of the country.  I use White Lily brand because Darlene swears by it.  After we all stock our pantries we will share our biscuit making techniques and we’ll all become biscuits experts.   Trust me guys, nothing will impress a date more that when you knock out a batch of biscuits for breakfast or dinner.

I also recommend getting some rice flour and some rye flour too.  The rice flour is great for making tempura batter and the rye flour make and interesting savory pancake.  We’ll discuss recipes later.

I’m going to stop here for the day because I want to elaborate on the next few ingredients.


What to Keep in the Pantry or “Pantry 101”

One of what I consider to be important topics for the healthy life, is what to keep stocked in your pantry so that you can cook something good when you need to. I will break this down into 5 catagories:

1. Baking and Spices
2. General & Condiments
3. Refrigerator
4. Freezer
5. Fresh items to keep on hand

Obviously there could be a discussion on each item in each category and we may go there, but to start I will list the items and tell you why you need them. Then we will search together for the best brand or type of each item to buy.

I got this list from the following page if you want to do your home work.

Tomorrow we’ll start on the 1st list – Baking & Spices


Earthy Delights
About Earthy Delights
Earthy Delights is America’s premier supplier of specialty foods to quality conscious American Chefs. We pioneered the use of overnight delivery to get fresh produce from the farm to the kitchen in the shortest time possible. We are leaders in offering wild-harvested and hand-crafted foods from small harvesters and growers to a larger audience. Now we are bringing this same selection of fine products to the adventurous home chef, using the power of the internet.We offer wild mushrooms and other seasonal wild-harvested items, fresh specialty produce, fine hand-crafted cheese, aged balsamic vinegar, exotic spices and hard-to find ingredients to the professional chef and the at-home culinary artist. As the palate of the American public becomes more sophisticated, our catalog of fine foods is constantly expanding to meet and anticipate the needs of the adventurous professional and at-home chef.

Just as Earthy Delights used the emerging technologies of fax machines and overnight delivery to create a new business paradigm in the 1990’s, we are using the breakthroughs in information technology to create a new business model for the 21st century. We are becoming a valuable resource for a wide range of information on gourmet ingredients and their use.

Just as important, we will use these exciting technologies to transform our workplace into an efficiently run, yet humane and nurturing place.

We cannot live without food – why not eat well? We will find foods that are made with integrity, that make eating a pleasure, and that are healthful. We pledge to treat our suppliers, our products, our customers, and one another with caring and with respect.

Our goals are:

  • To offer a great selection of high-quality, great tasting, healthful food
  • To offer great service and be a trusted source of culinary information
  • To conduct business in an honest, ethical and respectful manner
  • To create a challenging, rewarding, and caring workplace
  • To achieve sustained growth and value for our shareholders
  • To contribute and give back to our community
Salt Traders 

Our Story

About Salt Traders – Your Source & Guide to a World of Fine Taste

Salt Traders began with a fascination for specialty salts. Founders Rob Seideman and Kelly Hall owned the Cooking School of Aspen, which they opened in 1998. Their interest and education in the subject of specialty salts grew and they began offering a variety of salts and peppercorns at their school. Eventually, they focused all their energy on Salt Traders, educating chefs and the public on the benefits and vast array of sea salts available around the world. Rob and Kelly were central to the emergence of sea salt as a popular condiment and introduced it to home and restaurant kitchens across the country.

About Chef Didi Davis

Didi Davis is a chef, food writer, teacher, and editor. She began her training in 1972 with world-renowned chef, cooking teacher, and food writer Madeleine Kamman. Didi worked for Ms. Kamman for ten years teaching in her non-professional and professional cooking school, working at and managing her restaurant Chez La Mere Madeleine in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, and later, working at her cooking school in Annecy, France.

In 1982 Didi and her business partner Linda Marino opened their own cooking school, Cooking at The French Library, in Boston, Massachusetts. Their school was given a Best of Boston award by Boston Magazine, 1982, and featured in Bon Appetit magazine. While operating the school, Didi’s desire to write unfolded and she began writing for several food magazines and newspapers. The school was eventually closed so Linda could pursue catering and Didi could expand her writing. Didi’s food writing evolved into writing cookbooks. She authored A Fresh Look at Saucing Foods, which was nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Award, and Side Dishes Creative and Simple.

In addition to her own books, Didi became known as a chef with the knowledge and expertise to refine and create recipes. She began a side business of recipe development, testing, and editing for several important cookbooks. Among them are the 1997 revision of Joy of Cooking and the award-winning Zuni Cafe Cookbook, authored by Judy Rogers. Most recently, Didi worked on Molly Stevens’ All About Braising which won the IACP and the James Beard Foundation awards for best Single Subject cookbook published in 2004.

After several years of freelance work and raising her son, Didi found that she missed teaching. She opened The Payne Street Cooking School in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 2003. This led her to search for fine, artisanal ingredients for her students to use. On a 2004 trip to Paris, she discovered flavored salt and began creating her own for use in her cooking classes. She then started didi davis food, llc, to offer her proprietary salt blends, sugar blends, and speciatly food products for sale. In 2008, Didi acquired Salt Traders to expand her collection of artisanal and specialty food products.




San Francisco Herb Co.

Gourmet Spices, Herbs, Tea, Essential Oils and Potpourri at Wholesale Prices.

About Us

Since 1973, our mission has been to provide our customers with the highest quality products at the lowest possible price. With products ranging from spices to potpourri, our efforts toward achieving this goal are reflected in the superior quality of our products, fast turnaround times, and high level of customer service and support.
Our store offers the public an opportunity to walk into our world and purchase any amount of packaged product.  It is open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm (closed major holidays).  More information on our store can be viewed here.
Store address: 250 14th St (between Mission & South Van Ness), San Francisco CA 94103



Located behind and beside our wholesale outlet, our warehouse takes up almost 1/6 of a city block. Here we receive our containers and truck shipments, package our bulk material, computer control inventory and ship out your orders. More information on our warehouse can be viewed here.

Incorporating high levels of efficiency with custom-authored software and procedures, we maintain a staff of about a dozen employees.  This allows for a very familial work environment as well as a highly trained and dedicated staff, many of whom have been with SF Herb for over 10 years.


 Neil Hanscomb                             

Neil is one of the original owners of San Francisco Herb Co. He is a very enthusiastic business man and loves to  go to work on Monday morning. A sailboard enthusiast who became a CPA after Vietnam, he’s a self-described “numbers guy” who designed the inventory control system for SF Herb.




Over the years we’ve noticed a few reviews written mentioning us.  Feel free to check out what others have to say in one of the following:  Written by various Yelp community members.
Associated Content, 2009.  Written by Henry Swanson., 2009.  Written by Meave., 2008.  Written by Camille Chu.
Herbs to Know, 2008.  Written by Charlotte Gerber.
NutraFoodies Magazine, 2007.  Written by George Brozowski.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 2005.  Written by Delfin Vigil.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 2000.  “All-Star” food site list.
Food and Beverage Journal, April 1999.  Written by Virginia Bisek.
Epicurean Magazine, 1998.  Written by Bill Kimball.



Baked Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Baked Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes

click here for print version

1 lb chicken breasts, boneless, cut into 4 oz portions
1 oz olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, cut in half then sliced thin
1/2 c sun dried tomatoes, chopped, (not packed in oil)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2-3/4 cup chicken stock (home made if you’ve got it, low sodium if you don’t)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry.Place an ovenproof skillet over moderate heat. Once warm add oil. When the oil is hot, add half the onions to pan and place chicken in the pan with the onions.
Cook chicken for about 8 minutes or until it will release itself easily from the pan then flip to cook the other side. Continue to cook for 4 minutes.  Stir the onions to keep from burning.

Remove the chicken from the skillet. Set aside.

Place remaining onions and tomatoes over the caramelized onions in pan. Allow the onions and tomatoes to sweat in the pan for 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat and add wine. With a spoon stir the pan to remove the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. This deglazing technique will remove the flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan and release it to the vegetables.

Add chicken back to the skillet. Add stock just until the liquid level reaches halfway up the sides of the chicken. Add oregano and pepper to taste. Cover with tight fitting lid and place in oven. Bake 30 minutes.