► The origins of thyme can be traced back to ancient societies throughout the Mediterranean, though it’s now grown and cooked with all over the world. Its uses have not always been purely culinary, however. There is evidence of ancient Egyptians utilizing thyme’s powerful properties in embalming rituals.
►Fresh and dried thyme is commonly available in the refrigerated product section at the supermarket—use the de-stemmed leaves, or add it to dishes whole.
►Fit for every diet and very rarely considered an allergen, thyme can be consumed by anyone looking to cook with fresh herbs.
►Thyme can be used in its whole form, or by picking individual leaves from the stem with a gentle pinching motion at the base of each leaf cluster.
►Thyme leaves can be added, whole or chopped, to a dish at any stage of cooking. The longer they cook, however, the more flavor they’ll provide. Thyme stems are fibrous and won’t break down during cooking, so if using whole thyme stems, pick them out and discard before serving. If baking with thyme, remove the small individual leaves from the stem beforehand or use dried thyme (which has already been de-stemmed).
Cane sugar is obtained from sugarcane, which is a plant native to tropical regions of the world, such as Southeast Asia. It accounts for about 40–45% of total sugar produced in the United States. It’s used to sweeten everything from desserts to hot drinks and is often preferred over other types of sugar due to its versatility, widespread availability, and sweet, slightly fruity taste
Cane sugar is different from brown, white and refined sugar because it provides essential vitamins and minerals. It offers a host of essential nutrients and minerals that refined and white sugars cannot. It contains magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and iron.
Raw unprocessed sugar and all shades of brown sugar contain tiny amounts of essential minerals. While the minerals are not present in nutritionally significant quantities, they are in the sugar and will be absorbed by your body.
Cane sugar’s main nutritional benefit stems from the fact that it gets converted into glucose in the blood. This is the simplest form of sugar. Glucose is absorbed by the blood to provide energy at the cellular level.
Cane sugar contains higher levels of antioxidants when compared to other sweeteners like refined sugar and corn syrup. Antioxidants can help to counteract free radicals that cause heart disease and other health conditions.
Saffron is harvested by hand from the Crocus sativus flower, commonly known as the “saffron crocus.” The term “saffron” applies to the flower's thread-like structures, or stigma. It originated in Greece, where it was revered for its medicinal properties. People would eat saffron to enhance libido, boost mood, and improve memory.
Saffron is commercially produced in Iran, Greece, Morocco, Spain, Kashmir and Italy. Iran is the most important producer of saffron both, in terms of volume and quality, and Spain being the largest importer of the spice. Saffron is a labour intensive crop, which makes it so expensive.
Saffron is nicknamed the “sunshine spice.” That’s not just due to its distinct color, but also because it may help brighten your mood. Saffron is rich in plant compounds that act as antioxidants, such as crocin, crocetin, safranal, and kaempferol. Antioxidants help protect your cells against oxidative stress.
In small doses, saffron has a subtle taste and aroma and pairs well with savory dishes, such as paella, risottos, and other rice dishes. The best way to draw out saffron’s unique flavor is to soak the threads in hot — but not boiling — water. Add the threads and the liquid to your recipe to achieve a deeper, richer flavor.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, a small amount goes a long way, and you often won’t need more than a pinch in your recipes. In fact, using too much saffron can give your recipes an overpowering medicinal taste
Chicory is a plant in the dandelion family that usually has bright blue flowers. The root of the chicory plant is commonly ground to be used as a coffee substitute or additive, or it is filtered into chicory root extract. The leaves and seeds are also used in culinary dishes.
Chicory plant have been shown to have positive health benefits due to the high levels of polyphenols and soluble dietary fiber contained in the plant. Chicory root is a good source of fiber, which may help improve several aspects of your digestive health.
Chicory root is also commonly used in the preparation of a bitter coffee substitute in France and Japan. Chicory root coffee is becoming more popular in certain areas of the US. It looks, and to some degree tastes, like coffee, but it is naturally caffeine-free. In fact, ground chicory root is added to certain types of beer to add flavor.
Most of the health benefits of chicory root have been attributed to the prebiotic-nature of inulin. Inulin is a soluble fiber which cannot be broken down by our digestive enzymes.
Chicory coffee is made of minced and roasted chicory root, which contains inulin fiber, manganese and vitamin B6.
Coconut flour is made from coconut flesh that has been dried and ground. It originated in the Philippines, where it was first produced as a by-product of coconut milk.
Coconut flour is made from dried and ground coconut flesh. Mild in taste, its texture is similar to other flours.
Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains, including wheat, barley, and rye, and is difficult to break down during digestion. In some cases, gluten may trigger an immune response. People intolerant to gluten may experience symptoms ranging from gas, cramps, or diarrhea to gut damage and nutrient malabsorption.
The high fiber content of coconut flour may also benefit your digestion. Most of its fiber is insoluble, which adds bulk to stools and helps move food smoothly through your gut, reducing the likelihood of constipation.
Coconut flour is free of gluten. This makes it a great alternative for people with wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Coconut sugar is also called coconut palm sugar. It’s a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is often confused with palm sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree. Coconut sugar is the dehydrated sap of the coconut palm.
Regular table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup don't contain any vital nutrients and therefore supply "empty" calories. However, coconut sugar does retain quite a bit of the nutrients found in the coconut palm.
Coconut sugar contains small amounts of minerals, antioxidants and fiber. However, its high sugar content outweighs any potential benefits.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Glucose is given a GI of 100. For comparison, foods with a GI of 50 raise blood sugar levels half as much as pure glucose. Table sugar has a GI of around 60, whereas coconut sugar has been measured with a GI of 54. However, it is important to note that GI can vary greatly between individuals and may also differ between batches of coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar is high in fructose. Evidence suggests that a high intake of fructose may promote metabolic syndrome in obese people.
Soy flour is derived from roasted soybeans finely grounded into a powder. It is a rich source of proteins, as well as iron, B vitamins and calcium, and it adds a pleasant texture and flavor to a variety of products.
Soy flour is available in a full-fat form with all its natural oils, or in a "defatted" form, from which all the oils are removed during processing. "Defatted" soy flour provides a slightly higher percentage of protein and calcium. Both forms of soy flour have health benefits.
This versatile ingredient improves taste and texture of many common foods and often reduces the fat absorbed in fried foods. The taste of soy flour varies from a “beany” flavor to a sweet and mild flavor.
Make a batch of homemade pizza dough and replace one-fourth of the flour with soy flour or Make soy nut butter or peanut butter cookies and replace 1/3 of the all-purpose flour with soy flour. Make lemon poppy seed, zucchini, or banana walnut bread and replace 1/3 of the all-purpose flour with soy flour.
Full-fat and low-fat soy flours work best in sweet, rich, baked goods like cookies, soft yeast breads and quick breads. In these recipes, soy flour will substitute well for ten to 30 percent of the wheat or rye flour. Recipes specifically developed to use soy flour may replace more than 30 percent of other flours with soy.
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