Betty Wedman-St Louis, PhD, RD, LD

Licensed Nutritionist & Environmental Health Specialist

Archive for the ‘coconut milk’ tag

Saffron Rice with Shrimp and Scallops

leave a comment

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world but it has amazing culinary and medical properties. The small crocus plant with purple flowers and three stamens is handpicked throughout the Mediterranean and India. About 150,000 flowers are needed to produce 1 kilogram of dry spice.

Saffron has been used primarily to lend a reddish-yellow coloring to butter, pastries, such as Swedish saffron bread, and confections. It also is added to bouillabaisse, Spanish paella and rice dishes like the one featured here.

Safranal, the compound found in crocus saffron, is an antioxidant, and it has been reported to inhibit cancerous cell growth. The pharmacological effects of safranal also indicate its use as an antidepressant and an anti-inflammatory compound.

According to the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Science, the essential oil in saffron stamens offers more than just color and taste.

As the most expensive source of vitamin B-2, or riboflavin, in the world, saffron is best used in small quantities. At concentrations of even 5 grams it can cause severe gastrointestinal distress.

The full benefits of this spice are just beginning to be discovered.

New research indicates that saffron has hunger-reducing properties that can aid in weight loss. When planning a low-calorie diet, include some saffron rice to minimize food cravings. In folk medicine circles, saffron is considered to be an aphrodisiac and mood enhancer.

Betty Wedman-St Louis is a licensed nutritionist and environmental health specialist in Pinellas County who has written numerous books on health and nutrition. Visit her website at​

Saffron Rice with Shrimp and ScallopsSaffron Rice with Shrimp and Scallops

1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon saffron stamens
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled
1/2 pound sea scallops
1/2 cup coconut milk or coconut cream

Cook rice, water, saffron and salt together in saucepan over medium heat until rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add butter. Let stand while simmering shrimp and scallops in coconut milk until tender. Fluff rice with fork and surround with shrimp and scallops on serving platter.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 268 calories; 17g protein; 18g carbohydrates; 7g fat; 207mg sodium.

Written by bwsl

January 21st, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Good Luck Cake

leave a comment

Good Luck CakeRing shaped cakes are a symbol of good luck especially around celebrations of a new year. The ring expresses the full circle of a year in some cultures while Asian cultures regard it as a symbol of eternity. Bundt cakes are a healthy addition for any celebration at time of the day.

The honey sweetened walnut apricot bundt cake can be made with organic whole wheat flour or organic brown rice flour. Both versions are seen in the photo (one with walnuts on top is made with rice flour).

A recent monthly news magazine presented a very biased article entitled “The Truth About Gluten”. The article stated that gluten-free offers no nutritional advantage “and may be less so”. As stated in my Living Gluten-Free book (Charles C. Thomas, 2008) a nutritional comparison of flours shows brown rice flour has significantly more Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid (B5), Magnesium and Manganese. Eating foods made with rice flour does not compromise nutrition.

Another issue alledged against gluten-free choices is extra cost. What consumers do not realize is the politics of the USDA food subsidy program that Congress passes annually in the Farm Bill. The US consumer pays twice for wheat products- the price at the supermarket is less than gluten-free products because they have already paid a subsidy that allows overproduction and low cost wheat prices.

Gluten-free does not produce weight loss if you over-indulge. Portion control and healthy lifestyle habits make for better weight management than changing from wheat to rice flour. But gluten-free can improve gut health for those with gastro-intestinal issues. Over seventy percent of your immune system resides in the Peyers Patches of the small intestine so less sugar and healthy fats + easy to digest rice protein can mean better digestion and increased energy.

So if you are afraid of using rice flour in your bundt cake because of arsenic, chose organic. California rice used by organic producers has significantly lower inorganic arsenic than Texas rice. Processed rice dishes are usually made with rice from India and Pakistan so cooking California Basmati rice is the best choice. Coconut flour can be used as a substitute if brown rice flour is not available.

One nutritional pearl to remember is that all grains contain some gluten. In the US, a food can contain up to 25 ppm and still be called gluten-free. Some people with gluten sensitivity need strict adherence to gluten-free food choices- wild rice and brown rice. For them, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa and teff may state gluten-free but they can only be tolerated in small quantities, if at all.

The truth about whole grains and gluten does not make for sexy reading but consumers have a right to know what influences what they are eating. Enjoy this symbolic cake with whatever flour you chose.

Walnut Apricot Bundt Cake

1/2 cup dried apricots, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup boiling water
3 cups whole grain flour (wheat or rice)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup coconut “milk” beverage
1/2 cup unsalted soft butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pour boiling water over apricot pieces in small bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in bowl. Stir to blend. Beat together eggs, coconut beverage, butter, honey and vanilla until mixture looks like scrambled eggs. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture. Add apricots and water. Beat well. Pour into lightly oiled and floured bundt pan. Bake in 350 degree oven 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes on rack. Invert pan and cool before slicing. Makes 16 servings.

Calories per serving 124
Protein 3g
Carbohydrates 23g
Fat 4g

Written by bwsl

January 6th, 2015 at 4:37 pm