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Coccinia cordifolia(Bengali :Kundri)

Botanical Name: Coccinia cordifolia
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Coccinia
Species: C. grandis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales

Synonyms: Coccinia grandis, Cephalandra indica and Coccinia indica

Common Names:Ivy gourd,Baby watermelon,Little gourd, Gentleman’s toes, Tindora, Ivy gourd,Gentleman’s toes  and Gherkin,
Bengali Name :Kundri or Tela kochu
Sanskrit Name: Bimbi, Uthundika, Bimbitika, Rakthaphala, Ostopamphala, Pilulparni.
English Name:Ivy gourd
Kannada Name:Tonde
Hindi Name: Kanduri, Kulari, Kundru

Habitat : Coccinia cordifolia is native to Tropical Asia To Africa.It grows on light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Description:
Coccinia cordifolia is a large, glabrous, deciduous climbing shrub. The stems are rather succulent with long filiform fleshy aerial roots from the branches. The bark is grey-brown and warty; the leaves are membranous and cordate; the flowers, small, yellow or greenish yellow, in axillary and terminal racemes or racemose panicles; the male flowers clustered and females usually solitary; the drupes are ovoid, glossy, succulent, red and pea-sized; the seeds curved. ...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Edible Uses:
In India it is eaten as a curry, by deep-frying it along with spices; stuffing it with masala and sauteing it, or boiling it first in a pressure cooker and then frying it. It is also used in sambar, a vegetable and lentil-based soup.

There are a variety of recipes from all over the world that list ivy gourd as the main ingredient. It is often compared to bitter melon. The fruit is commonly eaten in Indian cuisine. People of Indonesia and other southeast Asian countries also consume the fruit and leaves. In Thai cuisine it is one of the ingredients of the Kaeng khae curry. Cultivation of ivy gourd in home gardens has been encouraged in Thailand due to it being a good source of several micronutrients, including vitamins A and C.

Constituents:
Tinsporine, tinosporide, tinosporaside, cordifolide, cordifol, heptacosanol, clerodane furano diterpene, diterpenoid furanolactone tinosporidine, columbin, and ß-sitosterol.

Medicinal Uses:
In traditional medicine, fruits have been used to treat leprosy, fever, asthma, bronchitis and jaundice. The fruit possesses mast cell stabilizing, anti-anaphylactic and antihistaminic potential.  In Bangladesh, the roots are used to treat osteoarthritis and joint pain. A paste made of leaves is applied to the skin to treat scabies.

Ivy gourd extracts and other forms of the plant can be purchased online and in health food stores. It is claimed that these products help regulate blood sugar levels. There is some research to support that compounds in the plant inhibit the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase. Glucose-6-phosphatase is one of the key liver enzymes involved in regulating sugar metabolism. Therefore, ivy gourd is sometimes recommended for diabetic patients. Although these claims have not been supported, there currently is a fair amount of research focused on the medicinal properties of this plant focusing on its use as an antioxidant, anti-hypoglycemic agent, immune system modulator, etc. Some countries in Asia like Thailand prepare traditional tonic like drinks for medicinal purposes.

The leaves are rubbed on skin diseases  like  eximas,sorasis  etc  to get releaf.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccinia_grandis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Coccinia+grandis
http://parisaramahiti.kar.nic.in/Medicinal_plants_new/med%20plants/p62.html

Satureja douglasii

Botanical Name : Satureja douglasii
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Clinopodium
Species: C. douglasii
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: Micromeria douglasii – (Benth.)Benth.,Satureja douglasii – (Benth.)Briq.,Thymus chamissonis – Benth.,Thymus douglasii – Benth.

Common Names :Yerba buena (The plant’s most common name, the same in English and Spanish, is an alternate form of the Spanish hierba buena (meaning “good herb”). The name was bestowed by pioneer Catholic priests of Alta California as they settled an area where the plant is native. It was so abundant there that its name was also applied to the settler’s town adjacent to Mission San Francisco de Asís. In 1846, the town of Yerba Buena was seized by the United States during the Mexican-American War, and its name was changed in 1847 to San Francisco, after a nearby mission. Three years later, the name was applied to a nearby rocky island; today millions of commuters drive through the tunnel on Yerba Buena Island that connects the spans of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge)

Habitat : Satureja douglasii is  native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America.It grows in Coniferous woods.
Yerba Buena is found in woods near coast and coast ranges from Los Angeles to British Columbia. Prefers shade and moisture.

Description:
Satureja douglasii  is a creeping flat low growing   perennial herb that can spread to 3′ but is easily held to 1′. A good ground cover without being aggressive, easy to keep small. The stems grow across the ground not with rhizomes.   Yerba Buena usually grows in shade as an understory plant, usually associated with trees like oaks (Quercus), bays (Umbellularia californica) and madrones (Arbutus menziesii).
CLICK & THE PICTURES

It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from April to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist

Cultivation:
Prefers an open position in a well-drained soil. Succeeds in poor soils. Plants grow best and live longer when grown in an open sunny position and a dry sandy soil. A prostate plant, the stems forming roots at the leaf axils wherever they come into contact with the soil. The bruised leaves release a most refreshing lemony scent resembling verbena.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Basal cuttings in early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Division of the rooted prostrate stems in the spring.

Edible Uses:
Edible Uses: Tea.

The dried leaves, steeped in boiling water, make a palatable mint-flavoured tea. The dried leafy spines are used according to other reports

Medicinal Uses
Anthelmintic; Aphrodisiac; Blood purifier; Digestive; Febrifuge; Kidney; Sedative; Tonic.

The whole plant is aphrodisiac, blood purifier, mildly digestive, febrifuge, sedative and tonic. An infusion can be used in the treatment of insomnia, colic, upset stomachs, kidney problems, colds and fevers. A decoction of the plant has been used to get rid of pinworms. The decoction has also been used as an aphrodisiac. A poultice of the warm leaves have been applied to the jaw, or the plant held in the mouth, as a treatment for toothache.

Other Uses
Essential.

The leaves have been placed in clothing as a perfume

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_buena
http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/satureja-douglasii
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Micromeria+chamissonis
http://www.baynatives.com/plants/Satureja-douglasii/

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Allium acuminatum

Botanical Name : Allium acuminatum
Family : Alliaceae
Genus : Allium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Species: A. acuminatum

Common Name: Tapertip onion or Hooker’s onion


Habitat
: Allium acuminatum is native to  Western N. America – Washington to N. California.It grows in amongst dry sunny rocks on hills and plains.

Description:
Plant:  perennial
; scape terete full length, 10-35 cm. Traditionally, bulbs were dug in the spring and eaten by the Thompson.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from May to June. Its bulbs are small and spherical and smell like onions. The flowers are pink to purple on a long stem which appear after the leaves have died.

Flowers: 10-20 flowers per scape; outer tepals commonly purple-rose, lanceolate, 8-15 mm, becoming involute margined and keeled, tips spreading to recurved; inner tepals smaller than outer series

Bulb: Bulb growing to 0.3m by 0.08m.    New bulb is formed inside of the bulb coat of the parent bulb, bulb coat maked with squarish reticulations

The long, narrow basal leaves typical of the Onion Family can be seen dried in the lower part of the picture at left.  Many wild animals eat the bulbs and the onion-flavored leaves of this and other Alliaceae.

Leaves: slightly channeled or V-shaped in cross section

CLICK & SEE

The onions were eaten by first peoples in southern British Columbia. They were harvested in either early spring or late fall and usually cooked in pits.
The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation :
Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil.  The bulbs tend to rot when grown in cool wet climates, even if they are given sharp drainage. This species is best in a cold frame and given a dry summer rest.  The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. Very easy, the plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season and the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root; Seed.

Bulb – raw or cooked.   Eaten in spring and early summer. A strong flavour . The bulb is 10 – 15mm wide .  Leaves – raw or cooked. Used as a relish. Flowers – raw. Used as a garnish on salads. The seed heads can be placed in hot ashes for a few minutes, then the seeds extracted and eaten.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses

Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses : …Repellent.....The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles. The bulbs can be rubbed on the skin to repel insects.

Known Hazards :  Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses
Repellent.

The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles . The bulbs can be rubbed on the skin to repel insects.

Known Hazards : Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible .

Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Allium+acuminatum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_acuminatum
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ALAC4&photoID=alac4_005_ahp.jpg
http://www.cwnp.org/photopgs/adoc/alacuminatum.html
http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/Pink%20Enlarged%20Photo%20Pages/allium.htm
http://www.penstemon.org/Idaho07PreviewPartTwo.htm

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Fresh vs Frozen Vegetables

Are we giving up nutrition for convenience? The answer may surprise you.:
Americans typically eat only one-third of the recommended daily intake (three servings instead of nine) of fruits and vegetables, so if you are in a bind, a vegetable in any form is better than no vegetable at all.

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And as winter approaches, fresh produce is limited  or expensive  in much of the country, which forces many of us to turn to canned or frozen options. While canned vegetables tend to lose a lot of nutrients during the preservation process (notable exceptions include tomatoes and pumpkin), frozen vegetables may be even more healthful than some of the fresh produce sold in supermarkets, says Gene Lester, Ph.D., a plant physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas. Why? Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when  as a general rule  they are most nutrient-packed.

While the first step of freezing vegetables  blanching them in hot water or steam to kill bacteria and arrest the action of food-degrading enzyme   causes some water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and the B vitamins to break down or leach out, the subsequent flash-freeze locks the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.

On the other hand, fruits and vegetables destined to be shipped to the fresh-produce aisles around the country typically are picked before they are ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Outward signs of ripening may still occur, but these vegetables will never have the same nutritive value as if they had been allowed to fully ripen on the vine. In addition, during the long haul from farm to fork, fresh fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light, which degrade some nutrients, especially delicate vitamins like C and the B vitamin thiamin.

Bottom line:
When vegetables are in-season, buy them fresh and ripe. “Off-season,” frozen vegetables will give you a high concentration of nutrients. Choose packages marked with a USDA “U.S. Fancy” shield, which designates produce of the best size, shape and color; vegetables of this standard also tend to be more nutrient-rich than the lower grades “U.S. No. 1” or “U.S. No. 2.” Eat them soon after purchase: over many months, nutrients in frozen vegetables do inevitably degrade. Finally, steam or microwave rather than boil your produce to minimize the loss of water-soluble vitamins.

Click to learn more:

Will These Foods Make You Smarter?

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

Source:msn. health & fitness

Dine Out Without Clogging Your Arteries

Keep calories and fat in check with these pointers.

An Unhealthy Ritual

Eating out has become a ritual in our busy lives. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly harder to dine at restaurants and maintain a healthy diet. Learn to navigate your favorite menus by keeping these simple pointers in mind.

From longer workdays to busy after school schedules, most people don’t have the time to prepare a home cooked meal. Given today’s “on-the-go” lifestyle it may come as no surprise that the typical American eats out about four times a week. The problem with dining out is that, with the ironic exception of fast-food restaurants, there’s rarely any nutritional information available on menus. And most restaurant food isn’t as healthful as what you’d prepare at home.

Nutrition researchers at the University of Memphis found that women who ate out 6 to 13 times a week consumed about 300 more calories, 19 more grams of fat, and 400 milligrams of sodium than women who are out five times a week on average. Furthermore, another survey found that those who dined out ate up to 25 percent fewer fruits and vegetables than those who ate at home.

Fortunately, a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to give up dining out for good. In fact, the advantage of eating out is that you can plan ahead in terms of what you’ll order. By learning how to navigate restaurant menus, you can dine out while keeping calories and fat in check.

Conquering the Chains
From Applebee’s to Red Lobster, the chaining of American eateries has taken hold across the country. Unfortunately while these restaurants offer a convenient meal, many seem to specialize in fatty foods. Even a seemingly innocuous Chinese chicken salad often comes with chunks of fried chicken. Considering a patty melt? Assuming it comes with a side of fries, you could be getting an astounding 2,000 calories along with more than 50 grams of fat, more than 25 of them saturated. And you know those trendy blooming onions served at many steakhouses these days? The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found they contain 2,100 calories and 18 grams of trans fat.

When eating out, bigger is not always better :
Another major nutritional minefield is portion size. A CSPI survey found that restaurants often serve two to three times more than food labels list as a serving.

These statistics can make healthy eating seem like an impossible task. Keep these top five points in mind to make it through your dining-out meal with your arteries intact
:

Ask for a doggie bag when you place your order: Put half in the box, close it up, and dine happily on the rest with the knowledge that you’ve now got lunch or dinner for tomorrow. Or split an entrée.

Read between the lines : Any menu description that uses the words fried, creamy breaded, crisp, or stuffed is likely loaded with hidden fats Рmuch of it saturated or hydrogenated. Also skip anything saut̩ed in butter or served with a cream or cheese sauce (au gratin). And stay away from anything fried. Choose items that are baked or grilled instead.

Practice safe salads : Salads are a great way to get your vegetables at a restaurant, but many are loaded with hidden hazards: creamy dressings, bacon bits, fried noodles, etc. The typical Caesar salad in most restaurants contains 36 grams of fat. The solution? Ask for a salad with an oil-based dressing on the side, then spoon the dressing on yourself. Better yet, dip your fork in the dressing, then spear a piece of lettuce.

Change the menu : Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter for a change in how your food is prepared. For instance, request that the salmon be grilled with a brushing of olive oil instead of butter, or ask for your pasta with steamed vegetables and a bit of olive oil instead of the cream sauce. If your meal comes with fries, ask for a side of steamed vegetables or wild rice instead.

Find the vegetables : It’s all too easy to get through an entire restaurant meal and realize you haven’t eaten a vegetable or fruit (and no, we’re not going to count the French fries or onion rings). So make sure you get a salad, stir-fry, or other entrée that includes veggies or fruit.

From : Cut Your Cholesterol