Superfood Vanilla: Its benefits on and off the plate


Superfood Vanilla: Its benefits on and off the plate
Superfood Vanilla: Its benefits on and off the plate
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Vanilla is often thought of as a simple, versatile ingredient that adds a subtle, sweet flavour to desserts and other dishes. But did you know that vanilla is also considered a superfood? Not only is it full of antioxidants, but it can also impact our physical and emotional well-being. In this article, we will study the many benefits of vanilla, both on and off the plate.

What are the health benefits of vanilla?

Antioxidants are helpful molecules that defend the body from free radical damage, and vanilla has a lot of them. These free radicals are dangerous chemicals that may harm cells and speed up the ageing process, as well as have a role in the onset of certain chronic illnesses.

The body may use antioxidants to neutralize these chemicals to prevent harm. It has been shown that vanillin, a particular antioxidant found in high quantities in vanilla, has anti-inflammatory properties and inhibits the development of cancer.

Scented Candles

When it comes to buying vanilla scented candles, there are little things to take into account to ensure you’re getting a quality product. Firstly, check the ingredients list to ensure that the candle is made with real vanilla oil or extract, as some candles may contain synthetic fragrances that won’t provide the same benefits.

Secondly, consider the type of wax used to make the candle. Soy wax is a great option as it is natural, renewable, and eco-friendly. It also burns cleaner and slower than traditional paraffin wax. These vanilla candles are also better for people with sensitive skin or allergies as they release no toxins and chemicals into the air.

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Vanilla in Aromatherapy

Vanilla’s advantages go beyond those of a culinary component. In aromatherapy, where it is often employed, vanilla is also said to offer relaxing and soothing effects on the body and mind.

The Smell Report highlighted that pure vanilla fragrance aids in lowering tension and anxiety, encouraging emotions of peace and well-being, and even aiding in sleep. For instance, it has been shown that vanilla candles have a calming impact on the mind, encouraging emotions of peace and lowering tension.

Reed Diffusers

Another great way to get the aromatherapy benefits of vanilla is by using reed diffusers. Reed diffusers are a great option for those who want a long-lasting, hands-free way to fragrance their home.

When buying reed diffusers, choose those made with natural essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. Essential oils are derived from plants and have a natural and authentic fragrance. Additionally, they can aid in supporting mental and emotional well-being. Also, choose diffusers with fibre sticks instead of reeds made of plastic, as plastic can leach into the oils and affect the fragrance.

Vanilla in the Kitchen

Those who love not only the smell but also the taste of vanilla can use it in a lot of different ways. It’s a beloved ingredient in many desserts, but it can be used in savoury dishes as well. A small amount of vanilla can add a subtle sweetness and depth of flavour to savoury dishes like roasted vegetables and meat. Vanilla is particularly good with sweet potatoes and carrots, caramelized onions and poultry. Here is a recipe that incorporates vanilla in a unique way:

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Vanilla Bean Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed;
  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 onion, diced;
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced;
  • 2 cups vegetable broth;
  • 1 cup coconut milk;
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract;
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 400º Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the butternut squash into cubes and mix with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer onto the prepared baking tray and roast until the squash is bland and lightly browned, for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. In a Dutch oven or saucepan, warm a bit of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes or until they are soft.
  4. Add the roasted butternut squash, vegetable broth, coconut milk, and vanilla bean paste or extract. After a brief period of boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Shift the soup to a blender and process in stages or purée entirely using an immersion blender.
  6. Reheat the pureed soup in the pot to a simmer. Add salt and pepper according to taste.

This recipe creates a perfect balance between the natural sweetness of butternut squash and the rich and complex flavour of vanilla. The vanilla extract or paste gives depth to the soup’s flavour. The coconut milk adds a creamy texture, making it a perfect winter soup. Enjoy it as is or topped with pumpkin seeds, roasted chickpeas or extra virgin olive oil.

Vanilla Bean French Toast

If you have a sweet tooth and tend to prefer classic flavour combinations, this French toast recipe will have you covered. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 French bread loaf, cut into 1-inch pieces;
  • 6 large eggs;
  • 1.5 cups of milk;
  • 50 ml of thick cream;
  • 1/4 cup of sugar, granulated;
  • 2 tbsp of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste;
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder;
  • 1/4 tsp of salt;
  • Powdered sugar for dusting.

Instructions:

  1. Put the bread slices in a single layer in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir the eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean paste, and salt.
  3. Pour the mixture over the sliced bread. With a spatula, apply soft pressure on the bread to help it absorb the liquid. Wrap the dish in plastic cling film and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 º Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking form and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the custard cream is set and the top golden.
  5. Take it out of the oven, and give it some time to cool. Serve with powdered sugar.

This recipe makes use of vanilla bean paste which is a great addition to the casserole giving a more intense vanilla flavour, but you can substitute it with vanilla extract or powder. For a stress-free morning, prepare this French toast casserole the night before. It is a fantastic breakfast or brunch meal.

Conclusion

Vanilla is much more than just a simple flavouring agent. It has a wide range of benefits, from being a powerful antioxidant to having a calming and relaxing effect on the mind and body. Whether you use it in cooking, aromatherapy, or both, vanilla is a versatile superfood that should be a staple in your pantry.


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