Black Rice Caprese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers with a Basil Sauce

These Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers are simply divine.  The peppers are lightly roasted before filling them with hearty black rice and they are topped with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pecorino and fresh basil.  The combination is intoxicating, especially after they are drizzled with a lovely fresh basil sauce.  These are perfect as a main entree or as a side dish.

3u9a5304 Last night I wanted to watch a certain show but I couldn’t remember the name of it for the life of me.  I searched my whole list on Netflix, but I couldn’t find it.  I was a bit frustrated because I wanted something funny to watch but I thought to myself, “just let it go!”   I noticed that I had way too many shows on my watch list, so I decided that I should delete some!  As soon as I deleted the first show, the show I wanted to find so badly popped up right in front of my eyes.  It was the show called “New Girl”.

These kinds of things seem to happen to me all the time.  Have you ever experienced anything like this before? Here is another example.

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers Many years ago, my mom and I were traveling in Greece with her boyfriend at the time.  He wanted to be alone with my mom and wanted me to go travel on my own.  At first, I was like, what?  There is no way that I’m traveling alone!  But then I remembered that my close friend Maggie was going to school in London.  We had talked about me coming to visit her but we had never made any real plans.  There were no cell phones at the time but I knew that spring break was coming up and she planned to travel around Europe during her break.  I tried to get ahold of her but I wasn’t able to so I just decided to go for it and flew from Greece to London in hopes that I would be able to find her.

So when I got off the plane, I asked someone which bus to take to get me to her school and headed on my way to hopefully meet up with her.  The bus stop was about 5 blocks from her school so I had to walk the rest of the way.  I had a large travel pack on my back with a small backpack in the front and a heavy medium-large duffle bag that I was holding on my forearms in front of me.  It was pretty crazy!

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers I finally arrived at Maggie’s school and asked the guy at the front desk where her dorm was.  Well, I found out that she was living off campus in an apartment.  They had no idea where she lived and I was devastated!  I went over to a nearby couch and sat down and racked my brain on what was I going to do now.

A few minutes had passed and a girl looked at me and said, “are you Maggie’s friend Stephanie”?  My eyes opened up wide and my jaw dropped.  I said, “how in the heck did you know it was me?” she said “well, you guys look and dress alike and both of you wear tons of jewelry.  She introduced herself, “Hi I’m Kate, Maggie’s roommate”. You can’t imagine my relief and disbelief.  Kate then said, “come with me and I’ll bring you to Maggie”.  She was literally just down the hall from where I was sitting.

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers I opened the door and popped my head in and just stared at her until she finally looked up.  When she looked up, the look on her face was priceless.  We went back over to the couch that I was previously sitting on and I started to give her the presents that I had bought for her on my travels in Asia.  I handed her the first one and she loved it.  At first, I acted as if that was it but then I pulled out another gift.  I did this about 10 times.  I had so much fun with it and Maggie was very stoked, to say the least.

I have been intrigued by situations like this my whole life.  Life can sometimes be scary but if let go of the outcome, amazing things can happen.

*

These little gems go great with a Pinot Gris, Suave or a Prosecco.

Black Rice Caprese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers served with a fresh Basil Oil and white wine. Photographed frop top view on a dark blue background. Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers Recipe:
  • 5 Small to Medium Red Bell Peppers – roasted – deseeded – cut in half
  • Black Rice – recipe below
  • 10 Large Leaves of Fresh Basil – roughly torn
  • 1 Container Small Fresh Mozzarella Balls – quartered
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes – quartered
  • 1 Cup Pecorino Romano – finely grated – or to taste
  • Basil Sauce – recipe below
Rice
  • 1/2 Cup Forbidden Black Rice
  • 3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Filtered Water
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove (Optional)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste
Basil Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Cup Basil
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste

Garnish

  • Basil Sauce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil

*I adapted this recipe from my Black Rice Caprese Casserole

Instructions:
Rice

Measure rice and water and put into a small saucepan preferably with a glass lid.

Add the garlic and salt then cover and bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to simmer in-between medium-low and low for 30 – 40 minutes.  Check at 30 minutes, if you still see a bit of liquid cook for 5 – 10 more minutes.  Or until water is gone.
Peppers

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise making sure to cut through the stems to leave them attached.  Remove the seeds and sprinkle the insides with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Place the peppers cut-side down and bake for 10 minutes on the upper third rack then move to top rack for 10 more minutes.  Turn the peppers over to let the steam out and cool a bit.

Basil Sauce

Place the basil, oil and salt into a food processor or blender and puree.

Assemble

Place the peppers in a baking dish and fill them with about a tablespoon of the rice then place a basil leaf or two on top.  Add a little more rice then top with one tomato that has been quartered and a mozzarella ball that has also been quartered.  Push the tomatoes and mozzarella in as best you can. Top with the pecorino and place a quarter of a mozzarella ball on top.  Bake until the cheese is melted.  About 15 – 20 minutes.

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers Health benefits:

Red Bell Peppers are matured green bell peppers and have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zeaxanthin an anti-oxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to your water or tea.

My Top 10 Favorite Vegetarian Recipes

Happy New Year!!  I have noticed that a lot of bloggers are doing an end of year round-up, so I thought that I would share with you a beginning of year round up of my top 10 favorite vegetarian recipes.

Meyer Lemon Basil Pesto Meyer Lemon Basil Pesto

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup

Kale Persimmon Salad Kale Persimmon Salad with a Red and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Black Lentil Chili Black Lentil Chili with Crispy Shoestring Fries and Crunchy Veggie Pico de Gallo

Triple Chocolate Cookies Triple Chocolate Cookies

Oregano Feta Hummus Oregano Feta Hummus with Greek Pico de Gallo

Cream of Potato Chive Soup Cream of Potato Chive Soup with Roasted Jalapeno

Black Lentil Greek Salad Black Lentil Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi and Oregano Feta Lemon Pesto

Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘N’ Cheese Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes with Honey and Tarragon

Potato Sage Galette with Mascarpone and Gruyere Cheese

This Potato Sage Galette is easy to make and extremely satisfying!  The layers of potato, Gruyere and mascarpone cheese create a complete harmony. Add in the sage and wine infused onions and you will have yourself one heartwarming meal.  I served this galette along with garden fresh tomatoes and arugula, which balances out the rich flavors.

Potato Sage Galette I can’t believe Thanksgiving is in two days! Where does the time go?

Robby and I have had a variety of experiences over the last six Thanksgivings.   I have learned to love the mystery of where we will end up each year.

Our first Thanksgiving together was very special one because it was with our closest friends in Santa Monica at Christine and Jonnie’s house.

Potato Sage Galette The second one was at Robby’s cousin’s house, which was really nice for me because I was able to meet some of his family. This was the year that I went a little overboard and made four pies.

On the third Thanksgiving, my mom, Robby and I had our own little party with just the three of us. Of course, we had enough food for an army!

Potato Sage Galette On the fourth one Christine and Jonnie drove up to stay with us and the four of us had a wonderful meal out on our deck while the sun shined bright.

The fifth one was at our friends Erin and Leif’s house and this was the largest by far. There were about 30 people, some of them we knew well and others we had the pleasure of meeting for the first time.

Potato Sage Galette This year we are having Beto and clan, Alison and clan and maybe two more. I cannot wait for this year’s feast; it’s going to so amazing due to the fact that all of our friends can cook!  Jill is going to make her special pumpkin custard pie; Alison is most likely making a quinoa squash dish. She said she had chestnuts, persimmons, butternut and chard to work with so I’m excited to see what she makes!  Robby is making his juicy turkey breast recipe along with his sourdough bread. I am going to make my shiitake mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, green salad and my shortbread cookies.  What are you doing for Thanksgiving, who do you plan on spending it with and what are you going to make?

Potato Sage Galette This galette goes with almost any white wine in my opinion.  Try it with a Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre or Pinot Gris.

3U9A33288 Potato Sage Galette Recipe:

4 – 6 servings

  • 3/4 Pound Yellow Potato (about 2 small) – thinly sliced – parboiled
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White or Red Wine
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Sage – minced
  • 4 oz. Mascarpone
  • 2 Cups Gruyere Cheese – divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Sage Leaves – minced
  • 6 Sage Leaves – whole
 Crust
  • 1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour or All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Sage – finely minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Salted Butter
  • About 1/4 Cup Ice Water
Instructions:
Crust

Add flour, sage and salt into the food processor, pulse to combine.

And 1/4 inch piece of butter and pulse a few times to evenly break up the butter then add ice water slowly as you pulse, until it resembles a coarse meal with tiny pieces of butter.

It should be crumbly and hold together when squeezed with your fingers.

Form dough into a 3/4-inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic then refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or over night.

Filling
Potatoes

Slice potatoes into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick).  Add potatoes to a pot and cover with water then bring to a boil.  Continue to boil for 5 minutes.  Make sure and keep an eye on them.  Use a timer.  Drain potatoes in a colander, rinse with cold water.  Dry the potatoes with a paper or dish towel to remove excess moister.  Set aside.

Onions

Add the onions to a 5 1/2 quart pot with the olive oil and salt.  Saute on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 – 7 more minutes until the garlic starts to brown.

Add the wine and cook until wine is reduced and syrupy.

Cheese

Mix the mascarpone and 1 cup of the gruyere together really well.  Set aside.

Assemble

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up just enough to roll out.

Sprinkle with a little flour and roll out the dough to no more than 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle the gruyere on top, leaving about 1 1/2 inches clear around the edge of the dough.  Arrange potato slices on top of the gruyere then with your hands break the gruyere/mascarpone mix into small pieces and spread around.  Evenly sprinkle on 1/3 of the onions and sage and top. Repeat 2 more times.  Gruyere, potato, gruyere/mascarpone mix, onions and top with any remaining gruyere and sage.  It doesn’t need to be exact as it will all end up in there anyways.  But I do like to make sure to have some gruyere and sage for the top.  Lastly, top with the whole sage leaves.

Bake on middle rack for 30 to 40 minutes or until it becomes golden.

Potato Sage Galette Health Benefits:

Sage helps to enhance concentration, attention span and quickens the senses.  Its effects help deal with grief and depression.  It is useful for all types of bacterial infections.  Help detoxify and cleanse the blood.  The herb reportedly restores color to gray or white hair.  It is also high in antioxidants. Sage is exceptionally rich source of several B-complex, it contains a very good amounts of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and C It is a rich source of minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium *Those with epilepsy, high blood pressure, or kidney disease may be adversely affected by the thujone content and should avoid large doses of sage

Yellow Potatoes – Yukon gold – content of potassium is higher than many foods and can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.  They have twice the amount of vitamin C as a Russet, which helps protects your cells from free-radical damage.Yukon’s are rich in B6 and antioxidant properties. It has a bit of Iron but the C helps the body absorb it. They contain fiber that helps reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps prevent constipation and aids in weight loss.

Cream of Potato Chive Soup with Roasted Jalapeno

Well friends, it’s that time of year again.  Daylight savings is upon us and it has me craving a silky smooth bowl of cozy soup.  This Cream of Potato Chive Soup is creamy, fulfilling and super tasty!  The potato and chives complement each other perfectly. The heat from the jalapeno and hot chili oil adds a beautiful depth that ties it all together.

Cream of Potato Chive Soup It has been 4 years since Ang and I started this blog.  It all started one day when I called Ang to tell her that I was going to start a blog.  She suggested that we start it together and that is exactly what we did.  We covered topics such as recipes, fashion, restaurants, wineries, interviews, health, passion videos and photos.

In the beginning, we used to post up to 5 times a week but the posts were very weak with minimal content.  We plugged along consistently learning everything we could about running a blog.  We taught ourselves food photography and styling with the help of the Internet.  We learned how to write recipes and instructions, we brushed up on our Photoshop skills and continued to learn photo editing.  We learned about social media marketing and how to build our own self-hosted WordPress website.  We learned SEO, we searched for all the plugins we needed and we learned a whole lot more!

Cream of Potato Chive Soup About a year and a half later, we decide to streamline our topics to recipes, interviews, restaurants and wineries.  Ang became more involved with cocktail recipes and I became very passionate in the area of food recipes.  We had a lot of fun collaborating and inspiring each other.

 Sadly, that era has come to an end and Ang is now moving on from the blog.  It’s sad but also very exciting.  She has been working for a new company and she is loving it!  She was able to quit the restaurant industry and now is able to enjoy weekends and holidays with her friends and family.  This will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas that she will be able to spend with the boys and I couldn’t be happier for them!  I will continue on with CaliZona and there will always be a place for Ang when she feels like creating a new cocktail.  I added her cocktails to the recipe drop-down menu so you can find them when you are craving one of her delicious creations!  Here’s to a new time full of inspiration and creativity!!

Cream of Potato Chive Soup This soup is wonderful with a sparkling wine such as a Cava or Prosecco.  It’s also lovely with a Chablis or Sancerre.

Cream of Potato Chive Soup Cream of Potato Chive Soup
Recipe
8 – 10 servings
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 4 – 5 (3 1/2 pounds) Russet Potatoes – peeled – save peels
  • 6 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup Half and Half (or milk)
  • 1 Cup Milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeno Pepper – roasted – roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup Chives – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Chili Oil
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 Dried Thai Chilies or Arbol
Garnish
  • Chives – minced – to taste
  • Hot Chili Oil
  • 3 – 4 Jalapeno Peppers (about half per bowl) – roasted – sliced or minced – optional
  • Crispy Potato Skins – optional
Instructions:
Start by

Place the cubed potatoes in a large bowl covered with filtered water.  Set aside.

Add the onions and olive oil to a 5 1/2 quart pot or dutch oven and sauté on medium-low heat for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook until garlic just starts to become golden.

Once the garlic becomes golden, add bouillon cubes and wine to the onions.   Mash the bouillon to dissolve.

Peppers
While the onions are cooking, roast peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.
Soup
Add the water and potatoes to the onions then cook on high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
 Add the milk, half and half, chives, jalapeno, salt and pepper.  If you want it silky smooth you will need to use an immersion blender or a vita mixer.  If you don’t have either use a food processor or blender and puree the best you can.
Chili Oil

 Add oil and chilies to a small pot.  Turn the stove on, in between low and medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool then pour into a jar.

Crispy Potato Skins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Peel the potatoes, then dry the peels with a paper towel and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt and toss to evenly coat.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until crispy.
The skins won’t stay crunchy overnight but you can toss them back in the oven for a few minutes to crisp them up if you like.
Cream of Potato Chive Soup Health Benefits:
Chives contain flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  It is one of the richest sources of vitamin K, rich in vitamin C and is really high in vitamin A. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver and helps decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.  It also helps to maintain bone mineral density.

Jalapeno is a rich source of vitamin C, 1 pepper provides 18 % of the daily value for men and 23 % for women. They also have a good amount of vitamin A, which helps skin and eye health. Jalapenos contain phenols, flavonoids and capsaicinoids that help the body fight free radicals, inflammation and promote weight loss. The bioflavonoids are powerful antioxidants and help strengthen blood vessels. They also fight nasal congestion by stimulating secretions that help clear mucus from the nose. They contain more vitamin B6 aiding the immune system, E that protect the cells and K, which increases bone mass more than any other pepper.

Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce over Brown Rice Spaghetti

This Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce is a bright luscious sauce packed with flavor and versatility!  I added fresh cherry tomatoes and basil on top of individual servings for an added freshness.  I chose to serve it over pasta but it is also great served by itself with a loaf of crusty bread and a glass of a crisp wine.

3U9A2080 This last week was so much fun, to say the least.  Robby had to go to L.A. for work and lucky me was able to tag along for the ride.  We stayed at the Marriott in Marina del Rey with an awesome view of our old hometown.  I have never seen the Westside from that perspective before; it was pretty cool!  After we arrived, we freshened up and went to meet our longtime friends, Maggie, George, Christine and Jonny at a fairly new Italian inspired restaurant called Scopa.  There was a lot of great conversation and laughter involved as usual!

I was really looking forward to the next day because I had made plans to meet up with Adam and Ryan who are fellow food bloggers from Husbands that Cook.  We met in Venice at The Butcher’s Daughter for lunch and they were just as sweet as I imagined them to be.  We had so much to talk about during the relatively short time we spent together.  Unfortunately, we barely scratched the surface of all the things we wanted to learn about each other but that just gives us more reason to meet up again!

3U9A2048 Later that day, I went to visit one of the old school Venice families who still hold down the old Venice vibe, which is slowly but surely disappearing!  When I use to live down the street from the Massie’s, I would give Ms. Massie a back massage every time I stopped in.  Well, this time was no different and I gave her one on this visit as well!  It is always so great to see everyone!  Robby had text me when he was off work and we decided to meet George at Charcoal Venice for dinner.   My good friend Josiah is the owner/chef of Charcoal and he told me he was going to be working that night.  The food was phenomenal; I highly suggest you try it if you are ever in the area.  And there are surprisingly a lot of vegetarian options.

3U9A2096 The next day my dad drove down to meet me for lunch.  We ate at Cafe del Mar that happens to be a few buildings east of the Marriott.  The food was really good and they had a great view of the Marina but that’s all I’m going to say about the restaurant.  My dad left shortly after lunch and I went back to the hotel to meet my friend John for a glass of wine before heading to dinner at Cast and Plow with Robby’s coworkers.  Cast and Plow is a restaurant at Ritz Carlton that also overlooks the Marina.  I had a great time meeting and chatting with Robby’s coworkers!

3U9A2118 I always make it a point to go to the 3rd St. Promenade to do a little shopping whenever I am in LA, so I snuck in some quick shopping the next morning before I met up with Maggie for lunch.  We met at a wine bar called Local Kitchen and Winebar, which was located where Marty’s Liquor store use to be.  Marty’s was in that location for almost 50 years, which was in the neighborhood I grew up in.  This is the liquor store that Maggie and I managed to get beer from when we were teenagers!  Haha.

After lunch with Maggie, I went to meet up with another friend Janelle.  We met at her boyfriend’s furniture shop Stansbury where she also happens to work and we decided to go to a Spanish tapas restaurant down the street called Manchego for dinner.  We shared 5 varieties of tapas along with a really nice bottle of Rueda Verdejo and we talked and talked and talked!  This had to be one of the best times I have had in LA in a very long time!

3U9A2142 Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce Recipe:

4 – 6 Servings

  • 7 Large Tomatoes – cored – cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • Marinade – recipe below
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine – I used Sauvignon Blanc
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Marinade

  • 6 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 Packed Cup Fresh Basil leaves – finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dry White Wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Sea Salt

Garnish

  • Cherry Tomatoes – room temperature – quartered
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
Instructions:
Sauce

Preheat oven to 325 F

  In a bowl, mix together the garlic, thyme, basil, oil, wine and salt.  On a large baking sheet or 2, lay out the tomatoes in a single layer and spread the marinade over the tomatoes.

Put the baking sheet on the middle rack and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes depending on the size of the tomato, the tomatoes will start to look a little shriveled up.  The tomatoes will produce water and you will want to keep it.

 Turn oven up to 400 F for 20 minutes to slightly caramelize the tomatoes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, although a little brown is okay and they will have the roasted sweetness that gives these tomatoes the yummiest flavor!

 While tomatoes are cooking saute the onions in the olive oil until soft.  Add the wine and reduce until syrupy.

Set aside until tomatoes are finished cooking.

When tomatoes are finished cooking, let them cool and peel off the skins.

Put everything into a food processor or blender, including tomato water and puree.  Pour back into the pan and simmer until it thickens up to desired consistency.

 Drizzle a little olive oil over it.

Pasta

While sauce is simmering, add pasta to a pot of salted and oiled water.  Cook according to the package.

Mix a little sauce into the pasta then top individual servings with more sauce.  Top with fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

3U9A2183 Health benefits:

Tomatoes are great for the heart due to the extreme antioxidant support, niacin, folate and vitamin B6 that help the reduction of heart disease.  They are also high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium.  The choline in tomatoes helps assist the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.  It also helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.  Tomatoes are high in Lycopene the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color.  Cooking tomatoes break down the cell walls, which helps to release the lycopene and is better absorbed by the body with a little bit of fat like olive oil.  The Zeaxanthin in them helps to filter harmful ultra-violet rays, which protect eyes from “age-related macular disease.”  They are also a powerful blood purifier and great for skin and bone health.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zeaxanthin an anti-oxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to your water or tea.