Ajvar – A Serbian Delicacy that Will Bring Balkan Beauty and Collagen to Your Skin

My mother always told me to never discuss my Serbian roots.  “People will think you are dangerous,” she would whisper with narowed eyes.   While it is true that the Serbs are a feisty race one cannot deny their beauty, survival skills, their passion for life and their weapon-sharp minds!

My glamorous Serbian grandmother who never went to bed without a perfectly made up face (if she died in her sleep she wanted to be found looking beautiful) always had a stash of homemade ajvar on hand.  She swore that the vitamin C in the red peppers was responsible for her impeccable complexion and wrinkle-free skin.

Ajvar is a type of relish, made principally from red bell peppers, with garlic. It may also contain eggplant and chili. Ajvar originates in the Serbian cuisine, and was therefore long known as “Serbian salad” or “Serbian vegetable caviar”. It became a popular salad (side dish) throughout Yugoslavia after World War II and is nowadays popular in the Balkans. Original homemade ajvar is made of roasted peppers, while some industrial producers use cooked peppers, which leads to a lower quality. Depending on the capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, it can be sweet (traditional), piquant (the most common), or very hot. Continue reading

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Pesticides in Produce – The Dirty ‘Dozen’ and the Clean Fifteen

If you don’t know which fruits and vegetables are in the Dirty Dozen list (now actually, the Dirty Fourteen though Dozen falls off the tongue better…) yet you are behind the times.  All of us struggle with balancing our budgets yet those of us who are obsessed with cleaner living and anti-aging are willing to pay more for so-called organic produce.  But did you know that there are fruits and vegetables that are more naturally resistant to absorbing chemicals than others?  And, there is produce that is much more vulnerable to soaking up toxins – generally because they are physically softer.

Therefore, there are certain fruits and veggies (the Dirty Dozen) you MUST buy organic (or you are consuming what amounts to a sponge soaked in toxins/pesticides) while there are others you can buy non-organic (the Clean Fifteen). Continue reading