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What is Huitlacoche? Is it Safe to Eat?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

What is huitlacoche?

Corn smut is a plant fungus caused by Ustilago maydis. While most farmers would consider this fungal disease an infection worthy of eradication, corn smut is considered a delicacy in Mexico, more commonly referred to as "huitlacoche." If you're left wondering: well, is huitlacoche safe to eat? Yes! The fungus is considered a maize mushroom or type of edible mushroom. You might even hear it referred to as cuitlacoche, corn truffles, Mexican truffles, maizteca mushrooms, corn mushrooms, & bunch of other terms.



What does huitlacoche smell like, taste like, look like?

I first tried huitlacoche back in 2016; I even mentioned it in my July A - Z monthly recap & my July Favorites. My boyfriend's mom made a batch. I ate it by itself, as a side. It's earthy but not as stinky as mushrooms. It tastes like corn. The texture is a bit mushy, just like cooked corn. There might be an occasional fiber from the corn. It looks dark, like a blackish, brownish color, kind of the same color as a crimini mushroom or Portobello mushroom.

How do you eat huitlacoche?

I loooove a huitlacoche quesadilla. Delicious. If quesadillas aren't your thing, you can add huitlacoche to your soup or burrito. You can make a huitlacoche taco or sope. Basically, you can add huitlacoche as a filler or side, the same way you'd integrate something like black beans or mushrooms. 


What's the nutritional value of huitlacoche?

High Protein
Huitlacoche is higher in protein than most maize or corn, & could be considered as an alternative protein source for vegetarians (or anyone), according to a research study published in Food Science and Technology (Sociedade Brasileira de Ciência e Tecnologia de Alimentos).

High in Minerals like Magnesium & Phosphorus
The study also shows that huitlacoche is high in minerals magnesium & phosphorus. Higher magnesium intake may reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, & osteoporosis (National Institutes of Health). So load up on that huitlacoche!

High in Fatty Acids like Oleic Acid & Linoleic Acid
Huitlacoche is high in fatty acids like oleic acid & linoleic acid. Due to the plant fungus & how it alters the corn, huitlacoche is loaded with nutrients corn doesn't normally have, such as lysine, an amino acid.

High Carbohydrate
At the end of the day, huitlacoche is still corn, so it has a high carbohydrate content. The great news is that huitlacoche has a high cellulose content (a type of carbohydrate), which can be beneficial for digestion. Sounds like a win to me!

Low Fat 
Huitlacoche is low in fat, which makes it a great choice for anyone looking for lower calorie & lower fat foods.

So tell me, would you try huitlacoche? Have you? How do you like to eat it? Leave a comment below if you have any questions! :]

Your Guide to Fresh Eucalyptus Leaves in the Shower

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I love eucalyptus. Maybe it's because I was born in Australia. Maybe it's because it smells like a warm embrace on a cold morning, soothing yet invigorating (kind of like fresh mint). Maybe it's because this fragrant green plant is the perfect addition to your next shower. 


Hang Eucalyptus in Your Shower

Hang fresh eucalyptus leaves in your shower to freshen up your bathroom. Simply tie it with a string or rubber band near your showerhead. The hot water hits the leaves to create a eucalyptus steam, kind of like an all-natural shower diffuser. The oils from the leaves give off an incredible scent that can last for weeks.





Where Can I Buy Eucalyptus Leaves?

I'm based in Southern California, so I find my favorite eucalyptus bouquet at my local farmers market, flower shop, or grocery store. I've seen eucalyptus fresh leaves at Trader Joe's, Vons, & some grocery stores by the flower section. You might be able to find it at craft stores too!

Care Tip: Shake off the leaves after every shower to avoid gnats or rotting. 

The fresh eucalyptus leaves can be flat & hold a lot of water. Shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture! Hey yaaa! After you turn off the water, shake as much water from the leaves as you can. Then you're ready to go.

How Long Do Eucalyptus Leaves Last in the Shower?

It ultimately depends how frequently you shower & how you care for the bundle of leaves. If the eucalyptus shower gets used multiple times a day, it may last 3 weeks or so. We had our eucalyptus bundle for 2 weeks, went on a 3-week trip, & came back to the most fragrant, fantastic scent of eucalyptus wafting through the bathroom. We used it for one more week before heading to the farmers market for a new bundle.


Can I Use Eucalyptus Essential Oils Instead?

Of course! You can use whatever you have on hand. I dabbled with eucalyptus essential oils for several years. It all started in 2014 with my very first bottle of eucalyptus essential oil. I prefer the fresh leaves because the scent is much more potent than the essential oils. But the eucalyptus essential oil is convenient & travel-friendly since you can take a small bottle with you wherever you go.  Click here for my favorite eucalyptus essential oil (*affiliate link).

Do you use eucalyptus leaves in the shower? Leave a comment! Tell me about your experience. Feel free to ask a question!

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