Much more than just a staple for baked goods, vanilla is a magical flavoring that can work wonders for most foods and drinks. It also calms our minds and bodies, helping us feel good. Here are some thoughts and suggestions for making the most of vanilla's magic. For instance, did you know that vanilla is:
An antacid? Add a few drops to pineapple, fruit salads or sauces containing citrus to soften the sharpness and give it extra sweetening. Put a little vanilla in tomato sauces to neutralize the acidity.
A lifter and enhancer? Add vanilla to give new "life" to flavorless seasonal fruits or other foods that need a boost. Did you know that chocolate by itself tastes "flat," which is why it usually contains vanilla?
An emulsifier? Add vanilla extract to egg batters (sweet or savory), waffle or pancake mix, baked goods or cream sauces to smooth and blend overpowering flavors.
A natural sweetener? Add a few drops of vanilla to vegetables, sweet potatoes and salad dressings. It increases the natural sweetness of vegetables and provides a delicate, subtle flavor to salads.
An adjunct flavor for seafood, fowl, and meat? Use with roasted, sauteed or barbequed meats, poultry, wild game or seafood. Split a vanilla bean and place it in a bottle of olive or other quality oils for sauteing meats, or add a few drops of vanilla extract to cooked fish, fowl, or game as well as to sauces and marinades. Use ground vanilla bean powder as a rub.
A stomach sedative? Add pure vanilla extract to mineral water or apple juice to settle a nervous stomach. To soothe and please cranky, teething or sick children, add a few drops of vanilla to their milk or juice. Away from home and need something quickly? Coca cola is filled with vanilla, and therefore used in many countries for calming agitated stomachs.
A natural calmative? Place several vanilla beans in a bottle or jar. Use as aromatherapy to soothe jangled nerves. Sloane-Kettering and other medical facilities use the vanilla aroma to calm patients undergoing MRI and CAT scans. Burn your tongue on pizza or other hot food? Put a few drops of vanilla on your tongue to ease the pain and soothe the burn.
Love the flavor of chilies, but can't take the heat? Sweet neutralizes heat: add some vanilla to soften the bite but bring out the sweetness and flavor of the peppers.
Have problems with spiders living on the underside of your furniture? Add a vanilla bean or two to your furniture polish. Apply to both sides of your furniture. Bugs don't like the smell and will leave, whereas you will have the sweet smell of vanilla lingering in the air.
House paint smell too strong? Add 3 tablespoons of vanilla extract to a gallon of paint to help cut the smell.
Problems with cat spray or skunk odors? Vanilla will neutralize these powerful odors. Natural vanilla air spray will clear the air; dilute extract and apply to pets.
Want to disguise your scent when fishing? Rub vanilla on your hands before handling your fishing line. Lots of seasoned fishermen and women use this trick.
Want to attract attention with the opposite sex? Maybe even draw that special someone into your life? Wear some vanilla cologne, perfume, or oil.
Want to lose weight? Wear vanilla perfume or carry vanilla beans with you. Smell the aroma before reaching for that candy bar - you may well be able to resist temptation as vanilla helps to cut cravings for sweets and chocolate.
Vanilla has been found to repair DNA strand and is an anti-mutagenic. Research has shown that vanilla helps with the symptoms related to sickle cell anemia. By supporting the use of pure vanilla, we support those growing a product with real medicinal value. It should be developed and available to us all.