"Smooth As Butter And Sweet As A Nut"

Charles Leggett developed the squash known as Butternut.  It is a cross between gooseneck squash and other varieties.  Leggett wanted something smaller than a Hubbard squash and flesh that was easier to prepare. Those who tasted this new squash described it as, "smooth as butter and sweet as a nut," thus the name butternut.  Winter and summer squash are very different.  Winter squash is allowed to mature on the vine and stored for winter use.  The skin is tough and inedible.  Winter squashes are gourds and are one of the oldest known crops, originally used as containers or utensils because of their hard shell.  "Squash" comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutashquash, which means eaten raw or uncooked."

Squash is technically a fruit and has amazing health benefits.  By now, if you have been reading my seasonal blog, you know that 1.  The foods I blog about have amazing health benefits; 2. Eating the rainbow is required in order for one to be healthy;  3.  Eating seasonally (and locally) will prepare our bodies for seasonal change.  Butternut squash is high in fiber, manganese, vitamin C, and is a vitamin A powerhouse.   The seeds are also nutritious, high in protein, healthy fats, and zinc.  

Storing

Butternut squash if stored in a cool, dry spot will keep for up to six months.

Preparing

Ready to use your squash?  Always use a veggie wash, homemade or store bought, and thoroughly wash the outside of your squash.  Slice the stem and bottom end off so that both ends are flat and discard.  The easiest way to prepare butternut squash and most squash is to cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds using a metal spoon (save for roasting)  and roast face down on an ungreased cookie sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven until tender when poked with a fork.  Cool and scoop out meat using a spoon.  What to do with the meat?  Add brown sugar and cinnamon and/or turmeric, or serve drizzled with a teaspoon of olive oil and dust with salt and pepper.  I like to add butternut to smoothies.   

Butternut can also be eaten raw, best grated or shredded.  Most spiralizers are not powerful enough to cut through butternut, but never give up!

Butternut can also be peeled.  Slice the stem and bottom end off.  Cut in half widthwise, stand on flat end and peel until the peel no longer has green lines running through it.  Simply cut the squash into the size chunks required.  Add to soups, sauté, steam, boil, roast, bake.  Please click on the button below for recipes.

 

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope BA, CHHC, AADP

References

http://www.livestrong.com/article/433699-is-butternut-squash-good-for-you/

http://www.applecountryliving.com/blog/2009/01/squash.html

https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/squash.html

http://www.organicauthority.com/8-incredible-nutrition-and-health-benefits-of-butternut-squash/

http://toriavey.com/how-to/2012/10/all-about-butternut-squash-how-to-peel-seed-slice-and-prepare/

An Apple A Day...

RFFD16 Baked Apples.jpg

What's the first sign of fall for you? Well, the shorter days for me, and apples. Apples, apples, apples. Right?!?! There are so many different kinds of apples, varying in texture, sweetness, density, color, size, shape, and flavor. There's a good chance that the saying, "an apple a day [helps] keeps the doctor away," is true.  I find that many do not realize the health benefits of an apple.  What do you think of when you are considering a healthy fruit to eat? Are apples the top of your list?  As long as you do not have a food allergy, intolerance, sensitivity, they should be, along with berries. And depending on an allergy or level of reaction, have you tried peeling the skin and rinsing, or cooking the apple?

Oral Health

Apples actually help remove plaque from your teeth. The flesh scrubs and the acid helps dissolve.

Nutrition

Dr. Axe considers the apple "the ultimate gut and heart-friendly food. They are high in fiber, loaded with antioxidants, and help reduce the risks for many diseases and illnesses like cancer and diabetes, even asthma. Some apples, such as the red delicious and the granny smith, have a greater phytonutrient concentration, but any apple is a great apple!

Photo Credit: https://draxe.com/apple-nutrition/

Photo Credit: https://draxe.com/apple-nutrition/

Eat an apple to help reduce health risks, lose or manage weight, prepare and/or recover from exercise. Eat an apple; they are delicious!

Storing

The main reason for an apple spoiling is bruising or coming into contact with another apples rotten spot. If  you are going to use them quickly, the countertop is perfect. Tart and thick skin apples will keep longer, but most apples, when stored properly, will keep for three of four months.

Wrap each apple in a sheet of newspaper (not color newspaper) and place in a basket or box. Place the box in a cool, dark spot, where it won't freeze.

You can also keep them in a plastic bag with a few holes in it and place in your crisper drawer. Careful not to store vegetables with your apples as apples give off ethylene gas, which will cause the vegetables to decay more quickly.

Preparation

Always wash your produce in a veggie wash or white vinegar and water. Skin on is the most nutritious way to eat an apple, so I would never ask you to peel an apple unless you absolutely have to. Eat an apple raw: spiralize, chop, cut, shred, slice, dice. Dehydrate your apple slices for dried apples. Baked-stuffed, apple sauce, apple everything. Toss apple into squash soups, into green salads or any other salad. Add apples to your veggie juice extractions. Dip your apple slices into nut butters, tahini, homemade or melted, all natural caramels. Bake, grill, sautee, dehydrate. An apple on it's own is awesome.

Thanks for reading my blog and please click on the button below for recipes.

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

Antioxidant-Rich Basil

AdobeStock_89367497.jpeg

Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils. Do you cook with herbs?  If you answered "no," what prevents you from adding dried or fresh herbs to your meals? Our standard American diet consists of mostly processed foods.  These foods are not nutritious and are mostly causing our epidemic of poor health, which is subsequently increasing our major and minor health risks.  In the evolution of this diet, balancing meals has become confusing and making nutritionally dense meals has become more challenging.  As a Health Coach I find that most are not eating nutritionally dense meals.  Nutritional density provides energy,  a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more that not only arm our immune system, but are essential components of the body's biological processes.  These processes are crucial or health declines.  Adding herbs, and any green, to a meal is an easy way to give a meal a healthy boost. Plants have been used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history.  Herbal medicine is becoming more mainstream.  Slowing Americans are returning to eating real food, balancing meals, and combining foods for nutritional density.  

Basil is so fragrant and versatile.  Add raw basil to everything: water, salads, sandwiches, soups (end of cooking), cocktails, desserts, smoothies, fresh pressed juices.  Sprinkle basil on any meal. Basil is considered one of the healthiest herbs, boasting an impressive list of nutrients such as vitamins K, A, C, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.  Basil also contains antibacterial properties.  Basil will help reduce your health risks.  

Dr. Axe's 12 Benefits of Basil:

Storage Basil is stored best at room temperature for 2-4 days.  Trim the stems and place in a glass of water, careful to not submerge the leaves.  Cover loosely with a plastic bag and place out of sunlight.  Basil can also be dried and stored with your spices. Preparation Preparing basil is easy.  Remove the leaves from the stem, spray with a vegetable wash, gently rub the leaves, rinse in cool water and pat gently dry.  Enjoy!  Please click on the button below for recipes. Thank you for reading my blog, -Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

Storage

Basil is stored best at room temperature for 2-4 days.  Trim the stems and place in a glass of water, careful to not submerge the leaves.  Cover loosely with a plastic bag and place out of sunlight.  Basil can also be dried and stored with your spices.

Preparation

Preparing basil is easy.  Remove the leaves from the stem, spray with a vegetable wash, gently rub the leaves, rinse in cool water and pat gently dry.  Enjoy!  Please click on the button below for recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog,

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

 

Storage

Basil is stored best at room temperature for 2-4 days.  Trim the stems and place in a glass of water, careful to not submerge the leaves.  Cover loosely with a plastic bag and place out of sunlight.  Basil can also be dried and stored with your spices.

Preparation

Preparing basil is easy.  Remove the leaves from the stem, spray with a vegetable wash, gently rub the leaves, rinse in cool water and pat gently dry.  Enjoy!  Please click on the button below for recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog,

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

A Yam IS NOT A Sweet Potato...

"White" potatoes get a bad rap. They pack a nutritional punch, but much needs to be taken into account when discussing the health benefits, including a sweet potato, such as food combining, how you are cooking your potato, if you are eating the skin, portion size, how often you are consuming them, bio-individuality, health issues, etc. But when you compare a white potato to a sweet, according to the Cleveland Clinic, the sweet wins. Sweet pots have less calories, 400% vitamin A, more vitamin C, more fiber, and less carbs even though they have more sugar than white pots. The challenge?  Knowing the difference between a yam and a sweet potato.

 The flesh of a sweet potato, depending on the variety, can vary from white to orange and even purple. A yam is actually a different tuber all together.   Epicurious distinguishes them apart as, "A sweet potato has tapered ends and thin, smooth skin and flesh that can range from light beige to burnished orange to purplish, even. A yam is cylindrical, typically white-fleshed—there is a purple variety, too—and has rough, dark, almost hairy skin. They taste very different, too. Yams are starchy and dry. Sweet potatoes are, well, sweet and moist, some more than others. "

The first time I blogged on sweet potatoes my mind was blown.  How about yours? This is my third year blogging on this delicious tuber and I am still researching and editing.

What caused this confusion? The FDA, which regulates food labeling, doesn't have a so-called standard of identity for either sweet potatoes or yams, so either term works. Grocery stores  usually label the orange variety of sweet potato a yam.  Your local farmer would never do that.

Photo Credit:  11/26/2013 08:47 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2014, Renee Jacques, Huffington Post

Photo Credit: 

11/26/2013 08:47 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2014, Renee Jacques, Huffington Post

Nutrition

Afraid to eat them 'cause of their sweetness?  Don't be!!!  The sweet potato is one of those nutritionally dense foods that should be eaten despite their sweetness.   In addition to the health benefits discussed in my first paragraph, sweet potatoes have Manganese, Folate, Copper and Iron.  The darker varieties tend to have more mineral content like beta-carotene, which is best absorbed when eaten with a healthy fat.  They also have Vitamins C, B2, B6, E, and biotin.   

Here are the top 5 reasons to eat more sweet potatoes, whatever their color:

  1. Reduce Inflammation- they contain antioxidants which lower inflammation in our body.  Inflammation is the root cause for most illnesses like Asthma, Heart Disease, Gout, etc.
  2. Fiber-healthy for the digestive tract and lowering risk of certain cancers.
  3. Potassium- maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body which is crucial for  stabilizing blood pressure and regulating heart function Also reduces  muscle cramps.
  4. Nutritious- a rich source of dietary fiber, natural sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, carotenoids, Vitamin C, Folate, Iron, and Calcium. They have a low glycemic index.
  5. Delicious!-they taste so good!   

Storage:

Store sweet potatoes in a dry and cool spot such as the basement or garage in the cooler months, for longer storage. This will prevent rot and sprouting.  Some find much success in storing in a paper bag. A cool spot does not mean your refrigerator. The ideal temperature range would be between 65-55 degrees. Your sweet potatoes will keep nicely on your counter for a week or two, maybe more.  The precise answer to how long you can store a sweet potato mostly depends upon storage conditions. We all have different humidity in our homes, different temperatures, etc. Also, do not store sweet potatoes near other vegetables as the sweet potatoes can cause the others to ripen more quickly than preferred. This is true for many fruits and vegetables. So your counter and tabletop displays should take this into account.

Preparation:

Scrub the potato using a vegetable brush and a veggie wash solution and rinse thoroughly. Peel if you must, but the skin contains many vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Steam them whole or cut. Roast, bake, spiralize, slice, chop, shred. Add them cooked to smoothies, salads, soups, etc.  Although they CAN be eaten raw it is  NOT a best practice.  When raw, they contain a chemical, which is cooked out,  that prevents the proper digestion of protein which can cause GI issues, such as gas and bloating.  However, raw spiralized sweet potato "noodles" are amazing! But you can cook them, too! French Fried sweet pots are delicious, but please use a healthy oil, such as coconut oil, to not eliminate the health benefits.  A fry is still a fry... unless you take extra care at the preparation and ingredients.

Try these recipes: 

Leeks

Photo Credit: Tori Avey

Photo Credit: Tori Avey

Leeks are richer in certain vitamins than it's cousin, the onion, and more delicate in flavor. Biblical accounts mention how desirable the leek was. It still is! It It has a milder flavor than the onion and tolerated much easier for those who are unable to digest onions well. Leeks can be part of a healthy diet, but careful of what you use to saute them in.

Nutrition

When sliced or chopped, the many antioxidants leeks provide begin converting to allicin. According to Dr. Mercola, "Allicin provides an abundance of important attributes to the body, such as anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities, and reducing cholesterol by impeding harmful enzymes in liver cells." Leeks also provide an amazing 52% daily requirement of vitamin K and around 21%, for blood and bones, vitamin A, for eyes and other health benefits. Being from the same family as onions and garlic, they also provide some of the same health benefits such as reducing risk of diseases such as colon cancer, esophageal cancer, and many other cancers. 

Preparation

Leeks collect dirt in the many layers, however it takes little effort to clean a leek.

Tori Avey instructs to first wash the outside of the leak and pat dry.  Remove the darkest green part of the leek, the toughest part, and remove the root end. You can save this for stocks or soups or simply discard. Thinly slice the leek into rings and place in a bowl of cold water. Let them sit for a minute and then give them a gentle shake to remove the soil trapped in between the layers. Let them sit for a couple minutes longer, then hand scoop or use a slotted spoon to remove them from the bowl, careful not to mix up the dirt/soil that has collected in the bowl, mostly at the bottom.

Alternatively, you can slice your leek into strips instead of rings and follow the same process above.

Either way you slice them, let them drain in a colander.

Storage

If leeks are in good condition, they can be stored anywhere for about five days, but be aware if refrigerated, other foods will absorb their aroma.  If refrigerated, store in a plastic bag, unwashed. Leeks do not freeze well unless you plan on using them in a soup or stock.  Most recipes call for sauteing and frying.

Thanks for reading my blog and please click on the button below for recipes.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

 

 

 

Potatoes: A Controversial Topic

What do you think of when I say potato? Po-tah-to?  Chips? Butter and/or sour cream? French fries? Hash browns?  Home fries?  Gnocchi?  Latkehs?  Mashed potatoes?  Au Gratin?  Well enough of that!!!  Potatoes get a bad rap;  don't even think about them or your waistline will expand?  This may be true depending on which meal you are consuming them, what you are eating on them or with them, and how often you are eating them.

Did you know that in addition to potatoes being one of the ultimate comfort foods, they are also packed with more vitamin C than oranges and tomatoes?  In addition to being an incredible source of vitamins and minerals, they also contain over 60 phytochemicals.  Potatoes can be part of a healthy diet, however a variety of fruits and veggies is key, health fats, and lean proteins are needed for a healthy balanced meal.  Most of the potato's nutrition is stored under the skin, so try not to peel them unless absolutely necessary for a recipe. The potato is best metabolized when consumed with the skin on, as are most fruits and vegetables. 

Potatoes are categorized as "white," as in stay away from anything white such as white rice, white bread, white flour, etc.  They carry a high glycemic load, meaning that the carbohydrate digests rapidly in the body causing a spike in blood sugar similar to soda.  Ugh. Grapes are not a starch, but also have a high glycemic index.  Arguably there are better choices than potatoes and grapes for your baseline way of eating, but eating potatoes seasonally, especially from your CSA, can be a healthy choice as well if you are minding the portion size, leave the skin on, carefully choose what you will serve with it, and don't eat them first thing in the morning. 

What we serve on the potato, mix with the potato, how we cook the potato, removing the skin, which meal we eat them with, can make a monster out of the potato.

Storing

Potatoes will keep for up to around ten weeks, however the "newer" the potato, the higher the nutritional value.  Discard soft potatoes, those with spuds, and remove any green areas.  To help prevent potatoes from spoiling and sprouting, avoid sunlight and store in a cool dark place , do not refrigerate, and do not store in plastic bags.

Preparing

Always wash your produce in a store bought veggie wash or in a white vinegar and water solution.  Do not use hand, body, or dish soap as they will leave chemical residue.  Wash the potatoes even if you plan on peeling them, whole and skin on, with a veggie brush, scrubbing the surface of the skin using a circular motion.   Rinse and ready to use or peel if you desire.

Potatoes can be blanched for green or nicoise salad, boiled for salad or smashed/mashed, baked, broiled, grilled, steamed, fried. 

Please click on the button below for healthy recipes and thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn CHHC, AADP

Bell Peppers

Photo Credit: KitchenProject.com

Photo Credit: KitchenProject.com

Bell peppers come in a rainbow of colors. Do you have a favorite?  I prefer the flavor of orange and yellow, although purple is such a treat. Purple is also difficult to find; your best bet is to look for them at specialty markets or your local farmer's market.

Did you know that yellow, orange, and red peppers all start out as green peppers? The green pepper unripened.  As the pepper begins to ripen it turns yellow, and continues to ripen into orange, until it is finally the sweetest at red. If you have ever wondered why bell peppers differ in price, it's because the darker the pepper ripens, the more time it takes to grow, thus the higher price.

Nutrition

Bell peppers are mostly made up of water. They are abundant in vitamin C, more than a medium size orange, and lots of other vitamins, minerals, protein, and several antioxidants. The more colorful the pepper, the more antioxidants, but any color bell pepper is a good bell pepper. Peppers are on the Dirty Dozen list, meaning that the residue persists even after the pepper is washed and peeled even, so it's best to buy them locally and/or organic.  Pesticides are chemicals and chemicals accumulate in the body. I'll save this topic for another blog.   Bell peppers are a member of the nightshade family. If you do not have an inflammatory reaction to peppers they are a food that will help reduce your health risks.

Storing

Since peppers are mostly water, store them unwashed and whole in your crisper drawer where they can keep for 1-2 weeks depending on your fridge.  It is said that storing on the counter will begin to shrivel the pepper, that it begins losing moisture. If you are storing a partial pepper, leave the seeds in and seal in a plastic bag with a paper towel. 

Preparation

Thoroughly wash your bell pepper. Cut the stem by cutting around it in a circle. This should remove most of the seeds. Cut in half lengthwise or widthwise, remove any remaining seeds and if you prefer, the white "ribs."

Eat raw, roasted, grilled, sauteed, stir-fried, baked, steamed. Add to salads, blend with hummus, stuff them, puree them. 

Please click below for recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

Mad Apple, Brown Jolly, Aubergine...Eggplant

Eggplant has many names depending on where you are in the world and what century you refer to. It has quite an interesting history and would turn my blog post into a research paper, so before I move on to why you should eat it, let me tell you that it can be traced back to China around 500 b.c., although India claims to be it's native country.

The eggplant comes in different colors ranging from white-yellow, to light purple-"eggplant." Nutritionally speaking, as the eggplant varies in color, so does its nutritional value, the darker the eggplant, the more it has because of the phytochemicals contained as the color of the skin deepens. As with all foods, vegetables and fruits included, eggplant is a fruit by the way, how it is prepared will also affect how nutritious it is. Steaming, grilling, and baking will keep the nutritional value of the eggplant and enhance it. Dr. Mercola states that although eggplant is not known for being high in any one nutrient, it has amazing health benefits from an large array of vitamins and minerals: fiber, folate, potassium, manganese, vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. Do you peel your eggplant?  DON'T.  The skin of fruits and vegetables contain the most nutrients. 

Eggplant is a member of the Nightshades which also includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, goji berries,and many other species. In the same breath that I tell you why you should eat eggplant, I will tell you why you should be cautious. Nightshades are known to be inflammatory to some, aggravating certain conditions associated with autoimmune, IBS, and others. This inflammation can result in joint pain, reflux, and several other symptoms. Eggplant is brain food and can reduce your risk of cancer. It is considered a specialty in many countries.

Storing

It should keep well on your countertop out of direct sunlight, or in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, for around 3-5 days.  The eggplant does not generally have a long shelf life and my advice would be to prepare your eggplant as soon as possible. 

Preparing

 Thoroughly wash. Trim the top stem with leaves and the end. I never follow the salt/soak/rinse. I simply slice, chop, half, or whole poked with holes. Raw, although not very flavorful, sauteed, baked, grilled, roasted, pickled.

Please click on the button below for recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog.                                                                                                           -Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

References: Dr. Mercola, LiveStrong, Dr. Axe.

Zucchini? Italian Squash? Courgette?: It's all summer squash

I have blogged on zucchini and other summer squash enough times to what they are...right? Well, apparently not.  As I review a couple of my past blogs to create this one, I begin to research for anything additional information to add, remove, or correct.  In this case I am doing all three!

What is the difference between zucchini, Italian squash, and courgette? Well, I believe they are the same plant and are of course considered summer squash because of the time of year they are harvested and because of their thin skin. The standard?  We call the green ones zucchini and the yellow, yellow squash.  I would like you to consider, if you haven't already, or maybe you know and I don't, that the green and yellow colored squash are zucchini, even if they are yellow crookneck and straightneck.  And that this zucchini is called something else as well: Italian squash, courgette. And that there are more varieties of this such as golden zucchini, tatume, costata romanesco. For the purposes of this blog, I will refer to them as zucchini, because that is what I was raised knowing in an Italian family.

Nutrition

The small to medium size zucchini are more flavorful and have less seeds. Zucchini are very low calorie, contain no fat, and are loaded with flavonoid antioxidants which greatly reduce our risk of illness and slow down the aging process, and are contained mostly in the skin. Zucchini is rich in potassium, more than a banana, which will aid in many things including blood pressure. Zucchini also contains iron, zinc, magnesium and B complex vitamins.

Mangia!  

GMO

Best to purchase local-organic, local, or organic as most zucchini varieties are genetically modified.

Storage

 Zucchini is best stored in the refrigerator, unwashed, in a plastic bag that has had a few holes poked in it for airflow, and then placed in the vegetable crisper drawer. It should last approximately 1 week.  If you house is cool, you can usually store countertop for about the same time and in my experience maybe even longer.

Overflowing in zucchini? Wash, cut into the shape/pieces you prefer, freeze in a freezer bag. 

Preparation

Always wash your produce in a store bought veggie wash or in a white vinegar and water solution. A scrub brush should not be necessary with summer squash and will compromise the skin.

Zucchini varieties can be used interchangeably in recipes. Each can be eaten raw, steamed, roasted, grilled, sauteed, etc.  They can be cut in half, hollowed out and stuffed.  They can be sliced, you choose the thickness, into raw "crackers." So it is virtually impossible to tire of Summer Squash. 

Eaten raw, they can be added to smoothies, giving texture, fiber, vitamins and minerals, a nutritional boost for only about 46 calories/cup, and you won't even taste it!  Do you spriralize? You can make delicious, fun, "noodles" and serve raw or lightly sauteed. Serve as a "pasta" dish, add to salads, it can BE the salad, or as a raw side-dish.  Zucchini can be cut into chunks or julienne for a veggie platter or a snack.  You can add these squashes to just about anything, including dessert breads, savory breads, cakes, muffins, soups... 

Please click on the button below for recipes.

Thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn CHHC

Cukes!!!

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

I am writing this blog post on what may be the hottest and most humid day of the summer that we have had thus far.  Aside from watermelon, I don't think there is any other food more thirst quenching and hydrating than a cucumber. It is 95% water and contains minerals that help balance the body's electrolytes. 

According to Dr. Axe, "Electrolytes are certain nutrients (or chemicals) present in your body that have many important functions — from regulating your heartbeat to allowing your muscles to contract so you can move. The major electrolytes found within the body include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate and chloride."  In the heat of summer, cucumbers are not only delicious and nutritious, but critical to support heavy electrolyte loss when we are sweating. There are also many other reasons for electrolyte imbalance.  A major electrolyte disturbance can cause serious health risks and can be fatal.

Cucumbers are rich in elements needed for healthy digestion. They are low in calories, making it an awesome food to snack on and add to your meals. They contain B vitamins which help to manage stress, and other phytochemicals to reduce the risk of cancer.  

On the Dirty Dozen list cucumbers show up as #13...the list has grown the last number of years... What does this mean?  Your cucumber should be organic or local, preferably local and organic, to minimize your exposure to harmful toxins.  Today we are bombarded with toxins from so many sources: electronic emissions, wifi, air, water, food, furniture and textile emissions, anything that touches your skin...on and on... 

Storing

 There are different discussions on how to best store this vegetable.  Some say to store on the countertop, dry and away from foods like bananas, tomatoes, and melons, which release ethylene gas and cause the cucumbers to spoil. Another says to wrap individually in plastic and store in the front of the refrigerator, the warmest part of the fridge.  Cukes are prone to injuries from moisture and stored in temperatures below 50 degrees accelerates this. Lastly, individually wrapping them in a paper towel, then placing in a plastic bag, and refrigerating.  I guess the method or storage you use should depend upon how quickly you plan on eating your cukes... What works for you?

Prep

Always thoroughly wash your produce in white vinegar and water or a store bought veggie soap, even when you  purchase local and/or organic. I do not peel my cucumbers as most of the nutritional value is in the skin. If you must peel, save the peel and toss in a salad, smoothy, juice, sandwich, whatever.  Although many recipes call for the removal of the seeds, they are quite nutritious.

Cucumbers are most often served raw: shred, dice, slice, ribbon, spear, spriralize. Add to your mojito, your water with mint or blueberries, a green salad, a grain side dish, sandwiches, chilled soups.  Make a cucumber and mint sorbet, a fresh pressed juice, a raw "pasta." Use thick slices as "crackers."

PICKLES!!!!!! BETTER YET, LACTO-FERMENTED PICKLES!!!!!

Thanks for reading my blog.  Please click below for recipes.                                                              -Dawn

Tomatoes For Beauty and Health

Nothing compares to a fresh picked tomato, especially when it's organic and vine ripened.  Very seldom will I purchase tomatoes off season from the grocery store.  There is no comparison in flavor and most are picked green and artificially ripened.   I would like to mention that although green tomatoes are not as nutritious as naturally ripened red, yellow, etc., they are delicious as a side dish.  Fried green tomatoes are fabulous, healthier when fried in grapeseed oil, ghee, coconut oil.  

Tomatoes are well known for their lycopene, which is most present when they are vine ripened.  The best way to get lycopene, which is in the skin and gives red tomatoes their color, and is also present in yellow tomatoes, is by cooking or processing the tomato (sauce, juice, paste).  The antioxidant properties of lycopene may protect our immune cells from destructive free radicals, therefore reducing our risk of illness.   

Tomatoes offer much more than this;  "It is said that there is no other known pharmacy that can cure as many things as the tomato."  Not only are they therapeutic, but useful for health and beauty.  Tomatoes contain vitamin C, which is concentrated in the jelly-like substance that encases the seeds.   Many recipes advise removing the seeds, but to conserve nutrients keep the seeds.  Tomatoes contain vitamin K, which plays a key role in clotting blood and maintaining strong bones.  Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin, hair, mucous membranes, bones and teeth.  They are extremely diuretic, cleanse the body, help reduce cholesterol levels, prevent infections, eliminate uric acid (gout).

Beauty?  It is believed that tomatoes protect the skin against ultraviolet lights.  Tomatoes and tomato products enable your skin to take in oxygen, delaying aging and wrinkling.  According to studies, lycopene contained in the tomatoes and tomato products is protective against the risk of skin cancer.

Storing

DO NOT REFRIGERATE unripened tomatoes.  Refrigerating unripened tomatoes ruins them.  For best results, store them at room temperature, stem-side down, ideally in a single layer, out of direct sunlight.  Flavor development and coloration will not take place in the refrigerator, not to mention, the texture will change.  They say that ripe tomatoes can keep in the refrigerator for around 4 days, and will need a day or two to sit at room temperature to restore flavor and texture, but I would not refrigerate them. If I have to consider "storing" my tomatoes, I wash, chop, and freeze in a freezer bag.

Preparation

The first step is always washing your produce in a store bought solution specifically formulated for produce, or use a mixture of water and white vinegar.  Tomatoes can be roasted, dehydrated, braised, sauteed, added to almost any cooked or raw dish.  They can be sliced, diced, quartered....there's so much.  Please click on the recipe button below for mouth watering recipes.  Thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

 

 

 

refrigerator for around 4 days, but they will need a day or two to sit at room temperature to restore flavor and texture.

There are many ways to prepare tomatoes.  The firs step is always washing your produce in a store bought solution specifically formulated for produce, or use a mixture of water and white vinegar.  Tomatoes can be roasted, dehydrated, braised, sauteed, added to almost any cooked or raw dish.  They can be sliced, diced, quartered....there's so much.  Please click on the recipe button below for mouth watering recipes.  Thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

Tomatoes are well known for their lycopene, which is most present when they are vine ripened.  The best way to get lycopene, which is in the skin and gives red tomatoes their color, and is also present in yellow tomatoes, is by cooking or processing the tomato (sauce, juice, paste).  The antioxidant properties of lycopene may protect our immune cells from destructive free radicals. 

Tomatoes offer much more than this;  "It is said that there is no other known pharmacy that can cure as many things as the tomato."  Not only are they therapeutic, but useful for health and beauty.  Tomatoes contain vitamin C, which is concentrated in the jelly-like substance that encases the seeds.   Many recipes advise removing the seeds, but to conserve nutrients keep the seeds.  Tomatoes contain vitamin K, which plays a key role in clotting blood and maintaining strong bones.  Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin, hair, mucous membranes, bones and teeth.  They are extremely diuretic, cleanse the body, help reduce cholesterol levels, prevent infections, eliminate uric acid (gout).

Beauty?  It is believed that tomatoes protect the skin against ultraviolet lights.  Tomatoes and tomato products enable your skin to take in oxygen, delaying aging and wrinkling.  According to studies, lycopene contained in the tomatoes and tomato products is protective against the risk of skin cancer.

Bok Choy: Alternately known as Pac Choi, Pak Choi, Chinese Cabbage

Bok Choy is a versatile veggie and according to Dr. Axe, considered the nutrient-dense cancer fighter, third on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. It can be eaten raw-sliced in a salad or on your veggie platter, thrown in a soup, seared, wilted, roasted, sautéed.   It is a cruciferous vegetable, which also includes veggies such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.  Bok choy is high in nutrients and absent or low in the "bad" stuff.  Here are the Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Bok Choy compliments of fruits & veggies more matters®:

  1. A Layer of Flavor. Add cut bok choy or baby bok choy to your favorite salad for a new layer of flavor
  2. Sick of Celery? Fill raw bok choy stalks with anything you would use to fill celery sticks. Try peanut butter, cream cheese or guacamole.
  3. A Simply Stylish Side. Cut some baby bok choy in half and braise with a mixture of your favorite stock, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and red pepper flakes for an elegant side dish.
  4. Salads & Sandwiches. Use raw bok choy leaves in salads or on sandwiches. It has a sweet flavor and is a tasty addition to spinach or mixed green salads.
  5. Add to Your Apps! Add raw stalks of bok choy to your favorite vegetable tray!
  6. A Leftover Makeover. Add chopped bok choy and onion to any leftover meat and pre-cooked veggie or rice mixture then toss in a skillet over medium-high heat. Scramble one egg for each person to be served, and toss over the veggie-meat mixture. Stir it all up and stir.
  7. Grill It! Cut baby bok choy in half, drizzle with olive oil and toss it on the grill. Add just a sprinkle of salt, turn once and enjoy.
  8. Great as Garnish. Use the tops of bok choy leaves as an attractive garnish when serving appetizers at your next party or get-together.
  9. Turbo-Charge Your Soups. Besides its enticing flavor and vibrant color, bok choy is great for adding last-minute nutrition to homemade or canned soups.
  10. Stir-Fry. Make an Asian-inspired stir-fry using chicken, snow peas, peppers, onion and bok choy. Clean the stalks, then give them a rough chop before adding to the wok.

Storing: For best results, use Bok Choy within a few days of purchasing.  Store in a glass jar with a dry tea towel or paper towel, or sealed in a plastic bag wrapped in a tea or paper towel.

Preparing : Remove each leaf by tearing away from the root.  Always thoroughly wash your produce in a store-bought product or with a solution of white vinegar and water.  Spin dry or pat dry. Do not overcook! Bok Choy should be crispy.  When overcooked, crispy turns to mush.

Garlic Scapes: Flower Buds

This time of year, if you have been visiting your farmers markets, you may have noticed these tangles of garlic scapes, the flower buds of garlic.  These scapes are what grow from the garlic bulb when the garlic is left unharvested.  Although they look really interesting displayed as a bouquet, you don't want to miss how delicious they are.

You can eat them raw or cooked.  More mild than the garlic bulb, add them to anything, whole, chopped into big or small pieces, or processed with or as pesto. 

Nutritional Value: Similar to the bulb, the scapes help reduce your risks of cancer and other major illness, helping to keep our organs and bones healthy.  They also help the body detox, which the body needs MUCH support with even though we are detoxing every second of every day.  Our bodies today are overburdened. 

Storage: They will keep for weeks in the fridge, unwashed, and in a plastic bag.

Prep: simply wash and discard the stingy tip and any part that isn't green. Scapes are versatile; add them to anything and everything, cook any which way.  For ideas, please click on the recipe button below.

Thanks so much for taking time to read my blog.

To Your Amazing Health,

Dawn

Kale...That Is All

Are you in the Kale Camp?

Are you tired of hearing about kale?  I am giggling as I write this.  I have been involved in many kale discussions/arguments.  People usually love it or hate it, and most have an opinion.  Why so much ado about kale?  Well, aside from ornamental kale decorating gardens, it is a member of, as Dr. Axe would say, "the illustrious group of cancer fighting cruciferous vegetables."  There are many types of kale, classified by leaf type.  All have the nutrition and health benefits of the brassica (Cruciferous) family and of course it's own phytonutrient that makes IT special.  It is a natural detoxifier, is a nutritional powerhouse, is anti-inflammatory.  Basically kale will help reduce MANY health risks and improve your health.  

Don't love kale?  Maybe or maybe you have not prepared it in a way that is palatable for you. Please have a look at my recipes and give kale another try.  Love kale?  Have you tried these recipes?

Storing: Store unwashed kale in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Kale tends to get more bitter the longer it is left at room temperature. Tightly wrap in a paper towel and then place it in an airtight bag.  If you will use it the same day, place it in a water, like a bouquet of flowers, on the counter.

Washing: Always wash your produce with a white vinegar/water solution or a store bought veggie liquid or spray.  I use a salad spinner and soak my leaves.

Preparing:  I do not do this, but it is recommended to tear the leaves from the middle vein.  It makes for a more tender dish.  Kale can be cooked any which way and added to anything, even cupcakes!  For salads and side dishes, it's nice to tenderize the kale by massaging it with your hands and letting the kale marinate if you are using it in a raw salad. So chop, rip, blend, juice, roll, or leave as is.

References: https://draxe.com/health-benefits-of-kale/

 

Strawberries!

This is such a wonderful time of year.  The flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and strawberries are in season.  There is nothing like a local, organic strawberry picked fresh the same day.  The picture above is not from stock, but is a photo of the organic strawberries picked fresh from Upper Pond and New Mercies farms, here in the Lyme-Old Lyme area. Conventional (non-organic) strawberries have been #1 on the Dirty Dozen list since the list was created several years ago, containing some of the highest amounts of pesticide residue.  These pesticides and chemicals are also found systemically (can't be washed off).  Industrial farmed organic strawberries are not much better.  Buy your strawberries local, organic local when available.  I would like to stay focussed on yummy strawberries; for more information on the Dirty Dozen please click on the button below, and scroll down below the button to read more about the nutritional value of strawberries and how to store and prepare them. 

Strawberries are high in vitamin C.  They also contain large amounts of folate (B9), manganese, potassium, iodine, and fiber.  Strawberries have high amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients and are considered one of the best foods to eat.  Antioxidants keep the free radicals in check.  Free radicals cause cell damage;  we NEED healthy cells.  Strawberries help lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce your cancer risks.  This berry is considered a Superfood.

Strawberries are delicate and perishable.  They are best stored uncovered on your countertop and consumed within 24-hours, or stored in your refrigerator in a sealed container, preferably in the fruit drawer, for up to two days.  Store them unwashed with stem on and remove any moldy, wet, or damaged strawberries.  Longer than two days, strawberries begin to lose vitamin C and antioxidants quickly, the reason we are supposed to eat them!  Strawberries should be washed, dried as best you can, and frozen if not consumed within two days.

Preparing strawberries is very simple.  Hull your strawberries with a knife, straw, or strawberry huller.  As with all produce, wash thoroughly.  I soak my produce in a solution of white vinegar and water, or use a store-bought produce wash. Remember to rinse well.

Thank you for reading my blog.  

-Dawn

Cool Kohlrabi! Knol-Knol! German Turnip!

http://gardenandgun.com/article/whats-season-kohlrabi

http://gardenandgun.com/article/whats-season-kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a member of the turnip family, a brassica like cabbage and kale.  It comes in several colors, the purple being more spicy than the green varieties, and is a cool season vegetable.  The Kohlrabi bulb is what is usually sold, but the leaves are just as nutritious and delicious.  Kohlrabi are abundant in vitamin C.  Vitamin C is not just for colds;  it helps protect the body against illness and disease such as cancer.  Vitamin C also helps with gum and teeth health as well as healthy connective tissue.  Kohlrabi is also a  good source of the B-complex group of vitamins, so important for good health.  Kohlrabi contains Vitamin A and many minerals including calcium.  Kohlrabi may have similar nutritional value as other vegetables you may eat, however it is important to keep in mind that each plant has a phytochemical specific to it.  Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables for a happy and healthy body, mind, and spirit.  

Storing

Knol-knol can be stored at room temperature for 3-5 days.  Refrigerating them in a sealed bag will give you a few more days.  Be sure to separate the leaves from the bulb to preserve nutritional value.  

Preparation

Wash thoroughly.  I use a vegetable brush and veggie wash and soak the leaves in a salad spinner, rinse and spin.  The leaves can be eaten raw if young and tender, or sautéed or steamed like mustard greens.  Peel the tough, outer layer of the bulb with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.  It can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, steamed, sautéed, roasted.  Raw, cube and toss with a salad, cut into sticks for a veggie platter, slice thin like a chip.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Please click on the button below for delicious recipes.

-Dawn Swope

Note: THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.

THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.

References

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/kohlrabi.html

http://www.thekitchn.com/top-five-ways-to-prepare-kohlr-60321

 

"Nose Twist" IN DECEMBER!!!!

There are many edible flowers, however this perennial is probably the most popular.  Nasturtium means "nose twist" in latin, probably for it's strong, peppery flavor.  It's flavor, beauty, nutritional pop, and ease of growing, make it very popular.  Although Nasturtium come in many colors (pastels, too), the yellow and orange varieties seem to be planted the most.  

Why am I talking about a perennial in December?  Well, I have the great fortune to be in a fall CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where these delicious flowers are grown year round "to bring color and light to [the] farm during the shortest and darkest days," says Baylee Drown of Upper Pond Farm and New Mercies Farm in Lyme, CT.  If you are one of those people affected by the change of season and lose your energy  and crave lots of carbs this time of year, how and what you light your home and workspace with, how and what you place in those environments, and what you feed your body, really has an impact on energy and cravings.   If you read my blog each week, you've heard me mention Seasonal Affective Disorder in almost every blog since early October.  You don't have to have SAD to be affected by the change in light and temperature.  It is a natural change that occurs with plant, animal, and all of us.  Eating in season, preferably local and organic, will support your body, mind, and spirit.  Making your environment aesthetically pleasing will help year round to support your mind and spirit, but especially this time of year when many of us need it.  Food should be pretty.  Your eyes should see a beautiful presentation of food that registers a WOW with the brain.  This of course begins the digestive process as you salivate and the stomach acids begin to flow.  I could go on and on.  It's all connected!!!  Flowers make a yard, a home, an event, an old discarded porcelain sink turned flower pot, into a thing of beauty.  Decorating our pastas, platters, and other foods with Nasturtium will not only add that perfect aesthetic touch, but will boost the nutrition of that meal as well.

Nutritional Value

Both the Nasturtium flowers and leaves are nutritious. They flowers are high in vitamins A and C and iron.  They flowers also help neutralize the free radicals running around in our bodies trying to grow cancer, etc.   The leaves are high in vitamin C, and have an antibiotic property, best when picked prior to the plant flowering.

Storing

Store unwashed in a glass jar with a glass lid if possible.  Blossoms can last up to a week, but check daily and remove any wilting flowers.

Preparing

Gently hand wash flowers when ready to use;  a salad spinner is not a great idea unless you are washing the leaves.  You can use the flowers whole or pick the petals and discard the stem.  Add them to salads or any of your dishes, or use them as an edible garnish.  They should be the last thing you add to a dish unless the recipe says otherwise, i.e., if you are adding them to a salad, add the dressing, toss, then decorate with flowers.

Please click on the button below for delicious Nasturtium recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog!

-Dawn

NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY NEW EATING OR EXERCISE PROGRAM. THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.
THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.

References

http://garden.org/ediblelandscaping/?page=august_edible

http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/chow-town/article326554/Not-just-pretty-edible-flowers-pack-nutritional-punch.html

http://yougrowgirl.com/my-best-tip-for-storing-fresh-flowers/

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts may or may not be from Brussels.  A member of the brassica family, they are a nutritional powerhouse and reduce systemic inflammation, the root cause of many diseases. They are also low in calories.  When you eat Brussel sprouts you may be lowering your cancer risk. Brussel sprouts also help the body with detoxification, which the body performs on a daily basis and needs more support with now more than ever.  Brussel sprouts also support heart health.  The brassica family, i.e. broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, is known for reducing major health risks such as cancer and heart disease as well as other illnesses and diseases. Eat Brussel sprouts for Cardiovascular health, healthy vision, and bone health.  Also eat them to reduce your cancer risks..

Storing

Hmmm.  Some advise to store unwashed in a sealed plastic bag, others say in a bowl, uncovered, peeling off the shriveled outer layer when ready to prepare.  I personally have stored both ways and have not noticed one way more successful than another.   Purchasing them and storing on the stalk seems to last longer for me.   Refrigerate either way and they should store for a few months from what I have read, but why would you store them that long!!!  

Preparation

If your sprouts are on the stalk you must first decide if you are going to roast the sprouts on the stalk.  

Off Stalk

Remove the sprouts by snapping off the stalk.  Trim the sprouts by peeling the yellowed or wilted outer leaves. Wash with a veggie wash solution and rinse.  Spin or pat dry if not steaming.  They say for best results if you are cooking them to cut an X at the bottom for the heat to penetrate.  I have never done this and my sprouts are PERFECT!

You can shave the sprouts and eat them raw in a salad, steam them for 5-7 minutes depending on their size and how many, roast, sauté, blanch,  chop and add to a stir-fry, add to kabobs, toss them in a soup.

The Stalk

The stalk is edible and tastes very much like the sprout, but takes longer to cook.  Wash stalk thoroughly and prepare as you would the sprout.

On Stalk

Wash stalk and sprouts with veggie wash and vegetable brush.  Brush with Grapeseed or olive oil and roast or barbecue on medium heat, turning often, until caramel colored.

Whatever you do, don't overcook them.  

If your thinking "stinky" when you think of Brussel sprouts, you have eaten them/smelled them overcooked.  Brussels emit that sulfur odor when they are overcooked.  Overcooking most fruits and vegetables will of course reduce the nutritional value

Thank you for reading my blog and please click on the button below for recipes.

-Dawn

The reader understands that the role of the Health Coach is not to prescribe or assess micro- and macronutrient levels; provide health care, medical or nutrition therapy services; or to diagnose, treat or cure any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.  Rather, the Coach is a mentor and guide who has been trained in holistic health coaching to help clients reach their own health goals by helping clients devise and implement positive, sustainable lifestyle changes. The reader understands that the Coach is not acting in the capacity of a doctor, licensed dietician-nutritionist, psychologist or other licensed or registered professional, and that any advice given by the Coach is not meant to take the place of advice by these professionals.  If the reader is under the care of a health care professional or currently uses prescription medications, the reader should discuss any dietary changes or potential dietary supplements use with his or her doctor, and should not discontinue any prescription medications without first consulting his or her doctor.  
The reader understands that the information received should not be seen as medical or nursing advice and is not meant to take the place of seeing licensed health professionals. 

The Jerusalem Artichoke

jerusalem artichoke.jpeg

The Jerusalem artichoke, also known as a Sunchoke,  is not an artichoke.  It is the tuber of a species of sunflower native to the United States.  Etymologically speaking, the name really has nothing to do with the tuber itself, but a creation of a corruption of names, leading to the name Jerusalem artichoke. 

Jerusalem Artichokes are in season and this is why you should eat them:

  • They are delicious!
  • They have multiple digestive health benefits
  • High in Potassium, Thiamine, and Iron
  • Good source of Vitamin C and Niacin
  • Is diabetic-friendly and can be used in place of white potatoes 

The Jerusalem artichoke has a reputation of causing intestinal upset and flatulence, caused by inuline, the carbohydrate found in this tuber, which varies depending on the size and number of shoots growing off of it.  Not only is inuline a prebiotic, promoting the growth and proliferation of probiotics in your colon, Inuline is a diabetic-friendly carbohydrate.  Each of us have a different sensitivity to inuline;  if you have never eaten them before, try them in a small portion.  One way to reduce your risk of "major gas" is to not eat them raw or to boil them.

How to eat them?

No need to peel, but wash and scrub skin prior to eating/cooking.

Raw or cooked, but less flatulence cooked                                                                          

Pickled
Raw, shaved thin in a salad
Roasted, chopped like you would potatoes
Boiled for a mash

They are delicious and creamy when cooked, and like a water chestnut when raw.  Try these recipes:

Thank you for reading my blog!

xo, Dawn

Mahvelous Mustard Greens

Through each change of season our bodies go through changes as well.  Eating in season supports our health and helps us transition.  This time of year with less light and cooler temperatures we begin to naturally crave higher carbohydrate foods for comfort and physical and mental energy.  Our bodies naturally want to prepare for the long, cold, dark winter months.  Many turn to breads, pastas, sweets, and other foods with little nutritional value.  This can result in weight gain as well worsen the "winter blues."  Food is mood.  Support your body and mind by incorporating seasonal foods into your diet every day.

Mustard greens are abundant this time of year.  Not only will eating them help us maintain or even lost weight, but will reduce our cancer risk, help lower cholesterol, is low in calories and abundant in Vitamins A,K,C, and many more.  They help the body detox and are anti-inflammatory. They are cruciferous and a nutritional powerhouse.    If you don't like them, try a different preparation.  If you have never tried them, you should!

Preparation and Storing

Store unwashed leaves wrapped in a damp paper towel, sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.  

Prepare your greens by soaking in a vegetable wash for a few minutes.  Rub the leaves by hand, rinse thoroughly.  If you don't prefer the tough stem, fold the leaves in half lengthwise and use a knife to cut the stem out.  Roll the leaves and cut into pieces.  The healthiest technique for preparing the greens are to eat them raw or steam them, however they can be blanched, sautéed, boiled.  To eat raw, as in a salad, tear the leaves into desired pieces, and massage the leaves, as you would kale.  

Please click on the button below for yummy recipes.