What's Up Doc?

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Where do carrots fall on your list of healthy foods to eat?  I for one, was ready to un-include them from my veggie platter long before I became a Health Coach....

I am the designated Veggie Platter Master in my family.  I can't recall the first time I was actually assigned this dish.  I come from an Italian background, following the typical Italian Holiday traditions.  In addition to the calendar Holidays in which I am required to create a platter, we find any excuse to gather together and celebrate: birthdays, change of season, life. There was a time when I was insulted that ALL I was assigned was this "boring" platter.  Did the family elders think I did not know how to cook?  Did they not like my cooking?  Did nobody else want the tedious tasks of washing/scrubbing, peeling/blanching, creating/arranging?  And the dip, creating a dip that would appeal to most and of course did not contain any artificial anything including dyes, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, etc.?  OK, so I am getting to the discussion of carrots, but let me just answer....No....they did not want the tedious tasks, nor did anybody approach their veggie platter quite as thoroughly as I did/do.  My family has given me the VPM title because my vegetables are extra clean, either fresh from my organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) when available, or from the store, organic when we are referring to the Dirty Dozen (which is more like the dirty 14 or so).  I include a variety, often adding blanched asparagus and green beans, two of my favorites.  At some point I became bored with carrots, but their beautiful orange color redeemed them.  Can you list 5 orange vegetables?  

There are a whole bunch or reasons why you should be eating carrots and why you should NOT give them up because a "diet"  tells you they are too sweet;  give up the diet if that's the case!  Quite simply, carrots  are amazing.  They are delicious additions and you can add them to practically anything such as smoothies, soups, salads, juices, or simply on their own: raw or cooked, whole, sticks, shredded, spiraled, ribboned, chopped, rounds.  Carrots come in a variety of colors such as purple, red, white, and yellow, and most often orange, They are quite nutritious.  Do you eat the rainbow?  The colors of a fruits or vegetables is indicative of their phytochemicals-  the substances occurring naturally and only in plants, providing health benefits beyond essential nutrients- different ones for different colors.  These phytochemicals are what fight disease.  Each color represents different phytochemicals.  What gives a carrot it's orange color?  Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene.  These are called carotenoids and can be converted in the body to vitamin A, a nutrient that is integral for vision and immune function, as well as skin and bone health.  As if this is not a good enough explanation as to the goodness of the carrot, how about these:

  • Digestion:  Eating carrots regularly may prevent  gastric ulcers and other digestive disorders.
  • Potassium:  Helps reduce blood pressure and lower your risks for heart disease.  It is one of the bodies most important electrolytes.  Potassium deficiency can cause muscle cramps.
  • Dental Health:  Help prevent tooth decay and kill germs.
  • Phytonutrient:  Contains falcarinol, which may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Fiber:  High in soluble fiber which may reduce cholesterol.

    If you are tired of carrot sticks and hummus, here are some ideas....

Interested in a health chat?  Fall is the time to reset and prepare our body, mind, and spirit for the cooler nights and shorter days.  Contact me for an Upper Pond complimentary session.

Thank you for reading my blog,

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

 

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash, although seasonally is harvested with the winter squash, actually belongs to the same species as summer squash.  Acorn squash is native to North America. If you recall from last week's blog, squash is technically a fruit and has amazing health benefits.  Acorn 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.  

Acorn squash if stored in a cool, dry spot will keep for around 4 weeks.  It is a bit more perishable than Butternut squash and other winter squash.

Ready to use your squash?  Always use a veggie wash, homemade or store bought, and thoroughly wash the outside of your squash.  The easiest way to prepare acorn squash and most squash is to cut in half length-wise, scoop out seeds using a metal spoon (save for roasting)  and roast facedown on an un-greased 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.  The most delicious way to serve acorn is to cut in half lengthwise, stuff, and bake.  Please click on the button below for recipes

References

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/acorn-squash.html

"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.  

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

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 length-wise, scoop out seeds using a metal spoon (save for roasting)  and roast facedown on an un-greased 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 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/

And The Beet Goes On....

Beets are an ancient food and this vegetable comes in a variety of hues.  They were originally cultivated for their greens.  It wasn't until much later that the root became as popular as their greens.  I have heard many say that they do not like beets.  If you have never had a fresh beet I challenge you to try eating a fresh beet.  Their is no comparison.  You may even prefer them raw.

If you follow my seasonal blog you may have noticed a trend.  When I blog about CSA food, I usually define the nutritional benefits as, "...one of the healthiest foods to eat."  Well, beets are no different.  They are a nutritional powerhouse and you should find a way to eat them!!  Like other vegetables,  beets have some pretty amazing health benefits specific only to it (phytonutrients).  So as to keep my blog manageable for you, I will be brief by listing the reasons you should eat beets directly quoting Dr. Mercola:

1.  Lower Your Blood Pressure- Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours.

2.  Boost Your Stamina- If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable.

3.Fight Inflammation- may protect our bodies from environmental stress.

4.Anti-Cancer Properties- they contain phytonutrients that may help protect against cancer.

5.Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber- Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium, manganese, and folate.

6.Detoxification Support- beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

To store beets, leave the tap root in tact but trim the greens about two inches from the top of the beet.  Store the greens and the root unwashed, separately, in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.  The greens will keep for a few days and the beets for about a week.  It is important to separate the greens from the root or the greens will cause the root to dry out and shrivel up much quicker.

Beets can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked, fried, grilled.  Add them to soups, salads, or eat them on their own.  Don't forget about the beet greens!!  It is recommended that the skin be left on if you are cooking beets.  Gently wash prior to cooking and once cooked the skin will rub right off.  This technique prevents the nutritious juices from cooking out of the beet.  If you are preparing raw beets, they will need to be peeled of course.  Please click on the recipes button below.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP, BA

 

References

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/25/beets-health-benefits.aspx

http://iadorefood.com/articles/beets-how-to-pick-and-store-them/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/raw-beet-recipes_n_1676238.html

 

 

 

 

 

Squaghetti

I am Italian American.  Although I am only 50% Italian, it is the diet and lifestyle I grew up with.  Pasta was served at every meal as a side dish or the main dish.  A cold, stuffed shell for breakfast was quite filling.  I had never heard of the spaghetti squash until a decade or so ago.  Prior to my nutrition education, I jumped on the low carb/no pasta craze and purchased this squash to replace my semolina.  Spaghetti squash with marinara was so delicious; it's still amazing!!!  But spaghetti squash is better than a replacement;  it's versatile, yummy, and a nutrition superstar. 

Spaghetti squash, also known as squaghetti or vegetable noodle, is originally from China.  It was introduced into the U.S. in the 1920's and gained popularity in the late 20th century.  This squash boasts 400% of the daily value for Vitamin A, 50% daily value for Vitamin C, contains B Vitamins, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin, Folate, Omegas 3 & 6, and Potassium.  Spaghetti squash is a healthy part of your diet.  Eat the rainbow!

Store at room temperature for several weeks.  

There are several ways to prepare this squash and I have personally tried them all.  Wash the outside of the squash.  Cut the squash length-wise.  Cutting through it can be tricky if you do not have a big, sharp knife.  How's that for technical!!  Scrape out the seeds using a spoon.  Bake cut-side down on an un-greased cookie sheet in a preheated 375 degree oven until fork-tender.  Bake time varies depending on the size of the squash of course.  Scrape out the squash and serve.  Add to salads, soups, wraps, or feature it as the main meal.  For serving suggestions, please click on the recipe button below.

Thanks for reading my blog!

-Dawn Swope BA, AADP, CCHC

References

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/spaghetti-squash.html

http://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/the-easiest-best-way-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-article

The Super Sweet Potato

There are hundreds of types of sweet potatoes and a yam is not one of them.  A yam is actually a different tuber all together.   Many of us may not be able to tell the difference between a yam and a sweet potato since our grocery stores  usually label the orange variety of sweet potato a yam.  Sweet potatoes range in color from white, to yellow, to deep orange, to purple.  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.   Generally 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!   Add them cooked to smoothies, salads, soups, etc.  Although they CAN be eaten raw it is  NOT a best practice.  They contain a chemical, which is cooked out,  that prevents the proper digestion of protein which can cause GI issues.

Try these recipes: 

Watermelon Radish To The Rescue!!

Each week during the CSA season, I blog about a featured fruit or vegetable.  In my seasonal blog I celebrate each food, sharing my research and opinion on why you should be eating it and how to store, prepare, and cook with it.  In the past, prior to becoming a Certified Health Coach, I read articles and advertisements that steered me towards certain fruits and vegetables in order to be "healthy."  Each fruit and vegetable has it's own unique reason for eating it; when you hear the phrase, "eat the rainbow," this is what they are referring to.  The body needs each phytonutrient that each and every plant has to offer.  There is a caveat to this, of course;  all fruits and vegetables are not good for everyone, for instance if you have diverticulitis, blueberries would not be a healthy option.  To make my point, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and oh man, watermelon radishes are the bomb!  Watermelon Radish has a high phytochemical profile.  Radishes are a nutritious root vegetable, a member of the brassica (cruciferous) family, like broccoli and cabbage.  The watermelon radish  greens are also quite nutritious and tasty. Originally cultivated in China, they are also referred to as Beauty Heart, Rose Heart, Shinrimea, Misota, Asian Red Meat, Xin Le Mei, Red Daikon, and is an heirloom of the Chinese Daikon Radish.  The Watermelon Radish is much sweeter than the smaller red radish.  It is gorgeous to look at and will dress up any dish, cooked or raw.  It also stands well on its own as a side dish. 5 Reasons to eat your radishes: 1.     Detoxifying-helps to break down and eliminate toxins, 2.     Digestive Aid- helps to relieve bloating and indigestion and aids in the digestive process, 3.     Low in calories and high in nutrients, 4.     Nourishing and hydrating- high vitamin C, Folate, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium, 5.     Cruciferous- helps to eliminate the cancer-causing free radicals.  Radishes contain many phytonutrients that aid in cancer prevention. Storing the greens and the root separately will prolong the life of each, the bulb wrapped in a damp paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag for around two weeks in the fridge and the greens, wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag for around two days.    Prepare the bulb of the radish;  Scrub the outside with a veggie wash and scrub with a vegetable brush.  Watermelon Radish can be eaten skin to core, no need to peel.  Add to salads, serve as an appetizer, or roast.  The greens can be washed in a salad spinner with veggie wash and spun.  Add greens to soups, stir-fries, eggs, or mixed with your green salad.  Please click on the recipe button below.   Thank your for reading my blog. -Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP, BA

Each week during the CSA season, I blog about a featured fruit or vegetable.  In my seasonal blog I celebrate each food, sharing my research and opinion on why you should be eating it and how to store, prepare, and cook with it.  In the past, prior to becoming a Certified Health Coach, I read articles and advertisements that steered me towards certain fruits and vegetables in order to be "healthy."  Each fruit and vegetable has it's own unique reason for eating it; when you hear the phrase, "eat the rainbow," this is what they are referring to.  The body needs each phytonutrient that each and every plant has to offer.  There is a caveat to this, of course;  all fruits and vegetables are not good for everyone, for instance if you have diverticulitis, blueberries would not be a healthy option.  To make my point, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and oh man, watermelon radishes are the bomb!  Watermelon Radish has a high phytochemical profile. 

Radishes are a nutritious root vegetable, a member of the brassica (cruciferous) family, like broccoli and cabbage.  The watermelon radish  greens are also quite nutritious and tasty. Originally cultivated in China, they are also referred to as Beauty Heart, Rose Heart, Shinrimea, Misota, Asian Red Meat, Xin Le Mei, Red Daikon, and is an heirloom of the Chinese Daikon Radish.  The Watermelon Radish is much sweeter than the smaller red radish.  It is gorgeous to look at and will dress up any dish, cooked or raw.  It also stands well on its own as a side dish.

5 Reasons to eat your radishes:

1.     Detoxifying-helps to break down and eliminate toxins,

2.     Digestive Aid- helps to relieve bloating and indigestion and aids in the digestive process,

3.     Low in calories and high in nutrients,

4.     Nourishing and hydrating- high vitamin C, Folate, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium,

5.     Cruciferous- helps to eliminate the cancer-causing free radicals.  Radishes contain many phytonutrients that aid in cancer prevention.

Storing the greens and the root separately will prolong the life of each, the bulb wrapped in a damp paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag for around two weeks in the fridge and the greens, wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag for around two days.   

Prepare the bulb of the radish;  Scrub the outside with a veggie wash and scrub with a vegetable brush.  Watermelon Radish can be eaten skin to core, no need to peel.  Add to salads, serve as an appetizer, or roast.  The greens can be washed in a salad spinner with veggie wash and spun.  Add greens to soups, stir-fries, eggs, or mixed with your green salad.  Please click on the recipe button below.  

Thank your for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP, BA

References

http://www.livestrong.com/article/540838-the-nutrition-in-a-watermelon-radish/

http://www.organicauthority.com/vegetables/watermelon-radish.html

Beautifully Basil

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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.  

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.

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 ready my blog,

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

 

 

Cancer Fighting Collard Greens

Collards are a staple in the South and have become quite popular in grocery stores and local farms here in Connecticut.  When this cruciferous vegetable is prepared correctly they are not only an outstanding accompaniment to any meal, but are hugely beneficial to your health. Although collards can be braised, boiled, sautéed, the best way to maintain their amazing nutrients is to steam them until they are tender and bright green.

Collard Greens are low in calories and pack a 58% of the vitamin C,  44% of the folate, 41% of the manganese, and 27% of the calcium needed on a daily basis!  They are also high in magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.  More than any other vegetable, these greens can lower cholesterol.  Medical reports have shown that collard greens contain 4 little-heard-of glucosinolates, supporting the body's ability to fight off inflammatory toxins, helping lower cancer risks.  Collards offer more than most vegetables, but we still need to eat the rainbow. Every vegetable has it's own phytochemical(s) that make it special, but if collards are not in your diet a few times a week, they should be.  Eating collards will help your skin and nails, sleep and mood, digestion, and will help lower your risks of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Storing

Do not wash.  Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, preferably in your vegetable crisper drawer for 3-5 days of so.  If freezing, wash and cut, store in a freezer-safe container.

Preparation 

Separate the leaves from the bunch and wash them in a store bought produce wash or in a mixture of one part white vinegar to two parts water.  You will have to hand wash each leaf individually, dipping each leaf in the mixture or spraying each leaf, and rubbing the surface of each leaf.  Rinse thoroughly.  Collard greens can have tough stems; cut away the tough part. You can choose whether or not you want to remove the thick center vein;  I do not.  To remove the vein, simply fold each leaf in half lengthwise and tear or cut out the vein.  Stack several leaves on top of each other, roll the leaves together and slice into 1" pieces.  Now you are ready for cooking!  

Serving Suggestions copied directly from http://featherstonefarm.com/collards.html :
Boiled or pan-steamed greens are tasty seasoned with onion, garlic, and chopped fresh herbs such as mint, dill, and basil.
• Sauté collards with tofu, garlic, and red pepper flecks for a quick, nutritious, vegetarian meal.
• Serve collards with beans -- especailly black-eyed peas. An avant-garde approach to spring rolls and sushi: cooked collard greens with black-eyed peas and brown rice.
• Add chopped collards to soups and stews.
• Greens go especially well with ham, bacon, and pork fatback. Sauté chopped greens with a little bacon fat or a hunk of salt pork, sugar, and pepper. Splash liberally with hot pepper vinegar just before serving.
• The liquid left after slow-cooking collards with pork is extremely nutritious and delicious, the famed "pot liquor." Drink this broth on its own as a savory soup, or use it as you would vegetable stock.
• Try a vegetarian stew of collard greens, cabbage, sweet bell peppers, garlic, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and hot red peppers, seasoned with molasses, vinegar, and seasoned salt.

Please click on the recipe button below.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

References

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/collard-greens.html

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277957.php

http://www.soulfoodandsoutherncooking.com/southerngreens.html

   

A Locally Grown, Vine Ripened Tomato...that is all....

Nothing compares to a tomato fresh picked from the garden, 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 a delicious as a side dish.  Fried green tomatoes are fabulous, just don't fry them in vegetable oil or butter.  

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 tomatoes...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.  Ripe tomatoes can keep in the 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

Sources:
https://food52.com/blog/13796-how-to-keep-tomatoes-fresh-for-longer

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/nutrition/5-reasons-to-eat-more-tomatoes#k19yllk1iKGgk7aU.99

http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Health/9-Surprising-Health-Benefits-of-Tomatoes.aspx?p=2#JQBgoaR3dE6IcAmM.99

http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Health/9-Surprising-Health-Benefits-of-Tomatoes.aspx?p=2#JQBgoaR3dE6IcAmM.99

http://www.tat.com.tr/en/healthy-red/the-beauty-secrets-of-tomato/

a MAIZE ing!!!

Corn.  What comes to mind?  Summer?  Sweet?  Buttery?  Vegetable? Corn is not a vegetable;  it is a grain, a grain that has been traced back at least 7000 years.  Today there are many varieties in an array of colors.  Despite it's sweetness and being labeled as a starch, locally grown, preferably organic corn and corn that is not grown from Genetically Engineered seeds,  has amazing health benefits and is part of a healthy diet for most. Corn also has less calories than other grains. 

There are many ways to eat corn, however, one study showed that heating corn to 115 degrees for 25 minutes actually increases it's health benefits.  Generally it is thought that as you heat food you diminish its nutrients. Corn is a good source of fiber.  Corn helps protect against lung and oral cancers, helps maintain healthy mucus, vision, and skin, and is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, and thiamin.  Eating corn, natural and unprocessed,  can reduce your risk of illness. 

Corn can be stored in the refrigerator for around two days by removing the shank (bottom end), husks on, in the refrigerator uncovered.  The longer corn sits off the stalk the more the starches break down and change the flavor of the corn.  Corn can be frozen for up to twelve months: shuck, boil or steam the corn until tender, cool in cold water, carefully remove from the cob with a knife, and freeze in a freezer bag or airtight container.  Whole cobs can be frozen as well and are best frozen after shucking and tossed raw in a bag, extracting the air.

Preparing corn depends on how you are using it.  Always wash your produce, even if you are cooking your corn in the husk.  Corn can be eaten raw, grilled in the husk, or roasted, boiled, or steamed on the cob.  Corn can be added to almost anything.

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

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

String Beans, Snap Beans, Or Green Beans (not always green)

Beans can be confusing: beans, legumes, peas, lentils. They can be divided into two main groups, those that can be eaten pod and all, called snap or green beans, and others that are shelled for their seeds and eaten either fresh, dried, called shell or dried beans.  Green beans, not always green, are the unripe, immature pods of the most tender bean varieties, and are entirely edible.

Green beans, also called snap beans because of the sound their pods make when broken, are called string beans if they have a fibrous string that runs down the side.  Most of our green beans today are string-less.   There are dozens of varieties of green beans and are the most commonly planted type of beans:  haricot vert, scarlet runner, winged, and yard-long.  Green beans are not always green;  they can also be yellow or purple.  Yellow beans are sometimes called wax beans for their waxy color.

One cup of beans has only 31 calories. They are high in vitamins A and C and a cup of raw snap beans can provide about 17 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin A and about 27 percent of vitamin C.  Snap beans are a very rich source of dietary fiber and many minerals.  Beans can reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes.  They also contain catechins, also found in green tea, which help reduce body fat.

Beans can be stored for 3-5 days, fresh, whole, unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, preferably in a crisper drawer.

How to prepare them?  Always thoroughly wash your produce with a veggie spray or wash, or with a white vinegar and water solution. Trim the beans by snapping off the stem of string-less beans, quicker yet, bundle them and trim all at once using a Chef's knife.  There is no need to cut the curled end.  Your beans are now ready be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, blanched is my favorite way, with olive oil and fresh garlic.  You can add beans to just about anything and chopping them gives them more versatility.

Please click on the recipe button below and thank you for reading my blog.                                                        - 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 waist line will expand?  Well 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 are part of a healthy diet, however a variety of fruits and veggies is key.  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.  Potatoes are categorized as "white," as in stay away from anything white such as white rice, white bread, white flour, etc.  Potatoes carry a high glycemic load, meaning that the carbohydrate digests rapidly in the body causing a spike in blood sugar similar to soda.  Grapes are not a starch, but also have a high glycemic index.  Arguably there are better choices than potatoes and grapes, but eating potatoes seasonally, especially from your CSA can be a healthy choice as well.  What we serve on the potato, mix with the potato, or how we cook the potato can make them unhealthy. 

Storing

Potatoes will keep for up to 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

 

 

Are Green Onions Scallions?

Are green onions scallions?  I have no idea...some say yes, others say no.  I think I CAN say that green onions fall between scallions and large bulb onions.  Unlike scallions, green onions should have a small, not fully developed white bulb with long green stalks.  Although many use scallion and green onion (spring onion) interchangeably, this slight difference of the green onion having a bulge beginning to appear at the base makes them different.  Green onions are milder tasting than large bulb onions and ARE young shoots of the onion.  

Although green onions are not a mature vegetable, they offer the same health benefits as a large bulb onion.  All onions have been shown to help lower blood sugar, high cholesterol and blood pressure, the risk of colon cancer and other cancers, and inflammation .  Onions are known for the antioxidant quercetin.  Green onions are also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, and copper.  Overfall, eating onions is good for your health: bone, immune system, heart, eye.  They are on the list of foods  to eat to reduce your risk of cancer.

Store green onions unwashed, removing rubber band if any, wrapped in plastic and in the crisper drawer.  They should keep for up to 5 days, but using them sooner is best as they will begin to wilt.  

Green onions are a versatile veggie.  As always, wash your produce prior to using.  Remove the last inch or so from the base.  Now you are ready to add flavor, beauty, and health to your meal.  Chop them raw, sautee, grill or roast whole.    Add them to salads, salsa, dips, soups, eggs, for a few suggestions.  Please click on the button below for recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

 

  

 

Eat Your Peas

Don’t like peas? If you have never had a fresh pea, you can’t be sure. Shelling Peas, also called English peas, are a variety of sweet peas. They are meant to be eaten without the pod, although the empty pod makes for a delicious chilled soup among other things. So save your empty pods, freeze them if need be. You can eat the peas raw, steamed, or boiled. I like to eat mine raw as a snack.

The conversion of the pea’s natural sugar to starch begins immediately after harvest. Some cooks say the greatest lag time between picking and serving peas should be no more than 12 hours. If you serve properly stored peas within a day or two of harvest, you should still find them a treat.  Store peas in pod in the fridge sealed in a plastic bag.

Is this your first time shelling a Pea? Watch my instructional Video.  Please click on the button below and scroll down the Facebook page to the video:  

Peas are a good source of vitamins A and C, dietary fiber, and other nutrients. If you are not going to eat fresh Peas right away, shell and freeze them to prevent them from turning starchy.

Please click on the button below for recipes:

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn

  

Romaine Lettuce: Did You Know...?

There are many lettuce varieties with varying degrees of nutritional value.  Romaine lettuce is often mistakenly considered to not have health benefits, but this is not the case.  A healthy diet requires that we eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, maybe some whole grains, and protein.  A diet consuming only romaine as your leafy green would not be healthy of course, however a salad a day is part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. 

Romaine contains a good amount of fiber, making it a fantastic addition to your diet to clean your digestive track, lowering your risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.  Sufficient water intake is required for fiber to "do it's job."  "Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin K, folate, and molybdenum. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of manganese, potassium, biotin, vitamin B1, copper, iron, and vitamin C. It is also a good source of vitamin B2, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, calcium, and pantothenic acid."   The water content and fiber make Romaine a wonderful addition to any meal, especially if you are in weight-loss mode.

Preparing and Storing lettuce is not the same across the board.  Romaine In order should be washed and dried prior to storing.  Remove any outer leaves that are damaged or wilted, break off the end, soak in a veggie wash solution, preferable in a salad spinner, rinse by soaking in the salad spinner in water, drain, and spin.  If storing, do not cut or tear the Romaine.  Store in a plastic bag, single layered, separated by unbleached paper towels.  Romain can stay fresh up to 1-2 weeks.  Romaine can be eaten raw, grilled, added to soups, smoothies, or juiced.  Romain can also be used as a wrap or filled.  Please click on the button below for recipe.

Thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn, CHHC, AADP

 

References

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=61, June 20-26, 2016

http://www.livestrong.com/article/461791-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-romaine-lettuce/  

Hail The Hakurei Turnip

The Hakurei Turnip, also known as salad turnips, is a small white turnip from Japan.  They do not need to be cooked like other varieties, are not as spicy and are much more sweet.     I love turnips, all turnips, but the Hakurei can be chopped raw in a salad, sliced in a sandwich, sliced as a cracker, cubed for a snack.  They are part of the Brassica family-cabbage/cruciferous- like broccoli and kale.  The leafy greens of the turnip are edible, and are actually more nutritious than the turnip itself! Not only are they delicious and versatile, but loaded with vitamins and minerals, however their nutritional value is depleted , as with any vegetable, if you boil them.  Turnips lower blood pressure, and help prevent cancer:

  • High in fiber-lowering all kinds of health risks and making you feel full
  •  Vitamins-vitamins C, B's (nervous system function, help with fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver)
  • Minerals- Calcium, potassium, small amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus
  • Low in calories-51 calories per mashed cup (200 calories for potato).

 Preparing these turnip are simple.  If you happen to have your turnip with green tops in tact, remove the greens as soon as you can;  the greens will actually leach nutrients from the turnip.  The greens should be washed thoroughly and can be used raw or cooked, thrown in with your salad, soup, sandwich, or sautéed on low heat with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Store unwashed greens in a plastic bag and they should keep for a couple of weeks, but again, the vitamins and minerals are depleted.  

How to eat them?  Wash thoroughly.  I use a veggie spray or soak and use a vegetable brush.

 The Hakurei Turnip should not need peeled.     Don't be afraid to just add them to anything.  Throw them in a casserole or roasting pan by themselves or other veggies in a 400 degree oven, toss with olive oil and roast in the oven, turning with a spoon occasionally.  You don't want to miss these recipes.  Turnips have become quite popular in the New York City restaurants.  Please click on the recipe link below.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn, CHHC, AADP

Strawberries: A Superfood

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

Exciting Asparagus: Our First CSA Share Topic Of The Season (Week 1)

I am so excited.  This week begins the CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture-a food production and distribution system that connects farmers and consumers directly, purchasing "shares") season for us here in the Lyme-Old Lyme area.  This blog is about asparagus: nutritional importance, how to store, how to prepare.  There will also be a recipe or two, just click on the recipe button below.

Asparagus contains the highest amount of folate (crucial for making new cells) and numerous vitamins and minerals.   To keep it in layman's terms and not to bore you, I will skip to telling you why you should eat asparagus and not list all the vitamins, etc.  Asparagus is a healthy choice in most diets.  There are different varieties but green asparagus contains the most nutrients.  Asparagus is low in calories, is a complex carb (what we want and need), is detoxing to the liver (the liver can ALWAYS use the help), and is a natural diuretic (it's worth the pungent odor most of us experience). 

Storing asparagus correctly will not only keep it fresh, but you will prevent the ends from drying out, and therefor, have less to trim and more to eat.  The best way to store asparagus is to trim about an inch off the ends, stand in about an inch of water in a glass jar, and loosely cover with a plastic bag.  Your asparagus should keep in the fridge for up to a week or so, but don't forget to change the water if it becomes cloudy.  

Preparing asparagus is very simple.  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.  There are two common methods to trim asparagus.  The most common is by grabbing the spear by both ends and bend until the spear snaps.  This will give you the most tender part of the spear, but will also waste a tasty portion of it as well.  The second method requires a bit more work, trimming a 1/2 inch off the base and peeling from just below the tip to the base.  The method you choose is a personal preference as to whether or not you enjoy your asparagus more fibrous or more tender.  

Asparagus can be eaten raw, chopped and added to salads or left long for a veggie platter, grilled with olive oil, steamed, sautéed, roasted, broiled.  How long to cook?  It depends on how you like your asparagus, crunch, no crunch.  Please click on the button below for recipes.

Thank you for following. : - )

Hooray for Hubbards!!!!

The size of this winter squash can be intimidating, some growing to 50 pounds, and are not hubba hubba.  But oh my, they are nutritious, versatile, and worth the effort since they yield much flesh.  Hubbard squash is also called "buttercup" and "green pumpkin."  Hubbards are sold in most major supermarkets, but most often sold already cut since they are so big.  They keep for up to six months if stored correctly: remove stem, store in 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit, 70 degrees relative humidity and not with apples.  The easiest way to prepare hubbards:

  • Wash
  • Cut in half, end to end
  • Remove seeds
  • Bake cut flesh-side down on a cookie sheet, or peel and steam or boil (much more work)

The original origins of the hubbard squash are not exactly known, however, it is said to possibly be named after Mrs. Elizabeth Hubbard, who lived in the 1840's, and gave seeds to her friends, thus making this squash popular. There is a newer hubbard variety called the golden hubbard which does not taste anything like what we would expect from a hubbard, so if you had a bitter hubbard, try a different variety.  The flesh is orange and sweet-tasting.  It is usually substituted for any and all other winter squashes, like pumpkin for pie, and therefore making it ideal for baking and cooking.  

Why you should eat hubbard squash:

  • High in Vitamins A: beta-carotene, vision, immune system, normal organ function
  • High in Vitamin C: Best known as an antioxidant
  • Potassium: can control blood pressure
  • Low in calories

Essentially, as a winter squash, hubbards will help reduce the risks of cancer, cataracts, high blood pressure, and is quite nutritious.  Use hubbard in place of any other winter squash or eat is on it's own, sweet and delicious.  Please click on the button below for recipes.