Red Lentil Soup with Italian Herbs

Red Lentil Soup with Italian Herbs

Here’s a delicious soup that’s very easy to put together, takes little time to cook, and is flexible so it can easily be increased/decreased to meet your needs and adjusted to your preferences. What more can you ask for?? Give it a try sometime.

Below is a video demonstration of how to make the soup. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Red Lentil Soup with Italian Herbs
Makes 5 to 6 Cups of Soup
(2 to 3 Meal-Size Servings)

4 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced)
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp dried minced onion (or 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped onion)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
½ tsp dried basil leaves
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves of garlic, minced)
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
1 cup spiral pasta, uncooked

Add all ingredients (except the spinach and pasta) to a pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, then lower heat to simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and pasta. Raise heat if needed to bring the soup back to a boil, then lower heat back to simmer. Simmer with the lid on the pot, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender. Serve.

Store extra soup in the refrigerator in a covered container. Use within 5 days. This soup may also be frozen.

Millet Vegetable Pilaf

Millet Vegetable Pilaf

If you’re looking for something different to fix for a social gathering, or simply to make ahead for a weeknight meal, this should do the trick. It’s not hard to make and is ready in about the time it takes to cook a small pot of millet.

Below is a video demonstration of how to make this dish. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Millet Vegetable Pilaf
Makes 4 to 5 Meal-Size Servings (or About 8 Side Servings)

1 cup millet
2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more as needed
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup diced bell pepper
1 cup diced carrot
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small (4 oz) can or jar of mushroom pieces OR 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1-1/2 cups diced zucchini or yellow squash
1-1/2 cups cooked great northern beans OR 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, optional
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of one lemon

Place the millet in a fine strainer and rinse it under running water. Allow it to drain over a bowl. In a medium pot with a lid, bring the 2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Add the millet. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low so the millet will simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow the millet to rest for 5 minutes, with the lid still on the pot.

Meanwhile, cook the vegetables. In a skillet with a lid, heat about 1/3 cup of the vegetable broth. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrots, basil, thyme, parsley flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir-steam the vegetables over medium heat until they are almost crisp-tender, keeping the skillet covered when not stirring. Add more broth as needed to keep the mixture from getting dry. When the carrots are almost fork-tender, stir in the mushrooms, zucchini, the cooked beans (if using them), chopped spinach, any remaining broth, and the lemon zest. Continue cooking about another 1 to 2 minute, to allow the spinach to wilt and the zucchini to cook to a crisp-tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Total cooking time is roughly 13 minutes. Remove from heat. Gently stir in the cooked millet and serve.

Pineapple

Pineapples 101 – The Basics

Pineapples are a delicious, sweet tropical fruit that most of us are familiar with. Thanks to modern transportation, many grocery stores have fresh pineapples available year round. Yet, we also can choose from canned, dried, and even frozen pineapple too. Its availability makes it a handy fruit to have on-hand, ready to be used in oh-so-many ways! If you are looking for ideas for something different to do with pineapples, you’re in the right place. Below is a comprehensive article all about pineapples, from what they are to suggested recipe links, and everything in between.

Enjoy!
Judi

Pineapples 101 – The Basics

About Pineapples
Pineapples are delicious, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They are an extremely popular fruit in America, second only to bananas. Pineapples are members of the Bromeliaceae family of plants. The name stems from the enzyme bromelain, contained in the fruit. They have a wide cylindrical shape with a green, brown, or yellow scaly skin with spiny blue-green leaves on the top. The flesh is yellow with a juicy, delicious sweet-tart flavor. The area closest to the base of the pineapple has the most sugar, so it will taste the sweetest.

It is believed that pineapples originated in South America, but they were first discovered in 1493 by European explorers when they visited the Caribbean island that is now Guadeloupe. From there, the fruit eventually was carried to areas with tropical climates where they thrived.

Pineapples were first cultivated in Hawaii in the 1700s. It is currently the only U.S. state where pineapples are grown commercially. The fruit is also grown commercially in Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Interestingly, it takes about two years for one pineapple to reach maturity, so it has a long growth cycle. Pineapples are available in most grocery stores year-round, with their peak season being in the spring and summer months.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Pineapples
Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese. It also is a good source of copper Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, fiber, folate, and pantothenic acid. Pineapple has negligible fat, but it does contain a high amount of sugar, with a “medium” glycemic load of 56 in a ¾ cup serving. One cup of fresh pineapple chunks has about 83 calories.

Bromelain. Bromelain is a mixture of compounds found in the stem and core of pineapple. These substances have become known as bromelain and are often included in enzyme supplements. Bromelain is known for its protein digesting function. More recent research has found that bromelain extract has other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, excess coagulation of the blood, and suppressing tumor growth. We’re not certain at this time if those same benefits can be obtained from the amounts received when the fruit is eaten in normal amounts.

Antioxidant protection and immune system support. Vitamin C is the body’s main antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. This protection extends to guarding against atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, asthma attacks, colon cancer, and osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, Vitamin C is critical for proper functioning of the immune system, and a one cup serving of pineapple provides 105% of our daily needs for this vitamin. This alone makes pineapple a worthy addition to anyone’s diet!

Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 and the trace mineral manganese. Both have vital roles in energy production and antioxidant functions. Along with Vitamin C, the nutrients in pineapple can play an important part in keeping us healthy and well.

How to Select a Fresh Pineapple
Choose a fresh pineapple that is heavy for its size. Choose one that is free of spots, bruises, and darkened “eyes” or scales, which indicates the fruit is old. Also, smell the pineapple at the stem end. It should smell sweet. Avoid one that smells sour, musty or fermented. Pineapples do not ripen after being picked, so opt for a ripe one that is still fresh and at its prime.

How to Store Fresh Pineapples
Pineapples may be left at room temperature for a day or two after purchase. It will not become any sweeter, but this will help it to soften some and be juicier. Pineapples are very perishable. So, if you do not plan to eat it soon after bringing it home, it’s best to wrap it in perforated plastic and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep like that for up to 3 to 5 days. For best flavor, allow the pineapple to come to room temperature before eating or cooking with it.

Store cut pineapple in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will keep best if it is covered in pineapple juice. Fresh pineapple may be frozen in an airtight container and will keep for up to six months.

Dried vs Canned vs Fresh Pineapple
Dried Pineapple. Nutritionally speaking, the nutrient content of dried fruits is usually reduced when compared with their fresh counterparts. The heat and prolonged exposure to air causes these losses. Vitamin C, B-vitamins, calcium and potassium are all reduced to some degree in the drying of pineapple.

Despite the loss of some nutrients, dried pineapple retains its natural sugar content in the process so it is a deliciously sweet treat. It would be a great addition to granola, trail mix, cereal, and baked goods. Many manufacturers of dried pineapple often coat the fruit with added sugar in the process, making it even sweeter. Like this, it becomes more like a candy than a fruit. If you’re watching your blood sugar levels, you will need to restrict the amount of dried pineapple that you eat in one serving. It is possible to find dried pineapple without added sugar, so be sure to read labels carefully if you’re avoiding added sweeteners.

Canned Pineapple. As would be expected, some nutrients are lost in the canning process of pineapple. For example, almost half of the Vitamin C content of fresh pineapple is lost in the making of the canned version. However, a cup of canned pineapple still has about 28% of our daily value of Vitamin C, which can be a major contributor to the diet. Unfortunately, all of the important enzyme bromelain is lost in the canning process. Despite these losses, canned pineapple is a good staple food to add to your pantry collection. It’s available at a moment’s notice to be used any way you need, whether to be eaten as-is or used in a cooked dish.

Fresh Pineapple. If you’re looking for the highest nutritional value in pineapple, fresh is best. Fresh pineapples are found in many grocery stores most of the time, so they are usually available when needed. Although they do take some time to prepare, nothing can beat the taste of sweet and juicy fresh pineapple. They can be eaten raw or enjoyed in cooked dishes and baked items. Another advantage is that they are often inexpensive, considering how much edible fruit you get from one pineapple. Even though there are great uses for dried pineapple, and canned pineapple is very convenient, give the fresh variety a try if you haven’t already done so. You’ll be glad you did!

How to Prepare a Pineapple
First remove the top and base of the pineapple with a sharp knife. There are many ways to remove the skin. A simple way is to rest the pineapple on its base, then cut downward along the sides to remove the skin. Take a paring knife to remove the “eyes” that remain. The pineapple may also be cut into quarters, leaving the core or removing it with a knife. The quarters can then be sliced, then the skin cut away.

Pineapple corers are also found in many stores. They are a convenient way to remove the core and rind from the fruit. However, they will also likely remove a lot of edible fruit too, so they may or may not be your best choice.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Pineapple
Pineapples are delicious tropical fruits that can be enjoyed in many ways from breakfast to supper time desserts, and anything in between. It can be used raw or cooked, and is commonly used in American, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines. If you’re looking for ideas for something a little different, here are some suggestions…

* Make a shrimp salad with cooked shrimp, diced pineapple, grated ginger, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste and serve on a bed of lettuce.

* Make a pineapple salsa with diced pineapple and chili peppers. Serve with fish.

* Drizzle maple syrup over pineapple slices. Broil until lightly browned, then top with yogurt.

* Make a quick salad with chopped pineapple, grated fennel, and chopped cashews. Serve with chicken.

* Make a tropical fruit salad with diced pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and mango.

* Add chunks of pineapple to a coleslaw or carrot salad.

* Add pineapple to your morning smoothie for a delicious flavor boost.

* Top pineapple with yogurt for a delicious, creamy dessert or snack.

* Top your favorite burger with a pineapple ring for a tropical twist.

* Add pineapple as a topping on pizza.

* The next time you fire up the grill, add some grilled pineapple rings to the menu. You’ll be glad you did! It can be served with your protein of choice, included in a dessert, or paired with a vegetable or cooked grain.

* Add pineapple to pico de gallo for a sweet flare.

* Make an easy pineapple sorbet by freezing canned pineapple with its juice in a shallow container. When frozen, remove the container from the freezer and let it sit on a counter for 10 minutes to partially thaw. Break it into chunks and place them in a food processor. Carefully process it until smooth and serve immediately. Return any leftover to the freezer and repeat the process next time.

* Make easy pineapple popsicles. Blend 3 cups of fresh or drained canned pineapple with 1/3 cup milk of choice, and ¼ cup of sugar (or sweetener of choice). Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups and insert wooden sticks. Freeze until firm and enjoy!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Pineapple
Basil, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, curry powder, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, star anise, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Pineapple
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), cashews, chicken, fish, ham, nuts (esp. almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts), pork, seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sunflower), tempeh, tofu

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers (esp. red), chiles, cucumbers, hearts of palm, jicama, mushrooms (esp. Portobello), onions, parsnips, scallions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Apricots, avocados, bananas, berries (esp. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), coconut, other fruit in general (esp. tropical fruit), grapefruit, kiwi, kumquats, lemon, lime, mangoes, melon, orange, papayas, passion fruit, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Rice, seitan

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e. ricotta), coconut milk, cream, ice cream, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, caramel, chocolate (white and dark), gin, honey, lavender, liqueurs, maple syrup, molasses, oil, rum, sugar (esp. brown), vinegar (esp. apple cider, red wine, rice, white wine)

Pineapples have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. cakes, esp. pineapple upside-down), Caribbean cuisines, chutneys, curries, drinks (i.e. piña coladas), Hawaiian cuisine, salad dressings, salads (green and fruit), salsas, sauces, skewers (i.e. fruit), smoothies, sorbets, soups, stews, stir-fries, Vietnamese cuisine

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Pineapple
Add pineapple to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + vanilla
Apple + brown sugar + ginger + orange juice + soy sauce
Banana + brown sugar
Brown sugar + honey + rum + vanilla
Brown sugar + lime
Chiles + cilantro + garlic + lime + red onions
Cilantro + lime
Coconut + brown sugar
Coconut + ginger + rum
Coconut + passion fruit + white chocolate
Coconut + yogurt
Ginger + maple syrup
Honey + mint + yogurt
Peanuts + sweet potatoes

Recipe Links
Baked Ham with Pineapple https://www.thespruceeats.com/baked-ham-with-pineapple-3051040

Easy No-Bake Pineapple Cheesecake https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-no-bake-pineapple-cheesecake-3052567

Smoked Pork Chops with Pineapple https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-smoked-pork-chops-with-pineapple-3059345

Refreshing Watermelon Pineapple Smoothie https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/refreshing-watermelon-pineapple-smoothie/

Coconut Pineapple Paleo Popsicles https://addapinch.com/coconut-pineapple-paleo-popsicles-recipe/

Cucumber Salad with Pineapple and Cilantro https://reluctantentertainer.com/cucumber-salad-recipe/

Baked Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Blueberry Salsa https://addapinch.com/baked-mahi-mahi-with-pineapple-blueberry-salsa-recipe/

Pineapple Fried Rice https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a25102459/easy-pineapple-fried-rice-recipe/

Pineapple Salsa https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipes/a53020/pineapple-salsa-in-pineapple-recipe/

Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a47376/grilled-salmon-with-pineapple-salsa-recipe/

Grilled Pineapple Salsa https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a47362/grilled-pineapple-salsa-recipe/

Resources
http://www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=34

https://www.thespruceeats.com/history-of-the-pineapple-1807645

https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/pineapples-and-diabetes

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-pineapple#section8

http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-pineapple/

https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Pineapple_4482.php

https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/healthy-eating/canned-pineapple-versus-fresh

https://www.chfusa.com/blog/fresh-pineapple-juice/

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/10_7/ask-experts/1498-1.html

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/healthy-dried-pineapple-2818.html

https://www.livestrong.com/article/530229-the-nutritional-difference-between-canned-fresh-pineapple/

https://www.wisebread.com/20-delicious-ways-to-use-pineapple

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Papaya

Papaya 101 – The Basics

If you live in the tropics, you’ve probably grown up eating papaya, so it’s nothing new to you. I’m sure you could teach us a lot about this interesting fruit! However if you grew up elsewhere, papaya is one of those fruits that you may have never tried. You may not know what to do with it…how to prepare it or how to include it in meals with other foods. Hopefully, the article below will help you out. It’s a comprehensive article all about papaya, from what it is, to how to buy, store, and use it, to suggested recipe links. If you’re curious about papaya, you found the right place to find answers to your questions!

Enjoy,
Judi

Papaya 101 – The Basics

About Papayas
Papayas are oblong to pear-shaped fruits that are usually about 7 inches long. However, they can be as long as 20 inches. The flesh is orange in color, with yellow to pink hues. Inside are many black, round seeds with a gelatinous coating. The pea-sized seeds are edible with a peppery, bitter flavor. The flavor of papaya flesh is sweet with slight musk undertones. The consistency is soft and butter-like. Papaya trees produce fruit year-round, although they have a peak season in early summer and fall.

Papayas are native to Central America, where they were long revered by Latin American Indians. Explorers carried papayas to other parts of the world, including India, the Philippines, and Africa. They made their way around the world from there. Papayas have been cultivated in Hawaii since the 1920s where they are a major producer of the fruit, along with Mexico, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The papaya tree only grows in warm climates.

Christopher Columbus referred to the papaya as “the fruit of the angels.” In Australia, papayas are referred to as papaws or pawpaws. In Brazil, they are called Mamaos. They can also be referred to as tree melons.

Papayas contain the enzyme papain, which helps to digest protein. The enzyme is especially concentrated in unripe papayas. This enzyme is often extracted from papayas and included in digestive enzyme supplements and some chewing gums. It is also added to commercial meat tenderizers.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Papayas
Papaya is an excellent source of Vitamin C, with one medium papaya providing 224% of our daily needs. Papaya is also a good source of Vitamin A (from beta-carotene), folate, fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, and Vitamin K. One medium papaya has about 119 calories, or 43 calories in a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving.

Possible health benefits of papaya include reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and cancer. It aids in digestion, improves blood glucose control in diabetics, and lowers blood pressure. Beta-carotene, which is plentiful in papayas, has been found to be protective against prostate cancer in men, and also asthma in those who eat a lot of foods containing this antioxidant. Papayas have even been found to aid in wound healing.

Protection from Macular Degeneration. Papayas contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin which is known to filter blue rays from sunlight. By doing this it is believed to help protect our eyes from macular degeneration. Therefore, eating papayas may help to protect your eyes from sun-related damage.

Papaya and Latex-Fruit Syndrome. If you react to rubber, you may also react to papaya, especially unripe papayas. Papayas have proteins that are similar to those found in natural rubber. Some individuals who react to rubber will also react to the proteins in papayas. If you are in this group of people, papayas may not be right for you. Proceed with caution!

How to Select a Fresh Papaya
Papayas with a reddish-orange skin and are slightly soft to the touch are ready to eat right away. So, if you want a papaya for immediate use, that’s the one to opt for. Ones with yellow patches on the skin will take a few days to ripen when left at room temperature. Papayas that are totally green and hard are not ripe and should be avoided, unless you need an unripe one for a specific recipe. The unripe papayas will not develop their characteristic sweet flavor.

Avoid papayas that are bruised and overly soft. A few dark spots on the surface will not affect the flavor of the papaya.

How to Store Papayas
Ripe papayas should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place a yellowish papaya in a paper bag with a ripe banana. Once the papaya ripens up it should be used right away or placed in the refrigerator and used within a few days.

Dried vs Fresh Papaya
Fresh Papaya. Thanks to modern transportation methods, fresh papaya is available in many grocery stores year-round. Both ripe and green (unripe) varieties are available and offer versatility so the fruit can be enjoyed raw in sweet dishes or cooked in savory foods.

Dried Papaya. Dried papaya is a convenient and delicious way to enjoy this tropical fruit and have it available whenever you need it. It’s important to read labels when purchasing dried papaya. A lot of manufacturers add sweeteners, preservatives, and coloring agents during the drying process. However, dried papaya without added sweeteners or chemicals is available from some resources. It may be marketed as organic or natural dried papaya. If you’re avoiding such additives, it’s critical to read labels when you’re shopping to be sure you are getting what you expect.

Dried papaya can be enjoyed on its own or added to quick breads, trail mix, granola, hot porridge (like oatmeal), cookie dough, and sprinkled on ice cream. Use it in any way you would use a dried fruit.

How to Prepare a Papaya
Papayas are easy to use and basically are prepared like a melon. Wash the fruit, then slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds, remove the peel and dice it up, or scoop out the flesh with a spoon or melon baller.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Papayas
Papayas can be eaten raw or used in a number of savory recipes. Experiment with papayas if you’re not familiar with them and surely you’ll find your favorite way to enjoy them. Here are some suggestions…

* Simply scoop out the pulp of a papaya and enjoy it as it is. For a little zing, you could drizzle a little lemon or lime juice on top.

* When adding papaya to a fruit salad, add the papaya just before serving. The enzymes in the papaya can cause other fruit to become soft.

* Although they can be a little bitter, the papaya seeds are edible with a peppery flavor. They can be dried, and chewed whole or blended into a dressing for a pepper flavor.

* Combine diced papaya, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and ginger for a salsa that goes well with seafood.

* Slice a papaya lengthwise, remove the seeds, fill the cavity with a fruit salad, then top with a couple mint leaves for a beautiful presentation.

* Blend papaya, strawberries, banana and yogurt for a delicious smoothie.

* Unripe papayas are often used as a vegetable and added to curries, salads and stews, especially in Southeast Asian dishes.

* Make a tropical fruit salad with fresh papaya, mango and pineapple.

* Add dried papaya to a rice pilaf.

* Add papaya chunks to chicken, tuna, or shrimp salad.

* In many recipes, papaya may be used in place of mango.

* Bake a ripe papaya with a sprinkle of brown sugar and rum for an exceptional flavor treat.

* Add grated or thinly sliced unripe papaya to coleslaw.

* The flavor of ripe papaya is best when it’s cold, so refrigerate it first if you will be enjoying it raw.

* Make a simple breakfast addition or dessert by cutting a papaya in half (lengthwise), and scooping out the seeds. Fill the cavity with yogurt, then top with a few blueberries.

* Enjoy a tropical smoothie by blending some coconut milk with diced papaya and a few ice cubes.

* Make a papaya chia pudding by combining chopped papaya with 1 cup of almond milk (or milk of choice), 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla. Pour the mixture into a small mason jar, cover and place it in the refrigerator to chill and thicken.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Papayas
Cayenne, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, rosemary, salt, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Papayas
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), chicken, fish, legumes (in general), nuts (esp. almonds, cashews, macadamia, peanuts), pork, shrimp, tofu

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, carrots, chili peppers, cucumbers, daikon radish, greens (salad), jalapeno peppers, jicama, lettuce, mung bean sprouts, onions (esp. red), scallions, shallots, spinach, tomatoes

Fruits: Avocados, bananas, berries (esp. raspberries, strawberries), citrus (esp. grapefruit, lemon, lime), coconut, kiwi, mango, melon (esp. cantaloupe, honeydew), passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Rice, tortillas (corn)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese, yogurt

Other: Agave nectar, honey, lavender, oil (olive), soy sauce, sugar (brown), tamari (with green papayas), vinegar (esp. rice wine, tarragon)

Papayas have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Caribbean cuisines, chutneys, curries, ice creams, jams, marinades, salad dressings, salads, salsas, smoothies, sorbets, Thai cuisine (green papayas)

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Ripe Papayas
Add ripe papayas to any of the following combinations…

Bananas + honey
Bananas + mangos + vanilla + yogurt
Bananas + oranges
Bell peppers + cilantro + lime + onions
Cayenne + cilantro + lime
Cayenne + greens + jicama + lemon + lime
Chiles + mango + mint + pineapple
Coconut + rice
Ginger + lime
Honey + mint + yogurt
Jicama + orange + red onions
Kiwi + mango + pineapple
Lime + mango + mint + orange
Strawberries + yogurt

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Green (Unripe) Papayas
Add green (unripe) papayas to any of the following combinations…

Chili pepper + garlic + lime + peanuts
Green beans + lime + peanuts + tomatoes
Lime + peanuts + Thai basil

Recipe Links

Papaya Bars https://www.acozykitchen.com/papaya-bars

Papaya Recipes https://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/papaya

Chicken and Papaya Stir-Fry https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chicken-and-papaya-stir-fry

Papaya and Feta Salad http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/266922/papaya-and-feta-salad/

Jamaican Jerk Shrimp with Papaya and Pineapple http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/265103/jamaican-jerk-shrimp-with-papaya-and-pineapple/

Tropical Melon Smoothie http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/255708/tropical-melon-smoothie/

Green Papaya Salad http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252304/green-papaya-salad/

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam) https://www.thespruceeats.com/green-papaya-salad-som-tam-recipe-3217693

Spiced Papaya Pie with Graham Cracker Crust https://www.thespruceeats.com/papaya-pie-with-graham-cracker-crust-1808408

Resources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=47

https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/papaya.html

http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-papayas/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275517.php

https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-papaya/

https://producemadesimple.ca/what-does-papaya-go-well-with/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-proven-papaya-benefits#section2

https://www.thespruceeats.com/papaya-storage-and-selection-1807787

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutritional-dried-papaya-spears-1341.html

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Rice Chickpea Crackers

Rice-Chickpea Crackers

Here’s an easy gluten-free cracker to make! Below is a video demo of how to make the crackers. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Rice-Chickpea Crackers
Makes about 4 Dozen 1-1/2” Crackers

2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
1 Tbsp flax meal (ground flax seed)
1/2 tsp salt (optional, see note below)*
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil**
1/3 cup water or milk of choice, or more as needed

Combine the flours, flax meal, and salt (if adding it to the mixture) in a small bowl. Add the oil and milk; stir well to combine.
Transfer the dough to a silicone baking mat or sheet of parchment paper the size of a large baking sheet. With your hands, form the dough into a rectangle. Cover the dough with a sheet of waxed paper about the size of the baking mat or parchment paper. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle until it is 1/8” to 1/4” thick. Remove the waxed paper. Score the dough into individual crackers about 1-1/2” square (this will not be perfect and don’t stress over measurements), with a pizza cutter or a dull butter knife. Don’t press hard, as you don’t want to cut the baking mat or parchment paper!

Place the sheet on the rack in the middle of a preheated 350°F oven, and allow them to bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. The baking time will vary depending upon the thickness of the dough and whether they were baked on parchment paper or silicone.

Important! Set your timer for 10 minutes at the start, rather than the full baking time. Crackers along the edges will bake faster than the crackers in the center. As they brown, they will need to be removed and allowed to cool on a plate or cooling rack. Return the remaining crackers to the oven, setting the timer for short intervals at a time, removing browned crackers along the way, until all the crackers have lightly browned. When all are lightly browned and dry, remove the pan and allow the crackers to cool, either directly on the pan or on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Store cooled crackers in an airtight container at room temperature.

* Note: Feel free to add any herbs you want to flavor these your way. Dried herbs can be added when combining the dry ingredients. The added salt will enhance the flavor of the cracker, but it can be omitted, if desired; OR leave the salt out of the batter and sprinkle a small amount of salt on top of the formed crackers before they are baked. Be careful not to add too much, as a little goes a long way!

**The olive oil can be omitted, if desired, but the crackers will have a very dry mouth feel.

Chickpea Tomato Herb Crackers

Chickpea Tomato Herb Crackers

If you’re looking for a flavorful tomato herb cracker using gluten-free flours, this is a great one to try. They are delicious, gluten-free and easy to make. Give them a try sometime!

Below is a video demonstration of how to make the crackers. The written recipe is below the video. Happy baking!

Enjoy!
Judi

Chickpea Tomato Herb Crackers
Makes about 4 Dozen (1-1/2 to 2” Crackers)

½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup garbanzo (chickpea) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp flaxmeal
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp dried basil*
½ tsp dried rosemary*
¼ tsp dried oregano*
1 tsp dried parsley
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well to make a smooth paste-like consistency. If the dough is too wet, add more flour. If it is too dry, add a little more water in small amounts until the dough can easily be rolled, but is not too wet.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the dough on a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit a large baking tray. With a spatula or your hands (moistened with water to keep the dough from sticking), gently form the dough into a rectangle. Cover the dough with waxed paper and roll it into a large rectangle, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Remove the waxed paper. With a pizza cutter or a butter knife, gently score the dough into 1-1/2 to 2-inch squares to form your crackers. (Don’t stress over perfection!)

Place the pan on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crackers are crisp and lightly browned. The baking time will vary depending upon how thick the dough has been rolled and whether they are baked on parchment paper or silicone, so they must be watched closely.

Important! Monitor the crackers as they bake, starting at about 10 minutes into the baking time. Remove any browned crackers along the edges as they bake to prevent them from burning. When all are baked (lightly browned, dry to the touch, and move freely on the baking sheet), remove the pan from the oven and allow the crackers to cool. Store in a covered container at room temperature.

* If preferred, you can use 1-1/4 tsp (or more) of Italian seasoning in place of the basil, rosemary and oregano.

Judi's Powerhouse Oats with Green Juice

Powerhouse Oats

Here’s the recipe for my Powerhouse Oats. I eat this for breakfast on most days, along with about 6 ounces of freshly made green juice, mostly of kale and carrots. Between the two, this breakfast holds me well and has done a lot for my health! Try it sometime!!

Below is a video showing how I make the oats. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Judi’s Powerhouse Oats
Makes 1 Serving

½ cup rolled oats, uncooked
1-1/3 cups water
¼ cup cooked great northern beans
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp blueberries, or more if desired
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 medium apple, chopped
Milk of choice, optional

In a small saucepan, add the oats, water, beans, chia seeds, blueberries and cinnamon. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir constantly for 1 or 2 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl. Sprinkle with ground flaxseed and top with chopped apple. This breakfast oatmeal can be eaten as it is or enjoyed with some milk of choice.

 

Spinach

Spinach 101 – The Basics

Spinach is a very healthful leafy green vegetable that most of us are familiar with. We add them to smoothies, salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, juices, and more. But if you’re wondering about spinach and its health benefits, or just looking for ideas for something different to do with this leafy green, look no further! Below is a comprehensive article all about spinach that covers everything from soup to nuts about this wholesome vegetable.

Enjoy!
Judi

Spinach 101 – The Basics

About Spinach
The leafy green vegetable, spinach, is a member of the chenopod or amaranth family (Chenopodiaceae and Amaranthaceae). Spinach is a cousin to beets (and beet greens) and Swiss chard, also members of the chenopod group. The grains quinoa and amaranth are members of this same plant family.

There are different varieties of spinach, including the most popular savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leafed varieties. The savoy varieties have curly leaves, unlike the flat-leaf variety that most of us are familiar with. We’re accustomed to spinach being green, but other varieties can have purple or even red colors.

Spinach appears to be native to the Middle East and was cultivated there for over a thousand years. Spinach was eventually taken around the world, after initially being traded with Asian cultures. Today, China grows the most spinach commercially, with the United States, Japan and Turkey falling within the top 10 spinach-producing countries.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Spinach
Spinach is a very healthful vegetable to eat. It is an excellent source of Vitamin K. One cup of cooked spinach provides a whopping 987% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K. That’s a LOT of Vitamin K! That same one cup also provides just over 100% of our daily needs for Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), and a lot of our needs for manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, Vitamins B2, B6, E, C, and calcium. It also contains very good amounts of potassium, fiber, phosphorus, Vitamin B1, zinc, protein, and other nutrients as well. Spinach is mostly water, so a 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of fresh spinach has only 23 calories. One cup of raw spinach has a mere 7 calories!

Anti-inflammatory Support. Spinach contains a number of flavonoids known to have anti-inflammatory benefits. These benefits have been shown to have distinct effects within the intestinal tract, promoting the release of nitric oxide, due to the nitrate content of spinach. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure by promoting the relaxation of blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Increased nitric oxide has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.

Note: Naturally-occurring nitrates in vegetables are different than sodium nitrates used as preservatives in processed meats. The nitrates found in vegetables are harmless, and in fact, they are health promoting. To the contrary, the sodium nitrates used as preservatives in processed meats have been found to promote the formation of compounds (nitrosamines) that can cause cancer. So there is no reason to fear eating spinach because of its nitrate content.

Spinach also is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. ALA has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, and in some cases, comparable to that of corticosteroids.

Satiety Effects of Spinach. Spinach is high in chlorophyll and other compounds that have been shown to help regulate hunger, satiety, and also blood sugar levels. These compounds delay stomach emptying, helping us to feel full longer and decrease the level of the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that signals when the stomach is empty sparking the “hunger” feeling, encouraging us to eat. Extracts of these compounds from spinach have been shown to have comparable effects to medications used to control type 2 diabetes.

Cancer Prevention. Spinach contains compounds including antioxidants that may slow cancer growth. One study found that these compounds reduced the growth of cervical tumors. Several studies have linked spinach to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Other studies found that spinach may also reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Eye Health. Spinach is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, which are the carotenoids responsible for color in some vegetables. These same compounds help to protect our eyes from sunlight damage. They have also been found to help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, which are major causes of blindness.

Skin and Hair Health. Spinach contains a lot of beta-carotene, which helps to moderate the amount of oil produced by our skin and hair follicles. The oils help to keep skin and hair healthy. The beta-carotene content of spinach combined with its abundant vitamin and mineral content may also help to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.

Oxalates. Spinach has a high oxalate (also called oxalic acid) content. Oxalates are naturally occurring organic acids found in a variety of foods. Oxalates in themselves are not harmful, but in some people with certain medical conditions (such as being prone to developing kidney stones), dietary oxalates must be highly restricted. Therefore, spinach may not be good for such individuals. The oxalates in spinach can be reduced by boiling the spinach (leaching the oxalates into the cooking water), or by combining spinach with foods rich in calcium, such as milk products. In the latter case, the calcium from calcium-rich foods binds with the spinach oxalates in the intestinal tract, reducing the availability of the oxalates.

Vitamin K. Spinach is extremely high in Vitamin K, an important vitamin used in our blood clotting function. Individuals taking blood thinning medications, such as Warfarin, must control their intake of Vitamin K so it does not interfere with their medication. If you take such a medication, it is important to consult with your physician before increasing your intake of spinach or any other high source of Vitamin K because of the potential interaction with your medication.

How to Select Fresh Spinach
Choose fresh spinach with bright green leaves and stems and no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender and have no signs of bruising or wilting. Avoid any with a slimy coating because that indicates the spinach is old and decayed.

How to Store Fresh Spinach
Keep your fresh spinach UNWASHED in a plastic bag or tub in the refrigerator. If there are signs of moisture in the bag or tub, place a paper towel on top of the spinach (in a tub), or roll the leaves up in a long strip of paper towel (when storing it in a plastic bag) to absorb moisture that forms during storage. Store it wrapped and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Most spinach in bags or tubs will have a best by date stamped on it. Try to use it no later than that day for best quality.

How to Prepare Fresh Spinach
Do not wash your fresh spinach until you are ready to use it. Wash it well by swishing the spinach in a bowl of water. This will remove any sand or debris that was clinging to the leaves. Remove the leaves, empty the bowl, and repeat the process until the water is clean after rinsing the leaves. Spinach may be spun dry or placed in a colander and gently shaken to remove excess water.

Fresh vs Frozen Spinach
Fresh. Fresh spinach is available year-round in most American grocery stores. It has a mild flavor and can be used in salads or included in fresh juices or smoothies. It is versatile, since it can also be cooked or included in any dish that calls for spinach. It is important to note that a tub of fresh spinach can go a long way when used in its fresh, raw state. But when cooked, it quickly dwindles down to seemingly very little, so a little bit of cooked spinach can actually represent a lot of the fresh version.

Frozen. Frozen spinach has been quickly blanched then frozen and bagged. It is a convenient food to have on-hand when a recipe calls for adding spinach to a dish. Frozen spinach cannot take the place of fresh spinach in salads because the texture is entirely different. However, it adds a nice color and nutritional boost to any cooked dish that includes spinach. The flavor of frozen and cooked spinach is stronger than that of fresh, raw spinach. So, if it’s too strong for your taste preferences, it may be good to include it as a component in a mixed food of some sort rather than eating it as a solo side dish.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Spinach
If you want to use more spinach in your meals, but are not quite sure where to get started, here are some ideas…

* Add layers of fresh spinach when making a pan of lasagna.

* A fresh spinach salad with dried cranberries, nuts, and your favorite salad dressing is a nutritious and easy side dish.

* To retain the nutrients in spinach as much as possible, steam it (traditionally), or stir-steam or sauté it for as little time as possible, using as little water as possible.

* Add fresh or frozen spinach to your favorite smoothie.

* Add fresh or frozen spinach to add color and a nutritional boost to any soup. Add it toward the end of cooking since it needs little cooking time.

* The flavor of spinach blends well with eggs. So add a little fresh or frozen spinach to your favorite egg dish or casserole. It adds color, texture and nutrients.

* Add some fresh or frozen spinach at the end of cooking when making a stir-fry.

* Make savory pancakes by adding spinach to the batter. Top them with yogurt, sour cream or cashew cream.

* Toss some fresh or frozen spinach into your favorite pasta dish.

* Stir-steam some fresh spinach with mushrooms and garlic for a fast, easy side dish. Use vegetable stock instead of water for more flavor. Only 2 or 3 tablespoons is enough to do the job.

* Add some fresh spinach along with lettuce and tomato on a sandwich.

* Toss a little spinach into your favorite risotto.

* Add some sautéed spinach to a hot cooked grain of choice for added color, texture and nutrients.

* Blend spinach into your favorite pesto.

* Add some fresh spinach to your favorite burritos or quesadillas.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Spinach
Allspice, basil, capers, cardamom, cayenne, chervil, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lovage, mace, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, sorrel, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Spinach
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beans, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish, hummus, lentils, nuts (esp. almonds, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts), nut butters, peas, seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), shrimp, tahini, tofu

Vegetables: Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, chives, eggplant, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, ramps, scallions, shallots, squash (summer), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, avocado, dried fruit (esp. cranberries, raisins), figs, lemon, lime, olives, orange, pears, tangerines

Grains and Grain Products: Bread crumbs, grains (in general), polenta, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (esp. cheddar, Feta, goat, Gruyere, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Horseradish, miso, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive, sesame), soy sauce, stock, sugar, tamari, vinegar

Spinach has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Burritos, calzones, casseroles, creamed spinach, crepes, curries, dips, egg dishes, falafels, gratins, Greek cuisine, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, Mediterranean cuisines, pasta dishes, pestos, pies, pilafs, pizza, purees, quesadillas, risottos, salad dressings, salads, smoothies, soufflés, soups, spreads, stews, stir-fries, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Spinach
Combine spinach with any of the following combinations…

Almonds + mushrooms + lemon
Avocado + grapefruit + red onions
Beets + fennel + orange + walnuts
Cheese + fruit + nuts
Chili pepper flakes + garlic + olive oil + vinegar
Citrus + pomegranate + onion + walnuts
Dried cranberries + goat cheese + hazelnuts + pears
Fennel + orange + red onions
Garlic + lemon + olive oil + Parmesan cheese + parsley
Garlic + mushrooms + tofu
Garlic + rosemary
Garlic + sesame
Lemon + tahini
Mushrooms + nutmeg + ricotta
Nuts + raisins
Pumpkin seeds + wild rice

Recipe Links
Easiest Cooked Spinach Ever (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/G2T1Fznx7KQ

Make a Frittata with Breakfast Potatoes and Spinach (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/BAmwJYqu2Bc

10 Flavorful Ways to Cook Spinach https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/sensational-ways-to-cook-with-spinach/

38 Ways to Eat Spinach That Aren’t Just another Boring Salad https://www.delish.com/cooking/g2013/spinach/

35 Tasty Ways to Use Frozen Spinach https://www.wisebread.com/35-tasty-ways-to-use-frozen-spinach

Mediterranean Baby Spinach Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=315

Figs, Walnuts and Spinach Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=194

Golden Spinach and Sweet Potato Healthy Sauté http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=186

Indian-Style Lentils http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=232

Fast and Easy Steamed Spinach (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/ZWuZHxdPGxg

How to Turn a Bag of Frozen Spinach into Your Kids’ Favorite: Skillet Spinach with Garlic https://foodlets.com/2015/01/30/simple-sides-frozen-spinach-garlic-powder-olive-oil/

57 Superfood Spinach Recipes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/superfood-spinach-recipes/

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43#descr

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-nitric-oxide

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29698923

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0955286315002004

https://flaxcouncil.ca/abstract/anti-inflammatory-potential-of-alpha-linolenic-acid-mediated-through-selective-cox-inhibition-computational-and-experimental-data/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22669722

https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2168117

http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=48

https://www.thekitchn.com/frozen-spinach-ideas-259736

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/spinach#nutrients

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609.php#nutrition

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-for-hair-growth#section3

https://producemadesimple.ca/what-goes-well-with-spinach/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10705679_Bioavailability_of_soluble_oxalate_from_spinach_eaten_with_and_without_milk_products

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Raspberries

Raspberries 101 – The Basics

Raspberries are an extremely popular fruit, with a delicious sweet-tart flavor all their own. They’re wonderful as a stand-alone treat, yet they can be included in a wide array of foods whether they are raw, cooked or baked. If you’re seeking some specific information about raspberries, hopefully you’ll find what you need below. What follows is a comprehensive article all about raspberries, from what they are to how to use them.

Enjoy!
Judi

Raspberries 101 – The Basics

About Raspberries
Raspberries are members of the rose family of plants (Rosaceae). They are a cousin to apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, loquats, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, and even almonds. Raspberries are the third most popular berry, following strawberries and blueberries.

There are over 200 different types of raspberries, with most that are grown commercially being red, black, or purple raspberries. The red raspberry is the most common variety grown. Raspberries are called “aggregate fruits” meaning that they are made of many small individual fruits coming from multiple ovaries in a single flower. In raspberries, those individual fruits are the tiny juicy round spheres that form the structure of the round raspberry. The individual spheres are called drupelets and each one has its own seed (as you know if you’ve ever eaten raspberries).

The many varieties of raspberries appear to have originated around the globe from the Arctic Circle to the Hawaiian Islands, Asia, North America, and beyond. Raspberries appear to be one of the first cultivated berries, with evidence dating back 2,000 years in Europe. Today, raspberries are among the world’s most popular berries and they are grown commercially in many countries. They are grown across America, with most of them being grown in California. Despite that, because of their popularity, the United States imports about 15,000 metric tons of raspberries from Mexico each year.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Raspberries
Raspberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C, manganese and fiber. They are a good source of Vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin, Vitamin E, magnesium, folate, and even omega-3 fatty acids. One cup of raspberries has about 64 calories. On top of all the nutrients found in raspberries, they are loaded with dozens of phytonutrients that have an array of health benefits.

Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Effects. Raspberries contain a large variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, more so than other fruits. Also, the amount of each compound is significant in helping to protect us from oxidative stress and excess inflammation. The diseases associated with these conditions that can be helped through the compounds in raspberries includes obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and even Crohn’s disease.

Anticancer Effects: Raspberries are full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients and compounds that prove to be beneficial in fighting cancer. Additionally, research has shown that the compounds in raspberries send signals that actually decrease the number of cancer cells by encouraging them to begin the phase of apoptosis (programmed cell death). These compounds have also been found to encourage non-cancerous cells (that could potentially become cancerous) to remain benign.

Obesity and Blood Sugar Benefits. A compound in raspberries, rheosmin, has been found to increase metabolism in fat cells, possibly making them less likely to deposit fat within their cells. This action may also help to reduce the number of pro-inflammatory molecules produced by our fat cells, helping to reduce inflammatory problems associated with obesity.

Rheosmin has also been found to decrease the activity of pancreatic lipase, the fat-digesting enzyme released by the pancreas. By reducing the activity of this enzyme, we may digest and absorb less fat.

Another compound found in raspberries, tiliroside, is known to activate adiponectin, a key factor in the regulation of insulin and blood sugar levels. In obese people with type 2 diabetes, adiponectin seems to be in short supply or not active enough to adequately regulate blood sugar levels. By way of activating adiponectin, the tiliroside in raspberries can help in the management of blood sugar levels in obese people with type 2 diabetes. Preliminary studies suggest that the compounds in raspberries may help to regulate blood sugar, blood insulin, and blood fats in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.

How to Select Raspberries
The optimal way to buy fresh raspberries is to choose ones that are fully ripe, yet are still fresh and not starting to spoil. Look for raspberries that are firm, plump, and deep in color. Avoid any that are soft, mushy, or moldy. Make sure the container has no signs of stains or moisture, as these may be signs of age and spoiling. If you are buying berries prepackaged in a container, make sure that they are not packed too tightly, since this may cause them to become crushed and damaged. Within the United States, raspberries are usually available from mid-summer through early fall.

How to Store Fresh Raspberries
When you get them home and before putting them in the refrigerator, transfer the berries to a plate or bowl and look through them so you can remove any that are soft, damaged or spoiled in any way. Place a folded paper towel in the bottom of the original container and return the berries to their container. If you have an extra berry container available (one that has air vents in it), place a folded paper towel in the bottom of the extra container and divide the sorted berries between both containers. This will allow for more air flow around the berries, helping to preserve them a little longer.

Fresh raspberries are highly perishable. They should be kept in the refrigerator and used within one or two days of purchase. So, it’s best to purchase fresh raspberries when you know you’ll be using them right away.

How to Prepare Fresh Raspberries
Raspberries are very delicate and should be stored unwashed. Wash the berries only when you’re ready to use them. Gently rinse them under cool water, using a sprayer at the sink if you have one. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel, then immediately use them as planned.

How to Freeze Fresh Raspberries
To freeze extra raspberries, gently wash them under cool water using the sprayer (if you have one) at the sink. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel and arrange them in a single layer on a tray and place that in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a freezer container or heavy-duty freezer bag. Use your frozen berries within 1 year.

Fresh vs Frozen Raspberries
Fresh Raspberries. Fresh raspberries can be used any way you would like to use them in dishes and beverages. They are delicious, beautiful in color, and are packed full of nutrients and compounds that boost our health in many ways. The few downsides include the fact that they are expensive, seasonal, and highly perishable. When buying fresh raspberries, it’s best to have some use for them in mind before making the purchase. Otherwise, they may sit in your refrigerator a bit too long and spoil before being used.

Frozen Raspberries. Commercially frozen raspberries are picked and frozen at their peak of ripeness, flavor, and nutritional content. When compared with fresh raspberries, their frozen counterparts are often cheaper. Of course, they have a longer lifespan since they are already frozen and will (within reason) wait for you to use them. According to a research study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2002), the phytochemical and antioxidant content of frozen raspberries is comparable to that of the fresh variety in commercially frozen berries. Because the berries are frozen very soon after harvest, the nutrient content will be at its peak, whereas those purchased in grocery stores may be older with a somewhat reduced nutrient level.

Frozen raspberries may be used in the same ways you could use fresh berries. If needed, simply allow the amount you need to rest at room temperature for a few minutes, then use them as you would use fresh berries. Otherwise, they can be used straight from the freezer.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Raspberries
Raspberries are delicious and healthful fruits that many people enjoy, but don’t buy all that often. If you buy some for a specific use and have some extra berries, you may be looking for ways to use up the surplus. Here are some suggestions…

* For the most nutritional value, use your raspberries in the whole form, including the seeds. This applies to whether they are fresh or frozen. Research has shown that many nutrients (including phytonutrients) are lost in the process of removing seeds from the berries.

* Mix raspberries with breakfast porridge, whether hot oatmeal, millet, couscous or some other grain.

* Fresh raspberries mixed with a splash of balsamic vinegar actually blends well together and may be a delicious flavor twist to a fruit salad.

* A raspberry puree can be used as a sauce over poultry, desserts, and fruit salads.

* Add some frozen raspberries to muffins, cakes, or brownies for a sweet-tart flavor boost.

* Drop some frozen berries into a cold beverage like lemonade or iced tea.

* Scatter some raspberries on a green salad.

* Top yogurt with some raspberries.

* Make a delicious parfait by layering yogurt, banana slices, raspberries, and even some granola. Top with a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce.

* Add raspberries, grapes and walnuts to a chicken salad.

* Blend raspberries with a little water and use that as a sauce to top desserts, ice cream, and even breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Raspberries
Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mint, pepper (black), star anise, thyme, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Raspberries
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, chicken, duck, ham, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, poppy seeds, pork, turkey

Vegetables: Asparagus, greens (salad), rhubarb, spinach (fresh)

Fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas, berries (all types), citrus fruits, figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, lime, mangoes, melons, nectarines, orange, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, quince, tangerine, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Graham crackers, oats, oatmeal

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese, cream, crème fraiche, ice cream, mascarpone, milk, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Chocolate (white and dark), honey, liqueurs, maple syrup, oil, sugar, vinegar (esp. balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine

Raspberries have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods, beverages, coulis (a thin vegetable or fruit puree), desserts, pancakes, preserves, salad dressings, salads, sauces, smoothies, sorbets

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Raspberries
Add raspberries to any of the following combinations…
Apricots + mint
Brown sugar + cinnamon + oats
Honey + lemon + yogurt
Mango + peaches
Mint + pistachios

Recipe Links

10-Minute Fresh Berry Dessert with Yogurt and Chocolate http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=147

5-Minute Raspberry Almond Parfait http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=256

Raspberry Asparagus Medley https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/raspberry-asparagus-medley

Granola with Fresh Fruit http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=121

Sassy Frozen Raspberry Smoothie http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/sassy-frozen-raspberry-smoothie/

Raspberry Lassi http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-lassi/

Razz Crush Red Party Punch http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/razz-crush-red-party-punch/

Raspberry Apple Granola Crumble http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberryapplegranolacrumble/

Red Raspberry Fruit Leather http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/red-raspberry-fruit-leather/

Vegan Raspberry Pudding http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/vegan-raspberry-pudding/

Raspberry Sauce/Glaze http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-sauceglaze/

Raspberry Pineapple Salsa http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-pineapple-salsa/

Frozen Red Raspberry Crush http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/frozen-red-raspberry-crush/

Raspberry Ginger Glazed Salmon http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-ginger-glazed-salmon/

Instant Pot Chipotle Raspberry-Glazed Ribs http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/instant-pot-chipotle-raspberry-glazed-ribs/

Grilled Pork with Balsamic-Red Raspberry Reduction http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/grilled-pork-with-balsamic-red-raspberry-reduction/

Raspberry, Avocado, and Mango Salad http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-avocado-mango-salad/

Black Rice and Raspberry Salad http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/black-rice-and-raspberry-salad/

Black Bean Tacos with Sassy Raspberry Salsa http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/black-bean-tacos-with-sassy-raspberry-salsa/

Resources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=39

https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/fresh-fruit-versus-frozen-fruit-which-is-better/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12188629

http://www.redrazz.org/blog/3-reasons-buy-frozen-raspberries-rather-freezing/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283018.php#nutrition

https://spoonuniversity.com/how-to/made-for-each-other-meat-and-fruit-pairings

https://www.smuckers.com/pairings/raspberry

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Red Lentil Vegetable Patties

Red Lentil Vegetable Patties

Looking for a veggie burger recipe that’s easy to make YOUR way? Well…you’ve found it! This recipe is extremely flexible and an easy way to use up some leftover cooked potatoes or vegetables you’re just not sure what to do with. It’s SO flexible, you can use cooked potatoes or rice, and vegetables that are cooked, frozen, or raw! How convenient is that? If that’s not enough, the burgers can be pan-fried or baked in the oven without any added oil. Something for everyone 🙂

Below is a demonstration of how to make the patties. The written recipe is below the video. I hope this helps!

Enjoy,
Judi

Red Lentil Vegetable Patties
Makes 10 Patties (1/2 cup of mixture in each)

This recipe makes delicious veggie burgers that easily include leftover cooked vegetables or extra veggies that you have on-hand, whether fresh or frozen. The flavor will change a bit based on which veggies you use, but that’s the fun of this recipe! Experiment with it and enjoy! jk

1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1-1/4 cup oats (any type), or more if needed
1 cup cooked rice of choice, or cooked potatoes (any kind)
2 cups any combination vegetables of choice, raw, cooked or frozen (and thawed)*
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt, or to taste (use less of including cooked vegetables that were already salted)
Water, as needed
1 to 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, optional (use if pan frying the patties)

Place the red lentils in a pot with the 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with a lid cocked on the pot, or until the lentils are tender and the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Place the oats in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer oats to a large bowl; set aside. Add the cooked rice to the bowl, if using it. Or, if using mashed potatoes, add them to the bowl. If using other cooked potatoes that are in pieces, place them in the bowl of a food processor. Add the 2 cups vegetables of choice (see note below) to the food processor and pulse until finely grated (but not pureed). Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the oats.

Transfer the cooled lentils to the bowl with the oats and vegetables. Add in the tomato paste and seasonings; stir well to combine. Add water as needed to make a mixture that holds together when lightly pressed together. If the mixture is too soft from too much liquid, add more processed oats until the mixture sticks together. If the mixture is too dry and will not hold together, add a little more water, until the mixture holds together when lightly pressed.

To bake the patties: Measure the mixture by ½-cup increments onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Lightly press the mixture with your moist (from water or oil) fingers to form patties. Bake them in a 400°F oven until lightly browned on the first side, about 25 to 30 minutes. Flip the patties over and bake another 15 to 18 minutes, until the patties are lightly browned on the second side, and are firm to the touch, but still have a slight “give” when lightly pressed. Serve.

To pan fry the patties: Measure the mixture by ½-cup increments and place them on a plate or tray. Lightly press the mixture with your moist (from water or oil) fingers to form patties. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the 1 or 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Transfer patties into the heated skillet and sauté on medium to medium-low heat, until the first side is brown and patties are starting to firm up. Watch them closely, as they can easily get overly browned.  Flip the patties over and continue cooking until both sides are browned and the patties are firm to the touch. They may take about 30 minutes to cook, since they do better at lower heat so they don’t burn. They may be flipped more than once, if needed.

The patties are excellent served with ketchup, salsa, kimchi, or any sauce of your choice, like garlic herb tahini sauce, Sriracha tahini sauce, tomato sauce, yogurt sauce, mustard sauce, or any other sauce you enjoy with a veggie burger.

Store extra patties in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use within 5 days. Patties may be frozen individually then transferred to a freezer container for later use. Use frozen patties within 6 months.

* If using raw vegetables, choose something that cooks quickly like zucchini, yellow squash or spinach. Place the raw vegetables in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. When using frozen vegetables, place them in a colander under running water to thaw them out. Allow them to drain well, then add them to the food processor. If using already cooked vegetables, drain off any extra water before adding them to the food processor.

Some suggested vegetables that work well in this recipe would be raw zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and/or spinach or baby greens. Already cooked vegetables that would work well include carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, parsnips, stir-fry blends, California blend, mixed vegetables, green beans, kale, or other cooked vegetables or blends that you enjoy. Just about any frozen and thawed vegetable or vegetable blend would work well as long as it can be eaten in the blanched state that it was in before being frozen. Frozen potatoes or other such vegetables that should not be eaten unless thoroughly cooked should not be used as a frozen and thawed item (unless you cook it before using it in the recipe).

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.