Bananas

Bananas 101 – The Basics

 

Bananas 101 – The Basics

About Bananas
Bananas are believed to have originated about 4,000 years ago in Malaysia. From there, they were slowly introduced around the world and grown in warm climates in the Philippines, India, and Africa.

Bananas were eventually brought to the United States in the late 19th century and were enjoyed by people living in coastal towns. Eventually refrigerated transport systems were developed in the 20th century, and bananas have since been transported around the United States where they are enjoyed by everyone. Today, bananas are grown in most tropical and subtropical areas with the main producers being Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are a good source of Vitamin B6, manganese, Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, biotin, and copper. One medium banana has about 100 calories.

Reduce Heart Disease Risk. Bananas are well known for their potassium content. This mineral is important for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. With one medium banana having around 400 mg of potassium, including them in your diet on a regular basis helps to prevent high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

While bananas are very low in fat, they do contain sterols, which are similar in structure to cholesterol. When bananas are eaten with a cholesterol-containing meal, the sterols in bananas block the absorption of cholesterol from other foods in the meal. This effect can help to keep our cholesterol levels in check.

Furthermore, bananas have a small amount of soluble fiber, about 1 gram per medium size banana. Soluble fiber binds with bile in the digestive tract, removing it in the feces. This forces the body to make more bile from existing cholesterol. This effect also helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Low Glycemic Index. Despite their sugar content, bananas have a low glycemic index. In addition to their soluble fiber, bananas also contain pectin, another type of fiber. The amount of pectin in a banana increases along with the sugar content as the banana ripens. The increase in pectin further helps to stabilize the blood sugar effect when the banana is eaten. So, despite the fact that ripe bananas do contain a fair amount of naturally-occurring sugars, their fiber and pectin content counteract the effects of sugars, stabilizing blood sugars, keeping their glycemic effect low.

GI Track Health. If that’s not enough, the carbohydrates in bananas (fructooligosaccharides) are not typically broken down by enzymes in the digestive tract. Instead, in the lower bowel, they are digested by bacteria. This helps to maintain the colony of friendly bacteria in our colon, which is vitally important for health. One research study found that those who ate two bananas a day for two months had increased numbers of Bifidobacteria, fewer gastrointestinal problems, and more regular bowel movements than those who did not eat the bananas.

Endurance. Bananas have long been a favorite food among endurance athletes, such as long-distance cyclists. Their portability, low expense, and flavor make them easy to transport and eat along the way. The mix of vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic carbohydrates has been found to be just as effective as sports beverages in keeping energy levels stable and preventing muscle cramps.

How to Select Bananas
When buying bananas, choose ones that are firm and without bruises. Look for ones that are green near both ends. If you want to keep bananas longer, opt for ones that are more green than yellow, since they will take a little longer to ripen up.

Bananas with yellow peels are best for eating fresh, whether it’s from the peel or cut into salads. Ripe bananas, like those with speckles, are best for being used in baked goods and smoothies.

How to Store Bananas
Bananas should be left at room temperature to ripen. They should not be kept in overly hot or cold temperatures. Do not put unripe bananas in the refrigerator. Such cold temperatures will prevent them from ripening, even when taken out of the refrigerator. To extend the shelf life of ripe bananas, they may be stored in the refrigerator and should be used within 5 to 7 days. The peels will turn black when stored in the refrigerator, but the banana flesh will be fine.

Bananas are more fragile than they appear. A large bunch of bananas is rather heavy. When stored on the counter or in a fruit bowl, the bananas on the bottom may tend to bruise on the areas where they rest, due to the weight they are supporting. A banana hanger can alleviate that problem. Simply place your freshly purchased bananas on a banana hanger when you get them home and they will slowly ripen as expected without the added bruising from the weight of the bunch. Try it and you’ll see!

Another trick to help slow down banana ripening is to wrap the top end of the bunch with plastic wrap when you first bring the bananas home. The stem end is where their ethylene gas is released. That gas promotes ripening. By covering the end with plastic, the release of the ethylene gas will be slowed down, helping to deter the ripening process. Bear in mind that nothing will keep bananas forever, but these tactics can help to slow the ripening process, extending the shelf life. For the longest life of bananas, peel them, and freeze them in an airtight container.

To speed up the ripening process, place your bananas in a paper bag or wrap them in newspaper. Adding an apple will speed up the process. Ripe bananas may be placed in the refrigerator to keep them from further ripening. Their peel will turn black in the refrigerator, but the flesh will not be affected. For best flavor, remove bananas from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature before eating them.

How to Preserve Bananas
Whole bananas may be frozen. Simply remove the peel and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and/or place them in an airtight container in the freezer. Frozen bananas will keep for 2 to 3 months. They will be edible beyond that, but the quality may decline. To help prevent them from turning dark during the freezing process, simply coat them with a little lemon or orange juice before being frozen.

Bananas may also be pureed first before being frozen. To prevent discoloration, add some lemon or orange juice to them first. Blending them first with another fruit, like berries will also help to deter discoloration.

Bananas may also be frozen with the peel still intact. Simply place them in a freezer bag or container and store them in the freezer. To remove the peel from frozen bananas, briefly run them under water to slightly soften the peel, then remove the peel with a knife. Or, you could simply allow them to warm up at room temperature for about 10 or 15 minutes, then remove the peel with a knife, if needed.

Bananas may also be dried. First, peel your bananas and slice them thinly. Then dip the banana slices in an acidic juice, such as lemon or orange juice. Other juices may also be used, such as cranberry juice, cherry juice or others. The acidity is what counts here, to keep the bananas from turning dark in the drying process. If you have a dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for time and temperature for drying your bananas. If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply lay the treated banana slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake them at a low temperature, anywhere from 200°F to 250°F until they are completely dry. Flip them over a time or two to allow them to completely dry throughout. This process may take an hour or two, so monitor them as they bake, and be sure they are completely dry before removing them from the oven. The exact time will depend on the oven temperature and the thickness of the banana slices. Store the cooled slices in an airtight container. They may be kept at room temperature, but should keep longer when stored in the refrigerator. Dried bananas will generally keep for 6 to 12 months in the refrigerator, and up to 18 months in the freezer.

Dried vs Fresh

Most of the weight of bananas comes from their high water content. When dehydrated, their nutrient content and calories are concentrated. The exception is in their Vitamin C content, which is about 20 percent lower in dehydrated bananas than fresh. Since they are concentrated, the standard serving size is ¼ cup of dried bananas. So, it may be wise to allocate your portion in a bowl or cup, and put the rest away before enjoying your snack. Simply eating from “bag to mouth” could easily lead to overeating dried bananas and consuming way more than you realize.

Read ingredient labels carefully when buying dried bananas. Those sold as “banana chips” are actually fried. Their ingredients label will reflect that, listing bananas, oil (of some type), sugar, and possibly artificial flavoring. Banana chips are much higher in calories than fresh bananas or even dehydrated bananas, and since they were fried, they should not be considered to be a healthy alternative to fresh bananas.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Bananas
* Make your own banana pops with ripe bananas. Peel and cut them in half, across the middle. Insert a popsicle stick in the flat, cut end. Lay them on a tray and place them in the freezer. When frozen they are ready to enjoy. To embellish your banana pops, you could dip them in melted chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, or any favorite ice cream sauce. If desired, sprinkle them or roll them in chopped nuts or ice cream sprinkles. Return them to the freezer then enjoy when everything is frozen. Wrap extras up in an airtight container and store in the freezer (IF there’s any left!).

* Use a banana peel to shine leather shoes. Peel the banana, then remove any strings still attached to the inside of the peel. Then rub the inside of the peel on leather shoes to shine them up. Buff them with a clean cloth. Done!

* If you want to attract butterflies and birds to your yard, put peeled and sliced overripe bananas on an elevated perch in your yard. Other ripe fruit (such as mangoes and oranges) can also be added. The fruit may also attract bees and wasps, so be mindful of that when putting up your perch.

* The inside of a banana peel can be used to sooth insect bites, sunburn, minor scrapes, and poison ivy. Simply press the inside of a peel onto the area like you would a cool compress.

* To speed up ripening an avocado, place a banana in a paper bag with the avocado. The ethylene gas released by the banana will hasten the ripening of the avocado.

* When making banana bread, the blacker the peel of the banana, the better the banana flavor will be in the finished bread.

* If you want to slow down the ripening of your bananas, place them in the refrigerator. The peels will turn black, but the fruit will stay fresh. Bananas may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

* To speed up the ripening process of bananas, place them in a paper bag in a dry spot away from sunlight. After a day or two they should start ripening. If not, place an apple in the bag with the unripe bananas.

* Try an all-time favorite peanut butter and banana sandwich. Drizzle with honey for added sweetness.

* Add sliced banana, walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup to your breakfast oatmeal.

* To slow banana ripening, when you first bring your bananas home from the store, wrap the bunch top (where the bananas are all joined together) with plastic wrap. This will help to prevent the release of their ethylene gas which causes them to ripen. If you want to take this one step further, you could separate all the bananas and wrap the stem top of each banana individually. This will not make them last forever, but it will slow the ripening process.

* For a quick and healthy dessert, make banana “nice cream.” Place a frozen banana in a food processor or blender. Add a tablespoon or two of liquid (such as water, milk of choice, or coconut water). Blend until smooth and enjoy! More or less liquid can be added, if desired. Or it can be left out entirely. Also, banana nice cream can be flavored in many ways. For instance, add unsweetened cocoa powder, nut or seed butter, a sprinkle of vanilla extract, cinnamon, or frozen berries of choice. It doesn’t take a lot of additives to flavor your nice cream, so add a little, blend, then taste it. Add more if desired.

* When you slice bananas for a fruit salad, toss them with a little bit of an acidic liquid to keep them from turning brown. A little lemon or lime juice, orange juice, or even mild-flavored vinegar will do the trick. If an acidic juice won’t go with your salad, I have also had success by coating banana slices with a little oat or coconut milk.

* Mashed banana can be used as a substitute for fat in muffins and other quick breads. The substitution rate is 1:1 (replace fat in the recipe with an equal part of mashed banana). Note that the banana may cause the product to bake faster, so watch it carefully as it bakes. It may be finished a few minutes early. You could reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to keep the product from baking too fast. Also, bananas will add some sweetness to the quick bread, so the amount of sugar may need to be reduced by one-fourth up to one-half, depending upon the recipe. Make a small batch to test it out first.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Bananas
Cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Bananas
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, cashews, chicken, flax seeds, ham, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), nut butter, peanuts, pecans, pork, sausage, sunflower seeds, walnuts

Vegetables: Chiles, onions, sweet potatoes

Fruits: Apples and apple juice, apricots, berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), cherries, coconut, dates, figs, lemon, lime, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, pears, pineapple, raisins, tamarind, tropical fruit (in general)

Grains and Grain Products: Bread, malt, oats and oatmeal, toast

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

Other Foods: Agave nectar, bourbon, caramel, chocolate, cognac, honey, oil, rum, sugar

Bananas have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, quick breads), cereals (breakfast), French toast, granola, lassis, pancakes, salads (fruit), smoothies

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Bananas
Combine bananas with any of the following combinations…

Almond milk + nutmeg + vanilla
Almonds + oatmeal
Apple juice + cinnamon
Apricots + yogurt
Blueberries + yogurt
Cashews + pineapple
Chocolate + peanuts
Cinnamon + orange
Citrus + coconut
Coconut + pineapple + sesame seeds
Dates + flax seeds
Honey + peanut butter
Maple syrup + oatmeal
Oranges + papaya
Peaches + raspberries
Pineapple + sesame seeds

Recipe Links
30 Ripe Banana Recipes to Use Up Your Bunch https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/recipes-for-ripe-bananas/

22 Recipes for Ripe and Overripe Bananas https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/vegan-menus-collections/banana-recipes-ways-to-use-ripe-overripe-bananas/

Over 66 Recipes Using Overripe Bananas https://www.crazyforcrust.com/66-recipes-using-overripe-bananas/

35 Ways to Use Overripe Bananas That Aren’t Banana Bread https://www.myrecipes.com/ingredients/fruit-recipes/overripe-banana-recipes-besides-bread

15 Ways to Use Ripe Bananas That Aren’t Banana Bread https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/ripe-banana-recipes/

22 Recipes for Ripe and Overripe Bananas https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/vegan-menus-collections/banana-recipes-ways-to-use-ripe-overripe-bananas/

Chocolate Chip Banana Bars https://butterwithasideofbread.com/chocolate-chip-banana-bars/

17 Amazing Ways to Eat A Banana https://www.eatthis.com/banana-cooking-tips/


Resources
https://www.readersdigest.ca/home-garden/tips/clever-uses-for-bananas/

https://www.farmanddairy.com/aroundthetable/9-tips-for-cooking-and-baking-with-bananas/347445.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=7

https://www.livestrong.com/article/534188-nutrition-of-bananas-vs-dehydrated-bananas/

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/dehydrating-destroy-potassium-bananas-10757.html

https://food52.com/blog/14734-should-you-be-plastic-wrapping-your-bananas

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/bananas/

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/1997/jun/04/how-apeeling-the-versatile-banana-pairs-nicely/

https://www.yummly.com/recipes/sweet-banana-with-meat

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/16451

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18824

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.

Blueberry Nice Cream

Blueberry Nice Cream

Here’s a REALLY easy and delicious dessert using frozen bananas and blueberries. It can quickly be adjusted to make more or less, depending on how many people you want to feed. Also, the ingredients can be changed to make it sweeter if desired, and the milk can be changed also based on personal preferences. So, this is very flexible and can be tailored to your personal tastes.

Below is a video demonstration of how to make this simple dessert. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi


Blueberry Nice Cream
Makes 1 Very Large or 2 Moderate Servings

1 frozen banana, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 to 1/2 cup coconut milk*

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until thick and smooth. Enjoy!

Tip: If you want this to be a little sweeter, add some sweetener of choice. OR, 6 to 8 red grapes can be added as a natural, whole fruit sweetener.

*Also, the type of milk can be changed based on your personal preferences or what you have available. Regular cow’s milk, oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, and others can easily be used in place of the coconut milk, if desired.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg 101 – The Basics

 

Nutmeg 101 – The Basics

About Nutmeg
Nutmeg is a spice that is made from the seed of the tree, Myristica fragrans. The tree is native to Indonesia and is an evergreen tree. The tree actually is the source of two spices, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the inner seed, whereas mace is the red, lacy-type substance that surrounds the seed.

There is historical evidence dating nutmeg back to the first century, A.D. It was a treasured spice and commanded a high price. Nutmeg was even the cause of war, when the Dutch took over the Banda islands to monopolize the nutmeg trade. This ultimately gave birth to the Dutch East India Company, a conglomeration of several Dutch trading companies.

To make nutmeg, the seeds are slowly dried in the sun over six to eight weeks. As they dry, the seed shrinks away from its coating. The seeds are ready to be harvested when they rattle in their shells when shaken. Nutmeg seeds are then separated from their outer coating, which is then sold as mace. The inner seed is sold whole or ground up as powdered nutmeg.

Nutmeg has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor with a distinct aroma. It is an intense spice with a distinct flavor, so a little goes a long way. Nutmeg is synonymous with fall since it is often used in fall and holiday desserts and beverages. It is also used in savory dishes such as butternut squash soup. Nutmeg is also known to pair well with cream- or cheese-based dishes. Eggnog is typically flavored with nutmeg.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Although we don’t consume a lot of nutmeg at any one time, there is an impressive list of nutrients supplied by this spice. Nutmeg contains a lot of manganese, copper, magnesium and fiber. It also supplies potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc, folate, thiamin and even omega-6 fatty acids.

The leaves and other parts of the nutmeg tree are used for extracting nutmeg essential oil. The oil contains a variety of compounds that have medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine to relieve a variety of ailments.

Pain Relief. Nutmeg essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for pain relief. Just a few drops of the essential oil applied to the affected area has been used to treat inflammation, swelling, joint pain, muscle pain and sores.

Helps Treat Insomnia. Nutmeg seems to have a calming effect and has been used since antiquity for calming and inducing sleep. Enjoy a warm glass of milk with a pinch of ground nutmeg before bedtime and it will help you to relax and fall asleep easier.

Helps Digestion. Nutmeg has been shown to help relieve intestinal gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Add a pinch to soups and stews. That small amount will help to promote the secretion of enzymes, thereby helping with digestion. The fiber in nutmeg will help keep things moving in the digestive tract, relieving gas and preventing constipation.

Brain Health. Nutmeg has been shown to stimulate nerves in the brain. It was commonly used as a brain tonic by ancient Greeks and Romans. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, calming emotional stress. The essential oils in nutmeg have been found to work as “adaptogens” by acting both as a stimulant and sedative, depending upon the needs of the body at the time. When we’re stressed, it can help to lower blood pressure. If we’re down, it can help to lift the mood, acting as a stimulant.

Promotes Detoxification. The compounds in nutmeg have been found to help clear toxins from the body via the liver and kidneys. The essential oils in nutmeg have anti-bacterial properties. Some toothpastes have nutmeg essential oils in them to help control harmful bacteria in the mouth that can lead to bad breath. Also, the essential oil in nutmeg contains eugenol, which is known to help relieve toothache.

Promotes Healthy Skin. Not only does nutmeg have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, but it also has been found to remove blackheads, and treat acne and clogged pores. An easy home remedy is to mix equal parts of ground nutmeg and honey into a paste. Apply it to pimples, leave it on for 20 minutes, then wash it off with cool water.

A paste can also be made with ground nutmeg and a few drops of milk. Mix into a paste and massage it into the skin, then rinse with cool water.

Nutmeg may also be added to facial scrubs with oatmeal, orange peel, etc.

Blood Pressure and Circulation. The minerals in nutmeg make it a wonderful ingredient for helping to regulate blood pressure and circulation. The stress-reducing properties help blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and aiding in cardiovascular function.

Caution! Nutmeg should be used sparingly and limited to any amount you would normally use in a food. When used in high doses (well beyond what you would normally use in any food), nutmeg has hallucinogenic properties. It can also cause nausea and palpitations. Such high dosages can be very toxic, and in rare cases, even deadly. In the case of accidental overdose, especially with children, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Select Nutmeg
Nutmeg may be purchased as a whole seed or ground up. Either version will be available in the spice isle of the grocery store. Some stores do not carry whole nutmeg, but most will carry the ground spice.

Many chefs prefer the whole spice and grind it as needed. The flavor of the freshly ground nutmeg will be more intense than the pre-ground powder.

How to Store Nutmeg
Store whichever type of nutmeg you have (whole or ground) in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place such as your pantry. It should be kept away from heat sources and sunlight.

The whole spice will keep fresh and maintain its flavor longer than the pre-ground powdered nutmeg.  Whole nutmeg seeds will maintain their freshness for about 4 years. Ground nutmeg will stay fresh and flavorful for at least six months, and up to two years. As long as nutmeg is stored properly, it will be edible beyond that, but the flavor may dwindle over time.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Nutmeg
* When grating whole nutmeg, avoid doing it over a hot pot or one with steaming liquid. This will make the seed moist which can cause it to spoil. The heat can cause it to age fast. So, it’s better to grate it onto a plate or small bowl on the counter rather than directly over hot food.

* When you use nutmeg, if you notice it has little aroma, it may be getting old. Feel free to taste it if there’s no sign of mold or decay. If it has little flavor, it’s past time to replace it. It’s still safe to consume, but won’t give the flavor you’re expecting.

* Nutmeg has a strong, distinct flavor. Use it sparingly. You can always add more, but it would be hard to counteract the flavor if too much is added.

* Try a sprinkle of nutmeg as a garnish on eggnog or cappuccino.

* If you don’t have nutmeg on hand and a recipe calls for it, the best substitute is mace. Since it’s part of the seed itself, the flavor is close. Otherwise, the flavor outcome will be different, but you could use a touch of pumpkin pie spice, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, or ground cloves.

* Nutmeg goes well with baked or stewed fruit, so try it as a garnish when you cook fruit.

* Sprinkle nutmeg on custard for added flavor and a nice garnish.

* Add a sprinkle of nutmeg to milk-based sauces.

* Try a sprinkle of nutmeg on steamed, stir-steamed, or sautéed spinach or a spinach soufflé.

* One whole nutmeg seed yields 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground nutmeg.

* Add nutmeg to fillings for cannelloni, ravioli or tortellini.

* Add a pinch of nutmeg to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Nutmeg
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemongrass, mace

Foods That Go Well with Nutmeg
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, chicken, eggs, ham, meat (in general), pecans, pork, sausage

Vegetables: Carrots, greens (dark leafy), mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, yams

Fruits: Apples, bananas, fruit (in general; fresh and dried), lemon, pumpkin

Grains and Grain Products: Rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, pecorino, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, milk

Other Foods: Chocolate, vanilla

Nutmeg has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (biscuits, cakes, cookies, pastries, pies), cereals (hot, breakfast), cheese dishes (fondues, soufflés), desserts (cheesecake, custards, puddings, drinks (esp. cream or milk-based, i.e. eggnog), egg dishes (quiches), French cuisine, ice cream, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, noodle dishes (i.e. macaroni and cheese), pastas, puddings (i.e. rice), sauces (barbecue, béchamel, cheese, cream, pasta, tomato), soups (i.e. cream based), stews (vegetable)

Recipe Links
Classic Custard Pie with Nutmeg https://www.thespruceeats.com/classic-custard-pie-with-nutmeg-3052755

Quick and Easy Drop Cookies with Nutmeg https://www.thespruceeats.com/quick-and-easy-drop-cookies-3059058

Spiced Apple Juice with Cinnamon and Nutmeg https://www.thespruceeats.com/fall-spiced-apple-juice-3051541

Easy Spiced Peach Cobbler https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-spiced-peach-cobbler-3058942

Garam Masala Spice Mix https://www.thespruceeats.com/garam-masala-spice-mix-recipe-1809291

Pumpkin Banana Bread https://www.thespruceeats.com/pumpkin-banana-bread-recipe-1806113

Carrot Cake with Pineapple https://www.thespruceeats.com/carrot-cake-with-pineapple-3052454

Deep-Dish Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-deep-dish-shepherds-pie-with-sweet-potato-and-chicken-curry-228115

Make-Ahead Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-make-ahead-ham-and-cheese-breakfast-casserole-43364

Super-Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-super-soft-snickerdoodl-115237

My Favorite Spice Rub (Amazing on Meat and Seafood) https://www.thegarlicdiaries.com/my-favorite-spice-rub-amazing-on-meat-and-seafood/#tasty-recipes-6003

20 Ways to Cook with Nutmeg https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/our-best-nutmeg-recipes-cake-bread-desserts-spice-gallery

 

Resources
https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-nutmeg-1328522

https://www.doesitgobad.com/nutmeg-go-bad/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/nutmeg-recipes-and-cooking-tips-1809314

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/7-incredible-nutmeg-benefits-from-inducing-sleep-to-relieving-pain-1464121

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/195/2

https://www.thekitchn.com/inside-the-spice-cabinet-nutmeg-69844

https://www.saveur.com/article/Techniques/Seven-Things-to-Do-with-Nutmeg/

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.

Simplest Pasta Salad

Simplest Pasta Salad

If you’re looking for a REALLY easy salad to put together, look no further. This salad is fast to assemble, and allows you to include literally any vegetables you have available. They can be chopped fresh vegetables of choice, cooked leftover vegetables, or frozen and thawed vegetables. Literally, whatever you have that you want to include. AND, the dressing is just as flexible. Use your favorite dressing, whatever it is. Just be sure it’s fluid enough to coat your cooked pasta and chopped vegetables without being too thick. If you want to use a thick dressing, it’s advisable to thin it out first with a little liquid that goes with the dressing, such as juice, water or milk of choice. Suggestions are in the written recipe. Below is a video demonstration of how to make this salad, followed by the recipe I used in the video. Experiment with this one!

Enjoy!
Judi

Simplest Pasta Salad
Makes 4 to 5 Servings

1-1/2 cups (3 oz.) uncooked spiral pasta
3 baby carrots, chopped
½ cucumber, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
12 sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
½ of a large scallion, chopped

Dressing:
3 to 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic, crushed)
½ tsp dried parsley flakes
¼ tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
pinch of sugar, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool under running water. Allow to drain well, then transfer the cooked and cooled pasta to a large bowl. Add prepared, chopped vegetables and toss to combine.

Combine dressing ingredients or use your favorite salad dressing. Pour dressing over pasta-vegetable mixture. Toss to combine. The salad may be enjoyed immediately or covered and placed in the refrigerator for an hour to allow flavors to combine. Store any extra salad in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use within 3 days.

Tips: Literally any vegetables may be used in this salad. Leftover cooked vegetables, thawed frozen vegetables, other chopped fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, celery, snow peas, zucchini, yellow squash…literally anything you have available that you would like to add to your salad. The scallions may be increased, substituted with sliced red onion, or simply left out if you don’t want onion in your salad.

The above dressing is just a suggestion. Any favorite dressing will work in this salad. However, it is helpful if the dressing is not overly thick. A thinner dressing will coat the pasta and vegetables better. Also, as the salad sits in the refrigerator for a day or more, the pasta will absorb some of the dressing, so you may want to add a little more dressing to compensate for that, or simply add more as needed. Enjoy!

Marjoram

Marjoram 101 – The Basics

 

Marjoram 101 – The Basics

About Marjoram
The herb marjoram is also known as sweet marjoram. It is an aromatic herb in the mint family that has been grown in the Mediterranean, North African, and Western Asian regions for thousands of years. It is in the same plant family as oregano, but has a milder flavor. Marjoram is often used to garnish soups, salads, and meat dishes. Marjoram may be used dried or fresh. The flavor is described as being floral and woodsy.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Marjoram
Marjoram has an impressive list of nutrients. It supplies a good amount of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, and even some omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Marjoram also contains a number of compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. These compounds include: eugenol sabinene, alpha-terpinene, cymene, terpinolene, linalool, cis-sabinene hydrate, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol, and terpineol. Marjoram also contains carotenes, xanthins, and lutein, which are powerful antioxidants. These compounds work together to protect us from free radicals and other harmful molecules that play a role in aging and the development of a number of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.

The essential oils in marjoram have been found to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial functions, inhibiting bacteria such as Staphylococcus, E. coli, Shigella, Proteus, and Pseudomonas.

Caution: Medicinal quantities of marjoram should not be ingested during pregnancy since it is known to increase menstrual flow.

How to Select Marjoram
When buying fresh marjoram, the herb will usually be packaged in a clear plastic container. Make sure it looks fresh with a bright color, and is not limp.

Dried marjoram can be found in the spice isle of most grocery stores. Look for the “Best by” date to determine the freshest option available.

How to Store Marjoram
Store fresh marjoram in the refrigerator. Wrap it in a damp paper towel or cloth. Loosely wrap that in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. When stored properly, fresh marjoram should last 10 to 14 days.

Another way to store fresh marjoram is to place the stems upright in a jar with the cut side down. Add a little water to the jar, place a plastic bag loosely over the stems and jar, and store it in the refrigerator.

Store dried marjoram in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place such as your pantry. For best flavor, use it within six months.

How to Freeze Marjoram
Fresh marjoram may be frozen. Wash the herbs, remove the leaves from the twigs, and chop the leaves, if desired. Allow it to dry completely. Once dry, place it in heavy-duty freezer bags and store them in the freezer. Use within 6 months for best flavor.

Washed and chopped marjoram may also be frozen in ice cube trays. Please a measured amount of your prepared herb in each cube section. Add a small amount of water and freezer. Transfer frozen cubes to an airtight container and return them to the freezer. For best quality use within 6 months. Note that marjoram kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely. The flavor may dwindle over time, but it will still be safe to consume.

Dried vs Fresh
Conversion Rate: Dried herbs are more concentrated in their flavors than their fresh counterparts. So, you need less of dried herbs than fresh in a recipe. The conversion rate is: 3 parts of fresh marjoram equals 1 part of dried. Example: 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped marjoram leaves = 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram leaves.

When to Add Marjoram: Since dried marjoram is more concentrated in its flavor, it should be added early in the cooking process. It will slowly release its flavor as it cooks. Since fresh marjoram is more tender and the flavors are not concentrated, add it toward the end of cooking so its flavor is not lost over time.

Raw vs Cooked Foods: When making a dish with raw foods, using fresh marjoram will give you best results. Its mild flavor will blend well with other foods without overpowering them. Also, if you want to add marjoram to a food that is only briefly cooked, like a quick stir-fry, fresh marjoram is called for. Its fresh, mild flavor will be released quickly and adorn your food without being lost over time.

Dried marjoram needs time to rehydrate and release its flavors. It’s more suited for foods that will be cooking for a longer time. Soups, stews, and sauces that will be simmered for a while will fare better with the dried version, since it will need time to release its flavors into the food. If you prefer to use fresh marjoram in foods that need more time to cook, add it at or near the end of cooking.

How to Prepare
Simply wash your fresh marjoram in cool water and shake off excess water. Remove the leaves from the stems and use as desired in your recipe. You may use whole stems with leaves attached when cooking soups, stews, or other foods where you can retrieve the stems before serving. Whole stems should not be served, as they can be a choking hazard.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Marjoram
* Try adding marjoram to cooked beans, peas, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots for a pleasant, aromatic flavor.

* Marjoram is especially good in vegetable soup, so be sure to add some in your next batch!

* Marjoram is good in salad dressings, especially when combined with lemon.

* In Mediterranean countries, marjoram tea is a popular drink. It is known to help relieve nausea and gas, and is believed to have mild antiseptic properties. To make marjoram tea: Boil 1 cup of water. Steep ¼ teaspoon of dried marjoram leaves for 3 minutes. Strain out the leaves and stir in 1 teaspoon of honey. Enjoy.

* When using fresh marjoram, remove the leaves from the twigs when preparing foods to be plated. When adding whole sprigs to soups or stews, remove them before serving (so you’re not serving hard-to-chew twigs to people).

* When using dried marjoram, add it early in the cooking process. The flavor of dried marjoram is concentrated and will slowly release its flavor as the food cooks.

* When using fresh marjoram, add it late in the cooking process, or when the food is finished cooking. Since the flavor of fresh marjoram is not as intense as that of the dried version, it will lose its flavor when cooked for a prolonged amount of time.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Marjoram
Basil, bay leaf, cumin, fennel seeds, garlic, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Marjoram
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds:  Beans (esp. green, lima), beef, black-eye peas, chicken, eggs, fish (seafood), lamb, pine nuts, pork, sausage, sugar snap peas, veal, walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes, beets, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, eggplant, greens (deep leafy), onions, parsnips, potatoes, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes and tomato sauce

Fruits: Lemons, olive (esp. green), oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy:  Butter, cheese (cottage, cream, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan)

Other Foods: Capers, oil, vinegar, wine

Marjoram has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Bouquets garnis, European cuisines, fines herbs, French cuisine, Greek cuisine, grilled dishes, Italian cuisine, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, pastas, pizzas, Portuguese cuisine, ratatouille, salad dressings, salads (bean, green, pasta, tomato), sauces (barbecue, butter, marjoram, mushroom, pasta, tomato), soups (bean, onion, tomato, vegetable), spreads, stews, stuffings

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Marjoram
Add marjoram to any of the following combinations…

Capers + green olives + parsley + pine nuts
Chiles + orange

Recipe Links
Sautéed Carrots with Lemon and Marjoram https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sauteed-carrots-lemon-and-marjoram

Wine-Baked Chicken Legs with Marjoram https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/wine-baked-chicken-legs-marjoram

Peppered Cornish Hens and Asparagus with Lemon and Marjoram https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/peppered-cornish-hens-and-asparagus-lemon-and-marjoram

What is Marjoram Used for? And 2 Great Marjoram Recipes http://theherbexchange.com/what-is-marjoram-used-for-and-2-great-marjoram-recipes/

Marjoram Pea Pesto http://upasigo.com/2018/04/marjoram-pea-pesto-vegan/

Fresh Marjoram Soup https://www.soscuisine.com/recipe/fresh-marjoram-soup-vegetarian

Marjoram Tea https://www.thespruceeats.com/greek-marjoram-tea-1705055

Beef Stew with Dumplings https://www.thespruceeats.com/beef-stew-with-dumplings-481137

Easy Vegan Italian Herb Salad Dressing https://www.thespruceeats.com/vegan-italian-herb-salad-dressing-3377596

Oregano, Rosemary, and Marjoram Vinegar Recipe http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/250612/oregano-rosemary-marjoram-vinegar/

Marjoram Roasted Potatoes https://www.marthastewart.com/1154116/marjoram-roasted-potatoes

Herbed Peas https://www.food.com/recipe/herbed-peas-216451

Lemony Green Bean Salad with Feta, Red Onion, and Marjoram https://food52.com/recipes/4766-lemony-green-bean-salad-with-feta-red-onion-and-marjoram

Truly Tender Meatballs in Rich Tomato Sauce https://food52.com/recipes/3049-truly-tender-meatballs-in-rich-tomato-sauce

Meg’s Marinated Mushrooms https://food52.com/recipes/11186-meg-s-marinated-mushrooms

 

Resources
https://www.livescience.com/5014-surprising-truths-fruits-vegetables.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/marjoram#what-it-is

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-oregano-and-marjoram-243310

https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/sweet-marjoram.html

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/193/2

https://www.thespruceeats.com/greek-marjoram-tea-1705055

https://food52.com/blog/12734-fresh-marjoram-and-10-foods-to-pair-it-with

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17656

https://www.herbatorium.com/468/storing-and-preserving-marjoram/

https://www.spiceography.com/cooking-with-marjoram/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/tip-fresh-versus-dried-herbs-912860

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth

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.

Cucumber Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

Cucumber Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

Here’s a salad that is true to my heart. It’s simple, refreshing, delicious, and nutritious! I make it with a simple vinaigrette dressing, but you could use any dressing you prefer. Also, you really don’t need to measure the ingredients. Just add the amount of vegetables you need for the moment and top it with your favorite salad dressing. It’s THAT simple! A video demonstration of my making this salad is below. The written recipe follows the video. Try it sometime!

Enjoy!
Judi

Cucumber Salad with Sugar Snap Peas,
Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

Makes 3 to 4 Servings

½ of a cucumber, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces (1-1/4 cups)
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
½ of a large scallion
3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Dressing:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar of choice, or lemon juice)
Sprinkle of sea salt, optional

Wash and prepare the vegetables; place them in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Add dressing ingredients and gently toss to coat the vegetables.

The salad may be eaten right away, or placed in a covered container in the refrigerator for about an hour for the flavors to blend. Store extra salad in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within three days.

Tips: This is a simple salad that’s absolutely “no fuss.” You don’t have to measure ingredients. Just use whatever amount of vegetables you will need for the number of people you need to feed. Adjust the amounts of ingredients according to your personal taste preference. If desired, the scallions may be omitted, or replaced with sliced red onion.

Literally any salad dressing may be used with this salad, although a thinner dressing that will easily coat the vegetables will work best. A creamy ranch, honey mustard, or French dressing would be excellent options.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers 101 – The Basics

 

Cucumbers 101 – The Basics

About Cucumbers
Cucumbers, or Cucumis sativus, belong to the same plant family, Curcubitaceae, as melons (such as watermelon and cantaloupe) and squash (including summer and winter squash, such as zucchini and pumpkin). There are hundreds of varieties of cucumbers, with two basic types: slicing (grown for fresh consumption), and pickling (grown for being processed into pickles). Slicing cucumbers are usually larger with thicker skins, while pickling cucumbers are smaller with thinner skins.

We’re used to seeing cucumbers in grocery stores as being long and deep green in color. However, cucumbers come in different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. Some are white, yellow, or orange in color. They may be short, long, oval or even round in shape. Skins may be smooth and thin or thick and rough.

Cucumbers are believed to have originated in parts of Asia that have warmer climates, including parts of China, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand. Cucumbers have since been carried around the world and are cultivated anywhere the climate will accommodate them. In the United States, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas are the top cucumber producers. Despite the amount of cucumbers grown within the United States, since they are such a popular food, much of what is consumed in America is imported from Mexico.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Cucumbers
Cucumbers are an excellent source of Vitamin K and molybdenum. They also contain a lot of pantothenic acid, copper, potassium, manganese, Vitamin C, phosphorus, magnesium, biotin and Vitamin B1.

Cucumbers are mostly water, and that may be the reason they have received little attention in medical and nutritional research. However, in addition to the ample supply of vitamins and minerals cucumbers contain, they have an impressive list of phytonutrients. Cucumbers contain a wide array of flavonoids, lignans, and triterpenes that provide some important health benefits.

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits. The majority of the phytonutrients found in cucumbers have been shown to have antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory effects, either directly or indirectly by influencing enzymes or metabolic pathways. Some of these compounds have been shown to have anti-cancer and also anti-diabetic effects, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.

These compounds have also been the focus of studies related to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The phytonutrients in cucumbers have been found to reduce the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive carbonyl species (RCS) that can be generated during cellular metabolism. This, in turn, helps to protect our blood vessel walls and blood constituents from damage due to these reactive compounds. This action helps to protect us from developing cardiovascular disease.  Furthermore, human studies have shown that subjects taking extracts from cucumber seeds experienced improvement in their blood cholesterol levels (including total cholesterol, LDL, triglyceride, and HDL components). All the more reason not to remove seeds from cucumbers!

Types of Cucumbers
English (Seedless) Cucumbers. English cucumbers are long with a deep green color and thin, slightly bumpy skin. The flesh is firm and juicy. They are either seedless or have very tiny, edible seeds. These are found in the refrigerated produce section and are usually wrapped in plastic to protect their moisture. These cucumbers have a mild flavor. They are best eaten raw and are not the best option for pickling (they will yield a softer pickle).

Field Cucumbers. Field cucumbers are the “usual” cucumber we find in most American grocery stores. They are bigger round than English cucumbers, not as long, and have a thicker skin. These are often waxed after being picked to help protect them from damage during shipment and to ward off mold and moisture loss. Even though the wax is considered to be edible, the skin of these cucumbers is sometimes bitter, so peeling them may be desirable. The seeds in field cucumbers are large, so many recipes call for removing them. However, the seeds are totally edible, so removing them is optional, depending on the recipe.

Gherkin Cucumbers. These are very small cucumbers that are perfect for pickling whole. They are often two inches long or less and easily fit in a jar.

Kirby Cucumbers. Kirby cucumbers are short with bumpy skin. They range in color from yellow to dark green. They are crunchy when eaten raw, and are suitable for pickling. They are often sold as “pickling cucumbers.”

Lemon Cucumbers. Lemon cucumbers are round, yellow, and about the size of a fist. They look more like a lemon than a cucumber. Their skin is thin and they have minimal seeds. They are sweet without the bitterness that most cucumbers have. They can be enjoyed raw and pickled.

Mini Seedless Cucumbers. These are young versions of English cucumbers. They also have thin skins and few seeds, but are crunchier than their full-grown counterparts.

Persian Cucumbers. Persian cucumbers look very much like English cucumbers, except that their length can vary from shorter to longer. Their skins are bumpy like Kirby cucumbers. They have thin skins and a mild flavor. They are excellent in salads and are firm enough to withstand a bit of cooking, like being added to a stir-fry.

How to Select a Cucumber
The best cucumbers are well-shaped, firm, have no blemishes, and are a deep green color. Avoid those that are puffy, with sunken spots, or are wrinkled at the ends.

How to Store Cucumbers
Cucumbers are sensitive to heat, so unless your house is on the cool side, it is suggested that they be kept in the refrigerator. Whole cucumbers may keep for up to 10 days in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Once cut, store your cucumber in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible, within five days.

How to Prepare a Cucumber
Wash your cucumber very well under cool water before cutting into it. Although it is not mandatory (according to the FDA), peeling waxed cucumbers is usually recommended. Cucumbers with thinner skins are often wrapped in plastic and are not waxed, so peeling them is optional, but usually not necessary.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Cucumbers
* The seeds of cucumbers are perfectly edible and don’t have to be removed. But if a recipe calls for stuffing the cucumber or removing the seeds for other reasons, you’ll need to do so. Simply cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon.

* If cucumbers are bitter to you, pair them with a milk-based product (i.e. cheese, yogurt), a sour ingredient (i.e. lemon juice, vinegar), and/or a pinch of sugar.

* If you have a home-grown cucumber or one from a farm market, it does not need to be peeled unless you want to. If you buy cucumbers from the grocery store, they have very likely been coated with wax. According to the FDA, the wax is edible. Know that it’s there. It’s your choice on whether or not to remove the waxed peel.

* To extend the life of pickle juice, buy your favorite jar of pickles. When you’ve finished the pickles, buy some small pickling cucumbers. Wash and slice them, then add them to the jar of brine. Refrigerate, and in a few days, you’ll have a new jar of pickles! This can be done a time or two, but the brine will need to be discarded after that.

* Cucumbers are over 90% water, so no matter how you eat them, they are refreshing.

* Try adding cucumbers to a Caesar salad.

* Stuff cucumbers with tuna salad for an appetizer. You’ll need to remove the seeds first.

* Use sliced cucumbers or cucumber “noodles” as a basis for a salad instead of lettuce.

* Top sliced cucumbers with cream cheese, dill and a small piece of smoked salmon for a quick appetizer.

* Add sliced cucumbers to water for an easy refreshing beverage.

* Even though we treat it as a vegetable, cucumbers are actually fruit.

* Thick skinned cucumbers generally have more seeds while thin skinned cucumbers have fewer seeds.

* Cucumbers are sensitive to ethylene gas, so they should not be stored near apples, avocados, bananas, tomatoes or melons.

* For an easy salad, combine diced cucumbers with sugar snap peas and mint leaves. Toss with a rice wine vinaigrette.

* For a quick gazpacho soup, puree cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. Season with a little salt and pepper and you’re done! If you want a creamy version, stir or blend in a little plain yogurt.

* Add diced cucumber to tuna or chicken salad recipes.

* To make decorative cucumber slices, first run a fork down the sides of the cucumber removing only the skin. When sliced, the cucumber will have scalloped edges.

* Don’t wash your cucumbers until you are ready to eat them. The extra moisture can invite mold.

* Use a vegetable peeler or spiralizer to make cucumber ribbons or noodles for something different in your salad.

* Use fresh cucumber slices in place of chips when enjoying your favorite dip.

* Use cucumber slices as a grain-free cracker replacement. Top them with cheese, spreads, dips, seafood salad, chicken salad, hummus, pesto…you name it!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Cucumbers
Anise, basil, borage, capers, caraway seeds, cayenne, celery seeds, chervil, cilantro, curry powder, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lemongrass, lovage, marjoram, mint (esp. spearmint), mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, saffron, salt, savory, seeds (poppy, pumpkin, sesame), tarragon, thyme, turmeric, za’atar

Foods That Go Well with Cucumbers
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), beef, black beans, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, lamb, lentils, peanuts, peas (green), pine nuts, seafood, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu, tuna, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery, chiles, chives, eggplant, endive, escarole, fennel, greens (salad), jicama, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, scallions, sea vegetables, shallots, spinach, sprouts, tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocado, citrus fruits, coconut, grapes, lemon, lime, mangoes, melon, olives, orange, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, pomegranates, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, couscous, farro, noodles (Asian: soba, udon), pumpernickel bread, quinoa, rice, spelt

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (i.e. cream, Feta, goat, ricotta, soft white), coconut milk, cream, kefir, milk (dairy and nondairy), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, mayonnaise, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive), sesame sauce, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar (esp. cider, red wine, rice wine, white wine)

Cucumbers have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Beverages (i.e. cocktails, sparkling water), crudités, curries, dips, Greek cuisine, Indian cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, pesto, pickles, raitas (condiment/dip), salad dressings, salads (chopped, cucumber, Greek, green, pasta), sandwiches, sauces, soups (cucumber, gazpacho, summer, vichyssoise), stews, stuffed cucumbers, summer rolls, tabbouleh, Thai cuisine, tzatziki sauce

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Cucumbers
Combine cucumbers with any of the following combinations…

Almonds + avocados + cumin + mint
Avocados + chiles + chives + lime + yogurt
Avocados + lemon + dill
Basil + garlic + tomatoes
Beets + yogurt
Buttermilk + dill + scallions
Chiles + cilantro + lime + scallions
Chiles + cilantro + peanuts
Chiles + jicama + lime
Cilantro + mint
Coconut milk + mint
Cumin + lime + mint + yogurt
Dill + garlic + vinegar
Dill + mint + yogurt
Dill + salmon
Feta cheese + lemon + mint
Feta cheese + walnuts
Feta cheese + tomato + olive oil + red wine vinegar + oregano
Garlic + herbs (i.e. dill, mint, parsley) + yogurt
Garlic + lemon + olive oil + oregano
Lemon + lime + mint + scallions + tofu
Lime + mango + parsley + red onions
Mint + yogurt
Red onions + olive oil + cider vinegar + dill weed + salt
Rice vinegar + sesame seeds + soy sauce
Strawberries + cream cheese

Recipe Links
High Protein Cucumber and Tomato Salad https://www.theflamingvegan.com/view-post/High-Protein-Cucumber-and-Tomato-Salad

Chickpea Salad with Cucumbers and Tomatoes https://allnutritious.com/chickpea-salad/

77 Cool Cucumber Recipes We’re Very Into https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/cucumber-recipes

Cold Cucumber Soup https://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/cold-cucumber-soup/869d89f8-4716-49a2-af58-b4a66b72045d

Cucumber Caprese Salad https://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/cucumber-caprese-salad/fa4f8535-cd44-4aed-bd4e-59bf9cd83325

Cucumber Ranch Dressing https://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/cucumber-ranch-dressing/abfb70aa-0b40-4bcd-892c-4c0d81adf504

Savory Peach and Cucumber Salad https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/savory-peach-and-cucumber-salad

Bread and Butter Pickles https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bread-and-butter-pickles-3

Falafel Fritters Bowl with Cucumbers and Yogurt Sauce https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/falafel-fritters-bowl-with-cucumbers-and-yogurt-sauce

Strawberry-Cucumber Salad with Lemon Cream https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/strawberry-cucumber-salad-with-lemon-cream

Classic Dill Pickles https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/classic-dill-pickles

Raw Beet and Cucumber Salad https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/raw-beet-and-cucumber-salad

33 Cucumber Recipes That Aren’t All Salads https://www.self.com/gallery/how-to-cook-with-cucumbers

50+ Cool as a Cucumber Recipes https://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/cucumber-recipes

Cucumber Guacamole https://producemadesimple.ca/cucumber-guacamole/

Cucumber Salsa https://producemadesimple.ca/cucumber-salsa/

Cucumber Noodle Salad https://producemadesimple.ca/cucumber-noodle-salad/


Resources
https://harvesttotable.com/sliced-cucumber-flavor-matches/

https://u.osu.edu/chowline/2014/02/17/wax-off-wax-on-waxed-produce-ok/

https://producemadesimple.ca/what-do-cucumbers-go-well-with/

https://producemadesimple.ca/cucumbers/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/cucumber-varieties-4069657

https://www.healthycanning.com/pickling-versus-slicing-cucumbers

https://www.thekitchn.com/the-best-place-for-storing-cucumbers-173142

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42#purchasequalities

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.

Whole Dried Peas vs. Split Peas

Dried Green Peas – Whole vs. Split: A Comparison

If you’re wondering what the difference is between split peas and whole dried peas, the following article should help! It covers what they are and their differences in soaking needs, preparation methods, cooking times, texture when cooked, and whether they will sprout. Below is a video covering this topic. The written article is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Split Green Peas vs Whole Dried Peas: A Comparison

About Dried Peas
Dried green peas are in the same plant family as beans and lentils, but are usually grouped separately since their preparation is different. Whole dried peas and green split peas are from the same plant. Although we usually associate dried peas with being green, there is also a yellow colored variety. The yellow variety has a milder flavor than the green peas.

Researchers have discovered that dried peas have been eaten since prehistoric times. Peas were even mentioned in the Bible. They were prized in ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It appears that the Chinese were the first to eat both the seeds and pods as vegetables. Peas were brought to the United States soon after the colonists arrived. Today, the largest producers of peas are Russia, France, China and Denmark.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Peas
Dried peas are small, but mighty when considering their nutritional value. They are rich in fiber, including soluble fiber, which is known to lower cardiovascular disease risks by removing bile (and thereby cholesterol) from the body. They also contain a lot of molybdenum, B-vitamins (folate, Vitamin B1, and pantothenic acid), copper, manganese, protein, phosphorus, and potassium.

In addition to helping to remove cholesterol from the body, the fiber in dried peas helps to prevent constipation, and bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

The soluble fiber in peas also helps to stabilize blood sugar. This is especially helpful to people with insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, or diabetes. Legumes like dried peas can help to balance blood sugar levels while providing a steady flow of energy. Studies have shown that diabetics who consumed high fiber diets (of about 50 grams of fiber a day) had lower blood glucose and insulin levels, along with lower levels of blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). These factors help to improve overall health along with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

What is a split pea?
Split green peas are a field pea variety that is grown specifically for being dried and split. These are different from “garden peas” that are grown to be eaten fresh. Dried peas are used mostly in soups, stews, and casseroles.

Some people wonder if split peas are the same thing as lentils. Even though split peas and lentils are very similar in size and shape, they are not the same thing. They are different varieties of legumes. Split peas are a field pea, grown specifically for drying. Lentils are the dried seed of a different plant. They are not interchangeable legumes.

Split green peas are the same plant as whole dried green peas. The whole peas were not peeled and split before being sold, like the split peas.

Should peas be soaked?
Split Peas. Split peas can be soaked before being cooked, but it’s not mandatory. Most resources don’t suggest soaking split peas.

Whole Dried Peas. Whole dried peas need to be soaked for at least 8 hours or overnight before being cooked.

How to Prepare Peas
Split Peas. To prepare dried split peas, simply sort through the peas to remove any debris. Then rinse them in a colander and transfer them to the cooking pot. Follow your recipe from there. To cook them alone, place your rinsed peas in a pot and cover them with cold water. The usual ratio is 1 cup of peas to 2 or 3 cups of water. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot, and allow them to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, until they are tender. Note that many recipes for split pea soup will require a longer cooking time, making the peas mushy so the soup can have a creamy texture.

Whole Dried Peas. To prepare whole dried peas, first sort through them and remove any debris. Then rinse and drain them. Please them in a large bowl or pot and cover them with enough water to allow them to expand and still remain submerged. After soaking, drain the water and cover them with fresh water for cooking in a pot with a lid. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat, cock the lid on the pot, and simmer the peas until they are tender. This usually takes about one hour, but can take longer depending upon how old the peas are and how soft you want them to be.

About the Foam. White foam can form on the top of your water when cooking dried peas and beans. It can simply be skimmed off and discarded. Of, if preferred, it can be left alone and it will eventually dissolve and be incorporated back into the cooking water. There is no harm either way you go…discarding it or leaving it in the water. The choice is yours!

Texture When Cooked
Split Peas. Split peas will usually become mushy and disintegrate when cooked completely. With this, they will provide the rich creamy texture characteristic of pea soup. If you prefer, split peas can be cooked until they are just tender so they will somewhat maintain their shape.

Whole Peas. When completely cooked, whole dried peas will remain intact. However, if you want to use them for pea soup, simply take an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, and blend them up to make a creamy foundation for any soup.

Will They Sprout?
Split green peas will not sprout since the whole seed is not intact. Whole, dried peas will sprout. They can be jar sprouted in only 2 or 3 days. They can also be tray sprouted and grown into microgreens. There are many resources on the internet that give details on how to jar sprout or tray sprout whole dried green peas.

Resources
https://www.aaaai.org/ask-the-expert/relationship-split-pea-green-pea

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=56

https://www.camelliabrand.com/about-the-bean/about-green-split-peas/

https://www.cooksinfo.com/split-green-peas

https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/cooking-cookware/cooking-with-legumes-dried-peas/

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-split-peas-and-lentils-word-of-mouth-214986

http://sprouting.com/product/549/Peas%2C-Green.html

https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/basic-preparation-instructions-for-green-split-peas/

https://startcooking.com/how-to-beans-split-peas-and-lentils

 

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.

Lemons

Lemons 101 – The Basics

 

Lemons 101 – The Basics

About Lemons
Lemons, scientifically known as Citrus limon, are believed to have originated in China or India about 2,500 years ago. They were originally a cross between a lime and citron and have been grown in eastern regions ever since. Lemons were first introduced to Europe and Northern Africa in the 11th century. From there they were transported around the world by Crusaders and explorers. They were brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the New World in 1493. They have been grown in Florida since the 16th century. The main producers of lemons today are the United States, Italy, Spain, Greece, Israel and Turkey.

Over the years, lemons became a prized food by many who used them to prevent the development of scurvy, the Vitamin C deficiency disease.

There are two main types of lemons on the market today: the Eureka lemon, and the Lisbon lemon. The Eureka lemon has a more texturized skin, a short neck at one end and a few seeds. The Lisbon lemon has a smoother skin, no neck, and is usually seedless. There are some newer varieties of lemons becoming available. One such lemon is the Meyer lemon. It is sweeter than the other varieties of lemons.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of folate. They also contain some potassium.

Antioxidants. Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants found in nature, and it is the main antioxidant in the human body. It neutralizes free radicals both inside and outside the cells, protecting cells and preventing or reducing inflammation. This explains why Vitamin C has been shown to reduce some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Heart Disease. Since free radicals can damage blood vessels and make cholesterol more likely to build up in artery walls, Vitamin C can help prevent or deter the development of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. The compounds found in lemons, hesperidin and diosmin, have been found to lower cholesterol, further helping to reduce our risk for heart disease.

Immune Function. Vitamin C is critical for a strong immune system. Ample Vitamin C may be helpful in conditions like the common cold, flu and even ear infections.

Lower Mortality Rates. With Vitamin C’s many health benefits, research has shown that eating a lot of vegetables and fruits high in Vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Lower Risk of Kidney Stones. The citric acid found in lemons may help to prevent kidney stones by increasing urine volume and increasing urine pH, creating a less favorable environment for the formation of kidney stones.

Improves Iron Absorption. Vitamin C is known to increase the absorption of iron in a meal. So, including Vitamin C-rich foods such as lemons in a meal containing iron-rich foods can help protect against anemia.

Helps Prevent Cognitive Decline.  According to a review published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, maintaining healthy Vitamin C levels was shown to protect against age-related cognitive decline. Since lemons are rich in Vitamin C, including them in your diet on a regular basis can help preserve your memory as you age.

How to Select the Best Lemons
To select the lemon with the most juice, opt for one that is thin skinned and feels slightly soft when squeezed. Those with thicker skins have less flesh and will be less juicy.

Look for lemons that are heavy for their size and have a finely textured peel. Choose those that are fully yellow (green color indicates the lemon is not completely ripe and would be more acidic). Avoid lemons that are wrinkled, have soft or hard spots, or a dull color.

How to Store Lemons
Lemons will stay fresh at room temperature for about a week when kept away from direct sunlight. To keep your lemons longer than that, store them in the refrigerator and use within a month.

Freshly squeeze lemon juice will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

How to Preserve Lemons
To preserve fresh lemon juice, squeeze the lemons and place the juice in ice cube trays in increments you would want to use at one time, such as 1 tablespoon of juice in 1 cube space. Freeze the juice then transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or container. For best flavor, use your frozen lemon juice within 3 to 4 months. It will be safe to use beyond that, but the flavor may dwindle.

Fresh lemon zest may be dried and kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If preferred, it can be ground into a powder. It should last for about a year.

To dry lemon zest or lemon peel, first remove the lemon zest from the fresh lemon. This can be done with a fine grater, a microplane zester, or a vegetable peeler. Chop the zest finely if needed. It may be dried in the oven, on the counter, or in a dehydrator.

To dry lemon zest in the oven, spread it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place it in the oven at its lowest setting. The lower the temperature, the better. Higher temperatures will make the zest turn darker as it dries. Finely grated zest should dry in about 30 to 60 minutes. Peeled strips of zest may take longer, possibly up to several hours. When it is dry, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. If desired, grate it into a powder or chop it finely if it was not already done. Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place such as your pantry. Use it within one year for best flavor.

To dry lemon zest on the counter, spread the zest on a tray or dish. Leave it on the counter, uncovered for several days until it is completely dry. Grind it to a powder if desired, and transfer your dried zest to an airtight container. Store it in a cool, dry place such as your pantry. Use it within one year for best flavor.

To dry lemon zest in a dehydrator, prepare your zest as you would for any drying method. Spread it on a solid sheet or tray designed for your dehydrator. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s directors for time and temperature for drying your zest. After it is dried, store it as you would any other dried zest, in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Use it within one year for best flavor.

Uses for dried lemon zest. Add your dried lemon zest to seasoning mixes, tea, baked goods, salads, marinades, salad dressing, in seasoning for chicken and fish, on cooked vegetables and in any food that you want to brighten the flavor. Also, add your dried lemon zest to body care products, homemade cleaners, and potpourri.

About Meyer Lemons
Meyer lemons are relatively new on the market. They were first brought to the United States from China in the early 20th Century. Meyer lemons can be found in grocery stores usually from December through May.  They are usually more expensive than traditional lemons.

Meyer lemons are sweeter than traditional lemons because they are a cross between a traditional lemon and a mandarin orange. They have a smooth, thin peel with a deep yellow color, and are smaller and rounder than traditional lemons. The pulp is pale orange, with a sweet, floral flavor. Their sweet flavor makes them a wonderful addition to desserts, cocktails, and other foods as well.

Meyer lemons may be used in place of traditional lemons in some applications. Because of their added sweetness, they make an excellent swap for traditional lemons in dessert recipes. But, if your food demands the sour punch of a traditional lemon, then a Meyer wouldn’t deliver the flavor you need.

If a recipe calls for the juice of a Meyer lemon, you can substitute equal parts of traditional lemon juice and orange juice. If a recipe calls for Meyer lemon zest or peel, you can substitute equal parts of the zest or peel from a traditional lemon and an orange.

Meyer lemons will keep best in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. They should keep for about a week in the refrigerator, and only a few days at room temperature.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Lemons
* Acidity cuts greasiness and heaviness in foods. Lemon is especially helpful here, and it may be due to its citric acid, which helps break down fats, carbohydrates, and protein. So, if you want to tenderize a meat, or cut greasiness in a food, try adding some lemon juice to a marinade, sauce, or as a finishing touch to a dish.

* Lemon oil is found in the zest of lemons. The flavor is stronger than that of lemon juice. If you want to add some lemon flavor to something without adding extra liquid, add some lemon zest. Remember that it’s potent, so a little goes a long way.

* To keep lemons longer, store them in the refrigerator. Note that this may firm them up and make them hard to slice, juice or zest. To make them soft again, roll them back and forth on the kitchen counter with the palm of your hand. If you’re in a REAL hurry, put them in the microwave for a few seconds to soften and warm your cold lemon.

* Unless lemon is an integral ingredient in a dish, it’s often enough to squeeze a little lemon juice over food when it’s finished or almost finished cooking. This last-minute touch will brighten flavors without making a food taste overly lemony or sour. Just be sure not to use too much. The juice squeezed from one wedge of lemon is often enough to do the job. Try this on cooked greens, cooked pork, chicken and fish, in soups, sauces and drinks, and even on pasta dishes (depending upon the type of sauce being used).

* It’s best to add squeezed lemon juice toward the end of cooking or after cooking is finished. When adding it early on, the prolonged cooking may make it bitter.

* If you happen to add too much lemon juice to a finished dish and it’s too sour, add a pinch of sugar to counteract the acid. That should bring the flavor back to what you expect.

* You’ll get the most juice out of a lemon that is at room temperature. Also, roll it under the palm of your hand on a counter top before cutting the lemon to help release its juice.

* If you plan to zest a lemon, remove only the outermost part of the peel. The white pith underneath is bitter and should be avoided.

* Place thinly sliced lemons (peel and all) on and under fish before cooking. Baking and broiling the fish will soften the lemon slices so they can be eaten along with the fish.

* To make a lemon vinaigrette, combine fresh lemon juice with olive or flax oil, crushed garlic and a little black pepper.

* If you want to reduce your salt intake at meals, try serving lemon wedges with your food. The sourness from a drizzle of lemon juice from the wedge makes a good substitute and you won’t miss the salt.

* If you are sensitive to oxalates (and are prone to related kidney stones), you should be aware that lemon peels are high in oxalates. However, the juice is not. In fact, lemon juice may help to prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation because of its high citric acid content.

* Traditionally grown lemons are often coated with wax and chemicals to protect them during shipping. If you plan to zest a lemon, it may be best to buy an organic one for that purpose.

* Remember to zest a lemon before you cut into it. It will be MUCH easier that way!

* Add slices of lemon, peel and all, to a glass of water for an easy “detox” drink. Lemon peel has antioxidants that help liver enzymes flush toxins from the body. Many people drink this first thing in the morning.

* Keep fruit from turning brown with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice. This works really well with bananas, avocados, peaches, pears, apples, and any other fruit that tends to oxidize easily.

* If you don’t enjoy drinking plain water yet you know you need to drink more, try adding a slice of lemon to your water. It will help to hydrate you, give you a Vitamin C and potassium boost, aid digestion, and support your immune system, all at once!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Lemons
Basil, cardamom, coriander, cumin, dill, herbs (in general), lavender, mint, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Lemons
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), chicken, chickpeas, edamame (soybeans), eggs, fish (seafood), flax, hazelnuts, lentils, nuts (in general), peas, pecans, pistachios, poppy seeds, snap peas, tahini, tofu, veal

Vegetables: Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, shallots, squash (summer), tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Avocados, blackberries, blueberries, currants, guavas, lime, mango, olives, orange, papaya, peaches, pears, plantains, raspberries, strawberries

Grains and Grain Products: Amaranth, corn, couscous, noodles, rice, wild rice, whole grains (in general)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (esp. cream, goat, pecorino, ricotta), cream, mascarpone, milk (almond), yogurt

Other Foods: Capers, chocolate, coconut, honey, maple syrup, mint, miso, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive), sugar (esp. brown sugar), tea, vinegar, wine (esp. dry white)

Lemons have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Aioli, biscuits, cakes, cheesecake, cocktails, cookies, Greek cuisine, gremolatas, lemonade, lemon curd, marinades, pancakes, pasta dishes, puddings, quick breads, risottos, salad dressings (esp. vinaigrette), sauces, scones, soups, tabbouleh

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Lemons
Combine lemons with any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Coconut
Apples + Honey + Romaine (salad)
Arugula + Parmesan Cheese
Asparagus + Black Pepper + Pasta
Asparagus + Pecans + Rice
Basil + Mint
Blueberries + Honey + Ricotta
Blueberries + Yogurt
Capers + White Wine (in a sauce)
Cauliflower + Tahini
Coconut + Strawberries
Garlic + Mustard + Olive Oil + Oregano + Vinegar
Garlic + Oregano
Garlic + Parsley
Green Beans + Parsley
Mint + Zucchini
Risotto + Thyme + Zucchini

Recipe Links
Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/lemon-bars-recipe/#tasty-recipes-67259

25 Sweet and Savory Lemon Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/fruits/lemon/lemon

10 Ways to Use Up All Those Lemons https://blog.williams-sonoma.com/how-to-use-up-lemons/

36 Lemon Desserts to Zest Up Your Meals https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g1551/lemon-desserts/

20 Essential Lemon Recipes https://www.marthastewart.com/274586/lemon-recipes

Lemon Loaf: The Best Recipe Ever!! https://www.shelovesbiscotti.com/extra-moist-lemony-lemon-loaf/

84 Lemon Recipes From Tart To Sweet https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/lemon-recipes-from-tart-to-sweet/

25 Lemon Recipes to Brighten Your Day https://realhousemoms.com/25-lemon-recipes-brighten-your-day/

The Best Lemon Bars Recipe https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/10294/the-best-lemon-bars/

Real Lemon Cookies https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/cookies/real-lemon-cookies.html

20 Amazing Things You Can Do With a Lemon https://www.eatthis.com/uses-for-lemon/


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

https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/09/whats-the-best-way-to-use-lemons-in-everything.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=27#preptips

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17533

https://www.thespruceeats.com/have-fresh-citrus-zest-anytime-1136409

http://foodtasia.com/dried-lemon-peel/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-lemon-health-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

https://www.eatthis.com/benefits-of-lemon/

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-reasons-to-start-your-day-with-lemon-water-infographic/

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/what-is-a-meyer-lemon/

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

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.

Kumato Tomatoes

Kumato 101 – What is a Kumato?

 

Kumato 101 – What is a Kumato?

About Kumato Tomatoes
A Kumato is a type of naturally bred tomato that ripens from the inside out and is edible in all stages of ripeness. It started as a wild tomato from the Almerian coast of Spain and was crossed with cultivated tomato varieties. The result was a green and brown tomato with more flavor. The size of a Kumato is smaller than an average tomato. Each one is round with a diameter of two to three inches and weighing three to four ounces. Kumato tomatoes also come in a small, cherry tomato size variety.

The Kumato was first sold in grocery stores in the UK on a test basis in 2004. A few years later, they were sent to the United States and Canada. Today, they are also found in Germany, France, Australia, and most of Europe. Brown grape tomatoes have also been found in the United States, and their flavor is sweeter than the larger Kumato.

For the record, Kumato tomatoes are not genetically modified. They were created by cross breeding assorted tomato varieties, which is a natural process.

Availability
Kumato tomatoes should be available year-round, although there may be gaps at times due to fluctuations in demand and transportation.

Nutritional Aspects
Kumato tomatoes are high in potassium, magnesium, manganese, and Vitamins A, C, and K. Their nutrient profile can make them effective in helping to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure. As with other tomatoes, Kumatoes are exceptionally high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant being studied for its effects on cancer, heart health, Alzheimer’s disease, and degenerative eye diseases.

Flavor
Kumato tomatoes have a flavor more like an heirloom tomato rather than that of a typical tomato found in today’s grocery stores. They are sweeter than many tomatoes commonly sold today because they have a higher sugar content. Yet, there is a hint of tartness, so they have a complex and robust flavor profile. The dark brown-red flesh is firm and juicy, while the brownish skin is firm.

The flavor of a Kumato tomato varies depending upon its stage of ripeness. They are edible and tasty during all stages of maturity. These tomatoes ripen from the inside out, and their color changes naturally from brownish-green to dark brown to a brownish-red. When they are brownish with a slight green overcast, they are at their best eating stage. At that point, they are juicy with a firm texture and have a higher fructose content than traditional red tomatoes. At that point they are very sweet and slightly tart, giving them a complex, succulent flavor. When they are dark brownish-red with no green on them, the flavor is mild and they are considered to be best for cooking at that stage.

How to Store Kumato Tomatoes
For best flavor, store Kumato tomatoes at room temperature. They should be placed in the refrigerator when they are very ripe or after they have been cut. Try to use them within several days of purchase, although they may be kept for up to two weeks after purchase.

Best Uses for Kumato Tomatoes
Kumato tomatoes are excellent for using fresh in salads or eaten on their own with olive oil and salt. They are an excellent tomato for a Caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, olive oil, and salt). They are also a great choice for any tomato-based recipe, cooked or fresh. Since they are usually vine-ripened and ready to be eaten when you buy them, they can be used right away.

Recipe Links
Kumato Omelet https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/kumato-omelet/

Seared Tuna and Kumato Salad https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/seared-tuna-and-kumato-salad/

Kumato and Chicken Sandwich https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/kumato-and-chicken-sandwich/

Kumato Israeli Couscous Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/kumato-israeli-couscous-salad-with-smoked-paprika-vinaigrette/


Resources
https://www.superfoodly.com/kumato-tomato/

https://www.sunsetgrown.com/

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/kumato_heirloom_tomatoes_3699.php

https://www.kumato.com/en/faq

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5869-kumatoes-101

https://www.naturesproduce.com/encyclopedia/kumato-tomato/

https://startsat60.com/media/health/kumato-benefits-how-to-cook-it

 

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.