Zucchini 101 – The Basics

Zucchini is a summer squash that is mild in flavor and extremely versatile. It is used in breakfast recipes to suppertime desserts, and everything in between. In the video below, I’ve covered some interesting facts about zucchini including nutritional information, how to store and preserve zucchini, what herbs, spices and other foods pair well with it, and more! For your reference, my notes are below the video. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Zucchini 101 – The Basics

About Zucchini
Zucchini is technically a fruit, but we typically eat it as a vegetable. It is a summer squash that looks similar to a cucumber. Zucchini are grown around the world and are harvested at different sizes from very tiny to very large. In fact, the longest zucchini on record was grown to 8 feet, 3.3 inches long, grown in Canada in August 2014. In the United States, zucchini are typically harvested when they are between 6 and 8 inches long.

There are many varieties of zucchini, differing in color, texture, size, shape, and length of time to maturity. The flavor of zucchini is mild, so it has been used in recipes from breakfast to suppertime desserts, and everything in between! The zucchini flowers are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked, and are typically stuffed and fried.

Nutrition Tidbits
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, zucchini is rich in minerals and vitamins including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and riboflavin. It also contains vitamin B6, A, E, and K, sodium, zinc, and iron. It is about 95% water with a lot of the nutrients found in the skin, so don’t peel your zucchini!

The high levels of manganese and vitamin C help protect our cardiovascular health, whereas the magnesium in zucchini helps keep our blood pressure under control. Recent research has also shown that zucchini can help reduce enlarged prostate glands in men. The nutrient profile of zucchini also is known to help regulate blood sugar, a real benefit for those with diabetes.

How to Select Zucchini
Choose zucchini that feel heavy for their size with little to no blemishes on the skin. They should feel smooth and firm. Smaller ones will be more tender and flavorful than larger ones.

How to Preserve Zucchini
Fresh: Store fresh zucchini whole, dry, and unwashed in the refrigerator. Store it in a plastic or paper bag with some ventilation. It will keep well for about 1 week, but will start to show signs of age after only a few days of storage.

Freeze: Sliced zucchini may be frozen by steam blanching for 3 minutes. Then submerge the zucchini in ice water for another 3 minutes. Drain well and place in freezer bags. Frozen zucchini will be softer when used than fresh zucchini, so the frozen vegetable may not be best for all applications.

Dehydrate: Zucchini may be dehydrated, but some resources do not recommend it because the outcome is “poor to fair.” If you want to dehydrate your zucchini, see your dehydrator manufacturer’s booklet for information.

Fresh vs Frozen
Fresh zucchini is the most versatile option and can be eaten raw, or used in any form of cooking, roasting, or baking option you can imagine. Frozen zucchini will be mushy when thawed, so it is only usable in ways that call for cooked zucchini.

How to Prepare Zucchini
Wash zucchini and cut both ends off just before using it. The skin of zucchini is edible and contains many of its nutrients, so it is beneficial to leave the peel on. Cut it into whatever size pieces you need. The seeds do not need to be removed.

Cooking/Serving Methods
Zucchini is mostly water, so you will notice it releases liquid and becomes soft quickly when cooked. Fast cooking methods using little water will result in less mushy squash after being cooked.

Zucchini can be grilled, boiled (briefly), steamed, roasted, sautéed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, added to casseroles and soups, added to warm or cold salads, eaten raw with dip, spiralized into noodles and eaten like a pasta, baked into breads, muffins and cakes, added to a pizza, and more. The uses for zucchini are only limited to your imagination!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well With Zucchini
Basil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, ginger, lemon thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning blend, salt and pepper, onions and garlic, Cajun seasoning blends, garam masala (Indian spice blend)

Foods That Go With Zucchini
Tomatoes, eggplant (as in the Mediterranean dish ratatouille), eggs, seafood, bacon, pasta, roasted or grilled meats and poultry, cheese, lemon, mushrooms, bell pepper, corn, quinoa, rice, pecans, chocolate

Classic Zucchini Pairings Include:
Zucchini + basil + Parmesan
Zucchini + red peppers + eggplant + onions + tomatoes
Zucchini + olive oil + salt + pepper + oregano
Zucchini + feta + lemon + olive oil
Zucchini + cinnamon + chocolate

Recipe Links
Summer Squash Rice Casserole https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3885-summer-squash-and-rice-casserole.aspx

Grilled Vegetable Burrito https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3793-grilled-vegetable-burrito.aspx

Cumin Seasoned Grilled Zucchini https://www.spicesinc.com/p-181-cumin-seasoned-grilled-zucchini.aspx

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3883-zucchini-and-ricotta-galette.aspx

Any Time Frittata http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=124

Southwest Cod Sauté http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=134

Grandma’s Zucchini Cake Recipe https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/grandmas_zucchini_cake/

Zucchini and Tomatoes https://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_31/2002/JUL/12015.html

Grilled Zucchini with Lemon and Herbs https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-zucchini-with-lemon-and-herbs

35 Delicious Ways to Use Zucchini https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/delicious-ways-to-use-zucchini-recipes

40 Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Recipes https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/g562/zucchini-recipes/

Basil, Squash, and Tomato Pasta Toss https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/basil-squash-tomato-pasta-toss

100+ Ways to Use Zucchini and Yellow Squash https://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/essential-ingredients/healthy-squash-zucchini-recipes









Oil vs No Oil Roasted Carrots

Oil vs No Oil Roasted Carrots Comparison

There is an increasing movement toward using no added oils in food preparation. This has merits for potential health benefits. However, oil is important for the success of some cooking methods. Roasting vegetables usually falls in this category. Many people love their roasted veggies and are struggling to find a way to enjoy their beloved veggies yet with little or no added oil.

So in an effort to help, I decided to put this to the test. I ran a three-way test of roasted carrots: (1) Carrots were roasted in the usual manner with a coating of oil, (2) Carrots were roasted raw without any added oil, and (3) Carrots were steamed first before being roasted without any oil. It’s remarkable what that little bit of oil will do for roasted carrots! BUT…There IS an alternative. Check out the video below to see the results for yourself.

For your information, my test notes are below the video. I truly hope this helps you out.


Oil vs No Oil Roasted Carrots
Comparison Test Results

In this test, three carrots of similar size were used. Each carrot was peeled and the ends cut off. Then the carrots were cut into similar size pieces. Each carrot was also tasted to ensure they had similar flavors.

Preparation and Process
One carrot was steamed for 8 minutes, until not quite fork-tender, then roasted without oil. The second carrot was roasted raw with no treatment. The third carrot was roasted raw with a light coating of extra virgin olive oil (about ½ teaspoon of oil). No seasoning was used on any of the carrots. All three carrots were placed on separate pieces of parchment paper that was labeled with their treatments, and placed on the same room temperature aluminum baking sheet. The baking sheet was placed in a preheated 400F oven. The carrot pieces were rolled over half way through the roasting process. The results are as follows:

The raw and roasted with oil carrots were tender in 34 minutes and removed from the oven.

The roasted raw with no oil carrots were removed from the oven at 41 minutes.

The steamed and roasted with no oil carrots were removed from the oven at 41 minutes.

The raw and roasted with oil carrots had the usual appearance of vegetables roasted in this manner, a little “glistening” on the surface (from the oil) with some browning where they were in contact with the baking sheet, and a little wrinkling on the surface.

The roasted raw with no oil carrots appeared dry on the surface with some almost burned areas. The very small pieces looked undesirable with an almost rotten appearance (although they were far from rotten).

The steamed and roasted with no oil carrots appeared similar to those roasted raw with no oil, with a dry appearance on the surface and some surface browning. The browned areas did not looked charred as did some of the pieces that were roasted raw with no oil. However, the smaller pieces still looked appealing, with some browning on the outside (no rotten appearance).

The texture of the raw and roasted with oil carrots was what most people would expect with carrots roasted with a light coating with oil. The outside almost glistened from the remnants of the oil on the surface. They did show some caramelization on the browned areas and a little wrinkling as is usual with carrots roasted in this way.

The roasted raw with no oil carrots were dry and chewy on the outside and tender on the inside, although not as tender as those roasted raw with a coating of oil.

The steamed and roasted with no oil carrots were also dry and chewy on the outside, but not as much as those roasted raw with no oil. The texture was more desirable than those roasted raw with no oil. This batch was tender on the inside and more so than those roasted raw with no oil, but not as tender as those roasted raw with a coating of oil.

Since very little oil was used, the flavor of the carrots roasted raw with a light coating of oil and those steamed and roasted with no oil was very close, if not the same. All pieces had a nice carrot flavor with no burned or charred flavor. The small amount of oil used did not impart any oil flavor to the carrots.
The roasted raw with no oil carrots had a carrot flavor, but there was a slight hint of a charred aftertaste. This batch had the least desirable flavor of all the batches.

Roasting raw carrots with a light coating of oil gave the most desirable results in appearance, texture, and flavor. They also took the least time to roast to being fork-tender. There was no flavor imparted by the oil because a very light coating was used in the preparation process.

The carrots that were steamed first then roasted with no oil had a very acceptable appearance, with some wrinkling and browning, with very little charred look and no charred flavor. The texture was somewhat chewy on the outside while the desired tenderness on the inside was obtained (although they were not as “creamy” on the inside as those roasted with a light coating of oil). The flavor of this batch was good. Steaming carrots first to the point of being not quite fork-tender before roasting without oil, seems to be a good alternative to roasting carrots with a coating of oil.

Roasting raw carrots without a coating of oil produced the least desirable appearance, flavor and texture and does not seem to be a good alternative to roasting carrots with a coating of oil.


Oil vs No Oil Rutabaga Fries – Comparison Test Results

There’s a strong movement now about using little to no added oils in foods. So, people are looking for ways to have their beloved roasted vegetables made without oil. I did a three-way test comparison to find the best way to roast rutabaga fries without oil. SEE the results in the video below! The difference is really amazing. Test notes are below the video. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Oil vs No Oil Rutabaga Fries
Comparison Test Results

In this test, rutabaga was peeled and cut into about ½-inch thick pieces as French fries. They were treated in three different ways: raw with no oil, raw with a light coating of oil, and boiled for 9 minutes until just barely fork-tender and not coated with oil. All were lightly seasoned with paprika and sea salt, then placed on parchment paper on the same baking sheet and roasted at 400F. The pieces were flipped over about half way through the roasting time.

The results are as follows:

The raw with oil and boiled with no oil batches were fork-tender from 50 to 60 minutes of roasting time. The raw with no oil coating pieces were tender inside after 65 minutes of roasting.

The raw with oil pieces appeared like a typical vegetable roasted with an oil coating—browned areas on each piece. There was a little withered look to them, as is typical with vegetables roasted this way.

The boiled with no oil batch did not have much browning on them, except the fine tips on some pieces did have some browning. There was no withered look to this batch.

The raw with no oil batch looked very unappealing, being dry and withered looking with some burned areas toward the tips.

Both the raw, roasted with oil batch and the boiled with no oil batch were tender on the inside with a slight bite or chewiness on the outside. The raw with no oil coating batch was very rubbery on the outside although they did have some degree of tenderness on the inside. Sides of pieces that touched other pieces during the roasting process were very tender with no toughness on that area.

Speculation: From this test, it appears that rutabaga slices roasted raw without oil may cook well and be tender if some liquid was added to the pan and foil was covering the pan, sealing in the juices. This would not allow for browning, but the pieces would very likely come out tender with no toughness. They could possibly be browned by briefly being broiled at the end of cooking time.

Both the boiled and roasted without oil and the raw with an oil coating batches had a flavor as expected. There was a mild flavor from the rutabaga with flavor from added seasonings. The batch that was roasted dry from a raw state tasted burned from the overly browned areas. It was the least appealing, flavor-wise.

Roasting rutabaga pieces on parchment paper without oil, that are cut as French fries, then boiled until they are just barely fork-tender (about 9 minutes), yields a very comparable result as roasting rutabaga pieces cut in the same manner, and lightly coated with oil then placed on parchment paper and roasted.

The boiling before roasting method is a great option for those wanting rutabaga fries without added oil.


Carrots 101 – The Basics

Carrots have been around for a VERY long time and we have learned to enjoy them in many, many ways. There is a lot to be said about carrots, from their nutritional aspects to how to prepare them. I’ve covered it all in the video below. My notes are available to use as needed. They are below the video link. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Carrots 101 – The Basics

About Carrots
Carrots are root vegetables that most of us are familiar with. The orange variety is available in most, if not all grocery stores in the United States. However, carrots also come in purple, black, red, white and yellow varieties. Carrots have been traced back 5,000 years in historical documents and paintings, but they may have been used earlier than that. They were originally used as medicine for a number of ailments, and not for food. Scientists have traced carrots back as far as the dinosaurs!

Nutrition Tidbits
The high carotenoid contents of carrots, that gives them their color, also gives them valuable health properties. We’ve all heard that carrots are good for our eyes. This is a very true statement. The alpha- and beta-carotene, and lutein (among other important compounds in carrots) not only help keep our eyes healthy, but also promote cardiovascular health, and have anti-cancer properties too.

Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), and a very good source of biotin, fiber, molybdenum, potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. They also are good sources of manganese, copper, other B vitamins, and Vitamin E.

According to The World’s Healthiest Foods website, carrots are a very good source of Vitamin K, whereas other resources state the Vitamin K content of carrots is low. So, there seems to be conflicting information about the amount of Vitamin K in carrots. It may depend on how the vegetable was grown. If you are taking blood thinning medications, how many carrots you can eat may be something to ask your doctor about.

People who eat an overabundance of carrots may notice their skin has turned yellow. This is nothing to worry about. It’s due to the large amount of beta-carotene they’ve ingested from the carrots. Simply cut back on the amount of carrots eaten and the condition will clear itself up.

How to Select Carrots
In most grocery stores, carrots can be found whole, with or without their green tops, sliced, shredded, and ground down to “baby” carrot size. This selection can make food prep faster and easier, depending upon your needs. The following information pertains to purchasing whole, uncut carrots.

Look for carrots that are firm, smooth, bright in color and relatively straight. Avoid those that are excessively cracked, or limp or rubbery. If the green tops are not attached, look at the color of the stem end. Darker color indicates an older carrot. If the green tops are still attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery, and not wilted.

The sugars are concentrated in the core of the carrot. So, larger carrots will be sweeter than very thin ones.

How to Store Carrots
Store carrots in the refrigerator, preferably in the coolest part. Minimize moisture loss by keeping them in a plastic bag or wrapped in paper towels to help reduce condensation. Store them away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears and potatoes. The ethylene gas can cause the carrots to taste bitter. They should keep well for about two weeks in the refrigerator. When you go to use them, discard any that smell or look bad…when in doubt throw them out!

Extra fresh carrots can easily be frozen. Blanch whole small carrots in boiling water for 5 minutes. Blanch diced or sliced carrots, or those cut into lengthwise strips for 2 minutes. Start counting the time as soon as the carrots are placed in the boiling water. Transfer the blanched carrots to an ice water bath for the same length of time they were blanched. They drain them well and place them in freezer containers or bags. They should keep well for 10 to 12 months in the freezer.

Here is a link to my video “Dehydrating or Freezing Carrots: https://youtu.be/f1XZRLbrL5A

Blanched carrots may also be dehydrated. Follow the instructions that came with your dehydrator for length of time and temperature for dehydrating your carrots.

How are carrots usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked, and they are very popular eaten both ways.

We are actually able to absorb more of the beta-carotene from cooked carrots over raw ones. However prolonged cooking, or cooking carrots in a lot of water will destroy or leach out many other nutrients. So, to get the most out of your cooked carrots, opt for steaming or a cooking method that subjects them to the least amount of water possible.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned
In most American grocery stores, carrots are available fresh, frozen and canned, year-round.

Fresh carrots are usually your best nutritional option and they are the most versatile, since they can be eaten raw or cooked in whatever way you want.

Frozen carrots are a great second choice since they are usually processed quickly after being harvested and a lot of their nutritional content has been preserved.

Canned options are always a good staple to have on hand for many reasons, especially in case of emergencies. But nutritionally speaking, they are the least preferred option.

How to Prepare Fresh Carrots
Wash and scrub carrots when you are ready to use them. Peeling them is not mandatory, but optional. Cut away and discard any parts that look aged or unhealthy.

Peeled carrots that are allowed to sit unused for a while may turn whitish. This is simply a sign of dehydration from being exposed to the air. A little time in a bowl of water will revive them, if desired.

The green carrot leaves ARE edible and not toxic. However, they do contain some compounds (alkaloids and nitrates) that some people may react to. Therefore, whether you choose to eat the tops or not is solely up to you. If you opt out, toss them outside for your local rabbit to enjoy! [Note that there are look-alike plants to wild carrots…obviously not in the grocery store. The tops of those plants are NOT edible.]

Cooking/Serving Methods
Raw: Shredded or chopped carrots make great additions to salads. They add crunch, flavor, color, and valuable nutrients.

Shredded carrots, beets and apples can make a wonderful salad in themselves.

Carrot sticks make a great addition to any finger-food setup and can be enjoyed plain or used as a vehicle for dipping your favorite accompaniment.

Spiced carrot sticks are an interesting variation at parties or at the dinner table. Soak carrot sticks in hot water spiced with cayenne, coriander seeds and salt. Allow to cool, drain and serve.

Fresh carrots can be added to your favorite smoothie, if you have a high-speed blender. (If not, cooked carrots will blend up well in most any blender!)

Fresh carrot juice is absolutely delicious! Pair it with apples or pineapple for an exceptional beverage.

Cooked: Carrots can be boiled, steamed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, braised, roasted, added to soups, stews and chowders, baked in cookies, muffins and cakes, added to pot pies, baked into chips, added to smoothies, and who knows what else! It’s only limited to your imagination.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Carrots
Parsley, cinnamon, clove, allspice, mint, nutmeg, ginger, dill, thyme, basil, coriander, cumin, curry, fennel, garlic, mace, paprika, rosemary, and sage

Foods That Go Well With Carrots
Cream, cream cheese, browned butter, butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and molasses

Also, rice, pasta, chicken, beef, oatmeal, walnuts, peas, potatoes, raisins, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, mushrooms

Recipe links
Roasted Honey (or Maple) Carrots with Walnuts https://youtu.be/AEe-sWP2J0E

Fast, Easy, Honey Glazed Carrots (from fresh carrots) https://youtu.be/pQLXzTl9wIs

Cook Easy, Fast, Glazed Carrots (from frozen carrots) https://youtu.be/2JYgp5d7fBk

Easy Kale, Carrot and Mushroom Combo https://youtu.be/kbLtLD1RSug

Kohlrabi Carrot Pineapple Salad https://youtu.be/fYSuyqJc12I

Carrot Coconut Soup http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=187

Primavera Verde http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=166

Steamed Vegetable Medley http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=58

Super Carrot Raisin Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=164

Minted Green Peas and Carrots http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=189

Carrot Cashew Pate http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=294

Roasted Brown Butter Honey Garlic Carrots https://therecipecritic.com/roasted-brown-butter-honey-garlic-carrots/

Assorted recipes using carrots https://producemadesimple.ca/?s=carrot

20 of Our Best Carrot Recipes You Need to Try https://www.thekitchn.com/20-ways-to-use-up-a-bag-of-carrots-242467

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.









Romaine Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce 101 – The Basics

Romaine lettuce is enjoyed by many. It’s considered to be the most nutritious lettuce variety available. I’ve compiled a lot of information about this beloved lettuce from historical tidbits to nutritional information, how to select and store it, and also ways to include it in your meals…some of which you probably never thought of!

Below is a video where I discuss this information. Following the video are my discussion notes for you. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Romaine Lettuce 101 – The Basics

About Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce, also known as “Cos,” has sturdy, long, crispy green leaves. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean and western Asian area. Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to America in 1493 on his second trip here. In America, it is largely grown in California and is sold as whole heads or “hearts” with the outer leaves removed.

Nutrition Tidbits
Romaine is considered to be the most nutritious variety of lettuce. Romaine has the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants per serving, when compared to green leaf, Boston bib, red leaf, and iceberg lettuces.

Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of Vitamins A (beta-carotene) and K, folate, and the mineral molybdenum. It is a very good source of fiber, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, biotin, thiamine (Vitamin B1), and vitamin C.

The vitamin C in Romaine helps in the absorption of its iron content. Also, the combination of nutrients in Romaine makes it a heart-healthy food by retarding the buildup of plaque in arterial walls. So…eat more Romaine!

How to Select
Choose leaves that look crisp and fresh, with no sign of wilting or brown spots (which indicates age). The heads should be compact with stem ends not too brown.

How to Store
Remove and discard any bruised or damaged outer leaves from your lettuce when you bring it home from the store. Wrap the lettuce in paper towels and store it in the crisper drawer. Or, wrap it in paper towels or a cloth kitchen towel and place the bundle in a grocery store plastic bag. Place it in the refrigerator somewhere where it won’t get crushed or banged around. The crisper drawer or plastic bag will maintain a humid environment, while the paper or cloth towel will absorb any extra moisture that forms, keeping the lettuce from getting wet. Save the washing until you are ready to use the lettuce.

Also, keep stored lettuce away from high-ethylene gas producing fruits like pears, apples, avocados, tomatoes, kiwi, and cantaloupe. The gas released by these foods as they ripen can cause other produce items to age faster. Keeping these foods away from your lettuce will help to keep it fresh and crisp.

When stored properly, lettuce should keep for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Do not freeze lettuce unless you plan to use it for cooking thereafter.

How to Prepare
If your lettuce has started to wilt a little in the refrigerator, place it in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes to revive it. If something looks REALLY bad, toss it out (when in doubt, throw it out)!

Wash your lettuce with cold water and spin it dry, if you have a salad spinner. Otherwise, you could blot it dry with a paper or cloth towel.

How to Use
Romaine lettuce makes a nutritious and crispy addition to any fresh salad where leafy greens are used.

The shape of Romaine lettuce makes it an easy replacement for tortilla or taco shells, or breads in just about any type of wrap you choose. If the leaves don’t seem quite strong enough, simply double them up before adding the filling.

You could top a bed of Romaine pieces with your favorite grilled meat or vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese.

Romaine lettuce can also be braised and served with bread and cheese, as in this recipe for Braised Romaine Lettuce Crostinis https://www.thekitchn.com/weekend-snack-braised-lettuce-115059

Romaine lettuce leaves can also be topped with your favorite cracker toppings for a simple snack, as in this recipe for Ladybugs on a Leaf (no, there are no “bugs” in this recipe) https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-ladybugs-on-a-leaf-snack-recipes-from-the-kitchn-219272

Try adding Romaine to salad rolls as in Shrimp and Avocado Summer Salad Rolls https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-shrimp-and-avocado-summer-salad-rolls-recipes-from-the-kitchn-192186

Here’s a link to 10 ways to enjoy lettuce https://www.thekitchn.com/lettuce-is-so-much-more-than-salad-here-are-10-more-ways-to-eat-it-tips-from-the-kitchn-220136

38 recipes using lettuce at Bon Appetite Magazine https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/slideshow/lettuce-recipes

Here’s an interesting recipe for Lettuce Soup (imagine that)! https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lettuce-soup-231995

40 Lettuce Recipes You Can Get Excited About https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/lettuce-recipes/view-all/





Apple Mango Salad

Apple Mango Salad

If you’re looking for a delicious yet very flexible fruit salad that you could easily adjust to fit your preferences, this is it! The recipe calls for mango, but if that’s not available, peaches or nectarines could easily be used if they are in season. However you go with this recipe, it’s truly delicious and would work as a meal accompaniment or a healthy dessert or snack. Give it a try! Below is a video showing how to make the salad. The recipe is below the video. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Apple Mango Salad
Makes about 4 Servings

Main salad ingredients:
2 apples of choice, washed, cored and cut into bite-size pieces (peeling the apples is optional)
1 ripe mango, peeled and cubed*
1/2 cup orange juice
Honey or other sweetener to taste (optional)

Below are additional ingredients to embellish your fruit salad. Amounts are only suggestions. Add as much of whatever you prefer:

2 Tbsp dried fruit of choice (sweetened dried cranberries or cherries, raisins, currents, or chopped dried figs would all work well)
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, unsalted (or other unsalted nut of choice)
1-2 Tbsp dried coconut flakes (unsweetened or sweetened)

If adding honey (or some other sweetener) to the orange juice, stir it into the juice and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes because it will take a little time for the sweetener to dissolve in the cool juice. Meanwhile, cut the apples and mango and place the pieces into a bowl.

When the orange juice mixture is ready, stir it then add it to the cut fruit and toss to combine. Be sure the apple pieces are well coated with the juice to prevent them from turning brown.

Now add in whatever dried fruit, nuts, and coconut flakes you want. Stir to combine well. Cover and chill for an hour or two before serving to allow the flavors to blend and the fruit mixture to soak up the juice. Stir and serve.

* If you can’t find mangoes or aren’t fond of them, you could use fresh peaches or nectarines as a substitute. They would be best if used when in season.

Butternut Squash

Comparison of No Oil Methods for Roasting Butternut Squash

More and more people are opting out of oil these days. Whether it’s for salad dressings, sauteing, roasting vegetables, or adding to baked goods, people are looking for alternatives. I’ve looked around the web for ways to roast vegetables without oil and found an array of methods, some actually without oil, whereas others simply substituted nonstick cooking spray or even butter for the “omitted” oil. Those weren’t what I was looking for. I decided to experiment.

To conclude which method might be best for me (and hopefully others), I did a comparison of three different methods of roasting butternut squash, all without oil. Whichever method you find to be right for you, rest assured, that NO fat of any type was used in the roasting experiment. Below are two videos showing the methods I tried. Two methods were used simultaneously in the first video and one method was used in the second. All in all, I found the method for me through this endeavor. I hope you do too! Enjoy!

I really hope this helps!

Broccoli 101 The Basics

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

Broccoli is one of the most healthful vegetables one can eat. Yet, many people don’t like it, usually because of an experience when they were young and having to eat it when it was grossly overcooked. You can’t blame them for their feelings. When broccoli is overcooked, the sulfur compounds are released, making the house stink, and giving the vegetable a VERY strong flavor! If you’re in that camp, I urge you to give it a second try. Just don’t overcook it!

Below is a video where I discuss a lot of information about broccoli including how to cook it without that strong taste that most of us don’t like. Below the video are my discussion notes. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, so it is related to cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Vegetables in this family have many health benefits. It is among foods referred to as “super veggies.” It has anti-cancer properties, helps build and support body tissue and bones, is packed with antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, helps to reduce inflammation, helps control blood sugar due to its fiber content, supports heart health by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, promotes healthy digestion, supports healthy brain and nervous tissue function, supports a healthy immune system, may slow the aging process, supports oral health, and MORE. (See link below.) Broccoli gets its name from the Italian word “broccolo” which means “cabbage sprout.”

Healthline.com newsletter “Top 14 Health Benefits of Broccoli” … https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-broccoli

Nutrition Tidbits
Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, some B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium. It is a good source of beta-carotene. One cup of cooked broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange! Broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables. It is very low in calories, with only 31 calories in one cup.

Broccoli is high in sulforaphane (among other important compounds), a type of isothiocyanate, which is known to have anticancer effects. If for no other reason, this is one very important reason to include broccoli in your meals on a regular basis. The compound is found in greater concentrations in young broccoli sprouts than in the fully mature broccoli plant. So, if you have not tried growing your own broccoli sprouts, I urge you to try it! The sprouts are a delicious addition to any leafy green salad.

Cruciferous vegetables are SO important for our health that I’ve included some links where Dr. Michael Greger reviews medical scientific literature showing the benefits of eating broccoli and/or broccoli sprouts. This is just a tidbit of videos he has released demonstrating the value of including more fruits and vegetables into our diet. See also Dr. Greger’s website at https://nutritionfacts.org

Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ImlLsub2Ok&index=4&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Lung Cancer Metastases and Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Best Food to Counter the Effects of Air Pollution … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Which Fruits and Vegetables Boost DNA Repair? … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSDedXTsQkE&index=10&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mIC_OKOjIQ&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1&index=3

How to Select Broccoli
Look for bright green heads of broccoli with tightly clustered florets. The more open the florets, the older the broccoli is. Look for firm, strong stalks (flimsy stalks that bend are older and becoming dehydrated). It should feel heavy for its size.

How to Store and Preserve Broccoli
Store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible. It may be stored by misting the heads and wrapping them up loosely in paper towels or a cloth then placing that in a plastic bag to hold in the humidity. Use within 2 or 3 days.

To freeze fresh broccoli it needs to be washed and blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes or steamed for 5 minutes. Immediately cool it in a bowl of ice water, then drain it well and pack into freezer containers or bags. It will keep well for about 12 months in the freezer.

Dehydrating: Broccoli florets may be dehydrated. The stems may remain a bit tough with dehydration, so it is only recommended to dehydrate the florets. Blanch and cool them as above, then drain well. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s directions for the length of time and temperature for proper dehydration with your machine.

How to Prepare Fresh Broccoli
Wash fresh broccoli well right before using it. If it has started to get limp (dehydrated), soak it in water for 10 minutes to crisp it back up.

The stalks are often cut off and discarded. That’s a shame because they are just as edible and delicious as the rest of the broccoli. With a sharp knife, cut off (and discard) the very bottom end where the stem was originally cut from the plant. The woody outer layer of the stem can be trimmed off with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Once that is removed, the inner part of the stalk is very similar to the stalks attached to the floret tops. Why not eat them?

Fresh vs Frozen Broccoli
Fresh: Fresh broccoli is usually available in most grocery stores. This is an excellent way to purchase the vegetable, nutritionally speaking, as long as the stalks do not show signs of age.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten Raw: Raw broccoli contains the most nutrients and anti-cancer agents that the plant has to offer. When eaten in the raw state, we do absorb many of them. Some people have problems digesting raw broccoli, causing gas and bloating. If this happens to you, try cooking your broccoli in some way…steaming, boiling, roasting, etc.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten When Steamed: According to Dr. Michael Greger and research he covers in the following video, we actually absorb more of the anti-cancer nutrients in broccoli when it is lightly steamed. Apparently the (brief) steaming process makes the nutrients more available to the body. See his video at …

Raw vs. Cooked Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaY6TS9yxIY

Dr. Michael Greger explains in the following video, a good way to help maximize your intake of the anti-cancer compounds in fresh broccoli. It’s a simple strategy of cutting/chopping the broccoli, then waiting 40 minutes before actually cooking it. See his video at …

Second Strategy for Cooking Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

To steam fresh broccoli, cut into medium or small size pieces, place it in a steaming basket above boiling water and steam it up to 4 minutes. To get a boost of sulforaphane with the steamed broccoli, pair it with a raw source of enzymes that will produce the sulforaphane compound, such as horseradish, red radish, mustard, cauliflower, and/or arugula.

Frozen: Frozen vegetables are a great convenience to those with a time crunch in the kitchen. The vegetables are usually processed shortly after being harvested which helps to retain a lot of their nutritional value (over fresh vegetables that have aged before being purchased). According to Prevention (https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/a20457091/what-your-frozen-broccoli-is-missing/), the freezing process (briefly boiling the broccoli to blanch it) actually destroys the anti-cancer compounds in the vegetable. So we have a “catch-22” problem here, if you’re comparing convenience with nutritional aspects of broccoli. The choice is yours on which way to go. Perhaps include frozen broccoli at times when time is an issue and raw or steamed during other times.

Dr. Michael Greger uncovered a way (via scientific literature) to add enzymes to cooked broccoli that will help restore the development of anti-cancer compounds in broccoli. Simple mustard powder can do the trick! See his short video where he explains this trick…
Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Over the years, broccoli has typically been eaten cooked…and over-cooked for sure. Today, we’re learning that less cooking is best when eating vegetables. This is also true with broccoli. Not only does less cooking help to preserve nutrients, but it certainly makes them more enjoyable with a better flavor and texture. Most people prefer “crisp-tender” over “mush” any day! Also, less cooking prevents the release of the sulfur odor and flavor that comes with overly cooked broccoli. So, more and more people are enjoying this fabulously healthy vegetable lightly cooked or even raw.

Broccoli can be boiled, steamed, roasted, baked, sautéed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, put in a casserole, added to soups and salads, and enjoyed raw. So, it’s extremely versatile and well worth trying in a variety of ways to incorporate more if it into your meals!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Broccoli
Some suggested flavorings for broccoli include: basil, cilantro, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, parsley, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme.

The website https://Athleanx.com has a wonderful list of suggestions on what to serve with broccoli. They all sound good to me! Check it out at … https://athleanx.com/for-women/10-new-ways-to-make-broccoli-taste-awesome

Other Foods That Go Well With Broccoli
Cheddar cheese, onions, bacon, pasta, chicken, ham, bell peppers, cauliflower, hot peppers, leeks, lemon, lime, mushrooms, olives, orange, potatoes, salads, scallions, chives, shallots, spinach, squash, tomatoes

Also: almonds, butter, cashews, cheese (feta, cheddar, goat, Parmesan, etc.), coconut milk, eggs, pesto, soy sauce, tahini, tamari, vinaigrette, vinegar, wine, and yogurt

Recipe links
Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Blanch Broccoli … https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Judi in the Kitchen video, Cook Frozen Broccoli (Not Mushy) … https://youtu.be/Ig6CeSmgU0c

Judi in the Kitchen video, Simple Mustard Sauce for Broccoli … https://youtu.be/WkZecLPx8Og

Judi in the Kitchen video, Marinated Cruciferous Salad … https://youtu.be/-8wQitQtnvo

Judi in the Kitchen video, Easily Cut Fresh Broccoli with Less Mess … https://youtu.be/mKX8jfNl5IM

Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Steam Broccoli … https://youtu.be/adqpjc_OJIg

Dairy Council of California, assorted broccoli recipes at … https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes/kWord/broccoli

Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli … https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/144346/roasted-garlic-lemon-broccoli/

“Seriously The Best Broccoli of Your Life” … https://www.errenskitchen.com/seriously-best-broccoli-life/

Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic … https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caramelized-broccoli-garlic

Assorted Broccoli Recipes from Bon Appetit Magazine … https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/broccoli-recipes

Better Broccoli Casserole … https://cookieandkate.com/2016/better-broccoli-casserole-recipe/


How to Steam Fresh Broccoli

Steaming is a cooking method that has been around for a while. It’s easy to do and helps to preserve the nutrients that can be lost in cooking water when vegetables are boiled. So, if you don’t have a steamer basket, they’re an inexpensive tool that is well worth adding to your kitchen accessories.

In the video below, I demonstrate how to simply steam fresh broccoli. This method can be used if you just want some lightly cooked broccoli to enjoy with your meal, add to a cold or warm salad, or prepare the vegetable for freezing or dehydrating. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

How to Use Refrigerator Crisper Drawers

Just about any modern refrigerator has crisper drawers. These things are provided to help us keep foods organized and fresh as long as possible. Yet, many of us simply don’t give much thought about how to properly use them. It’s common to just stuff them with food that won’t fit on the shelves, still in their original plastic bags from the grocery store. Or maybe we fill them with beverage cans so they’re neatly tucked in and organized, so they’re easily reachable, and so we can see when we’re about to run out. Or maybe we stuff any fruits together in one drawer and any vegetables together in another drawer, move the slider vent to whatever setting seems right and call it done. Well, there’s more to the proper use of these amenities than that, so I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found…

Some drawers will have a high/low humidity setting. This is a simple toggle lever that you slide back and forth that opens or closes a small vent, allowing air to flow or closing it off. Sometimes the closed vent setting will have a picture of a vegetable by the word “high,” indicating high humidity by closing the air vent. That same drawer may also have a picture of a fruit by the word “low” indicating the air vent is open allowing for low humidity in the drawer (refrigerator air is normally very dry). If you have a drawer that does not have a toggle lever, then by default it’s a high-humidity drawer.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, so most of the humidity in the drawers comes directly from the food within. So, when the toggle lever closes off the air vent, it’s creating a highly humid environment for the items in the drawer. When the toggle lever opens the air vent, allowing refrigerator air to flow in and out of the drawer, it creates a low-humidity environment within the drawer. Some items should be stored in the high-humidity drawer, whereas others should be stored in the low-humidity drawer. So, what goes where?

Some fruits and vegetables produce a hormone in the form of ethylene gas that is emitted as a ripening agent. These same foods often react to the gas that they produce by ripening faster. Other fruits and vegetables do not emit this gas. Some fruits and vegetables are sensitive to the gas, causing them to ripen faster than normal, while others are not. This is where the fruit ripening trick comes from where we can place an unripe fruit in a paper bag (such as a mature green tomato) with a ripe apple or banana. The gas emitted by the apple or banana will speed up the ripening process of the other fruit (ie the tomato) that’s in the bag. This works IF that fruit is sensitive or reacts to the presence of ethylene gas.

Fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene gas need to be separated from the gas-producing foods. If not, the gas causes the sensitive foods to ripen and age faster than normal. By closing off the air vent of a drawer containing ethylene-sensitive foods, you’re protecting them from such gas in the refrigerator, while at the same time maintaining a highly humid environment helping to prevent the foods from wilting or withering. Examples of such foods include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, greens (like chard, spinach, turnip and mustard greens), lettuces, parsley, peppers, squash, and strawberries. These include vegetables and fruits that are thin-skinned or leafy and tend to lose moisture easily.

Ethylene-producing foods should be kept together and away from the foods that are sensitive to their gases. These foods should be stored in a crisper drawer with the air vent open, thereby allowing the refrigerator air to flow in and out of the drawer, creating a low-humidity environment. These foods tend to rot (such as apples) rather than wilt (such as lettuce). Some examples of these foods include: apples, apricots, avocados, ripe bananas, cantaloupes, figs, honeydew melons, kiwi, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, and plums.

One simple way to know which food goes in which drawer is to remember this: “stop rot/low humidity” (to prevent rot, open the vent in the drawer creating a low humidity environment) “stop wilt/high humidity” (to prevent wilting or withering, close the vent in the drawer creating a high humidity environment). If nothing else, note that the words in each pair have the same number of letters in them (both “rot” and “low” have 3 letters; both “wilt” and “high” have 4 letters). This association may help you remember which items to put together. For instance, those items that tend to wilt from lack of moisture will need to go in the high-humidity drawer, with the toggle vent closed. Those items that tend to rot will need to go in the low-humidity drawer, with the toggle vent open.

When preparing your refrigerator crisper drawers for newly purchased foods, make sure the drawers are clean and dry. It’s helpful to line the bottom of each drawer with either a couple layers of paper towels or a clean cotton kitchen towel, folded to fit the bottom of the drawer. The liner in the drawers will absorb extra moisture, keeping it from pooling on the food. This helps to keep the food dry which helps to extend the lifespan of the food. If you have fresh greens in a drawer, toss them around occasionally to prevent excess moisture from collecting on the leaves. Also according to the writers at TheKitchn.com, the drawers seem to work best if they are at least two-thirds full. That’s a good reason to keep plenty of fresh veggies around!

Another important point is to keep meats, poultry and seafood out of drawers with fresh produce. That’s a serious potential for cross-contamination. The drawer in the middle of the refrigerator (if yours has one) is often labeled as a meat drawer. If you always freeze meats and do not keep meats in the refrigerator, you could designate that drawer (which usually doesn’t have a toggle vent) as a high-humidity drawer for whatever foods you need to store there. If you do store fresh meats in the refrigerator and do not have a designated meat drawer, consider keeping meats in their original packaging and storing them in a closed container in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Use them within a few days.

Here is a list of some common foods that can be stored together and in which drawer:

High-Humidity Drawer
The high-humidity drawer (with the toggle vent closed) should contain fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to moisture loss and ethylene gas, and tend to wilt or wither when they age.

Examples include:
Belgian endive
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage (and vegetables in this family such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, etc)
Green beans
Herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme)
Leafy greens (such as kale, lettuces, mustard and turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress)
Summer squash

Low-Humidity Drawer
The low-humidity drawer (with the toggle vent open) should contain foods that are not sensitive to moisture loss, are ethylene gas producers, and tend to rot when they get old.

Examples include:
Bananas (ripe)
Honeydew melons
Plantains (ripe)
Stone fruits (such as apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums)

By storing fresh fruits and vegetables properly, we can help to extend their shelf lives to the fullest potential, thereby saving money and wasting less food.

About the Author
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.