If you’re not familiar with them, dealing with rutabagas can be a little intimidating. They’re round, so they are hard to stabilize to cut with a knife. They’re usually covered with wax (when bought commercially). AND, they’re dense and hard, so cutting them can be challenging. All this makes them a little scary for the kitchen novice. I found a simple way to cut them without using a vegetable peeler, which can be a bit awkward when trying to trim the peel from a round vegetable.
This way is simple to me, but I will say that you should be comfortable with using a paring knife to use this method. Check out the following video to see how it’s done!
Rutabagas are a vegetable that many of us are not familiar with. Yet, they are popular around the world. Are we missing something? Well, maybe! In researching about this lowly vegetable, I learned a lot about the nutritional and health benefits of including them in our diet. And they can be eaten raw or cooked, and prepared in a variety of ways. If given a chance, we’re all surely to find something to love about rutabagas!
Check out my video below where I discuss rutabagas. Not only do I cover nutritional aspects, but how to select, store, and prepare them as well, including what herbs, spices and other foods go well with rutabagas. Give them a try! The information notes are below the video for your reference. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Rutabagas 101 – The Basics
They are only called rutabaga in the US. Everywhere else, they are called a “swede”. They are believed to have originated in Bohemia in the 1600s as a cross between a cabbage and turnip. In Sweden, they are often used in place of potatoes.
Flavor: Nutty and sweet with a mild turnip-like flavor, with some bitterness.
Rutabagas are member of the Brassica family (cabbage family), so they are high in antioxidants and anti-cancer agents. They are high in vitamin C which also helps the body absorb the iron that it contains. They are also rich in beta-carotene, potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, and more. Their nutrients help to form collagen and thyroid hormones, encourage wounds to heal, boost the immune system, and promote healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels.
Low in calories (1 medium has about 145 calories)
How to select rutabagas
Look for purple tinged skin, which indicates ripeness. Avoid bruised or blemished ones and any with shoots growing out of it (indicates it is overripe). Smaller ones tend to be more tender and flavorful.
How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Rutabagas can be eaten raw (as a snack, or grated into salads or slaws), but they are usually eaten cooked. Cooking releases a sweet yet savory flavor.
Fresh vs frozen vs canned
They are only available fresh (as far as I know).
Wash the rutabaga to remove any dirt. Slice in half, cutting through the center. Place on its flat surface and cut into ½” semicircles. Discard the first and last pieces. Remove outer skin with a paring knife; cut into cubes.
Boil with a little sweetener for about 10 minutes.
Stir-fry for about 7 minutes.
Bake with a few tablespoons of water at 350F for 1 hour, until tender.
Mash: Bring salted water to boil; lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain, mash. Butter and nutmeg or cinnamon can be added, to taste.
Rutabagas are typically eaten in a mixture of mashed rutabagas, potatoes, onions, and carrots with butter and salt.
How to preserve it
Rutabagas can be kept for months in cool, slightly humid conditions, and can be stored unwashed in the crisper of the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Cooked rutabaga can be frozen.
Herbs/spices that go well with rutabagas
Rosemary, garlic, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon, olive oil, molasses, black pepper, mustard, brown sugar
Other foods that go well with rutabagas
Dairy: milk, butter, cream, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese
Produce: apple, pear, carrots, parsnip, onion, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
Rutabaga can also be made into oven fries: Toss rutabaga spears in fat (olive oil, coconut oil, or even bacon fat or beef tallow) along with salt and seasonings of your choice (like garlic powder, dried thyme, and cayenne), then roast at 425F for 30 minutes.
Roasted rutabaga is an easy weeknight side dish. Cube rutabaga and toss in olive oil with salt on a sheet pan. Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Add maple syrup and fresh thyme to accentuate rutabaga’s sweetness.
Brussels Sprouts…you either hate ’em or love ’em. Well, I think if you hate them it’s because you haven’t had them cooked right. Years ago it was very common for people to cook vegetables until very soft in a big pot of boiling water. Then a large amount of butter (or margarine) was slathered on top to hide the flavor and they were then served. No wonder so many people hate this vegetable!
Today, we’ve learned better. We now know other ways to cook vegetables to actually make them taste better while still preserving some if not most of their nutritional value. We need to take a second look at this loathed vegetable and give it the credit it’s due.
In the video below, I discuss a lot of basic information about Brussels sprouts including nutrition tidbits, how to select, store, and prepare them, and list herbs, spices and other foods that go well with Brussels sprouts. And, if that’s not enough, I’ve included some links to sites that have some interesting recipes using the sprouts. My notes from the video are below, so you can enjoy the video and simply copy the notes for your future reference. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Brussels Sprouts 101 – The Basics
Brussels sprouts are in the cabbage family. They are not baby cabbages, but a separate plant that grows on a stalk. These vegetables are delicious when not overcooked. The very component that gives them their sulfur smell when overcooked is the same chemical that gives them their anti-cancer properties. So…maybe we need to take a second look at these little gems!
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin A (beta-carotene), C, K, folic acid, iron, magnesium and fiber. They also contain a good amount of selenium. Because of their vitamin K content, you may need to limit the amount you eat if you’re on blood thinning medications.
How to select
Look for bright green heads that are firm and heavy for their size. The leaves should be tightly packed. Avoid those with yellowing leaves or black spots on them. Smaller ones are usually sweeter and more tender than larger ones.
How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Brussels sprouts are commonly eaten cooked, although then can be consumed raw. Cooking releases sulfur compounds that make them strong tasting and bitter, which is why many people don’t like them. When cooking with water, cook only for short times to prevent the strong, bitter flavor. Also, they should not be bitter when roasted properly. Sauté them for a short time to reduce bitterness.
Fresh vs frozen vs canned
Brussels sprouts are usually purchased fresh, but can be found frozen in grocery stores. They are not available canned.
How to prepare them
Trim off the dry stem end. Remove loose outer leaves. They can be left whole, sliced in halves or quarters, or shredded for a salad or slaw.
Sprouts can be boiled, steamed, roasted, baked, sautéed, stir-fried, and shredded for a salad or slaw.
Some serving suggestions (provided on a package of Brussels sprouts from Green Giant):
Halve Brussels sprouts, toss in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasonings. Sauté with sliced onions and mix with cooked pasta shells. Top with bacon bits.
Marinate Brussels sprouts in BBQ sauce, or other savory glaze, spread evenly on a baking sheet; roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve as an appetizer on toothpicks or as a side dish.
Steam until tender; drain and coat with butter. Toss in seasoned bread crumbs and cheese; broil until brown for breaded Brussels sprouts.
Oven roasted Brussels sprouts (per Green Giant): In a bowl, toss to coat 1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved, in 2 Tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper. Place on a baking sheet. Roast at 400F for 25-35 minutes or until nicely browned and tender. Serve and enjoy!
How to preserve Brussels sprouts
When obtained really fresh, they can keep for up to a few weeks in the refrigerator. Store unwashed in plastic bag (in refrigerator).
The sprouts can be frozen. Blanch for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on size); chill quickly, package and freeze in labeled freezer bags right away. They will keep about 18 months in the freezer.
Herbs/spices that go well with Brussels sprouts
Basil, bay leaf, parsley, rosemary, thyme, caraway seeds, black pepper, garlic, ginger, mustard, nutmeg
Combos: Vinegar or lemon juice with marjoram, or with mustard and oregano or caraway seeds
Other foods that go well with Brussels sprouts
Produce: apples, capers, artichokes, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, fennel, endive, kale, mushrooms, onion, orange, potatoes, and shallots
Dairy: butter, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese
Other: almonds, bacon, cashews, pecans, walnuts, white wine, soy sauce, sesame seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, vinegar, olive oil.
Shredded Brussels sprouts with bacon, cranberries and pecans (can leave out the bacon if desired and use oil of choice)… https://producemadesimple.ca/shredded-brussels-sprouts-bacon-pecans-dried-cranberries/
Wondering what to do with jicama? It’s delicious raw served in salads. Hence, I put together the following refreshing and SIMPLE salad to enjoy anytime…with a meal, as a snack, and even as a dessert if you don’t want something overly sweet. The salad blends the flavors of jicama, mango and carrots, all tied together with a sweet/sour mixture of lemon juice and maple syrup or honey. It’s delicious, colorful, refreshing, mildly crunchy, lightly sweet, and really easy to make!
Below is a video where I demonstrate how to make the salad. Below the video is the written recipe. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Jicama Mango Carrot Salad
Makes about 4 Servings
1 small jicama, peeled and cubed
1 ripe mango, peeled and cubed
1 cup shredded carrot
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp maple syrup or honey (or to taste)
Combine vegetables in a medium size bowl; stir to combine.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and maple syrup or honey. Drizzle the lemon juice mixture over the jicama mixture; stir to combine.
Cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving to allow flavors to blend. Enjoy!
Blanching vegetables is not hard, yet many people shy away from it. Blanching is necessary because it stops the enzyme activity that will cause the vegetable to age while it’s in the freezer or after its been dehydrated…something we don’t want to happen. So, this simple process is necessary to help preserve our food, whether we’re freezing or dehydrating it.
See the video demonstration below on how to blanch broccoli. Written instructions are below the video.
I hope this helps!
How to Blanch Broccoli
Wash and cut your fresh broccoli into pieces no larger than 1-1/2 inches long or in diameter. Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
When the water comes to a rolling boil, place the prepared broccoli in the boiling water and immediately set the timer for 3 minutes. While the broccoli is boiling, prepare a large bowl of water with a lot of ice in it.
As soon as the 3 minutes of boiling time is up, immediately transfer the broccoli into the ice water. Leave the vegetables there to chill for at least 3 minutes. Then drain the broccoli well and place in freezer bags or containers. Label them with the date they are placed in the freezer. If placing the broccoli in bags, be sure to remove as much air as possible from the bags, and lay the bags flat in the freezer, spreading the broccoli through the bag as much as possible. This will help it to freeze faster and prevent big clumps of frozen vegetables that are hard to break up.
Broccoli prepared this way will keep in the freezer for about 12 months.
If you plan to dehydrate your broccoli, the preparation method is the same…wash, cut, boil, and cool down as described above. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions on the time and temperature for dehydrating in your machine.
Broccoli prepared in this way (lightly cooked) can also be eaten in salads and incorporated into other freshly cooked dishes. Enjoy!
Jicama is a mildly sweet vegetable with a crunch like an almost ripe pear. It’s delicious raw in salads and added to stir-fry combos. If you haven’t tried it, let me urge you to give it a go! In the video below, I have some valuable tips on how I cut and store jicama.
Kale, a richly colored leafy green vegetable, is truly a powerhouse of healthful compounds for the body. In recent times, people have discovered this king of veggies and found some very creative ways to prepare it, making it very enjoyable to eat, even for those who hate their vegetables.
I’m in the midst of creating a series of YouTube videos covering a lot of basic information about assorted vegetables, one at a time. Kale is on the list! Below are my video notes for your information, including links to some interesting recipes. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Kale 101 – The Basics
Like other vegetables I’ve covered so far, kale is a member of the cabbage family, being a cousin to cabbage, cauliflower, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and more. Like some other members of this plant family, kale is often referred to as a “super food.” Kale comes in different varieties with curly, or flat leaves, and colors ranging from deep green and blue-green to purple. Some common varieties of kale include Curly Kale (Scots Kale), Dinosaur Kale, Ornamental Kale, Red Russian Kale, and Siberian Kale. Their leaf styles and colors will vary, and their flavors will also be slightly different.
Kale is an absolute powerhouse of nutrients and is often referred to as one of the healthiest foods to eat. PERIOD! One cup of raw kale has only 33 calories, 2.5 grams of fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, folate (a B vitamin), a little omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), and important minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and zinc. Kale also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that protect our eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts. The anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects of kale are well-established in scientific literature.
How to Select Kale
Look for dark, crisp, unwilted leaves. Those with yellowing or brown leaves are older, so try to avoid them if you can. The smaller leaf plants will be more tender than those with larger leafs.
How to Store Kale
Kale should be refrigerated. To help extend the life of fresh kale, wrap the bundle in a cloth kitchen towel (or paper towels) and place it in a plastic bag (even a grocery plastic bag will do) and store it in the refrigerator. As with any fresh vegetable, it should be used as soon as possible, but may keep for a week when wrapped in a towel within a plastic bag. Do not wash your kale until you are ready to use it. If it has gotten a little limp in the refrigerator, place the kale in a large bowl or pot of cold water for about 10 minutes. Then wash and use it as desired.
If your stored kale has become soft, discolored or mushy, remove and discard that part before use.
Is kale eaten raw or cooked?
Kale can be eaten raw or cooked. It is also used in raw vegetable juice blends.
How to Prepare Kale Raw kale can be added to salads, smoothies, and added to vegetable juices. The smaller leaf varieties may be more enjoyable when eaten raw since those leaves are more tender than the larger ones.
Kale can be cooked in a variety of ways: sautéed, baked into chips, steamed, added to soups, chowders and stews, and added to any number of hot dishes along with other vegetables, grains, and sauces.
Steam kale for 5 minutes then add flavorings as desired.
Fresh vs Frozen
Frozen kale is often found in grocery stores.
You can freeze kale yourself by washing, then cutting it into small pieces. Blanch the kale leaves in boiling water for 2-1/2 minutes, and stems for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water for about 3 minutes. Drain well and place in freezer containers or bags, then freeze. The kale will keep for 8 to 12 months.
Some people will freeze cut kale leaves without blanching or steaming first. Kale frozen this way will only keep for 4 to 6 weeks and should be used within that time frame. Kale frozen this way can be steamed and stir-fried.
Herbs/spices that go well with kale
Basil, bay leaf, coriander, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, lemon, marjoram, onions, oregano, nutmeg, and rosemary
Here’s an easy soup that’s simple, fast and delicious! It is light yet will warm your soul on a cold winter day. It’s made with the super-veggie kale, along with potatoes, carrots, and leeks. Beans were added for protein and fiber. It’s simple and well worth trying! A video is below showing how to make the soup. The written recipe is below that. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Kale Soup with Potatoes, Carrots and Leeks
Makes About 10 Cups
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups sliced leeks (or 1 cup diced yellow onion)
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups sliced carrots
Sliced kale stems (removed from leaves for the soup)
1-1/2 cups diced white potatoes
4 cups chopped kale leaves
1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained (or 1-3/4 cups cooked beans)
4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if preferred)
2 cups water
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme, optional
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot with a lid, over medium heat. Add the leeks (or onions), garlic, carrots, and sliced kale stems. Sauté the vegetables for 3 or 4 minutes, until they are aromatic and starting to soften.
Add the potatoes, kale leaves, beans, broth, water, parsley and thyme. Stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, cover with lid, and lower heat to simmer. After the soup has cooked about 10 minutes, taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Allow soup to simmer, up to 30 minutes, to allow vegetables to soften and flavors to blend. Enjoy!
The humble jicama is one vegetable many people are not sure what to do with. It looks like a weird potato, yet is so very different and can be used in different ways than a potato. Whether it’s served raw or added to stir-fry combos, jicama is one vegetable to try.
It’s crunchy and mildly sweet and adds an interesting note to any dish it’s used in. I enjoy them raw and plain for a simple snack. They’re THAT good to me! I urge you to get brave and give them a try!
Below is a video where I talk about the basics of jicama…what they are, nutrition tidbits, how to use them, store them, prepare them, etc. I also have suggested recipes and links with interesting recipes included. Below the video are my discussion notes. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Jicama 101 – The Basics
Jicama is a root vegetable native to Mexico, Central and South America. It is often called a Mexican yam bean, Mexican turnip, or Mexican potato. The plant is so popular that it is now found all over the world. It has the appearance and texture similar to a potato, but the flesh is firm like a pear. The taste is mildly sweet with a slight apple flavor.
Jicama is low in calories (1 cup has 49 calories) but high in the soluble fiber inulin, which is important for our gut bacteria, bowel regulation, and might also help to control blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
Jicama also contains a lot of vitamin C, some potassium, and other nutrients.
How to select jicama
Look for ones that feel firm with little bruises or scaring on the surface. Avoid any with signs of mold.
Fresh vs frozen vs canned
Fresh jicama is what is commonly available. It is not available canned (to the best of my knowledge). Jicama can be frozen, but the starches in the vegetable may change, so fresh consumption is recommended.
How to store jicama
Store jicama in a cool, dry place. DRY is key here, because moisture will cause the vegetable to develop mold.
Once it is cut, wrap DRY jicama in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. Use within 3 to 5 days.
How to prepare jicama
The skin, leaves, seeds and PEEL of jicama are toxic and NOT edible. So, remember to peel your jicama before using it in any dish. Cut off and wash only what you plan to use at the moment, leaving the remaining part completely dry. Wrap the remaining part in plastic and store it in the refrigerator.
Once peeled, cut the jicama into desired size pieces that you need…cubes, slices, matchsticks, etc. The cut pieces will not turn brown after cutting.
RAW: Jicama is delicious when used raw in salads and slaws. The faint apple flavor allows it to go well with assorted salad vegetables like carrots and onions, and fruits like oranges and apples. A favorite way to serve jicama in Mexico is to sprinkle chilled slices with chili powder, salt and lemon or lime juice.
Try adding jicama to your favorite fruit salad…the crunch and mild sweetness will only enhance the appeal of the salad!
Try making a jicama salsa by combining diced jicama, corn, tomatoes, black beans, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice and onion. Sounds yummy!
COOKED: Jicama goes well in stir-fries, offering the crunch of water chestnuts but with a mild sweetness. Jicama goes well with meats and seafood. Jicama can also be cooked on the grill or added to soups.
Jicama can be roasted! Place cubes on a baking pan. Preheat the oven to 400F. Sprinkle the jicama with olive oil, rosemary, parsley, and a little minced garlic; toss to coat the jicama pieces. Roast it for about one hour.
How to preserve jicama
Jicama must be kept dry to prevent the formation of mold. Once it is cut, wrap it tightly in plastic and store it in the refrigerator. Use as soon as possible, within 3 to 5 days.
Herbs/spices/flavorings that go well with jicama
Cilantro, onions, chili powder/peppers, lemon, lime, orange
Foods that go well with jicama
Lime, lemon, orange, assorted fruits, avocado, bell peppers, mangoes, cucumbers, carrots, jalapenos, black beans
Are you wondering what to do with Spring Mix? I did research on your behalf and found that it can be used in ways beyond salads! See my video below where I discuss my findings. My notes are below the video. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Spring Mix 101 – The Basics
About Spring Mix
Spring mix contains a variety of fresh greens with different tastes and textures, including red romaine, baby spinach, radicchio, green romaine, red oak leaf, mizuna, red leaf, lollo rosso, arugula, red mustard, green mustard, red chard, frisee, and tatsoi. It contains a mixture of sweet and mild, and also slightly bitter flavors. The variety may vary among different brands.
Greens contain vitamins A, C, E, and K, folate, calcium, and potassium. It is very low in calories.
How to Select and Store Spring Mix
Choose greens that look fresh and dry. Store them in the refrigerator and use them before the “Use By” date because they don’t last as long as mature greens. Spring mix greens purchased in plastic tubs tend to last longer than those sold in bags because the tubs help protect them from getting damaged. Spring mix greens are so tender that they are best eaten fresh (rather than preserved via freezing, etc.).
Spring mix can be used as a bed of salad greens or mixed with other greens for a delicious salad. When using only spring mix in a leafy salad, use lightweight dressings and ingredients, as the tender greens don’t hold up well with heavy ingredients. Basil, lemon, garlic, onion, parsley, chives, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, fruit, toasted nuts and bacon all go well with spring mix.
Spring mix can also be used as a bed for fresh or grilled fruits and other vegetables.
Toss spring mix with a balsamic vinaigrette and top with fresh sliced strawberries, walnuts, and an ounce of goat cheese.
Toss greens, walnuts, and cranberries in a sweet balsamic dressing. Top with goat cheese.
Add mixed greens, Kalamata olives, feta, pepperoncini, and cucumber in a bowl. Add olive oil and lemon. Toss gently. Salt and pepper to taste.
Take your favorite homemade or premixed grain salad and toss in a handful of baby greens.
Add candied or roasted pecans to your mixed greens and toss in a bowl with feta or goat cheese. Top with fresh raspberries.
Use extra spring mix to make a green smoothie. Blend a couple handfuls with a banana and some other fruit or favored flavorings and enjoy!
Spring mix can also be lightly sautéed in a little fat of your choice along with garlic, sesame seeds, and other flavorings. Top it off with a little rice vinegar, soy sauce, or lemon juice to brighten the flavor.
Spring mix can also be used as a substitute for spinach in any dish, cooked or raw.
Try also quickly steaming spring mix with no special equipment. I show how to steam spinach that way in the following video, but using spring mix instead of fresh spinach would work just as well. Judi in the Kitchen video, FAST and EASY Steamed Spinach … https://youtu.be/ZWuZHxdPGxg