Author Archives: Judi

Fennel

How to Cut Fennel

When you first buy a fresh fennel bulb with the stalks and fronds (leaves) attached, cutting it can be intimidating. Yet, it’s not hard at all. To store it in the refrigerator, simply cut the stalks off leaving two or three inches attached. Store everything loosely in a plastic bag until you’re ready to use it.

When you’re ready to cook the fennel, the bulb can be cut in various ways, depending on how it will be used. See the short video below to see how to cut a fennel bulb. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

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.

Simple Warm Zucchini Salad

Simple Warm Zucchini Salad

This is a really simple and delicious salad featuring lightly sauteed zucchini, carrot and onions, flavored with various seasonings. It’s a VERY flexible and forgiving recipe, so it can easily be tailored to your preferences or to what you have readily available. It can very easily be increased if you’re feeding a larger family or guests. Give it a try and let me know how you like it! The video below is a demonstration of my making the salad. The written recipe is below that. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Simple Warm Zucchini Salad
Makes about 3 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp finely diced onion (or more if desired)
1 medium zucchini
About 1/3 cup shredded carrot
(about 1/2 of a medium carrot, shredded with a carrot peeler)
8 grape tomatoes, cut in half
¼ tsp dried dill weed, or to taste*
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice**

Wash and cut off both ends of the zucchini, but do not peel it. If you have a spiralizer, make noodles from the zucchini. Make 2 or 3 rough cuts in the pile of zucchini noodles to make the pieces shorter. If you do not have a spiralizer, simply cut the zucchini into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Peel the carrot. Then continue peeling into it to get very thin, short shreds of carrot. Do this until you get about 1/3 cup of shredded carrots. More can be used, if desired. Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and allow it to heat briefly. Add the onion, and sauté it for about a minute and a half, until it starts to become translucent. Next add the carrot and zucchini to the skillet. Sauté while stirring, for about 1 minute until the vegetables are warmed but still crisp. Do not overcook them! Remove from heat and add in the tomatoes, dill weed and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and adjust flavorings if needed. Serve immediately.

* The following options could be substituted for the dill weed, if preferred: basil, or a combination of basil plus parsley, or basil plus oregano

** If preferred, you could use about 2 teaspoons of your favorite vinegar in place of the lemon juice

Garlic

Garlic 101 – The Basics

Garlic is an herb that is used to flavor MANY foods. It’s also used for medicinal purposes and that practice has been traced back to ancient Egypt. Below is a video about garlic including nutritional and medicinal aspects of garlic, how to select, store, and use garlic, and lots more information! Below the video are my video notes for your personal use. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Garlic 101 – The Basics

About Garlic
Garlic is an herb that is grown around the world. It is a member of the allium family, so it is related to onions, leeks and chives. Garlic is a common seasoning used worldwide for thousands of years. It was used in ancient Egypt as both a food and a medicine. China produces about 80% of the world’s garlic supply.

Nutrition Tidbits
Garlic packs a nutritional punch with good amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin (a carotenoid found in the retina of the eye), and Vitamin C.

Garlic produces allicin when it is chopped, chewed, or bruised. Allicin gives garlic its classic aroma, and is the active ingredient that appears to help treat so many ailments. Some people take odorless garlic supplements that have the allicin removed. This type of garlic is not as effective for medicinal uses. Enteric coated supplements (that contain allicin) can be used instead of the odorless capsules.

Garlic also contains germanium, an element that also has anti-cancer properties. Garlic contains more germanium than any other herb. Garlic now tops the American National Cancer Institute’s list of potential cancer-preventative foods.

Garlic has been used to treat heart disease, various cancers, enlarged prostate, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, flu, fungal infections, oral thrush, diarrhea, and more (a LONG list!). Research has shown that garlic does help to treat many of the ailments it’s used for. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties help in the treatment of various conditions.

Important note…Garlic can interact with some medications. If you are taking prescription drugs for any reason, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s OK to take any garlic supplements you are considering.

Dr. Michael Greger has a number of videos on his website discussing medicinal uses of garlic. Here’s a link … https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=garlic

How to Select Garlic
Look for a solid, healthy looking bulb that is compact with taut, unbroken skin. Avoid any bulbs that are damp, have soft spots on them, or have started sprouting. A heavy, firm bulb indicates one that is fresh and flavorful. If it feels light, it may be dried out.

How to Store Garlic
Garlic keeps longest when stored at 60 to 65 degrees and in moderate humidity. At room temperature, it can be kept hanging in mesh bags or in loosely woven baskets.

Garlic can be keep in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. But once put in there, it needs to be kept there until needed. If refrigerated then removed for storage at room temperature, it will soon begin to sprout.

Leftover peeled cloves or chopped garlic will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge in a small, tightly covered container.

You can freeze garlic, though some people think frozen garlic isn’t quite as good as fresh. Put peeled cloves into a food processor or blender with a little water, pulse until they are evenly minced, and then freeze the puree in ice cube trays. Another way is to spread it out in a thin (and eventually breakable) layer on a silicone sheet. Once frozen, store the cubes or pieces in an airtight container.

Fresh garlic can be dehydrated. Peel and slice the garlic, then follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions for time and temperature to dry your garlic. Note that this WILL make your house have a strong garlic odor!

Pickled garlic is an easy way to mellow out the flavor while preserving your garlic until you need it. Put peeled garlic cloves into a jar with some salt and vinegar. Store it in the refrigerator and use as needed. They will keep that way indefinitely.

How to Prepare Garlic
Peel away as many of the outside papery layers as possible and discard.

If cloves are tight and can’t be easily pulled free, use the ball of your hand to press and roll the garlic against your cutting board to loosen the cloves.

Slice off the end of the clove, where it was attached to the bulb. Then place the clove beneath your chef’s knife and whack the knife with your other hand; this will loosen skin. Remove and discard any skins.

Start by slicing the clove. For a fine chop, hold the tip of the knife with one hand and use the other to rock blade back and forth over your slices.

For garlic that’s almost pulverized, place a clove into a garlic press and press down until the whole clove comes through the holes.
Cooking/Serving Methods

Fresh garlic can be roasted, sautéed, added to soups, stews, casseroles and sauces, added to pizza toppings, and a whole host of dishes. Also, it can be used to flavor oil, and pickled (as above). It is usually used to flavor other foods rather than eaten alone. Below are some tips on cooking with garlic.

To roast a garlic bulb, lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil, add some clean bulbs, and bake at 350F until the bulbs are soft, usually about 45 minutes. Cut the tips off the bulbs and cloves and squeeze out the now soft flesh. If needed, freeze the garlic in an airtight freezer container; it will last about a week in the fridge. The high oil content means it never freezes hard, and you can scoop the clove contents out with a spoon as needed.

Another way to roast garlic is to preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the top off of a bulb of garlic and place the bulb on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle the bulb with oil and wrap it with the foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the bulbs are lightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes.

Garlic can burn easily and burned garlic is not enjoyable (it’s bitter). To keep from burning your garlic, add it toward the end of sautéing onions or other vegetables. It can be added early in the sautéing process if it’s of a short duration.

To get the most allicin from your garlic, use fresh garlic rather than jarred. Allicin dissipates within days of being stored in water, as in jarred minced garlic. Also, cutting your garlic when you’re ready to use it, then letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes will yield the most allicin it has to offer. When garlic is cut, oxygen reacts with enzymes in the garlic, which triggers the formation of allicin. Waiting that brief time from cutting to using garlic allows time for the reaction to take place.

Flavor: The more you cut garlic cell walls, the stronger the flavor will be. To get a mild garlic flavor, slice it. To get a strong flavor, crush the garlic. Coarsely chopped garlic will have a flavor in between the two.

Also, the longer your garlic cooks in with other foods, the less flavor it will impart. To get the most garlic flavor, add the garlic toward the end of cooking.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Garlic
The robust flavor of garlic can add subtlety or intensity to food depending upon how it’s cut and when it’s added to the food. It goes well with most herbs, but use it sparingly with chervil, chives, lemon balm and mint.

Foods That Go Well With Garlic
Garlic is commonly used with meats, fish, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and other leafy greens, eggplant, tomatoes, salads, salad dressings, pasta sauces, quinoa, vegetables, cheese dishes, butter (as in garlic butter), and garlic bread. Garlic is used to flavor MANY foods, so know that this list is not all-inclusive.

Recipe Links
4 Tips for How to Cook With Garlic http://www.eatingwell.com/article/275955/4-tips-for-how-to-cook-with-garlic/

Creamy Roasted Garlic Potato Soup with Crispy Brussels and Chili Oil https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/01/creamy-roasted-garlic-potato-soup-with-crispy-brussels-chili-oil/

30 Recipes for Garlic Lovers https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/recipes-for-garlic-lovers/view-all/

21 Recipes Every Garlic Lover Should Know https://www.foodnetwork.ca/everyday-cooking/photos/garlic-recipes-you-should-know/#!garlic-sauce

Resources
https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-300/garlic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic#Origin_and_major_types

http://mentalfloss.com/article/63100/11-things-you-might-not-have-known-about-garlic

https://www.disabled-world.com/medical/alternative/herbal/garlic.php

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/how-choose-best-garlic

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a20707233/how-to-store-garlic/

https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/preparation/peel-chop-garlic

http://www.eatingwell.com/article/275955/4-tips-for-how-to-cook-with-garlic/

https://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/cooking-with-garlic.html

https://www.farmersdaughterherbs.com/info/cooking-herb-chart

https://delishably.com/spices-seasonings/The-Ultimate-Spice-Pairing-Guide

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robin-miller/roasted-garlic-recipe-2103776

Zucchini

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!
Judi

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

Resources
https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3882-all-about-zucchini.aspx

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

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=62

https://www.vegkitchen.com/5-surprising-health-benefits-of-zucchini/

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/zucchini.html

https://www.taste.com.au/quick-easy/articles/top-zucchini-food-pairs-by-matt-preston/yd28k6am

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

https://www.livestrong.com/article/217711-can-you-eat-the-zucchini-skin/

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.

Enjoy!
Judi

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:

Time
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.

Appearance
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).

Texture
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.

Flavor
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.

Conclusion
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.

Rutabagas

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!
Judi

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:

Time
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.

Appearance
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.

Texture
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.

Flavor
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.

Conclusion
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

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!
Judi

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.

Resources
https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/5-healthy-facts-about-carrots

http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/carrotcolours.html

http://snaplant.com/vegetables/a-rainbow-of-carrot-colors/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/nutrition/article/are-cooked-carrots-better-raw

http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/carrotops.html

https://producemadesimple.ca/?s=carrot

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/#h3

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!
Judi

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/

Resources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=61#descr

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/whats-the-most-nutritious-lettuce/article1360246/

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/tips-tricks-keep-lettuce-fresh/

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!
Judi

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!
Judi