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Cantaloupe 101 – The Basics

Cantaloupe (Muskmelon) 101 – The Basics

About Cantaloupe
The fruit we commonly call a “cantaloupe” in the United States is actually a type of muskmelon (Cucumis melo var reticulatus). Muskmelons have an outer skin (or rind) covered with what appears to be a “netting” or an orderly mosaic pattern. Sometimes they will have some ribbing, or lines running from end to end, like the seams on a basketball. However, the ribbing is usually not heavy nor deep.

True cantaloupes (Cucumis melo var cantalupensis) do not have extensive, orderly netting on the outer surface, and they have well-defined, deeply grooved ribs. True cantaloupes are grown almost exclusively in other parts of the world, especially in the Mediterranean region.

In this article, for the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion (at least in the United States), muskmelons will be referred to as cantaloupes.

Cantaloupes are members of the cucurbit family of plants (Cucurbitaceae). This family also includes cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, gourds, and many types of melons, including watermelon and honeydew melons. Since members of this plant family can easily cross-pollinate, there are many different hybrid melons available.

Cantaloupes grow on low vines and have orange, sweet flesh, with seeds in the center. The fruit is best when eaten fresh and in season, when it is picked ripe. This delicious fruit is often eaten as a snack, breakfast, side dish, or dessert. In many cultures, the edible cantaloupe seeds are often dried and enjoyed as a snack food.

Historians are not certain where the cantaloupe originated. However, melons are often found growing wild in Africa, which leads some to believe they may have originated there. However, they may also have had their origins in parts of Asia, India, or China.

Today, China is the world’s largest producer of melons (which includes cantaloupe). Within the United States, California is the largest producer of cantaloupes, growing over half of all the supply. California is followed by Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, and Texas in production. Despite the production of cantaloupes in the United States, in 2010, the country purchased over 935 million pounds of cantaloupes from Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Cantaloupe is an excellent source of Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) and Vitamin C. It also has a good supply of potassium, fiber, Vitamin B1, niacin, Vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, Vitamin K, manganese, and zinc. It also contains a wide array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, including carotenoids, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, luteolin, and more. The edible seeds of cantaloupe also provide a measurable amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. These important health-promoting compounds, together with the vitamins and minerals found in cantaloupes, makes them an excellent food to include in your diet. Cantaloupe is full of water and electrolytes, so enjoying some cantaloupe can help to keep you hydrated while balancing your body fluids. One cup of fresh cantaloupe cubes has 144 calories.

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Support. Cantaloupe’s nutritional strength lies in its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The levels of these nutrients may be a bit lower than some other fruits, such as berries, but since the serving size of cantaloupe is often larger than other fruits, they provide important, health-promoting benefits attributed to these nutrients.

Individuals who eat a lot of cantaloupe and other fruit, have been found to have a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. This condition stems from underlying chronic inflammation and oxidative stress that leads to high blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure along with too much body fat. Since cantaloupe offers an array of antioxidants that help prevent oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, individuals who eat a lot of cantaloupes have lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the bloodstream. CRP is a widely used marker to assess levels of inflammation in the body.

Heart Disease Prevention. The fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C found in cantaloupe are important nutrients for heart health. Potassium helps to lower high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Fiber helps to reduce levels of LDL (low-density-lipoprotein) cholesterol, which helps to reduce the risk for heart disease. It also helps to keep blood pressure in check. Many heart-related problems start out with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. If you want to help lower your risk of metabolic syndrome and related chronic issues, including heart and cardiovascular problems, enjoy cantaloupe and other fruit in your diet as often as you can.

Diabetes Help and Prevention. In animal studies, researchers have shown that cantaloupe phytonutrients can improve insulin and blood sugar metabolism. Cantaloupe extracts have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the kidneys of animals with diabetes. They have also been shown to improve insulin resistance in diabetic animals.

Cantaloupe has a low glycemic load score of 4. This means it is digested slowly and won’t cause a spike in blood sugar.

Eye Health. One cup of cantaloupe has 100 percent of the recommended intake of Vitamin A. It also has nearly 100 percent of the recommended intake of Vitamin C, the most important antioxidant in the body. If that’s not enough, cantaloupe also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two important antioxidants that give fruits and vegetables their yellow and red colors. When combined with Vitamin A, these antioxidants work together to play an important role in protecting your vision and eye health. In particular, they may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Reduced Cancer Risk. Not only can the antioxidants in cantaloupe fight inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, help with blood sugar management, and improve eye health, they can also help to reduce the risk of cancer. Specifically, the antioxidants found in cantaloupe combined with the fiber in the fruit, can help to lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Hydration. Many people go about their days while dehydrated, and they aren’t even aware of it. Mild dehydration can cause dizziness, headache, less urination, dry skin, dry mouth, and constipation. Severe dehydration can be serious and may lead to rapid heart rate, confusion, low blood pressure, shriveled skin, and even unconsciousness! Dehydration is also a risk factor for developing kidney stones, and makes the heart have to pump harder than it should.

Like many melons, cantaloupe has a high water content, being almost 90 percent water. Eating cantaloupe when you can, especially on a hot summer day, helps to keep you hydrated. When it’s available and you’re thirsty, take a drink of cantaloupe! At the same time, the naturally-occurring sugars in the melon will help to give you an energy boost.

How to Select a Cantaloupe
Choose a cantaloupe that is heavy for its size, firm, and a golden-beige color under the outer netting. There should be little to no green color on the rind. Try tapping on the cantaloupe and listen as you tap. If the sound is dull and deep, it’s an indication that the melon is ripe. If the sound is higher in pitch and sounds hollow, the cantaloupe is probably not ripe. Also, press gently with your thumb on the top (stem end, where the vine was attached) of the cantaloupe. If it gives way very slightly, then good. If the spot gives way substantially, to the point of feeling soft or even squishy, the cantaloupe is probably overripe. While you have it in your hands, check the melon all over to make sure there are no bruises or damage anywhere.

Another way to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe is to smell the stem end or the bottom blossom end of the melon. Get up front and close with a melon and take a deep sniff. If it smells like a sweet, fresh, fragrant cantaloupe, then it is. If it has little to no smell, then it’s not a ripe melon and will have little flavor. If the fragrance is very strong, then the melon may be overripe and not your best choice. Try again with another melon until you find one that smells good and opt for that one.

Try to avoid soft, overripe melons, since they are past their prime and will not last long. They may even be starting to spoil. For the best flavor, try to find one that is ripe.

Cantaloupes will not continue to ripen after having been picked, so it is best to find a good, ripe melon while you’re at the store. They will, however, continue to age after harvest, getting softer and juicier. However, that process will only happen at room temperature. Once you cut into your melon, it must be refrigerated, which will slow down any further softening that might happen.

How to Store a Cantaloupe
Ripe, whole, unwashed, and uncut cantaloupe should be stored in the refrigerator for the longest life. If left out, they will continue to age by softening up and getting juicier. Keep it at room temperature for up to three days, if you want it to age some. Refrigerate your unwashed, whole melon if it is at its peak and you want to prevent further aging. Be sure to use it within 5 days.

Once cut, a store-bought cantaloupe will usually keep for 3 to 5 days. It should be wrapped airtight in plastic wrap or cut and stored in an airtight container. Always store cut melons in the refrigerator. However, how long it keeps will depend upon how old it is, or how long since it was harvested. Typically, a freshly picked cantaloupe should keep for up to 2 weeks. However, store-bought melons were not freshly picked so they should be used up as soon as possible.

If your cut melon begins to smell a bit alcohol-like, it has started to ferment and is going bad. It is best to discard it at that point.

How to Prepare a Cantaloupe
Preparing a cantaloupe is easy, but a couple steps are important. Simply rinse off your melon to remove any dirt or debris from the surface. It is important to scrub the outer rind under running water with a brush to help remove any bacteria that may be lingering on the surface. (Cantaloupes are a common fruit associated with foodborne illness because of the potential bacteria harbored within the netting on the surface. Scrubbing with a brush can help to remove those unhealthful bacteria.) Cut the melon in half (either lengthwise or crosswise), scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then slice or cut the melon as desired. If preferred, a melon baller can also be used to scoop out the flesh. Cut the flesh from the rind and serve as needed.

How to Freeze Cantaloupe
Freezing cantaloupe couldn’t be any easier. Simply prepare your cantaloupe as needed by washing, removing the seeds and the rind, and cutting the flesh into desired size pieces. Place your cantaloupe pieces in a freezer bag or airtight container. Close it up and label with the date. Store it in the freezer and use it within one year.

Note that your frozen cantaloupe will have a softer texture once it is thawed. It will not be the best option for a fresh fruit salad. However, it would work well for smoothies, blended into a beverage, or puréed for some other application.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Cantaloupe
* It’s important to know that you should wash off the outer surface of your cantaloupe before cutting into it. Bacteria can linger within the netting on the surface and can cause foodborne illness when carried into the cantaloupe with a knife. So rinse it well under running water while scrubbing the surface with a brush. Then cut your cantaloupe accordingly and be sure to wash the knife and all counter and cutting board surfaces afterwards.

* Try a refreshing cantaloupe beverage on a warm day. Blend until smooth 5 cups of cantaloupe chunks, 4 cups of water, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice. Add some fresh herbs such as mint or basil, if you want. Sweeten it a bit with a little honey or other sweetener, if needed. Then enjoy!

* Try a cantaloupe fruit smoothie! Blend until smooth 1 cup of cantaloupe chunks, 10 strawberries (fresh or frozen), 1 banana, yogurt for creaminess (optional), and a little milk of choice or water to thin it to the consistency you want. Enjoy!

* Make some easy cantaloupe strawberry popsicles for a refreshing treat on a hot summer day! Blend cantaloupe until it is smooth. Separately, puree or blend strawberries until they are smooth. In a popsicle mold, alternate filling it with the two fruit purees. Add a stick and freeze. Enjoy them within two months.

* For something fun and decorative for a party, serve a mixture of fresh melon and other fruits, like mixed berries and grapes, in cantaloupe halves. Slice a cantaloupe lengthwise, from end to end. Scoop out the seeds, then using a melon baller, scoop out the pulp, leaving the rind intact. To make it fancy, cut a zig-zag pattern along the edge of both hollowed out cantaloupe halves. Then, prepare the other fruit and toss all the fruit in a large bowl. Scoop the fruit mixture into the melon halves and place them on the table so people can serve themselves from the melon bowls. Sprinkle a little dried coconut on top for extra flavor and a decorative garnish. Place a few mint leaves to one side in each half for a little pop of color.

* Alternate melon cubes and other fruit on skewers. Cantaloupe cubes, grapes, strawberries, and even your favorite cheese on a skewer would be colorful and delicious. Serve it with vanilla yogurt as a dip and enjoy!

* Make a simple refreshing beverage by blending cantaloupe with orange juice. Add a touch of sweetener and a couple ice cubes, if desired.

* Try another refreshing beverage for a hot summer day by combining freshly made cantaloupe juice with sparkling water. Add a few ice cubes, top with a mint leaf, and enjoy!

* Make a cantaloupe parfait! In a tall glass, alternate layers of cantaloupe cubes, mixed berries, and banana slices with vanilla yogurt. Top with toasted chopped walnuts, granola, or sliced almonds and enjoy!

* Cantaloupes release ethylene gas, which causes fruits and some vegetables to ripen faster. If you are storing your cantaloupe on the kitchen counter for a few days, keep it away from other fruits and vegetables that may react to the gas, unless you want those other foods to ripen faster.

* If you have cantaloupe that is ripening too fast and you won’t be able to eat it all, puree the melon and freeze it. The puree can later be included in smoothies, beverages, or similar recipes.

* Store cantaloupes unwashed. If you wash one in advance of cutting it, the added moisture to the surface can invite mold to form. Wash it off just before you’re about to cut it.

* Many cultures dry cantaloupe seeds and enjoy them as a snack. You can do this too by simply roasting them at a low temperature. Scoop out the seeds from your freshly cut cantaloupe. Place the seeds in a strainer and rinse them under cold running water while gently pressing the seeds against the strainer to help release the pulp. Drain them well, remove the pulp, then place the washed seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them at 160-170°F (about 75°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Roasting them for a short time at a low temperature helps to minimize damage to the healthy oils in the seeds.

* Make an easy cold fruit soup. Blend until smooth some cantaloupe with soft, peeled peaches. Add a touch of lemon and honey to taste and serve.

* Top cantaloupe slices with your favorite yogurt and some chopped mint leaves.

* If you have a recipe calling for cantaloupe and you can’t get one or don’t have enough, the following types of melons may be used as substitutes: Persian, Crenshaw, Santa Claus, Honeydew, Casaba, or Ambrosia melons.

* If you have a need for dried cantaloupe and don’t have any, the following may be used as a substitute: dried mango, papaya, peaches, or nectarines.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Cantaloupe
Basil, cilantro, cinnamon, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, pepper (black and white), salt, sorrel, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Cantaloupe
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Nuts and nut butters (in general), pork (prosciutto or pancetta)

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, chiles, cucumbers, garlic, ginger, onions (esp. red), tomatoes

Fruits: Bananas, berries (i.e., blackberries, blueberries, raspberries), citrus fruits, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, mangoes, melons (all other types), nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Buttermilk, cheese (i.e., blue, cottage), coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, oil (esp. olive), rum, vinegar (esp. balsamic), wine (esp. sparkling, sweet)

Cantaloupes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Desserts, ices and granitas, salads (i.e., fruit), salsas, sorbets, soups (i.e., fruit)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Cantaloupe
Add cantaloupe to any of the following combinations…

Agave Nectar + Ginger
Basil + Black Pepper + Blue Cheese
Berries + Lemon
Chiles + Cilantro + Garlic + Lime + Onions
Ginger + Lime + Orange
Honey + Lime
Honey + Vanilla + Yogurt
Lemon + Mint
Lime + Mint
Mango + Papaya

Recipe Links
Tomato and Cantaloupe Salad

Summer Cantaloupe and Tomato Salad

20 Cantaloupe Recipes for Refreshing Meals

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

Cantaloupe Cucumber Salad

Melon Fruit Salad with Honey, Lime, and Mint Dressing

Cantaloupe Salsa

Spiced Cantaloupe Tea Loaf

Cantaloupe Recipes

23 Cantaloupe Recipes Ripe for Summer Melon Season

6 Amazing Cantaloupe Recipes for a Sweet Summer

7 Fresh, New California Cantaloupe Recipes

Honey-Melon Salad with Basil

Grilled Cantaloupe with Almonds and Feta

30 Cantaloupe Recipes That Are Ripe for Melon Season

Cantaloupe-Mint Sorbet

Cantaloupe and Mozzarella Caprese Salad

Roasted Cantaloupe Salad

Savory Cantaloupe Salad

The Joy Kitchen’s Roasted Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe Salad with Basil, Fresh Mozzarella, and Onions


Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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

Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello Mushrooms 101 – The Basics

Portobello Mushrooms 101 – The Basics

About Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are the mature stage of the edible fungus Agaricus bisporus. This is the same type of mushroom as button mushrooms, which are the baby form, and cremini mushrooms, which are the mid-growth state. They are all the same species of mushroom, but at different stages of maturity.

You may notice that there are two spellings of the name: portabella and portobello mushrooms. Both versions are accepted. However, to establish some sense of consistency, the Mushroom Council adopted the “a” version of spelling.

Portobellos are native to Italy, and have been growing since ancient times. Today, portobello mushrooms are widely available at farmers markets, specialty grocers and most supermarkets in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. They are one of the most cultivated mushrooms and make up about 90 percent of the mushroom production in the United States. Portobello mushrooms are available year-round.

Portobello mushrooms are a large, meaty mushroom with a rich, savory flavor, and dense, chewy texture. They easily grow to about 5 to 6 inches in diameter, with a brown color and firm texture. They are often served grilled, broiled, sautéed, stuffed, and as a meat substitute in sandwiches and burgers. They are sometimes hollowed out (removing the gills), and used as a pizza crust or bowl for other fillings. They can be chopped and added to soups and stews, baked into pasta and rice dishes, sliced and added to salads, and added to strudels and egg dishes. They are one of the most cultivated varieties of mushrooms and are favored by both professional and home chefs for their dense, meaty texture, and earthy flavor.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Portobello mushrooms do have some room to brag when it comes to nutrition. They contain a lot of riboflavin, niacin, copper, selenium, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, fiber, thiamin, and folate. They also contain some protein, Vitamin B6, iron, zinc, magnesium, choline, and even a little Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. One cup of diced portobellos has all of 22 calories. They have a glycemic load of a mere 2, and a low glycemic index of 10. If you’re striving to keep your blood sugar under control, it would be hard to beat that!

Benefits for Diabetics. Mushrooms have many benefits for diabetics and those who may be prone to developing diabetes. Research has shown that eating a diet rich in vegetables, including mushrooms, may help to prevent gestational diabetes.

Mushrooms are high in B-vitamins, which have been shown to preserve mental function and ward off dementia in older adults and those with diabetes who take the drug metformin for blood sugar control.

Polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate found in mushrooms, may have anti-diabetic properties. Animal studies have shown that polysaccharides may lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin resistance, and reduce pancreatic tissue damage. This may be at least partially due to the beta glucan found in mushrooms. Beta glucan is a type of soluble fiber that slows digestion and delays the absorption of sugars. This, in turn, controls blood sugar levels after a meal.

Polysaccharides may also reduce blood cholesterol levels, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke associated with uncontrolled diabetes.

Low Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load. The glycemic index and glycemic load are classification systems that help evaluate how carbohydrate-containing foods affect blood sugar. They have become a popular method used in the treatment of diseases such as diabetes.

The glycemic index ranks foods on a scale of 0 to 100. The ranking indicates how that food may affect your blood sugar levels after a meal. The rankings include a glycemic index of low (1 to 55), medium (56 to 69), and high (70 to 100). Foods with a low glycemic index will raise your blood sugar levels at a slower pace than those with a higher glycemic index score. Mushrooms have a glycemic index of 10 to 15, which is very low and means they won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

The glycemic load system takes into account a food’s glycemic index in addition to its carbohydrate content and serving size. It is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the carbohydrate content of a specific serving size and dividing the result by 100. The glycemic load system classifies food into three categories: low (10 and under), medium (11 to 19), and high (20 and above). Foods with a low glycemic load will only slightly affect blood sugar levels, whereas those with a high glycemic load will cause a more significant effect on blood sugar levels. Mushrooms have a low glycemic load of less than 1 per cup. This means that they will not spike blood sugar levels after a meal.

Nutrient Density. Portobello mushrooms are a very nutrient dense food. This means that they are very low in calories in relation to the nutrients they contain. Because of this, portobellos can help with weight loss and weight management when used appropriately. For instance, portobellos can be used in place of meat in a sandwich, casserole, stew, or soup. This will reduce the calories, fat, and cholesterol per serving, while still providing a tasty and satisfying meal. Also, because they are so low in calories, you can eat more food without feeling like you have to deprive yourself to manage your weight. Focusing on nutrient dense foods, like mushrooms, helps to “crowd out” less healthful, more fat- and calorie-laden foods that can add pounds and make weight management difficult.

High in B-Vitamins. Portobello mushrooms are high in B-vitamins. These vitamins are used by the body in many ways. They can help to boost energy, cognition, and metabolism, while managing stress, the cardiovascular system, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, pre-menstrual syndrome, eye health, skin health, and more.

Low in Carbohydrates. Since portobellos are low in carbohydrates, yet provide some fiber, they can be appropriate for many types of diets, including a low-carbohydrate or keto plan, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore, Weight Watchers, South Beach, The Zone…you name it!

Reduced Cancer Risk. Diet and lifestyle choices can make all the difference when considering a person’s risk for cancer. For instance, research has shown that a very low intake of vegetables raises the risk for developing certain types of cancer.

In a study published in the March 2021 issue of Advances in Nutrition, researchers evaluated 17 studies involving over 19,000 adults to determine whether eating mushrooms is linked to reduced cancer risk. They found that higher mushroom consumption was associated with an overall lower risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. The benefit was seen regardless of the variety of mushrooms consumed, but the amount consumed made a difference. Those who ate about 1/8 to 1/4 cup (18 grams) daily had a 45 percent lower risk of developing cancer when compared with people who did not eat mushrooms.

Antioxidant Benefits. Mushrooms contain a lot of antioxidants. Selenium, which is plentiful in mushrooms, is a powerful antioxidant. It is believed to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid disease.

Mushrooms also contain high levels of glutathione and ergothioneine, two other antioxidants. They are believed to be essential for anti-aging, since they prevent cognitive decline and oxidative stress. Researchers have found that populations that consume a lot of these particular antioxidants have fewer neurodegenerative diseases. We only need to consume about five button mushrooms per day to reap the full benefits. Considering the fact that portobello mushrooms are the mature variety of button mushrooms, consuming one portobello a day may very well be enough to reap these benefits.

Potassium. Bananas are well-known for being high in potassium. However, one cup of cooked portobello mushrooms has more potassium than one medium-sized banana. Potassium is an essential electrolyte that is important for muscle contraction, and is helpful in workout recovery. Potassium is also linked to lower blood pressure, and protection from stoke, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.

How to Select Portobello Mushrooms
When shopping for portobello mushrooms, choose ones that are firm and solid. They should have tight gills. Dark and loose gills indicate age. Avoid those that look dried up, shriveled, slimy, or limp, since they are older and not the best choice. Mushrooms should smell fresh and earthy.

How to Store Portobello Mushrooms
For best quality, portobello mushrooms should be kept dry and unwashed in the refrigerator. Place them in a paper bag or wrap them in dry paper towels, then place them in the refrigerator where air can flow around them. Be sure not to place items on top of them, since that would damage the mushrooms. Use them within a week.

Do not wrap your mushrooms in plastic wrap or bags because that would cause moisture to accumulate, which would cause the mushrooms to spoil.

How to Prepare Portobello Mushrooms
When you are ready to use your mushrooms, you can wipe them off with a damp paper towel. They may also be rinsed under cool to warm water (just beware that this will make them slippery). The stems are edible, but many recipes call for removing the stems. This is because they can be woody and tough. If you remove them, save them for when you make stock. Next, gently scrape the bottom side of the cap with a teaspoon to remove the gills. The gills are edible, but can trap dirt. Also, they are dark in color and can make your dish a dull, dark, unappealing color. For these reasons, most resources recommend removing the gills. However, this is actually an optional step. Once the mushrooms have been cleaned off, and stems and gills removed (if desired), your mushroom caps are ready to be used in whatever way called for: sliced, diced, chopped, or left whole. However you prepare your mushrooms, it is advisable to cook them, even briefly, before eating them. Raw button, crimini, portobello, and other mushrooms contain toxins that can be harmful to health. Any type of cooking destroys the toxins, making them a very healthful food to eat.

How to Freeze Portobello Mushrooms
To freeze extra portobello mushrooms, first wash them well in warm water. For best results, they should be cooked in some way before being frozen. They may be sautéed in small batches for 5 or 6 minutes, steamed whole for 6 minutes, or sliced first and steamed for 4 minutes. After cooking the mushrooms, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to quickly cool them down. Drain them well, then transfer them an airtight freezer container. For best quality, frozen mushrooms should be used within one month.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Portobello Mushrooms
* Try a portobello sandwich with grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, caramelized onions, fresh basil leaves, leafy greens (like arugula, baby greens, or Spring mix), mozzarella cheese, and a mustardy dressing.

* Most of the mushrooms we find in grocery stores are actually the same variety of mushroom. White button mushrooms are very young fungi. As they begin to mature, their flavor and appearance begin to change and they are then called crimini mushrooms, or baby bellas (baby portobello mushrooms). When they are fully mature, their flavor intensifies and they are then called portobello mushrooms. So, they are actually all one and the same fungi, but at different stages of development.

* If you have a recipe that calls for portobello mushrooms and you don’t have enough, you can substitute large crimini mushrooms (which are sometimes marketed as baby portobello mushrooms), or white button mushrooms. The flavor will be milder as you move from portobello to crimini to button mushrooms. But nevertheless, they may be used as substitutes.

* When you have extra mushrooms, store them in the refrigerator, but do not store them in airtight containers. Moisture will accumulate within the container and cause them to rot. Instead, store them in a paper bag or wrapped in paper towels. They need to be kept dry, and used within a week for the best quality.

* The stems of portobello mushrooms can be tough and woody. Many people remove any remaining stem before using their mushrooms. However, the stems are edible. If preferred, save them for making stock.

* To grill portobello mushrooms, remove any remaining stem from each cap. If desired, scrape off the gills with a spoon (note that this step if not mandatory). Brush both sides with oil of your choice. The caps may be marinated for up to 30 minutes before being grilled, if desired. Season as desired, then grill over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and enjoy!

* A simple way to add portobellos to a meal is to add some to your burgers. If they are meat-based burger, substitute half of the meat with chopped portobellos. If they are veggie burgers, simply add chopped portobellos to the mix, or substitute portobellos for half the beans called for in the recipe.

* If you’re watching your potassium intake, there is as much potassium in a 2/3 cup serving of cooked portobello mushrooms as there is in a medium banana.

* It is advisable to cook mushrooms before eating them. Try not to eat them raw. Most mushrooms contain traces of a compound, agaritine, that may be carcinogenic when metabolized into hydrazine compounds. There is conflicting evidence about this, but why take a chance? Agaritine is heat-sensitive. Cooking in any way, even briefly, destroys this compound, making mushrooms an extremely healthful part of any diet.

* Mushrooms are very porous. When marinading them, a shorter time is better than a longer time because soaking them for an extended period of time may cause them to be mushy. Marinading them for about 30 minutes is usually enough to do the job.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Portobello Mushrooms
Basil, cayenne, chervil, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, dill, marjoram, mint, mustard (seed or powder), oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Portobello Mushrooms
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish (and other seafood), ham, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, tofu, veal, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, celery, chard, chiles, chives, eggplant, endive, escarole, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens (all types), leeks, mushrooms (all other types), onions, parsnips, potatoes, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (summer and winter), tomatoes (fresh, paste, sun-dried, and sauce), watercress, zucchini

Fruits: Lemons, olives, oranges, pears

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, breadcrumbs, buns (and bread of all types), couscous, focaccia bread, millet, pasta, polenta, rice (esp. basmati, brown), tortillas

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Butter, cheese (esp. cheddar, Jack, feta, goat, Gorgonzola, Gouda, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, ricotta, Swiss), cream

Other Foods: Mustard (prepared), oil (i.e., grapeseed, nut, olive, sesame, truffle, walnut), soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinegar (i.e., balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine (i.e., dry white and Madeira)

Portobello mushrooms have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Bruschetta, crepes, omelets, fajitas, focaccia, gravies, Italian cuisine, mousses, pasta dishes, pâtés, pizza, quesadillas, salads, sandwiches, sauces, soups, mushroom steaks, stews, stir-fries, stuffed mushrooms, tacos, veggie burgers

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Portobello Mushrooms
Add portobello mushrooms to any of the following combinations…

Arugula + Balsamic Vinegar + Mozzarella + Rosemary
Arugula + Mustard
Arugula + Pasta + Peas
Arugula + Red Bell Peppers + White Beans
Balsamic Vinegar + Garlic + Olive Oil + Parsley
Barley + Thyme [Soups]
Bell Peppers + Eggplant + Goat Cheese [Sandwiches]
Breadcrumbs + Chives + Garlic + Olive Oil
Bitter Greens + Potatoes
Garlic + Ginger + Scallions
Garlic + Olive Oil + Parmesan Cheese + Spinach
Garlic + Soy Sauce
Garlic + Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Lemon Juice + Olive Oil + Parmesan Cheese + Thyme
Mint + Zucchini
Pesto + Polenta
Spinach + Tomatoes
Vinegar + Walnut Oil + Walnuts

Recipe Links
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Veggie-Stuffed Portobellos

Sweet and Spicy Portobello Mushrooms

27 Delicious Portobello Mushroom Recipes for Dinner

Vegetarian Portobello Mushroom and Avocado Burger

Meaty Broiled Portobello Mushrooms

Grilled Herb and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

9 Ways to Use Portobello Mushrooms

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Easy Portobello Mushroom Sauté

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Crispy Goat Cheese

Baked Portobello Mushroom Recipe (Vegetarian)

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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


Limes 101 – The Basics

Limes 101 – The Basics

About Limes
Limes are a small, green citrus fruit, Citrus aurantifolia. The skin and flesh are often green, but some varieties will have a yellowish or even orange color. The fruit is oval to round in shape with a diameter usually between one and two inches. Limes can either be sour or sweet. Sweet limes are not easily found in the United States. The sweet variety lacks citric acid, so the juice is sweeter in flavor. Sour limes, which are commonly found in the United States are acidic with a tart flavor. They have a higher sugar and citric acid content than lemons.

There are two main types of limes: the Mexican lime and the Persian lime. Mexican limes may also be called Key or West Indian limes. Persian limes may also be called Tahitian or Bearss limes. The Persian limes are the most common variety found in grocery stores in the United States. They are known for their mild, acidic flavor.

Limes grow on trees in tropical and subtropical climates. They are believed to be native to Southeast Asia. Arabian traders brought lime trees from Asia to Egypt and Northern Africa around the 10th century. Arabian Moors carried them to Spain in the 13th century. From there, they were carried throughout southern Europe during the Crusades.

Limes were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus on his second trip in 1493 where they were then planted in many Caribbean countries. Centuries later, explorers learned that the Vitamin C-rich limes could be used to prevent the deadly disease scurvy. When they started eating limes on their long voyages, they were given the nickname “limeys,” a term that we are still familiar with today. Limes were introduced to the United States in the 16th century when Spanish explorers carried West Indies limes to the Florida Keys, which introduced North America to “Key limes.” Spanish missionaries attempted to plant lime trees in California, but learned the climate was not right for the trees. At that time, limes were in demand by the miners and explorers during the California Gold Rush. Since they could not be grown locally, limes began to be imported from Tahiti and Mexico during the mid-19th century. Today, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States (mostly in Arizona and Florida) are among the leading commercial producers of limes.

Both the zest and juice of limes are most often used in fresh applications. The juice is a natural tenderizer for meats and is often used in marinades, and is sometimes drizzled over a dish as a finishing flavor. The juice is often used in salsa and guacamole, not only as a flavoring agent, but also as an anti-browning agent for avocado. Lime is also used in dressings, sauces, baked goods, desserts, beverages, jams, jellies, marmalades, syrups, pickles, garnishes for cocktails, and paired with meats, beans, and vegetables.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of folate. They also provide a little Vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, and calcium. Also, like many fruits and vegetables, limes contain important flavonoid compounds with strong antioxidant properties.

Antioxidant Properties. Both lemons and limes are high in Vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidants found in nature. It is one of the main antioxidants found in food and it is the main water-soluble antioxidant in the human body. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals that it comes into contact with, both inside and outside cells. Free radicals damage healthy cells and cause inflammation in the body. Adequate Vitamin C has been shown to be helpful in reducing some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Free radicals can also damage blood vessels, making cholesterol more likely to build up in artery walls. With that, Vitamin C can be helpful in preventing the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Research has clearly shown that eating vegetables and fruits high in Vitamin C is associated with a lower risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Vitamin C is also critical for a strong immune system and has been shown to be very useful in fighting infections like colds, flus, and recurrent ear infections.

Anti-Cancer Effects. Limes are high in the flavonoid antioxidants called flavonol glycosides, including many kaempferol-related molecules. These factors have been shown to stop cell division in many types of cancer.

Citrus fruits, including limes also contain citrus limonoids. These compounds have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach, and colon. Also, limonoids have been found to remain in blood plasma longer than other natural anti-carcinogenic compounds. That’s all the more reason to include citrus fruits of all types in the diet on a regular basis!

Antibacterial Effects. The same flavonoids that have anti-cancer effects also have been found to have antibiotic effects. In several villages in West Africa where cholera epidemics have occurred, inclusion of lime juice during the main meal of the day was found to be protective against cholera, a disease triggered by the bacteria Vibrio cholera. Researchers have found that the addition of lime juice to a sauce eaten with rice was found to have strong protective effect against cholera.

Helps Protect Against Kidney Stones. Eating citrus fruits on a regular basis has been shown to help keep kidney stones at bay. The citric acid in lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits deters the formation of kidney stones.

How to Select Limes
Select limes that are firm and heavy for their size, and that are free of decay and mold. The skin should be glossy and a deep green color. Limes turn more yellow as they ripen, but their flavor is best when they are green.  They are usually available year-round, but are most plentiful from mid-Spring through mid-Fall.

How to Store Limes
Limes may be kept at room temperature, away from sunlight for 1 to 2 weeks. They may also be stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for several weeks. If you have limes that need to be used up and it’s not convenient for you to use them at the moment, zest them and squeeze the juice and preserve them for later. See “How to Preserve Limes” for instructions on how to save the juice and zest for later.

To store cut limes, place the pieces in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within 2 days.

How to Prepare Fresh Limes
Always wash your lime well before using it. The surface may have dirt, bacteria, or chemical residues on it, which should be washed off first. If you want to use lime zest, zest the lime first before cutting it. When zesting, be sure to use only the outermost area of the peel. Avoid zesting the white pith underneath the surface, since that can be bitter. Once the lime is zested, feel free to cut the lime any way it will be needed for your recipe…halved, sliced crosswise, or sliced into wedges. Most limes do not have seeds, so they should be easily ready to enjoy with simple cutting.

How to Preserve Limes
Lime juice and lime zest can be stored for later use. Place freshly squeezed lime juice in ice cube trays, freeze, then transfer the frozen cubes to an airtight container or freezer bag, stored in the freezer. For best flavor, use within ­­­3 to 4 months. It will be edible beyond that, but the flavor may dwindle.

Fresh lime zest may be dried and stored in an airtight glass container in a cool, dry place. When dried, use about 1/3 dried zest vs the amount of fresh zest called for in a recipe. For best flavor, use within 1 year.

Fresh lime zest may also be frozen for later use. Simply wash, then zest the lime. Spread the zest out on a parchment paper-lined tray and place that in the freezer. When the zest is frozen, transfer it to an airtight freezer container and return it to the freezer. Use frozen zest within 6 months. Frozen zest may be used while frozen; it is not necessary to thaw it first. However, to compensate for the frozen bits of zest, over measure just a bit when using a recipe that calls for fresh zest. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of fresh lime zest, measure up to 1-1/2 teaspoons of frozen zest.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Limes
* The typical lime found in most grocery stores is actually a Persian lime. Key limes are smaller and have a more concentrated lime flavor.

* Try drying lime zest to make a powder that can be sprinkled on dishes like a spice.

* For an interesting dessert or breakfast accompaniment, try cutting some fresh fruit of choice, like a banana. Top it with yogurt then sprinkle with a little lime zest.

* Instead of lemon, add a slice of lime to water, for refreshing lime water.

* When zesting, use a sharp microplane zester and scrape the lime over the sharp edges of the zester. Remove only the top layer of the fruit. Stop and rotate the lime when you reach the white pith underneath because it is bitter.

* If you want to use both the juice and zest of any fruit, zest first and juice second. It’s much easier that way!

* Try squeezing a wedge of lime over your favorite taco.

* Combine some lime juice with sugar, seltzer water, and ice to make a refreshing limeade.

* Add a little lime juice to Mexican rice and serve with extra lime wedges.

* Squeeze a little lime juice into a floral tea, like hibiscus tea.

* Make a marinade for baked salmon with lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.

* To get the most juice from a lime, juice it when it is at room temperature. Also, roll it under the palm of your hand on a hard surface, such as the kitchen counter before juicing. If your lime has been in the refrigerator, it can be quickly warmed up by placing it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before using it.

* Be sure to rinse off your lime before cutting it to remove any dirt or bacteria that may be lingering on the surface. If it is cut without being washed first, the knife will carry anything undesirable inside the fruit, which could contaminate the lime.

* If a recipe calls for lime and you don’t have any, you could substitute any of the following (even though the flavors may be somewhat different): Key lime, lemon, Meyer lemon, orange, grapefruit, pummelo.

* 1 pound of Persian limes = 6 to 8 medium limes = 1/2 to 2/3 cup (125 to 150 mL) juice

* One medium Persian lime will yield 1 to 3 tablespoons of juice, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of zest.

* Try an easy side dish for supper by combining cooked rice with green peas, scallions, pumpkin seeds, lime juice and a little lime zest.

* To help keep avocado from turning dark, squeeze a little lime juice onto your cut avocado, then enjoy!

* When cooking deep leafy greens, such as collards, kale, turnip greens, or mustard greens, drizzle them with a little lime juice at the end to help counter any bitterness left in the greens.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Limes
Basil, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, mustard powder, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Limes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, chicken, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), peanuts, pork, seafood, sesame seeds, tofu

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, chiles, cucumbers, jicama, lettuce (all types), mushrooms, onions, scallions, shallots, squash (winter), tomatillos, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, berries (in general), blackberries, coconut (and other tropical fruits), grapes, guavas, lemons, lychees, mangoes, melons (all types), oranges, papayas, pears, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, graham crackers, noodles (i.e., Asian, rice), quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese, coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Caramel, hoisin, honey, mayonnaise, oil (esp. grapeseed, olive, sesame, sunflower seed), rum, soy sauce, sugar, tapioca, tequila, vinegar (i.e., champagne, rice, sherry)

Limes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., pies, tarts), beverages (i.e., limeade, margaritas, mojitos), guacamole, Indian cuisine, marinades, Mexican cuisine, Pacific Rim cuisines, pies, puddings (i.e., rice pudding), rice dishes, salad dressings, salads (i.e., fruit salads), salsas, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, tarts, Thai cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Limes
Add limes to any of the following combinations…

Avocado + Romaine Lettuce
Chipotle Chiles + Corn
Cilantro + Cumin
Cilantro + Garlic + Oil
Coconut + Graham Crackers
Ginger + Honey
Ginger + Mint
Mint + Scallions
Mushrooms + Sesame

Recipe Links
20 Lime Recipes That Make the Most of This Humble Citrus

20 Tangy Lime Recipes to Make Your Mouth Pucker

Avocado Lime Salad Dressing

Delicious French Lime Sorbet

Copycat Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu

Lime Coconut Bars

Easy Lime Agave Salad Dressing

Cilantro Lime Salmon

Shrimp Ceviche

Grilled Fish Tacos with Lime Slaw

Pico de Gallo

Lime Crema

Watermelon and Mint “Agua Fresca” (Fresh Fruit-Blended Water)

Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice

21 Lime Recipes That Are Full of Flavor

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Classic Pico de Gallo

Vegan Key Lime Pie

Creamy Lime Pie Bars

28 Insanely Flavorful Ways to Cook with Lime

Flash-Cooked Greens with Garlic and Lime

Chili Lime Collard Greens


Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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


Onions 101 – Why They Make Us Cry and How to Minimize It

Why Our Eyes Tear When Cutting Onions
And How to Prevent or Minimize It

Why Do Onions Make Our Eyes Tear?

When onions are growing, they use sulfur from the soil to create a compound that can easily turn into a gas. This helps deter insects and animals from feeding on them. When we cut into an onion, the cell walls are damaged. This releases the sulfur compound and enzymes that react, releasing a gas (syn-propanethial-S-oxide) into the air. When the gas comes in contact with the water in our eyes, it is converted into sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid is what causes the eyes to sting, burn, and release tears. White, yellow and red onions have higher concentrations of the enzymes needed to create this gas. Sweet onions and green onions (scallions) have lower concentrations.

Our eyes have nerves that detect anything that’s potentially harmful. When our eyes react to the sulfuric acid, they release tears to try to flush it out. Some people are more sensitive to the gas and sulfuric acid than others. So, some people will tear more when cutting onions than others. But it’s helpful to know that onions pose no serious threat to the health of our eyes.

How to Reduce Tearing When Cutting an Onion
(1) First, place the onion in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before cutting it. Why chill an onion? The optimal temperature for the onion enzymes to do their job of protecting the bulb from predatory damage is 104°F. Our normal body temperature isn’t far from that. So, chilling the onion prior to cutting, takes it far below its optimal temperature, reducing its ability to cause tearing when cut.

(2) Refrain from cutting the root end until last, if at all. The root end of the bulb contains the highest concentration of the compound that cause tearing. So, when we cut the onion top first, peel it, then cut from the stem end downward, we’re minimizing the release of the enzyme that causes the tearing.

(3) Sweet onions have less of the sulfur compound in them, which means that cutting them will be less likely to make your eyes tear. If a sweet onion will work in your recipe, considering switching to the sweeter variety as an alternative.

(4) Another alternative would be to buy frozen, pre-chopped onions. This would save the time and possible agony of cutting fresh onions for cooking. If fresh onion is needed, consider using green onions (scallions), Spring onions, or sweet onions, rather than yellow, red, or white onions.

(5) When all else fails, invest in a pair of goggles to protect your eyes. Onion goggles, swimming goggles, or laboratory/safety goggles are all options to consider. Remember to consider the size of your head and if you routinely wear glasses when buying any goggles.



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.


Radishes 101 – The Basics

Radishes 101 – The Basics

About Radishes
Radishes are root vegetables that are members of the Brassica (cruciferous) family, which makes them related to mustard greens, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and turnips. They have light-colored, crunchy flesh, with skin colors that vary from red, black, white, yellow, green, pink, to purple. Radishes can vary in shape from short and round (like the common red round globe radish that many people are familiar with) to long and narrow (like the daikon radish that resembles a carrot or parsnip). Watermelon radishes have a pale green skin with a pink interior. The flavor of radishes is somewhat spicy with a peppery taste. The light-skinned varieties tend to have a milder flavor than the darker-skinned varieties. The most common variety of radish grown in the United States are round, bright reddish/pink bulbs (also called globes), that vary in size. They have little roots at the bottom and leafy green tops. Both the bulb and the green tops are edible. Radishes are most often eaten raw, but can also be enjoyed cooked.

Radishes are believed to be native to Southeast Asia or Central Asia. About 2,500 years ago, ancient Greeks and Romans used radishes for food and medicinal purposes.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Radishes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, potassium, fiber, folate, manganese, copper, and magnesium. They also contain some pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, zinc, and even some protein. They have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Radishes contain a lot of water, which makes them a natural diuretic. A half-cup serving of sliced radishes has only 12 calories. There is a lot to be said for radishes!

Antifungal Properties. Radishes contain an antifungal protein that was found to cause cell death of Candida albicans, a common fungus normally found in humans. When Candida albicans overgrows, it may cause vaginal yeast infections, oral yeast infections (thrush) and invasive candidiasis.

Antioxidants. Radishes are a good source of antioxidants and phenolic compounds. They supply a lot of Vitamin C, which acts as an important antioxidant in the body, protecting cells from free radical damage.

Reduced Risk for Diabetes. Radishes contain compounds (such as glucosinolate and isothiocyanate) that can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Radishes enhance the body’s production of adiponectin, a hormone that can help to protect against insulin resistance. They also contain coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that helps deter the onset of diabetes.

Enhanced Liver Function. Radishes contain compounds that help the liver detoxify and heal damage. Those same compounds also help the kidneys to flush out toxins. So, if you are looking for foods that can help to detoxify the body, eat more radishes!

Cardiovascular Health. Radishes are rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. These nutrients work together to help reduce high blood pressure, which would in turn, reduce your risk for heart disease. Radishes are also a good source of natural nitrates that improve blood flow.

Anticancer Properties. Since radishes are members of the Brassica (cruciferous) plant family, including them in your diet on a regular basis may help to prevent cancer. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that are broken down into isothiocyanates when combined with water. These compounds help remove cancer-causing substances from the body, preventing tumor development.

How to Select Radishes
Look for firm, smooth, brightly colored radishes that are free of cracks or blemishes. If the green tops are still attached, look for ones with crisp, vibrant greens. Avoid those that have wilted greens attached.

How to Store Radishes
If you purchased radishes with the green tops attached, remove the greens before storing them. This will help preserve both the radishes and greens. If left attached, the greens will pull moisture out of the radishes, which will cause them to age fast.

If you plan to eat the greens, store them in a damp paper towel within a plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator. The greens can be washed, then added to a tossed salad or a sandwich, made into a pesto, or sautéed. For best quality, use them within a few days.

Store unwashed radish globes in a plastic bag or airtight container within the refrigerator. To help them retain moisture, line the bottom of the bag or container with a slightly damp paper towel. Store them in the refrigerator and use within a couple weeks.

Radish bulbs may also be washed and trimmed and placed in a mason jar that has a lid. Fill the jar with water, tighten the lid, and store it in the refrigerator. Storing them in water will help to reduce their pungency. Radishes stored like this will remain crisp for about five to eight days.

How to Prepare Radishes
When you’re ready to use your radishes, simply give them a good wash and trim off any roots along with the stem end, if desired. Cut, slice, or leave them whole, as needed. They do not need to be peeled. Wash your radish greens well before using them, and serve them in a salad or cook them as you would any tender leafy green.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Radishes
* Although we typically eat radishes raw, they can also be braised, roasted, sautéed, shaved into noodles, and steamed.

* Try roasted radishes. The caramelization makes them sweeter. Remove the leaves and cut the bulbs in half or in slices. Roast at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes.

* 10 to 14 radishes will yield about 1-1/2 cups sliced.

* Cooking a radish dulls the spicy, pungent flavor and brings out an earthy, sweet flavor.

* Enjoy some radishes along with other veggies and your favorite dip.

* Try adding thin radish slices to sandwiches.

* Top a steak or burger with grilled radish slices.

* Pickle radishes like you would cucumbers.

* Try adding chopped radishes to tacos for some added zest.

* Try adding sliced radishes to potato, tuna, or chicken salad.

* Add some grated radishes to your favorite slaw.

* Try making a spicy dip by pulsing ½ cup of Greek yogurt, ¼ cup chopped radishes, one minced garlic clove, and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar in a food processor until smooth.

* Try sautéing radish greens with garlic in a small amount of olive oil. They can also be added in with other greens when cooked this same way.

* If you find that your radishes have gotten soft (from dehydration), they can be freshened back up by placing them in a bowl of ice-cold water for about 30 minutes.

* Try a simple salad of thinly sliced radishes and onions, tossed with finely chopped fresh mint, some olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.

* Try another salad with a bed of arugula, topped with orange slices, chopped walnuts, and thinly sliced radishes. Top with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

* Try a side dish of grated carrots and radishes topped with a sweet-and-sour dressing.

* When cooking radishes, they are best when cooked to a crisp-tender to tender, but not over cooked to be point of being mushy.

* Add sliced radishes to a stir-fry at the last minute, so they don’t get overcooked.

* Radishes don’t have to be peeled. However, a lot of the spiciness is in the peel. So, if you want a milder tasting radish, peel it first. This is especially true with black radishes.

* One pound of radishes is about 4 cups sliced.

* Try a nice side-dish of sautéed radishes, spinach, and sliced red onions.

* Add grated radishes to a pasta salad.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Radishes
Basil, capers, cayenne, celery salt, chervil, chives, cilantro, curry powder, dill, garlic, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Radishes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. fava, green, white), chickpeas, crab, edamame, eggs (esp. hard-boiled), fish, lentils, pecans, pistachios, pork, sesame seeds, snow peas, sugar snap peas, tofu

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fennel, greens (esp. salad), lettuce, mushrooms, onions, radish sprouts, scallions, shallots, tomatoes, turnips, watercress

Fruits: Avocados, lemon, lime, olives, oranges, pears

Grains and Grain Products: Bread, farro, millet, rice, whole grains (in general)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e., blue, cream, dry Jack, feta, goat, Gouda, Gruyère, Parmesan, ricotta), cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Oil (esp. olive, pistachio, sesame, walnut), salad dressings, soy sauce, tamari, vinegar (i.e., cider, rice wine, white wine)

Radishes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
European cuisines (i.e., French, German), hummus, salad dressings, salads (i.e., bean, grain, green, potato, radish, vegetable), soups (i.e., gazpacho, vegetable), spring rolls (i.e., Vietnamese)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Radishes
Add radishes to any of the following combinations…

Avocados + Lettuce
Bread + Butter + Salt
Cabbage + Celery Salt + Onions
Chives + Cream Cheese + Sour Cream
Cilantro + Lime + Olive Oil
Cucumbers + Dill
Cucumbers + Lettuce + Mustard
Dill + Salt + Vinegar + Yogurt
Escarole + Lemon + Orange
Garlic + Yogurt
Lemon + Pistachios
Mint + Orange
Rice Wine Vinegar + Sesame Oil + Soy Sauce

Recipe Links

Easy Roasted Radishes

Radish Salad

Spicy Pickled Radishes

Roasted Buddha Bowl

Chive Mustard Roasted Radishes

Radish Pickles

Watermelon, Radish, and Feta Salad

Braised Radishes with Mint and Red Onion

How to Make Easy Kimchi at Home

Pretty-In-Pink Pickled Radishes

Pickled Carrots, Green Tomatoes and Watermelon Radishes

Kale Salad with Quick Pickled Watermelon Radish

Roasted Potatoes, Radishes, and Fennel with Lemon Brown Butter Sauce

Radish Tops Pesto

Rustic Radish Soup

Sauteed Radishes

Roasted Radishes

47 Radish Recipes That Put the Rad Back in Radish



Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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

Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens 101 – The Basics

Leafy Greens 101 – The Basics

What Are Leafy Greens?
“Leafy greens” is a broad term for plant leaves eaten as a vegetable. There are a variety of flavors and textures of leafy greens and they can belong to different botanical families. Flavors can range from very mild, to nutty, to spicy/peppery, to bitter. Some are tender and sweet, and are usually eaten raw (such as spinach and lettuce), whereas others are tougher and somewhat bitter (such as mustard and collard greens), so they are usually cooked.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists over 60 different varieties of leafy green vegetables known to be imported or grown commercially in the United States. There are yet other lesser-known varieties grown in home gardens or gathered in the wild.

Leafy greens have been called “super foods” and people have been eating them for thousands of years. This is for good reason! They’re packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other compounds that boost our health in many ways. Plus, they’re very low in calories, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked in a variety of ways. What more could we possibly ask for in a food?

Types of Leafy Greens
Collards, mustard greens, kale, chard, broccoli rabe, spinach, bok choy, arugula, beet greens, dandelion greens, lettuce, broccoli, endive, escarole, purslane, radicchio, savoy, sorrel, parsley, and cress are but some examples of leafy greens. Leafy green vegetables and herbs come in many different shapes, sizes, flavors, and even colors or shades of green. Some form tightly bound heads of leaves, while other form loose heads. Others are loose leaf varieties, forming no distinguishable heads at all. Yet, they fall under the broad category of leafy greens. Many, but not all, belong to the Brassica plant family (also known as cruciferous vegetables). What they all have in common is the fact that they are extraordinarily good for us to eat and have important health properties that shouldn’t be ignored.

Sweet Greens. Lettuce is a type of leafy green and is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in the United States. Different types of lettuce have different colors, ranging from light to dark green, with some even having some red tones on the leaves and stems. Lettuce is usually sweet and mild in flavor.

Bitter Greens. Bitter greens are just that…bitter in flavor. However, the degree of bitterness can vary from variety to variety, and even within the same plant species. For instance, arugula can be mild and somewhat peppery when harvested early in the season. But when harvested later, toward the end of its growing season, it can be extremely strong tasting.

Endive, escarole, and radicchio are under the same plant family umbrella (Asteraceae) as lettuce, but they are actually different types of plants. They are from the chicory family, while lettuce is from the daisy family. Endive, escarole, and radicchio are bitter in flavor and also have more fiber than lettuce, to they are tougher to chew.

Other bitter greens are cool-weather plants, such as collards, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, and even spinach. These greens are sometimes used in raw applications (especially young spinach leaves), but the mature leaves are often cooked to tame their bitterness. They are usually more tough than lettuce, and they tenderize when cooked.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Leafy greens are well-known as being nutrient dense foods. This simply means that they supply a LOT of nutrients with few calories. They would be an excellent addition to any “all you can eat” food list. Dark-green leafy vegetables offer a lot of nutritional value with many important health benefits. The darker the leaves, the more nutrient-rich is the vegetable. For instance, romaine lettuce has nine times more Vitamin A than iceberg lettuce.

Since this article focuses on leafy greens in general, it’s not possible to be all-inclusive about the nutritional components of each specific leafy green vegetable. However, even though the components and amounts may vary, they do have some nutritional benefits in common. Overall, they contain plenty of Vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene), C, E, and K. Many of the dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens are also rich in B-complex vitamins, especially folate. Greens also contain magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, fiber, and a wide array of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, and even some omega-3 fatty acids.

Cancer Prevention. It has long been established that green leafy vegetables are high in compounds that have strong anti-cancer properties. Such compounds include isothiocyanates, carotenoids, and folate. These compounds are particularly high in the Brassica (cruciferous) family of plants, including arugula, broccoli, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens, and watercress, among others.

Research has shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables a week may reduce the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancers. We also know that leafy greens are high in the B-vitamin folate. Research studies have shown that a high intake of folate may lower the risk of colon polyps by 30 to 40 percent, when compared to low intakes. Some studies also suggest that a low intake of folate may increase the risk of breast, cervix, and lung cancers.

Weight and Blood Sugar Control. Leafy green vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates, giving them a low glycemic index. This makes them ideal foods to add to a healthy diet, whether you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight. Also, the low glycemic index of leafy green vegetables combined with their high fiber content makes them an ideal food to eat often to help regulate blood sugar and manage diabetes.

Prevention of Neural Tube Defects in Newborns. Neural tube defects are birth defects where the embryo’s central nervous system (the neural tube) fails to close completely before birth. The neural tube forms very early, just one month after conception. This is the structure that will grow into the brain and spinal cord of the infant. In neural tube defects, the seam over the tube does not close correctly, and portions of the spine, the covering of the spinal cord (the meninges), or the cord itself can protrude out of the back of the fetus.

The two most common neural tube defects are spina bifida and tethered cord syndrome. Spina bifida is a malformation of the vertebrae and skin surrounding the spine that can lead to a number of serious health issues. This defect forms very early in embryonic development, merely one month after conception. Most of the time, surgical correction of the defect is needed soon after birth.

Tethered cord syndrome occurs when the spinal cord is abnormally attached to surrounding tissue. Failure to detect this defect can lead to a sudden injury or paralysis during childhood or adolescence. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by an MRI scan and surgery is usually needed to correct the problem.

Research has shown that getting enough folate before conception through early pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Since grain products have been fortified with folic acid, the incidence of such defects has decreased tremendously.

Furthermore, research has found that women who are obese, have poorly controlled diabetes, have been exposed to high temperatures (such as a fever or using a hot tub or sauna) during early pregnancy, or take certain antiseizure medications have a greater risk than other women of having a child born with a neural tube defect.

This example shows how important diet and lifestyle can be not only to adults, but to their potential offspring. Such defects can occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Once she learns of her pregnancy and makes needed dietary improvements, the damage may have already been done. So, if you are planning on having a child, it is important to prepare yourself in advance of becoming pregnant. Eat the best foods you possibly can, and be sure to include plenty of leafy green vegetables along the way.

Bone Health. Green leafy vegetables are known to be high in both calcium and Vitamin K. One role of Vitamin K is to work with calcium in helping to build and maintain healthy bones. Without adequate Vitamin K, bones cannot utilize calcium in the bone building process. Eating leafy green vegetables helps to ensure we have adequate nutrients to keep our bones strong. Some research studies have shown that higher Vitamin K intakes are associated with a lower rate of hip fractures and higher bone density. A report from the Nurses’ Health Study suggests that women who get adequate Vitamin K are less likely to break a hip than women who don’t. Eating one serving of leafy green vegetables a day cut the risk of hip fracture in half when compared with eating only one serving a week. Because of their Vitamin K content, dark green leafy vegetables have been shown to help protect bones from osteoporosis.

Heart Health. Vitamin K is also known to help protect the heart from left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). The left ventricle is the heart’s major pumping chamber. In LVH, the left ventricle is enlarged which causes the heart to be less efficient at pumping blood. This is a condition often looked for in adults; however, it can be found in just about any age group. In a study reported in the October 2017 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, researchers monitored the physical activity routines and diets (with a focus on their Vitamin K intake) of 766 adolescents who were 14 to 18 years of age. They found that those with the lowest Vitamin K intake, had the highest rate of LVH. Subjects with the highest intake of Vitamin K had the lowest rate of LVH. Those who ate 42 mcg or less of Vitamin K per day were over three times more likely to have left ventricular hypertrophy than those who ate 90 mcg or more per day.

Without follow-up investigation it is not possible to say for certain that the dietary habits of the subjects who ate little Vitamin K led to heart disease in their adult years. However, it certainly is a possibility. It is interesting to note that only 25 percent of the teenagers in the study met adequate intakes of Vitamin K in their diet.

Needless to say, the importance of a healthy diet cannot be overestimated, and this stands for people of all ages, not just adults. Without a doubt, we all need to make sure that our entire families eat plenty of leafy green vegetables on a regular basis, if for no other reason than our heart health!

Folate, one of the B-complex vitamins that is abundant in leafy greens, is known to promote heart health.  Researchers have found that getting adequate folate on a regular basis can lower our risk for heart disease and stroke by about 20 percent. Folate lowers homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood. A growing body of research suggests that a higher-than-normal level of homocysteine is an independent risk factor for heart disease. It can lead to dangerous blood clots and hardening of the arteries. Getting ample folate in the diet through eating plenty of leafy green vegetables is an easy way to meet your folate needs, reducing your risk for heart disease by keeping homocysteine levels in check.

Eye Health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two important and very powerful carotenoids that are found in many fruits and vegetables. They often give plants a yellow to reddish hue. Dark green vegetables and herbs such as kale, spinach, parsley, and broccoli are also excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. The yellow pigment of the carotenoids is masked by the chlorophyll in the greens, so don’t let the color fool you. The average diet, which is low in colorful fruits and vegetables, does not contain a lot of these carotenoids.

These two important carotenoids are best known for protecting the eyes from free radical damage. With the eyes constantly being exposed to oxygen and light (during our waking hours), free radicals can easily form. Lutein and zeaxanthin work together to disable free radical molecules before they have a chance to damage our eye cells. In fact, they are the only dietary carotenoids that accumulate in the retina, especially in the macula region, located at the back of the eye. Since the macula is essential for vision, they work together to help prevent macular degeneration, helping to preserve our vision even into old age.

Lutein and zeaxanthin also act as a natural sunscreen by absorbing excess light. They are believed to offer protection of the eyes from excess blue light. This is especially important if we spend a lot of time looking at electronic devices, such as computer screens, cell phones, tablets, and televisions.

Some conditions that lutein and zeaxanthin may help include:
* Age-related macular degeneration (already discussed above)
* Cataracts
* Diabetic retinopathy
* Retinal detachment
* Uveitis. This is an inflammatory condition in the middle layer of the eye that can cause blindness. Lutein and zeaxanthin are believed to help reduce the inflammatory process in this condition.

Considering the average diet is low in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, this information alone should give many people good reason to include more of these special foods into their meals.

Word of Caution. Leafy greens are usually high in Vitamin K which is a blood thickener. If you are taking blood thinning medications, you have probably already been told to limit your intake of Vitamin K-rich foods, such as leafy greens. Therefore, if you want to change your usual diet and increase your intake of any foods that are high in Vitamin K, it is important to consult with your doctor first. Your prothrombin time may need to be monitored and your medication may need to be adjusted.

How to Select Leafy Greens
Choose greens with crisp, brightly colored leaves. They should not be wilted. Avoid those with yellowing leaves or damage.

How to Store Salad Leafy Greens
Packaged Prewashed Salad Greens. If you purchased already washed salad greens in a tub, simply store that in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Sometimes droplets of water may form within the tub and under the lid, which causes them to age faster. To help prevent this, it is helpful to place a paper towel on top of the greens in the tub as soon as you bring them home. This will absorb any excess moisture that forms on the inside of the lid, helping to keep the greens from wilting. Be sure to use them before the “Best By” date for optimal freshness.

Whole Heads of Lettuce. Fresh heads of lettuce may be stored in a couple different ways. If you prefer to store them unwashed, simply wrap your new head of lettuce in a clean cloth. Drizzle the cloth with no more than ¼ cup of water, and place the wrapped head in a plastic bag to keep the lettuce from drying out. Store it in the refrigerator (crisper drawer, if possible) until you are ready to use it. For optimal freshness, use it as soon as possible, preferably within 7 to 10 days (at most).

If you prefer to wash your lettuce in advance, tear the lettuce into the size pieces you intend to use later. Rinse and spin them dry in a salad spinner. Transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week (10 days at most). It is helpful to line the container with a clean cloth or paper towels to absorb any excess water that may be on the leaves, preventing them from rotting. The towels will retain the moisture, creating a humid environment that will help to keep the leaves crisp.

How to Store Bitter Leafy Greens
Remove any discolored, wilted, or damaged leaves before storing your greens. It’s easiest to keep your greens whole and unwashed until you need them by simply removing any twist ties holding them together, and wrapping the loose leaves in a clean cloth. Drizzling the cloth with no more than ¼ cup of water. Place the wrapped leaves in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.

To prewash your greens before storing them, rinse them well with water, shake off excess water, then lay them out on paper towels or a clean cloth, and roll them up. Do not drizzle the towel with water since the leaves will already have water on them. Place the wrapped leaves in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Try to use them within 3 to 5 days.

How to Prepare Salad Leafy Greens
Salad Greens. If you did not wash your salad greens before storing them, simply give them a quick rinse, then spin them dry in a salad spinner, shake off excess water in a colander, or pat them dry on a layer of clean cloth or paper towels. Serve as desired.

Packaged Prewashed Salad Greens. Despite the fact that they have been prewashed, it is advisable to give them a quick rinse right before you use them. Spin them dry in a salad spinner, shake excess water off of them in a colander, or lay them on a clean cloth or paper towels and blot them to remove excess water. Remove and discard any discolored or wilted, soggy leaves. Serve as desired.

Prewashed Heads of Lettuce. If you prewashed your head of lettuce when you brought it home, and stored it as detailed earlier, you should be able to use it straight from your container. If preferred, you may wash it again, then use it as desired.

How to Prepare Bitter Leafy Greens
Rinse your greens well and shake off excess water. Cut off (and discard) a small portion of the bottom end of the stems (unless you are removing the stems and not using them at all). If your greens are a little wilted, trim off a small portion of the bottom end of the stem and stand them upright in a bowl or pitcher of water and allow them to rest there until revived. About an hour may be enough time to refresh the greens. Then cut them as desired and prepare as planned.

How to Freeze Bitter Leafy Greens
Freezing leafy greens is an excellent way to preserve extras that you have on hand. It makes them quick and easy to cook, with all the prep work having been done in advance. There is a current movement to freeze vegetables without blanching them. This can be done, but if you want to preserve your foods for the longest time with the best quality possible, blanching them is something that must be done. It’s not hard and really does not take much time. The effort is well worth it in the long run. Here are the steps:

  1. Wash your greens well and chop them into desired size pieces. Strip away the stems, if desired. If you want the stems, leave them attached, but trim off a small portion of the bottom end of each stem. With leafy greens, cutting them into smaller pieces before freezing is usually best because they will be the easiest to cook and eat later.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Do not add salt to the water. Have a timer handy.
  3. When the water is boiling, transfer your prepared greens into the water. Immediately set your timer for 1 minute. Meanwhile, get a large bowl of ice water ready.
  4. As soon as the timer is finished, transfer the greens to the ice water bath. Allow them to chill for at least 1 minute.
  5. Transfer the chilled greens to a colander and allow them to drain well. Squeeze them if you want to remove any excess water. (This step is helpful, but not mandatory.)
  6. Transfer your drained greens to a freezer bag or airtight container. Remove as much air from the bag or container as possible, and place them in the freezer. If you want to avoid having your greens freeze into one big lump, first lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray. Place the tray in the freezer until the greens are completely frozen. Then transfer the frozen greens to your freezer bag or container, and return them to the freezer. Be sure to label the container with the contents and date they were frozen. Use them within 1 year.

For best results, your frozen greens will need to be cooked in some way when it’s time to use them. It is not mandatory, but they can be thawed first, if preferred. They can be placed in the refrigerator overnight, placed on the kitchen counter for an hour or two at the most, or placed in a colander and thawed under running water.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Leafy Greens
There are many ways to include leafy greens in your diet. Here are some examples:

* Use salad or bitter leafy greens as a foundation for a meal, as often as you can. Add assorted vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins of your choice.

* Include a lot of leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, lettuce, cabbage, or Swiss chard as a filling for a wrap.

* Add greens to soups. Bok choy, cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, or Asian greens would all add color, nutrition, and flavor to just about any soup.

* Try adding chopped greens to your favorite pizza.

* Add chopped greens to sautés and stir-fries.

* Use leafy greens when making pesto.

* If you juice fresh fruits and vegetables, don’t forget to add fresh leafy greens! Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, Spring mix, or even romaine lettuce would all work well.

* Don’t forget to add leafy greens to a sandwich. Lettuce, arugula, Spring mix, baby greens, and spinach would all work well.

* Leafy greens can be chopped finely and added to sauces. Adding greens to a marinara sauce would add texture, flavor, nutrition, and color.

* Greens can add extra flavor, color, and nutrition to any meal. Try grilling, steaming, boiling, braising, and even stewing them. Some greens, like Spring mix, baby greens, or spinach would work well as a raw adornment to many dishes.

* Add greens to smoothies. Spinach, Spring mix, baby greens, and lettuce are all tender, mild flavored greens that would work well in just about any smoothie mixture.

* Some leafy greens, such as collard greens, spinach, and chard are high in Vitamin K. If you are on blood thinning medication, it’s important to talk with your doctor before increasing your intake of Vitamin K-rich foods. Your prothrombin time may need to be monitored, and your medication dosage may need to be adjusted.

* If you eat eggs, try adding some chopped leafy greens like spinach, to an omelet or scrambled eggs.

* Try roasted radicchio drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar.

* Grill wedges of radicchio and serve as a side dish.

* Try adding a little radicchio to a stir-fry.

* Add radicchio to soups, stews, and pasta dishes.

* It’s helpful to remember that some greens cook faster (like spinach) than others (like kale or collards). So, if you intend to combine them on one dish, add the more tender greens that cook faster toward the end of cooking, to avoid overcooking them.

* Chop greens into bite-size pieces and add to soups and stews.

* Try a wrap packed with your favorite salad greens, bell pepper, and your favorite hummus.

* Keep green salads interesting by combining different types of leafy greens. Different types of lettuce, Spring mix, radicchio, cabbage, spinach, Asian greens, arugula, chard and baby mixed greens, all go well together in a mixed green salad. Different greens can be tender or crispy, slightly bitter or sweet, and vary in color, texture and nutritional value. All of that can add to flavor and visual appeal of your salad. Enjoy a large salad every day!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Leafy SALAD Greens
Anise seeds, basil, capers, cayenne, chervil, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, dill, garlic, ginger, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, parsley, pepper, salt, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Leafy SALAD Greens
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beans (in general), beef, black beans, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, ham, hazelnuts, lamb, lentils, nuts (in general), peanuts, peas, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu, tuna (and other seafood), turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chayote, chiles and chili paste, chives, cucumbers, fennel, jicama, leeks, mushrooms, nori, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, scallions, shallots, sprouts, tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples, apricots (esp. dried), avocados, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries (dried), figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, limes, mangoes, olives, oranges, pears, persimmons, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, raisins, strawberries, tangerines

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, croutons, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (in general, esp. asiago, blue, cheddar, feta, goat, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, Parmesan), crème fraiche, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, mayonnaise, miso, mustard (prepared), oil (esp. flaxseed, grapeseed, olive, sesame), soy sauce, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar (esp. balsamic, champagne, cider, red wine, rice wine, sherry, tarragon, white wine), vinaigrette dressings

Leafy SALAD greens have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…

Lettuce wraps, salads (i.e., grain, green, potato), sandwiches, burgers (of all types)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Leafy SALAD Greens
Add leafy salad greens to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Avocado + Carrots + Tomatoes
Almonds + Citrus + Fennel
Almonds + Jicama + Orange
Apples + Celery + Hazelnuts
Apples + Celery + Lime + Raisins + Walnuts
Apples + Clementines + Endive + Walnuts
Avocado + Cilantro
Avocado + Grapefruit + Pecans + Radicchio
Avocado + Lime
Balsamic Vinegar + Garlic + Mustard + Olive Oil
Beets + Celery
Blue Cheese + Pears + Walnuts
Carrots + Cucumbers + Dill + Feta Cheese
Chickpeas + Cucumbers + Feta Cheese + Olives + Red Onions + Tomatoes
Chiles + Orange + Pecans
Dill + Garlic + Lemon + Scallions
Dill + Olive Oil + Red Wine Vinegar + Scallions
Dijon Mustard + Lemon + Olive Oil + Scallions
Fennel + Grapefruit
Feta Cheese + Tomatoes
Figs + Goat Cheese + Tarragon
Goat Cheese + Pecans
Goat Cheese + Strawberries
Gorgonzola Cheese + Hazelnuts + Lemon + Olives
Lemon + Parmesan Cheese
Lentils + Rice
Pears + Sherry Vinegar + Walnuts

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Leafy BITTER and OTHER Greens
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, capers, cardamom, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, curry spices, dill, garlic, ginger, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Leafy BITTER and OTHER Greens
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general), beef, black-eyed peas, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, ham, lentils, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pork, salmon (seafood, in general), sausage, sesame seeds, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tofu, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Chiles, chives, fennel, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips

Fruits: Apples, avocado, coconut, lemons, limes, olives, oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bread crumbs, corn, cornbread, grains (in general), millet, noodles (esp. Asian), pasta, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e., Parmesan, pecorino), coconut milk, cream

Other Foods: Miso, mustard, oil (esp. olive, sesame), soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinegar (esp. apple cider), wine (dry white)

Leafy BITTER and OTHER greens have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
African cuisines, Asian cuisines, Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, pasta dishes, salads, soups (esp. bean, potato, root vegetable), Southeast Asian cuisines, Southern (U.S.) cuisine, stews, stir-fries, tofu scrambles

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Leafy BITTER and OTHER Greens
Add leafy bitter and other greens to any of the following combinations…

Apple Cider Vinegar + Black-Eyed Peas
Apple Cider Vinegar + Chili Flakes + Garlic
Chiles + Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil
Garlic + Ginger + Soy Sauce
Garlic + Lemon
Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil + Onions
Garlic + Olive Oil + Tamari
Garlic + Tomatoes
Lemon Juice + Olive Oil + Rice
Onions + Tomatoes
Pasta + White Beans
Scallions + Sesame Oil + Tamari
Tomatoes + Zucchini

About the Different Types of Leafy Greens
Head varieties
of greens form more tightly formed heads than the leaf varieties of greens. This list is not all-inclusive, but covers many types of greens that may be found in stores in the United States.

Bok Choy
Bok choy is a member of the Brassica family of plants. It is also known as Chinese cabbage, pok choi, and other names in various cultures around the world. The flavor of bok choy is very mellow with a mild, peppery spice. The flavor is similar to cabbage. Bok choy leaves are tender yet crisp. The stalks are crunchy, firm and juicy. Depending on the variety, the leaves may be dark green or yellow-green, and the stalks may be yellow-green or off-white. Bok choy may be found in mature and “baby” sizes. Both are tender, but the baby variety is more so, and is often cooked whole. Bok choy is excellent when stir-fried, braised, steamed, sautéed, or added to soups. The leaves may be eaten raw in salads. Bok choy is usually found in most American grocery stores and should also be available in most Asian markets. One outstanding nutritional feature of bok choy is that it contains selenium, a mineral that helps cognitive function, thyroid function, metabolism, immunity, and possibly cancer prevention.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica plant family. They have compact, small heads with tightly bound leaves, and are usually one to two inches in diameter when mature. They are similar in flavor to cabbage, but can be somewhat bitter, depending on the cooking method. Younger Brussels sprouts are sweeter than larger, more mature ones.

Brussels sprouts may be eaten raw when grated or shaved finely. More often they are cooked. However, they taste their best when not boiled, as boiling brings out their sulfurous, bitter flavor more than any other cooking method. Roasting, quick braising, or pan frying in oil or butter are better methods of cooking Brussels sprouts for the best flavor. Their flavor is complimented well with garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary, and sage. They can be added to casseroles, gratins, and roasted vegetable medleys. They pair well with bacon, pork, cheese, cream, eggs, ham, grapefruit, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, hollandaise sauce, maple syrup, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, pepper, pistachios, and pancetta.

Cabbage is a member of the Brassica plant family, so it is related to Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale, among other greens. The heads can grow in green, white, or purple colors. Cabbage can have a somewhat bitter flavor when raw, but mellows when cooked. Cabbage is often sautéed or added to soups and stir-fries. It can also be stuffed or made into cabbage rolls. Many cultures ferment cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchi. Cabbage offers a lot of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, manganese and many antioxidants. Cabbage, like other members of the Brassica plant family contain properties that have been shown to help prevent various forms of cancer.

Endive is a member of the Cichorium plant family. This same family also includes dandelions and sunflowers. It is sometimes marketed as Belgium endive or frisée. The flavor of endive is nutty and mellow. It is usually added to salad with other mixed greens. Belgium endive is most often roasted or grilled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, which brings out its nutty flavor. Endive is a good source of Vitamins A and K, along with folate and kaempferol, an antioxidant that is known for reducing inflammation.

Escarole has dark, thick leaves that are bunched up together, making it look like a head of lettuce. Lighter leaves have a sweet flavor, while the darker leaves are more bitter. When used raw in salads and sandwiches, escarole adds a strong flavor to the dishes it’s included in. The strong flavor mellows when the leaves are cooked. They are often sautéed or added to soups. Escarole contains a lot of Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and fiber.

Lettuce (Romaine)
Romaine lettuce is a popular variety of lettuce that has large, dark green leaves with firm ribs attached to a base. This variety of lettuce is crisp and mild in flavor. It is usually the main ingredient in Caesar salad. However, romaine lettuce may be used in any type of salad, lettuce wraps, or sandwiches as desired. Most of the nutrients in romaine lettuce are found in the dark, thick leaves. They are especially high in Vitamins A and K.

Napa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage)
Napa cabbage is a member of the Brassica family of plants. It has many names that vary from country to country. The flavor is delicate, mild and a bit sweeter than green cabbage. It is watery yet firm and crunchy with thick stalks. The leaves are thinner and more delicate than those of green cabbage. They are tender and juicy when cooked. Napa cabbage is best when cooked in stir-fries and soups. It can be shredded and included in salads, slaws, and wraps. Napa cabbage is often used in making kimchi, and as a filling for Chinese dumplings.

Radicchio is a bitter vegetable that is often mistaken for a colorful variety of lettuce or cabbage. It is actually a type of chicory, and is often called Italian chicory because it is used a lot in Italian cuisine. Radicchio forms a round or elongated head with deep reddish-purple leaves with white veins. It may be eaten raw in salads or slaws, for a distinct spicy bitterness. When eaten raw, radicchio is often paired with something sweet or acidic to balance the flavors. Cooking mellows the bitterness of radicchio, and actually sweetens it some.  Radicchio roasts, sautés, and grills up well, and can also be slow-cooked and combined with other vegetables and/or meat. Radicchio is particularly high in Vitamin K, which helps with cognition, and heart and bone health. It is also high in antioxidants, helping to protect us from oxidative stress. It also contains good amounts of other nutrients, including Vitamins C and B6, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, and selenium, among others.


Leaf varieties of greens form loose heads or individual leaves. This list is not all-inclusive, but covers many types of greens that may be found in stores in the United States.

Arugula is sometimes called “rocket.” It is a member of the Brassica plant family. The flavor of arugula is peppery. This characteristic makes it a green that is often added raw to salads and pizza for added flavor. Arugula can also be sautéed and added to pasta dishes and soups for an added flavor dimension. Arugula is high in dietary nitrates, carotenoids, Vitamin K, and folate.

Beet Greens
Like turnip greens, beet greens are often discarded. But they are edible and can be used just like spinach. They can add some wonderful flavor and interesting color to any dish. The flavor of beet greens is earthy, much like their bulbs. They are very tender, so they can easily be enjoyed raw in salads, and they pair well with a lemon-based or vinaigrette dressing. When beet greens are sautéed or steamed, the dark red color in the stalks remains intact, which makes them a colorful addition to any plate. They make great additions to soups and side dishes. Beet greens are rich in potassium, fiber, beta-carotene, and lutein. They also contain a lot of calcium, and Vitamins A and K.

The broccoli crown (floret) that we typically see in the grocery store may not appear to be a “leafy” green vegetable. But in actuality, the crowns we buy are the flowering heads of the leafy green broccoli plant that is maturing and about to produce seeds. So, the broccoli plant itself is a leafy green vegetable. It would be a very rare occasion (if at all) to find broccoli leaves in your local market. In fact, just about the only way to access broccoli leaves would be for you to grow the plant yourself. The leaves are perfectly edible and are quite delicious. They are mild and not overly bitter, like many similar leafy greens. They may be prepared like any bitter green such as kale, collards, or turnip greens.

In a study published in the April 2018 issue of the journal Molecules, researchers compared a nutritional analysis of broccoli crowns, stems, and leaves. The crowns had higher concentrations of amino acids and glucoraphanin (the precursor to sulforaphane, a compound with strong health benefits) when compared with the other tissues. The leaves were higher in carotenoids, chlorophylls, Vitamins E and K, total phenolic content, and antioxidant activity. The leaves were also good sources of calcium and manganese when compared with the stem and florets of the plant. So, if you grow your own broccoli, don’t toss out the leaves! Enjoy them as you would any leafy green vegetable. If you don’t grow broccoli, enjoy broccoli florets on a regular basis.

Broccoli Rabe
Despite its name, broccoli rabe is actually part of the turnip family of plants. It is often called turnip broccoli, rapini, Italian turnip, broccoli rabe, and broccoletti di rapa. The flavor of broccoli rabe is bitter, so it is usually cooked which mellows the flavor. It may be sautéed, blanched, boiled, or steamed. It is often sautéed with garlic and onion, and topped with Parmesan cheese. Broccoli rabe is high in potassium, fiber, and pantothenic acid.

There are many varieties of chard plants, but all have dark leaves with a long stalk in the center. The stalks can be a variety of colors, and marketed as rainbow, red, yellow, or white chard. It may also be referred to as leaf beet, sea kale, or silver beet. Chard has a mellow, earthy flavor, with stalks that are slightly sweet. It is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine. The stalks take longer to cook than the leaves, so they are often separated so they can be cooked for appropriate times. Chard is often sautéed or steamed then added to soups, casseroles, or even tacos. Chard can be eaten raw, but the leaves can be tough. The stems can provide a crunchy snack. Swiss chard is high in Vitamins A, K, and C, along with potassium, and manganese.

Collard Greens
Collard greens are also known as collards, borekale, and tree cabbage. The plant has thick, dark green leaves that are packed with nutrients. The flavor of their rather tough leaves is slightly bitter, so although they can be eaten raw, they are most often cooked to tenderize them and remove the bitterness. Collard greens are often braised or steamed and served with pork. They can also be added to stir-fries, slaws, and even sandwiches. Collard greens are exceptionally high in Vitamin K.

Dandelion Greens
Even though we consider them to be weeds in the lawn, all parts of the dandelion plant are edible: the flower, roots, and stem. If you elect to pick them out of your yard to eat, be sure they have not been tainted with pesticides, even from a neighbor’s yard. The flavor of dandelion greens is earthy and somewhat nutty. The greens may be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. They may also be sautéed and added to casseroles. Some chefs use dandelion greens in place of spinach to add a unique touch to pasta dishes. Interestingly, the nutritional value of dandelion greens remains even after being cooked. They are full of Vitamins E, A, and C, and folate. They also contain a substantial amount of calcium, iron, and magnesium.

There are different varieties of kale that vary in shape, color, and degree of tenderness. Kale is typically dark green with a strong stem in the middle with leaves that are curly at the ends. Kale is slightly bitter when eaten raw, but mellows when cooked. It is often sautéed, added to soups, and roasted as kale chips. Kale may also be eaten raw in salads. Younger, baby kale leaves would be more tender and easier to eat in a salad. To get the most nutritional value out of kale, eat it raw, or drink freshly made kale juice. Kale is exceptionally high in Vitamins A, K, B6, and C, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Kohlrabi Greens
Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica plant family. Kohlrabi greens are simply the long stalks with leaves attached that grow upward from kohlrabi bulbs. The stalk matches the color of the kohlrabi bulb, which can be white or purple. The flavor of the greens is mild and sweet, similar to broccoli. The leaves and stalks of kohlrabi are usually cooked, and can easily be sautéed with garlic in oil, like any leafy green. Kohlrabi greens are packed with antioxidants that are known to help prevent cancer and heart disease. They are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and Vitamins C and B6.

Mustard Greens
There are different varieties of mustard, but all have a peppery, spicy flavor. They are a staple in Southern USA cooking and are often cooked until soft and served with ham. The longer they are cooked, the less spicy is their flavor. Adding a little lemon juice or vinegar at the end of cooking helps to tame the flavor. Mustard greens are often used to make zesty mustard sauces. The seeds are used to make the condiment we know as prepared mustard. Mustard greens are a good source of calcium, folate, magnesium, and Vitamin K.

Pak Choi
Pak choi is a member of the Brassica family. It is a non-heading Chinese cabbage with many varieties that are also known as Bok choy, Bok choi, and Bai cai among other names. It is considered to be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world and is commonly used in Asian cuisine. It is used in both hot and cold dishes.

Pak choi has oval-shaped leaves with curved, thick stems loosely clustered to a bulbous base. The stems can range in color from white to pale green and are crunchy with a slightly fibrous texture. Both the leaves and stems are edible. When eaten raw, Pak choi has a sweet, mustard-like flavor. When cooked, it becomes more tender and the flavor mellows to being similar to cabbage and spinach. Pak choi is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, along with Vitamins B6, K, and E, magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese, and calcium.

Pak choi is excellent for raw uses, such as in salads and slaws. It is also excellent in cooked applications, such as steaming, boiling, grilling, braising, and sautéing. After being cooked, it is often topped with a sauce, or included in soups, noodle dishes, stir-fries, or served as an accompaniment to meats. It may also be pickled for preservation and extended use.  It is sometimes mixed into pasta dishes, added to gnocchi, and served in grain bowls. Pak choi pairs well with mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, citrus, tofu, fish, pork, duck, and other poultry.

Radish Greens
Radish greens are often discarded, but they are completely edible. They have a similar peppery flavor and texture profile as turnip greens. However, radish greens are not usually eaten raw because the leaves can be prickly. Nevertheless, they can be pureed into a zesty pesto. Cooked radish greens are versatile. They can be roasted as a spicy side dish, or added to stir-fries. They can also be added to creamy soups and quiches. Radish greens are high in fiber and iron, making them a green to consider when fighting anemia. They also contain Vitamins A, C, and K, along with antioxidants.

Sorrel is sometimes referred to as sour grass, spinach dock, or sour dock. It has narrow, spade-like leaves that can sometimes be confused with mature spinach. The flavor is tart and acidic. Sorrel is popular in Europe and Central Asia, and can be hard to find in the United States. It can be eaten raw and is often served in salad blends with mixed greens. Sorrel can be added to soups and stews. When cooked, sorrel takes on a lemony flavor that goes well with fish.

Spinach has dark-green, rounded leaves. It is a very versatile and often used leafy green, so it should be available in most grocery stores. The mild flavor of spinach allows it to complement many dishes. It can be eaten raw in a salad or sandwich, or cooked in side-dishes and entrées. Spinach may be added to omelets, phyllo pastry, pasta dishes, and even smoothies. It is important to know that the volume of spinach dwindles down dramatically when it is cooked, which means you should probably use more than you think you should when cooking spinach. Spinach is packed with nutrients and is one of the most protein-rich green vegetables. It is also rich in folate, which is critical in red blood cell production, and also helps in proper fetal development during pregnancy.

Tatsoi. Tatsoi is a member of the Brassica family of plants. It is also known as spinach mustard, spoon mustard, rosette bok choy, and Japanese spinach. It has a slightly bitter flavor, like mustard greens, but milder. It has thick, dark green leaves with crisp, juicy stalks. Tatsoi is best cooked, when added to soups, stir-fries, or simply sautéed. Baby tatsoi can be served raw in salads. In the United States, Tatsoi may not be found at most grocery stores; however, Asian markets may carry it.

Turnip Greens
Like many leafy vegetables, turnips are in the Brassica plant family. The greens are simply the leafy tops that grow upward from turnips. The greens have a slightly peppery flavor and are often cooked in a similar way as collard greens. They can be braised or sautéed and served with ham shanks and potatoes. They are sometimes prepared in a slow cooker into a rich and spicy soup. Turnip greens are almost always cooked. They have a prickly texture which makes them undesirable for eating raw. Turnip greens are more nutritious than turnip bulbs. They are packed with antioxidants, calcium, manganese, and Vitamins A, C, and K.

Watercress is an aquatic plant that has small, rounded leaves. Like many of the foods discussed in this article, watercress is also a member of the Brassica plant family. The flavor of watercress is similar to that of arugula and mustard greens. It tastes slightly spicy and bitter. Watercress may be eaten raw or cooked. It is often sautéed or cooked as a side dish or added to soups. It supplies a lot of Vitamin K and antioxidants and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Watercress is often used in herbal medicine around the world.

Recipe Links
50 Ways to Get More Leafy Greens in Your Life

79 Green Vegetable Recipes for Soups, Salads, Sautés, and More

19 New Ways to Eat Leafy Greens

13 Leafy Green Dinners That Go Beyond Kale

Creative Vegetarian Recipes That Make Leafy Greens the Star of Your Plate

Basic Sautéed Leafy Greens

Tortellini, White Bean, and Turnip Greens Soup Recipe

Roasted Baby Turnips with Turnip Green Pesto

Turnip Green Salad Recipe

Turnip Greens Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad

Vegan Chickpea Quinoa Arugula Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing

Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing

Vegan Cobb Salad

The Ultimate Fall Salad

Kale Citrus Salad

Thanksgiving Kale Salad with Maple-Tahini Dressing

Vegan Kale Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

Kale and Zucchini Salad with Roasted Parsnip Chips

Arugula Salad with Peaches

38 Amazing Broccoli Recipes Even Broccoli Haters Can’t Hate

Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic

Our Very Best Broccoli Recipes

Roasted Broccoli

50 of the Best Broccoli Recipes We’ve Ever Tasted

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Sautéed Broccoli


Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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


Grapes 101 – The Basics

Grapes 101 – The Basics

About Grapes
Most people are familiar with grapes, which are small round or oval sweet-tart berries with semi-translucent flesh encased in a smooth skin. They have become a popular treat around the world and because of modern day shipping, they are available year-round in most places.

Grapes are native to many parts of the world, including parts of Asia, Africa, and North America. They have grown wild since prehistoric times. Evidence shows that grapes were cultivated in Asia as far back as 5,000 B.C. People enjoyed grapes so much, that the fruit was carried around the world and is now cultivated everywhere except in Antarctica. Worldwide, about 30,000 square miles of land are planted with grapes. The annual production is about 150 trillion pounds of grapes. Italy, China, Spain, and France grow about half of all commercially produced grapes. Other key grape-producing countries include Turkey, Chile, Argentina, Iran, South Africa, and Australia. In the United States, over 90% of all commercially grown table grapes are produced in California, where over 700,000 acres of table, wine, and raisin grapes are cultivated.

There are 60 different species of grapes with literally thousands of varieties scattered around the world. Basic types include table grapes (usually enjoyed fresh), wine grapes (used for making wine), and raisin grapes (used for making dried fruit). Some contain edible seeds, while others are seedless. Like blueberries, grapes are often covered by a protective whitish bloom.

Table grapes are often larger in size and have been developed to be seedless, with relatively thin skins. Wine grapes are often smaller in size, contain seeds, and have relatively thick skins, which help to provide the wine with a richer aroma. All types of grapes come in a variety of colors. Green, red, and black are the most commonly found colors in the United States. However, grapes may also be yellow, blue black, crimson, pink, and purple. Raisins are made from dehydrating grapes either in the sunlight or oven drying.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
With regard to specific nutrients in grapes, their shining star appears to be more in their phytonutrients rather than vitamins and minerals. However, grapes do have some noteworthy nutrients to mention. Both red and green grapes have a significant amount of copper, along with appreciable amounts of Vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, manganese, Vitamin C, magnesium, Vitamin A, fiber, and iron. One cup of red or green grapes has 104 calories. Of course, they have a high water content along with plenty of naturally occurring sugars.

As a group, grapes have an amazing phytonutrient content. While no one variety of grape will be high in all of the phytonutrients found in grapes, collectively they have been widely studied and the list of phytonutrients in grapes appears to be ever-growing. The phytonutrient compounds found in grapes include: Stilbenes (resveratrol, piceatannol, and pterostilbene), Flavanols (catechins, epicatechins, procyanidins, proanthocyanidins, and viniferones), Flavonols (quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and isorhamnetin), Phenolic Acids (caffeic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, and gallic acid), Carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin).

Also, grapes have been shown to contain melatonin and unique oligopeptide molecules that have antibacterial and other beneficial properties. With so many beneficial phytonutrients, it is not surprising that grapes have been found to offer many health benefits supporting the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, inflammatory, blood sugar regulating, and nervous systems. They have also been found to offer cancer prevention, lowering the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancers, in particular.

Raisins. Raisins are dehydrated grapes processed either through the heat of the sun or oven drying. While raisins can be a good addition to a healthy diet, they should not be considered to be a substitute for fresh grapes. The dehydration process removes water, concentrating the sugar and calories in the grapes. For every ounce of raisins, you have four times the amount of sugar and calories that you would find in an ounce of fresh grapes. Also, we should not assume that information that applies to fresh grapes would also apply to dehydrated grapes. Separate research would need to be conducted on raisins to determine their health benefits and related information as it applies to the dehydrated fruit. Nevertheless, raisins can be a healthful and tasty addition to snacks, cereals, salads, and other recipes.

Antioxidant Benefits. The total number of different antioxidant nutrients found in grapes totals well into the hundreds! It is noteworthy that these compounds are concentrated largely in the seed and skin of grapes. However, it is important to eat the whole grape since there is also value in the flesh too.

Research on the antioxidant benefits of grapes includes preventing certain oxygen-related enzymes from becoming overactive, increasing our blood levels of glutathione (a critical antioxidant nutrient), helping to protect cell membranes from free radical damage, lowering levels of oxygen reactive molecules in the blood, reducing the oxidation of fat, and lowering biomarkers of oxidative stress.

Anti-inflammatory Benefits. Along with their strong antioxidant support, grapes also provide us with equally strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Grapes have been found to lower the risk of inflammation by reducing the activity of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules and the overproduction of pro-inflammatory enzymes.

Cardiovascular Benefits. The cardiovascular system benefits in many ways from the abundant antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in grapes. The following benefits have been found through research studies on grapes and grape components:

* Better blood pressure regulation (including lowering high blood pressure)
* Better regulation of total cholesterol (including lowering high total cholesterol)
* Reducing LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels
* Reducing LDL oxidation
* Reducing the levels of reactive oxygen molecules in the blood
* Reducing cell adhesion to blood vessel walls
* Reducing clumping of platelet cells, when such clumping is inappropriate
* Enhancing the release of nitric oxide from the lining of blood vessel walls in situations where vasodilation is needed
* Better inflammatory regulation in the blood
* Increased levels of glutathione in the blood

Blood Sugar Benefits. Grapes are classified as a low-glycemic index food, with a value ranging from 43 to 53. Research has connected grape intake to better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation, and increased insulin sensitivity. It is speculated that the strong phytonutrient content of grapes is largely responsible for these benefits.

Anti-Ageing and Longevity. Some of the phytonutrients in grapes appear to play a role in longevity and may provide anti-aging benefits. Resveratrol (a stilbene phytonutrient found mostly in grape skins, but also in grape flesh and seeds), has been shown to increase the expression of three genes related to longevity. Some researchers have shown a link between resveratrol and these specific genes by activation through diets that keep us optimally nourished with fewer calories. This combination appears to increase our chances of healthy aging and longevity.

Cognitive Benefits. Several recent studies have shown that grapes may provide us with some important cognitive benefits. One human study found improved scores on the California Verbal Learning Test after participants drank 1 to 2 cups of Concord grape juice a day over several months. Other animal studies have shown that excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain could be prevented with grape extracts. Grape extracts have also been found to reduce pro-inflammatory messaging molecules in the brain. Large-scale human studies are needed to confirm these findings, but the benefits look very promising.

Anti-Microbial Benefits. A number of phytonutrients in grapes (including quercetin and resveratrol) have been shown to have anti-microbial properties. Research in this area is very young, but scientists speculate these compounds may help prevent microbe-related problems like food-borne illness.

Anti-Cancer Benefits. Chronic oxidative stress and inflammation are key factors in the development of cancer. Since grapes have abundant supplies of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, they can help lower our risk for cancer by reducing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Current research has focused primarily on the effects of the antioxidants in grapes on breast, colon, and prostate cancers.

Vision Benefits. According to a study by researchers at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, Florida, grapes can help to ward off eye diseases. This benefit is attributed to their lutein and zeaxanthin, two strong antioxidants that prevent free radicals from causing damage to the retina.

How to Select Grapes
For the best flavor and most antioxidants in grapes, choose those that are fully ripe. They should be plump and without wrinkles. They should be intact, firmly attached to healthy-looking stems and not leaking juice. The area of the grape around the attachment point should have the same color as the rest of the grape.

Color can be an indication of sweetness in grapes. Green grapes are medium sweet. They should have a slight yellowish hue. Red grapes are very sweet and should be mostly red. Purple or blue-black grapes are the least sweet, and should be a deep, rich color.

How to Store Grapes
Grapes will spoil and ferment at room temperature, so they should always be stored in the refrigerator. Store them unwashed loosely wrapped in a perforated or open container. It is helpful to place a paper towel or clean cloth in the container (under the grapes) so it can absorb any moisture released by the grapes, wicking it away so the grapes do not sit in drops of water. Grapes need air circulation to help keep from getting moldy, so a perforated or open container solves that problem. They should keep fresh for up to 5 days.

How to Prepare Grapes
Simply give your grapes a good rinse in fresh water. Having them in a colander is helpful so they don’t fall off into the sink. Allow them to drain well, and pat them dry if desired. Enjoy!

If you have standard commercially grown grapes (not organic) and want to remove any chemical residues from them, here’s an easy, scientifically-proven way to do it…

To a large bowl or pot, add a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 2 cups of water. Make enough solution to be able to completely cover the grapes. Allow them to sit in the solution for 15 minutes, then rinse them well. Pat them dry, if desired. Then use your grapes as desired. Grapes can be treated like this first before storing them in the refrigerator. When storing them after treatment, be sure to loosely wrap them in a paper towel or clean cloth, then place them in an open container in the refrigerator. This will allow time for any extra moisture to dry. Once they are completely dry, they can be transferred to a perforated container or left in the open container. Try to use them within 5 days.

How to Freeze Grapes
Grapes may be removed from stems, washed, and patted dry. Place the prepared grapes on a baking sheet (lined or not…either way will work) and place that in the freezer until the grapes are frozen. Then, transfer the frozen grapes to an airtight container or freezer bag and return them to the freezer. Use them within 12 months.

The flavor of frozen grapes will not be as strong as when they were fresh. Also, the texture will be very soft if thawed, so it is best to use them in their frozen state. Frozen grapes can be enjoyed as a simple snack, added to smoothies or beverages, blended with frozen banana as an added sweetener, or added to any fruit salad to help keep cut fruit cold.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Grapes
* Add grapes to any fruit salad for added color, flavor, texture, sweetness, and nutrition.

* Try adding fresh grapes to your favorite curry.

* Add grapes to your favorite green salad.

* Serve grapes with your favorite cheese.

* Make a parfait with yogurt, grapes, and bananas, or any other fruit(s) of choice.

* Make a simple fruit and spinach salad by tossing together some fresh spinach, tangerine sections, seedless grapes (halved), some toasted chopped walnuts, one chopped scallion or some chives, and top it with your favorite vinaigrette dressing. Add a little shredded cheese of choice, if desired.

* Make some fruit and cheese kabobs for your next lunch gathering. On skewers, alternate grapes, strawberries, and cheese cubes (i.e., cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses). Serve with a dip made of 1 cup vanilla yogurt, ½ cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons of honey, and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

* If you’re making a dish that calls for grapes and you don’t have enough, you could substitute blueberries in place of the grapes.

* One pound of fresh table grapes = about 75 medium grapes = 2-1/2 to 3 cups.

* On a hot summer day, cool off by snacking on frozen grapes. Simply pull them off their stems, rinse and dry them, then pack them in a freezer bag or container. [To keep them from freezing together, freeze them on a tray first before placing them in the bag or container.] Enjoy them whenever you want a quick, frozen treat.

* Try a frozen grape slushie. Blend frozen grapes, and another fruit if you want, such as blueberries or strawberries (optional), along with some grape juice and some ice. Enjoy!

* To “wow” your guests at a gathering, try making chocolate dipped grapes. Wash the grapes ON their stems. Then snip the stems into small bundles of 3 or 4 grapes. Dab them dry or allow them to dry on a paper towel. Then, carefully dip the grapes halfway into melted chocolate of your choice. By dipping them only half way, you end up with two-toned colorful grapes that are delicious and also a delight to see on a fruit tray. You can bet they won’t last long!

* Try roasted grapes. Lightly coat them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast them on a sheet pan at 425F for 30 minutes. They will be blistered and caramelized on the outside and juicy, almost like grape jam on the inside. If you want to make them savory, add some fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs to the baking pan. Serve them as a condiment with meat of choice, on toast, spoon them over ice cream, add them to a green salad, toss them with pasta for a balance of sweet and spicy flavors, or add them to a cheese tray.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Grapes
Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, garlic, ginger, mint, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, salt, star anise, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Grapes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, cashews, chia seeds, fish, hazelnuts, lamb, lentils, nuts (in general), peanuts and peanut butter, pecans, pistachios, pork, poultry, pumpkin seeds, veal, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (esp. red), carrots, celery, celery root, cucumbers, endive (Belgian), fennel, greens (salad), jicama, onions, scallions, sprouts (i.e., radish, sunflower), tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples and apples juice, avocados, bananas, blueberries, figs, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mango, melon, orange, pears, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, farro, grains (in general), rice, quinoa

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp., blue, Brie, cream, feta, goat, ricotta, soft), mascarpone, milk (dairy and non-dairy), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Caramel, chocolate, honey, mayonnaise, oil (esp. grapeseed, olive, walnut), rum, sugar, vinegar (i.e., balsamic, sherry, white wine), wine

Grapes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Desserts (i.e., tarts), pizzas, salads (i.e., fruit, grain, green, vegetable), salsas, soups (i.e., fruit, white gazpacho)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Grapes
Add grapes to any of the following combinations…

Apples + Bulgur + Lemon
Balsamic Vinegar + Ricotta Cheese
Cream Cheese + Ginger
Endive + Walnuts
Feta Cheese + Hazelnuts + Salad Greens
Feta Cheese + Lentils + Mint
Lemon + Sugar

Recipe Links
Grape and Arugula Salad

10-Minute Fruit and Cheese Salad

5-Minute Grapes in Honey-Lemon Sauce

Grape and Melon Salad

Ginger Yogurt with Fruit

Yogurt with Fruit

15 Things You Aren’t Making with Grapes (But Totally Should Be!)

18 Unconventional Grape Recipes to Step Up Your Dinner Game

12 Delicious Grape Recipes

5 Minute Grape Sorbet

15 Great Recipes Starring Grapes

33 Grape Recipes for Pizza, Jam, Salad and Pie

Easy Grape Jam

Grape Recipes

28 Gorgeous Grape Recipes


Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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

Different Types of Onions

Onions 101 – About the Different Types of Onions

Onions 101 – About the Different
Types of Onions

About Onions
Onions are one of the oldest known cultivated vegetables believed to be grown for over 5,000 years. They are a culinary staple in most kitchens. Onions are available in many sizes, shapes, colors, and flavor intensities, with each type having its own unique uses in food preparation. Onions are members of the allium family, a group of pungent plants that includes literally hundreds of species. Besides onions, this plant family also includes garlic, leeks, chives, ramps, and many other such foods. Each member has its own special characteristics. This article covers helpful information about the most common types of onions that you may find in your local grocery stores and farmers’ markets.


Storage Onions
Storage onions are those that have been cured (laid out to dry) after being harvested. They can be kept fresh for months when stored properly. According to the National Onion Association, the best way to keep storage onions is in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated room, such as a pantry, cellar, basement or garage. The ideal temperature is 40-50°F. A dry, cool environment helps to keep them from sprouting or rotting. Ventilation helps to prevent molding and rotting. Avoid keeping them in a plastic bag since the trapped humidity and lack of ventilation will cause them to age faster. An open basket, bamboo steamer, mesh bag, netted bag, or even hung up in old pantyhose will work well for keeping storage onions. Keeping them in darkness also helps them to last longer. The lack of sunlight reduces temperature and humidity changes, which promote onions to age faster. Examples of storage onions include yellow, red, and white onions.

Yellow Onions
Characteristics. Yellow onions are a type of storage onion. They are sometimes referred to as brown onions because their skin looks light brown after being cured. They are cured after being harvested, and can be kept for months when stored properly. Yellow onions are excellent all-purpose cooking onions. Because of their relatively high starch content, they won’t become overly mushy when cooked for an extended period of time. Yellow onions range in size from small to large. The average, medium size yellow onion is 2 to 3 inches in diameter and weighs about 3.88 ounces (110 grams). Almost all (about 90 percent) of the storage onions grown in the United States are yellow onions.

Flavor. Yellow onions are generally the preferred onion for most applications because their flavor is moderately sharp when raw, being between that of a red onion (sharp flavor) and a white onion (mild flavor). The flavor is sharp when eaten raw, but mellows when cooked. The flavor actually becomes sweet when yellow onions are caramelized.

Best Uses. Since yellow onions are considered to be an all-purpose onion, they can be used any time a recipe calls for onions.  If a recipe doesn’t call for a specific type of onion and you’re not sure which onion to use, yellow onions should be your automatic choice. They work exceptionally well in any dish that requires a long cooking time, such as stews, stocks, braises, and soups. They also work well in meat dishes, including roasts. Yellow onions can be used as a substitute for any onion. Yellow onions are the preferred variety for making onion rings, French onion soup, and Bloomin’ onion recipes.

Red Onions
Characteristics. Red onions are storage onions with a red-purple skin with white layers inside, each with a purple coating.  They are sometimes referred to as purple onions or salad onions. The richly-colored skin is due to the presence of anthocyanins and flavonoids, which are valuable antioxidants with important health properties. Red onions lose their color when cooked, so many people prefer to use them in raw applications. Red onions make up about ten percent of the onion crop in the United States. Red onions may be used as a substitute for white onions.

Flavor. Resources have conflicting information regarding the flavor of red onions. Some state they have a milder flavor than yellow onions, while other say their flavor is sharper and spicier than that of yellow onions. Personally, I have found both to be true, with some red onions being mild in flavor, while others are extremely sharp. When using a red onion for a raw application, it is advisable to taste a small piece as you are preparing the onion. If the flavor is mild, use it as needed. If the flavor is very sharp and needs some taming for your application, soak it in a bowl of cold water as you’re doing your food preparation. Soaking will help to keep it crisp as you’re working with other foods, and will also tame the flavor making it more tolerable for being eaten raw.

Best Uses. Red onions are most often used in raw foods such as salads and salsas. They may also be sliced and added as a burger or sandwich topping. Red onions may also be pickled and grilled, where their inside will turn into a type of onion jam. Red onions may be cooked, although cooking tends to wash out their rich color, and also diminishes their flavor.

White Onions
Characteristics. White onions are storage onions that are round, medium to large in size, and with thin, white, papery skins. They have a high water content, so they are very crisp. They are most commonly used in Mexican cuisine. White onions make up about 5 percent of the onion crop in the United States.

Flavor. White onions have a flavor similar to yellow and red onions, that is pungent yet mildly sweet. It has less of a lingering aftertaste than their yellow and red counterparts. If you find you need to tame the flavor, soak them in cold water for up to one hour.

Best Uses. White onions can be used as a substitute for yellow or red onions, both in raw and cooked applications. The texture of white onions makes them a perfect addition to salsas, chutneys, and other raw food applications. They can be diced and added to salads, sauces, guacamole, and wraps. Sliced white onions are excellent on sandwiches and burgers. They can be chopped and added to soups, stews, stocks, and casseroles. They can also be grilled and served with roasted meats, or used as a pizza topping. They are excellent when sauteed, lending an almost sweet-sour flavor to food. White onions pair well with tomatoes, jalapenos, carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, garlic, fennel, meats, poultry, seafood, beans, rice, and herbs such as bay leaves, tarragon, rosemary, marjoram, cilantro, and thyme. They also pair well with spices such as cumin, cinnamon, coriander, anise, and cloves. White onions will keep for one to two months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.


Soft Onions
Soft onions are more delicate than storage onions. They should be kept (unwashed) in the refrigerator to extend their storage life. Store them in a perforated bag or wrapped in paper towels within a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should be used within 4 to 5 days of purchase. Examples of soft onions include sweet onions, green onions (AKA scallions), and Spring onions.

Sweet Onions
Characteristics. Sweet onions are medium to large in size. With their light brown papery skin, sweet onions look very much like yellow onions. However, they contain less sulfur and more water than yellow, red, and white onions. Because of that, they are milder and crisper than the storage onions. Sweet onions are usually named for the region where they are grown, such as Washington’s Walla Walla Onions, Georgia’s Vidalia Onions, and Hawaii’s Maui Onions. Such onions are often available only seasonally. They may be used as a substitute for yellow onions.

Flavor. Sweet onions are crisp yet tender, and mild in flavor. They are sweet without the sharpness of the common storage onions.

Best Uses. Sweet onions may be used in both raw and cooked applications. They are excellent when eaten raw on salads or sandwiches, fried into onion rings, or stuffed like you would a mushroom or tomato. They are also excellent when caramelized or used in dishes where onion is the main flavor, such as in onion soup. Sweet onions are excellent when roasted with other vegetables, blended into dressings, dips, and pesto, and roasted with meats. They pair well with basil, mint, cilantro, rosemary, fennel, garlic, chives, tomatoes, citrus fruits, avocado, apples, ginger, meats, seafood, legumes, pasta, cheese, cinnamon, and cloves.

Green Onions
Characteristics. Green onions are also called scallions, bunching onions, and sometimes erroneously called Spring onions. They are small to medium in size and grown in clusters of elongated, straight leaves with narrow, slender bases. The dark green leaves are smooth, stiff, and hollow with small, central tubes. The white base is dense, succulent, and firm with small white roots attached. They are milder and softer than any of the storage onions. Some people believe the white ends are not edible, but they actually are not only edible, but delicious! If you’re a gardener, save the root ends because they will regrow when planted.

Flavor.  Green onions are crisp and juicy with a grassy, sweet, slightly pungent flavor. Green onions have a much milder flavor than mature yellow and red onions. Their mild flavor allows them to easily be used in many raw applications. The whiter ends have a stronger, more oniony flavor than the green leaves. Because of the flavor differences, many people will use the green leaves for raw applications and save the white ends for adding to cooked dishes.

Best Uses. Green onions are excellent in both raw and cooked applications. They are delicious when served raw, such as sprinkled on a green salad. They are also often used as a garnish in soups and chili cheese fries. Green onions are often used in Asian and Latin American cooking. Green onions make an excellent addition to any recipe calling for raw onion. Try them in stir-fries, sauteed, roasted, and grilled dishes. Add them to pizza, pasta, casseroles, stews, and curries. Add minced green onions to deviled eggs, savory pancakes, salsa, biscuits, and sandwiches. Green onions pair well with sweet peas, Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, radishes, bell peppers, citrus fruits, eggs, meats, and seafood. Green onions will keep for up to five days when wrapped in paper towels within a plastic bag, tucked in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Spring Onions
Characteristics. Spring onions are nothing more than very young storage onions. They have small, round globes attached to a straight, layered stalk of overlapping leaves. The bulbs are smooth, firm, crisp, and have colors from white to red hues, depending on the variety. The dark green tubular leaves have a stiff, thick, and crunchy consistency. They are usually harvested early to give the other, nearby bulbs room to grow. As true to their name, they are very seasonal.

Flavor. Spring onions have a sweet, mild, mellow flavor. This is due to the fact that they have not yet developed the gases that are in more mature bulbs. The leaves have a stronger flavor, with herbaceous, pungent, and grassy notes.

Best Uses. Since Spring onions have a fresh, sweet, and subtle flavor, they are excellent for both raw and cooked applications. Both the bulb and leaves are edible, with the leaves having a stronger flavor than the bulb. The onions can be thinly sliced and added to salads, sandwiches, grain bowls, and slaws. They can also be added to soft cheeses, dips, and spreads on appetizer trays. Spring onions are excellent when grilled, roasted, simmered, sauteed, or braised. Spring onions can be a wonderful addition to soups and stews, baked in casseroles, used as a pizza topping, added to stir-fries, cream-based sauces, vinaigrette dressings, and egg dishes. They pair well with asparagus, sweet peas, lettuce, mushrooms, radishes, citrus fruits, potatoes, and meats.


Small Onions
These are simply varieties of onions that are small in size. Store them in a cool, dry, and dark place with good air circulation. Use within one to two months. When cut, store unused pieces, sealed in plastic wrap or an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use cut pieces within four days. Examples of small onions include shallots, Cipolline onions, and pearl onions.

Characteristics. Shallots are small varieties of storage onions. Their size varies from small to large, depending on the variety. They are oblong with a rounded center and tapering ends. The bulbs have dry, papery, thin skin that flakes when touched. Colors range from copper, gold, and pale pink, to red. After being peeled, the interior consists of clusters of cloves, divided into individually wrapped segments, like garlic. Small shallots will average two or three cloves, whereas larger varieties may contain up to six cloves. The semi-dry flesh is off-white to translucent, firm, and dense, with light purple or red rings. Shallots are aromatic with a blend of spicy, sweet, and pungent flavors. They are crisp and not as pungent as yellow onions. The bulbs keep for one month when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Flavor. Shallots have a typical onion flavor, but are not as strong as storage onions. They are very mild and sweet. Shallots can be used any time you don’t want an overpowering onion flavor. When raw, shallots are crisp and astringent. When cooked, they have a delicate, sweet, and savory flavor, reminiscent of garlic.

Best Uses. Since shallots are rather mild in flavor, they can be used both raw and cooked. They can be added raw to salads, bruschetta toppings, and blended into sauces, guacamole, and vinaigrettes. They may also be roasted, pickled, sauteed, cooked with meats or vegetables, added to stews, blended into curries, baked into casseroles, stir-fried with rice, added to pasta, and sliced thin and fried. Shallots may be used in any cooked application and may be used as a substitute for any onion. Also, they can be used as a substitute for garlic, lending a slightly milder and sweeter flavor to the dish. Shallots pair well with beets, tomatoes, mushrooms, green beans, spinach, garlic, capers, meats, fish, cheeses, and herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and mint.

Cipolline (or Cipollini) Onions
Characteristics. Cipolline onions look like small, squatty yellow onions. They are petite and squat, almost like saucers. They have thin, papery skin that adheres tightly to the flesh. To easily remove the skin, quickly place them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer them to an ice water bath. The skin will be much easier to remove. The firm, juicy flesh of these onions is white and almost translucent. The bulbs will keep up to two months when stored in a cool, dry place.

Flavor. Cipolline onions are sweeter than the larger storage onions. When raw, Cipolline onions have a mild aroma with a semi-sweet, pungent flavor. When cooked, they sweeten and soften into a tender, almost melting texture.

Best Uses. Because of their natural sweetness, Cipolline onions are ideal for both raw and cooked applications. They may be roasted, baked, sauteed, and pickled. Their high sugar content makes them excellent candidates for caramelizing. Add them whole to stews, roasts, and casseroles. They may be chopped and mixed into mushroom tarts, pasta, potato salads, and kabobs. Cipolline onions pair well with balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, chives, green onions, fennel, parsley, thyme, tomatoes, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, potatoes, olives, red wine, and cured meats.

Pearl Onions
Characteristics. Pearl onions are sweet and small, averaging only one to four centimeters in diameter. They are round with slightly pointed ends. They can be found in red, white, and yellow varieties. Pearl onions have a thin, papery skin that flakes off easily. The flesh is firm, juicy, and crisp. The skin is often removed by boiling the whole onion for 2 minutes, then plunging them into ice water, cutting off the ends, then pinching the flesh out from under the skin. Sometimes pearl onions may be found (already peeled) in the freezer section of many grocery stores.

Flavor. The flavor of pearl onions is mild with a savory, sweet, and slightly less pungent flavor than full-sized storage onions when cooked.

Best Uses. Pearl onions are well suited for both raw and cooked applications. They may be creamed, roasted, pickled, and glazed. The small bulbs are commonly used whole. They may be included in stews, gratins, casseroles, braises, soups, stocks, added to meat and vegetable dishes, and even served alone. Pearl onions are an excellent option for being skewered with meats and vegetables and grilled for a caramelized finish. They pair well with parsley, basil, Dijon mustard, potatoes, green beans, peas, beets, turnips, tomatoes, paprika, red wine, mild flavored vinegars, meats, fish, and assorted cheeses.



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.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fiber 101 – The Basics (About the Types of Fiber and Their Varieties)

Fiber 101 – The Basics
About the Types of Fiber and Their Varieties

What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber is sometimes called “roughage” and includes parts of plant foods that the body cannot digest or absorb. Other food components, like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive process and absorbed into the blood stream. Fiber, on the other hand, is a type of carbohydrate, but it cannot be digested by the human body. Instead, it travels through the stomach and intestinal tract providing food for our intestinal bacteria.

Researchers have found that increasing fiber intake over a mere two-week period significantly altered subjects’ gut microbiome. Specific species of bacteria that break down fiber were increased. When such bacteria digest fiber, they release short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs then become a source of fuel for the cells of the colon and are also used in cell signaling. Some SCFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties, and may influence insulin sensitivity and body weight.

Fiber has two general classifications: soluble and insoluble. Each type has its own health benefits in addition to providing food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines. The amount and types of fiber found in foods varies, but it is only found in plant foods. Whole, intact plant foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, peas, nuts and seeds) will provide dietary fiber, whereas processed plant foods (such as white flour) will provide little to none. Animal-based foods do not provide dietary fiber.

What is insoluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber remains pretty much unchanged as it moves through the digestive tract. Humans do not have the enzymes necessary to break down insoluble fiber. Since it is not broken down during digestion, insoluble fiber does not provide calories in the diet. In the intestines, it absorbs fluid and binds to other nearby materials, forming stool. This type of fiber helps to move the contents of the intestines forward, warding off constipation and promoting bowel movements. Whole grains, nuts, beans, and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Types of Insoluble Fiber and Their Food Sources
Cellulose. Cellulose is the main fibrous component of plant cell walls. Many vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower are rich in cellulose. Legumes, nuts, and bran from grains are also rich in cellulose. Cellulose passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, binding to food components moving them forward along the tract. Cellulose also helps to keep the digestive system healthy by feeding beneficial gut bacteria and supporting their colonies.

Hemicellulose. Hemicellulose is a type of dietary fiber that can be soluble or insoluble. It is a nondigestible fiber found in plant cell walls that can absorb and retain water in the gut. Despite the fact that it absorbs water, it has little effect on stool size. Hemicellulose can be digested by our gut bacteria. It is sometimes used in foods as an added fiber, thickener, emulsifier, or stabilizer. Green beans are high in hemicellulose. They are also found in cereal grains.

Lignin.  Lignin is another type of insoluble fiber that is part of the plant cell wall structure. Lignin provides rigidity to plants. It is also found in some seeds. Lignin is not broken down by human enzymes, and is also poorly digested by our gut bacteria. It absorbs water in the gut, and gives bulk to stool. Lignin can be found in whole grains (such as wheat and corn bran), legumes, vegetables (like green beans, carrots, horseradish, cauliflower, peas, and zucchini), fruits (like avocado, unripe bananas, peaches, and apples), and nuts and seeds (especially flaxseed and Brazil nuts). It is also found in edible seeds, such as those found in berries and tomatoes.

What is soluble fiber?
Soluble fiber is the type of plant fiber that absorbs water and fluids in the intestinal tract, forming a gel-like substance. The gel moves through the digestive tract and is digested by bacteria in the large intestine. The remainder is excreted in feces. The bacteria release gases as they digest the gel, which is what may cause some people to experience bloating when ingesting fiber-rich foods. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium.

Types of Soluble Fiber and Their Food Sources
Inulin.  Inulin helps to keep you feeling full for longer since it slows digestion. This type of fiber also takes longer to absorb, which helps to prevent blood sugar spikes after a meal. Inulin is not digested in the stomach nor absorbed in the intestinal tract. Instead, it promotes the growth and support of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Inulin is found in chicory root, grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, and fruits and vegetables such as bananas, garlic, onions, and asparagus. Inulin is readily fermented by our gut bacteria. This property may give some people GI distress when eating inulin-rich foods.

Gums and Mucilages. Gums are complex carbohydrates that are soluble in water, forming gels and mucilages. Mucilages are a type of thick, viscous gum in plant roots and seeds. The gelling characteristics of gums and mucilages allows them to be used in many food products as thickening agents, and additives for moisture retention, emulsification, and stabilization. Commonly used food sources of gums and mucilages include guar bean, locust bean (carob), tamarind, seaweed (agar and carrageenan), fenugreek, aloe vera, cactus, and flax.

Pectin.  Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that helps reduce the glycemic response in the body by slowing glucose absorption after a meal. Like other soluble fibers, pectin helps to feed our gut bacteria. It also helps to keep cholesterol down by flushing fatty acids out of the body. Pectins can be found in abundance in foods like apples, strawberries, citrus fruits, carrots, and potatoes. Legumes and nuts also contain pectins, but in smaller amounts.

Beta-Glucan.  Beta-glucan forms a gel in the intestinal tract that is fermentable by gut bacteria. It is considered to be a prebiotic, providing food for helpful bacteria. Beta-glucan may also be helpful in increasing satiety and managing blood sugar levels, thanks to the fact that it has a slow transit time in the stomach and intestines. Beta-glucan is plentiful in oats, barley, shiitake mushrooms, and reishi mushrooms.

Psyllium.  This soluble fiber is the active ingredient in products like Metamucil. It is known for softening stool, helping it to pass out of the body. Psyllium also forms a gel that binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing its absorption into the body. Psyllium is also a prebiotic, feeding friendly bacteria in the gut. Psyllium is derived from a shrub-like herb (Plantago psyllium), grown mainly in India. It will not be found in any specific food source. However, it is often used in fiber supplements, both in powders and pills. Researchers have studied the effects of psyllium and found that it may help to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, diverticulosis, high blood pressure, and obesity. It may also improve diarrhea, constipation, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and high cholesterol. However, since it is a soluble fiber, those benefits may also be obtained from ample food sources of soluble fiber in the diet.

Resistant Starch. Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine. It travels pretty much intact until it reaches the large intestine. There, friendly bacteria feed on the undigested starch, so it is often referred to as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in the gut. Resistant starch also helps to control the appetite and reduce blood sugar spikes after a meal. Since resistant starch is not broken down during digestion, it does not release glucose, so it cannot raise blood sugar levels. It can also help to increase our feeling of fullness after a meal, and be used to treat and prevent constipation. It also helps to lower cholesterol, improve digestive health, and lowers the risk of colon cancer. Resistant starch is fermented slowly in the gut, so it causes less gas than other types of fiber. Legumes, peas, beans, lentils (with white beans and lentils being especially high in resistant starch), oats, barley, plantains, and unripe bananas are excellent sources of resistant starch.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?
The Institute of Medicine provides the following recommendations for adults:

* Men age 50 or younger should get 38 grams of fiber.
* Men age 51 and above should get 30 grams of fiber.

* Women age 50 or younger should get 25 grams of fiber.
* Women age 51 and above should get 21 grams of fiber.

Health organizations recommend that both children and adults should get about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they eat. That usually means that children ages 1 to 3 years should get about 10 grams of fiber a day. Children ages 4 to 8 years should eat about 25 grams of fiber a day.

Research has shown that the amount of fiber typically consumed in the Western diet is merely between 12 and 14 grams a day. Less than 5 percent of Americans consume the recommended amount of fiber. There is ample scientific evidence that indicates that dietary fiber affects normal physiologic function and the onset of chronic diseases and their progression. Therefore, increasing fiber intake offers a prime opportunity to improve our health and ward of serious chronic diseases.

Despite the above recommendations, there is scientific evidence that ancient man consumed as much as 100 grams of fiber a day! Of course, that was from unprocessed plant foods, primarily from fruits and vegetables. Keeping this in mind, we certainly have plenty of leeway for increasing our daily fiber intake with as many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that we can manage to eat.

Benefits of a High Fiber Diet
To keep things easy and get the most benefit from your diet, focus on simple, whole, unprocessed plant foods. Work as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as you can into your day without worry about how much soluble vs insoluble fiber you’re eating. Most plant foods have a combination of both in different ratios. What’s important when trying to reap the health benefits from fiber in foods is looking at the total picture and focusing on increasing your overall fiber intake through whole, unadulterated foods. The following are some benefits from enjoying a high fiber diet.

Prevents Constipation. Dietary fiber promotes the movement of the contents of the digestive tract forward. It increases stool weight and size, so it helps prevent constipation and irregular bowel movements. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool.

Helps Maintain Bowel Health. A high fiber diet helps to reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon (diverticular disease).

Aids in Weight Management. High fiber foods tend to be more filling than low fiber foods, so you’re less likely to overeat and more likely to feel full longer. Fiber takes up space in the stomach and intestines, which helps us to feel full after a meal, which in turn helps us to manage our weight. We’re less likely to overeat when the meal has had ample fiber. Furthermore, high fiber foods tend to be lower in calories than low fiber, processed foods or animal products. So, loading up on plant foods can help us to manage weight in more ways than one!

Cancer Prevention. Increased fiber intake may help to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports show that for each 10-gram increase in dietary fiber, the risk of colorectal cancer is lowered by 7 percent. There is also scientific evidence that indicates that a high-fiber diet may also be protective against breast, ovary, and endometrial, as well as gastrointestinal cancer.

Helps Prevent Heart Disease and More. Soluble fiber is especially important because it can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood pressure, improving our blood lipid profiles, and reducing inflammation.

Soluble fiber is known to help lower blood cholesterol levels. In the digestive tract, soluble fiber binds with bile acids, carrying them out of the body in the feces. Bile acids are made in the liver from cholesterol, and exported to the gallbladder where it is stored until it is needed. When dietary fat leaves the stomach and enters the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine, the gallbladder receives the signal to release bile into the duodenum to emulsify the fat that just left the stomach. This is important because the emulsification process allows the fat to be disbursed among the watery fluids in the intestines. This improves the breakdown of foods and the absorption of nutrients. Without bile, fatty substances may tend to “float” toward the top of the watery fluids in the intestines, hindering the proper breakdown of foods and absorption of their nutrients.

When soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the digestive tract, it carries the bile out of the body through the feces. This action forces the liver to make fresh bile from cholesterol. This process helps to lower blood cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, while improving our blood lipid profiles and reducing inflammation.

If our diet does not contain enough soluble fiber to carry the bile out of the body, the unbound bile acids will be reabsorbed into the blood from the intestines, and carried back to the liver to be used again. When this happens, the bile becomes more concentrated with toxins, which in turn, can lead to inflammatory diseases such as gallbladder disease, intestinal inflammation, and even skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Also, research suggests that increasing your dietary fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.

Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels. In those with diabetes, fiber (especially soluble fiber) can slow the absorption of sugar helping to improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet with ample fiber may also reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Best Sources of Fiber
Categories of foods that can boost your fiber intake include:

* Whole-grains
* Fruits
* Vegetables
* Beans, peas, and other legumes
* Nuts and seeds

Refined or processed foods are lower in fiber than the fresh foods they were made from. This includes canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads and pastas, and cereals made with refined grains. The refining process of grains removes the bran, or outer coat, from the grain. This lowers the fiber content of the grain. Along with the removal of the bran, the germ layer is usually removed too. The germ is where many vitamins and minerals associated with the whole grain are found. When these two components are removed from grains, the inner starchy endosperm that remains is what is processed into white flour or sold as the refined grain. Many times, the refined grains are enriched where some (but not all) of the nutrients that were stripped away, are added back. However, the fiber content is not added back in the enrichment process. So, the only way to get the full nutritional value of a grain, including the fiber content, is to use only the whole grain.

Fiber Supplements.  Metamucil, Citrucel, and Fibercon are examples of fiber supplements. Some people may need such supplements if they suffer from bowel issues and dietary changes aren’t enough to fix the problem. It is advisable to check with your healthcare provider before starting such supplements.

Some specialty foods have fiber added to them. Some cereals, granola bars, yogurt, and ice creams are examples. The added fiber is usually inulin or chicory root. Before adding such foods to your diet, it is important to note that some people complain of gas and bloating after eating foods with these added fibers.

Generally speaking, whole foods are a better option than fiber supplements. Whole foods naturally provide a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers, along with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients that the fiber supplements don’t have. Consuming whole foods as nature provides, offers complementary nutrients that often have a synergistic effect on the body. In other words, their combined effect is often greater than if the individual components were taken separately. Furthermore, foods have many yet-to-be-discovered components that we will never find in isolated supplements. So, it is best to choose whole foods as nature provides, whenever possible.

Tips for Adding More Fiber to Your Diet
There are a LOT of ways to add more fiber to your diet. The following are just a few points that may help along the way. Try what works best for you for starters. Add more as you’re able to and build from there. Take it slow to allow your body (and gut microbiome) time to adjust to the new foods and added fiber intake. This approach will help you to avoid discomfort, gas and bloating, and possibly even diarrhea.

* Examine your usual breakfast. Are you eating low-fiber foods such as processed cereals, pastries, white bread, juice (pulp-free), and/or an array of no-fiber foods like animal products such as bacon, eggs, sausage, milk, cheese, and even yogurt? Try substituting some of those foods with high-fiber options, like oatmeal or a whole-grain cereal and fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.

* How about your snacks? Are you snacking on doughnuts, pastries, cake, cookies, candy, and a sugary beverage or coffee? Try replacing the calorie and fat-laden, low-fiber pastries with fresh fruit and maybe a cookie made simply from whole oats, bananas, a touch of cinnamon, and raisins. How about snacking on fresh vegetables and a small handful of nuts? Or enjoy a snack of vegetables dipped in hummus. Replace sugary beverages or coffee with a tall glass of lemon water or an herbal tea, sweetened with honey, if desired.

* Make it a routine to add a tossed green salad to either lunch or supper each day. Be mindful of what ingredients are added to the salad. Load it up with lettuce and other assorted fresh greens, and top it with assorted chopped fresh (or even lightly cooked) vegetables. Leave off the croutons, shredded cheese, and added meats. Use the simplest dressing you can tolerate. Even just a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice is extremely healthful, although it may take some time to get used to it if you’re accustomed to fat and/or sugar-laden dressings. Studies have shown that those who eat a salad or a small serving of vegetable soup before a meal not only increases fiber intake, but has been linked to eating fewer calories during the meal.

* Once you get used to enjoying a side salad every day, try increasing that to one meal a day consisting of a very large green salad. As detailed above, load it up with your favorite vegetables, and even fruit if you want. Add some cooked beans, peas or lentils for additional protein if you want. Top it with a simple dressing and enjoy! Work up to making this a daily routine and your health will benefit in many ways in addition to getting a nice fiber boost.

* Lean on legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are wonderful sources of fiber and added protein. Add legumes of choice to soups or a large meal salad.

* At least once a week, choose a meal of beans, peas, or lentils served over a whole grain of your choice. Brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, or even steel cut oats would all work well. Serve it with a large portion of any vegetable of choice and you’ll have a healthy, filling, fiber-filled meal.

* Try a wrap with cooked beans (pinto or black beans would be tasty), lots of fresh vegetables including leafy greens, served on a whole grain tortilla. Top your filling with salsa before rolling it up, and enjoy!

* Make it a point to load up on fruits and vegetables every day. Strive to eat at least five servings a day. As you get used to boosting your fruit and vegetable intake, try to slowly increase your servings to as many as ten servings a day. To do this, you may find that you need to cut back on other foods (the stomach can only hold so much!). Examine the foods you’re eating and identify the least healthful, most processed foods that you’re eating and strive to replace them with more healthful options. That will not only boost your fiber intake, but also will increase your vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and other phytonutrient intake as well. Your health can only benefit from such a transition.

* Make desserts count. Instead of indulging in cheesecake, ice cream, traditional cookies, or chocolate cake for dessert, opt for a piece of fresh fruit. If you yearn for ice cream, try blending a frozen banana and making “Banana Nice Cream.” If desired, it can be flavored with a little cocoa powder, cinnamon, added fruit, vanilla extract, or even a little milk of choice for smoothness and flavor.

* Enjoy fruit as a snack. Apples, pears, and berries are examples of high-fiber fruits that make a quick and easy snack. They are easy to transport also, and can be included in a packed lunch, tucked in the car when traveling, or stashed in a backpack when hiking.

* When shopping, always opt for whole grains rather than refined or processed foods made with refined flour. When at home, you’ll be reaching in the pantry for foods to prepare. If you don’t have it, you can’t prepare it. Make it a priority to buy only foods that you know will benefit your health.

* Try adding chia seeds to overnight oats, your favorite smoothie, or pudding.  Use chia seeds as an egg replacer in some dishes like quick breads, pancakes, and puddings. Combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl. Allow it to rest about 5 minutes to thicken. Chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, minerals, and about 10 grams of fiber per ounce. They are packed with nutritional value, so it pays to include them in your diet any way you can.

* Flax seeds are another high fiber seed to consider. They provide about 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Be sure to enjoy them ground rather than whole since they are very hard to break down in the digestive process. Add ground flax seeds to oatmeal, a smoothie, pudding, granola, breading, and baked goods. Mix it into applesauce as a thickener. Use it in recipes in place of wheat bran, wheat germ, or oat bran. Soups and stews may also be thickened with ground flax seeds. Sprinkle it on nut butter. Add it to homemade crackers. Sprinkle a little ground flax on salads. Add it to sauces as a thickener. Add a little ground flax to your favorite hummus (try 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground flax seed to 1 cup of hummus). Ground flax seed can be used as an egg replacer, just like chia seeds. Follow the same directions as detailed above.

* Replace refined fruit juices with whole fruit. Whole fruit has a lot more nutritional value to offer than refined fruit juices. And, the whole fruit will also quench thirst at the same time. For example, enjoying a juicy, ripe pear can satisfy your thirst, help fill a void in the tummy, and provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber all at once.

* Avocados are very nutritious fruits, and there are many ways to add them to your day. Their creamy flesh is rich in vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fatty acids, and fiber too. One half of an avocado delivers 5 grams of fiber. Furthermore, avocados have been linked to a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases your chances of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

* When possible, try to enjoy fruits and vegetables with the peel left on. There is often a lot of nutritional value and fiber associated with the peels, and most of that gets tossed in the trash when the peel is removed and not eaten.

* Try to include some type of fiber-rich food (or foods) at each meal. Whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables (cooked or raw), cooked beans, peas, or lentils, and nuts or seeds can be included with meals and snacks throughout the day. Enjoy a variety of fiber-rich foods as often as you can until it becomes habit and you no longer have to think about it. That will help you to develop life-long habit of eating fiber-rich foods. Your body will thank you!

* Snack on fresh veggies with your favorite hummus dip for a fiber-rich snack.

* Try whole grain pasta instead of pasta made with refined flour. Also, there are some new types of pasta available that were made from legumes and no grain at all. They are naturally high in fiber and are at least worth a try to see if they work well for you.

Adjusting to Increased Fiber Intake
Suddenly switching from a low-fiber diet to one with a lot of fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, bloating and cramping, and maybe even diarrhea. Increase your fiber intake slowly over a few weeks or even longer. This allows you time to adjust to the change in food choices and also gives your intestinal bacteria time to adjust to the change as well. This will also give your intestinal tract time to adjust to the increased fiber, especially if you’re going from being chronically constipated to slowly establishing regular bowel movements.

Also, it is VERY important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Fiber works best when it absorbs water in the stomach and intestines. This makes your stool softer and bulky, promoting regular bowel movements. Herbal teas and fresh vegetable juices are also excellent additions, but should not replace adequate water intake.

It’s helpful to make small, manageable changes at a time. If they work well for you, maintain those changes, then find another change you can make and add it to your regimen. Then maintain both of those changes and find yet another. Repeat the process as often as you feel it is necessary to improve your diet and achieve your goals. This process allows you to gradually change your dietary habits as your body and gut microbiome adjust. Make it a point to maintain those changes until they become second-nature. Such changes should be considered to be lifelong adjustments and not temporary for the sake of achieving a goal within some short period of time, then reverting back to prior habits. That’s a recipe for failure. It’s best to think in terms of lifelong changes that you can maintain long-term. Over time, you’ll be so accustomed to your new habits that you won’t yearn for the foods you left behind and you won’t have to give much thought to what you’re doing at the grocery store or in the kitchen.

Fiber is an important component of whole plant foods. It is critical to consume plenty of fiber-rich foods to prevent constipation and bowel issues, along with many other serious diseases and conditions. Chronic constipation (provided you have no otherwise obstructive bowel issues) is a clear sign you need more fiber in your diet. Increasing your intake of whole plant foods is a simple solution to the problem. When you’re not used to eating a lot of such foods, it is helpful to increase your intake slowly over time, especially when increasing the amounts of legumes, beans, and peas in your diet. Gradually increasing such foods will help minimize the risk of gas, bloating, or diarrhea that may occur. Give yourself time to work your way up to about ten servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Eventually, your bowel habits will stabilize and constipation will be a thing of the past. You’ll also greatly increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and important antioxidants and other phytonutrients in the process. Your body will thank you!



Whitney, Ellis and Sharon Rady Rolfes. (2011) Understanding Nutrition. 12th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


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.


Dates 101 – A Comparison of Medjool and Deglet Noor Dates

Dates 101 – A Comparison of Medjool and Deglet Noor Dates

About Dates
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which is native to the Middle East and Northern Africa. They have been a staple food in the Middle East for thousands of years. Many in that region consider date palm trees and dates to be sacred because they can literally be life-sustaining. Today, dates are also grown in the Mediterranean region, Asia, Mexico, and the United States (mostly in southern California and Arizona). The fruit grows in large clusters that hang from the top of date palm trees. As they ripen, their skin turns brown and wrinkles develop as moisture leaves the fruit. This is the point when they are usually harvested. They still have some moisture at this time. Whole dates have a stone or pit in the center that must be removed before eating. Dates are sold both with and without pits.

Dried and fresh dates are available year-round, but the fresh dates are best from November to January. There are many varieties of dates, but the most popular are the Medjool and Deglet Noor dates. Medjool dates are usually sold with the pit still within the fruit, whereas Deglet Noor dates are commonly sold pitted, with the seed being removed. In general, the Medjool dates are larger, sweeter, and stickier then the Deglet Noor dates.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
When comparing a nutritional analysis of three Deglet Noor dates with one Medjool date, none of which were pitted, the weight was close, with the Deglet Noor dates weighing 21 grams and the Medjool date weighing 24 grams. The slight increase in weight of the one Medjool date resulted in slightly more calories in the Medjool date with 66 calories, and 59 calories in the Deglet Noor dates. However, when comparing gram per gram, 100 grams of Medjool dates has 277 calories, whereas 100 grams of Deglet Noor dates has 282 calories. The high calorie count is due to the abundant natural sugars in both types of dates.

Many of the vitamin and mineral components were very closely matched, often with slightly more in the Medjool date, most likely because it contained more flesh than the three Deglet Noor dates. When comparing gram per gram, the nutritional differences are considered to be negligible.

Medjool Dates: Nutrients that were slightly higher in the one Medjool date include calories, carbohydrates, sugars, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, niacin, pantothenic acid, and Vitamin B6.

Deglet Noor Dates: Nutrients that were slightly higher in the three Deglet Noor dates include protein (although the protein content is low in either type of date), fiber, lutein and zeaxanthin (important antioxidants).

Overall: No matter what type of date you choose, consider them to be high in sugars, with 3 Deglet Noor dates or 1 Medjool date providing roughly one-third of the recommended amount of sugar intake for the day. They also provide a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin. They even contain some protein. The high fiber content of dates helps to offset the digestive effects of their high sugar content. This means they will not spark a high spike in glucose levels when eaten, as compared with a piece of candy. Eating dates with some protein (such as a nut butter or cheese) can help to reduce the rise in blood sugar levels when consumed.

High in Fiber…Helps Prevent Constipation. Dates are high in fiber, with about 7 grams in a 3.5 ounce serving. Consuming dates on a regular basis can help to ward off constipation because of their high fiber content.  In one study, 21 people ate 7 dates a day for 21 days and experienced an increase in bowel movements when compared to when they did not eat dates.

Improved Blood Sugar Control. Despite their high sugar content, the fiber in dates helps to slow digestion, aiding in preventing large spikes in blood sugar levels after being eaten. Dates are known to have a low glycemic index, which reflects this benefit. So, if you enjoy something sweet once in a while, indulging in a few dates, especially after a meal, should not cause a large spike in blood sugar. This benefit may be helpful in the management of diabetes.

High in Antioxidants. Dates are especially high in important antioxidants that help to protect us from cellular damage caused by free radical molecules. Such damage causes inflammation and raises our risk for many diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and more. Three powerful types of antioxidants found in dates include flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid.

Flavonoids help to reduce inflammation and may reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer. Carotenoids have been proven to promote heart health, and may reduce the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Like the flavonoids, phenolic acid is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and may help to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Brain Health. Dates may help to improve our brain function. Researchers have found dates to be helpful in lowering inflammatory markers in the brain. Such markers (like interleukin 6) are associated with a greater risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. The benefits of dates to brain health have been attributed to their content of antioxidants (including flavonoids) that reduce inflammation.

Also, animal studies have shown that dates are helpful in reducing the activity of amyloid beta proteins which can form plaque in the brain. Plaque is known to disrupt communication between brain cells, which can lead to the death of brain cells and Alzheimer’s disease.

One animal study found that mice fed food mixed with dates had significantly better memory and learning ability, and exhibited less stress-related behaviors when compared with mice that were not fed the dates.

Pregnancy and Labor Benefits. Dates have been studied for their possible ability to ease labor in pregnant women. Researchers found that eating dates during the last few weeks of pregnancy may promote cervical dilation and reduce the need for induced labor. Dates may also be helpful for reducing labor time.  In one study, 69 women who ate 6 dates a day for 4 weeks before their due dates were 20 percent more likely to go into labor naturally and experienced significantly shorter labor times than those who did not eat the dates. The results were confirmed by at least two other research studies. Researchers speculate that the benefits of dates were due to compounds in the fruit that bind to oxytocin receptors, mimicking the effects of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is what promotes labor contractions during childbirth.

Also, dates contain tannins, which have been shown to help promote labor contractions. Dates are also a good source of natural sugars and calories which are needed to maintain energy levels during labor and delivery.

Excellent Natural Sweetener. Dates are high in fructose, a type of natural sugar found in fruit. This gives dates their exceptional sweetness and caramel-like flavor. Dates make an excellent healthy substitute for processed white sugar because of their nutritional profile and antioxidant content. Date paste can be substituted for processed sugar on a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if a recipe calls for ½ cup of granulated sugar, you could substitute ½ cup of date paste with comparable results. See this website for instructions on making date paste as a sugar replacement:

Selecting Dates
Dates are usually found in packages in the dried food section of most grocery stores. These are usually the Deglet Noor variety. Dates may also be found in the produce section of some stores. Many times, those in the produce department are the Medjool variety. For fresh dates (usually Medjool dates), check that they are tender and not hard when squeezed. They should look plump despite their wrinkles. As dates age, they will develop crystals of sugar on their surfaces. So, if you see a whitish coating on the skin of the dates, it’s most likely crystalized sugar and not mold. There is no harm in this, but it does indicate that the dates are not as fresh as they could be. Expect your dates to be wrinkled, as this naturally happens as they dry.

Storing Dates
Storing dates in the refrigerator will help to extend their shelf life. Since the refrigerator is a very dry environment, be sure to put your dates in an airtight container to help prevent moisture loss. Vacuum sealing them is another option. Store your vacuum sealed container in the refrigerator.

Deglet Noor dates are considered to be dried dates. They may be stored in an airtight container in the pantry, away from direct sunlight, and any heat source. However, they may also be stored in the refrigerator for extended shelf life.

Medjool dates are considered to be “fresh” since they have a higher moisture content than Deglet Noor dates. It is highly recommended that they be stored in an airtight (or vacuum sealed) container in the refrigerator or freezer for extended life. It is important to note that if you opt to store your Medjool dates in the freezer, they should be used within six weeks after having been thawed.

Preparing Dates
Basically, there is no preparation needed to consume these delicious fruits. At most, the pits will need to be removed if you purchased dates that were not pitted. Simply pull or cut them open and pull out the pits. Then use your dates as needed.

Fresh vs Dried
In parts of the world where dates are grown, fresh dates have a short season of only a few weeks. They are yellow and almost round with a mild flavor, and are crisp like an apple. At this stage they are considered to be unripe and are known as khalal, or “yellow crunchy dates.” At this stage, their moisture content is around 80 percent. Khalal dates will not be found in most American grocery stores because they would spoil too fast when being shipped long distance. Dates are grown in some warm climate areas of the United States. Fresh dates may be available in grocery stores located close to the growers.

The next stage in the life of a date is the “rutab” stage. At this point, they are considered to be fully ripe and have a light brown color. They are soft and will melt in your mouth. Their caramel flavor is like nature’s candy. Like dates in the khalal stage, their shelf life is short. However, when kept frozen, they can last for up to two years. At this stage, their moisture content ranges from 50 to 70 percent. Dates at this stage are still labeled as “fresh.”

The next stage, tamr, is when dates are dry. This is the type of date we typically see in American grocery stores. These dates are usually picked at this point. Their skin is wrinkled and the color has turned dark brown. At this point, they have a prolonged shelf life of 18 to 24 months. They have a moisture content of 10 percent or less.

Medjool Dates:  Medjool dates are considered to be a “fresh” fruit since they are harvested and packaged with little processing. In that respect, they are “fresh.” However, since they are allowed to dry naturally on the date palm tree until they are in the tamr stage, they are actually a dried fruit (albeit naturally dried on the tree). They are not physically nor chemically treated in any way. So, you could say they are a fresh, dry fruit. They have a very sweet and rich, caramel-like flavor, and a soft, creamy yet chewy texture. They are truly nature’s candy.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates are considered to be “semi-dry” and are sometimes described as having a slight crunch, yet they are still pliable. Since Deglet Noor dates are drier and tougher than Medjool dates, they are the preferred variety used for making date sugar.

Flavor and Texture Comparison
Medjool Dates: Medjool dates have a rich, chewy and sticky texture, similar to that of caramel. They are very sweet because of their high fructose content. They almost melt in your mouth. Medjool dates have become known as the “king of dates” or the “crown jewel of dates” because of their excellent flavor, chewy yet soft consistency, large size, and availability.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates have a firm, fairly thick flesh. Their flavor is sweet and the texture is slightly pithy. They are not as sweet as Medjool dates.

Pit vs No Pit
Deglet Noor Dates: Most Deglet Noor dates come packaged with the pit having already been removed.

Medjool Dates: Medjool dates may be found both pitted and with the pits still intact. So, if you have a preference, it is important to read the label carefully to be sure you’re getting what you need at the moment.

What is the white stuff on dates?
The white coating you may see on dates is actually sugar that has made its way to the surface of the fruit and is crystalizing. It is perfectly fine to eat. If you prefer to remove the sugar coating, the date(s) can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and heated in the microwave for 5 seconds. The sugar will be absorbed back into the fruit.

Uses in Cooking
Medjool Dates: Many recipes, especially for smoothies, call for adding one or two Medjool dates. Their sticky consistency and sweet flavor makes them a great substitute for other high-sugar options, such as syrups, caramels, or caramelized sugars. Medjool dates are also exceptional when added to unbaked energy balls, since they will give a fudgy texture to them.

Deglet Noor Dates: Since Deglet Noor dates do not break down as easily as do the Medjool dates, they work well for toppings and adding texture to baked goods, such as fruit and nut bars. They are often used for making date sugar.

Cost Comparison
Medjool Dates: Medjool dates are usually more expensive than Deglet Noor dates. This is because the process of growing and harvesting Medjool dates is more labor-intensive than the Deglet Noor dates. Medjool dates are left to ripen on the tree, which takes longer and results in a richer tasting fruit. Also, since they are somewhat delicate, they are picked individually, rather than in clusters, making their harvest very labor-intensive. Hence, the cost of production is higher than Deglet Noor dates.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates are picked early and ripened thereafter. Clusters of fruit on branches may be harvested at once, or individual fruit may be harvested, depending on how they are to be marketed and their stage of growth. Either way, harvesting and processing Deglet Noor dates is less labor-intensive than Medjool dates, so they can be sold a cheaper price.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Dates
* For a simple snack, split a Medjool date and add a spoonful of your favorite nut butter. Enjoy!

* Split Medjool dates and stuff them with a small chunk of dark chocolate. Enjoy as it is, or place it under a broiler for 1 minute…just long enough for the chocolate to start to melt (but not completely). Enjoy!

* For some extra sweetness, add some chopped dates to your favorite fruit or vegetable salad.

* If you have a recipe that calls for dates and you don’t have enough, you could possibly substitute figs, raisins, cherries, cranberries, or dried apricots. Yes, the substitutes may change the flavor profile of your dish, but they would serve as potential substitutes.

* Since Medjool dates are soft, they can easily be blended into smoothies for added sweetness.

* If you need some added sweetness in a sandwich, chopped Medjool dates would work well since they are soft and almost melt in your mouth when chewed. Example: Add chopped dates to a nut butter sandwich instead of jelly or jam.

* Since Deglet Noor dates are drier and a little tougher than Medjool dates, they can easily be chopped without becoming mushy. This property makes them good additions to bakery items like breads, cakes, and cookies. After being baked, they still maintain some of their texture, giving a slight chewiness to the baked food.

* Very few people are allergic to dates. So, if you are one with a lot of food allergies, this should be one food you can eat. Check with your health care provider if you’re not sure.

* Deglet Noor dates are almost always sold as pitted dates. Medjool dates are sold pitted, but more often with the pit still inside. So, when using Medjool dates, be sure to remove the pit if it has not already been removed by the producer. You don’t want to be responsible for someone breaking a tooth on something you served!

* Medjool dates can be stuffed with both sweet or savory fillings. Try dates stuffed with marzipan, candied orange or lemon peel, tahini, goat or blue cheese, bacon, or nuts such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios.

* Chopped dates can add a special flavor and texture to pasta or rice dishes, or even savory meat dishes.

* The white coating you may see on dates is actually sugar that has made its way to the surface of the fruit and is crystalizing. It is perfectly fine to eat. If you prefer to remove the sugar coating, the date(s) can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and heated in the microwave for 5 seconds. The sugar will be absorbed back into the fruit.

* Try using dates to sweeten sauces, marinades, salad dressings, and even your morning oatmeal.

* For a simple treat or dessert, simply combine some orange slices and chopped dates in a bowl. Sprinkle with toasted almond slices and enjoy!

* Try a delicious chocolate date smoothie! Blend 2 dates with 1 cup milk of your choice. Blend until the dates are well broken up and incorporated into the milk. Add 1 frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tablespoon nut butter of choice. Add a pinch of cinnamon and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

* Since dates are so sticky, they make excellent binders in baked goods, like cookies, bars, and energy balls or bites.

* If your dates have become dry and hard, soak them for 5 minutes in hot water. They will soften up and can be used in a number of ways. The soaking water will be somewhat sweet, so it can be added to anything that calls for a little added liquid and sweetener.

* If you need a liquid sweetener, why not make date syrup? Finely chop 1 pound of Medjool dates. Simmer the chopped dates in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process until very smooth, for at least 1 minute. Strain in a nut milk bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Twist the cloth or bag to remove as much moisture as possible. Taste the liquid. If it is not sweet enough for your needs or if you want it a little thicker, place it in a sauce pan and simmer it over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until your desired results are achieved. Allow it to cool, and store extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Be sure to use it within a few weeks.

* If you need date paste for a recipe and don’t have any, you can make your own. Simply place some Medjool dates in a food processor and process until smooth. Store any extra date paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it within 2 weeks.

* Date sugar is now available in many grocery stores. It is simply finely ground up dried dates. If you’re looking for a natural sweetener to use in place of processed sugar, this may do the job. Note that it will impart a caramel-like flavor to foods. Also, since date sugar is just ground up dates, it still contains the fiber naturally found in the fruit. Therefore, it won’t all dissolve in liquids like granulated or brown sugar would. So, date sugar may add a bit of “grit” when used in hot liquids and some baked goods.

* Date sugar is not the same thing as “date palm sugar” or “palm sugar.” Date palm sugar and palm sugar are made in a similar way as cane sugar. The date palm tree sap is boiled down until the sap is dry and crystalized. It will not have the same nutritional value as date sugar.

* To chop dates without having a sticky, gooey mess on your knife, either spray the knife with nonstock cooking spray, or lightly coat the knife blade with just a little oil of choice. This can be done by moistening a paper towel with oil, then rubbing the knife blade with the oiled paper towel.

* If you want to remove the skin from dates, place them in hot water for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on how hard and dry they are. Allow them to soak until the dates start to soften. Remove them from the water and remove the softened skin and pit, if necessary. Peeled dates are excellent for making smooth date paste, a silky-smooth mousse, or any other application where soft, smooth dates would be needed.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Dates
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, parsley, salt, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Dates
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, flax seeds, nuts (in general), peanuts and peanut butter, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, poultry, prosciutto, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Cabbage (esp. red), carrots, onions (esp. caramelized), parsnips, squash (winter)

Fruits: Apples (dried and fresh) and apple juice, apricots, bananas, cherries, coconut, cranberries, lemon, orange (fresh, zest, and juice), pears and pear juice, pumpkin, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Amaranth, bran, oat flour, oats and oatmeal, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp. blue, cream, feta, Parmesan), cream, mascarpone, milk (dairy or non-dairy), yogurt

Other Foods: Bourbon, brandy, caramel, chocolate (white or dark), coffee, honey, maple syrup, miso, oil (esp. olive), rum, sugar (any type), toffee, vinegar (esp. balsamic)

Dates have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
North African cuisine, baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, scones), confections (i.e., truffles), desserts, granola, Middle Eastern cuisine, puddings, salad dressings, smoothies, soups, spreads

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Dates
Add dates to any of the following combinations…

Almond Milk/Almonds + Bananas [Optional: + Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla]
Apples + Cinnamon + Coconut + Nutmeg + Orange Zest + Pecans
Apples + Cinnamon + Oatmeal
Apricots + Ginger
Balsamic Vinegar + Blue Cheese
Bananas + Coconut [In Muesli]
Bananas + Oats
Chocolate + Walnuts
Coconut + Nuts
Coconut + Orange
Dark Chocolate
Lemon + Oatmeal
Nuts (i.e., Walnuts) + Oats + Sweetener (i.e., Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup)
Orange + Sesame Seeds
Parmesan Cheese + Walnuts or Almonds
Peanuts + Vanilla
Roasted Salted Almonds
Soft Cheese [As a Stuffing for Dates]
Tahini + Sea Salt [Drizzle Dates with Tahini and Sprinkle Lightly with Salt]

Recipe Links
Easy Homemade Larabars

No Cook Chocolate Vegan Fudge

Salted Date Caramel

Medjool Date Power Balls

Cranberry Pecan Bars

Cashew Coconut Bars

Raw Vegan Breakfast Ice Cream Cake

2-Layer No-Bake Peanut Butter Brownie Bars

Peanut Butter Eggs

Apple Pie Larabars

Banana Date Smoothie

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Citrus Dressing

Kumquat Tarts with Almond-Date Crust

Vegan Chocolate-Date Smoothie

How to Make Date Caramels

Creamy Orange-Date Smoothie

How to Make Date Syrup

How to Make Old Fashioned Date Bars

Chocolate Date-Nut Lollipops

Nutty Cashew Dates

Date-Nut Truffles

Date-Pecan Bars

Healthy No Bake Date Bar Recipe


Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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