Category Archives: Food

Dried Herbs and Spices

Using and Storing Dried Herbs and Spices

Using and Storing Dried Herbs and Spices

First, let’s distinguish the difference between herbs and spices. Herbs are the leafy part of plants. Spices are the dried seeds, bark, fruit, or ground roots of a plant. Such items are commonly used to add a wide array of flavors to foods of all sorts. Different cultures commonly use specific herbs or spices in their cuisine. Rarely will anyone use all the different herbs and spices that nature has to offer. Anyone who cooks at all will usually keep a specific supply of dried herbs and spices on hand so they are readily available whenever they are needed. We often keep them on the spice rack without thought of their age and if they should be replaced. We simply use them until they are gone, then get another bottle from the store when needed.

The problem with that is the fact that they do age over time and lose their flavor. If dampness got into the bottle, they may clump together and even spoil. This can happen if the bottles are opened and the contents are measured over a pot of boiling water or cooking food that is releasing steam. If we close that bottle up right away, the moisture is locked in and the herb or spice will soak it up, causing it to age, and possibly clump together or even spoil.

Most bottled herbs and spices will come with a “Best By” date stamped somewhere on the container, but we often don’t think to check the date to be sure our supply is still fresh. Or, maybe we grew the herb, dried it ourselves, and didn’t think to label the container with the harvest or packed date and also our own “Use By” date to ensure it is fresh.

So, it’s VERY easy to have an accumulation of outdated herbs and spices in our pantry and not give it any thought until we use them and discover they have not given any flavor to our food. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you ensure your supply of herbs and spices are still flavorful.

Tips for Testing Freshness

  • Look at the color of your dried herb or spice. Is it still vibrant and colorful, or is it dull and faded? Old herbs and spices tend to lose their color over time. If the color has faded, the herb is probably old and the flavor has most likely dwindled.
  • Crush or rub some between your fingers then smell the herb or spice. Does it smell strong like it should? If the aroma is weak or musty, it is likely too old and will not lend much flavor when used in cooking. If it still smells good, but just not as strong as it should, you can still use it, but use more than the recipe calls for. Add some, let it cook for a little while, then taste the food. If it needs more flavor, add more of what you have available. When this is the case, it’s a good idea to write it down on your grocery list so it can be replaced soon.
  • Taste a small amount of the herb or spice. If there is no flavor or tastes stale, it’s old and not worth using because it will not give any flavor to your food.
  • Have you found that the herb or spice is clumpy? Chances are that moisture has made its way into the container and the flavor may be reduced or “off” some. Taste it to test its flavor. If it still tastes like it should, it’s still OK to use in your food.
  • This may sound obvious, but it’s important to replace the cap securely after using a dried herb or spice. Loose caps can allow air and moisture to enter the container, aging the contents reducing their shelf life. Also, a loose cap can lead to accidental spillage of the contents, sometimes directly into the pot of cooking food! That’s not a good moment and one that can easily be avoided by being sure the cap is securely placed on the jar or container before returning it to the storage area.

General Storage Life of Herbs and Spices

While dried herbs and spices usually don’t spoil, they do lose their strength over time. Here is a general guideline for their shelf life.

  • Whole spices and seeds should keep for 3 to 4 years.
  • Ground spices should keep for 2 to 3 years.
  • Dried leafy herbs should keep well for 1 to 3 years.
  • Dried seasoning blends usually keep well for 1 to 2 years.

Despite the above information, it is generally recommended that we replace dried herbs and spices every 6 months to 1 year. This is reasonable since we don’t know how long the bottled seasonings were on the store shelf before we purchased them. Unless we check the “Best By” date on the bottle, we have no idea how old they are. Replacing them on a regular basis helps to ensure that we’re adding fresh and flavorful seasonings to our food.

Storage Tips for Keeping Dried Herbs and Spices

In general, there are five factors that cause dried herbs and spices to age and lose their flavor. Those factors are: air (more precisely, oxygen), moisture, heat, light, and time. Keeping your dried flavorings away from these five factors can work together to help preserve your seasonings. The following tips can help.

  • Keep them in a cool, dry, dark location, away from heat. Many people store herbs and spices that they reach for regularly in a spice rack or cabinet above the stove. This is not the best idea because heat from the stove and steam from cooking food will rise and warm that storage area which can cause the seasonings to age faster than they should. It’s best to store them away from the stove or oven so they are not subjected to the heat and moisture released in that area.
  • If you purchase items in bulk, add some to a small bottle for easy use from your spice cabinet. The rest may be stored in its original package. Add an oxygen absorber to the original bag if you have them, and squeeze out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. If possible, place that bag in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and store that in a cool, dry, dark location away from sunlight and heat. Alternatively, you could store extra dried herbs in a glass mason jar with a sealable lid. Place an oxygen absorber in the jar and remove as much air as possible, and store it appropriately. Refill your small bottle as needed, while keeping your bulk supply cool, dry, and away from sunlight and oxygen, if possible.
  • Some resources suggest keeping spices from the red pepper family refrigerated to extend their freshness and flavor. Such spices include paprika, cayenne, and chili powder.
  • When you measure dried herbs and spices, be sure to use a dry spoon! Using a wet or even damp spoon will carry moisture into the container, potentially shortening the shelf life of your herb or spice. Again, don’t measure near or over a source of steam, such as the pot of cooking food you’re about to season.
  • When you buy new herbs and spices, be sure to rotate your flavorings accordingly, using the oldest ones first. It is helpful to label the bottles and packaging with the purchase date to help remind you which items are the oldest. If you grew your own herbs, it’s helpful to label their container with a harvest or packaging date after they were dried. It’s also helpful to label your containers with a discard date, which would serve as a reminder when they should be replaced for the best tasting flavorings possible.
  • If you grow your own herbs, be sure they are completely dry before storing them. This is essential for keeping them properly for the longest possible shelf life, without inviting mold or spoilage along the way. Test them by rubbing a little between your fingers. They should be lightly crispy. Also, if they feel somewhat cool to the touch, they most likely still contain some moisture and should be dried longer.
  • If you grew your own herbs, it is helpful to know that storing the dried leaves whole helps to preserve their essential oils, which is what provides their aroma and flavor. The oils are held in small cells within the leaves. When the leaves are crushed, those small cells are broken open, exposing them to air. The air causes the essential oils to exit the leaf, causing the aroma and flavor to dwindle faster than it would if the leaf was stored whole. Waiting to crush the leaves until they are needed helps to preserve their valuable oils.

Tips for Using Herbs and Spices

  • If possible, try growing herbs that you use most often. Growing them outdoors during the warmer months is a wonderful way to keep your own supply of fresh herbs. During the colder, winter months, try growing a pot of your favorite herb(s) indoors. There’s nothing better than being able to snip off some freshly grown herbs that you grew yourself!
  • Remember that the flavor of dried herbs is stronger and more concentrated than that of fresh herbs. The general rule of thumb when using a dried herb is to use one-third the amount of fresh herb that is called for in a recipe. Example: If a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, use 1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes.
  • Whole spices keep their fragrance and flavor much longer than ground spices. If possible, get a spice grinder and shop for whole spices. Grind them as needed for the best flavor possible.
  • Add dried herbs early in the cooking process. This allows them time to rehydrate and release their flavors into the food over time.
  • Add fresh herbs late in the cooking process. This will preserve their delicate flavors and add a little extra color to the dish. If appropriate, use a little more of your fresh herb as an attractive garnish for your dish.
  • When using spices, remember that they can add a powerful punch of flavor. It’s best to add a little at a time, allow it to cook some, then taste. Add more if needed. It’s much easier to add more than to mask the flavor of too much of a specific spice in a food.
  • Toasting spices before adding them to a dish can help to enhance their flavor. Simply put your dried spices into a dry skillet on medium heat. Stir them until they become aromatic. Be careful not to burn them in the process since that could ruin the flavor! When they are aromatic, use them in your dish.

With a little thoughtfulness and planning, we can enjoy the many flavors of herbs and spices readily available to us, either through commercial markets or from our own gardens. We just need to remember to store them properly and rotate or renew our supply when needed.

 

Resources

https://tipnut.com/herbs-spices-tips/

https://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=201

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/10-herb-and-spice-storage-tips/

https://theherbalacademy.com/6-tips-for-storing-dried-herbs/

https://kitchencounterpodcast.com/seven-tips-herbs-spices/

https://www.consumerreports.org/home-garden/gardening-landscaping/your-guide-to-growing-drying-and-storing-herbs-and-spices-a4049277287/

https://www.gettystewart.com/6-tips-for-how-to-store-dried-herbs-for-long-lasting-flavor/

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/the-right-way-to-store-fresh-and-dried-herbs-expert-tips-1783908

https://www.thespicehouse.com/blogs/news/are-your-spices-still-fresh?gclid=Cj0KCQjwhY-aBhCUARIsALNIC070p4H8RuD7DMkE_N9LmR89ELZjuHPf91UqirUQP8QctV1HJY-VzKMaAsPAEALw_wcB

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.

Barley Grass Powder

Barley Grass 101 – The Basics

Barley Grass 101 – The Basics

Barley Grass Powder vs Barley Grass Juice Powder
Some popular smoothie recipes call for adding barley grass juice powder to the mixture. Yet, when we shop for this item, we may also see barley grass powder. This can lead to confusion and some people may accidentally buy the wrong item. So, what’s the difference?

Both items are made from barley grass, which is the leaves of the young barley plant that has not yet started to produce seeds. However, the two powders are not the same thing.

Barley grass powder is made from the leaves of the young barley plant that have been dehydrated then ground into a fine powder. The powder contains all of the components of the barley grass (except the water), including the nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber. The powder is a medium green color, that is not as dark as barley grass juice powder. Barley grass powder can be added to foods and beverages, as desired. Barley grass has strong nutritional and medicinal properties and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1800 years. It is available in powder, capsule, or extract form.

Barley grass juice powder is also made from the leaves of the young barley plant. The leaves are first juiced, then the juice is dried at a low temperature to protect its nutrients. The result is a rich, dark green powder that contains concentrated nutrients that are found in barley grass. The juice powder does not contain the cellulose fiber, since it was removed in the pulp during the juicing process. Just like barley grass powder, barley grass juice powder may also be added to foods and beverages, as desired.

Does Barley Grass Contain Gluten?

While the seed of the plant (barley grain) does contain gluten, neither barley grass powder nor barley grass juice powder should contain gluten. As long as the grass (or leaves) were harvested when the plant was young, before seeds began to form, the grass should be gluten-free. Sometimes the leaves may be harvested late, after the seeds have started to form. In this case, there might be gluten in them. Also, some manufacturers do not have processing facilities that are dedicated to only gluten-free foods. In this case, there is the chance that there could be some gluten contamination (from other foods) in the powder. To be on the safe side, if you are sensitive to gluten, be sure to shop for barley grass products that are certified as being gluten-free.

Nutritional and Health Benefits

Young barley grass is said to be the most nutritious of all the green grasses. The array of nutrients found in barley grass powder and barley grass juice powder will be the same (except for the insoluble fiber which will not be found in barley grass juice powder), since they are derived from the same plant. However, the nutrients and phytochemicals will be much more concentrated and at a higher level in the barley grass juice powder than in the barley grass powder. Since the indigestible cellulose (insoluble fiber) has been removed in the barley grass juice powder, the nutrients will be easier to absorb in the digestive tract.

Barley grass (whether consumed fresh, powered, in capsules, or in juice powder) is rich in Vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-complex vitamins, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. It also contains high quality protein (with many different amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids) that the body can readily utilize. It also contains chlorophyll and an array of phytonutrients and antioxidants that make barley grass a highly nutritious food, no matter how it is consumed.

Heavy Metal and Toxin Remover. According to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, barley grass juice powder, draws out heavy metals, such as mercury, from the liver and other vital organs in the body. Barley grass juice powder is one of the key ingredients in his Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie, and it works in tandem with the other key ingredients of the smoothie to bind onto heavy metals and remove them from the body. Doing so can help to reduce the symptoms and effects of serious health conditions, such as memory and concentration issues, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and many others. Barley grass juice powder replaces the toxins it removes with vital nutrients. Furthermore, it blocks pathogens, such as the Epstein-Barr, shingles, and other viruses from feeding on their preferred foods, such as toxic heavy metals. This, in turn, means that any conditions caused by these pathogens can be helped by consuming barley grass juice powder (and Anthony William’s Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie) on a regular basis.

Digestive Health and Weight Management. Fresh barley grass and barley grass powder (not the juice powder) contain a lot of fiber—all the fiber found naturally in the plant. Fiber moves slowly through the digestive tract, making us feel full longer. This helps to reduce the appetite and curb cravings. These factors can help in weight management, helping us to avoid overeating or over-snacking when we really don’t need the extra food. In a study published in the June 2019 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, mice were fed a high-fat diet to induce obesity. Barley grass juice was then given to the mice for 60 days at the rate of 200 and 400 mg/kg of body weight. Various tests were administered to the mice at regular intervals and again at the end of the study. Researchers found that barley grass juice showed potent antioxidant activity, accompanied by a significant decrease in body weight and BMI, and improved lipid profiles and liver function markers. They concluded that barley grass juice can be an effective agent in the management of obesity.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Improved Blood Cholesterol Levels. As mentioned in the above paragraph, blood lipid profiles have been shown to improve with regular intake of barley grass juice. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and inflammation in the body. All factors combined help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Other Benefits. Barley grass contains a variety of important enzymes (fatty acid oxidase, cytochrome oxidase, peroxidase, catalase and transhydrogenase) that can help in the breakdown of fats in the body. Barley grass is also very high in chlorophyll, which helps deter harmful bacteria helping to prevent disease in the body. It also helps to balance the pH of the body, promoting good health and improved immunity. Barley grass juice powder has been shown to help increase energy, aid digestion, relieve constipation, and improve sleep and the health of skin, hair, and nails.

Barley grass juice powder has also been found to be helpful in healing arthritis, migraine headaches, asthma, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, cancer, and diabetes. It also aids in the circulation of the lymphatic system. With all the health benefits of barley grass, it could be a valuable health tonic for everyone to include in their diet on a regular basis.

Ways to Include Barley Grass into Your Diet

* Grow your own barley grass and juice it on a regular basis.

* If you grow your own barley grass, the leaves can be added to a salad or any meal as a leafy green vegetable.

* Take barley grass capsules if juicing or consuming the powder are not good options for you.

* Add barley grass powder (or juice powder) to water, coconut water, juices, smoothies, or other beverages and drink it on a regular basis.

* Try adding barley grass powder (or juice powder) to pancakes, baked goods (such as quick breads), yogurt, and/or oatmeal. (See note below)

* Add it to a salad dressing.

* Mix it into soups. (See note below)

* Add it to hummus.

Note: To get the optimal benefit from your fresh barley grass, barley grass powder, or barley grass juice powder, use it in an unheated application. Heat treatment may reduce the nutrient content of this powerful food.

Summary

In summary, barley grass is an extremely nutritious, health-promoting food. If you want to improve or guard your health, including it in your diet on a regular basis may prove to be a valuable endeavor over time. If you have a serious health issue, it may be wise to consult with your personal healthcare provider before embarking on something new, just to be cautious. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy it any way you can work it into your day. Your body will thank you!

Resources

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-barley-grass

https://mountainroseherbs.com/barley-grass-powder

https://www.healthygoods.com/live-superfoods-barley-grass-juice-powder.html

https://www.beyondceliac.org/gluten-free-diet/is-it-gluten-free/barley/

https://www.craftbeering.com/barley-grass-juice-powder-health-benefits/

https://vimergy.com/products/barleygrass-juice?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=17695514078&utm_term=&utm_content=609133290932&gclid=Cj0KCQjwy5maBhDdARIsAMxrkw3FcHjg9VsKFqkiWPgTAWFwk-YbY8eDEE7J3DmTm9E1wFRQZTDx148aArxvEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Barley_grass_juice_powder%2C_barley_by_HEALTH_MATTERS_AMERICA_INC._1064117_nutritional_value.html

https://www.medicalmedium.com/blog/barley-grass-juice-powder-heavy-metal-and-toxin-remover

https://www.medicalmedium.com/blog/barley-grass-shake

https://www.medicalmedium.com/blog/barleygrass

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30951844/

https://teaveli.com/blogs/get-inspired/barley-grass-juice-powder-vs-barley-grass-powder

https://www.drugs.com/npp/barley-grass.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5904770/

https://www.verywellfit.com/barley-grass-88679

https://elissagoodman.com/recipes/5-easy-ways-to-add-barley-grass-juice-powder-into-your-diet/

https://yurielkaim.com/11-barley-grass-benefits/

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.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates 101 – The Basics

Pomegranates 101 – The Basics

About Pomegranates
Pomegranates grow on small trees belonging to the Lythraceae family of plants. The scientific name for pomegranates is Punica granatum. The tree is believed to be native to Persia and the sub-Himalayan foothills of Northern India. Today, pomegranates are grown throughout the Mediterranean region, the Indian subcontinent, Central and Southeast Asia, tropical Africa, and parts of the United States, with California and Arizona being the top producers in the country. Pomegranates are usually available between October and January.

Pomegranates are used in both sweet and savory dishes. They are very popular in Israeli, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, and African cuisines. Since the seeds can be somewhat challenging to extract, many people turn to using pomegranate juice, which is easy to use and readily available year-round.

Pomegranates have become a very popular, nutritionally rich fruit known for their unique flavor and health-promoting characteristics. The fruits are spherical and bright red to orange-yellow in color, depending on the variety. They are usually 3 to 4 inches in diameter and are covered by a thick, leathery rind. Inside, pomegranates have thin, bitter, spongy membranes that divide the seed sacs (called arils) into separate compartments. The arils are small juice-filled sacs that contain tiny edible seeds. The juice is sweet and deep pink in color. The arils are what make pomegranates such a delicious, sought-after fruit. The inner pith and rind of pomegranates are not edible.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Besides being delicious, pomegranates have a variety of nutrients to boast about. They are high in fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, copper, folate, Vitamin B6, and thiamin (Vitamin B1). They even contain a little protein. One-half cup of pomegranate arils has about 72 calories.

Very importantly, pomegranates are high in antioxidants and other phytonutrients that have strong health-promoting properties. They have often been classified as a “super food.” This tag is due to the abundant antioxidants in pomegranates. In fact, pomegranate juice has three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea.

Antioxidants. Pomegranates are high in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds that protect us from free radical damage. Free radicals are always found in the body. Having too many of them can be harmful and contributes to many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and macular degeneration.

Also, chronic inflammation has been shown to increase our risk for such debilitating diseases, as mentioned above. Antioxidants, such as those found in pomegranates, have been shown to help regulate inflammation and reduce chronic inflammation. Including a lot of vegetables and fruits, such as pomegranates, in the diet as much as possible is the best way to boost our antioxidant intake and thereby guard our health.

Anticancer Benefits. Some test-tube studies have found the compounds in pomegranate fruit can help to kill cancer cells, or slow their spread in the body. Also, human studies have found that pomegranates may help to slow cancer cell growth. The fruit has shown anti-tumor effects in cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, skin, and colon. Older human studies found that men who drank pomegranate juice had reduced risk of death from prostate cancer. Animal studies have shown that pomegranate helps to slow tumor growth in early stages of liver cancer.

Heart Protection. There is scientific evidence that fruits, such as pomegranates, that are high in polyphenolic compounds may benefit heart health. Test-tube studies found that pomegranate extract may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the arteries. This helps to lower blood pressure and fight atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries that leads to heart attacks and strokes.

In a human trial, subjects with heart disease drank 1 cup of pomegranate juice daily for 5 days. Their frequency and severity of chest pain was significantly reduced, and biomarkers in the blood suggested there was a protective effect on heart health.

Studies have suggested that drinking pomegranate juice every day can help to lower blood pressure by reducing LDL (low-density-lipoprotein) cholesterol and improving blood flow through the arteries. In summary, all of the antioxidants found in pomegranate work together to promote heart health.

Urinary Tract Health. Research studies have found that pomegranate extract may help to reduce the formation of kidney stones. They believe the benefit was largely attributed to the antioxidants in pomegranates. Researchers believe the benefit was due to antioxidants inhibiting the mechanism by which stones are formed in the body.

Furthermore, animal studies found that pomegranate extract helps regulate the concentration of oxalates, calcium, and phosphates in the blood. These are common components of kidney stones.

Antimicrobial Benefits. Pomegranates may also help to fight harmful microorganisms such as some types of bacteria, fungi, and yeast. Researchers found that oral health may be protected by pomegranate, by reducing unwanted oral microbes that can cause bad breath and tooth decay when overgrown.

A test-tube study found that pomegranate had antibacterial effects against Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria found in moist environments that can cause severe illness when ingested.

Brain Health. Ellagitannins, a type of antioxidant found in pomegranates, has been found to offer protective benefits against brain conditions that are brought on by inflammation and oxidative stress. Some studies found that ellagitannins help to protect us from developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by reducing oxidative damage, and prolonging the survival of brain cells.

Some research also suggests that pomegranates can boost short-term memory in middle-aged and older adults who are experiencing mild memory issues. Scientists believe the antioxidants in the fruit help to reduce free radical damage, including damage to brain cells, which contributes to overall health and support of brain function.

Digestive Health. Compounds in pomegranates have been found to increase numbers of healthy gut microbes and reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Also, the pomegranate arils are high in fiber which serves as a prebiotic, helping to feed our gut microbiome.

Furthermore, the high fiber content of pomegranate arils can help to ward off constipation. It may also help to reduce the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

How to Select Pomegranates
When shopping for a pomegranate, choose one with smooth skin, bright color, and that feels firm and heavy for its size. The heavier it is, the more juice it contains. Avoid any that are spotted, or with cracks, mold, bruises, or wrinkles, since they will be older and not the best quality. Overmature fruits may be bitter and undesirable.

How to Store Pomegranates
Pomegranates will last the longest when kept in the refrigerator. They can last up to a week at room temperature, whereas they can last 2 to 3 weeks (or longer, depending on how old they are) in the refrigerator. When storing them at room temperature, keep pomegranates in a cool, dry, dark place, away from sunlight.

How to Prepare a Pomegranate
There is more than one way to cut into a pomegranate. Once you try these methods, you’ll learn which one is right for you. Whichever method you choose, BE SURE to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stains on. Pomegranate juice is known for causing stains on fabrics, cutting boards, countertops, etc. So, be aware of this possibility and prepare for it in advance so you don’t ruin some article of clothing that is important to you!

Method 1. Rinse your pomegranate before cutting into it. Dry it with a paper towel or soft cloth. Using a sharp knife, score it lightly into two halves around the middle, and pull it apart. Gently remove the clusters of aril sacs while removing the white membrane, pith, and rind. Some people will turn over the half, cut side down, while holding it in one hand, and beat the rind with a wooden spoon or utensil with the other hand. This tapping action releases the arils from the fruit, so be sure to hold it over a bowl as you do this. Continue tapping until all the arils are released.

Method 2. This is the preferred method of cutting pomegranates by many people because it helps to reduce the chances of getting stained by the juice. Since the arils often splash liquid as they are cut, the staining can happen very quickly and easily. This method helps to avoid that problem.

Cut a small section off the top and bottom of the pomegranate. With a sharp knife, lightly score the vertical ridges on the outside rind of the fruit. Then break open the pomegranate while holding it in a large bowl of water. Loosen the sections and free the seeds from their membranes with your fingers. Discard the membranes (which often float), then drain off the seeds (which usually sink to the bottom of the bowl).  Drain the seeds well and gently pat them dry with a paper towel, if desired. Store your pomegranate arils in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Use the arils within 5 days.

How to Freeze Pomegranates
Pomegranate arils can easily be frozen. First, remove the arils from the whole fruit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then spread the arils in a single layer on the baking sheet. Put them in the freezer for up to 2 hours. Transfer the frozen arils to an air-tight freezer container or bag and return them to the freezer. Be sure to date the container and use them within one year for best quality.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Pomegranates
* Sprinkle pomegranate arils on a green salad. Additional ingredients that would blend well include toasted pecans, pear slices, orange segments, and/or avocado slices. Drizzle it with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

* Add pomegranate arils to your morning oatmeal.

* Top your favorite yogurt with pomegranate arils.

* Make a parfait with yogurt, granola, pomegranate arils, and mixed berries.

* Make a fruit salad with orange and grapefruit sections, pomegranate arils, sliced banana, diced apple, and some chopped mint.

* Top your favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt with pomegranate arils.

* Top your favorite roasted poultry with pomegranate arils.

* Stir pomegranate arils into cooked a wild rice or rice mixture. For added flavor and richness, add in some chopped chives, parsley, and toasted chopped nuts.

* Make a cranberry-pomegranate relish or salad to serve during the holidays.

* Garnish sautéed baby greens with diced shallots, pecans, and pomegranate arils.

* Top butternut-apple soup with pomegranate arils.

* Get creative and include pomegranate juice into soups, jellies, sorbets, sauces, and even cake, muffin, and quick bread batters, baked apples, and other desserts.

* Top a quinoa tabouleh with pomegranate arils.

* Add pomegranate arils to your favorite smoothie.

* Try a spinach pomegranate salad! Place spinach leaves in a large bowl. Top with sliced red onion, toasted walnut pieces, crumbled feta cheese, your favorite sprouts (i.e., broccoli or alfalfa), and pomegranate arils. Drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing and enjoy!

* Try a ginger-orange pomegranate relish! Mix together 1-1/2 cups of pomegranate arils, 1 tablespoon orange zest, ½ tablespoon grated fresh ginger, and 1 tablespoon honey. Add a tablespoon or two of orange juice if more liquid is needed. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two to allow flavors to blend, then enjoy!

* Make a pomegranate smoothie! Briefly blend 1 cup pomegranate arils (from 1 pomegranate) to break them up. Then add to the blender jar 1 cup frozen pineapple, 1 banana, 1 cup ice, 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, and ½ tablespoon maple syrup. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Pomegranates
Allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard powder and seeds, parsley, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Pomegranates
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, lamb, legumes (in general), lentils (esp. red), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, tahini, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, Chile peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, greens (bitter and salad), jicama, onions, radicchio, root vegetables, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, avocado, bananas, cherries (fresh and dried), coconut, cranberries (fresh and dried), figs, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, melons, olives, oranges and orange juice, peaches, pears, quinces, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bulgur, couscous, grains (in general), quinoa, rice, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Cheese (i.e., cream, goat), yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, chocolate, honey, maple syrup, oil (i.e., olive), sugar, vinegar (i.e., balsamic, sherry, red/white wine)

Pomegranates have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Curries, desserts (i.e., fruit cobblers and crisps, ices, sorbets), dips, drinks, glazes, granita, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, Middle Eastern cuisines, pilafs, salad dressings, salads (i.e., cucumber, fruit, green), sauces, smoothies, sorbets, soups (esp. autumn), stews (i.e., lentil), Turkish cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Pomegranates
Add pomegranates to any of the following combinations…

Apples + Butternut Squash + Walnuts
Arugula + Endive
Balsamic Vinegar + Pine Nuts + Spinach
Bell Peppers + Chiles + Cumin + Lemon + Walnuts
Cucumbers + Garlic + Mint
Goat Cheese + Orange + Walnuts
Grapefruit + Salad Greens + Red Onions
Lemon + Sugar
Orange + Grapefruit

Recipe Links
Assorted Pomegranate Recipes Worth Checking Out https://crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/pomegranates/recipes.shtml

26 Fresh Pomegranate Recipes https://insanelygoodrecipes.com/pomegranate-recipes/

13 Tasty Pomegranate Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/pomegranate-recipes/

21 Pomegranate Recipes We Know You’ll Love https://minnetonkaorchards.com/pomegranate-recipes/

Easy Pomegranate Smoothie https://www.acouplecooks.com/pomegranate-smoothie/

Pomegranate Winter Salsa https://www.goodlifeeats.com/pomegranate-salsa-recipe-winter-salsa/

Pomegranate Molasses https://www.marthastewart.com/1165416/homemade-pomegranate-molasses

Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Bites https://thishealthytable.com/blog/pomegranate-dark-chocolate-bites/

Pomegranate Orange Muffins https://selfproclaimedfoodie.com/pomegranate-orange-muffins/

Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish https://www.marthastewart.com/331741/cranberry-pomegranate-relish

20 Pomegranate Recipes You Need ASAP https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/pomegranate-recipes/

21 Wonderful Pomegranate Recipes https://www.eatthis.com/pomegranate-recipes/

24 Pomegranate Recipes You’ll Be Making All Fall https://www.marthastewart.com/274743/pomegranate-recipes

Our 23 Best Pomegranate Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/fruits/tropical-fruit/pomegranate/pomegranate

41 Yummy Pomegranate Recipes You Need to Try Today https://food.allwomenstalk.com/yummy-pomegranate-recipes-you-need-to-try-today/


Resources
https://www.fourwindsgrowers.com/blogs/four-winds-growing/5-reasons-to-grow-a-pomegranate-tree

https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pomegranate.html

https://afoodcentriclife.com/pomegranate-seeds-and-a-dozen-things-to-do-with-them/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/449590-can-you-eat-a-pomegranate-seed/

https://crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/pomegranates/recipes.shtml

https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/beyond-juice-how-to-cook-with-pomegranate-recipes-gallery

https://www.acouplecooks.com/pomegranate-smoothie/

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/733514-907432/oz-wt1/6-1

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169134/nutrients

https://www.verywellfit.com/pomegranate-calories-carbs-and-nutrition-facts-4169513

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070908001613.htm

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-benefits-of-pomegranate#3.-May-help-keep-inflammation-at-bay

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a19970494/pomegranate-nutrition/

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.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard 101 – The Basics

Swiss Chard 101 – The Basics

About Swiss Chard
Whether a plant is labeled as “chard” or “Swiss chard,” it is all actually a variety of Swiss chard. “Chard” is often used just to simplify the name. Despite its name, the plant is not native to Switzerland, but actually to the Mediterranean region.

The first use of Swiss chard as a food is believed to date back about 2,500 years ago. The plant was enjoyed so much that it was carried around the world. Today, it is eaten on all continents and included in many different cuisines. Although it is not one of the common “greens” found in most grocery stores in the United States, it may be found in some stores that carry a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

Swiss chard belongs to the Chenopodioideae family of plants. It is closely related to beets and spinach. There are many types of chard, with most having deep green leaves and firm, somewhat crispy stalks that are often used similarly to celery. The leaf size can vary among the different varieties of chard. Also, the stalks and veins in the leaves may range in colors from light green, beige, yellow, orange, pink, and red, to purple. The different colors result from different combinations of phytonutrients in the plants. Whichever variety you choose, you can count on chard having outstanding nutritional content and benefits. For those who are familiar with beet greens, Swiss chard is very similar in structure.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Swiss chard has an exceptionally high nutrient content. According to the website, The World’s Healthiest Foods (https://whfoods.com), Swiss chard falls third in line among their highest rated foods, following spinach (which is second) and broccoli (which is first). This alone says a lot for Swiss chard!

Regarding nutrients, Swiss chard is high in the B-vitamins, including Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, pantothenic acid, folate, and choline. It also contains a lot of Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and even some protein. One cup of cooked Swiss chard has a mere 35 calories.

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits. Swiss chard contains a wide variety of antioxidants including polyphenols, Vitamins C and E, and carotenoids. Such compounds are well-known for helping to protect us from free radical damage that can lead to many chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even cataracts. It has been clearly established that eating a diet rich in antioxidants helps to reduce our risk of developing such conditions.

Swiss chard also contains a wide variety of flavonoid antioxidants, both relatively common and some not commonly found in other leafy greens. Many of these compounds have been widely studied for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancer benefits. For instance, chard varieties with stem colors other than green are rich in numerous betalains, types of flavonoids that have been found to inhibit a variety of pro-inflammatory enzymes along with harmful free radical molecules. However, don’t let this discourage you from enjoying the green-stem varieties of chard, because they too contain some betalains and are rich in their own set of beneficial phytonutrients.

Rich in Vitamin K. Swiss chard is very rich in Vitamin K, with 1 cup of cook chard providing 477% of the recommended daily intake of this important vitamin. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and other cellular functions. It is also critical for bone health. Research has shown that a low Vitamin K intake is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Conversely, people who eat a lot of Vitamin K-rich foods have a greater bone mineral density and lower rates of osteoporosis. So, the moral to the story is… Eat your greens for better bone health!

One note of caution…If you take blood thinning medication, such as warfarin, you are probably already aware that your intake of leafy green vegetables should be kept relatively stable. Suddenly increasing or decreasing your intake can alter the effectiveness of your medication. If you want to increase your intake of Vitamin K-rich foods, such as Swiss chard, you should first visit with your healthcare provider and be monitored in case your medication dosage needs to be adjusted.

Heart Health. We all know that eating a diet that includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is good for the heart. It is been shown to reduce the risk factors that can lead to heart disease, such as inflammation, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Swiss chard is an excellent source of potassium and magnesium, both of which have been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Furthermore, the fiber in Swiss chard may lower cholesterol levels by binding with bile in the intestinal tract, removing extra cholesterol before it is absorbed back into the bloodstream. Research has long established that people who eat a lot of leafy green vegetables, such as Swiss chard, have a reduced risk of heart disease. One study with over 173,000 participants found that for every serving of leafy green vegetables during the day, subjects had an 11 percent reduction in heart disease risk! Those with 1-1/2 servings per day of leafy greens had a 17 percent less likely risk of developing heart disease when compared with those having the lowest intake of such vegetables. All the more reason to eat your greens!

Lower Insulin Resistance and Blood Sugar. Swiss chard is packed with nutrients that may lower blood sugar levels, including fiber. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream after a meal, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Fiber also helps to reduce insulin resistance, allowing blood glucose to enter cells to provide critical energy for the cells to function properly. Since insulin resistance is associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, it is important to consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, such as Swiss chard, which are known to help promote proper insulin activity.

Furthermore, Swiss chard is high in antioxidants which have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and other diabetes-related complications. A review of 23 studies found that those with the highest intake of green leafy vegetables had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake.

How to Select Swiss Chard
Look for chard with stems that are firm and brightly colored. The leaves should be glossy and smooth, without any brown or yellow spots.

How to Store Swiss Chard
Store chard (UNWASHED) wrapped in slightly damp paper towels within an open plastic bag. Place that in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator and use it within three days, for best quality. If it is very fresh, it may keep well for up to seven days.

How to Prepare Swiss Chard
Preparing Swiss chard is simple. Just rinse it well with cool water and it’s ready to be used. The leaves and stems may be enjoyed raw, although most people prefer to eat them cooked.

The leaves are tender whereas the stems are a bit more tough. If you plan to use only the tender leaves, remove them from the stems and reserve the stems to be used later. If you want to enjoy both the stems and leaves in a cooked dish, add them toward the end of cooking time. To balance the tenderness between the leaves and stems of your chard, add the stems to your cooking first and allow them to cook a few minutes before adding the leaves.

How to Freeze Swiss Chard
Wash your chard and separate the stems from the leaves. Chop both the leaves and stems into bite-size pieces. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the stems to the water and immediately set a timer for 1 minute. When the timer goes off, immediately add the prepared leaves to the same pot. Immediately set the timer for 1 minute. (This means that the stalks will have boiled for 2 minutes, and the leaves for 1 minute.) When the timer goes off, drain the blanched chard and transfer it to a bowl of ice water. Allow the chard to chill for at least 2 minutes. Drain well and transfer the chard to a freezer container or bag. Label with the date and place it in the freezer. For best quality, use your frozen chard within 6 months.

To use your frozen chard, it may be added to any cooked dish while still frozen. If preferred, it may be thawed overnight in the refrigerator, thawed in a bowl of water, or placed in a colander and thawed under running water. Then, cook it as desired.

Some people prefer to freeze vegetables without blanching them first. Although this can be done with some foods, it is recommended that Swiss chard be blanched before being frozen. This stops the enzyme activity that will cause the chard to deteriorate while being stored in the freezer.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Swiss Chard
* If you’ve never eaten Swiss chard, it is often compared with spinach. It has an earthy, somewhat bitter flavor when eaten raw, and a slightly sweet, milder flavor when cooked.

* Add Swiss chard to soups and stews during the last 15 minutes or so of cooking. It will add color, fiber, and lots of nutritional value to your meal.

* Add some chopped Swiss chard to your favorite pasta dish. It can be tossed with hot, freshly cooked pasta. Or, if you prefer it cooked a little more, add it to the pot of cooking pasta during the last few minutes. Drain it along with the pasta for an easy, nutritional addition to your meal.

* Add Swiss chard in layers of your next lasagna.

* Try adding young Swiss chard leaves to a tossed green salad. The leaves will taste similar to spinach. The stalks will be similar to a tender celery.

* Add some Swiss chard leaves to sandwiches and wraps along with lettuce and other greens.

* The leaves of Swiss chard are tender and can be cooked quickly, like spinach. They may be briefly boiled, blanched, braised, sautéed, steamed or stir-fried.

* Try adding some chopped Swiss chard, along with fresh spinach, to pizza.

* Like spinach, when you cook Swiss chard, what appears to be a large amount when raw will cook down to a relatively little amount. Bear that in mind when preparing Swiss chard. If needed, you could combine it with another green leafy vegetable to help increase the amount of the cooked greens.

* Add some chopped Swiss chard to your next stir-fry.

* Add chopped Swiss chard to your favorite omelet.

* Try adding some Swiss chard on your favorite pizza.

* Add some Swiss chard to your favorite frittata.

* If you make smoothies, try adding some Swiss chard to your favorite smoothie in addition to (or instead of) spinach.

* Swiss chard can be baked into chips the same way you would make kale chips. Start with rinsed and dried leaves. Rub the leaves with a little olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and spread them out on a dry baking sheet. Bake them at 300°F for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. Be careful not to burn them. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

* Make simple sautéed Swiss chard by sautéing chopped chard in a small amount of olive oil or vegetable broth along with some garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add a few tablespoons of liquid at a time, if needed. When tender, drizzle them with a little lemon juice or vinegar of choice and enjoy!

* If you have stalks of mature Swiss chard, the stalks will be a bit tough. They can be sliced and used like celery in many applications.

* It’s important to note that Swiss chard is exceptionally high in Vitamin K. If you take a blood thinner, such as warfarin, you should have been advised to keep a steady intake of Vitamin K-rich foods. Suddenly increasing or decreasing your intake of such foods may alter the effectiveness of your medication. Consult with your healthcare provider if you want to increase your consumption of leafy green vegetables, so your prothrombin time can be monitored. Your medication dosages may need to be adjusted.

*  If you have a recipe that calls for chard and you don’t have any or don’t have enough, the following may be used as substitutes: turnip greens, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, or kale. Note that the leaves of some greens, such as kale, are tougher than those of chard, so they may take a little longer to cook to make them tender.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Swiss Chard
Basil, capers, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, lovage, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, paprika (smoked and sweet), parsley, pepper, saffron, salt, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Swiss Chard
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, duck, eggs, fish, hazelnuts, lentils, pine nuts, pork, sausage, seeds (in general, esp., pumpkin, sesame), tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers, carrots, chiles, eggplant, fennel, greens (all types), kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, shallots, sorrel, tomatoes and tomato sauce, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, coconut, currants, lemons (juice and zest), limes (juice and zest), olives, oranges (juice and zest), raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Bread crumbs, bulgur, millet, noodles, pasta, polenta, quinoa, rice, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Butter, cheese (esp. blue, cheddar, cottage, feta, goat, Gruyère, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, ricotta), cream, mascarpone, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mustard (prepared), oil (esp. olive, peanut, sesame), soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinegar (esp. apple cider, balsamic, red wine), Worcestershire sauce

Swiss chard has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Crepes, curries, egg dishes (i.e., fried, frittatas, omelets, poached, quiche), French cuisine, gratins, pasta dishes (i.e., cannelloni, farfalle, gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli, tortellini), risottos, salads, soups (i.e., chard, lentil, minestrone, potato), stews, stir-fries, stuffed chard

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Swiss Chard
Add Swiss chard to any of the following combinations…

Acorn Squash + Garlic + Gruyère
Balsamic Vinegar + Garlic + Olive Oil + Red Onions
Basil + Eggs + Onions
Cheese (i.e., Parmesan, Ricotta) + Onions
Chickpeas + Eggs + Lemon [in soups]
Chickpeas + Fennel
Chickpeas + Pasta
Chiles + Garlic + Olive Oil + Vinegar
Chiles + Tomatoes
Currants + Pine Nuts + Rice [stuffed chard]
Dill + Leeks
Garlic + Ginger + Soy Sauce
Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil
Lemon + Mustard
Lemon + Olive Oil + Parmesan Cheese
Lemon + Tahini
Orange + Smoked Paprika
Parmesan Cheese + Polenta + Portobello Mushrooms
Pasta + Ricotta + Tomato Sauce
Pasta + White Beans
Peanuts + Pineapple
Pine Nuts + Raisins
Pine Nuts + Tahini + Yogurt

Recipe Links
White Bean Chard Soup https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/white-beanchard-soup-recipe-1973486

Sautéed Swiss Chard https://themom100.com/recipe/sauteed-swiss-chard/

Pickled Swiss Chard Stems https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pickled-swiss-chard-stems

Swiss Chard and Navy Bean Soup https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Recipes/Salads-and-soups/Swiss-chard-and-navy-bean-soup.aspx

Easy Pasta with Winter Greens https://www.simplyrecipes.com/easy-pasta-with-winter-greens-recipe-5207178

No-Bake Lasagna https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/no_bake_lasagna/

Eggs Nested in Sautéed Chard and Mushrooms https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/eggs_nested_in_sauteed_chard_and_mushrooms/

Spicy Vegetable Tart https://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=201

3-Minute “Quick Boiled” Swiss Chard https://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=100

Garlicky Swiss Chard https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11324-garlicky-swiss-chard

Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard https://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/simple-sauteed-swiss-chard/

29 Swiss Chard Recipes for Never-Boring Greens https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/swiss-chard-recipes-gallery

10 Tasty Swiss Chard Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/swiss-chard-recipes/

20 Swiss Chard Recipes That’ll Make It Your New Favorite Green https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/swiss-chard-recipes/

Resources
https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/recipes/2016/07/what-do-i-do-with-swiss-chard

https://foxy.com/blog/how-to-use-swiss-chard

https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-And-Food/Vegetables-and-Fruit/All-About-Swiss-Chard.aspx

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/swiss-chard#blood-sugar

https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/swiss_chard/

https://www.bonappetit.com/columns/in-season-now/article/chard-in-season-in-may

https://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=16

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/

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.

Arugula

Arugula 101 – The Basics

Arugula 101 – The Basics

About Arugula
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria) is a member of the Brassica (Cruciferous) family of plants. It is cousin to kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and others. Arugula may also be known as rocket, rucola, and Italian cress, among other names. Technically, arugula is an herb, although we usually refer of it as a vegetable. The young leaves of arugula are often harvested since the larger, mature leaves can be very strong tasting. The flavor of arugula is often described as peppery, spicy, or mustardy. It may be used raw or very lightly cooked.

Arugula is native to the Mediterranean, where it has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for thousands of years. Today, arugula is enjoyed around the world as a peppery salad green. Arugula is especially favored in Europe and North America, and is used as a salad green, leafy green vegetable, and an herb in a wide array of culinary applications.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Arugula is a nutrient-dense food that is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Also, it is low in calories, sugar, carbohydrates, and fat, making it a very healthful leafy green to include in your meals whenever you can. It is high in calcium, potassium, folate, fiber, iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A.

Antioxidant Protection and Cancer. Arugula is full of antioxidants that can help to protect us from harmful free radical cellular damage. Among the antioxidants in arugula are glucosinolates. These compounds have strong anti-cancer benefits by preventing the initiation of cancer through blocking specific carcinogen-activating enzymes. These substances, which give arugula its strong flavor, may help to protect us against breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers. They also help to fight inflammation.

Bone Health. Arugula is high in Vitamin K and calcium. These two nutrients work together to help keep our bones strong, preventing osteoporosis. Vitamin K helps to improve how the body absorbs, utilizes, and excretes calcium. One cup of arugula provides one-fifth of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, which is substantial.

Diabetes. Leafy green vegetables have been shown to be especially helpful in reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In a study reported in the January 2017 issue of Pharmaceutical Biology, researchers found that extracts of arugula stimulated the update of glucose by insulin-responsive tissue.

Also, arugula and other vegetables in the Brassica plant family are good sources of fiber, which helps to regulate blood glucose and may reduce insulin resistance.

Heart Health. Vegetables, especially those in the Brassica plant family (including arugula) have protective effects on the heart. In a report published in the February 2017 issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology researchers found that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables, salads, and green leafy vegetables are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In another study reported in the 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers reported that consuming a diet high in cruciferous vegetables could reduce atherosclerosis in older women. Atherosclerosis is where plaque builds up in the arteries, which increases the risk of cardiovascular problems. Researchers speculate that the protective effects of vegetables in the Brassica (cruciferous) plant family are due to their high concentration of healthful compounds, including polyphenols and organosulfur compounds.

Liver Protection. Arugula is rich in chlorophyll. This plant compound has been found to help prevent liver and DNA damage from aflatoxins. Aflatoxins, which are toxins known to raise the risk for liver cancer, are made by some fungi that are found in crops such as corn, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts. Eating a lot of green vegetables, including arugula, helps to fight the potential effects of aflatoxin. To get the most chlorophyll from arugula, eat it raw.

How to Select Arugula
Look for brightly colored, dry, fresh-looking arugula. It should have no signs of wilting or yellow leaves.

How to Store Arugula
Arugula is very perishable. Store it in the refrigerator, unwashed, and tightly wrapped in a plastic bag or tub that it came in. It is helpful to line the bag or container with a clean cloth or dry paper towels so they can absorb any moisture released by the leaves during storage. Excess moisture in the container can cause the arugula leaves to rot. Use your arugula as soon as possible. Look for the “Best By” date on the package and be sure to use it by then. When bought freshly harvested, arugula may keep for up to ten days in the refrigerator.

How to Prepare Arugula
When you are ready to use your arugula, give it a quick rinse and spin it dry in a salad spinner. Use it as desired.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Arugula
* Try making a pesto with arugula instead of basil. Or, if you have both on hand, try using a blend of both arugula and basil.

* Add some arugula along with spinach when you make lasagna.

* Toss some arugula with roasted vegetables right after they come out of the oven. Roasted squash, beets, potatoes, and carrots would work well together.

* Toss in a little arugula with cooked rice, wild rice, farro, or couscous. Add the arugula after the grains have cooked, just so it becomes lightly wilted.

* Try arugula instead of lettuce (or a lettuce/arugula mixture) in a sandwich, wrap, or on a burger.

* Add a little arugula to a soup or stew after it’s finished cooking.

* Add arugula with other greens to a tossed salad. Since arugula has a spicy flavor, the milder lettuce will help to balance the flavors. A sweet balsamic vinaigrette will complement the flavor of arugula with its peppery flavor.

* If you have a recipe that calls for arugula and you don’t have any or enough, you could substitute the following: watercress, Belgian endive, dandelion greens, escarole, radicchio (for salads), or baby spinach leaves. Note that spinach lacks the peppery flavor of arugula, so add pepper to your recipe to compensate.

* One ounce of arugula is about 1 cup.

* Add some arugula to pasta, noodle, potato, grain, and bean salads.

* Include arugula into warm pasta dishes, grain pilafs, and risotto.

* Add arugula to a stir-fry at the last minute.

* Add arugula to avocado toast.

* If the flavor of arugula is too strong for you, try lightly cooking it, which will make it more mellow. Lightly sautéing arugula with a little garlic, then finishing it with a drizzle of lemon juice will mellow the strong, pungent flavor and offer another health-promoting leafy green to your diet.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Arugula
Basil, chervil, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, fennel seeds, garlic, ginger, horseradish, mint, mustard, salt

Foods That Go Well with Arugula
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (i.e., black, cannellini, fava, green, white), beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, hazelnuts, lentils, nuts (in general), peas, pecans, pine nuts, pork, poultry (in general), pumpkin seeds, seafood, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, chiles, cucumbers, daikon radishes, eggplant, endive, fennel, greens (greens milder in flavor than arugula, and salad greens), jicama, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radicchio, scallions, shallots, sprouts (i.e., sunflower), spinach, squash (summer and winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocado, berries (in general), dates, figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, lime, melon (esp. honeydew), olives, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranate seeds, raisins, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, corn, couscous, croutons, farro, grains (in general), millet, pasta, quinoa, rice, wild rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., blue, cheddar, feta, goat, Grana Padano, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, ricotta)

Other Foods: Honey, maple syrup, mustard (prepared), oil (esp. canola, hazelnut, nut, olive, walnut), pesto, vinegar (esp. apple cider, balsamic, raspberry, red wine, sherry, white balsamic, white wine)

Arugula has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Gratins, Italian cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine, pasta dishes, pestos, pizza, risotto, salads, sandwiches (i.e., grilled cheese), soups (i.e., arugula, leek, potato), stir-fries

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Arugula
Add arugula to any of the following combinations…

Apples + Cheddar Cheese + Mustard + Walnuts
Apples + Lemon Juice + Maple Syrup + Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar + Parmesan Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar + Parmesan Cheese + Red Onions + Tomatoes [in a risotto]
Beets + Feta Cheese + Garlic
Cheese + Fruit + Nuts
Cheese (i.e., Parmesan) + Garlic + Olive Oil + Pasta + Pine Nuts
Chickpeas + Red Onions + Spinach
Cucumbers + Feta Cheese + Quinoa + Red Onions + Tahini + Tomatoes
Fennel + Figs
Fennel + Grapefruit [in a salad]
Fennel + Hazelnuts + Orange + Radicchio
Fennel + Lemon + Pasta
Feta Cheese + Figs
Garlic + Pesto + Portobello Mushrooms + White Beans
Goat Cheese + Honey + Lemon
Lemon + Pecorino Cheese + Summer Squash
Mint + Pecorino Cheese + Pine Nuts
Mozzarella Cheese + Tomatoes
Olives + Oranges + Parmesan Cheese
Pears + Rosemary

Recipe Links
31 Arugula Recipes So You Can Eat It All the Time https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/get-spicy-19-awesome-ways-eat-arugula

Grilled Broccoli and Arugula Salad https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/grilled-broccoli-and-arugula-salad

Arugula, Apple, and Parsnip with Buttermilk Dressing https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/arugula-apple-and-parsnip-with-buttermilk-dressing

Arugula, Grape, and Almond Salad with Saba Vinaigrette https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/arugula-grape-and-almond-salad-with-saba-vinaigrette

Roasted Peach and Arugula Salad https://www.purewow.com/recipes/roasted-peach-arugula-salad

35 Arugula Recipes to Add to Your Arsenal While It’s in Season https://www.purewow.com/food/arugula-recipes

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Arugula and Pumpkin Seeds https://theveganatlas.com/roasted-butternut-squash-salad-with-arugula-pumpkin-seeds/

Pasta with Asparagus, Arugula, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes https://theveganatlas.com/pasta-with-asparagus-arugula-sun-dried-tomatoes/

Spinach or Arugula Scrambled Tofu https://theveganatlas.com/spinach-or-arugula-scrambled-tofu/

Pasta with Leafy Greens Pesto https://theveganatlas.com/pasta-with-leafy-greens-pesto/

Lemony Spinach (or Arugula) with Fresh Herbs https://theveganatlas.com/lemony-spinach-rice-with-fresh-herbs/

Avocado and Tahini Dip with Baby Greens https://theveganatlas.com/avocado-tahini-and-spinach-or-baby-greens-dip/

Mixed Greens Salad with Avocado and Blueberries https://theveganatlas.com/mixed-greens-salad-with-avocado-and-blueberries/

Tri-Color Potato and Arugula Salad https://theveganatlas.com/tri-color-potato-and-arugula-salad/

Wild Arugula Salad with Garlic Croutons, Shaved Parmesan, and Lemon https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/wild-arugula-salad-with-garlic-croutons-shaved-parmesan-and-lemon

Sunflower Seed Pesto (with Arugula) https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sunflower-seed-pesto

Cherry, Arugula, and Quinoa Salad https://nesfp.org/world-peas-food-hub/world-peas-csa/produce-recipes/cherry-arugula-and-quinoa-salad


Resources
https://www.thekitchn.com/tip-keep-a-bag-of-arugula-on-hand-to-liven-things-up-176862

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

https://theveganatlas.com/a-guide-to-arugula-ideas-for-using-tasty-recipes/

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/arugula#comparison

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/448855-575980/100g-100g/0.4-0.4

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9511848/

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/benefits-arugula

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282769#nutrition

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130626/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5837313/

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/jaha.117.008391

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/health-benefits-of-arugula

https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/sirtfood-diet/

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/slideshow/how-to-buy-store-and-cook-with-arugula-in-season-in-july

https://experiencelife.lifetime.life/article/how-to-buy-and-store-arugula/

https://www.naturespride.eu/en/range/herbs/herbs/arugula?product_property=arugula

https://www.britannica.com/plant/arugula

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Arugula_301.php

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.

Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans 101 – The Basics

Kidney Beans 101 – The Basics

About Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are a common legume native to Central America and Mexico. They are part of a group called “common beans” that were cultivated as early as 8,000 years ago. Common beans were carried by migrating tribes, as they served as important foods for the Indians of the Americas. Kidney beans (and other common beans) slowly made their way around the world since they were important foods for migrating people, and were easy to transport and grow in new locations. Today, kidney beans are among the most commonly eaten foods around the world, and they are used in a variety of both savory dishes and sweet desserts.

Kidney beans were named for their shape and color, which resembles a human kidney. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, including white, cream, black, red, purple, spotted, striped, and mottled.

It is important to note that kidney beans (especially the red variety) must be fully cooked before they are eaten. They contain a toxic compound (phytohemagglutinin) that can be dangerous to eat when the beans are consumed raw or improperly cooked. Cooking destroys this compound, making the beans safe and healthy to consume. Red kidney beans have higher levels of this compound than other varieties of kidney beans.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Kidney beans are rich in a variety of nutrients. They are high in so many nutrients, providing good percentages of their recommended daily values that I have included the DV’s in the following list:

One cup of cooked kidney beans provides folate (58% DV), copper (48% DV), fiber (47% DV), manganese (37% DV), protein (31% DV), iron (29% DV), thiamin (24% DV), phosphorus (20% DV), magnesium (19% DV), omega 3’s (19% AI…adequate intake), zinc (17% DV), potassium (15% DV), Vitamin B6 (12% DV), Vitamin K (12% DV), choline (10% DV), riboflavin (8% DV), pantothenic acid (8% DV), niacin (6% DV), calcium (4% DV), selenium (4% DV), and very little total fat (1% DV). One cup of cooked kidney beans provides 225 calories.

They are also high in isoflavones and anthocyanins, both important antioxidants. Some people may be concerned because kidney beans also contain phytic acid and lectins, which can inhibit the absorption of key nutrients. But when the beans are properly soaked, sprouted, fermented and/or cooked, these compounds are eliminated or inactivated. So, as long as they are prepared correctly, kidney beans should be considered to be health-promoting legumes to include in your diet.

Fiber. As mentioned earlier, kidney beans are especially high in fiber, with 1 cup of cooked beans providing almost half the daily recommended amount of fiber intake. This includes a substantial amount of resistant starch. This type of carbohydrate resists digestion in our gastrointestinal tract, then feeds our gut microbiome along the way, acting as a prebiotic in the colon. Resistant starch has also been found to improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce appetite.

Blood Sugar Control. With their being high in protein, fiber, and slow-release carbohydrates, kidney beans are effective at maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. They have a low glycemic index, indicating that blood sugar does not have a large spike after the bean-containing meal. This can help to reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, and may also help to improve blood sugar control in those who already have type 2 diabetes. Even if you are not a diabetic, including kidney beans in meals may improve your blood sugar balance, protect your overall health, and reduce your risk for many chronic diseases.

Reduced Risk for Cancer. Observational studies have linked legume intake, including beans, with a reduced risk of colon cancer, the most common type of cancer worldwide. This has been supported by test tube and animal studies. Beans contain a variety of nutrients and fiber that have anticancer effects. When their resistant starch is eaten by intestinal bacteria, they release short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which may improve colon health and lower the risk of colon cancer.

Research also indicates that kidney beans help to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. This fact alone, makes pancreatic cancer one to ward off any way we can, if at all possible. In a study published in the November 2017 issue of Nutrition Reviews, researchers found there was a positive relationship between the standard Western diet that is rich in animal products and processed foods, and low in fruits and vegetables. They also found an inverse relationship between diets that were high in fruits, vegetables, vitamins and fiber. This means the less animal products and processed foods you consume, and the more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and unprocessed whole grains you eat, the less likely will be your chances of developing pancreatic cancer. They concluded that the better-quality diet consisting mostly of whole plant foods resulted in a far lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Furthermore, research suggests that compounds in kidney beans are able to induce apoptosis (the normal death of a cell) in cancerous cells, increasing the death rate of those cells.

Boosts Heart Health. Kidney beans are a healthy food to consume for the sake of your heart and cardiovascular system. First, kidney beans have the ability to lower LDL (low-density-lipoprotein) cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases. By helping to balance cholesterol levels, kidney beans can help to lower your chances of developing atherosclerosis, which could lead to a heart attack.

Kidney beans can also help to lower your blood pressure, which would, in turn, help to reduce your risk of heart disease. One cup of kidney beans provides a substantial amount of health-promoting potassium, a critical vasodilator that can boost heart health. Dilating blood vessels reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system by relaxing blood vessels and arteries. This reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and coronary heart disease, in general.

The high level of iron in kidney beans aids in the production of red blood cells. This helps to boost circulation and increase energy levels while delivering oxygen to all areas of the body. This, in turn, helps to boost the health of the cardiovascular system, thereby reducing your risk for heart disease.

Bone Mineral Density. The long list of minerals provided by kidney beans plays a role in bone mineral density. Increasing the minerals in our diet helps to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis, keeping our bones strong as we age.

Helps Protect Cognitive Abilities. There are many forms of neurodegenerative diseases. Thiamin (Vitamin B1) has been well-studied for its ability to help prevent memory loss, which is associated with cognitive decline. A one cup serving of cooked kidney beans provides 24% of our recommended daily intake of this important vitamin. This makes kidney beans a true ally for those wanting to protect and conserve their cognitive ability as they age.

Helps Prevent Birth Defects. A one cup serving of kidney beans provides over half the recommended daily intake of folate. This B-vitamin is critical in helping to prevent birth defects, most notably neural tube defects. It is critical for mothers-to-be to be certain they are eating enough folate-rich foods before they become pregnant because neural tube defects often occur before a woman knows she is pregnant. So, if you are planning on having children in the near future, including kidney beans in your diet on a regular basis can help to prevent these devastating birth defects.

Anti-Oxidative Properties. One cup of cooked kidney beans provides over one-third of the recommended daily intake of manganese. This important mineral helps in the body’s antioxidant defense mechanism, fighting harmful free radical molecules. Manganese is a part of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. SOD converts the superoxide molecule (one of the most harmful free radicals in the body) into smaller molecules that won’t damage human cells.

This makes kidney beans an important food in helping to protect us from numerous conditions such as cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and vision loss due to macular degeneration.

How to Select Kidney Beans
Dried. Most grocery stores carry dried light red or dark red kidney beans. White kidney beans (also known as cannellini beans) are carried by many stores, but will usually be labeled as cannellini beans rather than white kidney beans. When choosing dried kidney beans, opt for bags with few broken or chipped beans, beans that look off-colored, or debris in the bag (such as stones). Be sure to look at the “Best By” date and get a bag with the farthest out date you can find if you plan to store them for a while. If you intend to use them right away, an extended “Best By” date won’t be an important issue. However, the further out the date, the fresher will be the beans.

Canned. Canned beans of any type are an important pantry staple to always have on-hand. They can help when you need to make a meal in a hurry and can’t take the time to soak beans in advance. Also, in case of a serious emergency like a power outage, canned beans can simply be opened and eaten as they are. They may not be the most appetizing food straight out of a can, but they can help feed a hungry family during a serious emergency. When buying canned kidney beans, always check the “Best By” date on the can. It’s helpful to choose cans with a date well into the future so you can store the can until it is needed without concern.

Also, canned beans come in salted and no salt added varieties. If you are monitoring your salt intake for any reason, you may want to choose no salt varieties so you are in better control of your sodium intake. Canned kidney beans may also be found in organic options. These are processed without added firming or coloring agents. So, it is important to read the ingredients labels so you can be sure that you are buying what you need.

How to Store Kidney Beans
Dried: Dried beans are shelf-stable and should last for years when stored in a cool, dry, dark place, away from insects. A pantry or dark cupboard often works well for storage of dried beans. The thin plastic bags that they come in are not the best for long-term storage. Beans will have a better quality and will keep longer when stored in sealed air-tight containers, preferably with an oxygen absorber enclosed. Mason jars or mylar storage bags, with an oxygen absorber inside, and as much air removed before being sealed will keep your dried beans in the best quality for the longest time. In general, the older dried beans get, the longer they take to soften when cooked. Storing them properly will help retain their quality, especially when being stored long-term. It is helpful to mark your storage container with the “Best By” date that was on the original packaging of the beans. That can help you to rotate your inventory appropriately, and use items before they get too old.

Canned: Canned beans should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place, and away from a heat source, such as a cupboard or pantry. When reaching for a can of beans (or anything, for that matter), check the “Best By” date and choose the can with the shortest lifespan left. This will help to rotate your supply so no cans get left unused when their “Best By” date arrives. One way to help rotate your supply would be to place all new canned items you buy in the back of the lineup of cans in the pantry. Move the existing cans forward, so the newer ones are always toward the back and older ones are always moving forward as they are being used. When you need a can of something, take the one in the front of the line and it should be your oldest can of that item available.

If you have opened a can of kidney beans and cannot use all of them, the extra beans should be placed in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator. Use them within four days. If that is not possible, store them in an airtight container or bag in the freezer for up to six months. Do not store food in opened cans in the refrigerator. This may give them an undesirable metallic flavor.

How to Prepare Dried Kidney Beans
Dried kidney beans should be prepared like any other dried bean. They should be soaked before being cooked. This makes them more tender, reduces cooking time, and also reduces their gas-producing tendencies when eaten. Preparing dried kidney beans is not hard, but it does take some time.

Rinse the Beans. First, place your dried beans in your cooking pot. Sort through them to remove any stones or other debris that may have been in the bag, and any beans that don’t look good. Then rinse the beans and drain the water. Next, cover the beans with fresh water by at least two inches. There are two methods of soaking to choose from at this point…

Overnight Soaking Method. Cover the pot and allow the beans to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Then, drain the water and cover the beans with fresh water by at least two inches. Cook your beans (see directions below).

Quick Soaking Method. Cover your rinsed and drained beans in your cooking pot with fresh water. Place the lid on the pot and bring them to a boil. Boil them for two minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow them to rest in the covered pot for two hours. Drain the water, then fill the pot with fresh water. Cook your beans (see directions below).

Cooking Your Soaked Beans. Place your pot filled with fresh water and soaked beans on the stove. Cover the pot and bring them to a boil, then lower the heat. Tilt the lid on the pot and allow the beans to simmer until they are soft. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending upon how old the beans are and how long they soaked. Stir them occasionally. Be sure they remain submerged. If needed, add more hot water to the pot. Do NOT add salt or acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice to the water at first. This will cause the beans to be tough and will make them hard to cook. If salted or flavored water is desired, add flavorings when they are close to being done. When they are soft and finished cooking, drain the water and use them as desired. Soaked dried beans may also be cooked in a pressure cooker or slow cooker.

How to Freeze Extra Prepared Kidney Beans
If you cooked more beans than you can use at one time, simply cool down the beans to be preserved by covering them with cold water. Stir them to cool them down. If needed, drain the water and refill the pot with more cold water. Stir them again, and when the water remains cool, the beans have cooled enough to be frozen. Drain them well. Then you can simply transfer them to a freezer container or bag, label them with the date, and store them in the freezer. To prevent the beans from freezing into one big lump, you could spread out the cooked, cooled, and drained beans in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Place that in the freezer until the beans are frozen, then transfer them to a freezer container or bag. Label and date the container. For best quality, use them within six months.

Dried vs Canned Kidney Beans
Fresh kidney beans were not included in the following comparison since they are not usually stocked in grocery stores, and would be hard to find in farmers markets. About the only way one would encounter fresh kidney beans would be if you grew them yourself or belonged to a farm co-op that grew them for local distribution. Therefore, the following comparison was limited to what most people would find in their local grocery stores.

Dried Kidney Beans: Dried kidney beans are stocked in most grocery stores. They are inexpensive, considering the amount you have when they are cooked. They will last for years in the pantry when kept dry and away from insects and light. However, their nutritional quality will start to dwindle after being stored for 2 to 3 years, so it is best to rotate your supply as you use them, for best flavor and nutritional value. If you notice insects or any unusual odor in them when they are opened, discard them and opt for another bag. For optimal storage, transfer them from their original plastic bag into a glass mason jar or mylar food bag. Place an oxygen absorber inside the container, remove as much air as possible, and seal your container. Your dried beans will keep longer and maintain their quality better than when stored for prolonged times in the thin plastic bags that they are usually sold in.

If you want to make meals easier when including dried and cooked kidney beans, cook and freeze them in advance. Soak and cook one or two pounds at a time (see directions earlier in this article). When they are finished cooking, rinse them with cold water to chill them down, drain them well, then package them in freezer bags or containers and store them in the freezer. They will be ready to use when you need them, and can be included in cooked or uncooked dishes, such as salads. To thaw them quickly, simply place the amount needed in a colander and run warm water over them. They will thaw quickly, and can be used as desired.

Canned: Canned kidney beans (or any canned bean you prefer) are worth having in your pantry at all times. They are relatively inexpensive and are an easy protein source that can be included in just about any meal. If your supper plans include beans and you haven’t had time to cook dried beans, then canned beans are a must go-to for easy and quick meal preparation. Also, in case of an emergency where you lose your power, in a pinch, you could simply open a can and eat. It may not be your favorite way to eat kidney beans, but it’s food!

Nutritional Comparison:  The nutritional comparison tool available online at https://MyFoodData.com was used to compare one cup of canned and cooked dried kidney beans, both cooked without fat. Overall, both types were very close in nutrient value when comparing calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. However, there was one noteworthy difference between the two. The cooked dried kidney beans had a much higher folate content (of 232.2 mcg, or 58% of the Daily Value), whereas the canned kidney beans had a much lower folate content (of 70.2 mcg, or 18% of the Daily Value). If you are monitoring your folate intake or are trying to boost your folate intake, you might either opt for preparing dried kidney beans, or including a folate-rich food with your meal, such as leafy green vegetables.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Kidney Beans
* When using canned beans of any type, unless the recipe calls for the liquid in the cans, rinse and drain the beans first. The thick liquid in the can of beans is extra starchy and often high in sodium. These extra ingredients may or may not be a welcome addition to your intended use for the beans.

* Canned beans of any type are often processed with added salt. Unless you bought salt-free beans, be sure to cut back on added salt in a recipe when using beans that were canned with salt. Otherwise, you may find your finished recipe to be too salty. When in doubt, taste first, add a little salt at a time as needed, then taste again. It’s much easier to add salt than remove it.

* On average, dried beans triple in size when cooked. If a recipe calls for using dried beans and you don’t want to bother soaking and cooking them, and want to simply use canned beans, remember the conversion rate between the two. Substitute two (15 ounce) cans of beans for every 1 cup of uncooked dried beans in a recipe.

* If you’ve opened a can of beans and didn’t use them all, don’t store them in the open can in the refrigerator. They may pick up a metallic flavor when stored that way. It’s better to transfer them to a food storage container (glass or plastic) with a lid, and store that in the refrigerator. Make a point of using the leftover beans within four days.

* Kidney beans are very high in fiber that helps to improve digestion. But, if you’re not used to eating beans on a regular basis, a sudden increase in bean fiber can have undesirable effects, such as excess gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Rather than suddenly increasing your bean intake from little or none to a lot, it’s better to give your body and microbiome time to adjust. Slowly increase your intake of beans over time. Don’t rush it!

* If you have a recipe that calls for kidney beans and you don’t have any or don’t have enough, small red beans, pink beans, pinto beans, or cranberry beans may be used as a substitute.

* Canned beans of any type are ready to use and don’t need further cooking. Just rinse and drain them and they are ready to be added to your recipe, dish, or salad.

* You can easily add some extra flavor to your beans by cooking them with aromatics like onion, garlic, and herbs like rosemary, thyme, parsley, and/or a bay leaf.

* Make a quick soup by combining vegetable broth, a can of rinsed and drained kidney beans, a bunch of your favorite greens and some other veggies, as desired. Add some onion, a little parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. To help thicken the soup and make it heartier, add some cubed potatoes or rice to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for about an hour to allow the flavors to blend and enjoy!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Kidney Beans
Anise seeds, basil, bay leaf, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, oregano, paprika, parsley, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Kidney Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general, i.e., green, garbanzo, yellow wax beans), beef, black-eyed peas, peanuts, peas, pumpkin seeds, sausage, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery, chiles, chives, fennel, greens (all types), onions, parsnips, potatoes, scallions, spinach, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini

Fruits: Avocados, lemons, limes, oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, corn, cornbread, kamut, pasta, quinoa, rice, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., cheddar, Parmesan), sour cream

Other Foods: Chili pepper sauce, oil (i.e., olive, sunflower), soy sauce, stock, vinegar (i.e., red wine, sherry, white wine)

Kidney beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Cajun cuisine, Caribbean cuisine, casseroles, Central American cuisines, chili, Creole cuisine, dips (i.e., bean), gumbo (esp. vegetarian), Jamaican cuisine, meatballs (vegetarian), Mexican cuisine, red beans and rice, refried beans, rice and beans, salads (i.e., bean, green), sauces (i.e., pasta), soups (i.e., minestrone, pasta, vegetable), South American cuisines, spreads, stews (i.e., vegetable), veggie burgers

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Kidney Beans
Add kidney beans to any of the following combinations…

Chipotle Peppers + Garlic + Rice + Tomatoes
Oregano + Sage + Thyme
Rice Cooked in Coconut Milk with Chili Peppers

Recipe Links
15 Ways to Cook with Kidney Beans https://www.thespruceeats.com/many-ways-to-use-kidney-beans-4842273

Kidney Bean Burger with Mushrooms https://www.thespruceeats.com/kidney-bean-burger-with-mushrooms-recipe-3378616

Vegetarian and Vegan Dirty Rice https://www.thespruceeats.com/vegetarian-dirty-rice-cajun-style-recipe-3376415

30 Simple Kidney Bean Recipes https://insanelygoodrecipes.com/kidney-bean-recipes/

Jamaican Rice and Peas (Coconut Rice and Beans) https://www.curiouscuisiniere.com/caribbean-red-beans-and-rice/

Pasta e Fagioli Soup https://www.cookingclassy.com/olive-garden-pasta-e-fagioli-soup-copycat-recipe/

Kidney Bean Vegetable Soup https://www.food.com/recipe/kidney-bean-vegetable-soup-234605

One Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac https://cozypeachkitchen.com/vegetarian-chili-mac/#recipe

Slow Cooked Bean Medley https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/slow-cooked-bean-medley/

Pronto Vegetarian Peppers https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pronto-vegetarian-peppers/

Easy Three Bean Chili Recipe (Vegan) https://simple-veganista.com/texas-three-bean-chili-sweet-chia/#tasty-recipes-8964-jump-target

Vegan Minestrone Soup https://simple-veganista.com/vegan-minestrone-soup/#tasty-recipes-25748-jump-target

Vegetable Quinoa Soup https://simple-veganista.com/vegetable-quinoa-soup/


Resources
https://www.thekitchn.com/5-mistakes-to-avoid-when-cooking-with-canned-beans-227383

https://www.doesitgobad.com/do-dried-beans-go-bad/

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/784204-784201/wt1-wt1/1-1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/kidney-beans

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/175194/wt1/1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/resistant-starch-101

https://www.healthifyme.com/blog/kidney-beans/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5914454/

https://pancreatic.org/pancreatic-cancer/pancreatic-cancer-facts/

https://www.organicfacts.net/kidney-beans.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.1c01286

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/manganese-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/healthy-tips/are-red-kidney-beans-toxic

https://beaninstitute.com/beans-around-the-world/

https://www.camelliabrand.com/about-the-bean/about-red-kidney-beans/

file:///C:/Users/Judi/AppData/Local/Temp/molecules-26-00498.pdf

https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/the-real-reason-not-to-store-an-open-can-of-food-in-the-fridge-article

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.

Cantaloupe

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 https://thishealthytable.com/blog/the-simplest-salad-tomatoes-cantaloupe/

Summer Cantaloupe and Tomato Salad https://minimalistbaker.com/summer-tomato-cantaloupe-salad/#wprm-recipe-container-35273

20 Cantaloupe Recipes for Refreshing Meals https://insanelygoodrecipes.com/cantaloupe-recipes/

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca https://drivemehungry.com/cantaloupe-agua-fresca/#recipe

Cantaloupe Cucumber Salad https://thishealthytable.com/blog/cantaloupe-cucumber-salad/

Melon Fruit Salad with Honey, Lime, and Mint Dressing https://www.cookingclassy.com/melon-pineapple-fruit-salad-honey-lime-mint-dressing/#jump-to-recipe

Cantaloupe Salsa https://www.wickedspatula.com/cantaloupe-salsa/

Spiced Cantaloupe Tea Loaf https://www.jocooks.com/recipes/spiced-cantaloupe-tea-loaf/

Cantaloupe Recipes https://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/cantaloupe

23 Cantaloupe Recipes Ripe for Summer Melon Season https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/sweet-and-savory-cantaloupe-recipes-gallery

6 Amazing Cantaloupe Recipes for a Sweet Summer https://wholefully.com/cantaloupe-recipes/

7 Fresh, New California Cantaloupe Recipes https://californiacantaloupes.com/7-fresh-new-california-cantaloupe-recipes/

Honey-Melon Salad with Basil https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/honey-melon-salad-with-basil/

Grilled Cantaloupe with Almonds and Feta https://www.savoryonline.com/recipes/167220/grilled-cantaloupe-with-almonds-and-feta

30 Cantaloupe Recipes That Are Ripe for Melon Season https://www.purewow.com/food/cantaloupe-recipes

Cantaloupe-Mint Sorbet https://www.purewow.com/recipes/cantaloupe-mint-sorbet

Cantaloupe and Mozzarella Caprese Salad https://www.foodiecrush.com/cantaloupe-and-mozzarella-caprese-salad/#recipe

Roasted Cantaloupe Salad https://brooklynfarmgirl.com/roasted-cantaloupe-salad/

Savory Cantaloupe Salad https://www.honeyandbirch.com/savory-cantaloupe-salad/

The Joy Kitchen’s Roasted Cantaloupe https://food52.com/recipes/23737-the-joy-kitchen-s-roasted-cantaloupe?clickref=1101liVDYdqC&utm_source=partnerize&utm_medium=affiliate

Cantaloupe Salad with Basil, Fresh Mozzarella, and Onions https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-cantaloupe-salad-with-basil-fresh-mozarella-onions-174384

Resources
https://drivemehungry.com/cantaloupe-agua-fresca/#recipe

https://wholefully.com/cantaloupe-recipes/

https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-cantaloupe/

https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=17#descr

https://www.thespruceeats.com/picking-ripe-cantaloupe-2356029

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/cantaloupe-health-benefits

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/169092/wt1/1

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-cantaloupe

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-of-cantaloupe#water

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 https://oursaltykitchen.com/grilled-portobello-mushrooms/#recipe

Veggie-Stuffed Portobellos https://www.cookingclarified.com/2017/03/how-to-season-to-taste/#zrdn-recipe-container

Sweet and Spicy Portobello Mushrooms https://mysolluna.com/2017/02/28/sweet-spicy-portobello-mushroom-recipe/

27 Delicious Portobello Mushroom Recipes for Dinner https://theinspiredhome.com/articles/31-portobello-mushroom-recipes#sweet-spicy

Vegetarian Portobello Mushroom and Avocado Burger https://www.thespruceeats.com/portobello-mushroom-burger-with-avocados-3378624

Meaty Broiled Portobello Mushrooms https://www.thespruceeats.com/broiled-portobello-mushrooms-2246699

Grilled Herb and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms https://www.thespruceeats.com/cheese-and-herb-stuffed-mushrooms-336594

9 Ways to Use Portobello Mushrooms https://www.foodandwine.com/vegetables/mushrooms/portobello-mushroom/9-ways-use-portobello-mushrooms

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms https://www.wellplated.com/grilled-portobello-mushrooms/

Easy Portobello Mushroom Sauté https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/88587/easy-portobello-mushroom-saute/

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms https://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/roasted-portobello-mushrooms/

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Crispy Goat Cheese https://www.abeautifulplate.com/stuffed-portobello-mushrooms-with-crispy-goat-cheese/

Baked Portobello Mushroom Recipe (Vegetarian) https://detoxinista.com/baked-portobello-mushrooms-vegetarian-dinner/

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms https://www.jessicagavin.com/grilled-portobello-mushrooms/

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms https://www.jocooks.com/recipes/stuffed-portobello-mushrooms/

Resources
https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/tips-for-making-the-meaty-portobello-mushrooms/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/438060-how-to-store-and-freeze-portobello-mushrooms/

https://www.cookingclarified.com/2017/03/clean-portobello-mushrooms/

https://www.thekitchn.com/what-are-cremini-mushrooms-a-f-73949

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Portobello_Mushrooms_702.php

https://www.food.com/about/portobello-103

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-portobello-mushrooms-5197534

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2485/2

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mushrooms-good-for-diabetes#uses

https://www.livestrong.com/article/421447-portobello-mushroom-benefits/

https://draxe.com/nutrition/portobello-mushroom/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/mushrooms-lower-cancer-risk-5181032

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33724299/

https://www.vegetariantimes.com/guides/4-plant-foods-you-should-cook-before-eating/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464610000241

https://www.bonappetit.com/trends/article/mushrooms

https://draxe.com/nutrition/portobello-mushroom/

https://www.eatingwell.com/article/9583/5-amazing-health-benefits-of-mushrooms/

https://www.seriouseats.com/knife-skills-how-to-prepare-portabella-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

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 https://www.marthastewart.com/274397/lime-recipes

20 Tangy Lime Recipes to Make Your Mouth Pucker https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-lime-recipes-4687533

Avocado Lime Salad Dressing https://www.thespruceeats.com/avocado-lime-salad-dressing-3947533

Delicious French Lime Sorbet https://www.thespruceeats.com/lime-sorbet-recipe-1375784

Copycat Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice https://www.thespruceeats.com/copycat-chipotle-cilantro-lime-rice-recipe-5097502

Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu https://www.thespruceeats.com/cilantro-lime-grilled-tofu-3378393

Lime Coconut Bars https://www.thespruceeats.com/lime-coconut-bars-4129207

Easy Lime Agave Salad Dressing https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-lime-agave-salad-dressing-3377598

Cilantro Lime Salmon https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/cilantro-lime-salmon-3355689

Shrimp Ceviche https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/shrimp-ceviche-recipe-2125172

Grilled Fish Tacos with Lime Slaw https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/grilled-fish-tacos-with-lime-slaw-8658545

Pico de Gallo https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/pico-de-gallo-recipe-2122359

Lime Crema https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/lime-crema-3562831

Watermelon and Mint “Agua Fresca” (Fresh Fruit-Blended Water) https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/watermelon-and-mint-agua-fresca-fresh-fruit-blended-water-recipe-1949524

Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice https://www.skinnytaste.com/chipotle-cilantro-lime-rice-4-pts/#recipe

21 Lime Recipes That Are Full of Flavor https://insanelygoodrecipes.com/lime-recipes/

Cilantro Lime Quinoa https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/cilantro-lime-quinoa/#wprm-recipe-container-40278

Cilantro Lime Dressing https://www.loveandlemons.com/cilantro-lime-dressing/#wprm-recipe-container-43188

Classic Pico de Gallo https://cookieandkate.com/classic-pico-de-gallo-recipe/#tasty-recipes-30827-jump-target

Vegan Key Lime Pie https://lovingitvegan.com/vegan-key-lime-pie/

Creamy Lime Pie Bars https://minimalistbaker.com/creamy-lime-pie-bars/

28 Insanely Flavorful Ways to Cook with Lime https://www.delish.com/cooking/g3997/lime-recipes/

Flash-Cooked Greens with Garlic and Lime https://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/flash-cooked-greens-with-garlic-and-lime/

Chili Lime Collard Greens http://www.builicious.com/2016/04/01/chili-lime-collard-greens/#recipe

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

https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/united-states-lime-market

https://foodsguy.com/freeze-lime-juice/

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

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

https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/recipes/trick-to-zesting-lemons-better

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050325185404.htm

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-limes#1

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/168155/wt1/1

https://gardenine.com/types-of-lime-trees-fruits/

https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Limes_851.php

https://leafyplace.com/types-of-limes/

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

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.

Resources
https://food.unl.edu/article/cooking-onions-without-crying

https://www.onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/trivia/

https://food52.com/blog/25677-how-to-cut-onions-without-crying

https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/news/20170705/why-chopping-onions-makes-you-cry

 

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.