Category Archives: Food

Cumin Seeds

Cumin 101 – The Basics

Here’s a comprehensive article all about the spice cumin. If you need to know a little something about this highly prized spice that has been enjoyed throughout history, you should find your answer below. From what it is, the history of cumin, its nutritional aspects, and how to use it, is all covered, and more!


Cumin 101 – The Basics

About Cumin
The spice cumin is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been cultivated in the Middle East, India, China, and Mediterranean countries for thousands of years. Throughout history, cumin has played an important part in the cuisines and medicine of the region. During Biblical times, cumin was used as a spice in soup and bread, and also as a currency to pay tithes to priests. Ancient Egyptians used cumin in the mummification process of pharaohs.

Ancient Greeks and Romans used cumin as a culinary spice, especially since it was readily available. It was often used as a substitute for black pepper, which was very expensive and hard to obtain at the time.

Cumin was commonly used in Europe during the Middle Ages. It became known as a symbol of love and fidelity. People often carried cumin seeds with them when attending weddings, and wives often sent loaves of cumin bread with husbands who were going off to war.

Cumin seeds look similar to caraway seeds. They are yellow-brown, and oblong with longitudinal ridges. Cumin belongs to the same botanical family (Umbelliferae) as caraway, parsley, and dill. It has a strong, earthy flavor that can be described as peppery with slight citrus undertones. Cumin is available in both whole seeds and a ground powder. Cumin is the world’s second most popular spice, second to black pepper. The seeds come in brown, black and white colors.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Cumin
Cumin in an excellent source of iron, and has appreciable amounts of manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and Vitamin B1.

Cumin has some important health benefits, as follows…

Iron. Cumin is an excellent source of iron. Since iron is a vital part of hemoglobin in our blood, it plays a key role in transporting oxygen from the lungs to all cells of the body. Iron is also necessary for proper energy metabolism through its role in specific enzymes in the production of energy. Iron is also used in keeping the immune system healthy by being a key component in the reproduction and maturation of immune cells, especially lymphocytes. Two teaspoons of cumin seeds provide almost 3 mg of iron, or about 16 percent of our Daily Value of iron. That’s impressive!

Digestion. Traditionally, cumin seeds have been used to help promote healthy digestion. Recent research has backed that up by finding that cumin promotes the release of pancreatic enzymes which are critical for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Cancer prevention. Cumin seeds may also have anticancer properties. Research has shown that cumin protected laboratory animals from stomach and liver tumors. This anticancer effect may be due to cumin’s ability to enhance liver detoxification enzymes in addition to its powerful free radical scavenging properties. Researchers speculate these properties alone may give cumin health-promoting effects yet to be identified.

How to Select Cumin
For the longest shelf-life, select whole cumin seeds. The ground powder is convenient, but tends to lose its flavor quickly. Cumin seeds can be used whole, or ground to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

How to Store
Cumin seeds and powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dry, and dark place. Ground cumin keeps well for about six months. Whole seeds will stay fresh for about one year. To extend the life of whole cumin seeds, they may be kept tightly wrapped in the freezer.

How to Prepare Cumin
Whole seeds and ground cumin can be used straight from the jar. However, lightly toasting the seeds before being used brings out their full aroma and flavor.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Cumin
* Cumin is often combined with black pepper and honey in middle Eastern countries. This combination is often used to flavor vegetables, chicken and fish dishes.

* A warming cup of cumin tea can be made by bringing seeds to a boil in water, then letting them steep for 8 to 10 minutes. This can help reduce bloating and intestinal gas.

* Cumin is often used to flavor lentils, chickpeas, and black beans. The flavor of cumin blends well with legumes, so remember that as a flavor option the next time you cook beans.

* Flavor up rice by adding toasted cumin seeds, dried apricots, and almonds.

* Cumin goes well with just about any grain. If you want to add a little flavor, sprinkle on a little ground cumin.

* Give vegetables a North African flavor twist by adding a little cumin.

* The flavor of cumin is very strong. If you’re not sure, just sprinkle a little on your food, then taste it, and go from there.

* Whole cumin seeds can be lightly toasted in a hot, dry skillet for 5 minutes. This step intensifies the flavor, giving them a deep, smoky flavor. Keep the seeds moving in the pan so they don’t burn. Add toasted cumin seeds to salads, roasted potatoes or other vegetables, bread doughs, and soups.

* For the best flavor, toast cumin seeds before grinding them into powder.

* Tempering cumin seeds with other spices is a common technique used in Indian cooking. This step releases flavors and aromas from the spices before adding other ingredients. Simply fry them in oil briefly until they are aromatic and start to pop, then add other ingredients. This will infuse the entire dish with the cumin flavor.

* Sprinkle ground toasted cumin on avocado toast.

* Add cumin to pork and lamb dishes.

* Sprinkle a little ground cumin over a boiled egg, along with a little salt.

* Sprinkle a little cumin onto a cheese omelet as it finishes cooking.

* Add whole cumin seeds early in cooking to allow time for the flavors to be released.

* The flavor of ground cumin is more concentrated that that of the whole seeds. When switching one for the other, use less of the ground spice than the whole seed.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Cumin
Cardamom, cayenne, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, curry powder, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Cumin
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, lamb, lentils, peas, seafood, sesame seeds, walnuts

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, chiles, chives, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, sauerkraut, squash (i.e. kabocha), tomatoes and tomato sauce, vegetables (root)

Fruits: Avocados, lemon, lime, tamarind

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

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e. cheddar, Swiss), yogurt

Other Foods: Cocoa

Cumin has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
North African cuisines, baba ghanoush, baked goods (i.e. breads), burritos, chili, Cuban cuisine, curries, dals, enchiladas, Greek cuisine, hummus, Indian cuisine, kebabs, Latin American cuisines, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, Moroccan cuisine, purees, salad dressings, salads (i.e. bean, rice), salsas, sauces (i.e. tomato), soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, Spanish cuisine, stews, tacos, Tex-Mex cuisine, Turkish cuisine

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Cumin
Add cumin to any of the following combinations…

Avocado + black beans + lime + tomatoes
Black beans + cilantro + garlic
Cilantro + curry spices
Garlic + Potatoes
Paprika + tomatoes

Recipe Links
Curried Cumin Potatoes

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Refried Beans without the Refry

Vegan Black Bean Soup

Fish Tacos with Honey-Cumin Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Mayo

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

Wilted Cabbage with Toasted Cumin

Chickpea Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Chops

Chickpea Falafels

Black Beans and Rice

Cauliflower Tacos with Cashew Crema

Vegetarian Taco Bowls

Mixed Bean and Avocado Salad


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.

Black Beans

Black Beans 101 – The Basics

Black beans are a popular and extremely health-promoting legume to include in your meals whenever you can. If you’re wondering about the health benefits of black beans or are looking for ideas on what to do with them, such as what foods, herbs, or spices go well with black beans, you’re in the right place! I’ve answered those questions and a lot more! Read onward for a comprehensive review of black beans.


Black Beans 101 – The Basics

About Black Beans
Black beans are native to North, South and Central America. They date as far back as 7,000 years ago when they were a staple food for Central and South Americans. Black beans are about one-half inch long with a shape similar to a pinto bean. They are members of the plant family Phaseolus vulgaris, along with navy, kidney, and pinto beans. Black beans are sometimes referred to as turtle beans or black turtle beans. Today, black beans are grown worldwide and are enjoyed in many cuisines. Cooked black beans are soft in texture with a mild, but slightly sweet flavor.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Black Beans
Black beans are an excellent source of molybdenum. This trace mineral is critical in the formation of enzymes used in a variety of essential functions including carbohydrate metabolism. They also contain a lot of folate, fiber, copper, manganese, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Furthermore, a one cup serving of black beans provides about 15 grams of protein (about one-third of the day’s needs), 15 grams of fiber, and about 180 mg of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). That’s impressive!

Blood Sugar Control and Resistant Starch. The high fiber content of black beans coupled with the high protein content makes them an excellent food for helping to control blood sugar levels. Both fiber and protein help to regulate the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract, reducing spikes in blood sugar from absorbed carbohydrates. This property gives black beans (and other legumes) a low rating on the glycemic index.

Also, recent studies have shown that black beans have specific peptides (types of proteins) that inhibit the formation of glucose transport molecules. This further inhibits glucose absorption from the digestive tract, also helping to keep blood sugars level. This can help in the management of blood sugar issues, especially Type 2 diabetes.

In addition to the high fiber content of black beans, much of their carbohydrate content consists of resistant starch. Resistant starch is not easily broken down in the upper digestive tract. Instead, it is carried to the large intestines where bacteria feed on the starch, breaking it down into short chain fatty acids. The fatty acids become fuel for our intestinal cells and may play a key role in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, bowel disorders, and some cancers. Short chain fatty acids have been found to aid in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. These properties help to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer in those who regularly eat black beans and other legumes.

Phytonutrient Content: Black beans are an outstanding source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids. Many of these compounds contribute to the rich, dark color of black beans. Anthocyanins acts as antioxidants, fighting harmful molecules in the body. They may provide anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits as well.

A 2010 report published in Nutrition Reviews found that anthocyanins may help to protect heart health by improving cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels, in addition to fighting oxidative stress. All of these factors contribute to heart disease. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that anthocyanins may help to prevent high blood pressure, further protecting our heart health.

Dried vs Canned Black Beans
Dried Black Beans. Dried black beans should first be soaked, rinsed and drained, then cooked before being eaten. This takes some time and may not be feasible for all cooks. However, the nutrient content of dried, soaked and cooked beans is a little higher than that of the canned variety. Dried black beans are cheaper to buy when considering the amount of cooked beans you get from a one-pound bag vs the amount in one can of beans. If the cost factor is important to you, dried beans are the best option.

Storing Dried Black Beans. Store dried black beans in a cool, dry area in a sealed container. When properly stored, they should stay fresh for 2 to 3 years, although they are usually safe to eat beyond that. If you open a container of dried black beans and do not use them all, return the remaining unused beans to an airtight, sealed container stored in a cool, dry place. Dried beans are usually safe to eat beyond their ‘best by” date, although the quality may decline over time. If your dried beans develop an “off” odor or appearance, or show signs of mold or insect infestation, it’s time to discard them.

Canned Black Beans. Canned black beans are a convenient staple food to have in the pantry, and can be found in just about any grocery store. They should be rinsed and drained before eating. Since they are fully cooked, canned black beans can be eaten cold, cooked, pureed, or baked.

The nutrient content of canned black beans is slightly less than that of their dried counterparts, but not so much that they should be avoided. They are typically sorted before processing, as you would dry beans. The beans are then pre-hydrated before being cooked in their sealed cans. Some varieties of canned black beans have added salt and/or calcium chloride to maintain firmness. If you want to avoid those additives, organic and no salt added varieties of canned black beans are available at many grocery stores. The processing of canned black beans is relatively low when compared with other foods, and are considered to be a healthy alternative to dried black beans.

Storing Canned Black Beans. The quality of unopened cans of black beans can be good for 3 to 5 years if kept in a cool, dry place. They are usually safe to eat beyond that, but the quality may decline. Canned black beans usually have a “best by” date stamped on the can. If kept properly, the beans should be safe to eat beyond that day, but the quality may decline. If you notice a bad odor, off appearance or flavor, or mold, the beans should certainly be discarded. If any canned items are leaking, rusting, bulging, or severely dented, they should be discarded.

[On a personal note…When I was young, my parents had a pantry room off the kitchen where they stored canned foods. Apparently, they didn’t check them routinely. One day, a large can of fruit cocktail exploded in the room. It was everywhere! We did the best we could with clean-up, but that room smelled like old fruit cocktail for a VERY long time after that. So…lesson learned: Monitor your canned goods to be sure they are not bulging and use them within a reasonable amount of time!]

How to Prepare Dried Black Beans
Black beans 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 black beans is not hard, but does take some time.

First, place your dried beans in your cooking pot. Sort through them to remove any stones or other debris that may be 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 method. Cover the pot and allow the beans to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain the water and cover the beans with fresh water by at least two inches. Cook your beans (see directions below).

Quick soak 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 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 fast they are cooked 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, drain the water and use them as desired. Soaked dried beans may also be cooked in a pressure cooker or slow cooker.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Black Beans
* To have a supply of freshly cooked black beans readily available, cook a pound or two of dried beans. Cool them down in cold water, drain well, then transfer them to freezer bags or containers and store them in the freezer. You’ll have plenty of cooked black beans ready when you need them.

* Make a simple salad by combining black beans with celery, bell peppers, tomatoes and your favorite spicy dressing. Serve this on its own, on a bed of greens, or with a cooked grain of your choice.

* Make a quick taco by filling shells with cooked black beans, greens of choice, chopped tomatoes, avocado slices, onions and any other veggies you want. Top with chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of cheese, a drizzle of lime juice, and a dollop of sour cream or cashew cream.

* Make a black bean hummus by blending a can of black beans with tahini or avocado, lime, chili powder, and garlic to taste.

* Add cooked blacked beans to a stuffed baked potato.

* Use black beans in a burrito in place of refried beans.

* Make an easy dip by layering black beans with guacamole, diced tomatoes, onions, and chopped cilantro.

* Make a black bean salsa by combining black beans with diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, and chopped cilantro. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Let rest for 20 minutes for flavors to blend, then serve with tortilla chips.

* Stuff baked sweet potatoes with a mixture of black beans, chopped onions, corn, diced tomatoes, all flavored with cumin, chili powder, cilantro and lime juice. Place the mixture in the baked sweet potato and top with cheddar cheese and a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream or cashew cream.

* Try a black bean and walnut lettuce wrap. In a bowl, combine black beans, chopped walnuts, paprika, chili powder, cumin, chopped onion, diced tomatoes and any other vegetables you want, some lime juice, a little cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and/or salsa. Spoon the filling into large lettuce leaves, wrap and enjoy!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Black Beans
Basil, bay leaf, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, savory, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Black Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, pork, seafood, tempeh

Vegetables: Bell peppers, carrots, celery, chiles, chives, cucumbers, jicama, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Avocado, citrus fruits (esp. lemon, lime, orange), mangoes, olives, plantains

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, grains (in general), quinoa, rice, tortillas

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese, sour cream

Other Foods: Chocolate, coffee, liquid smoke, miso, oil, sherry (dry), soy sauce, stock (vegetable), vinegar

Black beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Black bean cakes, Brazilian cuisine, burritos, Caribbean cuisine, casseroles, Central American cuisines, chili (vegetarian), Cuban cuisine, dips, empanadas, enchiladas, Jamaican cuisine, Latin American cuisines, Mexican cuisine, nachos, pates, Puerto Rican cuisine, purees, quesadillas, refried beans, salads, soups, South American cuisines, Southwestern (U.S.) cuisine, spreads, stews, tacos, Tex-Mex cuisine, tostadas, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Black Beans
Add black beans to any of the following combinations…

Avocado + cilantro + corn + lime juice
Avocado + cilantro + onions + rice
Bell peppers + corn + lettuce + scallions
Bell peppers + garlic + onions
Brown rice + salsa + tomatoes
Cheddar cheese + chickpeas + corn + green onions
Chiles + cilantro + coriander + cumin + lime + scallions
Cilantro + lime + oregano + red onions
Cilantro + orange
Coriander + cumin + ginger
Garlic + thyme
Kale + sweet potatoes
Mango + quinoa
Salsa + sweet potatoes + tortillas

Recipe Links
Black Bean and Rice Salad

Crock Pot Black Bean Chili

Easy Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Southwest Black Bean and Corn Salad

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Grilled Bean Burgers

Texas Black Bean Soup

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas

Slow Cooked Stuffed Peppers

Taco Lasagna

Chili Tortilla Bake

15-Minute Black Bean Salad

Mexican Black Bean Wrap with Avocado and Tri-Colored Slaw

Veggie Burrito Bowls


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.


Quinoa 101 – The Basics

Do you enjoy quinoa, but are looking for some new ideas on how to flavor it, or what to do with it? I have answers! Below is a comprehensive article all about quinoa, from what it is and its health benefits, to how to select, store and prepare it, as well as serving ideas and tips, along with what goes well with quinoa. I even have some suggested recipe links to help you in your quest to find that perfect quinoa dish!


Quinoa 101 – The Basics

About Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is typically used as a grain, but it is actually a seed in the same family as beets, chard, and spinach. It is not a member of the grass family of plants, as are grains. Quinoa has been enjoyed as a staple food for thousands of years beginning in South America, where it was called “the gold of the Incas.” Still today, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador remain the world’s top producers of this healthful seed.

There are different varieties of quinoa, usually denoted by their color. We see white or ivory quinoa most often in American grocery stores. But it can also be found in various shades of yellow, red and black. The white or ivory variety has the mildest flavor and cooks the fastest. The flavor of red and black quinoa is described as stronger and more earthy. Nevertheless, all varieties of quinoa have a nut-like flavor. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free is rated as being low in allergenic properties.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Quinoa
For its size, this tiny seed offers a lot of nutrients. It supplies a lot of manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, folate, fiber (both soluble and insoluble), and zinc. It also has small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and more monounsaturated fats than cereal grains. A three-fourth cup serving has 222 calories and 8 grams of high-quality protein (16% Daily Value). Its high fiber and protein content work together to qualify quinoa as a low-glycemic index food.

Furthermore, quinoa is also high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, giving this seed even more healthful benefits in the prevention and treatment of disease.

How to Select Quinoa
When buying quinoa, be sure there are no rips in the bag or box. Also look for signs of moisture or insects and avoid any such packages.

How to Store Quinoa
Quinoa will last for several months when kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If kept in the refrigerator or freezer, uncooked quinoa will keep for 2 to 3 years. Cooked quinoa will keep well in the freezer for up to a year.

Once quinoa is cooked, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use leftovers within a few days. If you won’t be able to eat it that quickly, place your container in the freezer.

How to Prepare Quinoa
Quinoa seed is covered with saponin, a type of phytonutrient that is actually a protective coating developed by the plant. Although it may have some positive health properties, saponin has a soap-like flavor. Most quinoa on the market has already been rinsed at the processing plant to remove some of this coating. However, because of this objectionable taste, most people opt to further rinse their quinoa well before cooking. To remove any remaining saponin, place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it very well with fresh water as you gently rub the seeds. Drain well.

To cook quinoa, place 1 part seeds to 1-1/2 to 2 parts water in a saucepan. (Use the lesser amount of water if you want your quinoa to be less mushy.) Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover the pan. It usually takes about 15 minutes to cook. When done, the seeds will become somewhat translucent and the germ will partially release, forming a little white spiraled tail around the seed. Fluff the cooked seed with a fork before serving.

For a nuttier flavor, dry roast your quinoa first. Place the seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes, then cook as directed. Some people will add oil to the frying pan to add extra flavor and texture to their quinoa before cooking it.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Quinoa
* Serve cooked quinoa as a breakfast porridge by adding nuts, fruits, and milk of choice. Sweeten as desired.

* Use quinoa in place of pasta with your favorite pasta or noodle recipe.

* Add quinoa to vegetable soup.

* Add a little ground quinoa flour to cookie or muffin recipes for a protein boost.

* If you enjoy tabbouleh, but must eat gluten-free, substitute cooked quinoa for the bulgur wheat in your favorite recipe.

* To flavor your quinoa, add some herbs or spices to the pot when cooking it. Try a bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper, or other seasonings of your choice. Some people add thyme to quinoa while it is cooking.

* Try cooking quinoa in broth of your choice rather than plain water. This will add flavor to your cooked quinoa and may add a lot of flavor to the dish you’ll be using it in.

* Add a little flavored oil to your quinoa as it starts to cook. Sesame oil, walnut oil, or coconut oil would all add distinct flavors to your cooked quinoa.

* Top quinoa with your favorite sauce. Alfredo, marinara, pesto, or cheese sauce are some options. Use your imagination!

* Try adding tomato, avocado and lime for a Southwest flavored quinoa.

* Make an interesting succotash by combining quinoa with summer squash, bell peppers, and corn.

* Quinoa soaks up and retains a lot of water. Drain off any extra water after it has cooked to prevent it from becoming soggy.

* Add quinoa to burger patties, whether they are meat or meatless.

* Add quinoa to chili while it’s cooking.

* “Warm up” your cooked quinoa by adding some cilantro and roasted poblano peppers for some heat. Add this to veggies for a quinoa bowl.

* Make quinoa into a pudding by cooking it slowly in the milk of your choice. Add sweetener and fruit, as desired.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Quinoa
Basil, cilantro, cumin, garlic, mint, oregano, parsley, salt

Foods That Go Well with Quinoa
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), beef, chicken, eggs, nuts (in general), shrimp, turkey

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bell peppers, carrots, celery, chard, chiles, chives, cucumbers, endive, greens (i.e. beet, collard), kale, mushrooms, onions, scallions, spinach, squash (winter), tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Avocados, citrus fruits, dried fruit, pineapple, pomegranate seeds

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, grains (in general, esp. those with mild flavors)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Almond milk, cheese (esp. feta), yogurt

Other Foods: Oil (esp. olive), stock (i.e. mushroom, vegetable), vinegar

Quinoa has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. breads, muffins), cereals (hot breakfast), Mexican cuisine, pilafs, salads (grain, green), soups, South American cuisines, stews, stuffed vegetables, stuffings, sushi, tabbouleh, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Quinoa
Add quinoa to any of the following combinations…

Almond milk + cinnamon + nuts
Bell peppers + carrots + parsley + rice vinegar + sesame oil/seeds
Black beans + cumin
Black beans + mango
Cashews + pineapple
Cucumbers + feta cheese + parsley + tomatoes
Cucumbers + lemon + mint + parsley
Dill + lemon juice + zucchini

Recipe Links

Kale Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

Roasted Shrimp Quinoa Spring Rolls

Garlic Mushroom Quinoa

Strawberry Quinoa Salad

50 Creative Ways to Eat Quinoa: Healthy Quinoa Recipes

Healthy Quinoa Recipes

10 Easy Quinoa Recipes


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.

Stir-Steamed Kale with Vegetables and Beans

Stir-Steamed Kale with Vegetables and Beans

Here’s a great way to work in your greens in an easy meal to put together. It can be served over any cooked grain or starchy vegetable like potatoes. It would even be good stuffed into an acorn squash! Below is a video demonstration of how to make this dish. The written recipe follows the video.


Stir-Steamed Kale with Vegetables and Beans
Makes 5 (1 cup each) Main Dish Servings

1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup diced carrot
2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
6 cups chopped kale (about ½ pound)
1 cup chopped mushrooms, OR 1 (4 oz) jar of mushrooms, drained
1 cup cooked beans or peas of choice
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Sesame seeds, optional garnish
5 cups (or more) hot cooked grain of choice (i.e. rice, quinoa, millet, polenta, couscous, etc. OR stuff it into an acorn squash instead of on top of a grain)

In a large pot, heat about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the vegetable broth. Add chopped onion, garlic, carrots and herbs. Sauté about 3 to 5 minutes, until the onions and carrots start to soften. Add the kale, mushrooms, beans, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to cook, stirring often, for about 13 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and most of the broth is gone. Stir in the tomatoes, and vinegar; allow everything to heat through for a minute or two. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve over a hot cooked grain (or grain product) of choice. If preferred, simply mix the grain in with the veggies and serve it all together. OR use this mixture as stuffing for an acorn squash. Enjoy!

Vegetable-Bean Medley

Vegetable-Bean Medley

Here’s an easy recipe for a vegetable mixture that’s really versatile. It would be excellent served over a bed of any starch you choose…rice, quinoa, couscous, millet, or any other grain product, or even mashed potatoes! It would also be delicious served as a simple soup, suitable for those who like a little broth, but not a lot. The mixture has some liquid in it (deliberately) so there’s something to moisten the base, like mashed potatoes.

Below is a video where I demonstrate how to make this dish. The written recipe is below the video. I hope this helps 🙂


Vegetable-Bean Medley
Makes 4 to 5 Servings

1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
1-1/2 cups diced carrots
3/4 cup diced bell pepper
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley

½ tsp salt, optional (or to taste)*
1 cup diced zucchini or yellow squash
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
2 cups cooked great northern beans
OR 1 (15.8 oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained

Cooked starch of choice, like rice, quinoa, couscous, pasta, millet, or even mashed potatoes (optional)

In a medium to large pot with a tight-fitting lid, add the vegetable broth through parsley from the ingredients list. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, until the carrots start to soften.

Taste the mixture to see if seasonings need adjusting to your taste, and if it needs any added salt. Add any seasoning adjustments plus the squash, spinach, and beans. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to simmer another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the squash is lightly cooked, the beans are heated through, and the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and serve over your hot, cooked starch of choice, OR eat it like it is as a soup. Enjoy!

Cook’s Note: At the end of cooking time, there will still be some liquid in the pot with the vegetables. Use this to your advantage to help moisten whatever starch you serve this with. It will only enhance the dish!

* Added salt may or may not be needed in this dish. It depends upon your personal tastes and how much salt was in the vegetable broth.

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.


Oats 101 – The Basics

Oats seem to have gained a lot in popularity in recent years. It’s no wonder why. People have finally realized just how nutritious they are for us to eat! And they have gotten very creative in the ways to include oats in their diets.

If you have questions about oats, hopefully the following article will provide the answers you need. It’s comprehensive, including information from what they are to how to use them, and everything in between! Let me know if your questions are not answered below, and I’ll be glad to help, if I can.


Oats 101 – The Basics

About Oats
Oats are the edible seed of a grass in the Poaceae family. They are known as a cereal grass or cereal grain because they are specifically grown for their seeds to be eaten as a grain product. Other cereal grasses include wheat, rye, barley, kamut, spelt, triticale, sorghum, rice, corn, and millet.

After oats are harvested, they are cleaned and the outer hulls are removed. At that point, they are known as “whole oat groats.” In the United States, the oat groats are processed from there into (1) “old fashioned” rolled oats, (2) quick and instant rolled oats, and (3) steel cut oats. Old fashioned rolled oats are whole groats that were first steamed, then rolled to flatten. They are then dried. Quick and instant oats have been either rolled or steamed for a longer period of time, or both, to produce oats that cook faster than traditional rolled oats. Steel cut oats are simply whole groats that have been cut into smaller pieces with a steel blade. Steel cut oats may be referred to as “Irish” or “Scottish” oats, but those types of oats have actually been stone-ground rather than steel cut. Steel cut oats can come in assorted size pieces with different cooking times ranging from 5 to 7 minutes, to 20 to 30 minutes. However they are marketed, oats are considered to be a “whole grain.”

Oats have been enjoyed as a food for thousands of years. Today, Russia produces most of the world’s oats, with Canada being the second largest producer. Oats are also grown around the world, with the United States growing about 4% of the world’s supply, with most being grown in Wisconsin.

Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits of Oats
Oats are a nutritious grain to say the least. They are an excellent source of manganese and molybdenum, and a good source of phosphorus, copper, biotin, Vitamin B1, magnesium, chromium, zinc, dietary fiber and protein. They also contain important phytonutrients as well. Here are some of the wonderful health benefits of oats:

Antioxidants: In addition to their abundance of vitamins and minerals, oats are rich in antioxidants, some of which are almost unique to oats. These special compounds may help to lower blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels, reducing inflammation and reducing itching from skin disorders.

Protects against heart disease: Oats contain the soluble fiber, beta-glucan, which forms a thick gel-like solution in the digestive tract. Beta-glucan is known to reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels. Beta-glucan is also known to help protect LDL-cholesterol from oxidative damage, which causes inflammation in the arteries and raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Improves blood sugar control: The soluble fiber in oats, beta-glucan, is also known to help to improve blood sugar control. The fiber delays stomach emptying which slows the absorption of glucose into the blood. Beta-glucan also appears to improve insulin sensitivity, further aiding in the management of blood sugar.

Weight management: Oats are very filling and help us to feel full longer, aiding in weight management. The beta-glucan in oats appears to promote the release of a satiety hormone, leading to a reduced food intake, decreasing the risk of obesity.

Skin care: Finely ground oats, known as “colloidal oatmeal,” have long been used in skin care regimens. Oats applied topically have been shown to relieve itching and inflammation from various skin conditions, including eczema.

Childhood asthma: Researchers believe that introducing solid foods too early in infants can spark the development of asthma and other allergic conditions. Studies have shown that early introduction of oats to infants can help to ward off such developments.

Constipation relief: Studies have found that oat bran can help relieve constipation in elderly people when fed oat bran daily for 12 weeks. Most of the patients were able to stop their use of laxatives after the 3-month study.

Improved gut microbiome: In a study reported in Science News in 2015 (from the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology), researchers found that people who ate beta-glucan-enriched pasta for two months had increased populations of beneficial bacteria and reduced numbers of harmful bacteria in their intestinal tracts. The subjects also had reduced LDL-cholesterol after the trial. This study was in an effort to find prebiotic foods that encourage the growth of healthful bacteria in the gut.

How to Select Oats
Oats have a slightly higher fat content than other grains, so they can go rancid faster than other grains. With that in mind, it may be helpful to purchase smaller amounts at one time if you don’t go through them quickly. Oats are usually sold prepackaged. However, some stores sell oats in bulk bins. When buying oats from bulk bins, be sure there is no sign of moisture, and also smell them to be sure they are fresh. If they have an “off” odor, they may be going rancid and would not be good to buy.

How to Store Oats
For best shelf life, store oats in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. Oats will usually come with a “best by” date, so for the best quality be sure to use them before that date.

Do oats contain gluten?
The answer: no and yes. Oats themselves do NOT contain gluten, and are usually safe to consume by people who are gluten-sensitive. However, oats are often processed in a facility that also processes gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye and barley. If oats are processed in the same facility, remnants of the other grains often remain on the equipment and thus “contaminate” the oats with their gluten. Hence, if oats are not labeled as being “gluten-free” they were most likely processed in such a facility and therefore DO contain contaminant gluten.

Oats that are labeled as being “gluten-free” were processed in a facility dedicated to processing only gluten-free grains. Therefore, they can be safely consumed by those who are sensitive to gluten.

There is a small subset of gluten-sensitive people who do react to oats labeled as being gluten free. Scientists are not certain as to why, but they have found that some gluten-sensitive people react to some (non-gluten) proteins that are found in some, but not all varieties of oats. Furthermore, oats grown in fields next to fields growing gluten-containing grains may also become contaminated with gluten. It might be possible that these people are reacting to gluten contamination from neighboring fields, or to the non-gluten proteins that are found in some varieties of oats. Therefore, if you are gluten-sensitive and find that you have reacted to oats labeled as being gluten-free, it might be best to avoid eating oats altogether.

Can you eat uncooked oats?
Some raw food enthusiasts have wondered if oats can be eaten raw. The oats we buy have already been processed to some degree, so technically speaking they are not “raw.” Then the question remains, “Can we eat oats uncooked?” Yes, they can be eaten uncooked, but it’s not advised to eat them dry. Eating uncooked dry oats can cause them to build up in your stomach or intestines, causing indigestion or constipation. Furthermore, raw oats contain phytic acid, which binds to the minerals in oats, making them hard for the body to absorb. Soaking oats before consuming them reduces the phytic acid content, making them easier to digest and preventing constipation.

Healthful ways to eat uncooked oats include adding them to smoothies or stirring them into yogurt. Oats may also be soaked overnight (in the refrigerator) in water or milk. They will absorb a lot of the liquid, making them more digestible in the morning. So, uncooked oats can be included in a healthy diet as long as they are soaked or moistened in some way beforehand so they are not consumed dry.

How to Prepare Oats
Oats are usually prepared by being placed in cold water, then brought to a simmer and cooked until tender. The time will depend upon the type of oat being cooked. Usually 1 part of oats is cooked in 2 parts of water; however, steel cut oats will require more water, often up to 3 parts water to 1 part of oats. Follow the package directions to be sure.

Tips and Quick Ideas
* For a delicious breakfast, add some of your favorite nuts and cut fruit to a bowl of hot oatmeal.

* Substitute up to 25% of oat flour for wheat flour in baked goods for a nutrition and flavor boost.

* Do you need oat flour for a recipe? Simply place some oats in a coffee grinder, food processor, or high-speed blender, process, and you’ll have oat flour in no time!

* Oats can be used as a thickener for soups or stews simply by adding a tablespoon or two of oats or oat flour to your food after it has cooked or while it’s cooking. Allow 5 to 10 minutes for it to thicken the liquid.

* When you’re short on time to prepare breakfast, try overnight oats that are soaked in milk or water overnight in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat in the morning, your breakfast will be waiting for you.

* Adding oats to a smoothie is a great way to thicken it while adding lots of nutrients and healthful fiber.

* Use oats to bind the ingredients of veggie patties and burgers.

* Use oats as a basis for homemade granola cereal or granola bars.

* Oats can be used in place of crushed graham crackers in pie crusts, such as in a cheesecake or tart.

* Make your own oat milk simply by blending 1 cup of oats with 2-1/2 to 4 cups of water. Strain it or not…it’s up to you. Add a little sweetener and/or vanilla, if you want. Stir it before you use it. Store extra in the refrigerator and use it within 2 or 3 days. If you elect to strain your oat milk, use the pulp in veggie patties, meatloaves, baked goods, smoothies, pancakes, or any other way you can sneak it into your foods.

* Rolled (old-fashioned) and quick cooking oats are interchangeable in most recipes. Instant oats are not interchangeable, since they have already been fully cooked then dried.

* When making yeast breads, oat flour can be combined with wheat flour (up to 25% substitution). A 100% oat flour yeast bread will not rise because yeast needs gluten to rise.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well With Oats
Cardamom, cinnamon, dill, fennel seeds, ginger, mace, nutmeg, parsley, sage, vanilla

Other Foods That Go Well With Oats
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, cashews, chicken, eggs, nuts (in general), pecans, pork, seeds (esp. flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), walnuts

Vegetables: Celery

Fruit: Apples, apple juice, apricots, bananas, berries (esp. blueberries, raspberries), coconut, dried fruits (esp. cherries, cranberries, currants, dates, figs, peaches, plums, raisins), fruit juice (in general), oranges, peaches, pears, plums, raisins

Other Grains and Grain Products: Baked goods, breading

Milk and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese, cream, milk (dairy), milk (non-dairy, esp. almond, coconut, hemp, rice, soy), yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, kefir, maple syrup, molasses, oil (esp. coconut, flaxseed, safflower, sesame), salt, stock (vegetable), sugar (esp. brown)

Oats have been used in the following dishes and cuisines:
Baked goods (esp. biscuits, breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, quick breads), breading, cereals (esp. hot breakfast), desserts (esp. fruit crisps and crumbles), Irish cuisine, vegetarian meatballs, burgers or meatloaf, muesli, pancakes and waffles, Scottish cuisine, soups (esp. Irish, Scottish, and as a thickener to make it creamier), trail mix

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Oats
Combine oats with the following…
Almonds + Cinnamon + Fruit + Maple Syrup
Almonds + Cashews + Cinnamon + Maple Syrup + Vanilla
Almonds + Cinnamon + Yogurt
Apples + Brown Sugar + Cinnamon + Raisins
Apples + Cheddar Cheese
Apples + Cinnamon + Honey + Raisins
Bananas + Cinnamon + Maple Syrup
Brown Sugar + Nuts + Raisins
Cinnamon + Figs + Honey + Vanilla
Cinnamon + Maple Syrup
Cranberries + Nuts
Ginger + Plums
Pecans + Sweet Potatoes + Vanilla

Recipe Links
25 Ways to Use Oats When You’ve Had Enough Oatmeal

51 Oats Recipes That Go Beyond Oatmeal

13 Wonderful Ways to Eat Your Oats

Savory Oats With Ontario Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes

Overnight Oats with Stone Fruit

Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes to Go

50 Things to Make with Oats

50 Best Oatmeal Recipes

Oat Breaded Pork Medallions with Dijon Mushroom Sauce

17 Next-Level Ways to Eat Oats

Easy Recipes to Make the Most of Oat Pulp

Oat Milk—Here’s Everything You Need to Know

How to Use Oat Flour


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.

Hearty Split Pea Soup

Hearty Split Pea Soup

Here’s an easy to put together recipe for a thick and hearty split pea soup. It’s delicious…and even passed the “husband test!” He loved it. So…I think it’s worthy of a try if you’re looking for a thick and satisfying soup for a cold winter day.

Below is a video showing how to make the soup. The written recipe is below the video. Enjoy!


Hearty Split Pea Soup
Makes About 10 Cups of Soup

1 lb (2 cups) dry split green peas
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 Bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp black pepper
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup diced potatoes
½ cup uncooked rice of choice, rinsed and drained
Salt, to taste

Sort through the peas to remove any stones or debris. Place the sorted peas in a colander and rinse well, then drain.

Add all the ingredients except the potatoes, rice, and salt to a large soup pot; stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil; cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low so the soup will simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for about 45 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings and add salt as needed (the amount will vary depending upon how much salt is in the broth). Add the potatoes and rice, and continue cooking for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until everything is very tender and the flavors are blended. Total cooking time is about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Serve in a chunky style, or blend to creamy smooth, if desired.

Store leftover soup in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days. This soup may also be frozen.

Note! This soup will thicken up a lot when it is stored in the refrigerator. It is helpful to add some water to it when reheating leftovers. Simply add some water and stir it in until the soup is the consistency you want, then reheat it in the microwave or on the stove.

Red Lentil Soup with Italian Herbs

Red Lentil Soup with Italian Herbs

Here’s a delicious soup that’s very easy to put together, takes little time to cook, and is flexible so it can easily be increased/decreased to meet your needs and adjusted to your preferences. What more can you ask for?? Give it a try sometime.

Below is a video demonstration of how to make the soup. The written recipe follows the video.


Red Lentil Soup with Italian Herbs
Makes 5 to 6 Cups of Soup
(2 to 3 Meal-Size Servings)

4 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced)
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp dried minced onion (or 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped onion)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
½ tsp dried basil leaves
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves of garlic, minced)
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
1 cup spiral pasta, uncooked

Add all ingredients (except the spinach and pasta) to a pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, then lower heat to simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and pasta. Raise heat if needed to bring the soup back to a boil, then lower heat back to simmer. Simmer with the lid on the pot, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender. Serve.

Store extra soup in the refrigerator in a covered container. Use within 5 days. This soup may also be frozen.

Millet Vegetable Pilaf

Millet Vegetable Pilaf

If you’re looking for something different to fix for a social gathering, or simply to make ahead for a weeknight meal, this should do the trick. It’s not hard to make and is ready in about the time it takes to cook a small pot of millet.

Below is a video demonstration of how to make this dish. The written recipe follows the video.


Millet Vegetable Pilaf
Makes 4 to 5 Meal-Size Servings (or About 8 Side Servings)

1 cup millet
2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more as needed
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup diced bell pepper
1 cup diced carrot
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small (4 oz) can or jar of mushroom pieces OR 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1-1/2 cups diced zucchini or yellow squash
1-1/2 cups cooked great northern beans OR 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, optional
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of one lemon

Place the millet in a fine strainer and rinse it under running water. Allow it to drain over a bowl. In a medium pot with a lid, bring the 2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Add the millet. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low so the millet will simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow the millet to rest for 5 minutes, with the lid still on the pot.

Meanwhile, cook the vegetables. In a skillet with a lid, heat about 1/3 cup of the vegetable broth. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrots, basil, thyme, parsley flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir-steam the vegetables over medium heat until they are almost crisp-tender, keeping the skillet covered when not stirring. Add more broth as needed to keep the mixture from getting dry. When the carrots are almost fork-tender, stir in the mushrooms, zucchini, the cooked beans (if using them), chopped spinach, any remaining broth, and the lemon zest. Continue cooking about another 1 to 2 minute, to allow the spinach to wilt and the zucchini to cook to a crisp-tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Total cooking time is roughly 13 minutes. Remove from heat. Gently stir in the cooked millet and serve.


Pineapples 101 – The Basics

Pineapples are a delicious, sweet tropical fruit that most of us are familiar with. Thanks to modern transportation, many grocery stores have fresh pineapples available year round. Yet, we also can choose from canned, dried, and even frozen pineapple too. Its availability makes it a handy fruit to have on-hand, ready to be used in oh-so-many ways! If you are looking for ideas for something different to do with pineapples, you’re in the right place. Below is a comprehensive article all about pineapples, from what they are to suggested recipe links, and everything in between.


Pineapples 101 – The Basics

About Pineapples
Pineapples are delicious, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They are an extremely popular fruit in America, second only to bananas. Pineapples are members of the Bromeliaceae family of plants. The name stems from the enzyme bromelain, contained in the fruit. They have a wide cylindrical shape with a green, brown, or yellow scaly skin with spiny blue-green leaves on the top. The flesh is yellow with a juicy, delicious sweet-tart flavor. The area closest to the base of the pineapple has the most sugar, so it will taste the sweetest.

It is believed that pineapples originated in South America, but they were first discovered in 1493 by European explorers when they visited the Caribbean island that is now Guadeloupe. From there, the fruit eventually was carried to areas with tropical climates where they thrived.

Pineapples were first cultivated in Hawaii in the 1700s. It is currently the only U.S. state where pineapples are grown commercially. The fruit is also grown commercially in Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Interestingly, it takes about two years for one pineapple to reach maturity, so it has a long growth cycle. Pineapples are available in most grocery stores year-round, with their peak season being in the spring and summer months.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Pineapples
Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese. It also is a good source of copper Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, fiber, folate, and pantothenic acid. Pineapple has negligible fat, but it does contain a high amount of sugar, with a “medium” glycemic load of 56 in a ¾ cup serving. One cup of fresh pineapple chunks has about 83 calories.

Bromelain. Bromelain is a mixture of compounds found in the stem and core of pineapple. These substances have become known as bromelain and are often included in enzyme supplements. Bromelain is known for its protein digesting function. More recent research has found that bromelain extract has other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, excess coagulation of the blood, and suppressing tumor growth. We’re not certain at this time if those same benefits can be obtained from the amounts received when the fruit is eaten in normal amounts.

Antioxidant protection and immune system support. Vitamin C is the body’s main antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. This protection extends to guarding against atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, asthma attacks, colon cancer, and osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, Vitamin C is critical for proper functioning of the immune system, and a one cup serving of pineapple provides 105% of our daily needs for this vitamin. This alone makes pineapple a worthy addition to anyone’s diet!

Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 and the trace mineral manganese. Both have vital roles in energy production and antioxidant functions. Along with Vitamin C, the nutrients in pineapple can play an important part in keeping us healthy and well.

How to Select a Fresh Pineapple
Choose a fresh pineapple that is heavy for its size. Choose one that is free of spots, bruises, and darkened “eyes” or scales, which indicates the fruit is old. Also, smell the pineapple at the stem end. It should smell sweet. Avoid one that smells sour, musty or fermented. Pineapples do not ripen after being picked, so opt for a ripe one that is still fresh and at its prime.

How to Store Fresh Pineapples
Pineapples may be left at room temperature for a day or two after purchase. It will not become any sweeter, but this will help it to soften some and be juicier. Pineapples are very perishable. So, if you do not plan to eat it soon after bringing it home, it’s best to wrap it in perforated plastic and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep like that for up to 3 to 5 days. For best flavor, allow the pineapple to come to room temperature before eating or cooking with it.

Store cut pineapple in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will keep best if it is covered in pineapple juice. Fresh pineapple may be frozen in an airtight container and will keep for up to six months.

Dried vs Canned vs Fresh Pineapple
Dried Pineapple. Nutritionally speaking, the nutrient content of dried fruits is usually reduced when compared with their fresh counterparts. The heat and prolonged exposure to air causes these losses. Vitamin C, B-vitamins, calcium and potassium are all reduced to some degree in the drying of pineapple.

Despite the loss of some nutrients, dried pineapple retains its natural sugar content in the process so it is a deliciously sweet treat. It would be a great addition to granola, trail mix, cereal, and baked goods. Many manufacturers of dried pineapple often coat the fruit with added sugar in the process, making it even sweeter. Like this, it becomes more like a candy than a fruit. If you’re watching your blood sugar levels, you will need to restrict the amount of dried pineapple that you eat in one serving. It is possible to find dried pineapple without added sugar, so be sure to read labels carefully if you’re avoiding added sweeteners.

Canned Pineapple. As would be expected, some nutrients are lost in the canning process of pineapple. For example, almost half of the Vitamin C content of fresh pineapple is lost in the making of the canned version. However, a cup of canned pineapple still has about 28% of our daily value of Vitamin C, which can be a major contributor to the diet. Unfortunately, all of the important enzyme bromelain is lost in the canning process. Despite these losses, canned pineapple is a good staple food to add to your pantry collection. It’s available at a moment’s notice to be used any way you need, whether to be eaten as-is or used in a cooked dish.

Fresh Pineapple. If you’re looking for the highest nutritional value in pineapple, fresh is best. Fresh pineapples are found in many grocery stores most of the time, so they are usually available when needed. Although they do take some time to prepare, nothing can beat the taste of sweet and juicy fresh pineapple. They can be eaten raw or enjoyed in cooked dishes and baked items. Another advantage is that they are often inexpensive, considering how much edible fruit you get from one pineapple. Even though there are great uses for dried pineapple, and canned pineapple is very convenient, give the fresh variety a try if you haven’t already done so. You’ll be glad you did!

How to Prepare a Pineapple
First remove the top and base of the pineapple with a sharp knife. There are many ways to remove the skin. A simple way is to rest the pineapple on its base, then cut downward along the sides to remove the skin. Take a paring knife to remove the “eyes” that remain. The pineapple may also be cut into quarters, leaving the core or removing it with a knife. The quarters can then be sliced, then the skin cut away.

Pineapple corers are also found in many stores. They are a convenient way to remove the core and rind from the fruit. However, they will also likely remove a lot of edible fruit too, so they may or may not be your best choice.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Pineapple
Pineapples are delicious tropical fruits that can be enjoyed in many ways from breakfast to supper time desserts, and anything in between. It can be used raw or cooked, and is commonly used in American, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines. If you’re looking for ideas for something a little different, here are some suggestions…

* Make a shrimp salad with cooked shrimp, diced pineapple, grated ginger, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste and serve on a bed of lettuce.

* Make a pineapple salsa with diced pineapple and chili peppers. Serve with fish.

* Drizzle maple syrup over pineapple slices. Broil until lightly browned, then top with yogurt.

* Make a quick salad with chopped pineapple, grated fennel, and chopped cashews. Serve with chicken.

* Make a tropical fruit salad with diced pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and mango.

* Add chunks of pineapple to a coleslaw or carrot salad.

* Add pineapple to your morning smoothie for a delicious flavor boost.

* Top pineapple with yogurt for a delicious, creamy dessert or snack.

* Top your favorite burger with a pineapple ring for a tropical twist.

* Add pineapple as a topping on pizza.

* The next time you fire up the grill, add some grilled pineapple rings to the menu. You’ll be glad you did! It can be served with your protein of choice, included in a dessert, or paired with a vegetable or cooked grain.

* Add pineapple to pico de gallo for a sweet flare.

* Make an easy pineapple sorbet by freezing canned pineapple with its juice in a shallow container. When frozen, remove the container from the freezer and let it sit on a counter for 10 minutes to partially thaw. Break it into chunks and place them in a food processor. Carefully process it until smooth and serve immediately. Return any leftover to the freezer and repeat the process next time.

* Make easy pineapple popsicles. Blend 3 cups of fresh or drained canned pineapple with 1/3 cup milk of choice, and ¼ cup of sugar (or sweetener of choice). Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups and insert wooden sticks. Freeze until firm and enjoy!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Pineapple
Basil, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, curry powder, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, star anise, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Pineapple
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), cashews, chicken, fish, ham, nuts (esp. almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts), pork, seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sunflower), tempeh, tofu

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers (esp. red), chiles, cucumbers, hearts of palm, jicama, mushrooms (esp. Portobello), onions, parsnips, scallions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Apricots, avocados, bananas, berries (esp. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), coconut, other fruit in general (esp. tropical fruit), grapefruit, kiwi, kumquats, lemon, lime, mangoes, melon, orange, papayas, passion fruit, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Rice, seitan

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e. ricotta), coconut milk, cream, ice cream, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, caramel, chocolate (white and dark), gin, honey, lavender, liqueurs, maple syrup, molasses, oil, rum, sugar (esp. brown), vinegar (esp. apple cider, red wine, rice, white wine)

Pineapples have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. cakes, esp. pineapple upside-down), Caribbean cuisines, chutneys, curries, drinks (i.e. piña coladas), Hawaiian cuisine, salad dressings, salads (green and fruit), salsas, sauces, skewers (i.e. fruit), smoothies, sorbets, soups, stews, stir-fries, Vietnamese cuisine

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Pineapple
Add pineapple to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + vanilla
Apple + brown sugar + ginger + orange juice + soy sauce
Banana + brown sugar
Brown sugar + honey + rum + vanilla
Brown sugar + lime
Chiles + cilantro + garlic + lime + red onions
Cilantro + lime
Coconut + brown sugar
Coconut + ginger + rum
Coconut + passion fruit + white chocolate
Coconut + yogurt
Ginger + maple syrup
Honey + mint + yogurt
Peanuts + sweet potatoes

Recipe Links
Baked Ham with Pineapple

Easy No-Bake Pineapple Cheesecake

Smoked Pork Chops with Pineapple

Refreshing Watermelon Pineapple Smoothie

Coconut Pineapple Paleo Popsicles

Cucumber Salad with Pineapple and Cilantro

Baked Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Blueberry Salsa

Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Salsa

Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

Grilled Pineapple Salsa


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.