Category Archives: Food

Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds 101 – The Basics

Hemp seeds are interesting little seeds that have a strong nutritional punch to them. If you want an easy way to boost the health benefits of your foods, include some of them in whatever you want and your body will thank you for it. The following is a comprehensive article covering all about hemp seeds.


Hemp Seeds 101 – The Basics

About Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are the seeds of the plant family, Cannabis sativa. They are the same species classification as the cannabis/marijuana plant, but are a different variety. So, they are completely different plants. Hemp seeds do not cause any mind-altering effects.

Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and the hulled seeds are sometimes referred to as hemp hearts. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or roasted. Hemp seed oil has been used as food and medicine in China for over 3,000 years.

Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits
Hemp seeds are very nutritious. They are about one-third fat, being rich in the omega-6 fat, linoleic acid, and the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. They have a ratio of 3:1, omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered to be the optimal ratio for health.

They are also a great source of protein, Vitamin E, and the minerals phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. About one-fourth of the calories in hemp seeds comes from protein. Furthermore, the protein in hemp seeds is considered to be almost a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids, which is unusual in plant foods. (They are a little short in the amino acid lysine to have the complete balance of amino acids that humans need to be considered “complete.”) Two to three tablespoons of hemp seeds provides about 11 grams of protein. They are also a very digestible protein, being better than many grains, nuts and legumes.

Hemp seeds may help reduce your risk for heart disease. They are rich in the amino acid arginine, which produces the gas nitric oxide in the body. This gas makes your blood vessels relax and dilate, thereby reducing blood pressure. Increased arginine intake has been shown to correspond with lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker associated with increased risk for heart disease.

Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil may also improve skin disorders such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, and acne. Studies suggest that the immune system works at its best when the omega-6 and omega-3 fats are properly balanced. Recent research has shown that eczema is actually an autoimmune condition. Because of the optimal balance of essential fatty acids in hemp oil, studies have shown that the oil may relieve the dry skin and itchiness of eczema, reducing the need for skin medications, and helping to correct the condition internally.

Studies have shown that the high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in hemp seeds may reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women. Women experienced reduced breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability, and fluid retention associated with PMS. Studies indicate that the high GLA content of hemp seeds may also reduce the symptoms experienced during menopause. The oils in hemp seeds produce prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin, the hormone that appears to cause the symptoms experienced during PMS. During menopause, the oils in hemp seeds may help to regulate hormone imbalances.

Whole (unhulled) hemp seeds are also a good source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which helps to improve digestion and cleanse the colon. Whole hemp seeds are crunchy and are more shelf-stable than the hulled version. It is noteworthy that sometimes the hull can get stuck in teeth or dental work. Hence, some people avoid the whole seeds for this reason. Hulled hemp seeds do contain some fiber, however, they do not have the colon-cleansing effect of the whole seeds because the outer hull which contains most of the fiber has been removed.

How to Select Hemp Seeds
When buying hemp seeds, look for those packaged in air-tight, opaque containers that will protect them from light and air. Look for a “best by” date and opt for the freshest you can find.

How to Store Hemp Seeds
Once opened, store your hemp seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, where they will keep for about a year. If kept on the pantry shelf, they may last only three or four months before starting to go rancid. If you notice any “off” smell to them, throw them away, as they have started to spoil and should not be eaten.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Hemp Seeds

Here are some simple ways to include hemp seeds into your diet…

* Sprinkle whole or shelled hemp seeds onto cereal, hot or cold.

* Add a spoonful of hemp seeds to yogurt for a nutty flavor and nutritional boost.

* Add hemp seeds to a smoothie.

* Add some hemp seeds to baked goods when mixing dry ingredients.

* Sprinkle some hemp seeds onto a salad of any type.

* If using whole hemp seeds, grinding them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle can help to make them more digestible.

* Hemp seeds are completely gluten free, so those who are sensitive to gluten can freely eat them.

* Add hemp seeds to breading mixture when coating foods for frying or baking. Or, simply use hemp seeds in place of bread crumbs when mixing breading ingredients.

* Make hemp seed milk in the same way you would make your own almond milk.

* Use hemp seed oil only as a “finishing” oil, rather than cooking with it or heating it in some way. This will maintain the quality of the fatty acids, and avoid breaking them down from the heat. Use hemp seed oil to make salad dressings, add flavor to cooked vegetables, and drizzle over popcorn, pasta dishes, cooked grains such as rice, or even pizza.

* Sprinkle hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds) on cooked vegetables of any type.

* Add some hulled hemp seeds to burgers of any sort, meat or meatless.

* Add some hulled hemp seeds to soups, sauces, stews, tomato sauce, pesto, and casseroles for a little nutty flavor and nutritional boost.

* Add hemp hearts to any chia seed pudding.

* Add hemp hearts to pancake or waffle batter.

Foods That Are Known to Go with Hemp Seeds
Protein, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (white), cashews and cashew butter, eggs, walnuts

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery root, mushrooms, onions (green), squash (winter), vegetables (in general), watercress

Fruit: Avocados, berries (in general), blackberries, lemon, lime

Grains and Grain Products: Baked goods, breading (for meats, fish, poultry), cereals, grains (whole), noodles, oatmeal, popcorn, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (cottage), yogurt

Other Foods: Chocolate, oil, vinegar (esp. white wine)

Herbs: Cilantro

Hemp seeds have been used in…
Baked goods (breads, cookies, muffins, piecrusts, quick breads), cereals (hot and cold), chili (vegetarian), dips, granola, pestos, pilafs, salad dressing, salads (green), smoothies, soups, spreads (i.e. chickpea), stir-fries, trail mixes, and veggie burgers

Recipe Links

18 Creative and Delicious Hemp Seed Recipes

Hemp Seed Recipes: How to Use Hemp Seeds

39 of the Best Hemp Recipes Ever (and Why Hemp is a Super Healthy Food)

11 Delicious Hemp Seed Recipes

Gluten-Free Vegan No-Bake Hemp and Chia Seed Bars


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.

How to Reduce Bitterness in Food

Bitterness is a taste sensation that most people don’t care for. Yet, some foods are known for being very bitter, while others have some bitter “notes” to them. Dandelion greens, flowery broccoli rabe (rapini), radicchio, some dark leafy greens, coffee, and dark chocolate are all known for being bitter. Sometimes, we add ingredients that may unintentionally create a bitterness in a dish. So, can we salvage the food and reduce the bitterness? Hopefully. Here is a video where I discuss this topic, followed by the suggestions in writing.

I hope this helps!

Chill it. If you want to eat a raw vegetable that can be bitter, try soaking it in very cold water for at least 30 minutes, up to a few hours. Cut the food into bite-size pieces or thin slices, then place it in a bowl of ice water. If you plan to soak it for an extended period of time, place it in the refrigerator. Then enjoy your chilled veggies as planned.

Heat it up. Heat can also mellow out bitter flavors. Searing, roasting, and braising vegetables can mellow out bitterness, and lend a deeper flavor profile to your foods.

If you don’t want to overcook bitter vegetables, try blanching them just enough to reduce the bitterness while bringing out a bright color and crisp-tender texture.

Add a little sweetener. Pair the bitter food with something sweet. Dark chocolate is a great example of how some sugar goes a long way in reducing bitterness in a food.

Add a small amount of sugar or other sweetener to tomato sauce. Such sauces can sometimes be a little bitter, and adding a little sweetener counteracts that and brings out the natural sweetness of tomatoes.

Add some acid. A little acid is a chef’s secret in reducing bitterness in foods, especially in leafy greens and other vegetables. Adding some lemon juice or vinegar at the end of cooking will reduce the bitterness and give the greens a refreshing, bright flavor.

A little red wine can also help to counter the bitterness in tomato sauce.

Add some salt. A little salt actually balances bitterness, sometimes better than sugar. If you’ve ever seen someone lightly salt a grapefruit, that’s why. Try it sometime.

Add some fat. Add some fat, whether it’s in the form of butter, oil, cheese, cream, nut butter, or some other fat. Fat tends to dull the taste buds somewhat and masks bitter flavors. Adding cream to coffee is a good example of adding fat to reduce bitterness. Adding an oil dressing to green leafy vegetable is another example.

Mix it up. Adding bitter foods with other, non-bitter foods is a good way to reduce bitterness in a dish. For example, adding some bitter greens in a green salad with other non-bitter greens will reduce the bitter sensation. Then adding an oil-based salad dressing will further dampen the bitterness.

Add a little baking soda. Just a pinch of baking soda can adjust the sour or bitter flavor in foods. For example, adding just a pinch of baking soda can reduce the bitterness in tea.

If you find that you added too much acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) to a dish, reduce the acidity with a pinch of baking soda. (Remember…just a pinch. If you add too much baking soda, you may not be happy about it.)

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.


Green Beans with Tomatoes

Green Beans with Tomatoes

Here’s a simple way to dress up green beans. Green beans with tomatoes is a delicious way to serve green beans and the dish goes well with many meals. Below is a video demonstration of my making the recipe with fresh green beans. But frozen and thawed green beans can easily be used instead. The recipe is below.


Fresh Green Beans with Tomatoes
Makes 5 to 6 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup diced yellow onion
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
Up to 1 lb of fresh green beans, or frozen green beans, if desired*
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp dried basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar, optional

Wash, trim, and cut the fresh green beans into bite-size pieces; set aside. (See below if using frozen green beans.)

Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add oil and allow it to heat up briefly. Add the onion and sauté about 1 minute. Add the garlic and prepared green beans. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with juice, basil, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Cover and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the green beans are as tender as you like, stirring occasionally. It takes about 10 minutes for fresh beans to become crisp-tender. Remove from heat and drizzle with vinegar, if desired.

*If preferred, frozen green beans can be used. Simply place the frozen beans in a colander and rinse with running water until they are thawed. Allow to drain, then proceed with recipe as usual. Very little cooking time is needed when using frozen and thawed beans. A few minutes should be enough to lightly cook them without them becoming mushy.

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.


Flaxseeds 101 – The Basics

Flaxseed have become more popular in recent years, as we’ve learned just how healthful these tiny seeds are. Below is a compilation of information about these little gems, from their history to recipes and ideas on how to include them in your meals. I hope this helps!


Flaxseeds 101 – The Basics

About Flaxseeds
The scientific name for flax, Linum usitatissimum, tells us a lot about the flax plant and its value to humans for literally thousands of years. The “Linum” part of this name reveals the fact that the plant has been woven into the fabric “linen,” which has been made for over 3,000 years. The “usitatissimum” part of its name is Latin meaning “of greatest use” in Latin. And nothing could be truer than that. Flax has not only been used as a food source, but also for being woven into fabrics and used in the making of sails, bowstrings, and body armor. If that’s not enough, flaxseed is also used in the making of linseed oil, which is used as a wood finish and preservative.

Evidence shows that flax cultivation was common practice as far back as 2,000 BC, and possible back to 4,000 BC in the Mediterranean Sea region and in parts of the Middle East.  Early evidence shows that flax cultivation may have existed during the Neolithic Era, about 10,000 BC. It appears that flax has always been used for both culinary and textile purposes.

Even into modern day, flax is being used for culinary and domestic use. Most flax production in North America is made into different grades of oil. Non-food grade flaxseed/linseed oil is used in wood finishes, paints, coatings, and other industrial supplies. Food grade flaxseed/linseed oil can as be used in livestock feed, or as a culinary oil. Canada is the world’s largest producer of oilseed flax, followed by Russia, France, and Argentina.

Fiber flax is the other major variety of flax. France and Belgium are major producers of fiber flax. While cotton, wool and silk remain the most popular natural fibers in the global textile market, the global flax market has grown in recent years due to increased production of linen products in China.

In addition to flax oil and linen production, the demand for flaxseed as a food has been increasing. Since flaxseed is considered to be a very nourishing food and many sources are proclaiming the health benefits of flaxseed, the demand for flaxseed is expecting to grow even further.

Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits
Flaxseeds are loaded with nutritional benefits and are listed among the “superfoods.”

Flaxseeds are an exceptional source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA has been found to help keep cholesterol from clinging from blood vessels of the heart and reduces inflammation in arteries. With that, flaxseeds have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, the fiber in flaxseeds has been shown to improve cholesterol levels, further decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Flaxseeds have been shown to help lower blood pressure, especially in those who already have elevated blood pressure.

Also, flaxseeds are very high in lignans. Lignans are fiber-related polyphenols that act as antioxidants and also phytoestrogens. They are known to help reduce our risk for cancer and improve overall health. Specifically, flaxseeds have been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women. Flaxseeds have also been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. Animal studies have shown that flaxseeds reduce the rate of colon and skin cancers. So, no matter who you are, you stand to benefit by including flaxseeds in your diet!

Flaxseeds are also a good source of dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble), protein, Vitamin B1, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, Vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, and potassium. The soluble fiber is a type of mucilaginous gum that enables the seeds to thicken liquids. These fibers also help to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

How to Select Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds can be purchased whole or ground. When purchasing whole flaxseeds, make sure there is no evidence of moisture in the package. If purchasing the seeds from bulk bins, be sure there is a fast turnover from the bins. Otherwise, they may not be as fresh as you would want. Bear in mind that whole flaxseeds are hard to chew and digest, so it is recommended that they be ground before being eaten. Many people grind their flaxseeds in a spice, seed, or coffee grinder just before using it, which helps ensure they get maximal health benefits from their seeds.

Ground flaxseeds are available for purchase and are a nice convenience for those who can’t take the time to grind their own seeds.

How to Store Flaxseeds
Optimally whether whole or ground, flaxseeds should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

If purchased ground, flaxseeds should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. They are much more prone to oxidation and spoilage once ground, so their oils need to be protected by cold temperatures and airtight containers. This same principal applies to home-ground flaxseeds. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 months, and up to 12 months in the freezer.

Whole flaxseeds can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark area for 6 to 12 months. However, storing them in the refrigerator or freezer ensures they will be at their maximal freshness for the longest period of time, which is 12 months.

Flaxseed oil is highly perishable and should always be stored in the refrigerator. Only opt for flaxseed oil that was sold in opaque bottles that help protect it from the light.

How to Prepare and Preserve Flaxseeds
If you buy whole flaxseeds, they should be ground before being used. Many people use spice, seed, or coffee grinders for this process. Most people grind only the amount they need for immediate use. If you prefer to grind more at one time, store the extra ground seed in an airtight container in the freezer.

Quick Tips and Ideas for Using Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds have gained in popularity in recent years as a valuable health food for everyone to include in their diet. They have emerged as an important source of omega-3 fats especially for vegetarians, with only one tablespoon providing 1,597 mg of the essential fatty acids. If you aren’t in the habit of including flaxseeds in your foods, the following tips and ideas are provided to help you out.

* Top fruit with yogurt, then sprinkle with round flaxseed.

* Add some ground flaxseed with flour when measuring dry ingredients for baked goods.

* Flaxseed oil is highly perishable, so it is not recommended that it be used in cooking. But it may be added to dishes after they are cooked.

* For a nutritional boost, sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto hot or cold cereal.

* Add ground flaxseeds to a smoothie or shake for a nutritional boost.

* Add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to a smoothie or shake for added omega-3 fats.

* Add some ground flaxseed to your burgers or meatloaf (whether they are meatless or meat-based).

* Sprinkle ground flaxseeds on cooked vegetables (such as carrots) for a nutty flavor and nutritional boost.

* Finish your favorite creamy soup with a sprinkle of ground flaxseed for added color, nutrition, nutty flavor, and thickening.

* Add ground flaxseeds to baked goods, like muffins and breads, for a nutritional boost.

* When using flaxseed in a hot dish with liquid in it, add flaxseed at the end of cooking time to keep it from thickening the liquid too much.

* Add some ground flaxseed to salad dressings. They will not only add a big nutritional boost, but will also thicken them, making them adhere to your salad ingredients better.

* To use flaxseeds as an egg replacer in baked goods, mix one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with three tablespoons of water. Allow the mixture to rest briefly as the water thickens. Then add it to your batter in place of an egg and proceed from there as usual.

* Whenever you’re “breading” something (coating it with bread crumbs), add some ground flaxseed to the breading mixture for an added nutritional boost.

* Make a delicious smoothie by blending together 1 banana, 1 cup roughly chopped strawberries, 1 cup milk of choice, and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed. If desired, it may be further sweetened with 1 or 2 Medjool dates, 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey, or sweetener of choice.

* Sprinkle a little ground flaxseed onto mayonnaise or mustard after spreading it on bread for a sandwich.

Foods, Herbs, Spices That Are Known To Go Well With Flaxseeds
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds:
Nuts in general (esp. peanuts, peanut butter, walnuts), sesame seeds

Vegetables: Carrots and carrot juice, fennel, kale, squash (winter), vegetables (in general), zucchini

Fruit: Apples and applesauce, avocados, bananas, citrus fruits

Grains: Flour (any grain, and in baked goods), grains (in general), oats, oat bran, oatmeal, rice, wheat

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cottage cheese, yogurt

Other: Honey, oil (esp. olive)

Herbs and Spices: Coriander, herbs in general

Flaxseeds have been used in…
Baked goods (quick breads, yeast breads, crackers, muffins, pie crusts), cereals, desserts, French toast, granola, juices, meatless burgers and loafs, pancakes and waffles, pizza crust, salads (i.e. as a topping), smoothies, soups

Recipe Links Using Flaxseed
Chocolate Protein Balls

Bran Flax Muffins

No Bake Energy Bites

15 Ways to Use Ground Flaxseed

17 Recipes That Will Make You Want to Eat More Flaxseed


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.

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Gold Potatoes 101 – The Basics

You may already be familiar with Yukon Gold potatoes, but relatively speaking, they’re fairly new on the market. They were released for sale in 1980, which is really not that long ago. Their color, flavor and texture are a bit different that than of a standard white potato, so you may be wondering what to do with them. Below is a lot of information that will hopefully answer all your questions about these beauties in the potato arena. If you haven’t tried a Yukon Gold, let me urge you to go for it! They’re a real treat.


Yukon Gold Potatoes 101 – The Basics

About Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yukon Gold potatoes are classified as Solanum tuberosum. They are a cross between a North American white potato and a wild South American yellow-fleshed one. They were first bred in Canada in the 1960s and were released for sale in 1980.  They were named for the gold-rush country by the Yukon River. Yukon Gold potatoes are available year-round. They are grown in Canada and the Midwest and Western regions of the United States.

Yukon Golds have a smooth, thin, light brown skin that is relatively free of eyes giving it a uniform texture and shape. The flesh is yellow to gold in color, firm, moist, and waxy. They have a medium starch content. Cooked Yukon Gold potatoes have a creamy and tender consistency with a rich, buttery flavor. These potatoes are versatile and can be used in a variety of ways including both wet and dry cooking methods. Yukon Golds are considered to be an “all-purpose” potato.

Nutrition Tidbits
Many people have shied away from eating potatoes in recent years because of their carbohydrate content. However, when eaten in moderation and with their skins intact, the fiber and nutrients in potatoes makes them a good addition to a healthful diet.

Yukon Gold potatoes have about twice the Vitamin C as white potatoes, yielding about 45% of the recommended daily value. They are also good sources of Vitamin B6, potassium and fiber. They are naturally fat, sodium, and cholesterol-free. A medium Yukon Gold potato has about 100 calories.  Research has shown that including Yukon Golds in your diet may help you to sleep better and reduce your risk for heart disease.

How to Select Yukon Gold Potatoes
Choose firm potatoes with no wrinkles, bruises, or soft spots. Avoid those with a greenish tinge. This indicates they were exposed to too much light and developed the toxin solanine. Small amounts of green area can be cut off before using the potato. If more than half of the potato is green, throw it out. The solanine may cause intestinal upset and is actually toxic in large doses.

How to Store Yukon Gold Potatoes
Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place in an open paper bag. Keep them away from heat sources. Do not store in the refrigerator, as the cold temperature will promote the starches to turn to sugar. Also, do not store them near onions, as the gases released will cause the potatoes to age faster. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them. They should keep well for up to two weeks.

How to Preserve Yukon Gold Potatoes
Cooked and mashed Yukon Golds can be frozen. Pack in a sealed container with 1/2 inch headspace and freeze for up to one year. Reheat in the microwave, or over low heat in a saucepan with 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk or water, while stirring constantly.

The traditional blanching method is also a good way to freeze Yukon Gold potatoes. First wash them well, and remove the peel if desired (it is not mandatory to peel them). Cut the potatoes into desired size pieces (from hash brown size to large chunks) and blanch them in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Immediately transfer them to an ice water bath for 3 to 5 minutes, until completely cooled. Drain well and place them in air-tight freezer containers or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Store in the freezer for up to 10 to 12 months.

You may also freeze the blanched pieces separately by placing them in a single layer on a baking tray that was coated with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tray in the freezer until the pieces are frozen, then transfer them to an air-tight container or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Return them to the freezer.

For best results, use frozen potatoes within a month, but they may keep in the freezer for up to a year. When you want to use the potatoes, use them frozen or only partially thaw them in the refrigerator.

Complete instructions for freezing potatoes that are prepared in various ways can be found on this website:

How to Prepare Yukon Gold Potatoes
When you’re ready to use your Yukon Golds, simply give them a good scrub under running water. Remove any blemishes with a paring knife. It is not mandatory to peel them, but you can if desired. Once the potatoes are cut, use them right away. If that’s not possible, place them in a bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown. Adding a little lemon juice or vinegar to the water will also help to keep them from discoloring. Do not soak the potatoes for more than two hours.

Cooking/Serving Ideas Using Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yukon Gold potatoes are strong enough to be used for Hasselback potatoes, fluffy enough for being mashed, and creamy enough for a rich yet crispy roasted potato. Yukon Golds can be used in any recipe calling for red potatoes (but not vice versa). They can be mashed, used in soups, stews, chowders, and casseroles, roasted, grilled, fried, sautéed, steamed, boiled, microwaved, and baked.

Quick tips for using Yukon Gold potatoes:

* Potatoes cooked with their peel on will be more flavorful, will hold their shape better, and will absorb less water. Also, the peel is easier to remove once the potato is cooked.

* When boiling potatoes, place them in the pot with cold water. If placed in a pot of boiling water, they will not heat evenly and the outside will be cooked before the inside of the potato is done.

* Make a simple soup by cooking Yukon Gold potatoes in chicken or vegetable broth with leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard or spinach, and sautéed garlic and onions.

* Use leftover baked potatoes for quick hash browns the next day.

* Cut leftover baked potatoes into ½-inch slices. Brush with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with seasonings of choice. Bake at 425°F for 35 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Call them done when golden brown.

* For easy garlic mashed potatoes, cook them with several peeled cloves of garlic. Mash the garlic along with the potatoes and season as usual.

* For rich mashed potatoes, add evaporated milk instead of whole milk.

* Dress up mashed potatoes by adding in some chopped broccoli and cheddar cheese.

* Do something a little different with your mashed potatoes. Drizzle some pesto on top. Or dress them up with some herbs, such as scallions, parsley and thyme.

* For easy roasted potatoes, cut potatoes into large chunks. Coat with olive oil and/or melted butter, and season as desired. Roast at 375°F for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, turning them often, until golden brown outside and tender inside.

* Use leftover mashed potatoes to thicken soups and stews.

* Use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato patties. Mix about 2 cups mashed potatoes with 1 or 2 eggs, ¼ cup flour or bread crumbs, and seasonings of choice (i.e. salt, pepper, garlic, onion, cheese). Form into patties and fry in a small amount of fat in a skillet. Optional topping: sour cream.

* Use baked potatoes for mashing, rather than boiling them. They will have more flavor and will be less watery.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Yukon Gold Potatoes
Basil, bay leaf, capers, caraway seeds, cardamom, cayenne, chervil, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder and curry spices, dill, fenugreek, garam masala, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Other Foods That Go Well With Yukon Gold Potatoes
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds:
Bacon, beans (fava), beef, cashews, chickpeas, egg, lamb, lentils, peas, pine nuts, poultry, seafood, tahini, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, beans (green), bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chiles, chives, eggplant, fennel, greens (i.e. collards, mustard, salad), kale, leeks, mushrooms, okra, olives, onions, parsnips, peas (split), ramps, rutabagas, scallions, shallots, sorrel, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, truffles, turnips, vegetables (root), watercress

Fruit: Apples, coconut, lemon

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, pasta, quinoa, spelt

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese, coconut cream, cream, crème fraiche, milk (dairy and non-dairy), sour cream, yogurt

Other: Lavender, mayonnaise, oil, pesto, stock (vegetable), vinegar, wine

Yukon Gold potatoes have been used in: Baked goods, casseroles, curries, French cuisine, gratins, Indian cuisine, potato cakes/potato pancakes, salads (i.e. egg, green, potato), skordalia (a thick Greek garlic and potato sauce or spread), soups, stews, stuffed baked potatoes

Suggested Flavor Combos:
Combine Yukon Gold potatoes with…
Butternut squash + sage
Cauliflower + leeks
Cheddar cheese + chiles + corn
Cream + garlic + thyme
Garlic + lemon + olive oil + parsley
Garlic + olive oil
Herbs (oregano, rosemary, thyme) + lemon

Recipe Links
Seasoned Yukon Gold Wedges

Sheet Pan Flank Steak, Greens, and Yukon Gold Fries Recipe

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Yukon Gold Potatoes

Crisp Garlic Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Gold Potatoes: Jacques Pepin Style

Rosemary Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

Pan-Fried Yukon Gold Potatoes with Paprika

Melt in Your Mouth Potatoes

Hasselback Yukon Gold Potatoes


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.

Oil vs No Oil Roasted Eggplant Slices

Oil vs No Oil Roasted Eggplant Slices Comparison

This was a comparison test to determine the difference between eggplant slices roasted both with and without added oil.

Below is a video of the actual comparison test. The written test notes and results follow the video.

One eggplant was prepared by removing both ends, then it was peeled and sliced into about ¼-inch slices. Both sides of each slice were lightly salted, then allowed to sweat for 15 minutes. Both sides of each slice were then patted dry with a paper towel.

The prepared slices were divided into two groups, one with oil and one without oil. The “with oil” slices were lightly coated on both sides with extra virgin olive oil using a pastry brush. The slices were placed on the same parchment paper-lined baking sheet pan, with the oil treated slices on one side and the no-oil slices on the other side.

The eggplant slices were then sprinkled with garlic powder and dried Italian seasoning. The pan was placed in a 400°F oven, on the middle rack, for 33 minutes. The slices were turned over at 15 minutes into the baking time, and then again after another 15 minutes.

They were allowed to cool slightly, then tasted. The results are as follows:

Oil treated slices:
The slices were somewhat moist with a bit of eggplant flavor. The seasoning flavors were good. They browned a lot, with some slices almost burning. Less oven time would have been best for the oil treated slices.

No-oil slices:
These slices were slower to roast and brown then the oil treated slices. They were dry and a bit rubbery in texture. The flavor of the seasonings was about the same as the oil treated slices. However, there was less eggplant flavor since they had less moisture content.

Our personal favorite:
My husband and I were the only taste testers for this comparison. However, we both preferred the oil-treated slices because they were less dry and rubbery, and had a slightly better flavor with the added moisture content from the oil.

Personal recommendation:
For best flavor and texture, I suggest that eggplant be sliced a little thicker, up to ½-inch thick, then brushed with a mixture of half oil of choice and half water. This will add moisture back into the eggplant and also coat it with a little oil for enhanced browning, flavor, and moisture retention. Roast in the same method as above, but remove it from the oven when the slices are golden, not allowing them to over-brown nor burn.

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.


Pumpkin 101 – The Basics

Pumpkins are found just about everywhere in the fall months…in grocery stores, at farm markets, on front porches, on dining room tables, among displays in many stores, and other places too! They are one of the things that makes Fall seem like Fall. And who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? So, if you were enticed to buy a fresh pumpkin, but just aren’t sure what to do with it beyond carving or making a pie, here is some help! Check out the info below, and surely you’ll be able to find some different way to include pumpkin in your holiday meals, especially if you’re looking for something other than pie. I hope this helps!


Pumpkin 101 – The Basics

About Pumpkin
Pumpkins are members of the gourd family. So they are cousins to watermelon, muskmelons, and summer and winter squash. Their nutritional profile makes them similar to many vegetables and we typically consider pumpkin to be a vegetable. However, they are technically a fruit since they contain seeds. They come in a variety of colors including green, yellow, red, white, blue, multicolored, and more. Pumpkins also come in a variety of shapes including very tiny to very large (needing a forklift to be moved), squat, tall, short, round, and pear-shaped. Some pumpkins are best for eating, while others are best for carving or just used for display.

Pumpkins are native to North Americas, so Native Americans were very familiar with them and used every part of the pumpkin. The flesh was roasted, boiled and dried. The seeds were eaten and used as medicine. The pumpkin blossoms were added to stews. Dried pumpkin was stored for winter food or ground into flour. The shells were dried and used as bowls or storage containers.

The seeds of pumpkin are edible, delicious and nourishing. They are often salted, dried or toasted and eaten as a snack or included in baked goods, cereals, granola, salads, and more.

Nutrition Tidbits
Pumpkin is a highly nutritious food. It is especially high in beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor. One cup of cooked pumpkin has 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin A. That same cup of cooked pumpkin also has substantial amounts of protein, Vitamin C, potassium, copper, manganese, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin E, and even iron. One cup of cooked pumpkin has a mere 49 calories.

Pumpkin contains a lot of antioxidants, which are known to help neutralize harmful free-radicals in the body. This action helps reduce our risk for cancer, heart disease, eye diseases, and other chronic diseases. Furthermore, the nutritional profile of pumpkins (especially their content of Vitamins C, A, and E) helps to boost the immune system so it can fight infections faster and more efficiently. The Vitamin A content of pumpkin helps to protect the eyes from the leading cause of blindness in the world (Vitamin A deficiency). The lutein and zeaxanthin in pumpkins help protect eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts. The antioxidants found in pumpkins are known to lower the risks specifically for stomach, throat, pancreas and breast cancers. If all this isn’t enough, the nutrient profile of pumpkins, especially their beta-carotene content helps to promote healthy skin!

Pumpkin seeds have their own health benefits, so many people include them in their diets on a regular basis. Most pumpkin seeds purchased at stores are called “pepitas” and don’t have the hard white shell that is found on most seeds removed from fresh pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds are rich in a variety of nutrients including protein, healthy fats, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, Vitamin K, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants known to help reduce inflammation and our risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and they even have antimicrobial effects and improve our quality of sleep.

So, with all the wonderful benefits of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, when you’re shopping for a pumpkin to carve or add to your fall decor, why not include one or two for you to cook and eat during the season too! Your body will thank you for it.

How to Select a Pumpkin
While any pumpkin is edible, some are better for eating, while others are best simply for display or carving. The pumpkins best for eating are sweet, flavorful, and have a smooth-textured flesh. Pumpkins that are best for display will be bland, watery, and have stringy flesh. Since pumpkins are usually not labeled according to their technical names, the easiest way to choose a pumpkin that will taste good is to opt for one labeled as a “sugar pumpkin” or “pie pumpkin.” Avoid any with soft spots or bruises, and choose one that seems heavy for its size.

How to Store Pumpkins
If you have a fresh pumpkin that you need to keep for a while, store it in a cool, dry place. Allow air flow around it, so do not rest it against another pumpkin or object. About 50°F is best for long-term storage of a fresh, cured pumpkin. Hence, your garage may be a good place to keep it. But, do not store them below 45°F, as that is too cold, and they may soften and rot. When stored properly, fresh pumpkins should keep for two or three months.

How to Roast, Freeze and Dry Fresh Pumpkin
First, and VERY importantly, if you have carved your pumpkin and allowed it to sit as a display piece, it should not be eaten. Bacteria and mold will most likely have developed in the flesh, even if you can’t see it. It would not be safe to eat. Such pumpkins should be composted or discarded in some way.

Roast: Fresh pumpkin is really not hard to preserve for later. First it needs to be cooked. Roasting fresh pumpkin is simple. Just wash it well, pat it dry, then cut it up (carefully so you don’t hurt yourself!) and remove the seeds with a spoon. Lay the pieces, cut side down, on a baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, although this is not absolutely mandatory). There is NO need to coat the pumpkin with oil or anything else. Place the baking sheet into a 400°F oven and allow it to roast until a sharp knife can be inserted easily into the flesh. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool some until it can be handled. Scoop out the flesh and puree it in a food processor, if desired.

Freeze: Place measured amounts of pumpkin puree (so you’ll know how much you have when you go to use it) into freezer containers or bags and store in the freezer. Frozen pumpkin puree will keep for about one year.

To thaw pumpkin puree, it can be removed from the freezer and allowed to rest on the counter for up to one hour. At that point it should be ready to use. To speed things up, it could be removed from the freezer bag (which may involve ripping the bag) and placed in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on defrost until it is soft enough to use. Also, you could place your container or bag of frozen pumpkin puree into a pan of hot tap water to thaw it out. Refresh the water as it cools down. I do not recommend heating the water on the stove because your freezer container or bag may not be intended for such high heat, which might leach plastic chemicals into your food.

Dehydrate: Roasted pumpkin puree can also be dried into a pumpkin leather, if you have a dehydrator. Spread the puree onto solid dehydrator trays and dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Fresh pumpkin can also be blanched rather than roasted before being dehydrated. Cut fresh pumpkin flesh (shell removed) into ¼-inch thick slices, or small cubes. Blanch slices or cubes in boiling water for 3 minutes. Grated fresh pumpkin can also be blanched for 30 seconds before being frozen. Remove the blanched pumpkin from the water and immediately cool it in a bowl of ice water. Drain well and place on appropriate dehydrator trays. Follow the directions that came with your dehydrator for time and temperature for drying the pumpkin. Store dehydrated pumpkin in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Placing an oxygen absorber in the jar will help ensure its longevity.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin
Of course, fresh pumpkin is seasonal and only available in the fall months. It takes a little effort to prepare it and preserve it for later use. However, its health benefits are worth the effort and its versatility allows it to be used in many dishes from breakfast to suppertime desserts. Preserved fresh pumpkin is often somewhat light in color when compared to canned pumpkin. The variety of pumpkin affects the color.

Canned: Canned pumpkin is available year-round and is an excellent choice if you want to enjoy pumpkin during the off seasons and you have no preserved pumpkin on-hand. A specific variety of pumpkin (the Dickinson pumpkin) is usually used for commercially canned pumpkin. This type is deep orange in color, so commercially canned pumpkin is usually darker in color than pumpkins that we buy and preserve ourselves. The Dickinson pumpkin is grown specifically for canning, cooking and baking since their flesh is creamy and sweet, and not stringy nor watery. These pumpkins are grown specifically for the Libby Company, so you will probably not find them in your local market. The closest we can come is to purchase a fresh pumpkin labeled as a “pie” or “sugar” pumpkin.

When shopping for canned pumpkin, be sure to read the ingredients list and pick one that lists only pumpkin as the ingredient. Some options may be a mixture of squash and pumpkin, which in itself may not bad. But some may have added salt, which you might need to avoid. Also, unless you’re really needing the added convenience, avoid the pumpkin pie “mix” which has added sugars and flavorings. Yes it’s convenient, since you just open the can, pour it into a pie shell, and bake. But it may not have the flavor you’re looking for, and it may have some unwanted ingredients. It’s not that hard nor time consuming to add your own ingredients to make your favorite pumpkin pie. This option allows you to control what goes into your pie, avoiding unwanted additives, and adjusting the seasonings as preferred.

Comparison Tests: According to the writers at who conducted a taste test comparing the flavor and texture of fresh vs regular canned vs canned organic pumpkin puree, the flavor of fresh pumpkin puree was superior to that of either version of canned pumpkin. When comparing the texture of the three types of pumpkin, the fresh also was the most desirable with the canned organic pumpkin being the least desirable. The three types of pumpkin were also compared when baked into a pie. The fresh pumpkin rated best regarding flavor and texture, with the traditional canned pumpkin being a close second. The organic canned pumpkin came in last in their ranking. So with all things considered, it looks like fresh is best in this case, with traditional canned pumpkin ranking second, and organic canned pumpkin placing last.

How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin
Fresh pumpkin should first be washed well to remove any dirt or debris that may be sticking to the shell. Then pat it dry and place it on a sturdy cutting board that won’t move around as you use it. With a very sharp knife, cut the pumpkin into pieces. Large pieces are fine. Remove the seeds with a spoon and discard them or reserve them for roasting. Roasting the pumpkin is easy and will yield the most flavor in your finished product. See the instructions for roasting pumpkin in the “How to Preserve Pumpkin” section above.

Fresh pumpkin can also be boiled. The result will be a more watery flesh with less flavor than roasted pumpkin. To boil your pumpkin, cut the pumpkin as directed above, but into somewhat smaller pieces. With a paring knife, remove the outer shell from each piece (or leave the shell on and remove it after the pieces have been boiled). Place the cut pumpkin in a large pot of boiling water and allow it to boil until fork-tender. The length of time will depend upon the size of the pieces. Drain well and remove the flesh from the shell if it was not done already. Straining boiled pumpkin through cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a nut milk bag can help to remove excess water. Use as desired.

How to Roast Fresh Pumpkin Seeds
Many people enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds. So, if you have a fresh pumpkin, then why waste the seeds? Place the seeds along with their strings from the pumpkin into a colander and place that in a large bowl of water. With your hands, carefully remove the strings and discard them. Remove the colander and allow the seeds to drain well. Transfer the seeds to a rimmed baking sheet. Remove any remaining strings or bits of pumpkin flesh and spread the seeds around the baking sheet. Allow the seeds to air dry overnight. The next day, toss the seeds with a light coating of olive oil, melted butter or coconut oil, and sprinkle with your seasoning of choice. Roast at 300°F for 30 to 45 minutes, until lightly toasted and crispy. Enjoy!

Optional seasonings for pumpkin seeds (use any one or combination you prefer): Salt, garlic salt (optional…toss with a teaspoon of vinegar after roasting for a salt and vinegar flavor), cinnamon and sugar, garam masala (then add raisins after they come out of the oven), smoked paprika (then toss with slivered almonds after the seeds are roasted), grated Parmesan and dried oregano or Italian seasoning, or a mixture of brown sugar, chili powder, and ground cumin.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Pumpkin
Pumpkins are a favored item during the fall months. Whether we enjoy them purely as decoration, or include them in a variety of treats, they are loved by many. If you have extra pumpkin on hand, whether it be canned or fresh, here are some ideas for ways to use it up. Enjoy!

* Make pumpkin puree with your fresh pumpkin. It freezes well and will keep for later use in soups, muffins, pancakes, or whatever you like. Simply cut your pumpkin up and remove the seeds. Place the pieces on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake it at 400F until a fork or knife can easily be inserted into it. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool some. Remove the pulp from the shell and puree it in a food processor. Scoop measured amounts into freezer bags, label, flatten, and freeze for later. Frozen pumpkin puree should keep for up to 12 months.

* Enjoy a pumpkin smoothie. Add one banana, some yogurt or milk of choice, some pumpkin puree, some sweetener (if desired), and a little pumpkin pie spice (or some cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger) to your blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

* Add toasted pumpkin seeds to a salad, soup, trail mix, granola, or just enjoy them as a snack.

* Add a little pumpkin puree and some cinnamon and nutmeg (or pumpkin pie spice) to your morning oatmeal for a pumpkin oatmeal breakfast.

* Did your smoothie come out a little too thick? Transfer it to a bowl and top it with something crunchy or chewy like chopped walnuts, flaked coconut, slivered almonds, hulled hemp seeds, or cocoa nibs. Spoon it up and enjoy!

* Make easy pumpkin pancakes by adding some pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to your favorite pancake batter. Cook as usual. Sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for added flavor.

* Make your own pumpkin pie spice by combining 4 Tbsp ground cinnamon, 4 tsp ground nutmeg, 4 tsp ground ginger, and 3 tsp ground allspice. Store in an airtight container.

* Make a quick pumpkin butter. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon clove, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Add 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree. Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring constantly until everything is combined and smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. Store in a small container in the refrigerator.

* Make an easy pumpkin dip by blending together ¾ cup soft cream cheese, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, ½ cup pumpkin puree, 2 tsp maple syrup, and ½ tsp ground cinnamon. Transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with sliced apples or pears, waffle sticks, vanilla cookies, ginger snap cookies, graham crackers, pita crisps, pie crust cookies, and even carrot and celery sticks!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Pumpkin
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry leaves and curry powder, fennel seeds, garam masala, ginger, lemongrass, mace, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, vanilla

Other Foods That Go Well With Pumpkin
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans, beef, cashews, chestnuts, chicken, chickpeas, hazelnuts, nuts (in general), peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Carrots, celery, chiles, chives, fennel, garlic, greens, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radicchio, root vegetables, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini

Fruit: Apples, apple cider, apple juice, coconut, cranberries, lemon, lime, orange, pears, pineapple, plantains, plums (dried), quinces, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Breadcrumbs, corn, couscous, graham cracker crumbs, millet, oats, pasta, rice, wild rice

Milk and Non-Dairy: Butter and browned butter, cheese, coconut milk, cream (and whipped cream), milk, vanilla ice cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Brandy, caramel, chocolate (dark and white), cognac, honey, maple syrup, mustard, oils, rice syrup, rum, soy sauce, sugar (esp. brown), vegetable stock, vinegar, wine (white)

Pumpkin has been used in the following foods and cuisines…
American cuisine, baked goods (bread puddings, breads, cookies, muffins, pies, quick breads, scones), cheesecake, custards, gratins, pancakes and waffles, pastas (cannelloni, gnocchi, orzo, ravioli, tortellini), pies, puddings, risottos, soufflés, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, stews, stuffed mini-pumpkins

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Pumpkin
Combine pumpkin with…
Allspice + cinnamon + ginger + orange + vanilla
Almonds + raisins
Apples + cilantro + curry + leeks
Brown sugar + cinnamon + cloves + ginger + nutmeg + orange + walnuts
Cardamom + cinnamon + cloves
Chickpeas + cilantro + garlic + ginger + lemongrass
Cinnamon + cloves + coconut milk + ginger + nutmeg + vanilla
Cinnamon + ginger + maple syrup + pecans
Cinnamon + ginger + oatmeal + raisins
Cinnamon + maple syrup
Cream cheese + graham cracker crumbs + orange

Recipe Links
How to Roast Fresh Pumpkin (video…Judi in the Kitchen)

Pumpkin Pie (My Bakery Recipe…Judi in the Kitchen)

Apple Pumpkin Thai Soup

Roasted Pie Pumpkins with Wild Rice, Apple, and Kale Stuffing

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Vegan Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Butter from Scratch

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie for 2

Pumpkin Squares

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

One Bowl Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Vegan Pumpkin Alfredo Noodles

Skinny Pumpkin Protein Cookies

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl

Roasted Pumpkin Apple Soup

Flourless Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Oat Bars


MacKenzie, Jennifer, Jay Nutt, and Don Mercer. (2015) The Dehydrator Bible. 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.

Easy Blackeye Peas (Vegan)

Easy Blackeye Peas (Vegan)

Here’s a really delicious vegan recipe for blackeye peas. They would be excellent served over a bed of rice, or also with any grain you enjoy. The video demonstration is below with the written recipe following that.


Easy Blackeye Peas (Vegan)
Makes 4 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
Pinch red pepper flakes
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste
1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 (12 oz) bag of frozen Blackeye peas

Place the oil in a skillet or saucepan with a lid and allow it to heat up briefly. Add the onion and bell pepper and allow them to sauté for about 2 minutes, until they start to soften up. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and cover the pan. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Allow everything to cook until the peas are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Suggestion: This is excellent served over a bed of rice.

*If you prefer not to use oil, simply sauté in a couple tablespoons of the vegetable broth.

Zucchini Pasta Soup

Easy Zucchini Pasta Soup

This simple soup is a great way to use up some of that extra zucchini from the garden! If it’s not garden season for you, zucchini are usually available year-round in most grocery stores. This soup is easy to make and is very “forgiving” and flexible, so it can easily be tailored to your needs and taste preferences.

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


Zucchini Pasta Soup
Makes About 4 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable stock, if preferred)
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
½ cup diced bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked beans of choice*
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
1 scant tsp sugar**
½ tsp salt, or to taste
¼ tsp black pepper, or to taste
4 cups diced zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
½ cup uncooked elbow pasta*
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional topping

Briefly heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot with a lid. Add chopped onion and bell pepper and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes, broth, beans, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and bring the mixture a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for about 20 minutes. Raise the heat on the stove and add the zucchini and pasta. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta and zucchini are just tender, but not mushy. Serve. Soup may be topped with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

*If desired, cooked meat of choice may be substituted for the beans. Or the beans (or meat) can be omitted, if preferred. In this case, if you want more filling in the soup, the pasta can be increased to 2/3 cup.

**The sugar in this recipe helps to cut any bitterness from the tomatoes. If preferred, it can be omitted.


Cranberries 101 – The Basics

Cranberries are popular in American cuisine, especially during the fall months when they are freshly harvested. They are traditionally served with most Thanksgiving feasts. Not only do we enjoy cranberry sauce during Thanksgiving, but we also love cranberry bread, cranberry salad, cranberry beverages, and dried cranberries in trail mix.

If you’re looking for something a little different to do with cranberries this year, read on! I have a LOT of suggestions to do with cranberries along with suggested flavor combinations of foods that go well with cranberries. Look no more!!


Cranberries 101 – The Basics

About Cranberries
Unlike many foods we routinely consume today, cranberries are native to North America. Interestingly, the plant has not spread widely across the globe. Today, over 80 percent of the world’s cranberries are grown in the United States and Canada, with most of those being grown in the United States. In 2014, about 840 million pounds of cranberries were produced in the United States, while about 388 million pounds were produced in Canada. Our main cranberry producing states are Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Cranberries are also grown in New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

Cranberries are grown on very low-lying vines that thrive on a combination of peat-based sandy soil and wet conditions. The area where cranberries grow is usually referred to as a “bog” or “marsh.” Wetland habitats are places where cranberries naturally grow. They usually take 16 months to fully mature. They are often planted in late spring or summer and mature during the fall of their second year.

Cranberries are closely related to blueberries, with both fruit belonging to the Ericaceae family of plants. The two berries have similar properties, yet unique benefits as well. We may see white and red cranberries in the grocery store. They are actually the same variety, with the white ones having been harvested about two to four weeks early. The white cranberries are milder and less tart in flavor than the red ones, but they lack some of the healthful phytonutrients that generate the red color in the more mature berries. The color of the mature berries can range from pale red to crimson to scarlet to deep purple.

Most of the cranberries grown in the United States are processed into juice, dried, or made into sauce. Only five percent are sold fresh. Due to their sharp, sour flavor, fresh cranberries are rarely eaten raw and unflavored.

Nutrition Tidbits
Cranberries provide an array of vitamins, minerals and other compounds that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Among other nutrients, cranberries are a good source of Vitamins C, E, and K, along with pantothenic acid, manganese, copper, and fiber. One cup of cranberries has a mere 46 calories.

For the greatest nutritional value, use your cranberries when fresh and uncooked. Many of their nutrients are lost during the cooking process, especially when heated to 350°F or above.

Cranberries have long been known for their benefit against urinary tract infections. Historically, Native Americans are known to have used cranberries as a treatment for bladder and kidney diseases. Compounds in cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder. As reported in an article at, scientists have found that this effect can be seen within eight hours of drinking cranberry juice.

Also, some scientific evidence suggests that cranberries may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure. They may also reduce the risk of cancer by slowing tumor progression, and protect dental health by preventing bacteria from adhering to teeth and helping to protect against gum disease.

How to Select Cranberries
Fresh cranberries are usually harvested between mid-September and mid-November, so the freshest berries would be found during this time frame.

Look for fresh, plump, brightly colored berries that are firm to the touch. Firmness is a prime indicator of freshness when shopping for cranberries. The richer the color, the higher is their phytonutrient (anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin) content.

How to Store Cranberries
Before storing your cranberries, pick through them, removing any that are soft, discolored, pitted, or shriveled. Store them in the refrigerator (unwashed) until you are ready to use them. Fresh, ripe cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

How to Preserve Cranberries
Fresh cranberries may easily be frozen for later use. Simply place your washed and drained berries on a tray. Place them in the freezer. When the berries are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag, label the bag and return them to the freezer. Cranberries will keep for 6 to 12 months in the freezer. Once they are thawed, they should be used immediately.

Cranberries can be purchased dried, but they are usually sweetened during their processing, and many of them were also coated with oil. The added sugar and oil greatly increases the calorie content of the cranberries. Furthermore, some people need to avoid added oils and sugars in their foods. Some producers do dehydrate cranberries without added sugars and oils, so know what you’re wanting when you shop and read labels carefully. If you have a dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s directions for drying your own cranberries.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned vs Dried vs Juiced
Fresh cranberries are found only during the fall months when they are harvested. They are relatively inexpensive, so if you use a lot of cranberries, it’s wise to stock up during this time and freeze or dry some for later use. As with so many foods, regarding nutritional aspects, fresh is best.

Frozen cranberries can be found in some grocery stores. They can be used in many recipes calling for fresh cranberries, however their texture may be softer when thawed then when fresh. Usually frozen cranberries are added to smoothies or cooked foods calling for the berries.

Canned cranberries are usually found as cranberry sauce, whether it be whole berry or the jelly variety. Canned cranberry sauce is delicious, but heavily sweetened. So, if you’re monitoring your added sugar intake, this option may not be the best for you.

Dried cranberries can be found in most grocery stores. However, most of them are heavily sweetened and they often also have oil added to them. All this makes them taste pleasant, masking the natural tartness of the cranberries. You’ll need to shop around if you’re looking for dried cranberries without the additives. Some companies do offer them dried without added sugar or oil, but not many. If your local grocery stores does not carry them, they can be found online.

Cranberry juice is found in most grocery stores. It is often blended with sweeteners and sometimes other liquids to reduce the tartness of the cranberries. One-hundred percent juice varieties are now available; however, they are a blend of a number of different fruit juices including cranberry juice. Such juices may have no added sugars, but the concentration of fruit juice makes them high in naturally occurring sugars. Again, if your diet calls for sugar restriction, such juices may not be the best for you. Some stores do carry 100% cranberry juice, without added sweeteners or other juices to mask the tartness of the cranberries. So, if you’re opting for cranberry juice, read labels carefully to be sure you purchase the type of juice you’re looking for.

How to Prepare Cranberries
Cranberries should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator. Wash them just prior to being used. Place the cranberries in a strainer and give them a quick rinse under cool, running water. Allow them to drain, then use them as desired.

When using frozen cranberries that will not be cooked, thaw them well and allow them to drain before being used. If you’ll be cooking your frozen cranberries, simply use them in the frozen state for the best flavor. Note that this may increase your cooking time somewhat.

Cooking/Serving Ideas
Fresh or dried cranberries are often used in many sweet and savory foods, baked goods, salads, relishes, snacks, and dishes from breakfast to suppertime desserts, especially during the fall months when they’re in season. In addition to the numerous suggested recipes listed below, the following are some quick ideas for using cranberries. Enjoy!

* Add some frozen cranberries to your favorite smoothie.

* Add some fresh cranberries when you juice vegetables for a healthful addition.

* Add some cranberries, whether fresh or dried, when you’re making your favorite quick bread, muffins, cookies, and even pancakes.

* Add some cranberries to the pot when you cook your favorite grain. This would work well with rice, quinoa, wild rice, millet, and buckwheat.

* Make a simple cranberry jam by mixing ground cranberries with a small amount of maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, or even other fruits like apples, oranges, pears, pineapple, and/or pomegranates.

* Make a savory cranberry chutney by mixing ground cranberries with onions, garlic, ginger, and apple cider vinegar.

Here are some quick ideas for using cranberries as provided by The World’s Healthiest Foods website at

* Take advantage of cranberries’ tartness by using them to replace vinegar or lemon when dressing your green salads. Toss the greens with a little olive oil and then add color and zest with a handful of raw cranberries.

* To balance their extreme tartness, combine fresh cranberries with other fruits such as oranges, apples, pineapple or pears. If desired, add a little fruit juice, honey or maple syrup to chopped fresh cranberries.

* For an easy-to-make salad that will immediately become a holiday favorite, place 2 cups fresh berries in your blender along with 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks, a quartered skinned orange, a sweet apple (such as one of the Delicious variety) and a handful or two of walnuts or pecans. Blend till well mixed but still chunky. Transfer to a large bowl. Dice 3-4 stalks of celery, add to the cranberry mixture and stir till just combined.

* Combine unsweetened cranberry juice in equal parts with your favorite fruit juice and sparkling mineral water for a lightly sweetened, refreshing spritzer. For even more color appeal, garnish with a slice of lime.

* Add color and variety to your favorite recipes for rice pudding, quick breads or muffins by using dried unsweetened cranberries instead of raisins.

* Sprinkle a handful of dried unsweetened cranberries over a bowl of hot oatmeal, barley, or any cold cereal.

* Mix dried unsweetened cranberries with lightly roasted and salted nuts for a delicious snack.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Cranberries (Fresh and Dried)
Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mint, nutmeg, pepper (black), salt, vanilla

Other Foods That Go Well With Cranberries (Fresh and Dried)
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, almond butter, chestnuts, chicken, hazelnuts, nuts (in general), pecans, pork, pumpkin seeds, turkey, veal, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, Brussels sprouts, chiles (jalapeño or serrano), kale, onions, pumpkin, squash (winter, esp. butternut), salad greens, spinach, sweet potatoes

Fruit: Apples, apple cider, apple juice, apricots, currants, dates, figs, lemon, lime, orange, pears, persimmons, pineapples, pomegranates, raisins, raspberries, tangerines, watermelon

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (soft), milk, yogurt

Grains: Bread crumbs, corn (popcorn), cornmeal, farro, oats, quinoa, rice (esp. brown, wild), wheat

Other: Agave nectar, caramel, honey, maple syrup, miso, sugar, vinegar (esp. balsamic), vodka, wine (esp. port)

Cranberries have been used in…
American cuisine, baked goods (esp. breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, quick breads, scones), cereals (esp. hot), cobblers, compotes, crisps, drinks (cocktails, juices, punches), granola, muesli, pancakes, pilafs, puddings (esp. bread, rice), relishes, salad dressings, salads (esp. grain, green), salsas, sauces (cranberry), sorbets, soup (fruit), stuffings (corn bread), trail mixes

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Cranberries

Combine fresh cranberries with…
Apples + oranges
Apples + raisins
Balsamic vinegar + ginger + honey + miso + orange
Brown sugar + lime + oranges + walnuts
Cinnamon + ginger + oranges + vanilla + walnuts
Cloves + ginger + oranges
Dates + orange
Maple syrup + vanilla
Nuts + wild rice
Oatmeal + walnuts
Oranges + pears + pecans

Combine dried cranberries with…
Grains (i.e. couscous, oats, quinoa, wild rice) + nuts (i.e. almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts)
Oats + vanilla
Orange zest + wild rice
Pears + pecans
Pecans (or walnuts) + wild rice

Recipe Links
Holiday Cranberry Relish

Perfect Oatmeal

Cranberry Sauce

40 Best Cranberry Recipes for All Your Fall Meals

50 Things to Make With Cranberries

16 Savory and Sweet Recipes to Make with Fresh Cranberries

Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry and Cilantro Quinoa Salad

Jamie’s Cranberry Spinach Salad

10 Things to Do With Fresh Cranberries

28 Mouthwatering Cranberry Recipes

25 Sweet and Savory Cranberry Recipes That Go Beyond the Sauce

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Cranberry Salsa and Blue Cheese Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Gingerbread Cupcakes

Roasted Cranberry, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

Cranberry Crisp

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.


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