Category Archives: Misc

Ginger Root

Ginger 101 – The Basics

Ginger root has been used for thousands of years for its culinary and medicinal properties. Fresh ginger knobs can be intimidating if you don’t know what to do with them. In the video below, I cover a wide array of information about ginger from what it is, to its medicinal properties, to how to cook with it, and more. My video notes are below for your personal use. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Ginger 101 – The Basics

About Ginger
Ginger is a rhizome (Zingiber officinale) that is related to turmeric. It has a thick underground stem that produces roots and shoots. The plant can grow up to three feet high and produce from two to five sections that can be harvested year-round. After the sections are washed and dried in the sun, they can be used for culinary or medicinal purposes. Ginger grows well in a warm, damp climate, with most of the world’s ginger being grown in China, India, Australia, and Jamaica. The flesh of ginger can be yellow, white or red, depending on the variety, and has a pungent and spicy aroma and flavor.

Medicinal Properties
Ginger originated in Southeast Asia, where it has been used by Chinese and Indian healers for thousands of years. It is still used today for both its culinary and medicinal benefits. Consuming ginger may help to reduce muscle soreness, inflammation, and relieve arthritis pain in a similar, yet more comprehensive way than NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen). And, when taken in normal amounts, ginger does not appear to harm the stomach nor kidneys, like NSAIDS can.

Ginger may also help to reduce nausea, improve digestion and sooth upset stomachs, control high blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol levels, fight cancer, destroy harmful pathogens in the digestive tract, relieve migraine headaches, and clear skin blemishes.

Precautionary advice: Large amounts of ginger taken at one time (such as eating a whole knob at one time) may interfere with calcium channel blockers and drugs that lower blood sugar. Eating such a large amount at once may also cause heartburn, diarrhea, and mouth irritation.

Nutrition Tidbits
Ginger has an array of vitamins and minerals in trace amounts. So, with regard to essential nutrients, it doesn’t have much to offer. However, its value as a spice and its extensive medicinal properties far outweigh its nutritional value.

How to Select Fresh Ginger
Choose pieces that look fresh with smooth skin with no blemishes, and feel heavy for their size. Avoid pieces that are soft, wrinkled, or moldy.

How to Store Ginger
Store unpeeled ginger tightly wrapped in plastic (or in a zip-lock bag with the air removed) and in the refrigerator. Be sure it is completely dry before wrapping it, or that will invite mold. It should last about a month in the refrigerator when stored properly. Throw it out if it develops mold.

How to Preserve Ginger
Ginger is found fresh, dried, crystallized, and even pickled.

Peeled fresh ginger can be stored for weeks in a glass jar covered with vodka or some other alcoholic beverage.

Fresh ginger can be stored in the freezer. Simply peel then grate the ginger. Put it on a parchment-lined baking tray in increments you plan to use it (ie in one teaspoon mounds). Freeze until solid, then transfer the mounds to an air-tight container and return them to the freezer. They should keep for about 6 months. It can be used frozen or will quickly thaw when needed.

Ginger can also be frozen by simply cutting the unpeeled root into one-inch chunks. Place chunks on a plate or baking sheet and freeze. Transfer to freezer bags and return them to the freezer.

To dry fresh ginger, peel and cut it into small pieces, then follow manufacturer’s directions for drying.

How to Prepare Ginger
Fresh ginger needs to be peeled before eaten. It can be peeled with a knife or scraped with the tip of a teaspoon.

Cooking/Serving Methods
Use ginger anywhere you want its sharp spicy flavor. This includes dipping sauces, dressings, rubs, pesto, teas, and even smoothies. To convert a recipe from dried ginger, use 6 parts fresh grated ginger for 1 part of dried ground ginger.

Serving ideas
Drink it! Try ginger tea with lemon for a comforting drink, especially if you have a sore throat. It’s also a great addition to cocktails and mixed drinks!

Add ginger to juices and smoothies.

Add ginger to a raw beet salad.

Ginger, carrots, and sweet potato are a flavorful combo for soup.

Winter holidays just aren’t right without ginger: Ginger biscotti or cookies, and gingerbread.

Herbs/Spices That Go With Ginger
Basil, chili, cilantro, cumin, curry, garam masala, lemongrass, mint, miso, turmeric, wasabi

Foods That Go Well With Ginger
Produce: apples, apricots, asparagus, bell peppers, blueberries, bok choy, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cherries, collard greens, cranberries, edamame, eggplant, fennel, figs, garlic, kiwi, lemon, lime, melon, mushrooms, onion, orange, peaches, pear, plums, potatoes, pumpkin, scallions, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tamarind, watercress, zucchini

Savory: poultry, fish, beef, seafood, oats, rice, tofu, almonds, tahini, seitan, chickpeas, grains, and lentils

Other: sesame oil, soy sauce, tamari, sake, rum, seaweed, honey, cream, and yogurt

Suggested Flavor Combinations
Ginger + Cream + Honey
Ginger + Cilantro + Scallions + Garlic
Ginger + Beef + Broccoli + Soy Sauce
Ginger + Celery + Carrot + Garlic
Ginger + Carrot
Ginger + Soy Sauce

Recipe Links
29 Ginger Recipes That Will Spice Up Your Life https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/ginger-recipes

Ginger Tea With Honey and Lemon https://producemadesimple.ca/ginger-tea-lemon-honey/

Ginger Sweet Potato Soup with Toasted Curry Croutons https://www.climbinggriermountain.com/2015/11/ginger-sweet-potato-soup-with-toasted-curry-croutons.html

Gingerbread Cookies https://www.canadianliving.com/food/recipe/gingerbread-cookies-4

Gingerbread Chess Pie https://www.canadianliving.com/food/recipe/gingerbread-cookies-4

101 Ways to Cook With Ginger https://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/ginger-recipes?

20 Sweet Ginger Desserts https://www.foodnetwork.ca/baking/photos/sweet-ginger-dessert-recipes/#!ina-garten-pumpkin-roulade-with-ginger-buttercream

53 Ginger Recipes That Are Just The Right Amount of Spicy https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/13-recipes-make-want-linger-ginger

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

Resources
https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-ginger

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/ginger-nutrition-facts-health-benefits-alternative-uses-more/

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/191/2

https://www.thekitchn.com/heres-the-best-way-to-store-fresh-ginger-tips-from-the-kitchn-214681

https://www.finecooking.com/article/whats-the-best-way-to-store-ginger

https://www.thekitchn.com/store-grated-ginger-in-the-freezer-to-make-it-last-longer-tips-from-the-kitchn-186709

https://producemadesimple.ca/goes-well-ginger/

Easy Way to Liquefy Crystallized Honey

Raw honey will crystallize at some point in time. This is a very natural process and should be expected. There are a number of ways to liquefy it again, but some of the ways will destroy the raw properties and eventually degrade the quality of the honey. Here’s an easy and effective way of removing the sugar crystals without destroying the raw properties of the honey. Note, that honey will crystallize again over time because of the unstable nature of the sugar to water ratio within the honey.

To learn about why the sugar crystals form in honey and what to do about it, see the following videos. Instructions for a simple and effective way of removing the crystals is below the video links.

I hope this helps!
Judi

To decrystallize honey using an electric range or a gas range without a constantly lit pilot light:
Place the jar of honey on the rack in the middle of the oven away from the light bulb. Turn on the light, but do NOT turn on the oven. Leave it there and eventually it will liquefy. The heat from the light bulb will gently warm the honey, while keeping the temperature within a safe range so the raw properties of the honey (ie. enzymes) are not destroyed. This will take hours, with the actual length of time unknown. It depends on how much honey is in the jar and the type, size, and amount of sugar crystals that were formed. This process could easily be accomplished overnight, or while you’re away at work during the day.

If you have a range with a constantly lit pilot light:
In this case, your oven may already be warm. It’s advisable to take the temperature inside the oven, measuring the heat generated only from the pilot light. If it’s between 80F and 110F, it may be enough to bring the honey back into its liquid form without the added heat of the light bulb. Simply place the jar of honey on the rack in the middle of the oven and leave it there for an extended period of time, usually overnight or while you’re away at work during the day. The length of time it takes will depend upon the actual temperature of the oven and the type and amount of sugar crystals in the honey.

Stop Leaks in Plastic Mason Jar Lids

Here’s a really simple solution to stopping the plastic mason jar lids from leaking liquids. Just take the lid that came with the jar and place it inside the plastic top, rubber ring side outward, facing the jar rim. Place the cap on the jar and tighten. You do not need to overly tighten the lid to make this work. See the video below where I demonstrate just how easy and effective this is!

I hope this helps!
Judi

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

Bell Peppers

How to Pick a Sweeter Green Bell Pepper

Most of us know that red, orange and yellow bell peppers are truly ripe and much sweeter than green bell peppers. However, they are about twice the cost of the green peppers. Hence, money talks and most of us opt for the green variety. But, have you noticed that sometimes they taste pretty good, where other times they’re bitter and not sweet at all? I’ve discovered a really easy way to select sweeter green bell peppers. Learn this simple trick in the video below!

I hope this helps!!
Judi

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

Garlic

Garlic Powder vs Fresh Garlic

Fresh Garlic vs Garlic Powder

Most people have a jar of garlic powder somewhere in their kitchen arsenal of flavorings. It is simply ground up dehydrated garlic. Garlic powder has a somewhat different, milder flavor than its fresh counterpart. It is often called for marinades and dips since it disburses well in liquids and imparts a mild garlic flavor. Even though fresh garlic is called for in many recipes, we’ll sometimes opt for the powdered version depending on the time we have available, the desired outcome, or even our mood at the moment. So, the question came up…what’s the difference between the two? Does garlic powder have the same health properties as fresh garlic?

Garlic powder contains many of the same nutrients found in fresh garlic, but in lesser amounts. This is to be expected since processing food usually decreases nutrients to some degree.

While garlic powder does contain alliin and allinase, the components found in fresh garlic that produce the valuable compound allicin, allicin itself if not found in garlic powder. Allicin is produced when fresh garlic is crushed or finely chopped and allowed to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before being used. It has antimicrobial benefits, reduces inflammation and is an antioxidant that can help fight heart disease.

In an experiment conducted at https://www.cooksillustrated.com, researchers learned that allicin can be produced in garlic powder (and thereby giving the powder a better garlic flavor and the health properties of allicin) by first hydrating the garlic powder in an equal amount of water before being used (ie place ½ teaspoon of garlic powder in ½ teaspoon of water and allow the powder to hydrate or soak up water before using it). This allowed time for allicin to be produced and the flavor of the powder to be more like that of fresh garlic.

Despite the processing needed to produce garlic powder, the powdered version seems to still help to regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels including reducing plaque buildup in arteries, benefit the immune system, lower some cancer risks and help with digestion. To get the most health benefits from your garlic powder, hydrate it first in an equal amount of water and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow allicin to develop. So, although fresh seems to be best, garlic powder appears to be a very close second in terms of health benefits.

To see my video on this subject, click the video below…

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

Resources
https://www.organicfacts.net/garlic-powder.html

https://www.dovemed.com/healthy-living/wellness-center/what-are-differences-between-using-fresh-versus-garlic-powder/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/268286-benefits-of-garlic-powder/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/329968-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-allicin/

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/8896-experiment-bringing-out-the-best-in-garlic-powder

https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-allicin-88606

Fennel

How to Cut Fennel

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

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

I hope this helps!
Judi

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

Broccoli 101 The Basics

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

Broccoli is one of the most healthful vegetables one can eat. Yet, many people don’t like it, usually because of an experience when they were young and having to eat it when it was grossly overcooked. You can’t blame them for their feelings. When broccoli is overcooked, the sulfur compounds are released, making the house stink, and giving the vegetable a VERY strong flavor! If you’re in that camp, I urge you to give it a second try. Just don’t overcook it!

Below is a video where I discuss a lot of information about broccoli including how to cook it without that strong taste that most of us don’t like. Below the video are my discussion notes. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

About
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, so it is related to cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Vegetables in this family have many health benefits. It is among foods referred to as “super veggies.” It has anti-cancer properties, helps build and support body tissue and bones, is packed with antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, helps to reduce inflammation, helps control blood sugar due to its fiber content, supports heart health by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, promotes healthy digestion, supports healthy brain and nervous tissue function, supports a healthy immune system, may slow the aging process, supports oral health, and MORE. (See link below.) Broccoli gets its name from the Italian word “broccolo” which means “cabbage sprout.”

Healthline.com newsletter “Top 14 Health Benefits of Broccoli” … https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-broccoli

Nutrition Tidbits
Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, some B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium. It is a good source of beta-carotene. One cup of cooked broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange! Broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables. It is very low in calories, with only 31 calories in one cup.

Broccoli is high in sulforaphane (among other important compounds), a type of isothiocyanate, which is known to have anticancer effects. If for no other reason, this is one very important reason to include broccoli in your meals on a regular basis. The compound is found in greater concentrations in young broccoli sprouts than in the fully mature broccoli plant. So, if you have not tried growing your own broccoli sprouts, I urge you to try it! The sprouts are a delicious addition to any leafy green salad.

Cruciferous vegetables are SO important for our health that I’ve included some links where Dr. Michael Greger reviews medical scientific literature showing the benefits of eating broccoli and/or broccoli sprouts. This is just a tidbit of videos he has released demonstrating the value of including more fruits and vegetables into our diet. See also Dr. Greger’s website at https://nutritionfacts.org

Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ImlLsub2Ok&index=4&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Lung Cancer Metastases and Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Best Food to Counter the Effects of Air Pollution … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Which Fruits and Vegetables Boost DNA Repair? … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSDedXTsQkE&index=10&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mIC_OKOjIQ&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1&index=3

How to Select Broccoli
Look for bright green heads of broccoli with tightly clustered florets. The more open the florets, the older the broccoli is. Look for firm, strong stalks (flimsy stalks that bend are older and becoming dehydrated). It should feel heavy for its size.

How to Store and Preserve Broccoli
Store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible. It may be stored by misting the heads and wrapping them up loosely in paper towels or a cloth then placing that in a plastic bag to hold in the humidity. Use within 2 or 3 days.

To freeze fresh broccoli it needs to be washed and blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes or steamed for 5 minutes. Immediately cool it in a bowl of ice water, then drain it well and pack into freezer containers or bags. It will keep well for about 12 months in the freezer.

Dehydrating: Broccoli florets may be dehydrated. The stems may remain a bit tough with dehydration, so it is only recommended to dehydrate the florets. Blanch and cool them as above, then drain well. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s directions for the length of time and temperature for proper dehydration with your machine.

How to Prepare Fresh Broccoli
Wash fresh broccoli well right before using it. If it has started to get limp (dehydrated), soak it in water for 10 minutes to crisp it back up.

The stalks are often cut off and discarded. That’s a shame because they are just as edible and delicious as the rest of the broccoli. With a sharp knife, cut off (and discard) the very bottom end where the stem was originally cut from the plant. The woody outer layer of the stem can be trimmed off with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Once that is removed, the inner part of the stalk is very similar to the stalks attached to the floret tops. Why not eat them?

Fresh vs Frozen Broccoli
Fresh: Fresh broccoli is usually available in most grocery stores. This is an excellent way to purchase the vegetable, nutritionally speaking, as long as the stalks do not show signs of age.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten Raw: Raw broccoli contains the most nutrients and anti-cancer agents that the plant has to offer. When eaten in the raw state, we do absorb many of them. Some people have problems digesting raw broccoli, causing gas and bloating. If this happens to you, try cooking your broccoli in some way…steaming, boiling, roasting, etc.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten When Steamed: According to Dr. Michael Greger and research he covers in the following video, we actually absorb more of the anti-cancer nutrients in broccoli when it is lightly steamed. Apparently the (brief) steaming process makes the nutrients more available to the body. See his video at …

Raw vs. Cooked Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaY6TS9yxIY

Dr. Michael Greger explains in the following video, a good way to help maximize your intake of the anti-cancer compounds in fresh broccoli. It’s a simple strategy of cutting/chopping the broccoli, then waiting 40 minutes before actually cooking it. See his video at …

Second Strategy for Cooking Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

To steam fresh broccoli, cut into medium or small size pieces, place it in a steaming basket above boiling water and steam it up to 4 minutes. To get a boost of sulforaphane with the steamed broccoli, pair it with a raw source of enzymes that will produce the sulforaphane compound, such as horseradish, red radish, mustard, cauliflower, and/or arugula.

Frozen: Frozen vegetables are a great convenience to those with a time crunch in the kitchen. The vegetables are usually processed shortly after being harvested which helps to retain a lot of their nutritional value (over fresh vegetables that have aged before being purchased). According to Prevention (https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/a20457091/what-your-frozen-broccoli-is-missing/), the freezing process (briefly boiling the broccoli to blanch it) actually destroys the anti-cancer compounds in the vegetable. So we have a “catch-22” problem here, if you’re comparing convenience with nutritional aspects of broccoli. The choice is yours on which way to go. Perhaps include frozen broccoli at times when time is an issue and raw or steamed during other times.

Dr. Michael Greger uncovered a way (via scientific literature) to add enzymes to cooked broccoli that will help restore the development of anti-cancer compounds in broccoli. Simple mustard powder can do the trick! See his short video where he explains this trick…
Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Over the years, broccoli has typically been eaten cooked…and over-cooked for sure. Today, we’re learning that less cooking is best when eating vegetables. This is also true with broccoli. Not only does less cooking help to preserve nutrients, but it certainly makes them more enjoyable with a better flavor and texture. Most people prefer “crisp-tender” over “mush” any day! Also, less cooking prevents the release of the sulfur odor and flavor that comes with overly cooked broccoli. So, more and more people are enjoying this fabulously healthy vegetable lightly cooked or even raw.

Broccoli can be boiled, steamed, roasted, baked, sautéed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, put in a casserole, added to soups and salads, and enjoyed raw. So, it’s extremely versatile and well worth trying in a variety of ways to incorporate more if it into your meals!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Broccoli
Some suggested flavorings for broccoli include: basil, cilantro, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, parsley, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme.

The website https://Athleanx.com has a wonderful list of suggestions on what to serve with broccoli. They all sound good to me! Check it out at … https://athleanx.com/for-women/10-new-ways-to-make-broccoli-taste-awesome

Other Foods That Go Well With Broccoli
Cheddar cheese, onions, bacon, pasta, chicken, ham, bell peppers, cauliflower, hot peppers, leeks, lemon, lime, mushrooms, olives, orange, potatoes, salads, scallions, chives, shallots, spinach, squash, tomatoes

Also: almonds, butter, cashews, cheese (feta, cheddar, goat, Parmesan, etc.), coconut milk, eggs, pesto, soy sauce, tahini, tamari, vinaigrette, vinegar, wine, and yogurt

Recipe links
Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Blanch Broccoli … https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Judi in the Kitchen video, Cook Frozen Broccoli (Not Mushy) … https://youtu.be/Ig6CeSmgU0c

Judi in the Kitchen video, Simple Mustard Sauce for Broccoli … https://youtu.be/WkZecLPx8Og

Judi in the Kitchen video, Marinated Cruciferous Salad … https://youtu.be/-8wQitQtnvo

Judi in the Kitchen video, Easily Cut Fresh Broccoli with Less Mess … https://youtu.be/mKX8jfNl5IM

Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Steam Broccoli … https://youtu.be/adqpjc_OJIg

Dairy Council of California, assorted broccoli recipes at … https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes/kWord/broccoli

Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli … https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/144346/roasted-garlic-lemon-broccoli/

“Seriously The Best Broccoli of Your Life” … https://www.errenskitchen.com/seriously-best-broccoli-life/

Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic … https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caramelized-broccoli-garlic

Assorted Broccoli Recipes from Bon Appetit Magazine … https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/broccoli-recipes

Better Broccoli Casserole … https://cookieandkate.com/2016/better-broccoli-casserole-recipe/

How to Use Refrigerator Crisper Drawers

Just about any modern refrigerator has crisper drawers. These things are provided to help us keep foods organized and fresh as long as possible. Yet, many of us simply don’t give much thought about how to properly use them. It’s common to just stuff them with food that won’t fit on the shelves, still in their original plastic bags from the grocery store. Or maybe we fill them with beverage cans so they’re neatly tucked in and organized, so they’re easily reachable, and so we can see when we’re about to run out. Or maybe we stuff any fruits together in one drawer and any vegetables together in another drawer, move the slider vent to whatever setting seems right and call it done. Well, there’s more to the proper use of these amenities than that, so I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found…

Some drawers will have a high/low humidity setting. This is a simple toggle lever that you slide back and forth that opens or closes a small vent, allowing air to flow or closing it off. Sometimes the closed vent setting will have a picture of a vegetable by the word “high,” indicating high humidity by closing the air vent. That same drawer may also have a picture of a fruit by the word “low” indicating the air vent is open allowing for low humidity in the drawer (refrigerator air is normally very dry). If you have a drawer that does not have a toggle lever, then by default it’s a high-humidity drawer.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, so most of the humidity in the drawers comes directly from the food within. So, when the toggle lever closes off the air vent, it’s creating a highly humid environment for the items in the drawer. When the toggle lever opens the air vent, allowing refrigerator air to flow in and out of the drawer, it creates a low-humidity environment within the drawer. Some items should be stored in the high-humidity drawer, whereas others should be stored in the low-humidity drawer. So, what goes where?

Some fruits and vegetables produce a hormone in the form of ethylene gas that is emitted as a ripening agent. These same foods often react to the gas that they produce by ripening faster. Other fruits and vegetables do not emit this gas. Some fruits and vegetables are sensitive to the gas, causing them to ripen faster than normal, while others are not. This is where the fruit ripening trick comes from where we can place an unripe fruit in a paper bag (such as a mature green tomato) with a ripe apple or banana. The gas emitted by the apple or banana will speed up the ripening process of the other fruit (ie the tomato) that’s in the bag. This works IF that fruit is sensitive or reacts to the presence of ethylene gas.

Fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene gas need to be separated from the gas-producing foods. If not, the gas causes the sensitive foods to ripen and age faster than normal. By closing off the air vent of a drawer containing ethylene-sensitive foods, you’re protecting them from such gas in the refrigerator, while at the same time maintaining a highly humid environment helping to prevent the foods from wilting or withering. Examples of such foods include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, greens (like chard, spinach, turnip and mustard greens), lettuces, parsley, peppers, squash, and strawberries. These include vegetables and fruits that are thin-skinned or leafy and tend to lose moisture easily.

Ethylene-producing foods should be kept together and away from the foods that are sensitive to their gases. These foods should be stored in a crisper drawer with the air vent open, thereby allowing the refrigerator air to flow in and out of the drawer, creating a low-humidity environment. These foods tend to rot (such as apples) rather than wilt (such as lettuce). Some examples of these foods include: apples, apricots, avocados, ripe bananas, cantaloupes, figs, honeydew melons, kiwi, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, and plums.

One simple way to know which food goes in which drawer is to remember this: “stop rot/low humidity” (to prevent rot, open the vent in the drawer creating a low humidity environment) “stop wilt/high humidity” (to prevent wilting or withering, close the vent in the drawer creating a high humidity environment). If nothing else, note that the words in each pair have the same number of letters in them (both “rot” and “low” have 3 letters; both “wilt” and “high” have 4 letters). This association may help you remember which items to put together. For instance, those items that tend to wilt from lack of moisture will need to go in the high-humidity drawer, with the toggle vent closed. Those items that tend to rot will need to go in the low-humidity drawer, with the toggle vent open.

When preparing your refrigerator crisper drawers for newly purchased foods, make sure the drawers are clean and dry. It’s helpful to line the bottom of each drawer with either a couple layers of paper towels or a clean cotton kitchen towel, folded to fit the bottom of the drawer. The liner in the drawers will absorb extra moisture, keeping it from pooling on the food. This helps to keep the food dry which helps to extend the lifespan of the food. If you have fresh greens in a drawer, toss them around occasionally to prevent excess moisture from collecting on the leaves. Also according to the writers at TheKitchn.com, the drawers seem to work best if they are at least two-thirds full. That’s a good reason to keep plenty of fresh veggies around!

Another important point is to keep meats, poultry and seafood out of drawers with fresh produce. That’s a serious potential for cross-contamination. The drawer in the middle of the refrigerator (if yours has one) is often labeled as a meat drawer. If you always freeze meats and do not keep meats in the refrigerator, you could designate that drawer (which usually doesn’t have a toggle vent) as a high-humidity drawer for whatever foods you need to store there. If you do store fresh meats in the refrigerator and do not have a designated meat drawer, consider keeping meats in their original packaging and storing them in a closed container in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Use them within a few days.

Here is a list of some common foods that can be stored together and in which drawer:

High-Humidity Drawer
The high-humidity drawer (with the toggle vent closed) should contain fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to moisture loss and ethylene gas, and tend to wilt or wither when they age.

Examples include:
Belgian endive
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage (and vegetables in this family such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, etc)
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Green beans
Herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme)
Leafy greens (such as kale, lettuces, mustard and turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress)
Okra
Peas
Peppers
Strawberries
Summer squash
Watermelon

Low-Humidity Drawer
The low-humidity drawer (with the toggle vent open) should contain foods that are not sensitive to moisture loss, are ethylene gas producers, and tend to rot when they get old.

Examples include:
Apples
Avocados
Bananas (ripe)
Cantaloupes
Honeydew melons
Kiwis
Mangoes
Papayas
Pears
Plantains (ripe)
Prunes
Quinces
Stone fruits (such as apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums)

By storing fresh fruits and vegetables properly, we can help to extend their shelf lives to the fullest potential, thereby saving money and wasting less food.

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

Resources
https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-to-use-your-refrigerators-crisper-drawer-article

https://www.thekitchn.com/what-to-store-in-your-refrigerator-humidity-drawers-tips-from-the-kitchn-178094

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-use-your-crisper-drawer/

https://nutritionyoucantrust.com/ethylene-foods/

https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fruits-vegetables-storage-conditions-d_710.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/07/11/the-fruits-and-vegetables-you-should-never-be-stored-together_a_21429744/

https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/certain-fruits-and-vegetables-should-not-be-stored-together

https://www.subzero-wolf.com/assistance/answers/ethylene-producing-foods

https://www.thekitchn.com/food-science-ethylene-gas-130275

https://lifehacker.com/keep-leafy-greens-fresh-in-a-towel-lined-crisper-drawer-1752350793

https://www.marthastewart.com/1519551/proper-way-use-crisper-drawer-your-refrigerator

Rutabagas

Easily Cut and Peel a Rutabaga

If you’re not familiar with them, dealing with rutabagas can be a little intimidating. They’re round, so they are hard to stabilize to cut with a knife. They’re usually covered with wax (when bought commercially). AND, they’re dense and hard, so cutting them can be challenging. All this makes them a little scary for the kitchen novice. I found a simple way to cut them without using a vegetable peeler, which can be a bit awkward when trying to trim the peel from a round vegetable.

This way is simple to me, but I will say that you should be comfortable with using a paring knife to use this method. Check out the following video to see how it’s done!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Jicama 101 – The Basics

The humble jicama is one vegetable many people are not sure what to do with. It looks like a weird potato, yet is so very different and can be used in different ways than a potato. Whether it’s served raw or added to stir-fry combos, jicama is one vegetable to try.

It’s crunchy and mildly sweet and adds an interesting note to any dish it’s used in. I enjoy them raw and plain for a simple snack. They’re THAT good to me! I urge you to get brave and give them a try!

Below is a video where I talk about the basics of jicama…what they are, nutrition tidbits, how to use them, store them, prepare them, etc. I also have suggested recipes and links with interesting recipes included. Below the video are my discussion notes. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Jicama 101 – The Basics

About Jicama
Jicama is a root vegetable native to Mexico, Central and South America. It is often called a Mexican yam bean, Mexican turnip, or Mexican potato. The plant is so popular that it is now found all over the world. It has the appearance and texture similar to a potato, but the flesh is firm like a pear. The taste is mildly sweet with a slight apple flavor.

Nutrition tidbits
Jicama is low in calories (1 cup has 49 calories) but high in the soluble fiber inulin, which is important for our gut bacteria, bowel regulation, and might also help to control blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

Jicama also contains a lot of vitamin C, some potassium, and other nutrients.

How to select jicama
Look for ones that feel firm with little bruises or scaring on the surface. Avoid any with signs of mold.

Fresh vs frozen vs canned
Fresh jicama is what is commonly available. It is not available canned (to the best of my knowledge). Jicama can be frozen, but the starches in the vegetable may change, so fresh consumption is recommended.

How to store jicama
Store jicama in a cool, dry place. DRY is key here, because moisture will cause the vegetable to develop mold.

Once it is cut, wrap DRY jicama in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. Use within 3 to 5 days.

How to prepare jicama
The skin, leaves, seeds and PEEL of jicama are toxic and NOT edible. So, remember to peel your jicama before using it in any dish. Cut off and wash only what you plan to use at the moment, leaving the remaining part completely dry. Wrap the remaining part in plastic and store it in the refrigerator.

Once peeled, cut the jicama into desired size pieces that you need…cubes, slices, matchsticks, etc. The cut pieces will not turn brown after cutting.

Cooking/serving methods
RAW: Jicama is delicious when used raw in salads and slaws. The faint apple flavor allows it to go well with assorted salad vegetables like carrots and onions, and fruits like oranges and apples. A favorite way to serve jicama in Mexico is to sprinkle chilled slices with chili powder, salt and lemon or lime juice.

Try adding jicama to your favorite fruit salad…the crunch and mild sweetness will only enhance the appeal of the salad!

Try making a jicama salsa by combining diced jicama, corn, tomatoes, black beans, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice and onion. Sounds yummy!

COOKED: Jicama goes well in stir-fries, offering the crunch of water chestnuts but with a mild sweetness. Jicama goes well with meats and seafood. Jicama can also be cooked on the grill or added to soups.

Jicama can be roasted! Place cubes on a baking pan. Preheat the oven to 400F. Sprinkle the jicama with olive oil, rosemary, parsley, and a little minced garlic; toss to coat the jicama pieces. Roast it for about one hour.

How to preserve jicama
Jicama must be kept dry to prevent the formation of mold. Once it is cut, wrap it tightly in plastic and store it in the refrigerator. Use as soon as possible, within 3 to 5 days.

Herbs/spices/flavorings that go well with jicama
Cilantro, onions, chili powder/peppers, lemon, lime, orange

Foods that go well with jicama
Lime, lemon, orange, assorted fruits, avocado, bell peppers, mangoes, cucumbers, carrots, jalapenos, black beans

Recipe links

Assorted recipes using jicama … https://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/essential-ingredients/jicama

Assorted (and imaginative!) ways to use jicama… https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-jicama

Jicama, Black Bean and Tomato Salad … https://producemadesimple.ca/jicama-black-bean-and-tomato-salad-2/

Orange Jicama Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing … https://producemadesimple.ca/orange-jicama-salad-with-lemon-ginger-dressing/

Jicama-Date Canapes https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Jicama-Date-Canapes-101763

Assorted ways to enjoy jicama … https://www.wikihow.com/Eat-a-Jicama

Jicama Salad … https://foodfacts.mercola.com/jicama.html