Category Archives: Nutrition

Mung Beans

Mung Beans 101 – The Basics


Mung Beans 101 – The Basics

About Mung Beans
Mung beans are small, oval green beans that are members of the legume family. They are native to India, and have been cultivated for thousands of years. Their popularity led them to quickly spread throughout China and parts of Southeast Asia.

In the United States, they are often sold as sprouts in the produce department of some grocery stores, and many health food stores. Mung beans have a slightly sweet flavor and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, both cooked and sprouted. They are often used in salads, soups, and stir-fries.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Mung Beans
Mung beans are high in fiber, with a one cup serving providing around 15 grams, which is over half the daily recommended intake of fiber! They also are a good source of folate, manganese, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium, and zinc. They also supply appreciable amounts of Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, and selenium. Mung beans are considered to be one of the best plant sources of protein since they are rich in essential amino acids. That’s a lot to say for the humble mung bean!

Antioxidants. Mung beans are high in assorted antioxidants. Antioxidants help to neutralize potentially harmful molecules, known as free radicals, in the body that can raise our risk for various diseases. High levels of free radicals cause cellular damage which increases inflammation, thereby increasing our risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and assorted autoimmune diseases. Research studies have found that the antioxidants in mung beans can neutralize harmful free radicals known to cause lung and stomach cancers.

Interestingly, researchers have found that the number of antioxidants in sprouted mung beans increases up to six times more than those found in unsprouted mung beans.

Improved Cholesterol Levels. Animal studies have shown that the antioxidants in mung beans may lower levels of LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) while also protecting it from harmful free radicals. Simultaneously, human studies have shown that an increased intake of legumes (in general) lowers our LDL levels.

Reduced Blood Pressure. It is estimated that one-third of Americans has high blood pressure. Mung beans are high in specific nutrients, namely potassium, magnesium, and fiber, that are known to lower blood pressure. Adults who consume more beans have been shown to have lower blood pressure. Reinforcing that point, studies demonstrated that specific proteins in mung beans have been found to suppress enzymes that naturally raise blood pressure. This is all the more reason to include legumes of any kind in your diet as often as you can!

Improved Digestive Health. Mung beans are particularly high in fiber and resistant starch. Together, they promote the movement of bowel contents and support the health of our gut by feeding bacteria in the lower intestines. Furthermore, the carbohydrates in mung beans appear to be easier to digest, promoting less flatulence than other legumes.

Improved Blood Sugar Levels. Mung beans have several properties that can help to control blood sugar. The high fiber and protein in mung beans work together to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Animal studies have found that the antioxidants in mung beans lower blood sugar levels and help insulin to work more effectively.

Pregnancy Support. Pregnant women are advised to consume plenty of folate to prevent neural tube defects in their newborn children. Most people don’t get enough folate in their usual diets. Including mung beans in the diet while pregnant can help to fill that need. One cup of cooked mung beans provides 80 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate.

How to Select Mung Beans
Unless you live where mung beans are locally grown, the only ones you’ll find will be dried. They are sold whole and split, but whole mung beans are more common. They should be about ¼-inch long, brightly colored (usually deep green, but sometimes reddish-brown), smooth and oval in shape, and have smooth, undamaged skins (unless you purchased split mung beans).

How to Store Mung Beans
Store dried mung beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. For best results, use dried beans within a year. They will be very edible beyond that, but may take longer to cook. Dried beans dry out even more with age, so older ones will take longer to cook.

If you have store-bought mung bean sprouts, store them in the refrigerator in their original container and use them by the “Best by” date on the package. Do not wash the sprouts until you are ready to use them.

Unwashed bean sprouts that you grew yourself should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic container or bag with a clean cloth or paper towel under the sprouts to absorb any excess moisture. Another paper towel or cloth may also be placed on top of them for moisture absorption. If you have a lot of sprouts in the container, you could layer the sprouts with more paper towels or cloths for moisture absorption. The container or bag can be left slightly open to allow for air flow to help keep the sprouts dry. They should be used within 5 days. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them.

Once you have cooked your mung beans, store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you cannot use them within that time, freeze them in an airtight container, and use them within three months.

How to Prepare Mung Beans

Soaking Mung Beans. Soaking dried mung beans before cooking is optional. Since they are small beans, they cook quickly. However, presoaking them helps to reduce their phytic acid content, making them easier to digest, and also allows them to cook faster. To soak mung beans, first sort through your dried mung beans and remove any damaged or discolored beans, along with any debris. Place them in a bowl or jar with a lid. Rinse then drain the beans. Then fill the bowl or jar with water and cover it. Allow the mung beans to soak for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the water, then rinse and drain them again. Your soaked mung beans can then be sprouted or cooked as desired.

Cooking Unsoaked Mung Beans. Presoaking mung beans before cooking is optional. Since they are small beans, they cook quickly. To cook mung beans that were not presoaked, first sort through your dried mung beans and remove any damaged or discolored beans, along with any debris. Rinse the dried mung beans well, then drain. The standard rule of thumb is to place one part of mung beans to three parts of water in a pot. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook them about 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain any remaining water, then use as desired. Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.

Cooking Soaked Mung Beans. Soaked mung beans will cook faster than those that were not presoaked. Place one part of beans to three parts of water in a pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until they are tender to your liking. They will cook faster than those that were not soaked first, so monitor them so they do not overcook and become mushy. Drain any remaining water, then use as desired. Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.

Sprouting Mung Beans
Mung beans may be sprouted in a jar or on a tray. They are easy to sprout, and are usable in as little as 2 days. For instructions on how to sprout mung beans in the simplest way, visit Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds on their mung bean page at

Judi in the Kitchen video demonstration of growing mung bean sprouts in a jar, start to harvest …

To grow thick, long mung bean shoots, sprout them on a plate or tray under a cloth or paper towel. On the third day, add some weight on top. A plate or book may be enough to provide some added weight while still allowing air flow (which is vital, or the sprouts may spoil). For detailed instructions, visit the Sprout House at

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Mung Beans
* Presoaking mung beans is optional. They are small and quick to cook, compared with other beans like kidney beans. However, they may be soaked for up to 12 hours (8 hours is usually enough) to remove gas-causing compounds, if preferred.

* Split mung beans, with the outer hull removed, are called moong dal. The split version has slightly less fiber and cooks faster than the whole beans.

* Mung beans don’t have to be sprouted. They can also be pressure-cooked, sautéed, simmered, and stir-fried (in addition to being sprouted).

* The US Dry Bean Council recommends adding ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per pound of dried beans to cooking water. This helps them to soften up and cook faster. This will be especially helpful if your beans have been stored for over a year. The older they are, the drier they get and the longer they take to cook.

* If you can take the time, sprouting mung beans before cooking them is a valuable step in reducing their phytic acid, which reduces the absorption of specific minerals in a meal.

* Unsoaked dried mung beans will triple in bulk when boiled. So, one cup of unsoaked mung beans will yield three cups of cooked. When cooking soaked and/or sprouted mung beans, they will not soak up quite as much water, so they will not quite triple in yield.

* Add mung beans to a stir-fry with broccoli and cabbage.

* Try using mung beans in place of lentils in a recipe.

* Include cooked mung beans in minestrone or vegetable soup.

* If you overcooked mung beans, simply blend them with your favorite hummus ingredients to make mung bean hummus.

* Add mung bean sprouts or cooled cooked mung beans to lettuce or other wraps.

* If you bought mung beans for the sake of sprouting them, store them in the refrigerator or freezer for extended germination life.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Mung Beans
Bay leaf, cayenne, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garam masala, ginger, mustard seeds, parsley, salt, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Mung Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, lentils, peas (i.e. split), pork, shrimp, sugar snap peas, tempeh, tofu

Vegetables: Bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage (esp. napa), carrots, chiles, chives, garlic, greens (in general), leeks, mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomatoes, vegetables (in general)

Fruits: Coconut, lemon, lime

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, grains (in general), millet, noodles (esp. Asian), rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Coconut milk, ghee, yogurt

Other Foods: Oil

Mung Beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Asian cuisines, casseroles, Chinese cuisine, curries, dals, gravies, hummus, Indian cuisine, moong dal, mujadara, pancakes, pilafs, purees, salads, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, sprouts (mung bean), stews

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

Bulgur + olive oil + onions
Cumin + garlic + ginger + onions and/or coriander

Recipe Links
Ayurvedic Spinach-Mung Detox Soup [Vegan]

Mung Bean and Coconut Curry

Mung Beans with Caramelized Onions and Nigella [Fennel] Seeds

Mung Bean Soup

One-Pot Mung Bean Stew

Mung Bean Hummus

Mung Bean and Kale Soup

Mung Bean Noodles Braised with Shrimp

Mung Bean + Cilantro Falafel Tacos

Sprouted Mung Bean Burger with Mint-Cilantro Chutney

Summer Veggie Mung Bean Salad

Tangy Raw Cauliflower Salad

Vegetable Stir-Fry Mung Bean Noodles

Hearty Mung Bean Stew with Kale

Mung Bean Salad

Philippine Mung Beans in Coconut Milk



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.


Celery 101 – The Basics


Celery 101 – The Basics

About Celery
The celery we are most familiar with, that we commonly see in just about any grocery store, is green to pale-green in color, with long, firm stalks, and leafy ends. The variety is Pascal celery. Interestingly, there are many other types of celery that are usually smaller than Pascal celery. The colors can vary from white to deep gold, and even red. Celery is a botanical cousin to carrots, parsley, dill, fennel, cilantro, parsnip, anise, caraway, chervil, and cumin.

Many different types of celery are commonly grown around the world and are often referred to as “wild celery.” Pascal celery was cultivated as far back as 1000 B.C in parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. It was used as a medicinal plant in ancient Egypt. There is also evidence that ancient Greek athletes were awarded celery leaves to commemorate a win.

Around the world, celery is often served as a major vegetable in a meal, rather than an addition to salads, or a flavoring agent in soups and stews, like it is commonly used in America. Also, the large root ball, celery root, is often prized as a food in other parts of the world, over the stalks that are so popular in the United States.

Today, the United States produces over 1 billion pounds of celery each year. The average American adult eats about 6 pounds of celery annually. The United States exports about 200 million pounds of celery annually to Canada. Despite that, a substantial amount of celery consumed in the United States is imported from Mexico.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Celery is an excellent source of Vitamin K and molybdenum. It also contains a lot of folate, potassium, fiber, manganese, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B2, copper, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin A (carotenoids).

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Support. Celery is VERY rich in phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds include Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. But the antioxidant support provided by celery goes far beyond that. There are at least a dozen other compounds found in celery that demonstrate such benefits. Animal studies have shown that celery extracts have lowered the risk of oxidative damage to body fats and blood vessel walls. They have also been shown to prevent inflammatory reactions in the digestive tract and blood vessels. The extracts were even found to help protect the digestive tract and liver from damage due to acrylamides, which are harmful compounds that can form in foods during the frying process.

Further research on celery juice and extracts has demonstrated that celery has powerful anti-inflammatory effects by decreasing levels of specific factors that promote inflammation. This helps to keep those factors in check, preventing unwanted inflammation.

Digestive Tract Support. Celery contains specific pectin-based fibers that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Animal studies have found that extracts of these compounds in celery appear to improve the integrity of the stomach lining, lowering the risk of stomach ulcers, and providing better control of stomach secretions.

Cardiovascular Support. Many cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, are promoted by oxidative stress and inflammation in the bloodstream. Because of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties already found in celery, researchers are taking interest in celery for its potential cardiovascular health benefits.

Cancer Prevention. Because compounds in celery have been found to have such strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, researchers are taking note of celery for its possible anti-cancer benefits. Human research in this area has yet to be conducted, but there has been speculation that celery may help to prevent stomach, colon, and bladder cancers.

Sodium Content. Celery contains about 35 milligrams of naturally-occurring sodium per stalk. If you are on a reduced sodium diet, your intake of celery should be monitored to help you keep track of your sodium intake.

How to Select Celery
Choose celery that looks crisp, with a clean bright green color, few blemishes, and with a tightly formed bunch. Avoid those that are limp, or with yellow or brown patches, especially in the leaves, as this indicates age.

How to Store Celery
Celery should be stored in the refrigerator. There are a number of ways to store celery to keep it crisp. But note that nothing will keep celery crisp forever. It’s full of water and the refrigerator is a very dry environment, so celery tends to wilt easily. Here are some easy ways to help minimize water loss and keep it crisp longer.

(1) When you get your celery home, simply pull the original bag upward and secure a twist tie or rubber band around the top of the bag. This will help minimize water loss, while still allowing for air flow because the original bags that celery are packed in have air holes along the length of the bag.

(2) Remove the celery from the base and wrap the stalks in aluminum foil. This method is effective in keeping celery crisp and fresh for extended periods of time.

(3) Celery may be stored in a closed container. There are long plastic containers made specifically for storing celery. They usually have a mesh insert that celery can rest on, allowing for air flow around the stalks as they are stored.

(4) Celery may also be stored in any plastic container it will fit in. The stalks may need to be removed from the base, and even cut in half so they will fit in the container, and that is fine for this purpose. It is helpful to place a paper towel or clean cloth under the celery pieces. This will soak up any excess moisture that forms in the container, while maintaining a humid environment, helping to maintain its crispness.

If your celery has become somewhat dehydrated and limp, simply sprinkle the stalks with a little water, or place them cut side down in a little water in a jar or glass. Place that in the refrigerator. They should crisp up within a couple hours or overnight. Then remove them from the glass or jar and continue to store them as usual. [If left in the water for a prolonged time, the internal cells of the celery will eventually burst from trying to absorb more water than they can hold. This will cause the stalks to collapse and be very limp.]

If possible, use your celery within one week of purchase for optimal flavor, texture and nutrient retention.

How to Prepare Fresh Celery
Remove the stalk from the base of the bunch. Wash the leaves and stalk under cool running water. Cut the stalk as desired for your recipe. If the outside of the stalk contains fibrous strings, they may be removed by making a small cut into the outside with a knife. The stringy fibers may then be peeled away and discarded.

How to Preserve Celery
If you cannot use your celery within a reasonable amount of time, it may be frozen or dehydrated for later use. However, when thawed or rehydrated, the texture will be soft. It will be suitable for being immediately added to cooked dishes, like soups, stews, stocks, sauces, and casseroles. Dehydrated celery may also be ground up and used as a seasoning. Previously frozen or dehydrated celery will not be appropriate for eating fresh, such as in salads or being stuffed for a crispy snack, since it will be soft.

Freezing Celery. Wash your celery well and shake off excess water. Cut the celery into the size pieces you will need them to be when used later. Celery may be frozen with or without being blanched first. However, blanched celery will keep longer with a better quality and flavor than celery that was not blanched.

To freeze celery without blanching it first, wash it and cut the celery stalks, as described above. The prepared pieces may simply be placed in a freezer bag and stored in the freezer. To prevent it from freezing into one big lump, it can first be spread out on a parchment paper-lined tray and placed in the freezer. When frozen, transfer the celery pieces to an air-tight freezer container or bag. Label with the date and use it within 3 months for best flavor and quality.

Unblanched, finely diced celery may also be frozen in ice cube trays. Place a measured amount of celery pieces in each cell of an ice cube tray. Fill with water, then place in the freezer. When frozen, transfer the cubes to an air-tight container. These would be suitable for adding to soups and stews or any cooked food where added liquid would be used.

To freeze celery by blanching, first prepare your celery pieces as described above. Then steam them or boil them for 1 to 2 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces). Immediately transfer your blanched celery pieces to a bowl of cold water to quickly cool them down. After they are cooled, drain them well and spread them out on a parchment paper-lined tray in the freezer. When frozen, transfer your blanched celery pieces to an air-tight freezer container or bag. Label the container with the date and use them within one year for best quality.

Dehydrating Celery. Celery may be dehydrated in a dehydrator or oven. Some resources consider blanching celery before dehydrating to be an optional step. However, celery that is dried without being blanched may turn an unappetizing tan color. Whereas celery that was blanched first will maintain its green color. The choice is yours!

To blanch celery before dehydrating, bring a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, wash the celery. Cut the celery into desired size pieces and boil them for 1 to 2 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces). Immediately transfer them to a bowl of cold water to quickly chill them down. Drain them well.

Dehydrator. To dry your celery pieces in a dehydrator, arrange them in a single layer on a dehydrator tray. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for time and temperature for drying your celery. Usually 135°F is the recommended temperature for dehydrating vegetables. The celery will be dry when it is very brittle, and has no sign of moisture inside when broken open. Store it in an air-tight jar away from heat and sunlight. For extended storage, it is helpful to place an oxygen absorber packet in the jar. Properly dehydrated celery will keep for many years.

Oven. Prepare the celery pieces as directed above. Set your oven at its lowest temperature. If it will not go below 150°F, the oven door will need to be left slightly open by propping a towel or wooden spoon inside the door. This will waste a lot of energy. If you plan to dehydrate a lot of food, investing in a dehydrator may be a sound investment.

If possible, arrange the prepared celery pieces in a single layer on a small screen or rack over a baking tray. This will allow for air flow as the celery dries. If you don’t have a mesh screen or rack, the celery pieces may be placed directly on a baking tray. They should be stirred occasionally as they dry so they will dry evenly and completely. The process may take 6 to 8 hours for them to dry completely. They should feel completely dry and crisp with no sign of moisture inside when broken open. When done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Store them in jars with tight-fitting lids or air-tight containers. Placing an oxygen absorber in the container will help to prolong the shelf-life of your dried celery.  Store it away from heat and sunlight, and it should keep well for years.

Note that celery will shrink a lot as it dries. Using a very fine mesh screen or rack will help to keep the pieces from falling through during the drying process.

To rehydrate dehydrated celery. Simply add 3 parts of water to 1 part of dehydrated celery in a bowl. Allow the celery to sit for 20 minutes up to 2 hours, until fully rehydrated. The length of time will depend upon how big the pieces were before they were dried. If desired, dehydrated celery can simply be added to soups or stews without rehydration, since they will be cooked in liquid for enough time to allow the vegetables to become rehydrated. Just be sure there is enough liquid in your pot to compensate for the rehydration process.

Equivalents. When examining rehydrating charts from various resources, the equivalents vary somewhat. It may depend upon how big the celery pieces were when they were fresh. Larger pieces may yield a greater conversion rate than those that were cut very small. So, consider the following equivalents to be rough estimates, since there is a lot of variation based on the resource.

According to “Seed to Pantry School,” an online DIY food school, one tablespoon of finely chopped fresh celery is equivalent to ½ teaspoon dried. That’s a 6-fold increase in volume from dried to fresh of finely chopped celery. Note that the celery was very finely chopped.

According to Harmony House Foods, that sells dehydrated foods online, one cup of dehydrated celery yields 3-1/4 cups when hydrated. That’s a little more than a 3-fold increase in volume when rehydrated. Obviously, their celery pieces were not cut as small as those in the above conversion comparison by “Seed to Pantry School.”

According to Honeyville, that sells freeze-dried foods online, ½ cup of freeze-dried celery will yield 1 cup when rehydrated. That’s only a two-fold increase in volume. Also, USA Emergency Supply, another online seller of dehydrated foods, states that celery doubles in volume when rehydrated in cool water.

Suggestion for Rehydration Equivalents.  Test a small amount of your own dehydrated celery by measuring a small amount of your dried celery. Place it in a bowl and cover it with plenty of water. Allow it to sit until the celery is completely rehydrated, then measure the celery. This will give you the conversion rate of what you have available. Then you can determine how much dried celery to add to a dish so you can follow the recipe appropriately.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Celery
* Are you looking for a simple snack that has some crunch? Try celery stalks! Dress them up by stuffing them with whatever you have that sounds good at the moment…cream cheese, any nut butter, or even cottage or ricotta cheese. Or just dip them in your favorite salad dressing.

* Make a quick salad by combining chopped celery, apples, grapes, and walnuts or pecans. Top it with your favorite dressing or a little olive oil and white-wine vinegar.

* For some crunch, add diced celery to your favorite tuna, chicken, egg, macaroni, or potato salad.

* Make an easy vegetable salad by combining diced celery, tomatoes, and sweet onion. Add a little cucumber if you have it available. Top it with your favorite vinaigrette or other salad dressing.

* Don’t discard the celery leaves. They are perfectly edible and taste like celery. Also, they contain a lot of Vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Why not just use them along with the celery stalks? They work especially well in salads. Or, freeze them and add them later to soups, stews, sauces, or stock.

* If you’re cooking celery, research has found that most (83 to 99 percent) of the antioxidants in celery were retained when celery was steamed, even after 10 minutes. However, when celery was blanched for 3 minutes, or boiled for 10 minutes, 38 to 41 percent of the antioxidants were lost.

* To retain most of the nutrients in celery, wait to cut it up until you’re ready to use it. Studies found that nutrients in celery were lost, even when it was cut up the night before it was to be used (despite being stored in the refrigerator).

* If your celery has wilted and become soft, sprinkle some water on it and return it to the refrigerator. You may also place wilted celery stalks, cut side down, in a little water in a tall glass or jar. Place it in the refrigerator and it will crisp up quickly (in a couple hours to overnight). Once crispy, remove it from the glass and store it as usual.

* Celery leaves can be used to substitute for parsley in pretty much any dish.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Celery
Anise seeds, basil, bay leaf, caraway, celery salt, celery seeds, chervil, cloves, cumin, dill, lovage, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Celery
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, almond butter, bacon, beans (in general), beef, chestnuts, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, hazelnuts, lentils, nuts (in general), peanuts, peanut butter, peas, pecans, pistachios, pork, shrimp (seafood in general), snow peas, sunflower seeds, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery root, chives, cucumbers, endive, fennel, garlic, greens (in general), kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, scallions, shallots, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes, turnips, water chestnuts, watercress

Fruits: Apples, grapes, lemon, lime, oranges, pears, pineapple, raisins, strawberries

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bread crumbs, bulgur, corn, pasta, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, browned butter, cheese (esp. Blue, cheddar, cream, goat, Parmesan, Swiss), cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Capers, maple syrup, mayonnaise, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. nut, olive, walnut), soy sauce, vinegar

Celery has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, cocktails (i.e. Bloody Marys), crudités, curries, gratins, mirepoix (celery + carrots + onions), risotto, salads (egg, fruit, pasta, potato, vegetable), sauces, slaws, soups (i.e. celery, celery root, potato, vegetable), stews, stir-fries, stocks (i.e. vegetable), stuffed celery, stuffings

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Celery
Add celery to any of the following combinations…

Almond butter + raisins
Apples + walnuts
Carrots + onions
Cheese + fruit + nuts
Cucumbers + mustard
Garlic + tomatoes
Oranges + pecans
Parsley + tomatoes
Pistachios + yogurt

Recipe Links
Simple Celery Soup

28 Non-Boring Ways to Use Celery

35 Recipes That Feature Celery—From Toast to Cocktails

22 Delicious Ideas for Celery That You Will Crave All the Time

Braised Celery

23 Celery Recipes That Prove There’s Much More to It Than Ants on a Log

Lentil and Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Escarole

Ideas for Using Celery Leaves

Unexpectedly Tasty Celery Recipes That Are Easy to Make

Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds and Parmesan



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

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. 3rd ed. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

MacKenzie, Jennifer, Jay Nutt, and Don Mercer. (2015) The Dehydrator Bible. Ontario, Canada, Toronto: Robert Rose, Inc.


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.


Strawberries 101 – The Basics


Strawberries 101 – The Basics

About Strawberries
Strawberries have grown wild in Europe, Asia, North America, and lower South America for thousands of years. For hundreds of years, they have been cultivated around the world. Today, strawberries are among the most popular berries worldwide. The United States currently produces the most strawberries, with over one million metric tons annually. This amounts to about 30 percent of strawberries commercially grown worldwide. Most are grown in California, followed by Florida, then Oregon. Most strawberries grown in the United States are consumed fresh, while about 20 percent are sold frozen.

Strawberries are members of the rose family of plants, Rosaceae. Botanically, strawberries are related to blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, and raspberries. Apples, almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums are also members of the rose family.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Strawberries
Strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese. They also supply a lot of fiber, folate, copper, potassium, biotin, phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and even some omega-3 fatty acids (in the seeds). They are also a rich source of assorted antioxidant compounds that provide important health benefits.

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits. In addition to their high amount of Vitamin C, which is an extremely important antioxidant, strawberries contain a wide array of compounds that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Such compounds are known to help protect our blood vessels from damage, helping to reduce our risk for cardiovascular disease.

Blood Sugar Regulation. Preliminary research studies on animals have shown that eating strawberries after a meal helps to regulate blood sugar levels and the release of insulin. Strawberries have also been found to have a low glycemic index of 40, which is lower than many fruits. This lower glycemic index is also reflected in better blood sugar regulation following meals that contained strawberries. This effect may be partly due to the high level of folate in strawberries. Folate has been shown to play a role in blood sugar regulation.

Improved Cognitive Function. Research in the Nurses’ Health Study showed less cognitive decline in subjects who ate at least 1 to 2 servings of strawberries a week. Researchers speculate that this effect may be due to compounds in strawberries that promote nerve generation in areas of the brain that are involved in memory.

How to Select Strawberries
Strawberries are fragile fruit that are very perishable. Look for strawberries that appear firm and plump with a shiny, deep bright red color with attached green leaves. A dull red color indicates they are old and overripe. They should be free of mold and the inside of their containers should be dry. Strawberries do not further ripen after being picked, so unless you want tart berries, avoid those that are greenish or whitish, since they are not fully ripe.

Medium size strawberries often have a better flavor than those that are extremely large.

How to Store Strawberries
Before storing your freshly purchased strawberries, check them carefully and remove any that appear moist, soft, or moldy. They will quickly cause other berries to spoil. Store your UNWASHED strawberries in the container they came in (that has air vents in them). Strawberries need air flow to help keep moisture from accumulating in the container. Yet at the same time they have a high water content and can dry out easily. For optimal storage, place them in their container in a drawer in the refrigerator. Set it for high humidity (having the air vent of the drawer closed). Use fresh strawberries as quickly as you can, optimally, within 2 days.

How to Freeze Strawberries
To freeze extra strawberries, be sure they are fully ripe but still firm. Carefully wash them and pat them dry. The green leaves on top may be removed after they are washed, or they can be left intact. Strawberries may be frozen whole, sliced, chopped, or crushed. To retain the most nutrients (especially Vitamin C), leave them whole. If you opt to cut or crush your strawberries before freezing them, adding a small amount of lemon juice will help to preserve their color. Arrange your washed berries in a single layer on a flat tray and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to an airtight freezer container or bag and return them to the freezer. Use them within one year.

Strawberries may also be sweetened before being frozen. Wash and dry the strawberries first. Then remove the hulls. The berries may be left whole or cut as desired. Add ½ cup of sugar to every 4 cups of berries (the amount of sugar may be adjusted, if desired). Gently stir the berries and sugar until the strawberries are well covered. Allow the mixture to rest 10 to 15 minutes for the natural juices to be drawn from the berries. Gently stir again to combine everything. Put a premeasured amount into heavy-duty freezer bags or containers. Remove as much air as possible. Seal, label the containers and place them in the freezer. Lay freezer bags flat so the contents are not in a big lump. Use them within one year.

How to Prepare Strawberries
Gently rinse your fresh strawberries in cold water immediately before using them. Do not soak the berries since they are porous and will absorb water, making them soft and reducing their flavor. The green leaves on top may be removed or left on. If you want to remove the leaves, wash the strawberries first. Pat the washed berries dry and they will be ready to use.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Strawberries
* Try a salad with mixed greens, sugar snap peas, chopped fennel, goat cheese, sliced strawberries, and toasted walnuts. Top it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

* Try a salad with Spring Mix greens, sliced strawberries, toasted sunflower seeds, crumbled blue cheese, and dried cranberries. Top it with a white balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

* Add whole, sliced or crushed strawberries to fruit salads, ice cream, or sorbets.

* Decorate cheese trays with whole strawberries.

* For a tasty appetizer or dessert, hull strawberries then top them with mascarpone cheese that was mixed with a little lemon zest.

* Top your overnight oats with freshly sliced strawberries.

* For a simple dessert, top ice cream or yogurt with sliced strawberries. To REALLY dress it up, drizzle it with some melted dark chocolate. Enjoy!

* If your strawberries are overripe, include them in pies, cookies, mousses, soufflés, flans, smoothies, puddings, or cakes.

* Try a refreshing beverage by blending 2 cups of frozen strawberries, 2 cups seedless cubed watermelon, ¼ cup lemon juice, and ¼ cup sugar or sweetener of choice (frozen red grapes can be used in place of sugar…use as many as desired).

* Add sliced strawberries to ANY mixed green salad.

* For a fast and easy fruit sauce, blend strawberries with a little orange or pineapple juice. Add a little sugar or sweetener of choice, if desired.

* Strawberries are at the top of the Environmental Working Group’s 2020 “Dirty Dozen List” for being high in residual pesticides. If you want to avoid these residues in your food, opt for organic strawberries.

* Add strawberries to your breakfast smoothie.

* Make a parfait by layering yogurt, strawberry slices, fresh blueberries, and a little granola.

* Concentrate the natural sweetness of strawberries by roasting them. Wash, dry, then roast them at 350°F for about 20 minutes. Enjoy them warm or chilled. They will have a heightened sweetness and flavor, with a slightly softer texture than when raw. Use them as a yogurt, ice cream, or oatmeal topping. Add them to a salad or use them any way you would raw strawberries.

* Strawberries are most flavorful when they are room temperature. Store them in the refrigerator, but remove them early so they can warm up a little before eating them.

* Bring out the natural sweet flavor of strawberries by sprinkling them with a dash of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, orange, or pineapple juice.

* Adding a little sugar, lemon, orange, or pineapple juice to strawberries will help to preserve their color.

* When cleaning strawberries, avoid soaking them in water. They are porous and will absorb water, becoming waterlogged, which will diminish their flavor.

* One pint of fresh strawberries is about 2-1/2 cups whole, 1-3/4 cups sliced, 1-1/4 cups pureed, and usually contains about 24 medium or 36 small berries.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Strawberries
Basil, cinnamon, ginger, mint, pepper, thyme, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Strawberries
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, cashews, chicken, fish, hazelnuts, nuts (in general), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, tofu (silken), walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, cucumbers, fennel, greens (salad), rhubarb, spinach, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas, berries (all other), coconut, figs, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, melons (in general), nectarines, oranges, passion fruit, peaches, pears, pineapple, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Graham crackers, oats, oatmeal

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (in general), cream, cream cheese, crème fraiche, mascarpone, milk (dairy and non-dairy), sour cream, whipped cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, caramel, champagne, chocolate, honey, liqueurs, maple syrup, oil (olive), rum, sugar (esp. brown, confectioners’), vinegar (esp. balsamic, red wine), wine

Strawberries have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Desserts (i.e. cobblers, crumbles, custards, ice creams, pies, puddings, sorbets, strawberry shortcake, tarts), drinks (i.e. sparkling water, sparkling wine), jams, pancakes, preserves, salads (fruit, green), sauces (dessert), shortcakes, smoothies, sorbets, soups (fruit), tarts

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Strawberries
Add strawberries to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + lemon
Arugula + balsamic vinegar + pine nuts + ricotta
Balsamic vinegar + spinach + walnuts
Basil + balsamic vinegar
Basil + lemon + mint
Brown sugar + cinnamon + oatmeal
Cream cheese + lemon
Ginger + maple syrup + rhubarb
Honey + lime
Lemon + ricotta cheese
Pistachios + yogurt

Recipe Links
Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Strawberry Sauce

55+ Sweet and Savory Strawberry Recipes

55 Recipes Made with Fresh Strawberries

20 Unconventional Recipe Ideas Using Strawberries

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken

Filet Mignon and Balsamic Strawberries

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Strawberries

Roasted Strawberry Glazed Pork Chops with Strawberry Spinach Salad

10-Minute Strawberries with Chocolate Crème

10-Minute Kiwi Mandala

How to Make Easy Chia Jam with Any Fruit

5 Delicious Ways to Use Up Overripe Strawberries

25 Amazing Things to Make with Strawberries

68 Sweet Strawberry Desserts You Won’t Be Able to Resist

Pan Fried Fish Fillets with Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Salsa Recipe

Baked Strawberry Salmon

Strawberry Glazed Salmon


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.


Bananas 101 – The Basics


Bananas 101 – The Basics

About Bananas
Bananas are believed to have originated about 4,000 years ago in Malaysia. From there, they were slowly introduced around the world and grown in warm climates in the Philippines, India, and Africa.

Bananas were eventually brought to the United States in the late 19th century and were enjoyed by people living in coastal towns. Eventually refrigerated transport systems were developed in the 20th century, and bananas have since been transported around the United States where they are enjoyed by everyone. Today, bananas are grown in most tropical and subtropical areas with the main producers being Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are a good source of Vitamin B6, manganese, Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, biotin, and copper. One medium banana has about 100 calories.

Reduce Heart Disease Risk. Bananas are well known for their potassium content. This mineral is important for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. With one medium banana having around 400 mg of potassium, including them in your diet on a regular basis helps to prevent high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

While bananas are very low in fat, they do contain sterols, which are similar in structure to cholesterol. When bananas are eaten with a cholesterol-containing meal, the sterols in bananas block the absorption of cholesterol from other foods in the meal. This effect can help to keep our cholesterol levels in check.

Furthermore, bananas have a small amount of soluble fiber, about 1 gram per medium size banana. Soluble fiber binds with bile in the digestive tract, removing it in the feces. This forces the body to make more bile from existing cholesterol. This effect also helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Low Glycemic Index. Despite their sugar content, bananas have a low glycemic index. In addition to their soluble fiber, bananas also contain pectin, another type of fiber. The amount of pectin in a banana increases along with the sugar content as the banana ripens. The increase in pectin further helps to stabilize the blood sugar effect when the banana is eaten. So, despite the fact that ripe bananas do contain a fair amount of naturally-occurring sugars, their fiber and pectin content counteract the effects of sugars, stabilizing blood sugars, keeping their glycemic effect low.

GI Track Health. If that’s not enough, the carbohydrates in bananas (fructooligosaccharides) are not typically broken down by enzymes in the digestive tract. Instead, in the lower bowel, they are digested by bacteria. This helps to maintain the colony of friendly bacteria in our colon, which is vitally important for health. One research study found that those who ate two bananas a day for two months had increased numbers of Bifidobacteria, fewer gastrointestinal problems, and more regular bowel movements than those who did not eat the bananas.

Endurance. Bananas have long been a favorite food among endurance athletes, such as long-distance cyclists. Their portability, low expense, and flavor make them easy to transport and eat along the way. The mix of vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic carbohydrates has been found to be just as effective as sports beverages in keeping energy levels stable and preventing muscle cramps.

How to Select Bananas
When buying bananas, choose ones that are firm and without bruises. Look for ones that are green near both ends. If you want to keep bananas longer, opt for ones that are more green than yellow, since they will take a little longer to ripen up.

Bananas with yellow peels are best for eating fresh, whether it’s from the peel or cut into salads. Ripe bananas, like those with speckles, are best for being used in baked goods and smoothies.

How to Store Bananas
Bananas should be left at room temperature to ripen. They should not be kept in overly hot or cold temperatures. Do not put unripe bananas in the refrigerator. Such cold temperatures will prevent them from ripening, even when taken out of the refrigerator. To extend the shelf life of ripe bananas, they may be stored in the refrigerator and should be used within 5 to 7 days. The peels will turn black when stored in the refrigerator, but the banana flesh will be fine.

Bananas are more fragile than they appear. A large bunch of bananas is rather heavy. When stored on the counter or in a fruit bowl, the bananas on the bottom may tend to bruise on the areas where they rest, due to the weight they are supporting. A banana hanger can alleviate that problem. Simply place your freshly purchased bananas on a banana hanger when you get them home and they will slowly ripen as expected without the added bruising from the weight of the bunch. Try it and you’ll see!

Another trick to help slow down banana ripening is to wrap the top end of the bunch with plastic wrap when you first bring the bananas home. The stem end is where their ethylene gas is released. That gas promotes ripening. By covering the end with plastic, the release of the ethylene gas will be slowed down, helping to deter the ripening process. Bear in mind that nothing will keep bananas forever, but these tactics can help to slow the ripening process, extending the shelf life. For the longest life of bananas, peel them, and freeze them in an airtight container.

To speed up the ripening process, place your bananas in a paper bag or wrap them in newspaper. Adding an apple will speed up the process. Ripe bananas may be placed in the refrigerator to keep them from further ripening. Their peel will turn black in the refrigerator, but the flesh will not be affected. For best flavor, remove bananas from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature before eating them.

How to Preserve Bananas
Whole bananas may be frozen. Simply remove the peel and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and/or place them in an airtight container in the freezer. Frozen bananas will keep for 2 to 3 months. They will be edible beyond that, but the quality may decline. To help prevent them from turning dark during the freezing process, simply coat them with a little lemon or orange juice before being frozen.

Bananas may also be pureed first before being frozen. To prevent discoloration, add some lemon or orange juice to them first. Blending them first with another fruit, like berries will also help to deter discoloration.

Bananas may also be frozen with the peel still intact. Simply place them in a freezer bag or container and store them in the freezer. To remove the peel from frozen bananas, briefly run them under water to slightly soften the peel, then remove the peel with a knife. Or, you could simply allow them to warm up at room temperature for about 10 or 15 minutes, then remove the peel with a knife, if needed.

Bananas may also be dried. First, peel your bananas and slice them thinly. Then dip the banana slices in an acidic juice, such as lemon or orange juice. Other juices may also be used, such as cranberry juice, cherry juice or others. The acidity is what counts here, to keep the bananas from turning dark in the drying process. If you have a dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for time and temperature for drying your bananas. If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply lay the treated banana slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake them at a low temperature, anywhere from 200°F to 250°F until they are completely dry. Flip them over a time or two to allow them to completely dry throughout. This process may take an hour or two, so monitor them as they bake, and be sure they are completely dry before removing them from the oven. The exact time will depend on the oven temperature and the thickness of the banana slices. Store the cooled slices in an airtight container. They may be kept at room temperature, but should keep longer when stored in the refrigerator. Dried bananas will generally keep for 6 to 12 months in the refrigerator, and up to 18 months in the freezer.

Dried vs Fresh

Most of the weight of bananas comes from their high water content. When dehydrated, their nutrient content and calories are concentrated. The exception is in their Vitamin C content, which is about 20 percent lower in dehydrated bananas than fresh. Since they are concentrated, the standard serving size is ¼ cup of dried bananas. So, it may be wise to allocate your portion in a bowl or cup, and put the rest away before enjoying your snack. Simply eating from “bag to mouth” could easily lead to overeating dried bananas and consuming way more than you realize.

Read ingredient labels carefully when buying dried bananas. Those sold as “banana chips” are actually fried. Their ingredients label will reflect that, listing bananas, oil (of some type), sugar, and possibly artificial flavoring. Banana chips are much higher in calories than fresh bananas or even dehydrated bananas, and since they were fried, they should not be considered to be a healthy alternative to fresh bananas.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Bananas
* Make your own banana pops with ripe bananas. Peel and cut them in half, across the middle. Insert a popsicle stick in the flat, cut end. Lay them on a tray and place them in the freezer. When frozen they are ready to enjoy. To embellish your banana pops, you could dip them in melted chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, or any favorite ice cream sauce. If desired, sprinkle them or roll them in chopped nuts or ice cream sprinkles. Return them to the freezer then enjoy when everything is frozen. Wrap extras up in an airtight container and store in the freezer (IF there’s any left!).

* Use a banana peel to shine leather shoes. Peel the banana, then remove any strings still attached to the inside of the peel. Then rub the inside of the peel on leather shoes to shine them up. Buff them with a clean cloth. Done!

* If you want to attract butterflies and birds to your yard, put peeled and sliced overripe bananas on an elevated perch in your yard. Other ripe fruit (such as mangoes and oranges) can also be added. The fruit may also attract bees and wasps, so be mindful of that when putting up your perch.

* The inside of a banana peel can be used to sooth insect bites, sunburn, minor scrapes, and poison ivy. Simply press the inside of a peel onto the area like you would a cool compress.

* To speed up ripening an avocado, place a banana in a paper bag with the avocado. The ethylene gas released by the banana will hasten the ripening of the avocado.

* When making banana bread, the blacker the peel of the banana, the better the banana flavor will be in the finished bread.

* If you want to slow down the ripening of your bananas, place them in the refrigerator. The peels will turn black, but the fruit will stay fresh. Bananas may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

* To speed up the ripening process of bananas, place them in a paper bag in a dry spot away from sunlight. After a day or two they should start ripening. If not, place an apple in the bag with the unripe bananas.

* Try an all-time favorite peanut butter and banana sandwich. Drizzle with honey for added sweetness.

* Add sliced banana, walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup to your breakfast oatmeal.

* To slow banana ripening, when you first bring your bananas home from the store, wrap the bunch top (where the bananas are all joined together) with plastic wrap. This will help to prevent the release of their ethylene gas which causes them to ripen. If you want to take this one step further, you could separate all the bananas and wrap the stem top of each banana individually. This will not make them last forever, but it will slow the ripening process.

* For a quick and healthy dessert, make banana “nice cream.” Place a frozen banana in a food processor or blender. Add a tablespoon or two of liquid (such as water, milk of choice, or coconut water). Blend until smooth and enjoy! More or less liquid can be added, if desired. Or it can be left out entirely. Also, banana nice cream can be flavored in many ways. For instance, add unsweetened cocoa powder, nut or seed butter, a sprinkle of vanilla extract, cinnamon, or frozen berries of choice. It doesn’t take a lot of additives to flavor your nice cream, so add a little, blend, then taste it. Add more if desired.

* When you slice bananas for a fruit salad, toss them with a little bit of an acidic liquid to keep them from turning brown. A little lemon or lime juice, orange juice, or even mild-flavored vinegar will do the trick. If an acidic juice won’t go with your salad, I have also had success by coating banana slices with a little oat or coconut milk.

* Mashed banana can be used as a substitute for fat in muffins and other quick breads. The substitution rate is 1:1 (replace fat in the recipe with an equal part of mashed banana). Note that the banana may cause the product to bake faster, so watch it carefully as it bakes. It may be finished a few minutes early. You could reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to keep the product from baking too fast. Also, bananas will add some sweetness to the quick bread, so the amount of sugar may need to be reduced by one-fourth up to one-half, depending upon the recipe. Make a small batch to test it out first.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Bananas
Cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Bananas
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, cashews, chicken, flax seeds, ham, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), nut butter, peanuts, pecans, pork, sausage, sunflower seeds, walnuts

Vegetables: Chiles, onions, sweet potatoes

Fruits: Apples and apple juice, apricots, berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), cherries, coconut, dates, figs, lemon, lime, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, pears, pineapple, raisins, tamarind, tropical fruit (in general)

Grains and Grain Products: Bread, malt, oats and oatmeal, toast

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

Other Foods: Agave nectar, bourbon, caramel, chocolate, cognac, honey, oil, rum, sugar

Bananas have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, quick breads), cereals (breakfast), French toast, granola, lassis, pancakes, salads (fruit), smoothies

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Bananas
Combine bananas with any of the following combinations…

Almond milk + nutmeg + vanilla
Almonds + oatmeal
Apple juice + cinnamon
Apricots + yogurt
Blueberries + yogurt
Cashews + pineapple
Chocolate + peanuts
Cinnamon + orange
Citrus + coconut
Coconut + pineapple + sesame seeds
Dates + flax seeds
Honey + peanut butter
Maple syrup + oatmeal
Oranges + papaya
Peaches + raspberries
Pineapple + sesame seeds

Recipe Links
30 Ripe Banana Recipes to Use Up Your Bunch

22 Recipes for Ripe and Overripe Bananas

Over 66 Recipes Using Overripe Bananas

35 Ways to Use Overripe Bananas That Aren’t Banana Bread

15 Ways to Use Ripe Bananas That Aren’t Banana Bread

22 Recipes for Ripe and Overripe Bananas

Chocolate Chip Banana Bars

17 Amazing Ways to Eat A Banana


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.


Nutmeg 101 – The Basics


Nutmeg 101 – The Basics

About Nutmeg
Nutmeg is a spice that is made from the seed of the tree, Myristica fragrans. The tree is native to Indonesia and is an evergreen tree. The tree actually is the source of two spices, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the inner seed, whereas mace is the red, lacy-type substance that surrounds the seed.

There is historical evidence dating nutmeg back to the first century, A.D. It was a treasured spice and commanded a high price. Nutmeg was even the cause of war, when the Dutch took over the Banda islands to monopolize the nutmeg trade. This ultimately gave birth to the Dutch East India Company, a conglomeration of several Dutch trading companies.

To make nutmeg, the seeds are slowly dried in the sun over six to eight weeks. As they dry, the seed shrinks away from its coating. The seeds are ready to be harvested when they rattle in their shells when shaken. Nutmeg seeds are then separated from their outer coating, which is then sold as mace. The inner seed is sold whole or ground up as powdered nutmeg.

Nutmeg has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor with a distinct aroma. It is an intense spice with a distinct flavor, so a little goes a long way. Nutmeg is synonymous with fall since it is often used in fall and holiday desserts and beverages. It is also used in savory dishes such as butternut squash soup. Nutmeg is also known to pair well with cream- or cheese-based dishes. Eggnog is typically flavored with nutmeg.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Although we don’t consume a lot of nutmeg at any one time, there is an impressive list of nutrients supplied by this spice. Nutmeg contains a lot of manganese, copper, magnesium and fiber. It also supplies potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc, folate, thiamin and even omega-6 fatty acids.

The leaves and other parts of the nutmeg tree are used for extracting nutmeg essential oil. The oil contains a variety of compounds that have medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine to relieve a variety of ailments.

Pain Relief. Nutmeg essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for pain relief. Just a few drops of the essential oil applied to the affected area has been used to treat inflammation, swelling, joint pain, muscle pain and sores.

Helps Treat Insomnia. Nutmeg seems to have a calming effect and has been used since antiquity for calming and inducing sleep. Enjoy a warm glass of milk with a pinch of ground nutmeg before bedtime and it will help you to relax and fall asleep easier.

Helps Digestion. Nutmeg has been shown to help relieve intestinal gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Add a pinch to soups and stews. That small amount will help to promote the secretion of enzymes, thereby helping with digestion. The fiber in nutmeg will help keep things moving in the digestive tract, relieving gas and preventing constipation.

Brain Health. Nutmeg has been shown to stimulate nerves in the brain. It was commonly used as a brain tonic by ancient Greeks and Romans. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, calming emotional stress. The essential oils in nutmeg have been found to work as “adaptogens” by acting both as a stimulant and sedative, depending upon the needs of the body at the time. When we’re stressed, it can help to lower blood pressure. If we’re down, it can help to lift the mood, acting as a stimulant.

Promotes Detoxification. The compounds in nutmeg have been found to help clear toxins from the body via the liver and kidneys. The essential oils in nutmeg have anti-bacterial properties. Some toothpastes have nutmeg essential oils in them to help control harmful bacteria in the mouth that can lead to bad breath. Also, the essential oil in nutmeg contains eugenol, which is known to help relieve toothache.

Promotes Healthy Skin. Not only does nutmeg have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, but it also has been found to remove blackheads, and treat acne and clogged pores. An easy home remedy is to mix equal parts of ground nutmeg and honey into a paste. Apply it to pimples, leave it on for 20 minutes, then wash it off with cool water.

A paste can also be made with ground nutmeg and a few drops of milk. Mix into a paste and massage it into the skin, then rinse with cool water.

Nutmeg may also be added to facial scrubs with oatmeal, orange peel, etc.

Blood Pressure and Circulation. The minerals in nutmeg make it a wonderful ingredient for helping to regulate blood pressure and circulation. The stress-reducing properties help blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and aiding in cardiovascular function.

Caution! Nutmeg should be used sparingly and limited to any amount you would normally use in a food. When used in high doses (well beyond what you would normally use in any food), nutmeg has hallucinogenic properties. It can also cause nausea and palpitations. Such high dosages can be very toxic, and in rare cases, even deadly. In the case of accidental overdose, especially with children, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Select Nutmeg
Nutmeg may be purchased as a whole seed or ground up. Either version will be available in the spice isle of the grocery store. Some stores do not carry whole nutmeg, but most will carry the ground spice.

Many chefs prefer the whole spice and grind it as needed. The flavor of the freshly ground nutmeg will be more intense than the pre-ground powder.

How to Store Nutmeg
Store whichever type of nutmeg you have (whole or ground) in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place such as your pantry. It should be kept away from heat sources and sunlight.

The whole spice will keep fresh and maintain its flavor longer than the pre-ground powdered nutmeg.  Whole nutmeg seeds will maintain their freshness for about 4 years. Ground nutmeg will stay fresh and flavorful for at least six months, and up to two years. As long as nutmeg is stored properly, it will be edible beyond that, but the flavor may dwindle over time.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Nutmeg
* When grating whole nutmeg, avoid doing it over a hot pot or one with steaming liquid. This will make the seed moist which can cause it to spoil. The heat can cause it to age fast. So, it’s better to grate it onto a plate or small bowl on the counter rather than directly over hot food.

* When you use nutmeg, if you notice it has little aroma, it may be getting old. Feel free to taste it if there’s no sign of mold or decay. If it has little flavor, it’s past time to replace it. It’s still safe to consume, but won’t give the flavor you’re expecting.

* Nutmeg has a strong, distinct flavor. Use it sparingly. You can always add more, but it would be hard to counteract the flavor if too much is added.

* Try a sprinkle of nutmeg as a garnish on eggnog or cappuccino.

* If you don’t have nutmeg on hand and a recipe calls for it, the best substitute is mace. Since it’s part of the seed itself, the flavor is close. Otherwise, the flavor outcome will be different, but you could use a touch of pumpkin pie spice, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, or ground cloves.

* Nutmeg goes well with baked or stewed fruit, so try it as a garnish when you cook fruit.

* Sprinkle nutmeg on custard for added flavor and a nice garnish.

* Add a sprinkle of nutmeg to milk-based sauces.

* Try a sprinkle of nutmeg on steamed, stir-steamed, or sautéed spinach or a spinach soufflé.

* One whole nutmeg seed yields 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground nutmeg.

* Add nutmeg to fillings for cannelloni, ravioli or tortellini.

* Add a pinch of nutmeg to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Nutmeg
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemongrass, mace

Foods That Go Well with Nutmeg
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, chicken, eggs, ham, meat (in general), pecans, pork, sausage

Vegetables: Carrots, greens (dark leafy), mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, yams

Fruits: Apples, bananas, fruit (in general; fresh and dried), lemon, pumpkin

Grains and Grain Products: Rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, pecorino, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, milk

Other Foods: Chocolate, vanilla

Nutmeg has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (biscuits, cakes, cookies, pastries, pies), cereals (hot, breakfast), cheese dishes (fondues, soufflés), desserts (cheesecake, custards, puddings, drinks (esp. cream or milk-based, i.e. eggnog), egg dishes (quiches), French cuisine, ice cream, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, noodle dishes (i.e. macaroni and cheese), pastas, puddings (i.e. rice), sauces (barbecue, béchamel, cheese, cream, pasta, tomato), soups (i.e. cream based), stews (vegetable)

Recipe Links
Classic Custard Pie with Nutmeg

Quick and Easy Drop Cookies with Nutmeg

Spiced Apple Juice with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Easy Spiced Peach Cobbler

Garam Masala Spice Mix

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Carrot Cake with Pineapple

Deep-Dish Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry

Make-Ahead Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Super-Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies

My Favorite Spice Rub (Amazing on Meat and Seafood)

20 Ways to Cook with Nutmeg



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.


About Autumn Glory Apples


Apples 101 – About Autumn Glory Apples

Autumn Glory apples are a cross between Fuji and Golden Delicious apples. They were developed and have been grown exclusively by Superfresh Growers in Washington state. The apples were first sent to market in 2011.

Nutrition Facts
The nutritional aspects of Autumn Glory apples would be roughly equivalent to that of other sweet apples. One average Autumn Glory apple has about 100 calories. They are high in Vitamin C and fiber. They also supply potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, manganese, riboflavin, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin, Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

It is worth noting that a lot of the nutrients found in apples are in the skin. So, it’s worth eating the peel of apples, if possible.

Characteristics of Autumn Glory Apples
Appearance. Autumn Glory apples are somewhat asymmetrical. They have yellow skin with red coloring over the yellow.

Flavor and Texture. The flesh of Autumn Glory apples is yellow, crispy, and juicy. It has a cider-like aroma with a sweet flavor. It is described as tasting like apple pie with caramel and cinnamon notes. Some describe the flavor as being like applesauce. Autumn Glory apples have low acidity.

Storage/Shelf-Life. Autumn Glory apples can be stored in the refrigerator or another cool, dry place for several weeks.

Best Uses for Autumn Glory Apples
Fresh. The flavor and texture of Autumn Glory apples makes them an excellent choice for snacking and eating out of hand. They would also be a good addition to fruit and green salads of all types. They pair well with strong flavored cheeses. When juiced, the flavor of Autumn Glory apples makes an excellent cocktail base and blends well with rum, whiskey, and white wine (for sangria).

Baking. Autumn Glory apples are sweet with a hint of cinnamon and spice. This makes them an excellent flavor for baked apples, or an addition to assorted baked goods like pies, crisps, muffins, and crumbles.

Cooking. Autumn Glory apples make a sweet applesauce, especially with the hint of spice already in their flavor. The flavor of Autumn Glory apples pairs well with savory foods like fresh herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, sage, and basil), pork, and nuts (especially almonds and peanuts).

Recipe Links
Autumn Glory Apple Bread

Easy, Healthy Apple Recipes with Autumn Glory Apple

Crustless Apple Pie

Autumn Glory Apple Crumble Tart

Autumn Glory Apple Slab Pie

Rustic Autumn Glory Apple Galette

Apple Recipes Featuring Autumn Glory Apples



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.


Turmeric 101 – The Basics


Turmeric 101 – The Basics

About Turmeric
Dried turmeric comes from the root (rhizome) of the plant Curcuma longa. Before being processed, the root looks a lot like ginger root. That’s no coincidence, since they are in the same plant family, Zingiberaceae (also known as the “ginger family”). Turmeric is sometimes referred to as Indian saffron since it has as very deep yellow-orange color like the prized spice, saffron. Sometimes turmeric is referred to as “curcuma” in reference to its highly praised component, curcumin. Because of these unique and special qualities, turmeric has been used throughout history as a culinary spice, herbal medicine, and dye for fabrics.

The flavor of turmeric is unique and all its own. The flavor is peppery, warm, and bitter. Its fragrance is mild and somewhat like a blend of orange and ginger.

People in the United States are mostly familiar with the dried, powdered form of turmeric, but the fresh variety is growing in popularity. When purchased fresh, it looks very similar to ginger root. But when cut, the flesh is bright orange and very different than that of ginger root.

Turmeric is native to India and Southeast Asia, where it has been used as a culinary spice for thousands of years. Additionally, turmeric has remained a mainstay in traditional medicine, going back thousands of years in the Ayurvedic tradition. In recent years in the United States, turmeric has become more popular for its natural medicinal properties. The vast majority of the world’s turmeric is grown in and exported from India.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is an excellent source of iron and manganese. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, fiber, copper, and potassium.

Turmeric is well known for its many health benefits. The health-promoting phytonutrients in turmeric include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, tumerones, and tumenorols. However, many of the health benefits of turmeric appear to be due to its special compound, curcumin. In fact, most research on the benefits of turmeric actually are centered around curcumin and not the spice itself. The amount of curcumin in turmeric is actually small, only 2 to 5% of the weight of the root. The amount can vary depending on the species, growing conditions, and timing of growth and harvest. However, when possible, use the whole spice to flavor food, rather than its single component, curcumin. Even though the other healthful components in turmeric have not been studied as much as curcumin, there is almost always greater value in consuming the whole food rather than its isolated parts.

Decreased Cancer Risk. Many research studies have demonstrated an overall reduced cancer risk from curcumin. These effects seem to be due to curcumin’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-regulatory, enzyme-related, cell signaling, and cell regulatory mechanisms. These benefits apply to a wide range of types of cancers including cancer of the prostate, pancreas, lung, colon, cervix, breast, mouth, tongue, and stomach. Clearly, you can reduce your overall risk of cancer with regular consumption of turmeric.

Detoxification. Research has well-documented the detoxification effects of curcumin. It stimulates Phase II detox activity by allowing cells to bind toxins together with other molecules so they can be excreted from the body. As more toxins are bound and excreted, our risk for cancer decreases.

Cardiovascular Benefits. Adding turmeric to food helps to control blood fat levels after a meal. This effect was seen when individuals remained relaxed after their meal. When engaged in stressful activities post-meal, their blood fats were more elevated.

Animal studies have also shown that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin from turmeric improve blood pressure and lower the overall risk of cardiovascular disease.

Improved Production of DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). Curcumin appears to stimulate the production of DHA from ALA, the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. ALA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids with proven health benefits, improving cognitive function and protecting the nervous system. Many foods contain small amounts of ALA, but preformed DHA is found in only a few foods (mostly fatty fish like salmon and sardines). Largely, the body is responsible for converting some ALA to DHA. However, the conversion rate is small and many people aren’t good converters. Curcumin has been found to stimulate the enzymes needed to make that conversion, helping to increase our level of DHA. This, in turn, helps to promote proper brain function and wards off neurodegenerative problems like Alzheimer’s disease.

Helps to Preserve Beta-Carotene in Cooked Foods. Including turmeric as a spice in cooked foods helps to preserve the beta-carotene in some foods, such as carrots and pumpkin.

Protection of the Digestive Tract. When curcumin is broken down in the digestive tract, it releases vanillin and ferulic acid. These are well-studied antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help to protect the digestive tract from cancer and other conditions known to afflict the bowels. Animal studies have shown that Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease may all improve with the use of turmeric.

A little goes a long way! Researchers have found that the benefits of turmeric and its compound curcumin can be realized without ingesting huge amounts of the spice. While many studies have looked at the amount of turmeric that may be ingested in India, where turmeric is used a lot, studies have shown that in some situations, as little as 50 mg of turmeric (as little as 1/50th of a teaspoon) when ingested regularly can have beneficial effects over several months.

Helps Prevent the Formation of Heterocyclic Amines in Grilled Meats. Heterocyclic amines are harmful compounds that can form when meats are cooked at high temperatures, such as in grilling and pan frying. Such compounds have been shown to cause assorted cancers in animal studies. Researchers have found that meat that was marinated in a spice mixture containing 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric per 3.5 ounces of meat were less likely to form heterocyclic amines when grilled, than meat that was not treated with the turmeric-laden spice mix.

How to Select Turmeric
Most grocery stores carry dried, powdered turmeric in the spice isle. The color of turmeric is not the best indicator of freshness because it can vary from yellow to orange. Aroma is the best indicator of freshness, but it’s not possible to smell the powder when purchasing the powder prepackaged. Look for a “Best by” date stamped somewhere on the container and use that as your guide for freshness.

Some stores are carrying fresh turmeric, which can be found in the refrigerated produce section, often near ginger root. Many people prefer the flavor of fresh turmeric over that of dried, powdered and will opt for fresh roots if they are available. When buying fresh turmeric, choose firm roots and avoid those that are soft, wrinkled, or shriveled.

How to Store Turmeric
Store dried, powdered turmeric in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place such as a cupboard or your pantry. Use it within a year.

Fresh turmeric root should be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in a plastic bag or in an airtight container. It should be used within a week or two. If you cannot use it all within that time, the remainder may be frozen for several months.

Dried vs Fresh Turmeric
Dried Turmeric. Dried turmeric is relatively easy to find in the spice isle of most Western grocery stores. Dried turmeric comes from the same rhizome (root) as does fresh. It was simply dried first and ground into a powder.

Fresh Turmeric. Turmeric is not used in Western foods as heavily as it is used in Asian and other cultures around the world. Because of that, many grocery stores do not carry fresh turmeric root. If they do stock it, the rhizome would be found in the refrigerated section of the produce department, often near ginger root. If your store does not carry it, try finding it in a specialty store that specializes in ethnic foods, such as Asian or Indian cuisine supplies.

Shelf Life. Fresh turmeric can last a few weeks in the refrigerator. Powdered turmeric can last for years when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, away from light. However, for best flavor, use dried turmeric within six months to a year.

Flavor. When compared in cooked dishes, both dried and fresh turmeric are indistinguishable, lending a mild flavor to the food. In an uncooked dish, fresh turmeric may impart a gingery heat to food if a lot of it is used.

Nutrient Availability. Turmeric has a lot of antioxidants that prove to be extremely health-promoting. Those found in fresh turmeric are more easily absorbed and used by the body than those found in the powdered form. For the best nutrient absorption, use turmeric with black pepper and a little added fat in a food. The compounds in turmeric are fat-soluble and the piperine in black pepper makes compounds in turmeric more bioavailable.

Interchangeability.  The flavor of fresh turmeric may be a bit brighter when used in a raw food application. However, when used in a cooked food, the flavors of fresh and dried turmeric are considered to be indistinguishable. When substituting one for the other, use three times more of fresh, grated turmeric than you would the powdered version (1 tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric = 1 teaspoon of dried, powdered turmeric).

Which Application for Which Food? Use fresh turmeric when making a fresh or raw food, such as a smoothie or pickles. You will get the full benefit of the flavor and nutritional components that way. When using turmeric in cooked foods or when making a dry rub, use powdered turmeric.

How to Prepare Fresh Turmeric
Just like when using fresh ginger, fresh turmeric should be peeled first. Some people use the edge of a teaspoon to peel the rhizome since it won’t cut into the flesh as much as a paring knife. Then cut off whole pieces or grate it with a microplane grater. Wrap any unused portion with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 7 to 10 days.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Turmeric
* When substituting fresh for dried turmeric (or vice versa), the equivalents are as follows:  1 inch of fresh turmeric = 1 tablespoon freshly grated turmeric = 1 teaspoon dried, ground turmeric powder

* Try adding a pinch of turmeric to scrambled eggs. The color will blend in and the flavor will be subtle.

* Toss a little powdered turmeric onto vegetables before roasting them. This works well with cauliflower, potatoes, and root vegetables.

* Try adding a pinch of powdered turmeric to rice. It will give it some color and a little flavor.

* Sprinkle powdered turmeric on sautéed or braised greens like kale, collards, and cabbage.

* Add a pinch of powdered turmeric to chicken or vegetable soup.

* Try a slice of fresh turmeric (or a pinch of powdered) in fresh juice or smoothies.

* Fresh turmeric stains very easily and quickly. To avoid stains on your hands, wear kitchen gloves when working with it. To remove stains from cutting boards and counter tops, try soap and water as quickly as you can after the stain appears. You may also use diluted bleach, Soft Scrub, or a paste made with baking soda and water. However, to be sure the chemicals won’t harm your counter top, try them in a very small, inconspicuous area first just to be sure!

* Add a little turmeric powder to egg salad to give it a deeper color.

* Try mixing cooked brown rice with raisins, cashews and a little turmeric, cumin and coriander.

* To give salad dressings a yellow hue, add a pinch of turmeric powder.

* Add a little powdered turmeric to macaroni and cheese.

* If you’re not used to adding turmeric to foods, use a small amount at first. The flavor is distinct, and the color is very concentrated and may impart a yellow color to your food. Too much may make a food look somewhat muddy or give it a flavor you don’t want. When not sure, start with 1/8 teaspoon at a time.

* To make the nutrients and healthful compounds in turmeric more bioavailable, include some black pepper and a little fat in the same food as the turmeric. The piperine in black pepper makes the antioxidants in turmeric more useable by the body, and the fat increases absorption.

* Make golden pancakes! Add ½ teaspoon of powdered turmeric to dry pancake mix. This will give your pancakes a deep golden color.

* Add freshly grated turmeric to marinades for meat, fish, or poultry.

* Add grated fresh turmeric to your favorite stir-fry.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Turmeric
Cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, ginger, lemongrass, mustard and mustard seeds, pepper (black)

Foods That Go Well with Turmeric
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, lamb, lentils, nuts and seeds (in general), peanuts, peas, tofu

Vegetables: Carrots, cauliflower, chiles, garlic, ginger, greens, kohlrabi, okra, onions, potatoes, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, vegetables (root)

Fruits: Avocados, coconut, cranberries, currants, lemon, lime, raisins, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Grains (in general), noodles, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Oil (esp. olive), sugar (esp. brown)

Turmeric has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Curries, dals, stewed greens, Indian cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, Moroccan cuisine, mustard (prepared), pickles, salad dressings, salads, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, stews, stir-fries, tagines, Thai cuisine, tofu scrambles

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Turmeric
Add turmeric to any of the following combinations…

Basmati Rice + Dried Fruit + Garlic + Lemon + Pistachios + Scallions
Black Pepper + Lemon Juice + Olive Oil
Carrots + Chickpeas + Cinnamon + Couscous + Saffron + Zucchini
Cilantro + Cumin + Garlic + Onion + Paprika + Parsley + Pepper
Coriander + Cumin

Recipe Links
DIY Curry Powder

20 Tasty Turmeric Recipes to Spice Up Your Life

The Best Ways to Cook with Turmeric

Sunshine Smoothie with Coconut, Clementine, and Turmeric

Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin

The Superfood Baked Potato

Turmeric-Ginger Tea

Southwestern Tofu Scramble

Mixed Bean Masala with Fragrant Yellow Rice

5-Minute Vegan Golden Milk

Golden Milk (Turmeric Milk)



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.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash 101 – The Basics


About Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a winter squash with orange-flesh and a sweet flavor. It’s commonly treated as a vegetable, but technically, it’s a fruit since it contains seeds. Butternut squash is very versatile with many culinary uses from both sweet to savory dishes. It is a popular winter squash featuring a large bell-shaped bottom section and a slimmer, tapering neck. It’s often recognized by its tannish colored skin.

Butternut squash, like other squash varieties belongs to the Cucurbitaceae plant family. This family contains a lot of foods many people enjoy regularly, such as watermelons and other melons, and even cucumbers.

Winter squashes and related plants appear to be native to Central and South America. Not surprisingly, such foods have been an important part of the diet of the indigenous people for thousands of years. Since they are rich in nutrients and they store well in cooler temperatures, winter squashes were nutrient-rich foods that helped to nourish ancient people through the colder months when such foods were not in season.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A from its carotenoid content. It also provides plenty of Vitamins C, B6, B2, B3, and K, along with fiber, manganese, copper, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and magnesium. Enjoy the seeds for a good supply of Vitamin E. One cup of cooked, mashed butternut squash has a mere 82 calories.

The bright orange color of butternut squash is a clear indication that it is packed with carotenoids, Vitamin A precursors. This makes them powerful antioxidant foods, protecting eye, skin and cardiovascular health, as well as warding off cancer.

Despite the fact that some people consider winter squash to be high-carbohydrate foods, winter squash is considered to be low on the glycemic index, with a rating of 55. Winter squash has been found to steady the release of sugars in the digestive tract, lowering the glycemic response to meals.

How to Select a Butternut Squash
Choose a butternut squash that is free of blemishes or decay, and feels firm and heavy for its size.

How to Store Butternut Squash
Butternut squash will keep well in a cool, dry, dark place. The ideal storage temperature is 50 to 68°F. Freshly picked squash have been stored in these conditions for up to 6 months. Most should store well for 1 to 3 months.

If mold appears on your squash, the molded area should be cut away and the remaining parts of the squash that are still good should be used immediately. Sometimes, commercial growers wax the squashes to prolong their shelf life and deter mold. If yours was not waxed and you want to extend the shelf life, you could oil the squash yourself. Wash the squash well to remove any dirt. Dry it well…make sure it is completely dry before proceeding or moisture left on it may invite decay. Place a small amount of food-grade oil of your choice on a paper towel or cloth, and wipe the entire surface of the squash, spreading a thin layer of oil all over. Be sure you get oil in all cracks and crevices of the squash. Buff off any excess oil. The surface should be shiny, but not oily to the touch. Store it in a cool, dry, dark place.

Once your squash has been cut, it should be tightly wrapped or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no more than a week. Cooked butternut squash should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and used within 3 to 5 days.

Cooked butternut squash may be frozen in an airtight container. It will keep well for 10 to 12 months. Beyond that, the quality may decline, but it will still be safe to eat.

How to Prepare a Butternut Squash
First remove any label that was placed on your squash at the store. Then rinse the squash with water to clean it off. Butternut squash does not need to be peeled before being cooked, but you can peel it, if desired or if a recipe calls for peeling it first. The peel is tough, but they can be peeled with a vegetable peeler or a knife.

When cutting butternut squash, it’s easiest to cut it in half, separating the neck from the bulb end. Then the seeds need to be removed from the bulb end. They can be removed by scooping them out with a spoon, or by first cutting the bulb in half from top to bottom, then scraping the seeds out with a spoon. The stem end can then be cut off the top of the neck end. The neck end can then be stood upright to remove the peel, then the flesh can be cubed. Or the neck end can be cut in half lengthwise for roasting or cooking in another method.

Roasted Butternut Squash. Butternut squash can be roasted different ways. The squash may be cut into four large pieces (cutting the bulb end from the stem end, then cutting both the bulb and stem ends in half lengthwise) and removing the seeds as described above. Place all pieces, peel side up, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roasting it at 375°F or 400°F until a sharp knife can easily be inserted through the pieces. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the squash to cool enough to be handled. Scrape the flesh from the peel with a spoon and use accordingly in your recipe.

This method can be simplified by placing your entire uncut, washed squash on a baking sheet and roasting it until a knife can easily pierce through its thickest part. Remove it from the oven, allow it to cool enough to be handled, then cut it, removing seeds, stem end, and scraping off the flesh to be used as needed.

Butternut cubes can also be roasted by first cutting the squash in half, separating the bulb end from the neck. Then trim off the stem end, stand the squash piece upright and remove the peel with a knife or vegetable peeler. Then slice the flesh into cubes. Most recipes for roasted butternut squash cubes call for placing the cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and coating the cubes with oil, then sprinkling them with salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400°F or 425°F about 20 to 30 minutes, until fork-tender.

Steamed Butternut Squash. Place medium size chunks of peeled and seeded butternut squash in a steamer basket. Add water to the pot, but not so much that the squash pieces sit in water. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring the water to boil. Steam for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the squash pieces are fork-tender. Remove the squash pieces to a bowl and proceed with desired recipe.

Sautéed Butternut Squash. Peeled, seeded butternut squash cubes may be sautéed in oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat. First, warm the fat in the skillet, add the squash cubes, then stir frequently and sauté until lightly browned and caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes.

How to Freeze Butternut Squash
Cooked, pureed and frozen butternut squash is ready to be used in pies, soups, baked goods or in any recipe calling for pureed pumpkin or other winter squash. Simply wash the squash, cut it as desired, and cook it in whatever way you prefer…roasted with or without oil, steamed, or boiled. Scrape off the pulp from the peel, and puree the pulp in a food processor. Pureeing the pulp is not mandatory, but makes it much easier to work with when it’s time to use it. Place your pureed pulp in a freezer bag or container (leave about one inch of headspace). Label it with the date and store it in the freezer. Frozen pureed butternut squash will keep for 10 to 12 months. It is safe to use beyond that, but the quality may deteriorate.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Butternut Squash
* To make butternut squash easier to peel before cooking it, microwave it for 2 or 3 minutes first.

* The peel of butternut squash is edible, but tough. If you want to eat the peel, slow roast the squash and the peel will get softer as it roasts.

* For something different, try butternut squash fries instead of potato fries.

* Top salads with cubes of roasted butternut squash.

* Add chunks of butternut squash to stews.

* Stuff a roasted butternut squash half with a mixture of cooked grains and vegetables for a delicious and filling dish.

* Add roasted butternut squash to breakfast for something different.

* Add thin slices of raw butternut squash to salads for added flavor and texture.

* Enjoy roasted butternut squash in place of potatoes, pumpkin, or sweet potato.

* Mash cooked butternut squash with a little milk of choice and cinnamon and serve it instead of mashed potatoes.

* Use pureed butternut squash in place of pumpkin when making pies and tarts.

* Add cooked butternut squash to pasta dishes, or puree it and make an interesting pasta sauce.

* Combine pureed butternut squash with coconut milk for a creamy squash soup.

* Butternut squash seeds are edible! They can be saved and roasted as you would pumpkin seeds. Once scooped out, separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, and rinse them well. Coat the seeds with a little oil, and season them as desired. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and roast them at 225°F for about 15 minutes until the seeds start to pop. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet before serving.

* Do you want to enjoy pureed squash, but are not sure how to flavor it? Try topping pureed butternut squash with cinnamon and maple syrup.

* For an interesting side dish, steam cubes of butternut squash. Then toss with a little olive oil, soy sauce, and ginger. Sprinkle with toasted squash seeds for a little added crunch.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Butternut Squash
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika (smoked)

Foods That Go Well with Butternut Squash
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (i.e. adzuki, lima, pinto, white), chicken, chickpeas, eggs, lamb, nuts (esp. almonds, pecans, walnuts), pork, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu

Vegetables: Artichokes (Jerusalem), arugula, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chiles, fennel, greens, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, shallots, spinach, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, berries, coconut, cranberries, dates, lemon, lime, orange, pears, pomegranate seeds, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur (wheat), corn, couscous, farro, millet, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, browned butter, cheese (esp. cheddar, Parmesan, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, milk (dairy and non-dairy), yogurt

Other Foods: Miso, oil, sugar (esp. brown), stock (mushroom), tamari, vinegar (esp. balsamic), wine (esp. dry white)

Butternut squash has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. muffins), casseroles, gratins, pasta (i.e. gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli), pizza, purees, risottos, soups and bisques, stews, succotash, tarts

Suggested Flavor and Food Combos Using Butternut Squash
Add butternut squash to any of the following combinations…

Allspice + cinnamon + cloves + maple syrup + vanilla
Apples + cinnamon + ginger + maple syrup + walnuts
Apples + cheese + honey
Apples + nuts
Balsamic vinegar + mushrooms + pasta
Browned butter + pine nuts + sage + pasta
Fruit (cranberries, dates) + nuts (pecans, pistachios)
Ginger + tamari + tofu
Orange + sage
Quinoa + walnuts
Rosemary + tomatoes + white beans
Sage + walnuts

Recipe Links
Roasted Butternut Squash (No Oil) (Judi in the Kitchen video)

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples (Judi in the Kitchen video)

Roasted Butternut Squash

Sautéed Butternut Squash

Side Dish Recipe for Roast Chicken—Pan-Seared Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Parmigiano Shards

Sautéed Butternut Squash with Garlic, Ginger, and Spices

Sautéed Butternut Squash

Caramelized Browned Butter Butternut Squash

26 Delicious Butternut Squash Recipes to Make This Fall

33 Butternut Squash Recipes We Love

55 Best Butternut Squash Recipes Everyone in Your Family will Enjoy

10 Things to do With Butternut Squash

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner on a Sheet Pan

Crock Pot Steel Cut Oats with Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Chickpea Hummus Wraps

Golden Squash Soup

Steamed Butternut Squash with Almond Sauce

Steamed Butternut Squash with Red Chili Sauce


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.



Fruits and Vegetables

Easy Ways to Add More Fruits and Veggies to Your Day

We all know we need to eat more plant foods…more fruits and vegetables, in particular. Most Americans don’t eat the recommended number of servings of these important foods yet they know they should. If you’re among that crowd and are looking for ways to include more plant foods into your day, I have some easy ideas for you to try.

Effective Way to Make Changes
First, remember that long-time habits cannot all be changed overnight (at least not permanently). The easiest way to make permanent change is to do it a little at a time. (Remember the saying, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch; yard by yard, it’s hard.”) Pick something that’s do-able for you (such as always adding some type of fruit to your breakfast), make the change, and stick with it until it becomes second-nature to you…until you do it without thinking about it, and then you’re there! You’ve achieved that goal!

Next, keep that new habit and find something else to change in a positive way. Maybe find another way to add a vegetable to your lunch or to a snack food. Repeat the same process. Keep moving forward with this tactic, adding new changes when the others become a habit to you and they are “automatic.” Over time you’ll find that you’ve transformed your life (or at least your diet) for the good. Here are some ideas for adding more fruits and vegetables to your foods…

* Add fruit to cereal.

* Add fruit to yogurt and make it part of your breakfast.

* Add vegetables to an omelet. Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, shredded carrots, greens (like kale), and tomatoes all blend well with eggs.

* Add fruit and greens (such as spinach) to a breakfast smoothie.

* Try a savory vegetable pancake. Sauté onions, carrots, spinach, and even mushrooms, then add them to a savory (not sweet) pancake batter. Cook as usual and enjoy (without the maple syrup). If you really want a topping, try unsweetened applesauce.

* Add diced apple to hot oatmeal or other porridge.

* Make a 100% fruit puree in advance to have available in the refrigerator. Top morning oatmeal with it.

* Is your morning time short? Try overnight oats with added berries. Add other fruits in the morning and you’ll have breakfast in no time.

* Try a loaded sweet potato for breakfast. Bake or boil it in advance, then warm it on the stove or in the microwave. Or, if time allows, pierce it and microwave it until it’s soft. Split it and fill the cavity with chopped nuts or your favorite nut butter and chopped fruit.

* Or fill a cooked sweet potato with scrambled eggs cooked with veggies such as sautéed onions, carrots, and chopped spinach.

* Sauté assorted vegetables such as kale, carrots, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and butternut squash. Add some beans, or top them with a soft-boiled egg. Have some toast, a side of cooked grain or even oatmeal.

* Add some sautéed vegetables to a breakfast burrito.

Lunch or Supper
* Enjoy a vegetable salad with your lunch (or supper), or as the whole meal. Add some fruit for sweetness, flavor and variety.

* Add as many vegetables as you can to a lunchtime sandwich. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, avocado, and spinach would all work well.

* Have some veggie sticks with or without dip on the side. Jicama, carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, radishes, and even sugar snap peas and snow peas. Most offer great crunch and chewing experience while the dip can add variety in flavors. This is a healthful alternative to chips.

* Enjoy a piece of fresh fruit for dessert.

* Top meat, chicken or fish with a salsa of choice.

* Add shredded carrots, zucchini, or yellow squash to meatloaf, casseroles, and burgers (both meat and meatless).

* Add shredded vegetables to pasta sauce as it cooks. Carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow squash all blend well in tomato sauce.

* Add vegetables as toppings to your pizza.

* If you’re a meat eater, plan a meatless meal for one or two days a week. Plan a meal around a vegetable-based soup, stir-fry, or casserole. Add beans or legumes of choice for added protein.

* Use fresh vegetable or fruit slices as a garnish on your plate. Make a point of eating them rather than just enjoying their looks next to other foods.

* Stuff acorn (or other) squash, bell peppers, hollowed out zucchini, or spaghetti squash with a vegetable-bean mixture and enjoy that for supper. Be sure to eat the “bowl” along with the stuffing!

* Add vegetables to lasagna layers. Fresh spinach, finely shredded carrot, thinly sliced yellow squash or zucchini, and finely chopped steamed kale would all work well.

* When cooking rice or another grain for a side dish, add some frozen peas and even finely shredded carrots during the last few minutes of cooking time. Your grain will be embellished with vegetables for added color, nutrition and flavor. Not a fan of peas? Try finely shredded kale or spinach or something else that sounds good to you.

* Need a meal in a hurry? Make a quick quesadilla by stir-steaming or stir-frying some veggies (use a pack of assorted frozen (and thawed in a colander under running water) vegetables to make it even faster). Add in a handful of cooked beans, if desired. Place them on a tortilla and sprinkle with cheese of choice. Fold the tortilla, heat the tortilla on a frying pan to crisp it up some, and enjoy!

* Try cauliflower rice as a way to add more veggies to your meal. We’re not knocking rice here, just adding veggies. If you want the real thing (rice, that is), you could make a mixture of half rice and half cauliflower rice.

* Add finely chopped vegetables to polenta.

* If you’re not a huge fan of vegetables, yet want to add more to your meals, try dressing them up with your favorite salsa, glaze or sauce.

* Add pureed cauliflower, winter squash, sweet potato, or even bell peppers into sauces, mashed potatoes and even pot pies for added flavor, nutrition, and color.

* Try thickening soups and stews with vegetables instead of cornstarch. Okra will thicken, as will starchy vegetables like potatoes. Blended corn, mashed white or sweet potatoes, and pureed cooked root vegetables such as carrots may also do the trick. Although not “vegetables,” pureed beans in liquid can also be used to thicken soups. Blend equal parts of beans and soup broth. Add the slurry back to the pot and your soup should thicken.

* Try adding mashed, roasted cauliflower to mashed potatoes. This will make the potatoes healthier and creamier.

* Try a lettuce wrap. Make your usual taco, tortilla, or sandwich filling (but of course, with added veggies), then wrap it in a stack of lettuce leaves instead. Or take it one step further and try large collard green leaves, turnip green leaves, or flat-leaf kale leaves. Yet another way to add more veggies to your meal!

* Try a fish-less sushi. Use mushrooms, cucumbers, and avocado along with the sticky rice.

* Add some finely chopped spinach to your favorite risotto. Add it toward the end of cooking time since spinach cooks really fast.

* On a cold winter day, start your meal with a small warm bowl of vegetable soup as an appetizer. You’ll get veggies in and also curb your appetite so you don’t overeat.

* On a warm summer day, start your meal with a side salad or veggies and dip. Like with the soup, you’ll get more veggies in and curb your appetite a bit.

* Add vegetables to tuna, chicken, meat, or bean salads. Tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers, onions, would all work well. Serve on a bed of lettuce or spinach (and EAT the greens!).

* Include a green salad as a side dish with lunch and/or supper. Eat this, in addition to your “side” vegetable.

* Add variety to green salads by adding other vegetables such as red or green cabbage, spinach, carrots, green peas (frozen, thawed), mushrooms, celery, radishes, cucumbers, yellow squash or zucchini, broccoli and/or cauliflower, sprouts, sugar snap peas, snow peas, bell peppers, cooked green beans, scallions, tomatoes, radicchio, or any other vegetable you want.

* For a little sweetness, add some fruit to your green salads, such as pineapple, orange slices, grapes, berries of any sort, diced apples, diced pears, diced peaches, or mango cubes.

* Embrace “slaws.” Cole slaw doesn’t have to be limited to cabbage and mayonnaise. Red cabbage, green cabbage, shredded Brussels sprouts, grated kohlrabi, grated carrots, pineapple tidbits, grated apple, peanuts, hazelnuts, dried cranberries, raisins, celery root, beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, and even citrus fruits can all be incorporated into assorted vegetable slaws. Experiment and get creative with this one!

* Don’t get stuck in a rut with your salads. Vary your greens. There are plenty to choose from: iceberg, romaine, green leafy lettuce, red leaf lettuce, specialty lettuces, spring mix, baby green mixes, spinach, kale, shredded cabbage, even shredded collard greens…explore what’s available in your local store or farm market!

* Don’t just vary your bed of greens, but vary your toppings too! There are lots of possibilities including tomatoes, shredded carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli pieces, cauliflower pieces, cucumbers, cooked green beans, frozen (and thawed) green peas, sliced olives, raw yellow squash or zucchini slices, beet slices (pickled, steamed, or raw), asparagus (raw, steamed or sautéed), parsnips (raw, steamed or sautéed), roasted Brussels sprouts (or even raw), corn (canned, raw, frozen and thawed, steamed or boiled), shaved kohlrabi, jicama, shaved celery root, natural sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables (homemade is mild tasting and less pungent than the canned variety), onions (all varieties), butternut squash (raw, cubed and roasted, steamed, or sautéed).

* Don’t toss the broccoli stems! They’re perfectly edible. If the outer layer is too tough for you, shave it off with a vegetable peeler and save it for vegetable broth. Slice the remaining stalk into your salad for an added vegetable. They are crunchy but not tough, and taste like broccoli. Why toss them???

* Try making a vegetable salad without the greens, just for something different. Load it with tomatoes, shredded carrots, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas for sweetness, and any other veggies you want. Top it with your favorite dressing and enjoy!

Snacks and Other Foods
* Have some fruits and/or vegetable pieces available to snack on whenever you have a hunger urge. Sliced bell peppers, carrot and celery sticks, sliced radishes, sliced jicama, broccoli or cauliflower florets, whole cherry or grape tomatoes, raw sugar snap peas, raw snow peas, and sliced yellow squash or zucchini would all work well. Include some whole baby cucumbers for an easy grab and go, crunchy snack. For fruit, peeled Clementine oranges, grapes, apples, pears, sliced kiwi, cubed mango, diced pineapple, strawberries, plums, peaches, cherries (when they’re in season), and bananas would all work well for a quick and handy snack. On the run? Pack them in a to-go bag and you’ll have them whenever your “snack-attack” hits you.

* Boil a whole sweet potato with the peel on. Allow it to cool then store it in the refrigerator. When hungry, cut off a slice or two and enjoy it just as it is…plain and simple. When you get used to eating foods without added sugars, a boiled sweet potato will actually taste sweet to you.

* Add shredded fruits and vegetables to baked goods like quick breads and muffins. Shredded apples, carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini would all work well.

* Use a fruit puree as a dip on a fruit and cheese tray. Pureed raspberries and/or pineapple would be good.

* Use a vegetable puree as a dip on a vegetable tray. (Example: Roasted red bell peppers blended with a little balsamic vinegar.)

* Spread your favorite nut butter on apple or pear slices for a delicious, satisfying snack.

* Add mixed berries to some vanilla yogurt for a filling snack.

* Stuff celery sticks with your favorite nut butter.

* Enjoy a slice of cantaloupe topped with cashew cream or yogurt.

* Try spreading a tortilla or flatbread with your favorite nut butter, top it with thinly sliced banana and a few raisins. Roll it up and enjoy it right away, or wrap it for a to-go snack.

* Add fresh vegetable/fruit juice to your day, not as a meal replacer, but as a supplement.

* Instead of making overly sweetened desserts like pie, cake and cookies, enjoy a piece of fresh fruit for dessert. When your taste buds get used to not being overrun with excess sugars, a piece of fruit will actually be refreshing and taste sweet.

* Puree fresh fruit to use as a dressing over another dessert such as cake, pie, pudding, and ice cream.

* Include fruit pieces or fruit puree into desserts like parfaits and puddings.

* Stew or poach pears with a little sweetener (sugar, honey, or maple syrup) and spice (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, star anise) for an elegant dessert.

* Try banana “nice cream” by blending a frozen (peeled) banana. Period. It’s delicious as it is, but can be embellished any way you want. When blending, add in a little vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or another fruit. It can be sweetened with whatever you want, if desired. Top it with chopped nuts, dried coconut, chocolate chips or your favorite fruit puree and you have a delicious, healthy, fruity dessert ready in very little time.

* For a refreshing dessert on a hot day, swirl a freshly made fruit puree of your choice into your favorite yogurt. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

* Make a parfait layering pudding or yogurt with 100% fruit puree, chopped fresh fruit of choice, and granola.

* Top your favorite pudding with a fruit puree (unsweetened, of course!), or small chunks of fresh fruit of choice.

* Make a refreshing fruit salad with whatever fruit you have available. Add a topping of 100% fruit puree, or stir in some pineapple tidbits with juice, then sprinkle with unsweetened coconut.

Plan Ahead
* If you know your time will be short during the work week, take some time on the weekend or one evening to prepare some fruits and veggies in advance. For instance, salad greens can be washed, spun dry, chopped, and stored in the refrigerator, ready for fast salad assembly any time you need it. Other salad vegetables may also be chopped in advance and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for faster salad making.

* On a day off, make a large pot of soup that’s loaded with assorted vegetables. In fact, double the veggies (or at least increase the amount) called for in the recipe (if possible). This will increase the “hearty factor” of the soup along with the nutritional punch. Divide it into containers for grab-and-go lunches for the week, or for quick suppers when time is short.

* “Ditto” the above suggestion for making a large casserole with extra veggies on a day off. You’ll have lunches (or easy suppers) ready to go for the week.

* If you’re cooking something in the oven and have space, add some sweet potatoes wherever there’s room so they can bake at the same time. Enjoy them with meals during the week, or save them for special, sweet and satisfying snacks when needed.

* Keep frozen vegetables in the freezer. They can be ready at a moment’s notice to be used in a number of ways. Add them to soups, casseroles, stir-fries, quiches, pasta dishes, and rice or grain dishes. Thaw frozen vegetables like peas and carrots and add them to a green salad for extra nutrients, flavor, and variety.

* When grocery shopping, look for something new that you haven’t tried before in the produce isle. Make a point of including that in at least one dish during the coming week.

* Keep frozen assorted fruit in the freezer. This is handy especially when they’re out of season or you don’t have time to get to the store. They can be included in smoothies, blended into desserts, or thawed and used in whatever way needed.

* If you’ll be going off somewhere for the day, pack ready-to-go snack bags of easy to munch on veggies, like baby carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices or baby whole cucumbers, sugar snap peas, snow peas, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, and maybe some easy to eat fruit like grapes, a plum, or a banana.

With all the suggestions above, I hope this gives you some ideas as to what will work for you in adding more fruits and vegetables to your day. If you have suggestions not mentioned above, please feel free to share them below! I’d love to hear from you!


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.


Lettuce 101 – The Basics

Lettuce is a leafy green vegetable that we’re all familiar with. Many of us eat lettuce every day, whether it’s in a salad or included in a sandwich of some sort. It’s simply everyday fare. Yet, it’s a vegetable we can do more with than we think, and it often has more nutritional value than we give it credit for. I invite you to explore the possibilities of what you can do with lettuce and use more of it where you can. It’s more than just water packed in a green leaf! Check out the information below to learn more about this humble, noteworthy leafy vegetable!


About Lettuce
Lettuce is an annual leaf vegetable of the aster family, Asteraceae. There are four varieties that are commonly grown: (1) asparagus lettuce with narrow leaves and a thick stem (i.e. celtuce, popular in China), (2) head or cabbage lettuce with leaves folded into a compact round head (i.e. iceberg), (3) leaf or curled lettuce, with leaves that are loose, curled and smooth-edged or oak-leaf in shape (i.e. green leaf), and (4) cos with smooth leaves that form a tall, oblong, loose head (i.e. romaine).

There are two classes of head lettuce: (1) Butterhead types (i.e. Boston and Bibb lettuces) with soft, large leaves that separate easily from the base of the stem, and (2) crispy types (i.e. iceberg lettuce), with crispy leaves that form hard, compact heads. Lettuces can have colors ranging from different shades of green to deep red and purple. Some newer varieties have variegated colors. The crisp head varieties are very popular in the United States.

Lettuce is by far the world’s most popular salad vegetable. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia. Lettuce was first cultivated by ancient Egyptians who transformed the plant from a weed with seeds used to produce oil, to a food grown for its leaves and seeds. The plant was introduced to Greeks and Romans, who gave it the name “lactuca” where the name “lettuce” came from. The plants eventually made their way around the world, where different varieties were eventually developed and cultivated, especially in Holland. People in most countries eat lettuce raw, whereas celtuce lettuce is often cooked in China. Most lettuce eaten in the United States is grown in California.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Lettuce
Lettuce is one food you can eat without guilt, with only 11 to 20 calories in 2 cups, depending upon the variety. It has extremely little fat, little carbohydrate and protein. However, the nutrient content starts to pick up with fiber, having about 2 grams in 2 cups, depending upon the variety. When comparing nutrient value of assorted types of lettuce, romaine lettuce often tops the list with higher levels of specific vitamins and minerals, while iceberg is often toward the bottom. Nevertheless, iceberg lettuce does have nutritional value.

Romaine is the lettuce to choose when shopping for the most nutrient-dense lettuce. It supplies good amounts of Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin K, folate, molybdenum, dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, biotin, Vitamin B1, iron, copper, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, calcium, and pantothenic acid. Despite its high water and low calorie content, that’s a lot to be said for romaine lettuce!

Heart Health. Considering the wide range of nutrients provided by romaine lettuce, this lettuce in particular, can be considered a heart-healthy food. The Vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to help prevent oxidation of cholesterol, which would cause it to become sticky and cling to arterial walls forming plaque. The fiber in romaine lettuce helps to remove bile from the body, forcing the production of more bile. This in turn, lowers blood cholesterol. The folate in romaine helps to keep the amino acid homocysteine in check, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, the potassium in romaine helps to keep blood pressure in check. There’s plenty of reason to opt for romaine lettuce when you can!

How to Select Lettuce
No matter what type of lettuce you’re buying, you want your lettuce to be as fresh as possible. Look for brightly colored leaves that appear crisp, not wilted, and are free of blemishes. If possible, choose heads with stems that are not browning from the base.

How to Store Lettuce
To stay crisp and fresh, lettuce needs moisture and air. Here are the steps to keeping lettuce fresh and crisp, according to

Loose Leaf Lettuce. Remove any damaged leaves, then wash your lettuce. Dry it in a salad spinner or on paper towels. Wrap the lettuce in dry paper towels or a clean cloth and place it in a rigid storage container with a lid. The towel will absorb any excess water while helping to maintain a humid environment. It’s helpful to store the washed lettuce in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for proper temperature during storage. If not possible, store them toward the bottom of the refrigerator and try to keep the container from resting against the back of the refrigerator where the lettuce might freeze. Replace the paper towel or cloth when it feels wet. Check the lettuce every day or two and remove any leaves that are not at their best. Use loose leaf lettuce within 7 to 10 days for best quality.

Head Lettuce (Unwashed).  Remove any outer leaves that are wilted or damaged. Leave the heads intact and do not wash them until you are ready to use the lettuce. Store the head of lettuce wrapped in paper towels or a clean cloth in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Replace the towels when they appear wet. Head lettuce can last from one to three weeks when stored like this. If the outer leaves start to look bad, remove and discard them until you reach inner leaves that look good. Use them as soon as possible.

Storing Washed and Cut Lettuce. Wash and spin dry cut lettuce. If you do not have a salad spinner, allow the lettuce to air dry on paper towels or a clean cloth towel. Wrap your washed/dried lettuce in a dry paper or cloth towel and place it in a rigid covered container. A plastic bag may be used, but they may keep better in a covered container since that will protect them from getting bumped and bruised. Store it in the crisper drawer if possible, for optimal temperature. Replace the towel if it gets wet, and remove any damaged/aging leaves for optimal storage life.

Tips for Lettuce Storage. (1) Lettuce bruises or gets damaged easily. So, try not to shove other foods or containers against your lettuce in the refrigerator. That’s why storing lettuce in a container can be helpful. (2) Try not to push your lettuce to the back of the refrigerator, where it might freeze. If this happens, it will not be good for salads, as freezing lettuce makes it mushy. (3) If you’re slow to eat your lettuce, choose romaine or iceberg, which seem to keep the longest.

Reviving Wilted Lettuce. If your lettuce starts to wilt, revive it by placing it in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes before you use it. Dry the soaked lettuce, then use it as planned.

When to Discard Lettuce. If your lettuce starts to look slimy, brown, moldy, and/or develops a bad odor, it’s time to toss it out.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Lettuce
* Add lettuce of any type to your sandwiches, burgers, or wraps for added crunch, flavor and a little nutrient boost.

* Just about everything goes with lettuce. When making a meal salad, get creative! Add a variety of your favorite foods from different categories…proteins, fruits, other vegetables, grains, dairy and non-dairy. Add your favorite dressing and enjoy! Change it up as often as you can for variety and nutrient balance.

* Enjoy a lettuce wrap with your favorite foods. Use large lettuce leaves, and double or triple them for strength if needed. Fill with your favorite sandwich, taco or burrito filling, wrap and enjoy!

* Years ago, lettuce was always cooked…mostly in soups. If you’re really looking for something different to try, add some lettuce to a vegetable soup at the end of cooking! The heat will wilt the lettuce while it still maintains some of its crunch. The same thing can be done with arugula and spinach.

* If you’re concerned about bacteria or other microbes on your food, opt for whole heads of lettuce (those with leaves still attached to the base). Researchers have found that whole heads of lettuce had FAR less bacteria on them than the cut, bagged varieties. This is true, even for those labeled as being “triple washed” and “ready to eat.”

* Lettuce can bruise easily. When washing/cutting lettuce in advance to be stored in the refrigerator, either tear the lettuce or cut it with a plastic lettuce knife (rather than a metal knife). Cutting lettuce in advance with a metal knife can bruise the lettuce, causing brown edges on the leaves where it was cut. This is not a problem if you will be eating your lettuce right away, but may be noticeable for stored prepared lettuce.

* When storing lettuce, keep it away from ethylene-producing fruit, which would cause the lettuce to age prematurely. Such fruit includes apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, kiwi fruit, and cantaloupe. [Note that this is not an all-inclusive list.]

* Lettuce contains a lot of water. Why not add some to your next smoothie?

* Try adding some shredded crisp lettuce to your next vegetable stir-fry!

* Next time you grill something, take a head of lettuce like iceberg or radicchio, slice it in half through the core, and grill it, cut side down. It will have grill marks, and a hint of smokiness what will add an interesting flavor twist to your next salad.

* When you’re braising something, try adding some crispy romaine along with or instead of cabbage. Lettuce absorbs other flavors readily, so this should enhance the flavor of your dish.

* When you want a quick snack, top some crispy lettuce leaves with your favorite cracker topping, like nut butter and fruit, hummus, egg salad, chickpea salad, refried beans, cheese, or anything like that.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Lettuce
Basil, capers, cayenne, chervil, cilantro, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, lovage, mint, mustard, parsley, pepper (black, white), salt, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Lettuce
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans, beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, seafood, seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), tahini, tempeh, tofu, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chayote, chiles, chives, cucumbers, fennel, greens (baby and other salad greens), jicama, leeks, mushrooms, nori, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, scallions, shallots, sprouts, squash (summer and winter), sugar snap peas, tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples, avocados, citrus fruits (lemons, lime, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines), cranberries (dried), mangoes, olives, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, raisins

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

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (dairy and nondairy), crème fraiche, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, mayonnaise, miso, oil, soy sauce, tamari, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce

Lettuce has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Lettuce wraps, salads, sandwiches, soups

Suggested Flavor or Food Combos Using Lettuce
Use lettuce with any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Avocado + Carrots + Smoked Tofu + Tomatoes
Almonds + Jicama + Orange
Apples + Celery + Lime + Raisins + Walnuts
Avocado + Grapefruit + Pecans + Radicchio
Carrots + Cucumbers + Dill + Feta Cheese
Chickpeas + Cucumbers + Feta Cheese + Olives + Red Onions + Tomatoes
Dill + Garlic + Lemon + Scallions
Dijon Mustard + Lemon + Olive Oil + Scallions
Fennel + Grapefruit
Figs + Goat Cheese + Tarragon
Gorgonzola Cheese + Hazelnuts + Lemon + Olives
Pears + Sherry Vinegar + Walnuts

Recipe Links
Stir-Fry Lettuce

Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Classic Wedge Salad

Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce (vegan)

Strawberry, Blueberry & Greens Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

Parmesan Crusted Romaine and Chicken

Lettuce Salad with Tomato and Cucumber

38 Recipes using Salad Greens

Orange Romaine Salad

Roasted Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive

Strawberry and Feta Salad

Holiday Lettuce Salad

40 Lettuce Recipes You Can Get Excited About

Cranberry Almond Lettuce Salad


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

About Judi

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