Category Archives: Nutrition

Pomegranate

Pomegranates 101 – The Basics

Pomegranates 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Add pomegranate arils to your morning oatmeal.

* Top your favorite yogurt with pomegranate arils.

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

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

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

* Top your favorite roasted poultry with pomegranate arils.

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

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

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

* Top butternut-apple soup with pomegranate arils.

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

* Top a quinoa tabouleh with pomegranate arils.

* Add pomegranate arils to your favorite smoothie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

 

About Judi

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

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard 101 – The Basics

Swiss Chard 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Add Swiss chard in layers of your next lasagna.

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Add chopped Swiss chard to your favorite omelet.

* Try adding some Swiss chard on your favorite pizza.

* Add some Swiss chard to your favorite frittata.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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

Arugula

Arugula 101 – The Basics

Arugula 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* One ounce of arugula is about 1 cup.

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

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

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

* Add arugula to avocado toast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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

Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans 101 – The Basics

Kidney Beans 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fruits: Avocados, lemons, limes, oranges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

 

About Judi

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

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe 101 – The Basics

Cantaloupe (Muskmelon) 101 – The Basics

About Cantaloupe
The fruit we commonly call a “cantaloupe” in the United States is actually a type of muskmelon (Cucumis melo var reticulatus). Muskmelons have an outer skin (or rind) covered with what appears to be a “netting” or an orderly mosaic pattern. Sometimes they will have some ribbing, or lines running from end to end, like the seams on a basketball. However, the ribbing is usually not heavy nor deep.

True cantaloupes (Cucumis melo var cantalupensis) do not have extensive, orderly netting on the outer surface, and they have well-defined, deeply grooved ribs. True cantaloupes are grown almost exclusively in other parts of the world, especially in the Mediterranean region.

In this article, for the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion (at least in the United States), muskmelons will be referred to as cantaloupes.

Cantaloupes are members of the cucurbit family of plants (Cucurbitaceae). This family also includes cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, gourds, and many types of melons, including watermelon and honeydew melons. Since members of this plant family can easily cross-pollinate, there are many different hybrid melons available.

Cantaloupes grow on low vines and have orange, sweet flesh, with seeds in the center. The fruit is best when eaten fresh and in season, when it is picked ripe. This delicious fruit is often eaten as a snack, breakfast, side dish, or dessert. In many cultures, the edible cantaloupe seeds are often dried and enjoyed as a snack food.

Historians are not certain where the cantaloupe originated. However, melons are often found growing wild in Africa, which leads some to believe they may have originated there. However, they may also have had their origins in parts of Asia, India, or China.

Today, China is the world’s largest producer of melons (which includes cantaloupe). Within the United States, California is the largest producer of cantaloupes, growing over half of all the supply. California is followed by Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, and Texas in production. Despite the production of cantaloupes in the United States, in 2010, the country purchased over 935 million pounds of cantaloupes from Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Cantaloupe is an excellent source of Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) and Vitamin C. It also has a good supply of potassium, fiber, Vitamin B1, niacin, Vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, Vitamin K, manganese, and zinc. It also contains a wide array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, including carotenoids, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, luteolin, and more. The edible seeds of cantaloupe also provide a measurable amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. These important health-promoting compounds, together with the vitamins and minerals found in cantaloupes, makes them an excellent food to include in your diet. Cantaloupe is full of water and electrolytes, so enjoying some cantaloupe can help to keep you hydrated while balancing your body fluids. One cup of fresh cantaloupe cubes has 144 calories.

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Support. Cantaloupe’s nutritional strength lies in its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The levels of these nutrients may be a bit lower than some other fruits, such as berries, but since the serving size of cantaloupe is often larger than other fruits, they provide important, health-promoting benefits attributed to these nutrients.

Individuals who eat a lot of cantaloupe and other fruit, have been found to have a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. This condition stems from underlying chronic inflammation and oxidative stress that leads to high blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure along with too much body fat. Since cantaloupe offers an array of antioxidants that help prevent oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, individuals who eat a lot of cantaloupes have lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the bloodstream. CRP is a widely used marker to assess levels of inflammation in the body.

Heart Disease Prevention. The fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C found in cantaloupe are important nutrients for heart health. Potassium helps to lower high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Fiber helps to reduce levels of LDL (low-density-lipoprotein) cholesterol, which helps to reduce the risk for heart disease. It also helps to keep blood pressure in check. Many heart-related problems start out with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. If you want to help lower your risk of metabolic syndrome and related chronic issues, including heart and cardiovascular problems, enjoy cantaloupe and other fruit in your diet as often as you can.

Diabetes Help and Prevention. In animal studies, researchers have shown that cantaloupe phytonutrients can improve insulin and blood sugar metabolism. Cantaloupe extracts have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the kidneys of animals with diabetes. They have also been shown to improve insulin resistance in diabetic animals.

Cantaloupe has a low glycemic load score of 4. This means it is digested slowly and won’t cause a spike in blood sugar.

Eye Health. One cup of cantaloupe has 100 percent of the recommended intake of Vitamin A. It also has nearly 100 percent of the recommended intake of Vitamin C, the most important antioxidant in the body. If that’s not enough, cantaloupe also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two important antioxidants that give fruits and vegetables their yellow and red colors. When combined with Vitamin A, these antioxidants work together to play an important role in protecting your vision and eye health. In particular, they may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Reduced Cancer Risk. Not only can the antioxidants in cantaloupe fight inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, help with blood sugar management, and improve eye health, they can also help to reduce the risk of cancer. Specifically, the antioxidants found in cantaloupe combined with the fiber in the fruit, can help to lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Hydration. Many people go about their days while dehydrated, and they aren’t even aware of it. Mild dehydration can cause dizziness, headache, less urination, dry skin, dry mouth, and constipation. Severe dehydration can be serious and may lead to rapid heart rate, confusion, low blood pressure, shriveled skin, and even unconsciousness! Dehydration is also a risk factor for developing kidney stones, and makes the heart have to pump harder than it should.

Like many melons, cantaloupe has a high water content, being almost 90 percent water. Eating cantaloupe when you can, especially on a hot summer day, helps to keep you hydrated. When it’s available and you’re thirsty, take a drink of cantaloupe! At the same time, the naturally-occurring sugars in the melon will help to give you an energy boost.

How to Select a Cantaloupe
Choose a cantaloupe that is heavy for its size, firm, and a golden-beige color under the outer netting. There should be little to no green color on the rind. Try tapping on the cantaloupe and listen as you tap. If the sound is dull and deep, it’s an indication that the melon is ripe. If the sound is higher in pitch and sounds hollow, the cantaloupe is probably not ripe. Also, press gently with your thumb on the top (stem end, where the vine was attached) of the cantaloupe. If it gives way very slightly, then good. If the spot gives way substantially, to the point of feeling soft or even squishy, the cantaloupe is probably overripe. While you have it in your hands, check the melon all over to make sure there are no bruises or damage anywhere.

Another way to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe is to smell the stem end or the bottom blossom end of the melon. Get up front and close with a melon and take a deep sniff. If it smells like a sweet, fresh, fragrant cantaloupe, then it is. If it has little to no smell, then it’s not a ripe melon and will have little flavor. If the fragrance is very strong, then the melon may be overripe and not your best choice. Try again with another melon until you find one that smells good and opt for that one.

Try to avoid soft, overripe melons, since they are past their prime and will not last long. They may even be starting to spoil. For the best flavor, try to find one that is ripe.

Cantaloupes will not continue to ripen after having been picked, so it is best to find a good, ripe melon while you’re at the store. They will, however, continue to age after harvest, getting softer and juicier. However, that process will only happen at room temperature. Once you cut into your melon, it must be refrigerated, which will slow down any further softening that might happen.

How to Store a Cantaloupe
Ripe, whole, unwashed, and uncut cantaloupe should be stored in the refrigerator for the longest life. If left out, they will continue to age by softening up and getting juicier. Keep it at room temperature for up to three days, if you want it to age some. Refrigerate your unwashed, whole melon if it is at its peak and you want to prevent further aging. Be sure to use it within 5 days.

Once cut, a store-bought cantaloupe will usually keep for 3 to 5 days. It should be wrapped airtight in plastic wrap or cut and stored in an airtight container. Always store cut melons in the refrigerator. However, how long it keeps will depend upon how old it is, or how long since it was harvested. Typically, a freshly picked cantaloupe should keep for up to 2 weeks. However, store-bought melons were not freshly picked so they should be used up as soon as possible.

If your cut melon begins to smell a bit alcohol-like, it has started to ferment and is going bad. It is best to discard it at that point.

How to Prepare a Cantaloupe
Preparing a cantaloupe is easy, but a couple steps are important. Simply rinse off your melon to remove any dirt or debris from the surface. It is important to scrub the outer rind under running water with a brush to help remove any bacteria that may be lingering on the surface. (Cantaloupes are a common fruit associated with foodborne illness because of the potential bacteria harbored within the netting on the surface. Scrubbing with a brush can help to remove those unhealthful bacteria.) Cut the melon in half (either lengthwise or crosswise), scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then slice or cut the melon as desired. If preferred, a melon baller can also be used to scoop out the flesh. Cut the flesh from the rind and serve as needed.

How to Freeze Cantaloupe
Freezing cantaloupe couldn’t be any easier. Simply prepare your cantaloupe as needed by washing, removing the seeds and the rind, and cutting the flesh into desired size pieces. Place your cantaloupe pieces in a freezer bag or airtight container. Close it up and label with the date. Store it in the freezer and use it within one year.

Note that your frozen cantaloupe will have a softer texture once it is thawed. It will not be the best option for a fresh fruit salad. However, it would work well for smoothies, blended into a beverage, or puréed for some other application.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Cantaloupe
* It’s important to know that you should wash off the outer surface of your cantaloupe before cutting into it. Bacteria can linger within the netting on the surface and can cause foodborne illness when carried into the cantaloupe with a knife. So rinse it well under running water while scrubbing the surface with a brush. Then cut your cantaloupe accordingly and be sure to wash the knife and all counter and cutting board surfaces afterwards.

* Try a refreshing cantaloupe beverage on a warm day. Blend until smooth 5 cups of cantaloupe chunks, 4 cups of water, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice. Add some fresh herbs such as mint or basil, if you want. Sweeten it a bit with a little honey or other sweetener, if needed. Then enjoy!

* Try a cantaloupe fruit smoothie! Blend until smooth 1 cup of cantaloupe chunks, 10 strawberries (fresh or frozen), 1 banana, yogurt for creaminess (optional), and a little milk of choice or water to thin it to the consistency you want. Enjoy!

* Make some easy cantaloupe strawberry popsicles for a refreshing treat on a hot summer day! Blend cantaloupe until it is smooth. Separately, puree or blend strawberries until they are smooth. In a popsicle mold, alternate filling it with the two fruit purees. Add a stick and freeze. Enjoy them within two months.

* For something fun and decorative for a party, serve a mixture of fresh melon and other fruits, like mixed berries and grapes, in cantaloupe halves. Slice a cantaloupe lengthwise, from end to end. Scoop out the seeds, then using a melon baller, scoop out the pulp, leaving the rind intact. To make it fancy, cut a zig-zag pattern along the edge of both hollowed out cantaloupe halves. Then, prepare the other fruit and toss all the fruit in a large bowl. Scoop the fruit mixture into the melon halves and place them on the table so people can serve themselves from the melon bowls. Sprinkle a little dried coconut on top for extra flavor and a decorative garnish. Place a few mint leaves to one side in each half for a little pop of color.

* Alternate melon cubes and other fruit on skewers. Cantaloupe cubes, grapes, strawberries, and even your favorite cheese on a skewer would be colorful and delicious. Serve it with vanilla yogurt as a dip and enjoy!

* Make a simple refreshing beverage by blending cantaloupe with orange juice. Add a touch of sweetener and a couple ice cubes, if desired.

* Try another refreshing beverage for a hot summer day by combining freshly made cantaloupe juice with sparkling water. Add a few ice cubes, top with a mint leaf, and enjoy!

* Make a cantaloupe parfait! In a tall glass, alternate layers of cantaloupe cubes, mixed berries, and banana slices with vanilla yogurt. Top with toasted chopped walnuts, granola, or sliced almonds and enjoy!

* Cantaloupes release ethylene gas, which causes fruits and some vegetables to ripen faster. If you are storing your cantaloupe on the kitchen counter for a few days, keep it away from other fruits and vegetables that may react to the gas, unless you want those other foods to ripen faster.

* If you have cantaloupe that is ripening too fast and you won’t be able to eat it all, puree the melon and freeze it. The puree can later be included in smoothies, beverages, or similar recipes.

* Store cantaloupes unwashed. If you wash one in advance of cutting it, the added moisture to the surface can invite mold to form. Wash it off just before you’re about to cut it.

* Many cultures dry cantaloupe seeds and enjoy them as a snack. You can do this too by simply roasting them at a low temperature. Scoop out the seeds from your freshly cut cantaloupe. Place the seeds in a strainer and rinse them under cold running water while gently pressing the seeds against the strainer to help release the pulp. Drain them well, remove the pulp, then place the washed seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them at 160-170°F (about 75°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Roasting them for a short time at a low temperature helps to minimize damage to the healthy oils in the seeds.

* Make an easy cold fruit soup. Blend until smooth some cantaloupe with soft, peeled peaches. Add a touch of lemon and honey to taste and serve.

* Top cantaloupe slices with your favorite yogurt and some chopped mint leaves.

* If you have a recipe calling for cantaloupe and you can’t get one or don’t have enough, the following types of melons may be used as substitutes: Persian, Crenshaw, Santa Claus, Honeydew, Casaba, or Ambrosia melons.

* If you have a need for dried cantaloupe and don’t have any, the following may be used as a substitute: dried mango, papaya, peaches, or nectarines.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Cantaloupe
Basil, cilantro, cinnamon, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, pepper (black and white), salt, sorrel, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Cantaloupe
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Nuts and nut butters (in general), pork (prosciutto or pancetta)

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, chiles, cucumbers, garlic, ginger, onions (esp. red), tomatoes

Fruits: Bananas, berries (i.e., blackberries, blueberries, raspberries), citrus fruits, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, mangoes, melons (all other types), nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Buttermilk, cheese (i.e., blue, cottage), coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, oil (esp. olive), rum, vinegar (esp. balsamic), wine (esp. sparkling, sweet)

Cantaloupes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Desserts, ices and granitas, salads (i.e., fruit), salsas, sorbets, soups (i.e., fruit)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Cantaloupe
Add cantaloupe to any of the following combinations…

Agave Nectar + Ginger
Basil + Black Pepper + Blue Cheese
Berries + Lemon
Chiles + Cilantro + Garlic + Lime + Onions
Ginger + Lime + Orange
Honey + Lime
Honey + Vanilla + Yogurt
Lemon + Mint
Lime + Mint
Mango + Papaya

Recipe Links
Tomato and Cantaloupe Salad https://thishealthytable.com/blog/the-simplest-salad-tomatoes-cantaloupe/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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


About Judi

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

Limes

Limes 101 – The Basics

Limes 101 – The Basics

About Limes
Limes are a small, green citrus fruit, Citrus aurantifolia. The skin and flesh are often green, but some varieties will have a yellowish or even orange color. The fruit is oval to round in shape with a diameter usually between one and two inches. Limes can either be sour or sweet. Sweet limes are not easily found in the United States. The sweet variety lacks citric acid, so the juice is sweeter in flavor. Sour limes, which are commonly found in the United States are acidic with a tart flavor. They have a higher sugar and citric acid content than lemons.

There are two main types of limes: the Mexican lime and the Persian lime. Mexican limes may also be called Key or West Indian limes. Persian limes may also be called Tahitian or Bearss limes. The Persian limes are the most common variety found in grocery stores in the United States. They are known for their mild, acidic flavor.

Limes grow on trees in tropical and subtropical climates. They are believed to be native to Southeast Asia. Arabian traders brought lime trees from Asia to Egypt and Northern Africa around the 10th century. Arabian Moors carried them to Spain in the 13th century. From there, they were carried throughout southern Europe during the Crusades.

Limes were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus on his second trip in 1493 where they were then planted in many Caribbean countries. Centuries later, explorers learned that the Vitamin C-rich limes could be used to prevent the deadly disease scurvy. When they started eating limes on their long voyages, they were given the nickname “limeys,” a term that we are still familiar with today. Limes were introduced to the United States in the 16th century when Spanish explorers carried West Indies limes to the Florida Keys, which introduced North America to “Key limes.” Spanish missionaries attempted to plant lime trees in California, but learned the climate was not right for the trees. At that time, limes were in demand by the miners and explorers during the California Gold Rush. Since they could not be grown locally, limes began to be imported from Tahiti and Mexico during the mid-19th century. Today, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States (mostly in Arizona and Florida) are among the leading commercial producers of limes.

Both the zest and juice of limes are most often used in fresh applications. The juice is a natural tenderizer for meats and is often used in marinades, and is sometimes drizzled over a dish as a finishing flavor. The juice is often used in salsa and guacamole, not only as a flavoring agent, but also as an anti-browning agent for avocado. Lime is also used in dressings, sauces, baked goods, desserts, beverages, jams, jellies, marmalades, syrups, pickles, garnishes for cocktails, and paired with meats, beans, and vegetables.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of folate. They also provide a little Vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, and calcium. Also, like many fruits and vegetables, limes contain important flavonoid compounds with strong antioxidant properties.

Antioxidant Properties. Both lemons and limes are high in Vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidants found in nature. It is one of the main antioxidants found in food and it is the main water-soluble antioxidant in the human body. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals that it comes into contact with, both inside and outside cells. Free radicals damage healthy cells and cause inflammation in the body. Adequate Vitamin C has been shown to be helpful in reducing some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Free radicals can also damage blood vessels, making cholesterol more likely to build up in artery walls. With that, Vitamin C can be helpful in preventing the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Research has clearly shown that eating vegetables and fruits high in Vitamin C is associated with a lower risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Vitamin C is also critical for a strong immune system and has been shown to be very useful in fighting infections like colds, flus, and recurrent ear infections.

Anti-Cancer Effects. Limes are high in the flavonoid antioxidants called flavonol glycosides, including many kaempferol-related molecules. These factors have been shown to stop cell division in many types of cancer.

Citrus fruits, including limes also contain citrus limonoids. These compounds have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach, and colon. Also, limonoids have been found to remain in blood plasma longer than other natural anti-carcinogenic compounds. That’s all the more reason to include citrus fruits of all types in the diet on a regular basis!

Antibacterial Effects. The same flavonoids that have anti-cancer effects also have been found to have antibiotic effects. In several villages in West Africa where cholera epidemics have occurred, inclusion of lime juice during the main meal of the day was found to be protective against cholera, a disease triggered by the bacteria Vibrio cholera. Researchers have found that the addition of lime juice to a sauce eaten with rice was found to have strong protective effect against cholera.

Helps Protect Against Kidney Stones. Eating citrus fruits on a regular basis has been shown to help keep kidney stones at bay. The citric acid in lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits deters the formation of kidney stones.

How to Select Limes
Select limes that are firm and heavy for their size, and that are free of decay and mold. The skin should be glossy and a deep green color. Limes turn more yellow as they ripen, but their flavor is best when they are green.  They are usually available year-round, but are most plentiful from mid-Spring through mid-Fall.

How to Store Limes
Limes may be kept at room temperature, away from sunlight for 1 to 2 weeks. They may also be stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for several weeks. If you have limes that need to be used up and it’s not convenient for you to use them at the moment, zest them and squeeze the juice and preserve them for later. See “How to Preserve Limes” for instructions on how to save the juice and zest for later.

To store cut limes, place the pieces in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within 2 days.

How to Prepare Fresh Limes
Always wash your lime well before using it. The surface may have dirt, bacteria, or chemical residues on it, which should be washed off first. If you want to use lime zest, zest the lime first before cutting it. When zesting, be sure to use only the outermost area of the peel. Avoid zesting the white pith underneath the surface, since that can be bitter. Once the lime is zested, feel free to cut the lime any way it will be needed for your recipe…halved, sliced crosswise, or sliced into wedges. Most limes do not have seeds, so they should be easily ready to enjoy with simple cutting.

How to Preserve Limes
Lime juice and lime zest can be stored for later use. Place freshly squeezed lime juice in ice cube trays, freeze, then transfer the frozen cubes to an airtight container or freezer bag, stored in the freezer. For best flavor, use within ­­­3 to 4 months. It will be edible beyond that, but the flavor may dwindle.

Fresh lime zest may be dried and stored in an airtight glass container in a cool, dry place. When dried, use about 1/3 dried zest vs the amount of fresh zest called for in a recipe. For best flavor, use within 1 year.

Fresh lime zest may also be frozen for later use. Simply wash, then zest the lime. Spread the zest out on a parchment paper-lined tray and place that in the freezer. When the zest is frozen, transfer it to an airtight freezer container and return it to the freezer. Use frozen zest within 6 months. Frozen zest may be used while frozen; it is not necessary to thaw it first. However, to compensate for the frozen bits of zest, over measure just a bit when using a recipe that calls for fresh zest. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of fresh lime zest, measure up to 1-1/2 teaspoons of frozen zest.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Limes
* The typical lime found in most grocery stores is actually a Persian lime. Key limes are smaller and have a more concentrated lime flavor.

* Try drying lime zest to make a powder that can be sprinkled on dishes like a spice.

* For an interesting dessert or breakfast accompaniment, try cutting some fresh fruit of choice, like a banana. Top it with yogurt then sprinkle with a little lime zest.

* Instead of lemon, add a slice of lime to water, for refreshing lime water.

* When zesting, use a sharp microplane zester and scrape the lime over the sharp edges of the zester. Remove only the top layer of the fruit. Stop and rotate the lime when you reach the white pith underneath because it is bitter.

* If you want to use both the juice and zest of any fruit, zest first and juice second. It’s much easier that way!

* Try squeezing a wedge of lime over your favorite taco.

* Combine some lime juice with sugar, seltzer water, and ice to make a refreshing limeade.

* Add a little lime juice to Mexican rice and serve with extra lime wedges.

* Squeeze a little lime juice into a floral tea, like hibiscus tea.

* Make a marinade for baked salmon with lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.

* To get the most juice from a lime, juice it when it is at room temperature. Also, roll it under the palm of your hand on a hard surface, such as the kitchen counter before juicing. If your lime has been in the refrigerator, it can be quickly warmed up by placing it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before using it.

* Be sure to rinse off your lime before cutting it to remove any dirt or bacteria that may be lingering on the surface. If it is cut without being washed first, the knife will carry anything undesirable inside the fruit, which could contaminate the lime.

* If a recipe calls for lime and you don’t have any, you could substitute any of the following (even though the flavors may be somewhat different): Key lime, lemon, Meyer lemon, orange, grapefruit, pummelo.

* 1 pound of Persian limes = 6 to 8 medium limes = 1/2 to 2/3 cup (125 to 150 mL) juice

* One medium Persian lime will yield 1 to 3 tablespoons of juice, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of zest.

* Try an easy side dish for supper by combining cooked rice with green peas, scallions, pumpkin seeds, lime juice and a little lime zest.

* To help keep avocado from turning dark, squeeze a little lime juice onto your cut avocado, then enjoy!

* When cooking deep leafy greens, such as collards, kale, turnip greens, or mustard greens, drizzle them with a little lime juice at the end to help counter any bitterness left in the greens.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Limes
Basil, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, mustard powder, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Limes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, chicken, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), peanuts, pork, seafood, sesame seeds, tofu

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, chiles, cucumbers, jicama, lettuce (all types), mushrooms, onions, scallions, shallots, squash (winter), tomatillos, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, berries (in general), blackberries, coconut (and other tropical fruits), grapes, guavas, lemons, lychees, mangoes, melons (all types), oranges, papayas, pears, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, graham crackers, noodles (i.e., Asian, rice), quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese, coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Caramel, hoisin, honey, mayonnaise, oil (esp. grapeseed, olive, sesame, sunflower seed), rum, soy sauce, sugar, tapioca, tequila, vinegar (i.e., champagne, rice, sherry)

Limes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., pies, tarts), beverages (i.e., limeade, margaritas, mojitos), guacamole, Indian cuisine, marinades, Mexican cuisine, Pacific Rim cuisines, pies, puddings (i.e., rice pudding), rice dishes, salad dressings, salads (i.e., fruit salads), salsas, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, tarts, Thai cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Limes
Add limes to any of the following combinations…

Avocado + Romaine Lettuce
Chipotle Chiles + Corn
Cilantro + Cumin
Cilantro + Garlic + Oil
Coconut + Graham Crackers
Ginger + Honey
Ginger + Mint
Mint + Scallions
Mushrooms + Sesame

Recipe Links
20 Lime Recipes That Make the Most of This Humble Citrus https://www.marthastewart.com/274397/lime-recipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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

Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens 101 – The Basics

Leafy Greens 101 – The Basics

What Are Leafy Greens?
“Leafy greens” is a broad term for plant leaves eaten as a vegetable. There are a variety of flavors and textures of leafy greens and they can belong to different botanical families. Flavors can range from very mild, to nutty, to spicy/peppery, to bitter. Some are tender and sweet, and are usually eaten raw (such as spinach and lettuce), whereas others are tougher and somewhat bitter (such as mustard and collard greens), so they are usually cooked.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists over 60 different varieties of leafy green vegetables known to be imported or grown commercially in the United States. There are yet other lesser-known varieties grown in home gardens or gathered in the wild.

Leafy greens have been called “super foods” and people have been eating them for thousands of years. This is for good reason! They’re packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other compounds that boost our health in many ways. Plus, they’re very low in calories, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked in a variety of ways. What more could we possibly ask for in a food?

Types of Leafy Greens
Collards, mustard greens, kale, chard, broccoli rabe, spinach, bok choy, arugula, beet greens, dandelion greens, lettuce, broccoli, endive, escarole, purslane, radicchio, savoy, sorrel, parsley, and cress are but some examples of leafy greens. Leafy green vegetables and herbs come in many different shapes, sizes, flavors, and even colors or shades of green. Some form tightly bound heads of leaves, while other form loose heads. Others are loose leaf varieties, forming no distinguishable heads at all. Yet, they fall under the broad category of leafy greens. Many, but not all, belong to the Brassica plant family (also known as cruciferous vegetables). What they all have in common is the fact that they are extraordinarily good for us to eat and have important health properties that shouldn’t be ignored.

Sweet Greens. Lettuce is a type of leafy green and is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in the United States. Different types of lettuce have different colors, ranging from light to dark green, with some even having some red tones on the leaves and stems. Lettuce is usually sweet and mild in flavor.

Bitter Greens. Bitter greens are just that…bitter in flavor. However, the degree of bitterness can vary from variety to variety, and even within the same plant species. For instance, arugula can be mild and somewhat peppery when harvested early in the season. But when harvested later, toward the end of its growing season, it can be extremely strong tasting.

Endive, escarole, and radicchio are under the same plant family umbrella (Asteraceae) as lettuce, but they are actually different types of plants. They are from the chicory family, while lettuce is from the daisy family. Endive, escarole, and radicchio are bitter in flavor and also have more fiber than lettuce, to they are tougher to chew.

Other bitter greens are cool-weather plants, such as collards, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, and even spinach. These greens are sometimes used in raw applications (especially young spinach leaves), but the mature leaves are often cooked to tame their bitterness. They are usually more tough than lettuce, and they tenderize when cooked.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Leafy greens are well-known as being nutrient dense foods. This simply means that they supply a LOT of nutrients with few calories. They would be an excellent addition to any “all you can eat” food list. Dark-green leafy vegetables offer a lot of nutritional value with many important health benefits. The darker the leaves, the more nutrient-rich is the vegetable. For instance, romaine lettuce has nine times more Vitamin A than iceberg lettuce.

Since this article focuses on leafy greens in general, it’s not possible to be all-inclusive about the nutritional components of each specific leafy green vegetable. However, even though the components and amounts may vary, they do have some nutritional benefits in common. Overall, they contain plenty of Vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene), C, E, and K. Many of the dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens are also rich in B-complex vitamins, especially folate. Greens also contain magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, fiber, and a wide array of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, and even some omega-3 fatty acids.

Cancer Prevention. It has long been established that green leafy vegetables are high in compounds that have strong anti-cancer properties. Such compounds include isothiocyanates, carotenoids, and folate. These compounds are particularly high in the Brassica (cruciferous) family of plants, including arugula, broccoli, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens, and watercress, among others.

Research has shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables a week may reduce the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancers. We also know that leafy greens are high in the B-vitamin folate. Research studies have shown that a high intake of folate may lower the risk of colon polyps by 30 to 40 percent, when compared to low intakes. Some studies also suggest that a low intake of folate may increase the risk of breast, cervix, and lung cancers.

Weight and Blood Sugar Control. Leafy green vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates, giving them a low glycemic index. This makes them ideal foods to add to a healthy diet, whether you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight. Also, the low glycemic index of leafy green vegetables combined with their high fiber content makes them an ideal food to eat often to help regulate blood sugar and manage diabetes.

Prevention of Neural Tube Defects in Newborns. Neural tube defects are birth defects where the embryo’s central nervous system (the neural tube) fails to close completely before birth. The neural tube forms very early, just one month after conception. This is the structure that will grow into the brain and spinal cord of the infant. In neural tube defects, the seam over the tube does not close correctly, and portions of the spine, the covering of the spinal cord (the meninges), or the cord itself can protrude out of the back of the fetus.

The two most common neural tube defects are spina bifida and tethered cord syndrome. Spina bifida is a malformation of the vertebrae and skin surrounding the spine that can lead to a number of serious health issues. This defect forms very early in embryonic development, merely one month after conception. Most of the time, surgical correction of the defect is needed soon after birth.

Tethered cord syndrome occurs when the spinal cord is abnormally attached to surrounding tissue. Failure to detect this defect can lead to a sudden injury or paralysis during childhood or adolescence. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by an MRI scan and surgery is usually needed to correct the problem.

Research has shown that getting enough folate before conception through early pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Since grain products have been fortified with folic acid, the incidence of such defects has decreased tremendously.

Furthermore, research has found that women who are obese, have poorly controlled diabetes, have been exposed to high temperatures (such as a fever or using a hot tub or sauna) during early pregnancy, or take certain antiseizure medications have a greater risk than other women of having a child born with a neural tube defect.

This example shows how important diet and lifestyle can be not only to adults, but to their potential offspring. Such defects can occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Once she learns of her pregnancy and makes needed dietary improvements, the damage may have already been done. So, if you are planning on having a child, it is important to prepare yourself in advance of becoming pregnant. Eat the best foods you possibly can, and be sure to include plenty of leafy green vegetables along the way.

Bone Health. Green leafy vegetables are known to be high in both calcium and Vitamin K. One role of Vitamin K is to work with calcium in helping to build and maintain healthy bones. Without adequate Vitamin K, bones cannot utilize calcium in the bone building process. Eating leafy green vegetables helps to ensure we have adequate nutrients to keep our bones strong. Some research studies have shown that higher Vitamin K intakes are associated with a lower rate of hip fractures and higher bone density. A report from the Nurses’ Health Study suggests that women who get adequate Vitamin K are less likely to break a hip than women who don’t. Eating one serving of leafy green vegetables a day cut the risk of hip fracture in half when compared with eating only one serving a week. Because of their Vitamin K content, dark green leafy vegetables have been shown to help protect bones from osteoporosis.

Heart Health. Vitamin K is also known to help protect the heart from left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). The left ventricle is the heart’s major pumping chamber. In LVH, the left ventricle is enlarged which causes the heart to be less efficient at pumping blood. This is a condition often looked for in adults; however, it can be found in just about any age group. In a study reported in the October 2017 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, researchers monitored the physical activity routines and diets (with a focus on their Vitamin K intake) of 766 adolescents who were 14 to 18 years of age. They found that those with the lowest Vitamin K intake, had the highest rate of LVH. Subjects with the highest intake of Vitamin K had the lowest rate of LVH. Those who ate 42 mcg or less of Vitamin K per day were over three times more likely to have left ventricular hypertrophy than those who ate 90 mcg or more per day.

Without follow-up investigation it is not possible to say for certain that the dietary habits of the subjects who ate little Vitamin K led to heart disease in their adult years. However, it certainly is a possibility. It is interesting to note that only 25 percent of the teenagers in the study met adequate intakes of Vitamin K in their diet.

Needless to say, the importance of a healthy diet cannot be overestimated, and this stands for people of all ages, not just adults. Without a doubt, we all need to make sure that our entire families eat plenty of leafy green vegetables on a regular basis, if for no other reason than our heart health!

Folate, one of the B-complex vitamins that is abundant in leafy greens, is known to promote heart health.  Researchers have found that getting adequate folate on a regular basis can lower our risk for heart disease and stroke by about 20 percent. Folate lowers homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood. A growing body of research suggests that a higher-than-normal level of homocysteine is an independent risk factor for heart disease. It can lead to dangerous blood clots and hardening of the arteries. Getting ample folate in the diet through eating plenty of leafy green vegetables is an easy way to meet your folate needs, reducing your risk for heart disease by keeping homocysteine levels in check.

Eye Health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two important and very powerful carotenoids that are found in many fruits and vegetables. They often give plants a yellow to reddish hue. Dark green vegetables and herbs such as kale, spinach, parsley, and broccoli are also excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. The yellow pigment of the carotenoids is masked by the chlorophyll in the greens, so don’t let the color fool you. The average diet, which is low in colorful fruits and vegetables, does not contain a lot of these carotenoids.

These two important carotenoids are best known for protecting the eyes from free radical damage. With the eyes constantly being exposed to oxygen and light (during our waking hours), free radicals can easily form. Lutein and zeaxanthin work together to disable free radical molecules before they have a chance to damage our eye cells. In fact, they are the only dietary carotenoids that accumulate in the retina, especially in the macula region, located at the back of the eye. Since the macula is essential for vision, they work together to help prevent macular degeneration, helping to preserve our vision even into old age.

Lutein and zeaxanthin also act as a natural sunscreen by absorbing excess light. They are believed to offer protection of the eyes from excess blue light. This is especially important if we spend a lot of time looking at electronic devices, such as computer screens, cell phones, tablets, and televisions.

Some conditions that lutein and zeaxanthin may help include:
* Age-related macular degeneration (already discussed above)
* Cataracts
* Diabetic retinopathy
* Retinal detachment
* Uveitis. This is an inflammatory condition in the middle layer of the eye that can cause blindness. Lutein and zeaxanthin are believed to help reduce the inflammatory process in this condition.

Considering the average diet is low in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, this information alone should give many people good reason to include more of these special foods into their meals.

Word of Caution. Leafy greens are usually high in Vitamin K which is a blood thickener. If you are taking blood thinning medications, you have probably already been told to limit your intake of Vitamin K-rich foods, such as leafy greens. Therefore, if you want to change your usual diet and increase your intake of any foods that are high in Vitamin K, it is important to consult with your doctor first. Your prothrombin time may need to be monitored and your medication may need to be adjusted.

How to Select Leafy Greens
Choose greens with crisp, brightly colored leaves. They should not be wilted. Avoid those with yellowing leaves or damage.

How to Store Salad Leafy Greens
Packaged Prewashed Salad Greens. If you purchased already washed salad greens in a tub, simply store that in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Sometimes droplets of water may form within the tub and under the lid, which causes them to age faster. To help prevent this, it is helpful to place a paper towel on top of the greens in the tub as soon as you bring them home. This will absorb any excess moisture that forms on the inside of the lid, helping to keep the greens from wilting. Be sure to use them before the “Best By” date for optimal freshness.

Whole Heads of Lettuce. Fresh heads of lettuce may be stored in a couple different ways. If you prefer to store them unwashed, simply wrap your new head of lettuce in a clean cloth. Drizzle the cloth with no more than ¼ cup of water, and place the wrapped head in a plastic bag to keep the lettuce from drying out. Store it in the refrigerator (crisper drawer, if possible) until you are ready to use it. For optimal freshness, use it as soon as possible, preferably within 7 to 10 days (at most).

If you prefer to wash your lettuce in advance, tear the lettuce into the size pieces you intend to use later. Rinse and spin them dry in a salad spinner. Transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week (10 days at most). It is helpful to line the container with a clean cloth or paper towels to absorb any excess water that may be on the leaves, preventing them from rotting. The towels will retain the moisture, creating a humid environment that will help to keep the leaves crisp.

How to Store Bitter Leafy Greens
Remove any discolored, wilted, or damaged leaves before storing your greens. It’s easiest to keep your greens whole and unwashed until you need them by simply removing any twist ties holding them together, and wrapping the loose leaves in a clean cloth. Drizzling the cloth with no more than ¼ cup of water. Place the wrapped leaves in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.

To prewash your greens before storing them, rinse them well with water, shake off excess water, then lay them out on paper towels or a clean cloth, and roll them up. Do not drizzle the towel with water since the leaves will already have water on them. Place the wrapped leaves in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Try to use them within 3 to 5 days.

How to Prepare Salad Leafy Greens
Salad Greens. If you did not wash your salad greens before storing them, simply give them a quick rinse, then spin them dry in a salad spinner, shake off excess water in a colander, or pat them dry on a layer of clean cloth or paper towels. Serve as desired.

Packaged Prewashed Salad Greens. Despite the fact that they have been prewashed, it is advisable to give them a quick rinse right before you use them. Spin them dry in a salad spinner, shake excess water off of them in a colander, or lay them on a clean cloth or paper towels and blot them to remove excess water. Remove and discard any discolored or wilted, soggy leaves. Serve as desired.

Prewashed Heads of Lettuce. If you prewashed your head of lettuce when you brought it home, and stored it as detailed earlier, you should be able to use it straight from your container. If preferred, you may wash it again, then use it as desired.

How to Prepare Bitter Leafy Greens
Rinse your greens well and shake off excess water. Cut off (and discard) a small portion of the bottom end of the stems (unless you are removing the stems and not using them at all). If your greens are a little wilted, trim off a small portion of the bottom end of the stem and stand them upright in a bowl or pitcher of water and allow them to rest there until revived. About an hour may be enough time to refresh the greens. Then cut them as desired and prepare as planned.

How to Freeze Bitter Leafy Greens
Freezing leafy greens is an excellent way to preserve extras that you have on hand. It makes them quick and easy to cook, with all the prep work having been done in advance. There is a current movement to freeze vegetables without blanching them. This can be done, but if you want to preserve your foods for the longest time with the best quality possible, blanching them is something that must be done. It’s not hard and really does not take much time. The effort is well worth it in the long run. Here are the steps:

  1. Wash your greens well and chop them into desired size pieces. Strip away the stems, if desired. If you want the stems, leave them attached, but trim off a small portion of the bottom end of each stem. With leafy greens, cutting them into smaller pieces before freezing is usually best because they will be the easiest to cook and eat later.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Do not add salt to the water. Have a timer handy.
  3. When the water is boiling, transfer your prepared greens into the water. Immediately set your timer for 1 minute. Meanwhile, get a large bowl of ice water ready.
  4. As soon as the timer is finished, transfer the greens to the ice water bath. Allow them to chill for at least 1 minute.
  5. Transfer the chilled greens to a colander and allow them to drain well. Squeeze them if you want to remove any excess water. (This step is helpful, but not mandatory.)
  6. Transfer your drained greens to a freezer bag or airtight container. Remove as much air from the bag or container as possible, and place them in the freezer. If you want to avoid having your greens freeze into one big lump, first lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray. Place the tray in the freezer until the greens are completely frozen. Then transfer the frozen greens to your freezer bag or container, and return them to the freezer. Be sure to label the container with the contents and date they were frozen. Use them within 1 year.

For best results, your frozen greens will need to be cooked in some way when it’s time to use them. It is not mandatory, but they can be thawed first, if preferred. They can be placed in the refrigerator overnight, placed on the kitchen counter for an hour or two at the most, or placed in a colander and thawed under running water.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Leafy Greens
There are many ways to include leafy greens in your diet. Here are some examples:

* Use salad or bitter leafy greens as a foundation for a meal, as often as you can. Add assorted vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins of your choice.

* Include a lot of leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, lettuce, cabbage, or Swiss chard as a filling for a wrap.

* Add greens to soups. Bok choy, cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, or Asian greens would all add color, nutrition, and flavor to just about any soup.

* Try adding chopped greens to your favorite pizza.

* Add chopped greens to sautés and stir-fries.

* Use leafy greens when making pesto.

* If you juice fresh fruits and vegetables, don’t forget to add fresh leafy greens! Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, Spring mix, or even romaine lettuce would all work well.

* Don’t forget to add leafy greens to a sandwich. Lettuce, arugula, Spring mix, baby greens, and spinach would all work well.

* Leafy greens can be chopped finely and added to sauces. Adding greens to a marinara sauce would add texture, flavor, nutrition, and color.

* Greens can add extra flavor, color, and nutrition to any meal. Try grilling, steaming, boiling, braising, and even stewing them. Some greens, like Spring mix, baby greens, or spinach would work well as a raw adornment to many dishes.

* Add greens to smoothies. Spinach, Spring mix, baby greens, and lettuce are all tender, mild flavored greens that would work well in just about any smoothie mixture.

* Some leafy greens, such as collard greens, spinach, and chard are high in Vitamin K. If you are on blood thinning medication, it’s important to talk with your doctor before increasing your intake of Vitamin K-rich foods. Your prothrombin time may need to be monitored, and your medication dosage may need to be adjusted.

* If you eat eggs, try adding some chopped leafy greens like spinach, to an omelet or scrambled eggs.

* Try roasted radicchio drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar.

* Grill wedges of radicchio and serve as a side dish.

* Try adding a little radicchio to a stir-fry.

* Add radicchio to soups, stews, and pasta dishes.

* It’s helpful to remember that some greens cook faster (like spinach) than others (like kale or collards). So, if you intend to combine them on one dish, add the more tender greens that cook faster toward the end of cooking, to avoid overcooking them.

* Chop greens into bite-size pieces and add to soups and stews.

* Try a wrap packed with your favorite salad greens, bell pepper, and your favorite hummus.

* Keep green salads interesting by combining different types of leafy greens. Different types of lettuce, Spring mix, radicchio, cabbage, spinach, Asian greens, arugula, chard and baby mixed greens, all go well together in a mixed green salad. Different greens can be tender or crispy, slightly bitter or sweet, and vary in color, texture and nutritional value. All of that can add to flavor and visual appeal of your salad. Enjoy a large salad every day!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Leafy SALAD Greens
Anise seeds, basil, capers, cayenne, chervil, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, dill, garlic, ginger, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, parsley, pepper, salt, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Leafy SALAD Greens
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beans (in general), beef, black beans, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, ham, hazelnuts, lamb, lentils, nuts (in general), peanuts, peas, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu, tuna (and other seafood), turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chayote, chiles and chili paste, chives, cucumbers, fennel, jicama, leeks, mushrooms, nori, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, scallions, shallots, sprouts, tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples, apricots (esp. dried), avocados, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries (dried), figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, limes, mangoes, olives, oranges, pears, persimmons, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, raisins, strawberries, tangerines

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

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (in general, esp. asiago, blue, cheddar, feta, goat, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, Parmesan), crème fraiche, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, mayonnaise, miso, mustard (prepared), oil (esp. flaxseed, grapeseed, olive, sesame), soy sauce, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar (esp. balsamic, champagne, cider, red wine, rice wine, sherry, tarragon, white wine), vinaigrette dressings

Leafy SALAD greens have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…

Lettuce wraps, salads (i.e., grain, green, potato), sandwiches, burgers (of all types)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Leafy SALAD Greens
Add leafy salad greens to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Avocado + Carrots + Tomatoes
Almonds + Citrus + Fennel
Almonds + Jicama + Orange
Apples + Celery + Hazelnuts
Apples + Celery + Lime + Raisins + Walnuts
Apples + Clementines + Endive + Walnuts
Avocado + Cilantro
Avocado + Grapefruit + Pecans + Radicchio
Avocado + Lime
Balsamic Vinegar + Garlic + Mustard + Olive Oil
Beets + Celery
Blue Cheese + Pears + Walnuts
Carrots + Cucumbers + Dill + Feta Cheese
Chickpeas + Cucumbers + Feta Cheese + Olives + Red Onions + Tomatoes
Chiles + Orange + Pecans
Dill + Garlic + Lemon + Scallions
Dill + Olive Oil + Red Wine Vinegar + Scallions
Dijon Mustard + Lemon + Olive Oil + Scallions
Fennel + Grapefruit
Feta Cheese + Tomatoes
Figs + Goat Cheese + Tarragon
Goat Cheese + Pecans
Goat Cheese + Strawberries
Gorgonzola Cheese + Hazelnuts + Lemon + Olives
Lemon + Parmesan Cheese
Lentils + Rice
Pears + Sherry Vinegar + Walnuts

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Leafy BITTER and OTHER Greens
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, capers, cardamom, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, curry spices, dill, garlic, ginger, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Leafy BITTER and OTHER Greens
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general), beef, black-eyed peas, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, ham, lentils, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pork, salmon (seafood, in general), sausage, sesame seeds, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tofu, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Chiles, chives, fennel, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips

Fruits: Apples, avocado, coconut, lemons, limes, olives, oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bread crumbs, corn, cornbread, grains (in general), millet, noodles (esp. Asian), pasta, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e., Parmesan, pecorino), coconut milk, cream

Other Foods: Miso, mustard, oil (esp. olive, sesame), soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinegar (esp. apple cider), wine (dry white)

Leafy BITTER and OTHER greens have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
African cuisines, Asian cuisines, Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, pasta dishes, salads, soups (esp. bean, potato, root vegetable), Southeast Asian cuisines, Southern (U.S.) cuisine, stews, stir-fries, tofu scrambles

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Leafy BITTER and OTHER Greens
Add leafy bitter and other greens to any of the following combinations…

Apple Cider Vinegar + Black-Eyed Peas
Apple Cider Vinegar + Chili Flakes + Garlic
Chiles + Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil
Garlic + Ginger + Soy Sauce
Garlic + Lemon
Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil + Onions
Garlic + Olive Oil + Tamari
Garlic + Tomatoes
Lemon Juice + Olive Oil + Rice
Onions + Tomatoes
Pasta + White Beans
Scallions + Sesame Oil + Tamari
Tomatoes + Zucchini

About the Different Types of Leafy Greens
Head varieties
of greens form more tightly formed heads than the leaf varieties of greens. This list is not all-inclusive, but covers many types of greens that may be found in stores in the United States.

Bok Choy
Bok choy is a member of the Brassica family of plants. It is also known as Chinese cabbage, pok choi, and other names in various cultures around the world. The flavor of bok choy is very mellow with a mild, peppery spice. The flavor is similar to cabbage. Bok choy leaves are tender yet crisp. The stalks are crunchy, firm and juicy. Depending on the variety, the leaves may be dark green or yellow-green, and the stalks may be yellow-green or off-white. Bok choy may be found in mature and “baby” sizes. Both are tender, but the baby variety is more so, and is often cooked whole. Bok choy is excellent when stir-fried, braised, steamed, sautéed, or added to soups. The leaves may be eaten raw in salads. Bok choy is usually found in most American grocery stores and should also be available in most Asian markets. One outstanding nutritional feature of bok choy is that it contains selenium, a mineral that helps cognitive function, thyroid function, metabolism, immunity, and possibly cancer prevention.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica plant family. They have compact, small heads with tightly bound leaves, and are usually one to two inches in diameter when mature. They are similar in flavor to cabbage, but can be somewhat bitter, depending on the cooking method. Younger Brussels sprouts are sweeter than larger, more mature ones.

Brussels sprouts may be eaten raw when grated or shaved finely. More often they are cooked. However, they taste their best when not boiled, as boiling brings out their sulfurous, bitter flavor more than any other cooking method. Roasting, quick braising, or pan frying in oil or butter are better methods of cooking Brussels sprouts for the best flavor. Their flavor is complimented well with garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary, and sage. They can be added to casseroles, gratins, and roasted vegetable medleys. They pair well with bacon, pork, cheese, cream, eggs, ham, grapefruit, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, hollandaise sauce, maple syrup, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, pepper, pistachios, and pancetta.

Cabbage
Cabbage is a member of the Brassica plant family, so it is related to Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale, among other greens. The heads can grow in green, white, or purple colors. Cabbage can have a somewhat bitter flavor when raw, but mellows when cooked. Cabbage is often sautéed or added to soups and stir-fries. It can also be stuffed or made into cabbage rolls. Many cultures ferment cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchi. Cabbage offers a lot of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, manganese and many antioxidants. Cabbage, like other members of the Brassica plant family contain properties that have been shown to help prevent various forms of cancer.

Endive
Endive is a member of the Cichorium plant family. This same family also includes dandelions and sunflowers. It is sometimes marketed as Belgium endive or frisée. The flavor of endive is nutty and mellow. It is usually added to salad with other mixed greens. Belgium endive is most often roasted or grilled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, which brings out its nutty flavor. Endive is a good source of Vitamins A and K, along with folate and kaempferol, an antioxidant that is known for reducing inflammation.

Escarole
Escarole has dark, thick leaves that are bunched up together, making it look like a head of lettuce. Lighter leaves have a sweet flavor, while the darker leaves are more bitter. When used raw in salads and sandwiches, escarole adds a strong flavor to the dishes it’s included in. The strong flavor mellows when the leaves are cooked. They are often sautéed or added to soups. Escarole contains a lot of Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and fiber.

Lettuce (Romaine)
Romaine lettuce is a popular variety of lettuce that has large, dark green leaves with firm ribs attached to a base. This variety of lettuce is crisp and mild in flavor. It is usually the main ingredient in Caesar salad. However, romaine lettuce may be used in any type of salad, lettuce wraps, or sandwiches as desired. Most of the nutrients in romaine lettuce are found in the dark, thick leaves. They are especially high in Vitamins A and K.

Napa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage)
Napa cabbage is a member of the Brassica family of plants. It has many names that vary from country to country. The flavor is delicate, mild and a bit sweeter than green cabbage. It is watery yet firm and crunchy with thick stalks. The leaves are thinner and more delicate than those of green cabbage. They are tender and juicy when cooked. Napa cabbage is best when cooked in stir-fries and soups. It can be shredded and included in salads, slaws, and wraps. Napa cabbage is often used in making kimchi, and as a filling for Chinese dumplings.

Radicchio
Radicchio is a bitter vegetable that is often mistaken for a colorful variety of lettuce or cabbage. It is actually a type of chicory, and is often called Italian chicory because it is used a lot in Italian cuisine. Radicchio forms a round or elongated head with deep reddish-purple leaves with white veins. It may be eaten raw in salads or slaws, for a distinct spicy bitterness. When eaten raw, radicchio is often paired with something sweet or acidic to balance the flavors. Cooking mellows the bitterness of radicchio, and actually sweetens it some.  Radicchio roasts, sautés, and grills up well, and can also be slow-cooked and combined with other vegetables and/or meat. Radicchio is particularly high in Vitamin K, which helps with cognition, and heart and bone health. It is also high in antioxidants, helping to protect us from oxidative stress. It also contains good amounts of other nutrients, including Vitamins C and B6, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, and selenium, among others.

 

Leaf varieties of greens form loose heads or individual leaves. This list is not all-inclusive, but covers many types of greens that may be found in stores in the United States.

Arugula
Arugula is sometimes called “rocket.” It is a member of the Brassica plant family. The flavor of arugula is peppery. This characteristic makes it a green that is often added raw to salads and pizza for added flavor. Arugula can also be sautéed and added to pasta dishes and soups for an added flavor dimension. Arugula is high in dietary nitrates, carotenoids, Vitamin K, and folate.

Beet Greens
Like turnip greens, beet greens are often discarded. But they are edible and can be used just like spinach. They can add some wonderful flavor and interesting color to any dish. The flavor of beet greens is earthy, much like their bulbs. They are very tender, so they can easily be enjoyed raw in salads, and they pair well with a lemon-based or vinaigrette dressing. When beet greens are sautéed or steamed, the dark red color in the stalks remains intact, which makes them a colorful addition to any plate. They make great additions to soups and side dishes. Beet greens are rich in potassium, fiber, beta-carotene, and lutein. They also contain a lot of calcium, and Vitamins A and K.

Broccoli
The broccoli crown (floret) that we typically see in the grocery store may not appear to be a “leafy” green vegetable. But in actuality, the crowns we buy are the flowering heads of the leafy green broccoli plant that is maturing and about to produce seeds. So, the broccoli plant itself is a leafy green vegetable. It would be a very rare occasion (if at all) to find broccoli leaves in your local market. In fact, just about the only way to access broccoli leaves would be for you to grow the plant yourself. The leaves are perfectly edible and are quite delicious. They are mild and not overly bitter, like many similar leafy greens. They may be prepared like any bitter green such as kale, collards, or turnip greens.

In a study published in the April 2018 issue of the journal Molecules, researchers compared a nutritional analysis of broccoli crowns, stems, and leaves. The crowns had higher concentrations of amino acids and glucoraphanin (the precursor to sulforaphane, a compound with strong health benefits) when compared with the other tissues. The leaves were higher in carotenoids, chlorophylls, Vitamins E and K, total phenolic content, and antioxidant activity. The leaves were also good sources of calcium and manganese when compared with the stem and florets of the plant. So, if you grow your own broccoli, don’t toss out the leaves! Enjoy them as you would any leafy green vegetable. If you don’t grow broccoli, enjoy broccoli florets on a regular basis.

Broccoli Rabe
Despite its name, broccoli rabe is actually part of the turnip family of plants. It is often called turnip broccoli, rapini, Italian turnip, broccoli rabe, and broccoletti di rapa. The flavor of broccoli rabe is bitter, so it is usually cooked which mellows the flavor. It may be sautéed, blanched, boiled, or steamed. It is often sautéed with garlic and onion, and topped with Parmesan cheese. Broccoli rabe is high in potassium, fiber, and pantothenic acid.

Chard
There are many varieties of chard plants, but all have dark leaves with a long stalk in the center. The stalks can be a variety of colors, and marketed as rainbow, red, yellow, or white chard. It may also be referred to as leaf beet, sea kale, or silver beet. Chard has a mellow, earthy flavor, with stalks that are slightly sweet. It is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine. The stalks take longer to cook than the leaves, so they are often separated so they can be cooked for appropriate times. Chard is often sautéed or steamed then added to soups, casseroles, or even tacos. Chard can be eaten raw, but the leaves can be tough. The stems can provide a crunchy snack. Swiss chard is high in Vitamins A, K, and C, along with potassium, and manganese.

Collard Greens
Collard greens are also known as collards, borekale, and tree cabbage. The plant has thick, dark green leaves that are packed with nutrients. The flavor of their rather tough leaves is slightly bitter, so although they can be eaten raw, they are most often cooked to tenderize them and remove the bitterness. Collard greens are often braised or steamed and served with pork. They can also be added to stir-fries, slaws, and even sandwiches. Collard greens are exceptionally high in Vitamin K.

Dandelion Greens
Even though we consider them to be weeds in the lawn, all parts of the dandelion plant are edible: the flower, roots, and stem. If you elect to pick them out of your yard to eat, be sure they have not been tainted with pesticides, even from a neighbor’s yard. The flavor of dandelion greens is earthy and somewhat nutty. The greens may be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. They may also be sautéed and added to casseroles. Some chefs use dandelion greens in place of spinach to add a unique touch to pasta dishes. Interestingly, the nutritional value of dandelion greens remains even after being cooked. They are full of Vitamins E, A, and C, and folate. They also contain a substantial amount of calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Kale
There are different varieties of kale that vary in shape, color, and degree of tenderness. Kale is typically dark green with a strong stem in the middle with leaves that are curly at the ends. Kale is slightly bitter when eaten raw, but mellows when cooked. It is often sautéed, added to soups, and roasted as kale chips. Kale may also be eaten raw in salads. Younger, baby kale leaves would be more tender and easier to eat in a salad. To get the most nutritional value out of kale, eat it raw, or drink freshly made kale juice. Kale is exceptionally high in Vitamins A, K, B6, and C, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Kohlrabi Greens
Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica plant family. Kohlrabi greens are simply the long stalks with leaves attached that grow upward from kohlrabi bulbs. The stalk matches the color of the kohlrabi bulb, which can be white or purple. The flavor of the greens is mild and sweet, similar to broccoli. The leaves and stalks of kohlrabi are usually cooked, and can easily be sautéed with garlic in oil, like any leafy green. Kohlrabi greens are packed with antioxidants that are known to help prevent cancer and heart disease. They are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and Vitamins C and B6.

Mustard Greens
There are different varieties of mustard, but all have a peppery, spicy flavor. They are a staple in Southern USA cooking and are often cooked until soft and served with ham. The longer they are cooked, the less spicy is their flavor. Adding a little lemon juice or vinegar at the end of cooking helps to tame the flavor. Mustard greens are often used to make zesty mustard sauces. The seeds are used to make the condiment we know as prepared mustard. Mustard greens are a good source of calcium, folate, magnesium, and Vitamin K.

Pak Choi
Pak choi is a member of the Brassica family. It is a non-heading Chinese cabbage with many varieties that are also known as Bok choy, Bok choi, and Bai cai among other names. It is considered to be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world and is commonly used in Asian cuisine. It is used in both hot and cold dishes.

Pak choi has oval-shaped leaves with curved, thick stems loosely clustered to a bulbous base. The stems can range in color from white to pale green and are crunchy with a slightly fibrous texture. Both the leaves and stems are edible. When eaten raw, Pak choi has a sweet, mustard-like flavor. When cooked, it becomes more tender and the flavor mellows to being similar to cabbage and spinach. Pak choi is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, along with Vitamins B6, K, and E, magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese, and calcium.

Pak choi is excellent for raw uses, such as in salads and slaws. It is also excellent in cooked applications, such as steaming, boiling, grilling, braising, and sautéing. After being cooked, it is often topped with a sauce, or included in soups, noodle dishes, stir-fries, or served as an accompaniment to meats. It may also be pickled for preservation and extended use.  It is sometimes mixed into pasta dishes, added to gnocchi, and served in grain bowls. Pak choi pairs well with mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, citrus, tofu, fish, pork, duck, and other poultry.

Radish Greens
Radish greens are often discarded, but they are completely edible. They have a similar peppery flavor and texture profile as turnip greens. However, radish greens are not usually eaten raw because the leaves can be prickly. Nevertheless, they can be pureed into a zesty pesto. Cooked radish greens are versatile. They can be roasted as a spicy side dish, or added to stir-fries. They can also be added to creamy soups and quiches. Radish greens are high in fiber and iron, making them a green to consider when fighting anemia. They also contain Vitamins A, C, and K, along with antioxidants.

Sorrel
Sorrel is sometimes referred to as sour grass, spinach dock, or sour dock. It has narrow, spade-like leaves that can sometimes be confused with mature spinach. The flavor is tart and acidic. Sorrel is popular in Europe and Central Asia, and can be hard to find in the United States. It can be eaten raw and is often served in salad blends with mixed greens. Sorrel can be added to soups and stews. When cooked, sorrel takes on a lemony flavor that goes well with fish.

Spinach
Spinach has dark-green, rounded leaves. It is a very versatile and often used leafy green, so it should be available in most grocery stores. The mild flavor of spinach allows it to complement many dishes. It can be eaten raw in a salad or sandwich, or cooked in side-dishes and entrées. Spinach may be added to omelets, phyllo pastry, pasta dishes, and even smoothies. It is important to know that the volume of spinach dwindles down dramatically when it is cooked, which means you should probably use more than you think you should when cooking spinach. Spinach is packed with nutrients and is one of the most protein-rich green vegetables. It is also rich in folate, which is critical in red blood cell production, and also helps in proper fetal development during pregnancy.

Tatsoi. Tatsoi is a member of the Brassica family of plants. It is also known as spinach mustard, spoon mustard, rosette bok choy, and Japanese spinach. It has a slightly bitter flavor, like mustard greens, but milder. It has thick, dark green leaves with crisp, juicy stalks. Tatsoi is best cooked, when added to soups, stir-fries, or simply sautéed. Baby tatsoi can be served raw in salads. In the United States, Tatsoi may not be found at most grocery stores; however, Asian markets may carry it.

Turnip Greens
Like many leafy vegetables, turnips are in the Brassica plant family. The greens are simply the leafy tops that grow upward from turnips. The greens have a slightly peppery flavor and are often cooked in a similar way as collard greens. They can be braised or sautéed and served with ham shanks and potatoes. They are sometimes prepared in a slow cooker into a rich and spicy soup. Turnip greens are almost always cooked. They have a prickly texture which makes them undesirable for eating raw. Turnip greens are more nutritious than turnip bulbs. They are packed with antioxidants, calcium, manganese, and Vitamins A, C, and K.

Watercress
Watercress is an aquatic plant that has small, rounded leaves. Like many of the foods discussed in this article, watercress is also a member of the Brassica plant family. The flavor of watercress is similar to that of arugula and mustard greens. It tastes slightly spicy and bitter. Watercress may be eaten raw or cooked. It is often sautéed or cooked as a side dish or added to soups. It supplies a lot of Vitamin K and antioxidants and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Watercress is often used in herbal medicine around the world.

Recipe Links
50 Ways to Get More Leafy Greens in Your Life https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/ways-to-get-more-leafy-greens-in-your-life/

79 Green Vegetable Recipes for Soups, Salads, Sautés, and More https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/best-green-vegetable-recipes-gallery

19 New Ways to Eat Leafy Greens https://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/leafy-greens-recipes

13 Leafy Green Dinners That Go Beyond Kale https://www.brit.co/living/healthy-eating/leafy-green-dinners-recipes/

Creative Vegetarian Recipes That Make Leafy Greens the Star of Your Plate https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/sayonara-salad-17-creative-vegetarian-recipes-using-leafy-greens

Basic Sautéed Leafy Greens https://bostonorganics.grubmarket.com/recipes/chard/basic-sauteed-leafy-greens

Tortellini, White Bean, and Turnip Greens Soup Recipe https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/tortellini-white-bean-and-turnip-greens-soup-recipe

Roasted Baby Turnips with Turnip Green Pesto https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/roasted-baby-turnips-recipe

Turnip Green Salad Recipe https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/turnip-green-salad-recipe

Turnip Greens Soup https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Turnip-Greens-Soup-996412

Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad https://rainbowplantlife.com/roasted-butternut-squash-and-cabbage-salad/

Vegan Chickpea Quinoa Arugula Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing https://shortgirltallorder.com/chickpea-quinoa-arugula-salad#

Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing https://okonomikitchen.com/spinach-gomaae/

Vegan Cobb Salad https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/vegan-cobb-salad/#wprm-recipe-container-35408

The Ultimate Fall Salad https://www.makingthymeforhealth.com/the-ultimate-fall-salad/

Kale Citrus Salad https://minimalistbaker.com/kale-citrus-salad/

Thanksgiving Kale Salad with Maple-Tahini Dressing https://www.eatingbyelaine.com/thanksgiving-kale-salad-with-maple-lemon-tahini-dressing/

Vegan Kale Salad with Almond Butter Dressing https://thevegan8.com/garlic-lemon-kale-salad#wprm-recipe-container-34252

Kale and Zucchini Salad with Roasted Parsnip Chips https://thekoreanvegan.com/kale-and-zucchini-salad-with-roasted-parsnip-chips/

Arugula Salad with Peaches https://lifemadesweeter.com/arugula-salad-red-cabbage-pomegranate-orange-pineapples/#wprm-recipe-container-30804

38 Amazing Broccoli Recipes Even Broccoli Haters Can’t Hate https://www.delish.com/cooking/nutrition/g241/broccoli-recipes/

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

Our Very Best Broccoli Recipes https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/broccoli-recipes

Roasted Broccoli https://www.loveandlemons.com/roasted-broccoli/

50 of the Best Broccoli Recipes We’ve Ever Tasted https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/superstar-broccoli-recipes-even-picky-eaters-will-love/

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli https://damndelicious.net/2014/09/19/garlic-parmesan-roasted-broccoli/

Sautéed Broccoli https://www.loveandlemons.com/sauteed-broccoli/#wprm-recipe-container-52652

Resources
https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/ss/slideshow-know-your-leafy-greens

https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/green-leafy-vegetables#how-to-add-to-the-diet

https://www.seriouseats.com/asian-green-guide#toc-tatsoi

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/article/526/types-of-greens.html#top

https://eatfresh.org/discover-foods/leafy-greens

https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-radicchio-radicchio-rosso-3955258

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-radicchio#2

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Pac_Choi_13230.php

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-k/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566462/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319645#Low-vitamin-K-1-intake-correlates-with-LVH

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/147/10/1960/4727995

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20021122/folic-acid-for-your-heart

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/ntds/conditioninfo/causes

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/neural-tube-defects

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/different-kinds-of-lettuces-and-greens

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lutein-and-zeaxanthin

https://nevegetable.org/crops/lettuce-endive-and-escarole

https://foodiosity.com/endive-vs-lettuce/

https://www.sunriseseniorliving.com/blog/january-2016/foods-to-try-that-are-high-in-folate.aspx

https://livinghealthworks.com/leafy-greens-to-prevent-and-fight-cancer/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/blanching-and-freezing-leafy-greens-1327683

https://foodsguy.com/freeze-greens-without-blanching/

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Brussels_Sprouts_1413.php

https://www.eatthis.com/side-effect-eating-leafy-greens/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/glucoraphanin

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6017511/

https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/the-many-types-and-health-benefits-of-kale

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708350/

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/joph/2015/523027/

https://kerrinboothnaturopath.com/2018/05/11/macular-degeneration-and-retinal-detachment/

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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


About Judi

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

Fruits and Vegetables

Fiber 101 – The Basics (About the Types of Fiber and Their Varieties)

Fiber 101 – The Basics
About the Types of Fiber and Their Varieties

What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber is sometimes called “roughage” and includes parts of plant foods that the body cannot digest or absorb. Other food components, like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive process and absorbed into the blood stream. Fiber, on the other hand, is a type of carbohydrate, but it cannot be digested by the human body. Instead, it travels through the stomach and intestinal tract providing food for our intestinal bacteria.

Researchers have found that increasing fiber intake over a mere two-week period significantly altered subjects’ gut microbiome. Specific species of bacteria that break down fiber were increased. When such bacteria digest fiber, they release short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs then become a source of fuel for the cells of the colon and are also used in cell signaling. Some SCFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties, and may influence insulin sensitivity and body weight.

Fiber has two general classifications: soluble and insoluble. Each type has its own health benefits in addition to providing food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines. The amount and types of fiber found in foods varies, but it is only found in plant foods. Whole, intact plant foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, peas, nuts and seeds) will provide dietary fiber, whereas processed plant foods (such as white flour) will provide little to none. Animal-based foods do not provide dietary fiber.

What is insoluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber remains pretty much unchanged as it moves through the digestive tract. Humans do not have the enzymes necessary to break down insoluble fiber. Since it is not broken down during digestion, insoluble fiber does not provide calories in the diet. In the intestines, it absorbs fluid and binds to other nearby materials, forming stool. This type of fiber helps to move the contents of the intestines forward, warding off constipation and promoting bowel movements. Whole grains, nuts, beans, and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Types of Insoluble Fiber and Their Food Sources
Cellulose. Cellulose is the main fibrous component of plant cell walls. Many vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower are rich in cellulose. Legumes, nuts, and bran from grains are also rich in cellulose. Cellulose passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, binding to food components moving them forward along the tract. Cellulose also helps to keep the digestive system healthy by feeding beneficial gut bacteria and supporting their colonies.

Hemicellulose. Hemicellulose is a type of dietary fiber that can be soluble or insoluble. It is a nondigestible fiber found in plant cell walls that can absorb and retain water in the gut. Despite the fact that it absorbs water, it has little effect on stool size. Hemicellulose can be digested by our gut bacteria. It is sometimes used in foods as an added fiber, thickener, emulsifier, or stabilizer. Green beans are high in hemicellulose. They are also found in cereal grains.

Lignin.  Lignin is another type of insoluble fiber that is part of the plant cell wall structure. Lignin provides rigidity to plants. It is also found in some seeds. Lignin is not broken down by human enzymes, and is also poorly digested by our gut bacteria. It absorbs water in the gut, and gives bulk to stool. Lignin can be found in whole grains (such as wheat and corn bran), legumes, vegetables (like green beans, carrots, horseradish, cauliflower, peas, and zucchini), fruits (like avocado, unripe bananas, peaches, and apples), and nuts and seeds (especially flaxseed and Brazil nuts). It is also found in edible seeds, such as those found in berries and tomatoes.

What is soluble fiber?
Soluble fiber is the type of plant fiber that absorbs water and fluids in the intestinal tract, forming a gel-like substance. The gel moves through the digestive tract and is digested by bacteria in the large intestine. The remainder is excreted in feces. The bacteria release gases as they digest the gel, which is what may cause some people to experience bloating when ingesting fiber-rich foods. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium.

Types of Soluble Fiber and Their Food Sources
Inulin.  Inulin helps to keep you feeling full for longer since it slows digestion. This type of fiber also takes longer to absorb, which helps to prevent blood sugar spikes after a meal. Inulin is not digested in the stomach nor absorbed in the intestinal tract. Instead, it promotes the growth and support of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Inulin is found in chicory root, grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, and fruits and vegetables such as bananas, garlic, onions, and asparagus. Inulin is readily fermented by our gut bacteria. This property may give some people GI distress when eating inulin-rich foods.

Gums and Mucilages. Gums are complex carbohydrates that are soluble in water, forming gels and mucilages. Mucilages are a type of thick, viscous gum in plant roots and seeds. The gelling characteristics of gums and mucilages allows them to be used in many food products as thickening agents, and additives for moisture retention, emulsification, and stabilization. Commonly used food sources of gums and mucilages include guar bean, locust bean (carob), tamarind, seaweed (agar and carrageenan), fenugreek, aloe vera, cactus, and flax.

Pectin.  Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that helps reduce the glycemic response in the body by slowing glucose absorption after a meal. Like other soluble fibers, pectin helps to feed our gut bacteria. It also helps to keep cholesterol down by flushing fatty acids out of the body. Pectins can be found in abundance in foods like apples, strawberries, citrus fruits, carrots, and potatoes. Legumes and nuts also contain pectins, but in smaller amounts.

Beta-Glucan.  Beta-glucan forms a gel in the intestinal tract that is fermentable by gut bacteria. It is considered to be a prebiotic, providing food for helpful bacteria. Beta-glucan may also be helpful in increasing satiety and managing blood sugar levels, thanks to the fact that it has a slow transit time in the stomach and intestines. Beta-glucan is plentiful in oats, barley, shiitake mushrooms, and reishi mushrooms.

Psyllium.  This soluble fiber is the active ingredient in products like Metamucil. It is known for softening stool, helping it to pass out of the body. Psyllium also forms a gel that binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing its absorption into the body. Psyllium is also a prebiotic, feeding friendly bacteria in the gut. Psyllium is derived from a shrub-like herb (Plantago psyllium), grown mainly in India. It will not be found in any specific food source. However, it is often used in fiber supplements, both in powders and pills. Researchers have studied the effects of psyllium and found that it may help to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, diverticulosis, high blood pressure, and obesity. It may also improve diarrhea, constipation, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and high cholesterol. However, since it is a soluble fiber, those benefits may also be obtained from ample food sources of soluble fiber in the diet.

Resistant Starch. Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine. It travels pretty much intact until it reaches the large intestine. There, friendly bacteria feed on the undigested starch, so it is often referred to as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in the gut. Resistant starch also helps to control the appetite and reduce blood sugar spikes after a meal. Since resistant starch is not broken down during digestion, it does not release glucose, so it cannot raise blood sugar levels. It can also help to increase our feeling of fullness after a meal, and be used to treat and prevent constipation. It also helps to lower cholesterol, improve digestive health, and lowers the risk of colon cancer. Resistant starch is fermented slowly in the gut, so it causes less gas than other types of fiber. Legumes, peas, beans, lentils (with white beans and lentils being especially high in resistant starch), oats, barley, plantains, and unripe bananas are excellent sources of resistant starch.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?
The Institute of Medicine provides the following recommendations for adults:

* Men age 50 or younger should get 38 grams of fiber.
* Men age 51 and above should get 30 grams of fiber.

* Women age 50 or younger should get 25 grams of fiber.
* Women age 51 and above should get 21 grams of fiber.

Health organizations recommend that both children and adults should get about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they eat. That usually means that children ages 1 to 3 years should get about 10 grams of fiber a day. Children ages 4 to 8 years should eat about 25 grams of fiber a day.

Research has shown that the amount of fiber typically consumed in the Western diet is merely between 12 and 14 grams a day. Less than 5 percent of Americans consume the recommended amount of fiber. There is ample scientific evidence that indicates that dietary fiber affects normal physiologic function and the onset of chronic diseases and their progression. Therefore, increasing fiber intake offers a prime opportunity to improve our health and ward of serious chronic diseases.

Despite the above recommendations, there is scientific evidence that ancient man consumed as much as 100 grams of fiber a day! Of course, that was from unprocessed plant foods, primarily from fruits and vegetables. Keeping this in mind, we certainly have plenty of leeway for increasing our daily fiber intake with as many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that we can manage to eat.

Benefits of a High Fiber Diet
To keep things easy and get the most benefit from your diet, focus on simple, whole, unprocessed plant foods. Work as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as you can into your day without worry about how much soluble vs insoluble fiber you’re eating. Most plant foods have a combination of both in different ratios. What’s important when trying to reap the health benefits from fiber in foods is looking at the total picture and focusing on increasing your overall fiber intake through whole, unadulterated foods. The following are some benefits from enjoying a high fiber diet.

Prevents Constipation. Dietary fiber promotes the movement of the contents of the digestive tract forward. It increases stool weight and size, so it helps prevent constipation and irregular bowel movements. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool.

Helps Maintain Bowel Health. A high fiber diet helps to reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon (diverticular disease).

Aids in Weight Management. High fiber foods tend to be more filling than low fiber foods, so you’re less likely to overeat and more likely to feel full longer. Fiber takes up space in the stomach and intestines, which helps us to feel full after a meal, which in turn helps us to manage our weight. We’re less likely to overeat when the meal has had ample fiber. Furthermore, high fiber foods tend to be lower in calories than low fiber, processed foods or animal products. So, loading up on plant foods can help us to manage weight in more ways than one!

Cancer Prevention. Increased fiber intake may help to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports show that for each 10-gram increase in dietary fiber, the risk of colorectal cancer is lowered by 7 percent. There is also scientific evidence that indicates that a high-fiber diet may also be protective against breast, ovary, and endometrial, as well as gastrointestinal cancer.

Helps Prevent Heart Disease and More. Soluble fiber is especially important because it can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood pressure, improving our blood lipid profiles, and reducing inflammation.

Soluble fiber is known to help lower blood cholesterol levels. In the digestive tract, soluble fiber binds with bile acids, carrying them out of the body in the feces. Bile acids are made in the liver from cholesterol, and exported to the gallbladder where it is stored until it is needed. When dietary fat leaves the stomach and enters the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine, the gallbladder receives the signal to release bile into the duodenum to emulsify the fat that just left the stomach. This is important because the emulsification process allows the fat to be disbursed among the watery fluids in the intestines. This improves the breakdown of foods and the absorption of nutrients. Without bile, fatty substances may tend to “float” toward the top of the watery fluids in the intestines, hindering the proper breakdown of foods and absorption of their nutrients.

When soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the digestive tract, it carries the bile out of the body through the feces. This action forces the liver to make fresh bile from cholesterol. This process helps to lower blood cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, while improving our blood lipid profiles and reducing inflammation.

If our diet does not contain enough soluble fiber to carry the bile out of the body, the unbound bile acids will be reabsorbed into the blood from the intestines, and carried back to the liver to be used again. When this happens, the bile becomes more concentrated with toxins, which in turn, can lead to inflammatory diseases such as gallbladder disease, intestinal inflammation, and even skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Also, research suggests that increasing your dietary fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.

Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels. In those with diabetes, fiber (especially soluble fiber) can slow the absorption of sugar helping to improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet with ample fiber may also reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Best Sources of Fiber
Categories of foods that can boost your fiber intake include:

* Whole-grains
* Fruits
* Vegetables
* Beans, peas, and other legumes
* Nuts and seeds

Refined or processed foods are lower in fiber than the fresh foods they were made from. This includes canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads and pastas, and cereals made with refined grains. The refining process of grains removes the bran, or outer coat, from the grain. This lowers the fiber content of the grain. Along with the removal of the bran, the germ layer is usually removed too. The germ is where many vitamins and minerals associated with the whole grain are found. When these two components are removed from grains, the inner starchy endosperm that remains is what is processed into white flour or sold as the refined grain. Many times, the refined grains are enriched where some (but not all) of the nutrients that were stripped away, are added back. However, the fiber content is not added back in the enrichment process. So, the only way to get the full nutritional value of a grain, including the fiber content, is to use only the whole grain.

Fiber Supplements.  Metamucil, Citrucel, and Fibercon are examples of fiber supplements. Some people may need such supplements if they suffer from bowel issues and dietary changes aren’t enough to fix the problem. It is advisable to check with your healthcare provider before starting such supplements.

Some specialty foods have fiber added to them. Some cereals, granola bars, yogurt, and ice creams are examples. The added fiber is usually inulin or chicory root. Before adding such foods to your diet, it is important to note that some people complain of gas and bloating after eating foods with these added fibers.

Generally speaking, whole foods are a better option than fiber supplements. Whole foods naturally provide a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers, along with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients that the fiber supplements don’t have. Consuming whole foods as nature provides, offers complementary nutrients that often have a synergistic effect on the body. In other words, their combined effect is often greater than if the individual components were taken separately. Furthermore, foods have many yet-to-be-discovered components that we will never find in isolated supplements. So, it is best to choose whole foods as nature provides, whenever possible.

Tips for Adding More Fiber to Your Diet
There are a LOT of ways to add more fiber to your diet. The following are just a few points that may help along the way. Try what works best for you for starters. Add more as you’re able to and build from there. Take it slow to allow your body (and gut microbiome) time to adjust to the new foods and added fiber intake. This approach will help you to avoid discomfort, gas and bloating, and possibly even diarrhea.

* Examine your usual breakfast. Are you eating low-fiber foods such as processed cereals, pastries, white bread, juice (pulp-free), and/or an array of no-fiber foods like animal products such as bacon, eggs, sausage, milk, cheese, and even yogurt? Try substituting some of those foods with high-fiber options, like oatmeal or a whole-grain cereal and fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.

* How about your snacks? Are you snacking on doughnuts, pastries, cake, cookies, candy, and a sugary beverage or coffee? Try replacing the calorie and fat-laden, low-fiber pastries with fresh fruit and maybe a cookie made simply from whole oats, bananas, a touch of cinnamon, and raisins. How about snacking on fresh vegetables and a small handful of nuts? Or enjoy a snack of vegetables dipped in hummus. Replace sugary beverages or coffee with a tall glass of lemon water or an herbal tea, sweetened with honey, if desired.

* Make it a routine to add a tossed green salad to either lunch or supper each day. Be mindful of what ingredients are added to the salad. Load it up with lettuce and other assorted fresh greens, and top it with assorted chopped fresh (or even lightly cooked) vegetables. Leave off the croutons, shredded cheese, and added meats. Use the simplest dressing you can tolerate. Even just a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice is extremely healthful, although it may take some time to get used to it if you’re accustomed to fat and/or sugar-laden dressings. Studies have shown that those who eat a salad or a small serving of vegetable soup before a meal not only increases fiber intake, but has been linked to eating fewer calories during the meal.

* Once you get used to enjoying a side salad every day, try increasing that to one meal a day consisting of a very large green salad. As detailed above, load it up with your favorite vegetables, and even fruit if you want. Add some cooked beans, peas or lentils for additional protein if you want. Top it with a simple dressing and enjoy! Work up to making this a daily routine and your health will benefit in many ways in addition to getting a nice fiber boost.

* Lean on legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are wonderful sources of fiber and added protein. Add legumes of choice to soups or a large meal salad.

* At least once a week, choose a meal of beans, peas, or lentils served over a whole grain of your choice. Brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, or even steel cut oats would all work well. Serve it with a large portion of any vegetable of choice and you’ll have a healthy, filling, fiber-filled meal.

* Try a wrap with cooked beans (pinto or black beans would be tasty), lots of fresh vegetables including leafy greens, served on a whole grain tortilla. Top your filling with salsa before rolling it up, and enjoy!

* Make it a point to load up on fruits and vegetables every day. Strive to eat at least five servings a day. As you get used to boosting your fruit and vegetable intake, try to slowly increase your servings to as many as ten servings a day. To do this, you may find that you need to cut back on other foods (the stomach can only hold so much!). Examine the foods you’re eating and identify the least healthful, most processed foods that you’re eating and strive to replace them with more healthful options. That will not only boost your fiber intake, but also will increase your vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and other phytonutrient intake as well. Your health can only benefit from such a transition.

* Make desserts count. Instead of indulging in cheesecake, ice cream, traditional cookies, or chocolate cake for dessert, opt for a piece of fresh fruit. If you yearn for ice cream, try blending a frozen banana and making “Banana Nice Cream.” If desired, it can be flavored with a little cocoa powder, cinnamon, added fruit, vanilla extract, or even a little milk of choice for smoothness and flavor.

* Enjoy fruit as a snack. Apples, pears, and berries are examples of high-fiber fruits that make a quick and easy snack. They are easy to transport also, and can be included in a packed lunch, tucked in the car when traveling, or stashed in a backpack when hiking.

* When shopping, always opt for whole grains rather than refined or processed foods made with refined flour. When at home, you’ll be reaching in the pantry for foods to prepare. If you don’t have it, you can’t prepare it. Make it a priority to buy only foods that you know will benefit your health.

* Try adding chia seeds to overnight oats, your favorite smoothie, or pudding.  Use chia seeds as an egg replacer in some dishes like quick breads, pancakes, and puddings. Combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl. Allow it to rest about 5 minutes to thicken. Chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, minerals, and about 10 grams of fiber per ounce. They are packed with nutritional value, so it pays to include them in your diet any way you can.

* Flax seeds are another high fiber seed to consider. They provide about 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Be sure to enjoy them ground rather than whole since they are very hard to break down in the digestive process. Add ground flax seeds to oatmeal, a smoothie, pudding, granola, breading, and baked goods. Mix it into applesauce as a thickener. Use it in recipes in place of wheat bran, wheat germ, or oat bran. Soups and stews may also be thickened with ground flax seeds. Sprinkle it on nut butter. Add it to homemade crackers. Sprinkle a little ground flax on salads. Add it to sauces as a thickener. Add a little ground flax to your favorite hummus (try 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground flax seed to 1 cup of hummus). Ground flax seed can be used as an egg replacer, just like chia seeds. Follow the same directions as detailed above.

* Replace refined fruit juices with whole fruit. Whole fruit has a lot more nutritional value to offer than refined fruit juices. And, the whole fruit will also quench thirst at the same time. For example, enjoying a juicy, ripe pear can satisfy your thirst, help fill a void in the tummy, and provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber all at once.

* Avocados are very nutritious fruits, and there are many ways to add them to your day. Their creamy flesh is rich in vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fatty acids, and fiber too. One half of an avocado delivers 5 grams of fiber. Furthermore, avocados have been linked to a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases your chances of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

* When possible, try to enjoy fruits and vegetables with the peel left on. There is often a lot of nutritional value and fiber associated with the peels, and most of that gets tossed in the trash when the peel is removed and not eaten.

* Try to include some type of fiber-rich food (or foods) at each meal. Whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables (cooked or raw), cooked beans, peas, or lentils, and nuts or seeds can be included with meals and snacks throughout the day. Enjoy a variety of fiber-rich foods as often as you can until it becomes habit and you no longer have to think about it. That will help you to develop life-long habit of eating fiber-rich foods. Your body will thank you!

* Snack on fresh veggies with your favorite hummus dip for a fiber-rich snack.

* Try whole grain pasta instead of pasta made with refined flour. Also, there are some new types of pasta available that were made from legumes and no grain at all. They are naturally high in fiber and are at least worth a try to see if they work well for you.

Adjusting to Increased Fiber Intake
Suddenly switching from a low-fiber diet to one with a lot of fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, bloating and cramping, and maybe even diarrhea. Increase your fiber intake slowly over a few weeks or even longer. This allows you time to adjust to the change in food choices and also gives your intestinal bacteria time to adjust to the change as well. This will also give your intestinal tract time to adjust to the increased fiber, especially if you’re going from being chronically constipated to slowly establishing regular bowel movements.

Also, it is VERY important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Fiber works best when it absorbs water in the stomach and intestines. This makes your stool softer and bulky, promoting regular bowel movements. Herbal teas and fresh vegetable juices are also excellent additions, but should not replace adequate water intake.

It’s helpful to make small, manageable changes at a time. If they work well for you, maintain those changes, then find another change you can make and add it to your regimen. Then maintain both of those changes and find yet another. Repeat the process as often as you feel it is necessary to improve your diet and achieve your goals. This process allows you to gradually change your dietary habits as your body and gut microbiome adjust. Make it a point to maintain those changes until they become second-nature. Such changes should be considered to be lifelong adjustments and not temporary for the sake of achieving a goal within some short period of time, then reverting back to prior habits. That’s a recipe for failure. It’s best to think in terms of lifelong changes that you can maintain long-term. Over time, you’ll be so accustomed to your new habits that you won’t yearn for the foods you left behind and you won’t have to give much thought to what you’re doing at the grocery store or in the kitchen.

Summary
Fiber is an important component of whole plant foods. It is critical to consume plenty of fiber-rich foods to prevent constipation and bowel issues, along with many other serious diseases and conditions. Chronic constipation (provided you have no otherwise obstructive bowel issues) is a clear sign you need more fiber in your diet. Increasing your intake of whole plant foods is a simple solution to the problem. When you’re not used to eating a lot of such foods, it is helpful to increase your intake slowly over time, especially when increasing the amounts of legumes, beans, and peas in your diet. Gradually increasing such foods will help minimize the risk of gas, bloating, or diarrhea that may occur. Give yourself time to work your way up to about ten servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Eventually, your bowel habits will stabilize and constipation will be a thing of the past. You’ll also greatly increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and important antioxidants and other phytonutrients in the process. Your body will thank you!

 

Resources
https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/types-of-fiber

https://www.livestrong.com/article/288536-foods-with-psyllium-fiber/

https://experiencelife.lifetime.life/article/fiber-why-it-matters-more-than-you-think/

https://www.healthline.com/health/soluble-vs-insoluble-fiber

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4942856/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16441938/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319176#what-are-the-benefits-of-fiber

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/short-term-increase-in-fiber-alters-gut-microbiome

https://www.nutrientsreview.com/carbs/dietary-fiber-hemicellulose.html

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/hemicellulose

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2993399/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignin

https://www.nutrientsreview.com/phytonutrients/insoluble-fiber-lignin.html

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/whats-the-difference-between-soluble-and-insoluble-fiber/

https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/74425

https://www.preparedfoods.com/articles/124823-hardworking-gums-and-fibers

https://hopkinsdiabetesinfo.org/what-is-resistant-starch/

https://www.webmd.com/children/features/digestive-health

https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/ask-the-dietitian-get-your-facts-right-on-fiber-and-whole-grains/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1851150/

https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/ways-use-flaxseed/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-to-eat-more-fiber#The-bottom-line

https://www.verywellfit.com/why-your-body-needs-fiber-2505934

Whitney, Ellis and Sharon Rady Rolfes. (2011) Understanding Nutrition. 12th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

 

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.

Dates

Dates 101 – A Comparison of Medjool and Deglet Noor Dates

Dates 101 – A Comparison of Medjool and Deglet Noor Dates

About Dates
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which is native to the Middle East and Northern Africa. They have been a staple food in the Middle East for thousands of years. Many in that region consider date palm trees and dates to be sacred because they can literally be life-sustaining. Today, dates are also grown in the Mediterranean region, Asia, Mexico, and the United States (mostly in southern California and Arizona). The fruit grows in large clusters that hang from the top of date palm trees. As they ripen, their skin turns brown and wrinkles develop as moisture leaves the fruit. This is the point when they are usually harvested. They still have some moisture at this time. Whole dates have a stone or pit in the center that must be removed before eating. Dates are sold both with and without pits.

Dried and fresh dates are available year-round, but the fresh dates are best from November to January. There are many varieties of dates, but the most popular are the Medjool and Deglet Noor dates. Medjool dates are usually sold with the pit still within the fruit, whereas Deglet Noor dates are commonly sold pitted, with the seed being removed. In general, the Medjool dates are larger, sweeter, and stickier then the Deglet Noor dates.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
When comparing a nutritional analysis of three Deglet Noor dates with one Medjool date, none of which were pitted, the weight was close, with the Deglet Noor dates weighing 21 grams and the Medjool date weighing 24 grams. The slight increase in weight of the one Medjool date resulted in slightly more calories in the Medjool date with 66 calories, and 59 calories in the Deglet Noor dates. However, when comparing gram per gram, 100 grams of Medjool dates has 277 calories, whereas 100 grams of Deglet Noor dates has 282 calories. The high calorie count is due to the abundant natural sugars in both types of dates.

Many of the vitamin and mineral components were very closely matched, often with slightly more in the Medjool date, most likely because it contained more flesh than the three Deglet Noor dates. When comparing gram per gram, the nutritional differences are considered to be negligible.

Medjool Dates: Nutrients that were slightly higher in the one Medjool date include calories, carbohydrates, sugars, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, niacin, pantothenic acid, and Vitamin B6.

Deglet Noor Dates: Nutrients that were slightly higher in the three Deglet Noor dates include protein (although the protein content is low in either type of date), fiber, lutein and zeaxanthin (important antioxidants).

Overall: No matter what type of date you choose, consider them to be high in sugars, with 3 Deglet Noor dates or 1 Medjool date providing roughly one-third of the recommended amount of sugar intake for the day. They also provide a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin. They even contain some protein. The high fiber content of dates helps to offset the digestive effects of their high sugar content. This means they will not spark a high spike in glucose levels when eaten, as compared with a piece of candy. Eating dates with some protein (such as a nut butter or cheese) can help to reduce the rise in blood sugar levels when consumed.

High in Fiber…Helps Prevent Constipation. Dates are high in fiber, with about 7 grams in a 3.5 ounce serving. Consuming dates on a regular basis can help to ward off constipation because of their high fiber content.  In one study, 21 people ate 7 dates a day for 21 days and experienced an increase in bowel movements when compared to when they did not eat dates.

Improved Blood Sugar Control. Despite their high sugar content, the fiber in dates helps to slow digestion, aiding in preventing large spikes in blood sugar levels after being eaten. Dates are known to have a low glycemic index, which reflects this benefit. So, if you enjoy something sweet once in a while, indulging in a few dates, especially after a meal, should not cause a large spike in blood sugar. This benefit may be helpful in the management of diabetes.

High in Antioxidants. Dates are especially high in important antioxidants that help to protect us from cellular damage caused by free radical molecules. Such damage causes inflammation and raises our risk for many diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and more. Three powerful types of antioxidants found in dates include flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid.

Flavonoids help to reduce inflammation and may reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer. Carotenoids have been proven to promote heart health, and may reduce the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Like the flavonoids, phenolic acid is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and may help to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Brain Health. Dates may help to improve our brain function. Researchers have found dates to be helpful in lowering inflammatory markers in the brain. Such markers (like interleukin 6) are associated with a greater risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. The benefits of dates to brain health have been attributed to their content of antioxidants (including flavonoids) that reduce inflammation.

Also, animal studies have shown that dates are helpful in reducing the activity of amyloid beta proteins which can form plaque in the brain. Plaque is known to disrupt communication between brain cells, which can lead to the death of brain cells and Alzheimer’s disease.

One animal study found that mice fed food mixed with dates had significantly better memory and learning ability, and exhibited less stress-related behaviors when compared with mice that were not fed the dates.

Pregnancy and Labor Benefits. Dates have been studied for their possible ability to ease labor in pregnant women. Researchers found that eating dates during the last few weeks of pregnancy may promote cervical dilation and reduce the need for induced labor. Dates may also be helpful for reducing labor time.  In one study, 69 women who ate 6 dates a day for 4 weeks before their due dates were 20 percent more likely to go into labor naturally and experienced significantly shorter labor times than those who did not eat the dates. The results were confirmed by at least two other research studies. Researchers speculate that the benefits of dates were due to compounds in the fruit that bind to oxytocin receptors, mimicking the effects of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is what promotes labor contractions during childbirth.

Also, dates contain tannins, which have been shown to help promote labor contractions. Dates are also a good source of natural sugars and calories which are needed to maintain energy levels during labor and delivery.

Excellent Natural Sweetener. Dates are high in fructose, a type of natural sugar found in fruit. This gives dates their exceptional sweetness and caramel-like flavor. Dates make an excellent healthy substitute for processed white sugar because of their nutritional profile and antioxidant content. Date paste can be substituted for processed sugar on a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if a recipe calls for ½ cup of granulated sugar, you could substitute ½ cup of date paste with comparable results. See this website for instructions on making date paste as a sugar replacement:  https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/date-paste-goodbye-refined-sugar/#recipe

Selecting Dates
Dates are usually found in packages in the dried food section of most grocery stores. These are usually the Deglet Noor variety. Dates may also be found in the produce section of some stores. Many times, those in the produce department are the Medjool variety. For fresh dates (usually Medjool dates), check that they are tender and not hard when squeezed. They should look plump despite their wrinkles. As dates age, they will develop crystals of sugar on their surfaces. So, if you see a whitish coating on the skin of the dates, it’s most likely crystalized sugar and not mold. There is no harm in this, but it does indicate that the dates are not as fresh as they could be. Expect your dates to be wrinkled, as this naturally happens as they dry.

Storing Dates
Storing dates in the refrigerator will help to extend their shelf life. Since the refrigerator is a very dry environment, be sure to put your dates in an airtight container to help prevent moisture loss. Vacuum sealing them is another option. Store your vacuum sealed container in the refrigerator.

Deglet Noor dates are considered to be dried dates. They may be stored in an airtight container in the pantry, away from direct sunlight, and any heat source. However, they may also be stored in the refrigerator for extended shelf life.

Medjool dates are considered to be “fresh” since they have a higher moisture content than Deglet Noor dates. It is highly recommended that they be stored in an airtight (or vacuum sealed) container in the refrigerator or freezer for extended life. It is important to note that if you opt to store your Medjool dates in the freezer, they should be used within six weeks after having been thawed.

Preparing Dates
Basically, there is no preparation needed to consume these delicious fruits. At most, the pits will need to be removed if you purchased dates that were not pitted. Simply pull or cut them open and pull out the pits. Then use your dates as needed.

Fresh vs Dried
In parts of the world where dates are grown, fresh dates have a short season of only a few weeks. They are yellow and almost round with a mild flavor, and are crisp like an apple. At this stage they are considered to be unripe and are known as khalal, or “yellow crunchy dates.” At this stage, their moisture content is around 80 percent. Khalal dates will not be found in most American grocery stores because they would spoil too fast when being shipped long distance. Dates are grown in some warm climate areas of the United States. Fresh dates may be available in grocery stores located close to the growers.

The next stage in the life of a date is the “rutab” stage. At this point, they are considered to be fully ripe and have a light brown color. They are soft and will melt in your mouth. Their caramel flavor is like nature’s candy. Like dates in the khalal stage, their shelf life is short. However, when kept frozen, they can last for up to two years. At this stage, their moisture content ranges from 50 to 70 percent. Dates at this stage are still labeled as “fresh.”

The next stage, tamr, is when dates are dry. This is the type of date we typically see in American grocery stores. These dates are usually picked at this point. Their skin is wrinkled and the color has turned dark brown. At this point, they have a prolonged shelf life of 18 to 24 months. They have a moisture content of 10 percent or less.

Medjool Dates:  Medjool dates are considered to be a “fresh” fruit since they are harvested and packaged with little processing. In that respect, they are “fresh.” However, since they are allowed to dry naturally on the date palm tree until they are in the tamr stage, they are actually a dried fruit (albeit naturally dried on the tree). They are not physically nor chemically treated in any way. So, you could say they are a fresh, dry fruit. They have a very sweet and rich, caramel-like flavor, and a soft, creamy yet chewy texture. They are truly nature’s candy.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates are considered to be “semi-dry” and are sometimes described as having a slight crunch, yet they are still pliable. Since Deglet Noor dates are drier and tougher than Medjool dates, they are the preferred variety used for making date sugar.

Flavor and Texture Comparison
Medjool Dates: Medjool dates have a rich, chewy and sticky texture, similar to that of caramel. They are very sweet because of their high fructose content. They almost melt in your mouth. Medjool dates have become known as the “king of dates” or the “crown jewel of dates” because of their excellent flavor, chewy yet soft consistency, large size, and availability.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates have a firm, fairly thick flesh. Their flavor is sweet and the texture is slightly pithy. They are not as sweet as Medjool dates.

Pit vs No Pit
Deglet Noor Dates: Most Deglet Noor dates come packaged with the pit having already been removed.

Medjool Dates: Medjool dates may be found both pitted and with the pits still intact. So, if you have a preference, it is important to read the label carefully to be sure you’re getting what you need at the moment.

What is the white stuff on dates?
The white coating you may see on dates is actually sugar that has made its way to the surface of the fruit and is crystalizing. It is perfectly fine to eat. If you prefer to remove the sugar coating, the date(s) can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and heated in the microwave for 5 seconds. The sugar will be absorbed back into the fruit.

Uses in Cooking
Medjool Dates: Many recipes, especially for smoothies, call for adding one or two Medjool dates. Their sticky consistency and sweet flavor makes them a great substitute for other high-sugar options, such as syrups, caramels, or caramelized sugars. Medjool dates are also exceptional when added to unbaked energy balls, since they will give a fudgy texture to them.

Deglet Noor Dates: Since Deglet Noor dates do not break down as easily as do the Medjool dates, they work well for toppings and adding texture to baked goods, such as fruit and nut bars. They are often used for making date sugar.

Cost Comparison
Medjool Dates: Medjool dates are usually more expensive than Deglet Noor dates. This is because the process of growing and harvesting Medjool dates is more labor-intensive than the Deglet Noor dates. Medjool dates are left to ripen on the tree, which takes longer and results in a richer tasting fruit. Also, since they are somewhat delicate, they are picked individually, rather than in clusters, making their harvest very labor-intensive. Hence, the cost of production is higher than Deglet Noor dates.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates are picked early and ripened thereafter. Clusters of fruit on branches may be harvested at once, or individual fruit may be harvested, depending on how they are to be marketed and their stage of growth. Either way, harvesting and processing Deglet Noor dates is less labor-intensive than Medjool dates, so they can be sold a cheaper price.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Dates
* For a simple snack, split a Medjool date and add a spoonful of your favorite nut butter. Enjoy!

* Split Medjool dates and stuff them with a small chunk of dark chocolate. Enjoy as it is, or place it under a broiler for 1 minute…just long enough for the chocolate to start to melt (but not completely). Enjoy!

* For some extra sweetness, add some chopped dates to your favorite fruit or vegetable salad.

* If you have a recipe that calls for dates and you don’t have enough, you could possibly substitute figs, raisins, cherries, cranberries, or dried apricots. Yes, the substitutes may change the flavor profile of your dish, but they would serve as potential substitutes.

* Since Medjool dates are soft, they can easily be blended into smoothies for added sweetness.

* If you need some added sweetness in a sandwich, chopped Medjool dates would work well since they are soft and almost melt in your mouth when chewed. Example: Add chopped dates to a nut butter sandwich instead of jelly or jam.

* Since Deglet Noor dates are drier and a little tougher than Medjool dates, they can easily be chopped without becoming mushy. This property makes them good additions to bakery items like breads, cakes, and cookies. After being baked, they still maintain some of their texture, giving a slight chewiness to the baked food.

* Very few people are allergic to dates. So, if you are one with a lot of food allergies, this should be one food you can eat. Check with your health care provider if you’re not sure.

* Deglet Noor dates are almost always sold as pitted dates. Medjool dates are sold pitted, but more often with the pit still inside. So, when using Medjool dates, be sure to remove the pit if it has not already been removed by the producer. You don’t want to be responsible for someone breaking a tooth on something you served!

* Medjool dates can be stuffed with both sweet or savory fillings. Try dates stuffed with marzipan, candied orange or lemon peel, tahini, goat or blue cheese, bacon, or nuts such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios.

* Chopped dates can add a special flavor and texture to pasta or rice dishes, or even savory meat dishes.

* The white coating you may see on dates is actually sugar that has made its way to the surface of the fruit and is crystalizing. It is perfectly fine to eat. If you prefer to remove the sugar coating, the date(s) can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and heated in the microwave for 5 seconds. The sugar will be absorbed back into the fruit.

* Try using dates to sweeten sauces, marinades, salad dressings, and even your morning oatmeal.

* For a simple treat or dessert, simply combine some orange slices and chopped dates in a bowl. Sprinkle with toasted almond slices and enjoy!

* Try a delicious chocolate date smoothie! Blend 2 dates with 1 cup milk of your choice. Blend until the dates are well broken up and incorporated into the milk. Add 1 frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tablespoon nut butter of choice. Add a pinch of cinnamon and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

* Since dates are so sticky, they make excellent binders in baked goods, like cookies, bars, and energy balls or bites.

* If your dates have become dry and hard, soak them for 5 minutes in hot water. They will soften up and can be used in a number of ways. The soaking water will be somewhat sweet, so it can be added to anything that calls for a little added liquid and sweetener.

* If you need a liquid sweetener, why not make date syrup? Finely chop 1 pound of Medjool dates. Simmer the chopped dates in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process until very smooth, for at least 1 minute. Strain in a nut milk bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Twist the cloth or bag to remove as much moisture as possible. Taste the liquid. If it is not sweet enough for your needs or if you want it a little thicker, place it in a sauce pan and simmer it over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until your desired results are achieved. Allow it to cool, and store extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Be sure to use it within a few weeks.

* If you need date paste for a recipe and don’t have any, you can make your own. Simply place some Medjool dates in a food processor and process until smooth. Store any extra date paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it within 2 weeks.

* Date sugar is now available in many grocery stores. It is simply finely ground up dried dates. If you’re looking for a natural sweetener to use in place of processed sugar, this may do the job. Note that it will impart a caramel-like flavor to foods. Also, since date sugar is just ground up dates, it still contains the fiber naturally found in the fruit. Therefore, it won’t all dissolve in liquids like granulated or brown sugar would. So, date sugar may add a bit of “grit” when used in hot liquids and some baked goods.

* Date sugar is not the same thing as “date palm sugar” or “palm sugar.” Date palm sugar and palm sugar are made in a similar way as cane sugar. The date palm tree sap is boiled down until the sap is dry and crystalized. It will not have the same nutritional value as date sugar.

* To chop dates without having a sticky, gooey mess on your knife, either spray the knife with nonstock cooking spray, or lightly coat the knife blade with just a little oil of choice. This can be done by moistening a paper towel with oil, then rubbing the knife blade with the oiled paper towel.

* If you want to remove the skin from dates, place them in hot water for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on how hard and dry they are. Allow them to soak until the dates start to soften. Remove them from the water and remove the softened skin and pit, if necessary. Peeled dates are excellent for making smooth date paste, a silky-smooth mousse, or any other application where soft, smooth dates would be needed.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Dates
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, parsley, salt, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Dates
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, flax seeds, nuts (in general), peanuts and peanut butter, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, poultry, prosciutto, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Cabbage (esp. red), carrots, onions (esp. caramelized), parsnips, squash (winter)

Fruits: Apples (dried and fresh) and apple juice, apricots, bananas, cherries, coconut, cranberries, lemon, orange (fresh, zest, and juice), pears and pear juice, pumpkin, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Amaranth, bran, oat flour, oats and oatmeal, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp. blue, cream, feta, Parmesan), cream, mascarpone, milk (dairy or non-dairy), yogurt

Other Foods: Bourbon, brandy, caramel, chocolate (white or dark), coffee, honey, maple syrup, miso, oil (esp. olive), rum, sugar (any type), toffee, vinegar (esp. balsamic)

Dates have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
North African cuisine, baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, scones), confections (i.e., truffles), desserts, granola, Middle Eastern cuisine, puddings, salad dressings, smoothies, soups, spreads

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Dates
Add dates to any of the following combinations…

Almond Milk/Almonds + Bananas [Optional: + Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla]
Apples + Cinnamon + Coconut + Nutmeg + Orange Zest + Pecans
Apples + Cinnamon + Oatmeal
Apricots + Ginger
Balsamic Vinegar + Blue Cheese
Bananas + Coconut [In Muesli]
Bananas + Oats
Chocolate + Walnuts
Coconut + Nuts
Coconut + Orange
Dark Chocolate
Lemon + Oatmeal
Nuts (i.e., Walnuts) + Oats + Sweetener (i.e., Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup)
Orange + Sesame Seeds
Parmesan Cheese + Walnuts or Almonds
Peanuts + Vanilla
Roasted Salted Almonds
Soft Cheese [As a Stuffing for Dates]
Tahini + Sea Salt [Drizzle Dates with Tahini and Sprinkle Lightly with Salt]

Recipe Links
Easy Homemade Larabars https://www.liveeatlearn.com/homemade-larabars/

No Cook Chocolate Vegan Fudge https://www.liveeatlearn.com/chocolate-vegan-fudge/

Salted Date Caramel https://www.liveeatlearn.com/salted-date-caramel/

Medjool Date Power Balls https://www.naturaldelights.com/recipes/medjool-date-power-balls

Cranberry Pecan Bars https://tasty.co/recipe/cranberry-pecan-bars

Cashew Coconut Bars https://tasty.co/recipe/cashew-coconut-bars

Raw Vegan Breakfast Ice Cream Cake http://thecolorfulkitchen.com/2014/09/01/raw-vegan-breakfast-ice-cream-cake/

2-Layer No-Bake Peanut Butter Brownie Bars https://minimalistbaker.com/2-layer-no-bake-peanut-butter-brownie-bars/#wprm-recipe-container-36167

Peanut Butter Eggs https://minimalistbaker.com/peanut-butter-eggs/#wprm-recipe-container-36247

Apple Pie Larabars https://mywholefoodlife.com/2013/04/21/apple-pie-larabars/

Banana Date Smoothie https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-banana-date-smoothie-207636#post-recipe-11032

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Citrus Dressing https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-kale-quinoa-salad-with-citrus-dressing-healthy-lunch-recipes-from-the-kitchn-199341#post-recipe-11221

Kumquat Tarts with Almond-Date Crust https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-kumquat-tarts-with-almond-date-crust-165785#post-recipe-10477

Vegan Chocolate-Date Smoothie https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-vegan-chocolate-date-smoothie-242817#post-recipe-11796

How to Make Date Caramels https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-vegan-caramels-244025#post-recipe-9750

Creamy Orange-Date Smoothie https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-creamy-orange-date-smoothie-239262

How to Make Date Syrup https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-date-syrup-243951#post-recipe-11226

How to Make Old Fashioned Date Bars https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-old-fashioned-date-bars-243991#post-recipe-11783

Chocolate Date-Nut Lollipops https://www.vegkitchen.com/chocolate-date-nut-lollipops/

Nutty Cashew Dates https://www.vegkitchen.com/nutty-cashew-dates/

Date-Nut Truffles https://www.vegkitchen.com/lauras-date-nut-truffles/

Date-Pecan Bars https://www.vegkitchen.com/date-pecan-bars/

Healthy No Bake Date Bar Recipe https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/healthy-no-bake-snack-bars/


Resources
https://www.thekitchn.com/pair-dates-with-these-7-foods-for-a-delicious-snack-244015

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/171726-168191/wt9-wt1/1-1

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-dates

https://getrezbar.com/blogs/news/medjool-dates-vs-normal-dates-what-you-should-know

https://mywellbeingjournal.com/2018/11/07/whats-the-difference-medjool-dates-vs-pitted-dates/

https://deliciouslydates.com/f/what-is-the-difference-between-fresh-and-dry-dates

https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/medjool-dates/

https://woodspurfarms.com/medjool-and-pitted-dates/

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Deglet_Noor_Dates_11768.php

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/medjool_dates_1002.php

https://deliciouslydates.com/f/tips-to-keep-dates-fresh-for-a-long-time

http://kianzarrinco.com/product/deglet-noor-dates/

https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-orange-almond-date-saladrecipes-from-the-kitchn-168307#post-recipe-10493

https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-creamy-orange-date-smoothie-239262#post-recipe-9637

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-date-syrup-243951#post-recipe-11226

https://www.latimes.com/recipe/date-and-lemon-bars-with-sesame

https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2021-10-07/recipes-for-dates-and-how-best-to-cook-with-them

https://www.vegkitchen.com/4-great-tips-for-using-dates/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dates#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7

https://www.cronometer.com

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-date-sugar-and-how-do-you-use-it-243959

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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

About Judi

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

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds 101 – The Basics

Chia Seeds 101 – The Basics

About Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family, Salvia hispanica. It is native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala. The seeds have been used as a staple source of nutrition dating back to ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, and it was cultivated as far back as 3500 B.C. Today, chia seeds are primarily grown in Mexico and Central America, as well as several other Latin American countries and Australia. They have become a commercially popular health food in the last decade or so. They can be found in black and white varieties.  Any brown seeds that you see for sale were not fully matured when harvested and will be undesirable in flavor and have a lesser nutritional value than the fully matured seeds.

Chia seeds have a very subtle flavor, so taste is not what they are prized for. Instead, their texture and nutritional value are what attracts people to chia seeds. They have the ability to absorb many times their dry weight in liquid, making them miniature tapioca-like balls, thickening any liquid they are in.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Chia seeds pack a strong nutritional punch, with the black and white seeds being the same in nutritional value. They are high in fiber, protein (with a good balance of essential amino acids), Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin K, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. They also contain zinc, niacin, potassium, selenium, copper, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and folate. They are naturally gluten-free and non-GMO. They are also high in antioxidants, which help to preserve the fatty acids within the seeds and provide valuable health benefits when we eat them. Two tablespoons of chia seeds supply about 140 calories.

Weight Control. The soluble fiber in chia seeds absorbs a lot of water and expands in the stomach, which increases fullness and slows the absorption of food. Also, the high-quality protein in chia seeds helps to reduce appetite and ultimately food intake.

In 2017, a study reported in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice, demonstrated that eating chia seeds for breakfast increased satiety and reduced food intake (in the short-term).

Another study reported in 2017 in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, found that chia seeds helped to promote weight loss in obese individuals with Type 2 diabetes who were on a reduced-calorie diet.

Researchers in these studies concluded that adding chia seeds to the diet alone is unlikely to induce weight loss, but experts agree they can be a useful addition to a weight loss diet and lifestyle.

High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Gram for gram, chia seeds have more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. However, it’s important to note that we would normally eat more salmon in one serving than we would chia seeds. Nevertheless, chia seeds do contain a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids. Milled chia seeds will release more of these essential fatty acids than whole chia seeds, since we do not break them down well in the digestive process.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease. Since chia seeds are high in fiber (especially soluble fiber), protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, they may reduce the risk of heart disease. Research studies have shown that chia seeds can reduce triglycerides, inflammation, and insulin resistance, and may also raise HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, all leading to a lower risk for heart disease. A few studies have also shown that chia seeds reduced blood pressure in subjects with hypertension. Overall, chia seeds appear to benefit heart health, especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Bone Health. Chia seeds are high in nutrients that support bone health, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. In fact, one ounce of chia seeds provides 18% of the recommended dietary intake of calcium. This makes chia seeds an excellent source of calcium.

It is important to note that chia seeds contain phytic acid, which can bind to the calcium and other minerals within the seed, inhibiting their absorption. Soaking the seeds before eating them will release the phytic acid, allowing those minerals to be utilized by the body. Also, considering the fact that the soluble fiber in chia seeds will soak up a LOT of liquid, it is advisable to soak them first rather than eating them dry, to prevent dehydration or a choking hazard.

Stabilized Blood Sugar Levels. Blood sugar levels can tend to rise after a meal, depending upon the food eaten. Such spikes can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Animal and human research studies have found that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control by stabilizing blood sugar levels after meals, reducing the risk of disease.

Possible Inflammation Reduction. Inflammation is a normal and necessary response to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Some lifestyle habits can increase our risk for chronic inflammation, such as smoking, inactivity, and a poor diet. On the contrary, other lifestyle habits can reduce the risk for chronic inflammation, with dietary choices being one of them. A study published in a 2007 issue of the journal Diabetes Care showed that subjects with diabetes eating 37 grams (about 2-1/2 tablespoons) of chia seeds a day for three months had reduced inflammatory markers (hs-CRP) by 40%. The control subjects in the study experienced no benefit when fed wheat bran. However, other studies with obese subjects did not show such promising results. So, the data are preliminary but do suggest that chia seeds may have beneficial effects on chronic inflammation.

Note of Caution: Omega-3 fats may have blood-thinning effects. People who take blood thinning medications should consult their doctors before adding large amounts of chia seeds to their diet. Their prothrombin time may need to be monitored for a while.

 

How to Select Chia Seeds
When shopping for chia seeds, choose seeds that are either speckled black or white. Avoid those that are uniformly brown, which indicates the seeds didn’t mature properly. Brown seeds will be bitter and have fewer nutritional benefits.

How to Store Chia Seeds
Store chia seeds in a cool, dry place. The refrigerator is ideal. When kept cool and dry, they should keep for several years. If you have room, storing them in the freezer will give them the longest life.

How to Prepare
Chia seeds need no special treatment. They are ready to use straight from the container they came in.

Some resources say they may be eaten dry, sprinkled on salads or puddings. However, since they soak up a lot of liquid, be sure you consume plenty of liquid if you do opt to eat them dry, so you don’t become dehydrated or cause a choking hazard. Otherwise, to avoid possible issues from eating dry chia seeds, it’s best to soak them with plenty of liquid first before eating them.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Chia Seeds
* Chia seeds do not have to be ground for digestive reasons, like flax seeds do, so they are easy to include in the diet without special treatment.

* Chia seeds can be added to porridge, pudding, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and baked goods.

* Chia seeds may be eaten raw, but they should be soaked first to allow their soluble fiber to soak up liquid, and also allow the phytic acid to be broken down.

* Chia seeds may be used to thicken sauces, gravies, or soups.

* To make an egg substitute, simply combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir, and allow them to sit for about 5 minutes or until a gel is formed. This replaces one egg in baked items like cupcakes, muffins, or cookies.

* Make easy chia pudding. Simply mix ¼ cup of seeds in one cup of liquid, such as nut or oat milk and/or fruit juice. Allow the mixture to rest at least 15 minutes, until it is no longer watery, but more of a “pudding” texture. Chia seeds don’t have much flavor, so many people add spices of choice, and chopped fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, or other toppings. The pudding will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

* Chia seeds may be eaten whole or ground. However, recent studies show that we may absorb more nutrients from ground chia seeds than whole ones.

* Try grinding chia seeds and add into breadcrumbs when making meatballs or breading meats, poultry, vegetables, or other foods.

* Try adding chia seeds to your favorite pancake mix.

* Since chia seeds absorb liquid, forming a gel in the process, they can be used in place of pectin when making jam.

* Try mixing some chia seeds in your favorite dip.

* Try adding chia seeds to homemade crackers.

* Try freezing your favorite chia pudding, making it into an ice cream.

* It is noteworthy that Omega-3 fats may have blood-thinning effects. People who take blood thinning medications should consult their doctors before adding large amounts of chia seeds to their diet. Their prothrombin time may need to be monitored for a while.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Chia Seeds
Cinnamon, ginger, mint, nutmeg, sage, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Chia Seeds
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), flax seeds, meats, fish, and poultry (in a breading or crust), nuts (in general), nut butters (in general), tofu

Vegetables: Kale, maca, squash (winter, esp. spaghetti)

Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries (of all types), coconut, dates, lemon, lime, mango, pears, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Baked goods, cereals (breakfast), oats, oatmeal, oat bran

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Coconut milk, coconut butter, milk (in general), cashew milk, hemp seed milk, yogurt and frozen yogurt

Other Foods: Carob, chocolate, cocoa, honey, maple syrup, sugar (all types)

Chia seeds have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., biscuits, breads, cakes, cookies, muffins), chili (vegetarian), drinks (i.e., limeade), granola, meatballs, porridge, puddings, salads, smoothies, soups, veggie burgers

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Chia Seeds
Add chia seeds to any of the following combinations…

Almond Milk + Apples + Buckwheat + Cinnamon
Cashews + Coconut + Dates
Cocoa + Honey + Silken Tofu + Vanilla
Ginger + Pears + Almond Milk

Recipe Links
Blueberry-Chia Ice Pops https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/blueberry-chia-ice-pops

Chia Pudding with Dried Apricots and Pineapple https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chia-pudding-dried-apricots-pineapple

Blueberry-Chia Seed Jam https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/blueberry-chia-seed-jam

Pomegranate-Chia Seed Yogurt Parfait https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pomegranate-chia-seed-yogurt-parfait

Lemon Chia No-Bake Slice https://thechiaco.com/us/lemon-chia-no-bake-slice/

Nut Free Oat Slice https://thechiaco.com/us/nut-free-oat-slice/

Three-Ingredient Chia Pudding https://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/3-ingredient-chia-pudding/#wprm-recipe-container-5591

26 Chia Recipes That Don’t Just Involve Pudding https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/chia-seed-recipes

32 No-Brainer Chia Seed Pudding Recipes https://greatist.com/eat/chia-seed-pudding-recipes

25 Recipes to Get Some Chia in Your Day—Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner https://www.brit.co/living/healthy-eating/chia-recipes/

Overnight Chocolate Chia Pudding https://minimalistbaker.com/overnight-chocolate-chia-seed-pudding/


Resources
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28989578/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28089080/

https://www.lifehack.org/596479/exposed-get-the-most-out-of-chia-seeds-by-soaking-them

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20087375/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23778782/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17686832/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19628108/

https://theprettybee.com/chia-egg/#wprm-recipe-container-20215

https://cronometer.com/

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/chia-seeds

https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20141021/use-chia-seeds-with-caution-researcher-warns

https://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/chia-seeds/?DFA=1&UTM_Medium=PaidSearch&UTM_Source=GOOGLE&UTM_Campaign=SWAN_National_Gen_Search_NonBrnd_DSA_All+Webpages+DSA+-+Blog&UTM_Content=DYNAMIC+SEARCH+ADS&SourceCode=INTLBVDNA&gclid=CjwKCAjwz_WGBhA1EiwAUAxIcYohGjGlMKACPDo5pX1LDjnGMM05Cc95FgKD38qk5GGtNzXvwPXb6BoCAfAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/35-ways-eat-chia-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_36

https://www.worldofchia.com/chia/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chia-vs-flax#TOC_TITLE_HDR_9

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.