Category Archives: Salads

Broccoli

Broccoli 101 – The Basics (UPDATE)

This is an update to my original post on Broccoli 101 – The Basics. This post has expanded, more comprehensive information about broccoli. However, the original post has a lot of valuable information, so please check it out too! https://www.judiklee.com/2019/02/28/broccoli-101-the-basics/

Enjoy!
Judi

Broccoli 101 – The Basics (UPDATE)

About Broccoli
Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables in the cruciferous family and is enjoyed worldwide in many different cuisines. It is a member of the Brassica family of plants, and is related to many other popular vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, and Brussels sprouts.

The most popular variety of broccoli forms a “head,” referring to a flowering portion of the plant. This is the part of the plant we commonly refer to as the “florets.” If the plant is left to mature, the florets (head) would develop flowers that eventually produce seeds. Non-heading varieties of broccoli produce florets throughout the plant at the ends of the shoots. Broccoli varieties can range in color from deep sage to dark green to purplish green.

From what we understand, broccoli had its origins as a type of wild cabbage. Through centuries of selective planting, it was developed into the varieties that we are familiar with today. It is now grown in virtually all continents around the world and is especially diverse and plentiful in the Mediterranean area of Europe, the central and western parts of Asia, and the western half of North America. Almost all of the broccoli produced commercially in the United States is grown in California, followed by Arizona. Broccoli imported to America mostly comes from Mexico.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Broccoli is exceptionally high in many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. It is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, chromium and folate. It also supplies a lot of fiber, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, choline, Vitamin B1, Vitamin A, potassium, copper, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc, calcium, iron, niacin, and selenium. One cup of cooked broccoli has as much Vitamin C as an orange. It is also very low in calories, with one cup having only 31 calories. It is truly a powerhouse of nutrition!

In addition to its long list of vitamins and minerals, broccoli is concentrated with an array of phytonutrients which are key to its important health-promoting benefits.

Anti-Cancer Connection. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are particularly high in glucosinolates, which are converted into a group of compounds called isothiocyanates. These compounds are known to help shut down the inflammatory process. Sulforaphane is one of the well-known isothiocyanates known to squelch the inflammatory process, providing powerful health benefits.

There are other compounds in broccoli that work together synergistically providing potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, helping to reduce our risk for assorted types of cancer. Laboratory animal and test tube studies have shown sulforaphane to reduce both the size and number of cancer cells. Population studies have found that people who have a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables have a significantly lower cancer rate than those who eat less cruciferous vegetables.

It is noteworthy that sulforaphane is only activated through enzyme interaction when the vegetable is cut or chewed. Also, raw mature broccoli has more sulforaphane potential than lightly steamed broccoli. Broccoli sprouts have been found to have many times more of the health-boosting phytonutrients, including sulforaphane, than mature broccoli. To learn how to grow your own broccoli sprouts, see my video … https://youtu.be/U-e87xKofPs

Detoxification. In conjunction with the anti-cancer benefits of broccoli, it also has detoxification properties. Compounds in broccoli have been shown to improve Phase 2 of our detoxification process, which also helps to reduce our risk for cancer. The amount of broccoli shown to produce this effect is from 1 to 2 cups per day.

The vast blend of compounds in broccoli makes it a unique food in terms of cancer prevention. Oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and inadequate detoxification are well-documented connections to the development of cancer. Research has shown that broccoli has compounds that fight all three of those problems, thereby making it a highly valuable food in the fight against cancer. Even though 1 to 2 cups of broccoli a day may be ideal, researchers have found benefit with as little as ½ cup of broccoli daily. Even a 2-cup serving twice a week is enough to offer valuable benefits.  So, “the moral of the story” is…Eat your broccoli, whenever you can, as much as you can!

Cardiovascular Support. Recent studies have shown that broccoli can lower LDL cholesterol levels, decreasing our risk for heart disease. A recent study showed that as little as 1/3 cup of broccoli per day for 3 months lowered LDL cholesterol in subjects by 2.5 percent. Both raw and steamed broccoli showed cholesterol-lowering effects, although a stronger LDL-lowering effect was found with steamed broccoli.

Broccoli is also high in Vitamin B6 and folate, both of which are important nutrients in lowering homocysteine levels. Having lower homocysteine levels is associated with lowered risk for atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack.

Eye Health. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids found in significant amounts in broccoli, are especially important for eye health. Low levels of these compounds can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, both raising our risk for vision loss. Therefore, eating broccoli on a regular basis can help to prevent eye issues that can lead to vision loss over time.

Diabetes Risk. A human study reported in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, showed significantly reduced insulin resistance in subjects with Type 2 diabetes who ate broccoli sprouts daily for one month.

Healthy Digestion. Broccoli is high in fiber and antioxidants, both of which support healthy digestive function and the gut microbiome. Nutrients, such as those found in broccoli, have been found to promote reduced levels of inflammation in the colon along with favorable changes in the gut bacteria.

Brain Support. Some of the compounds in broccoli may slow mental decline and support healthy brain function. A study with 960 older adults showed that one serving a day of dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, helped to resist mental decline associated with aging. Animal studies showed that a compound in broccoli, kaempferol, lowered the incidence of brain injury and reduced inflammation following a stroke-like event. Another animal study showed that mice treated with sulforaphane had significant brain tissue recovery and reduced inflammation after a brain injury or toxic exposure.

Most of the current research on the effects of compounds found in broccoli on brain health are limited to animal studies. However, they are promising and may lead to further human studies.

Other Benefits of Broccoli. There are numerous other potential benefits of eating broccoli on a regular basis. The high Vitamin C level in broccoli supports a healthy immune system. The antioxidants found in broccoli, especially sulforaphane, may help to slow the aging process. Some of the compounds found in broccoli have been shown to support dental and oral health. Vitamin C, calcium, and kaempferol, a flavonoid found in broccoli, appear to play a role in preventing periodontal disease. Sulforaphane in broccoli may also reduce the risk for oral cancers. Broccoli is high in Vitamin K, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, all of which are nutrients vital for maintaining strong bones. Researchers have extensively studied the health benefits of broccoli and its components, and are finding new implications regularly. Joint health, pregnancy support, and skin health are also among the areas being studied.

How to Select Broccoli
Look for bright green heads of broccoli with tightly clustered florets. The more open the florets, the older the broccoli is. The florets should be uniformly colored with no yellowing. Look for firm, strong stalks (flimsy stalks that bend are older and becoming dehydrated). Broccoli should feel heavy for its size. Any attached leaves should be vibrant in color and not wilted.

How to Store Fresh Broccoli
Do not wash fresh broccoli until you are ready to use it. Store it in the refrigerator. It may be stored in a plastic bag if you plan to use it quickly. However, for the longest storage life, place it in a container with a lid, with the bottom lined with a paper towel or clean cloth. That will absorb any moisture released by the broccoli, preventing it from sitting in water. At the same time, the cloth or paper towel will help to maintain a humid environment when it becomes damp from the moisture released by the broccoli. This will help to keep it from dehydrating. Use your fresh broccoli within 7 days.

How to Prepare Fresh Broccoli
Rinse fresh broccoli when you’re ready to use it. If it has started to dehydrate (get limp) in the refrigerator, it may be soaked in cold water for about 10 minutes to help crisp it back up.

The florets may be cooked whole or cut into smaller pieces, depending upon how you plan to use them. Of course, the smaller pieces will cook faster than the whole florets.

The stalks are often cut off and discarded. This is unfortunate, because they are edible and taste just like the florets. The outer edges of the stalks me be somewhat “woody.” If they are, the outer, tough area may be trimmed away (and discarded) either with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Then simply cut the stalks into desired size pieces, roughly the same size as the florets and cook them along with the florets.

Fresh broccoli may be eaten raw or cooked and used in just about any way imaginable: steamed, boiled, stir-fried, stir-steamed, roasted, added to casseroles, soups, stews, salads, smoothies, and juices. The use for broccoli is limited only to your imagination!

How to Preserve Fresh Broccoli
There is a trend today among some people to simply wash, chop, and place vegetables in the freezer without being pretreated first. Although this method does save time, it is appropriate for some vegetables (such as onions and bell peppers), but not for all. Broccoli is one of the vegetables that should be pretreated first to stop the enzyme activity that will cause the vegetable pieces to continue to age while in the freezer. If you insist on freezing broccoli without pretreating it, be sure to label it with the current date and use it within three months for best quality. Pretreating your broccoli first to disable the enzymes, will allow you to keep your broccoli for much longer with a better quality, up to about a year. It will be edible beyond that but the quality will dwindle over time.

Freezing Broccoli (Blanching). First wash the broccoli, and cut the florets into desired size pieces. The stems may be frozen, but first remove the woody area along the outer edges, then cut the stems into desired size pieces, comparable to the size of the florets. If you prefer larger pieces, it is best if all of the florets are no more than one inch across and stems are no longer than five inches.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place your prepared broccoli in the boiling water and set your timer right away. Allow smaller pieces to blanch (remain in the hot water) for 3 minutes. If your pieces are very large, they will need to remain in the water for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on size. Once the timer has finished, immediately transfer the broccoli to a large bowl of ice water. Allow the broccoli to chill in the cold water for as long as it was in the hot water. Then drain the broccoli well and transfer it to freezer bags or containers. To prevent it from freezing in a large lump, you could first spread your blanched broccoli pieces on a tray and place that in the freezer. When the pieces are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Label the container with the current date, and return them to the freezer. Use your broccoli within 12 months for best quality.

For a video demonstration on how to blanch broccoli, watch this video… https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Freezing Broccoli (Steaming). Fresh broccoli may also be preserved by steaming it first, instead of water blanching. Prepare your broccoli as detailed above. Place a steamer basket in a pot (that has a lid) and add water to a level that will not rise above the bottom of the steaming basket when the water boils. Bring the water to boil. Add the broccoli pieces and place the lid on the pot. Set the timer for 4 minutes if the pieces are small, or 5 minutes if the pieces are large. When the timer is finished, transfer the steamed broccoli pieces to a large bowl of ice water and follow the same procedure as detailed above for chilling and freezing your broccoli.

Dehydrating Fresh Broccoli: Broccoli florets may be dehydrated. The stems may remain a bit tough with dehydration, so it is only recommended to dehydrate the florets. Blanch and cool your broccoli pieces as detailed above. They may either be water blanched or steam blanched. Once the broccoli pieces have been cooled, spread them on your dehydrator mesh tray. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s directions for the length of time and temperature for proper dehydration with your machine.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Broccoli
* Try raw broccoli served with a dip or hummus.

* Add broccoli, raw or cooked, to your next green salad.

* Try roasting broccoli with cauliflower, flavored with olive oil and garam masala.

* Add broccoli to your next breakfast omelet or quiche.

* For a quick pasta dish, toss cooked pasta with some olive oil, pine nuts, and steamed broccoli. Season with a pinch of garlic powder, parsley and oregano. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

* Try making “broccoli rice.” Simply place chopped raw broccoli in a food processor. Pulse until the broccoli is in small, rice-like pieces. Then briefly sauté it in a skillet like you would make fried rice.

* Try adding some frozen and thawed chopped broccoli along with some shredded cheddar cheese to your next batch of corn bread. The bread will be moist and flavorful.

* If your raw broccoli has started to get limp, soak it in cold water for about 10 minutes and it will crisp back up.

* Make a broccoli dip by blending steamed broccoli, yogurt, chives or green onions, paprika, and fresh garlic. Use it as a dip for raw vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, yellow squash, and zucchini.

* Try steamed broccoli topped with your favorite hummus.

* For some citrus-flavored broccoli, stir-steam broccoli in a little orange juice with a pinch of orange zest. Add some crushed red pepper flakes or black pepper for extra “zing.”

* Make your broccoli with a Mediterranean flare. Top steamed broccoli with a little marinara sauce and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese or shredded mozzarella.

* Make a salad with lightly steamed broccoli, feta cheese, grape tomatoes, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

* Try a stir-fry with broccoli, red bell peppers, and sesame oil. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

* Make delicious side dish by roasting broccoli pieces flavored with olive oil, salt and pepper. When it’s finished, drizzle it with a little lemon juice, then sprinkle with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Broccoli
Basil, capers, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, coriander, curry powder, dill, marjoram, mustard (seeds, powder), oregano, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, sage, salt, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Broccoli
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. cannellini, green, white), beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, flax seeds, ham, hazelnuts, mung bean sprouts, nuts (in general), peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pork, pumpkin seeds, sausage, seafood, sesame seeds, soybeans, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cauliflower, chiles, chives, garlic, ginger, greens (in general), leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (summer and winter), tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Avocado, coconut, lemon, lime, olives, orange

Grains and Grain Products: Bread crumbs, bulgur, noodles and pasta (in general), quinoa, rice, seitan, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter and browned butter, cheese (in general, esp. feta, cheddar, goat, Parmesan), coconut milk, cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, miso, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive, peanut, sesame, walnut), sauces (esp. Hollandaise), soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinaigrette, vinegar (esp. balsamic, rice, tarragon), wine (dry white)

Broccoli has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, crepes, crudités, curries, egg dishes (custards, omelets, quiches), gratins, guacamole, hummus, pizzas, baked potatoes (toppings), salads (i.e., green, pasta, tomato, vegetable), sauces, slaws, soufflés, soups (esp. broccoli, creamy), stews, stir-fries, tempura

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Broccoli
Add broccoli to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Citrus Fruits + Garlic
Almonds + Mushrooms
Almonds + Romano Cheese
Basil + Garlic + Olive Oil + Parmesan Cheese + Walnuts
Bell Peppers + Capers + Olives
Bell Peppers + Mozzarella Cheese
Chiles + Garlic + Ginger + Lime + Olive Oil
Chiles + Garlic + Olive Oil
Chiles + Garlic + Orange (juice, zest)
Feta Cheese + Mint + Red Onions
Flax Seeds + Lemon
Garlic + Ginger + Sesame Oil/Seeds + Tamari
Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil + Chili Pepper Flakes
Garlic + Lemon + Tahini
Ginger + Orange
Lemon + Parsley
Lime + Noodles + Peanuts
Onions + Orange
Orange + Parmesan Cheese + Tomatoes
Red Onions + Yogurt
Rice Vinegar + Sesame Oil + Sesame Seeds + Soy Sauce or Tamari

Recipe Links
Cook Frozen Broccoli (Not Mushy) https://youtu.be/Ig6CeSmgU0c

How to Steam Broccoli https://youtu.be/adqpjc_OJIg

How to Blanch Broccoli https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Easily Cut Fresh Broccoli with Less Mess https://youtu.be/mKX8jfNl5IM

How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts https://youtu.be/U-e87xKofPs

Lemon-Garlic Broccoli (NOT Mushy! Using Frozen Broccoli) https://youtu.be/bg6hb9qIQIM

35+ Of Our Best Broccoli Recipes https://www.thekitchn.com/20-ways-to-eat-more-broccoli-tonight-237483

27 Broccoli Recipes You’ll Want to Make Tonight https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/broccoli-recipes

Broccoli Soup https://producemadesimple.ca/broccoli-soup/

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

15 Best Broccoli Recipes https://www.thespruceeats.com/recipes-that-will-make-you-rethink-broccoli-4155771

11 Best Broccoli Recipes/Easy Broccoli Recipes https://food.ndtv.com/lists/10-best-broccoli-recipes-731246

Beef with Broccoli https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/beef-with-broccoli-2495686

Broccoli Recipes https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/1113/fruits-and-vegetables/vegetables/broccoli/

Simple and Satisfying Broccoli https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/simple-and-satisfying-broccoli-recipe-1923557

10 Family-Friendly Broccoli Recipes https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/popular-ingredients/broccoli-recipes

Sweet and Sour Cod with Cabbage and Broccoli http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=136

Asian-Flavored Broccoli with Tofu http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=254

Seriously, The Best Broccoli of Your Life https://www.errenskitchen.com/seriously-best-broccoli-life/#wprm-recipe-container-7680

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

15 Favorite Broccoli Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/tasty-broccoli-recipes/

Broccoli Cornbread with Cheese https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/231966/broccoli-cornbread-with-cheese/

Our 15 Best Broccoli Salad Recipes https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/best-broccoli-salad-recipes/


Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9

https://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/broccoli.php

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-broccoli-rabe-broccoli-rabe-vs-rapini-and-9-ways-to-cook-broccoli-rabe

https://producemadesimple.ca/broccoli-go-well/

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/all-about-broccoli/

https://athleanx.com/for-women/10-new-ways-to-make-broccoli-taste-awesome

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sulforaphane

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sulforaphane#benefits

https://www.livestrong.com/article/433053-broccoli-sprouts-vs-broccoli/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22537070/

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

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.

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers 101 – The Basics

 

Bell Peppers 101 – The Basics

About Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are native to the Caribbean and North, Central, and South America. These popular peppers were gradually distributed around the world and are now grown in a number of countries. Bell peppers are commercially grown in greenhouse and non-greenhouse settings. In the United States, most greenhouse bell peppers are imported, usually from Mexico. The United States also imports bell peppers from Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Spain. Within the United States, bell peppers are a popular summer food to grow among home gardeners. They are also grown commercially in California, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan.

Bell peppers are members of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, along with chili peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes (not sweet potatoes). The name “bell peppers” was applied to these fruits (that we use as vegetables) to distinguish them from their hot cousins, including cayenne and jalapeno peppers.

Classic bell peppers have four lobes on the bottom. Increasingly, we’ll find three-lobed green bell peppers in the bin in grocery stores. These are more elongated in shape and are referred to as the Lamuyo type of pepper. Bell peppers are considered to be sweet rather than hot because they do not contain capsaicinoids that give hot peppers their classic, flavorful “heat.” The amount of capsaicinoids in a pepper is measured on the Scoville heat scale. It’s an indication of how “hot” a pepper is. Bell peppers are given a score of “0” on this scale, whereas the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers have a score of 2 million! Ouch!!

Most varieties of bell peppers are green during the growing process and will undergo a color change during maturation. The colors can be yellow, orange, red, purple, lilac, brown, and even ivory. The colorful peppers are usually more expensive than the green, less mature peppers. This is because it takes a longer growing time to allow the peppers to mature, so the cost of production is increased. It is noteworthy that some varieties of bell peppers remain green, even with maturation, and others undergo color changes early in the development process.

Mini bell peppers are relatively new on the market. They are not young bell peppers, but are separate varieties of peppers. They can be more challenging to grow since they are less disease resistant than the larger peppers. Hence, they can be more expensive.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Bell peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6. They also contain a lot of folate, molybdenum, Vitamin E, fiber, Vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, niacin, and potassium. They also contain Vitamin K, manganese, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, and magnesium.

The shining star of bell peppers is their abundant content of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. These many, assorted compounds in bell peppers provide an array of health benefits. Overall, such compounds reduce oxidative stress. This in itself reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Eye Health. The carotenoids and other antioxidants have been shown to help prevent age-related macular degeneration of the eyes, which can result in vision loss.

Neurodegenerative Diseases. The compounds in bell peppers can help ward off neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Compounds in bell peppers, especially ripe, colorful bell peppers, have been shown to block the release of amyloid proteins. It is the release of such proteins that allows them to accumulate around certain nerve cells in the brain (cholinergic neurons) that increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Although all bell peppers contain these antioxidants (primarily lutein and zeaxanthin), the darker, richer colored peppers contain more than the green, immature peppers.

How to Select Bell Peppers
Choose bell peppers that are bright in color, firm, with smooth skin, and no blemishes. The stems should be green and fresh looking. They should be heavy for their size. Avoid those that are soft and wrinkled, have blemishes, or are damaged in some way.

How to Store Bell Peppers
Store bell peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. The drawer slider should be set on high humidity (with the air vent closed). Since bell peppers are high in water content, this will help to keep them hydrated during storage. They should be in a humid, but not wet environment. Stored this way, they should keep for about 7 to 10 days.

Once cut, bell peppers should be placed in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator. Use them as quickly as possible, within two or three days.

How to Prepare a Bell Pepper
Preparing bell peppers is very easy. Simply wash them well under cold water and pat them dry. With a sharp knife, cut across the top of the pepper, as if you were creating a “lid” for the lower portion of the pepper. The stem can then easily be removed from the top section and the top portion can then be cut and used as desired. Then, the seed core can easily be grasped and removed from the lower portion of the pepper. It’s best to do that over a trash can or bowl, since individual seeds will likely be released in the process. If desired, remaining membranes can easily be removed from the interior of the peppers. The pepper can then be cut and used as desired.  To see my demonstration on how to cut bell peppers with this method, watch this brief video … https://youtu.be/HTWMHMy6fmk

How to Freeze Bell Peppers
Freezing bell peppers is really about as easy as it can get. They can be blanched, but it’s optional. Bear in mind, that once frozen, they will not be appropriate for use like you would have used fresh peppers. Their texture will be soft, so they will be suitable only for cooked applications.

First, simply wash and dry your whole peppers. Remove the stems and seeds (like detailed under “How to Prepare a Bell Pepper” in this article). Cut the peppers into whatever size pieces you want, depending upon your intended use(s) later. To allow them to freeze separately so they won’t freeze into one big lump, spread the cut peppers out on a baking sheet or tray. Place it in the freezer until the peppers are completely frozen. Transfer the frozen pepper pieces to an airtight freezer container or bag. Label them with the date and return them to the freezer. To avoid freezer burn, use them within six months.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Bell Peppers
* Add slices of bell peppers to your snack trays for scooping up dips. They would add color, crunch, flavor, AND nutrition.

* Add bell peppers to omelets, soups, and pasta sauces.

* Use diced or sliced bell peppers as pizza toppings.

* Are you looking for ways to get children to eat more veggies? Stuff bell peppers with macaroni and cheese.

* Add bell peppers to your favorite stir-fry.

* Add chopped bell peppers to tuna, chicken, and potato salad.

* Don’t store bell peppers in sealed plastic bags (even in the refrigerator). Moisture will develop inside the bag, inviting them to spoil faster.

* Sauté sliced bell peppers with onions, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Add the mixture to tacos, fajitas, sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, pastas, frittatas, and quiches. This mixture can also be used as a foundation for soups, stews, and sauces.

* Add diced bell peppers to any green salad for extra flavor, crunch, and nutrition.

* Stuff bell peppers with any meat or bean, grain, and vegetable mixture that you enjoy. Bake them until the peppers are just tender and enjoy! Embellish the baked stuffed pepper with your favorite tomato or other sauce for added flavor and moisture.

* Mix up a batch of your favorite hummus and use bell pepper slices for dipping the hummus. Take this one step farther by stuffing mini bell peppers with hummus, making small, bite-size appetizers.

* Add diced bell peppers to your next batch of corn bread. It’s a perfect match and will give the corn bread a touch of sweetness.

* Add diced bell peppers to your favorite green smoothie. Using red, orange or yellow peppers will add a touch of sweetness.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Bell Peppers
Anise, basil, bay leaf, capers, cayenne, celery seeds, chervil, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, marjoram, mint, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper (black), saffron, sage, salt, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Bell Peppers
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black, fava, red), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, ham, lentils, pine nuts, pork, sausage, seafood (in general), sesame seeds, snow peas, tahini, tempeh, tofu, tuna, walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chiles, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens (salad), jicama, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, shallots, squash (summer), sweet potatoes, tomatoes (fresh, paste, sauce, sun-dried), vegetables (summer), zucchini

Fruits: Lemon, lime, mango, olives, peaches, pears, pineapple, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bread, bulgur, corn, corn bread, grains (whole), millet, noodles (Asian), pasta, polenta, quinoa, rice (esp. brown, wild)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp. cheddar, feta, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, soft), coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, miso, oil (esp. canola, corn, olive, peanut, sesame), pomegranate molasses, stock, vinegar (esp. balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine (dry red, white)

Bell peppers have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Bruschetta, casseroles, chili, coulis, couscous, curries, dips, egg dishes (frittatas, omelets, quiches, scrambled, tortillas), gazpacho, gratins, hash, meatloaf, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, pasta dishes (lasagna, linguini, orzo, spaghetti), pilafs, pizzas, purees, quesadillas, ratatouille, relishes, risottos, romesco sauce, salads (bean, green, pasta, potato, tomato, vegetable), sandwiches, sauces, slaws, sofritoes, soups (i.e., bean, gazpacho, gumbo, red pepper, tomato, vegetable), South American cuisines, spreads, stews, stir-fries, stuffed peppers, stuffings, Tex-Mex cuisine, Thai cuisine, Turkish cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Bell Peppers
Add bell peppers to any of the following combinations…

Balsamic vinegar + basil + garlic + olive oil
Balsamic vinegar + chili pepper flakes + garlic + olive oil
Balsamic vinegar + olive oil + red onions
Basil + chiles + garlic
Basil + eggplant + garlic
Basil + fennel + goat cheese
Basil + garlic + olive oil + onions + oregano + tomatoes
Cheese + eggs + tomatoes
Chiles + cilantro + lime + mint + scallions
Cucumbers + garlic + tomatoes
Dried cranberries + mushrooms + sage + wild rice
Eggs + mushrooms + onions
Garlic + olive oil + tomatoes + zucchini
Cider vinegar + garlic + honey + olive oil + red onions
Lemon juice + mint + pine nuts + rice
Olive oil + onions + red wine vinegar + thyme
Pomegranate molasses + walnuts

Recipe Links
45 of Our Favorite Bell Pepper Recipes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/bell-pepper-recipes/

25 Bell Pepper Recipes That Make the Most of This Colorful Veg https://www.marthastewart.com/275370/bell-pepper-recipes

Pan-Roasted Peppers https://www.thespruceeats.com/pan-roasted-peppers-482763

15 Favorite Bell Pepper Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/favorite-bell-pepper-recipes/

Healthy Veggie Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=311

Zesty Mexican Soup http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=30

Braised Kidney Beans and Sweet Potato http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=110

Spicy Black Bean Burrito http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=248

Sautéed Vegetables with Cashews http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=229

Tahini and Crudités Appetizer http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=312

Romaine and Avocado Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=45

Black Bean Chili http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=43

Bell Pepper Lentil Dip https://www.naturefresh.ca/recipes/bell-pepper-lentil-dip/

11 Best Bell Pepper Recipes/Easy Bell Pepper Recipes https://food.ndtv.com/lists/10-best-bell-pepper-recipes-1395400


Resources
https://producemadesimple.ca/what-do-sweet-peppers-go-well-with/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=50

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-freeze-fresh-peppers-for-later-use-4775099

https://food52.com/blog/11214-what-to-do-with-an-overload-or-not-of-peppers

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

https://www.naturefresh.ca/how-to-use-up-your-extra-peppers/

https://www.naturefresh.ca/12-creative-ways-prepare-peppers/

https://www.naturefresh.ca/bell-pepper-faqs-facts/

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/wont-red-bell-peppers-im-growing-turn-green-red-96236.html

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.

Spearmint

Spearmint (Mint) 101 – The Basics

 

Spearmint 101 – The Basics

About Spearmint
When someone uses the general term, “mint,” they are usually referring to spearmint, Mentha spicata. This same perennial herb has also been called garden mint, lamb’s mint, Our Lady’s mint, spire mint, and sage of Bethlehem.

Spearmint is native to the Mediterranean region, where it has long been a popular herb used as both food and medicine. In ancient times, mint was known as an herb of hospitality. The leaves were used to clean and scent tables and floors. It has been stuffed in pillows and mattresses and scattered on floors to cover odors and deter pests and rodents. Mint was also used with other herbs in tombs as an aromatic. The Romans brought mint to Europe. Mint was carried to America by early English settlers who used it medicinally, to make tea, and as an aromatic for the body and home.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Mint is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate, along with the trace minerals manganese and iron. It also contains some calcium and magnesium.

Digestive Upsets. Mint tea has been used to help relieve nausea, cramping, and indigestion.

Respiratory Problems. Inhaling steam scented with mint has been used to help relieve respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.

Antibacterial Agent. Spearmint is added to many toothpastes and mouthwashes. In addition to freshening the breath, spearmint has been found to contain antimicrobial properties that can help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. Furthermore, research has shown that spearmint essential oil can help destroy harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Listeria, that cause foodborne illnesses.

Lowers Blood Sugar. Animal studies have shown that spearmint tea may help to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Human studies in this area are lacking, but the animal studies that have been conducted are promising.

Reduces Stress. In many countries, spearmint tea is commonly used to induce relaxation and reduce stress. Animal studies have shown that spearmint tea does, in fact, produce such an effect. The menthol in the leaves may be responsible for this effect. So, if you’re feeling stressed, enjoy a cup of mint tea! Furthermore, mint aromatherapy has been used to help ease mental sluggishness and agitation.

Relieves Arthritis. Animal and human studies have found that spearmint can help relieve arthritis pain. People who drank spearmint tea twice a day for 16 weeks had reduced stiffness, pain, and physical disability from arthritis of the knee.

How to Select Spearmint
Look for fresh mint leaves that are bright green and not wilted. If possible, smell them. Their aroma will clue you into their degree of freshness. If they have no aroma, they’re not fresh. If your bunch of leaves was tied together with a twist tie or rubber band, remove it when you get it home.

How to Store Fresh Spearmint
Fresh spearmint is delicate and can bruise easily. If it was purchased in a closed plastic container, store it dry in the refrigerator, in that same container until you’re ready to use it. Wait to wash it until you’re ready to use it.

If your mint leaves were bundled, they may be stored in a couple different ways. First, you can store them like cut flowers, in the refrigerator. Place the stems, cut side down in a glass or jar with a small amount of water. Cover them loosely with a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Change the water every day or two.

Another way to store fresh mint leaves would be to spread them out on a SLIGHTLY damp paper towel or cloth. Roll the towel or cloth like a jelly-roll and place that loosely in a plastic bag. Store it in the refrigerator. Try to use your stored fresh mint within a week.

How to Preserve Mint
Freeze. Fresh mint may be washed, removed from stems, chopped, then frozen in ice cube trays with water. Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or container and use them when you want to add mint flavor to cold beverages or any cooked dish calling for mint.

Fresh mint may also be washed, dried, then frozen whole in an airtight plastic bag. This mint would be best used in pesto, sauce, or jelly.

Dry. There are several ways that fresh mint leaves can be dried.

(1) Wash the mint leaves while still on the stems. Carefully dry the leaves, then remove the stems. Place the leaves on a baking tray in a single layer. Be sure the leaves are completely dry before proceeding. Place the tray in a warm oven at its lowest temperature or 180°F until the leaves are dry. It may take two hours or longer. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Allow them to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container. The dried leaves may be left whole or crumbled. If crumbled, sift them through a screen to remove any remaining stems.

(2) Fresh mint leaves may also be dried in a dehydrator. Prepare the leaves as detailed above and lay them in a single layer on a mesh dehydrator tray. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the recommended temperature and length of time to dry the leaves.

(3) Yet another way to dry fresh spearmint would be to wash and dry the leaves completely. They may be removed from the stems or left on. Place them in a paper bag and close the bag by folding over the top edges. Lay the bag on its side and shake the bag to disburse the leaves so they’re not in a big clump. Place the bag away from a heat source and sunlight. Two or three times a day, shake the bag and turn it over to “toss” the leaves around, then lay it on its side again. Continue to do this until the leaves are completely dry. This may take a week or more. Once dry, remove the leaves from the stems, if not already done and transfer them to an airtight container.

After your dried mint leaves have been placed in their storage container, check the container after a few days to be sure there is no moisture inside. This would indicate that the leaves were not completely dry, and will invite decay. If moisture is found, remove the leaves and dry them again.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Spearmint
* Recipes that call for “mint” generally mean spearmint, so the two terms are usually interchangeable.

* For a quick dessert or snack, combine sliced strawberries, mint leaves, and yogurt.

* Make an easy mint tea by placing 5 to 10 torn mint leaves in a mug. Muddle (smash) them just a bit with a wooden spoon. Pour hot (not boiling) water over the leaves and allow them to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Removing the leaves is optional. Enjoy!

* To make mint tea using dried leaves, steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for about three minutes. Strain and enjoy!

* Add 3 or 4 fresh mint leaves to your favorite chocolate or berry smoothie.

* Make a delicious strawberry salad that can be eaten as it is, used as a topping for a green salad, or as a topping for your favorite bread along with some goat or ricotta cheese. Combine 2 cups of sliced strawberries with 10 to 20 chopped fresh mint leaves, an equal number of chopped fresh basil leaves, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

* Dress up diced watermelon with equal parts of chopped fresh mint and basil leaves, some feta cheese, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

* Add fresh mint leaves to plain or sparkling water for a nice refresher. Better yet, freeze mint leaves with water in ice cube trays. Cool your water with mint ice cubes.

* When ingesting spearmint, use only dried or fresh leaves. Use spearmint essential oil for aromatherapy or dilute it in a carrier oil when massaging it on the body.

* Add fresh mint leaves to a mixed fruit salad to make it extra special.

* Make a simple refreshing sachet by placing some dried mint leaves in a small square of fabric or cheesecloth. Tie the ends together and place it in drawers, closets, shoes, or anywhere you want to freshen with the aroma of mint.

* Here’s a fun activity if you like mint-chocolate. Wash and dry fresh mint leaves. One at a time, dip each leaf in your favorite melted chocolate. Place the leaves on a wax paper-lined dish. When all the leaves have been dipped, place the dish in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened. Enjoy!

* Try adding finely chopped mint leaves to your favorite chocolate pudding or ice cream.

* If you only have dried spearmint and need fresh, or vice versa, here’s the conversion rate: 1 part of dried mint = 3 parts of fresh. Example: 1 teaspoon of dried mint is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint.

* When adding fresh spearmint to a cooked dish, add it toward the end of cooking, or when cooking is finished, for best flavor. When adding dried spearmint to a cooked dish, add it early during cooking so it will have time to rehydrate and release its flavor.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Spearmint
Basil, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, dill, lemongrass, lovage, parsley

Foods That Go Well with Spearmint
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. black, green, white), bean shoots, beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, lamb, lentils, lima beans, peanuts, peas, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, salmon (and other seafood), turkey, veal

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, ginger, jicama, kale, lettuce, marinated vegetables, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, berries (esp. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), citrus fruits (in general), coconut, figs, fruits (in general, dried and fresh), grapefruit, grapes and grape juice, lemon, lime, mangoes (green), melon (esp. honeydew), olives, oranges and orange juice, papaya (esp. green), peaches, pears, pineapple, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, corn, couscous, grains (in general), millet, noodles (Asian, esp. rice), pasta, quinoa, rice, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., feta, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Bourbon, chocolate, gin, rum, sugar (esp. brown), vinegar (esp. balsamic, white wine)

Spearmint has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Asian cuisines, beverages (juleps, lassis, lemonades, mojitos, teas), cakes, candies, chutneys, curries, desserts, frostings, ice cream, Indian cuisine, jellies and jams, Mediterranean cuisines, Middle Eastern cuisine, Moroccan cuisine, pestos, pies, pilafs, raitas, risotto, salads (bean, fruit, grain, green, Thai, vegetables), salsas, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, stuffings, tabbouleh, teas, Vietnamese cuisines

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Spearmint
Add spearmint to any of the following combinations…

Artichokes + chiles
Balsamic vinegar + berries
Balsamic vinegar + peaches + ricotta cheese
Bell peppers + chiles + garlic + papaya + pineapple
Cardamom + ginger + lemon
Chiles + cilantro + garlic + olive oil + vinegar
Chiles + lemon + shallots + sugar
Citrus + zucchini
Cucumber + yogurt
Feta cheese + lentils
Feta cheese + peas + rice
Lemon + strawberries
Olive oil + white beans + white wine vinegar

Recipe Links
20 Recipes That Use Fresh Mint https://www.thekitchn.com/10-recipes-that-use-fresh-mint-kitchn-recipe-roundup-188533

50 Ways to Cook with Fresh, Fragrant Mint https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/get-fresh-with-mint-recipes-gallery

20 Recipes for Mint Lovers https://www.foodandwine.com/seasonings/herbs/mint/mint

14 Recipes That Freshen Up Dinner with Mint https://www.brit.co/dinner-recipes-with-mint/

Thai Ground Beef Recipe with Mint, Carrots, and Peppers https://eatingrichly.com/thai-ground-beef-recipe-with-mint-carrots-and-peppers/

Spiced Beef Stew with Carrots and Mint https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spiced-beef-stew-with-carrots-and-mint-237295

63 Fresh Mint Recipes to Help You Use Up That Bumper Crop https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/fresh-mint-recipes/

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad https://kalynskitchen.com/recipe-favorites-middle-eastern-tomato/

27 Fresh Recipes for Leftover Mint https://www.taste.com.au/quick-easy/galleries/recipes-leftover-mint/0hgpmndk

18 Recipes for Leftover Mint https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/26/18-recipes-for-leftover-mint

Resources
https://www.elizabethrider.com/10-ways-use-fresh-mint/

https://kalynskitchen.com/cooking-with-fresh-mint/

https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Mint_308.php

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/226/2

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/spearmint#TOC_TITLE_HDR_12

https://www.encyclopedia.com/plants-and-animals/plants/plants/spearmint

https://www.thespruceeats.com/make-your-own-dried-mint-1706225

https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/10-amazing-things-you-can-do-with-mint/

https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-buy-and-store-mint-peppermint-spearmint-article

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

 

About Judi

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

Celery

Celery 101 – The Basics

 

Celery 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a simple way to cut celery with little to no strings, watch my video… https://youtu.be/jIu6IkX9Fv8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Links
Simple Celery Soup https://www.feastingathome.com/celery-soup/#tasty-recipes-25110

28 Non-Boring Ways to Use Celery https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/non-boring-celery-recipes/

35 Recipes That Feature Celery—From Toast to Cocktails https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/celery-recipes

22 Delicious Ideas for Celery That You Will Crave All the Time https://food.allwomenstalk.com/delicious-ideas-for-celery-that-you-will-crave-all-the-time/

Braised Celery https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/braised-celery-recipe-1939479

23 Celery Recipes That Prove There’s Much More to It Than Ants on a Log https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/celery-recipes-salad-soup-stew-gallery

Lentil and Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Escarole https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lentil-and-chicken-soup-with-sweet-potatoes-and-escarole

Ideas for Using Celery Leaves https://triedandsupplied.com/saucydressings/what-to-do-with-celery-leaves/

Unexpectedly Tasty Celery Recipes That Are Easy to Make https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/unexpectedly-tasty-celery-recipes-that-are-easy-to-make.html/

Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds and Parmesan https://cookieandkate.com/celery-salad-recipe/#tasty-recipes-24740

 

Resources
https://food.allwomenstalk.com/delicious-ideas-for-celery-that-you-will-crave-all-the-time/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=14

https://www.cuisineathome.com/tips/cure-for-limp-celery/

https://culinarylore.com/how-to-guides:make-limp-celery-crisp-again/

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-to-table/can-you-freeze-celery

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-make-dehydrated-celery-1327565

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6017442/

https://shop.honeyville.com/dehydrated-celery.html

https://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/Rehydration-Chart_ep_40.html

https://www.healthycanning.com/dehydrating-celery

https://honeyville.com/blog/before-and-after-rehydration/

https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/information-center/all-about/all-about-dehydrated-vegetables#link6

https://seedtopantryschool.com/dehydrate-celery-make-powder-conversion-amounts/

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

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

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

 

About Judi

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

Strawberries

Strawberries 101 – The Basics

 

Strawberries 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Decorate cheese trays with whole strawberries.

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

* Top your overnight oats with freshly sliced strawberries.

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

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

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

* Add sliced strawberries to ANY mixed green salad.

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

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

* Add strawberries to your breakfast smoothie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grains and Grain Products: Graham crackers, oats, oatmeal

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Links
Chocolate Covered Strawberries https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chocolate_dipped_strawberries/

Strawberry Basil Lemonade https://producemadesimple.ca/strawberry-basil-lemonade/

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Strawberry Sauce https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pork-tenderloin-medallions-with-strawberry-sauce/

55+ Sweet and Savory Strawberry Recipes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/sweet-and-savory-strawberry-recipes/

55 Recipes Made with Fresh Strawberries https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/recipes-to-make-with-fresh-strawberries/

20 Unconventional Recipe Ideas Using Strawberries https://www.brit.co/strawberry-recipes/

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/strawberry-balsamic-chicken/

Filet Mignon and Balsamic Strawberries https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/213507/filet-mignon-and-balsamic-strawberries/

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Strawberries https://spicysouthernkitchen.com/pork-tenderloin-with-balsamic-strawberries/

Roasted Strawberry Glazed Pork Chops with Strawberry Spinach Salad https://producemadesimple.ca/roasted-strawberry-glazed-pork-chops-with-strawberry-spinach-salad/

10-Minute Strawberries with Chocolate Crème http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=276

10-Minute Kiwi Mandala http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=252

How to Make Easy Chia Jam with Any Fruit https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-easy-chia-jam-with-any-fruit-222310

5 Delicious Ways to Use Up Overripe Strawberries https://www.thekitchn.com/5-delicious-ways-to-use-up-overripe-strawberries-tips-from-the-kitchn-220134

25 Amazing Things to Make with Strawberries https://www.cookingchanneltv.com/devour/how-to/2012/04/25-amazing-things-to-make-with-strawberries

68 Sweet Strawberry Desserts You Won’t Be Able to Resist https://www.delish.com/cooking/g906/strawberry-desserts-round-up/

Pan Fried Fish Fillets with Strawberry Salsa https://simplysohealthy.com/fish-fillets-with-strawberry-salsa/

Strawberry Salsa Recipe https://smartlittlecookie.net/strawberry-salsa-recipe/

Baked Strawberry Salmon https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/baked-strawberry-salmon/

Strawberry Glazed Salmon https://www.thatskinnychickcanbake.com/strawberry-glazed-salmon/

Resources
https://www.dartagnan.com/meat-and-fruit-recipes-and-combinations.html

https://producemadesimple.ca/what-do-strawberries-go-well-with/

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/strawberry-watermelon-slush/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=32

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=147

https://www.hyperthyroidismsymptomsx.com/foods-high-in-iodine

https://www.sunfood.com/blog/newsletters/seven-foods-rich-in-iodine/

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

https://www.thekitchn.com/4-ways-to-make-bland-strawberries-a-lot-sweeter-245046

https://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t–1088/all-about-strawberries.asp

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.

Simplest Pasta Salad

Simplest Pasta Salad

If you’re looking for a REALLY easy salad to put together, look no further. This salad is fast to assemble, and allows you to include literally any vegetables you have available. They can be chopped fresh vegetables of choice, cooked leftover vegetables, or frozen and thawed vegetables. Literally, whatever you have that you want to include. AND, the dressing is just as flexible. Use your favorite dressing, whatever it is. Just be sure it’s fluid enough to coat your cooked pasta and chopped vegetables without being too thick. If you want to use a thick dressing, it’s advisable to thin it out first with a little liquid that goes with the dressing, such as juice, water or milk of choice. Suggestions are in the written recipe. Below is a video demonstration of how to make this salad, followed by the recipe I used in the video. Experiment with this one!

Enjoy!
Judi

Simplest Pasta Salad
Makes 4 to 5 Servings

1-1/2 cups (3 oz.) uncooked spiral pasta
3 baby carrots, chopped
½ cucumber, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
12 sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
½ of a large scallion, chopped

Dressing:
3 to 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic, crushed)
½ tsp dried parsley flakes
¼ tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
pinch of sugar, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool under running water. Allow to drain well, then transfer the cooked and cooled pasta to a large bowl. Add prepared, chopped vegetables and toss to combine.

Combine dressing ingredients or use your favorite salad dressing. Pour dressing over pasta-vegetable mixture. Toss to combine. The salad may be enjoyed immediately or covered and placed in the refrigerator for an hour to allow flavors to combine. Store any extra salad in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use within 3 days.

Tips: Literally any vegetables may be used in this salad. Leftover cooked vegetables, thawed frozen vegetables, other chopped fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, celery, snow peas, zucchini, yellow squash…literally anything you have available that you would like to add to your salad. The scallions may be increased, substituted with sliced red onion, or simply left out if you don’t want onion in your salad.

The above dressing is just a suggestion. Any favorite dressing will work in this salad. However, it is helpful if the dressing is not overly thick. A thinner dressing will coat the pasta and vegetables better. Also, as the salad sits in the refrigerator for a day or more, the pasta will absorb some of the dressing, so you may want to add a little more dressing to compensate for that, or simply add more as needed. Enjoy!

Cucumber Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

Cucumber Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

Here’s a salad that is true to my heart. It’s simple, refreshing, delicious, and nutritious! I make it with a simple vinaigrette dressing, but you could use any dressing you prefer. Also, you really don’t need to measure the ingredients. Just add the amount of vegetables you need for the moment and top it with your favorite salad dressing. It’s THAT simple! A video demonstration of my making this salad is below. The written recipe follows the video. Try it sometime!

Enjoy!
Judi

Cucumber Salad with Sugar Snap Peas,
Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

Makes 3 to 4 Servings

½ of a cucumber, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces (1-1/4 cups)
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
½ of a large scallion
3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Dressing:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar of choice, or lemon juice)
Sprinkle of sea salt, optional

Wash and prepare the vegetables; place them in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Add dressing ingredients and gently toss to coat the vegetables.

The salad may be eaten right away, or placed in a covered container in the refrigerator for about an hour for the flavors to blend. Store extra salad in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within three days.

Tips: This is a simple salad that’s absolutely “no fuss.” You don’t have to measure ingredients. Just use whatever amount of vegetables you will need for the number of people you need to feed. Adjust the amounts of ingredients according to your personal taste preference. If desired, the scallions may be omitted, or replaced with sliced red onion.

Literally any salad dressing may be used with this salad, although a thinner dressing that will easily coat the vegetables will work best. A creamy ranch, honey mustard, or French dressing would be excellent options.

Kumato Tomatoes

Kumato 101 – What is a Kumato?

 

Kumato 101 – What is a Kumato?

About Kumato Tomatoes
A Kumato is a type of naturally bred tomato that ripens from the inside out and is edible in all stages of ripeness. It started as a wild tomato from the Almerian coast of Spain and was crossed with cultivated tomato varieties. The result was a green and brown tomato with more flavor. The size of a Kumato is smaller than an average tomato. Each one is round with a diameter of two to three inches and weighing three to four ounces. Kumato tomatoes also come in a small, cherry tomato size variety.

The Kumato was first sold in grocery stores in the UK on a test basis in 2004. A few years later, they were sent to the United States and Canada. Today, they are also found in Germany, France, Australia, and most of Europe. Brown grape tomatoes have also been found in the United States, and their flavor is sweeter than the larger Kumato.

For the record, Kumato tomatoes are not genetically modified. They were created by cross breeding assorted tomato varieties, which is a natural process.

Availability
Kumato tomatoes should be available year-round, although there may be gaps at times due to fluctuations in demand and transportation.

Nutritional Aspects
Kumato tomatoes are high in potassium, magnesium, manganese, and Vitamins A, C, and K. Their nutrient profile can make them effective in helping to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure. As with other tomatoes, Kumatoes are exceptionally high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant being studied for its effects on cancer, heart health, Alzheimer’s disease, and degenerative eye diseases.

Flavor
Kumato tomatoes have a flavor more like an heirloom tomato rather than that of a typical tomato found in today’s grocery stores. They are sweeter than many tomatoes commonly sold today because they have a higher sugar content. Yet, there is a hint of tartness, so they have a complex and robust flavor profile. The dark brown-red flesh is firm and juicy, while the brownish skin is firm.

The flavor of a Kumato tomato varies depending upon its stage of ripeness. They are edible and tasty during all stages of maturity. These tomatoes ripen from the inside out, and their color changes naturally from brownish-green to dark brown to a brownish-red. When they are brownish with a slight green overcast, they are at their best eating stage. At that point, they are juicy with a firm texture and have a higher fructose content than traditional red tomatoes. At that point they are very sweet and slightly tart, giving them a complex, succulent flavor. When they are dark brownish-red with no green on them, the flavor is mild and they are considered to be best for cooking at that stage.

How to Store Kumato Tomatoes
For best flavor, store Kumato tomatoes at room temperature. They should be placed in the refrigerator when they are very ripe or after they have been cut. Try to use them within several days of purchase, although they may be kept for up to two weeks after purchase.

Best Uses for Kumato Tomatoes
Kumato tomatoes are excellent for using fresh in salads or eaten on their own with olive oil and salt. They are an excellent tomato for a Caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, olive oil, and salt). They are also a great choice for any tomato-based recipe, cooked or fresh. Since they are usually vine-ripened and ready to be eaten when you buy them, they can be used right away.

Recipe Links
Kumato Omelet https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/kumato-omelet/

Seared Tuna and Kumato Salad https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/seared-tuna-and-kumato-salad/

Kumato and Chicken Sandwich https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/kumato-and-chicken-sandwich/

Kumato Israeli Couscous Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette https://www.sunsetgrown.com/recipe/kumato-israeli-couscous-salad-with-smoked-paprika-vinaigrette/


Resources
https://www.superfoodly.com/kumato-tomato/

https://www.sunsetgrown.com/

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/kumato_heirloom_tomatoes_3699.php

https://www.kumato.com/en/faq

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5869-kumatoes-101

https://www.naturesproduce.com/encyclopedia/kumato-tomato/

https://startsat60.com/media/health/kumato-benefits-how-to-cook-it

 

About Judi

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

Fruity Butternut Squash Salad Dressing

Fruity Butternut Squash Salad Dressing

Here’s an interesting salad dressing that’s made with an ingredient you wouldn’t expect…butternut squash! It’s the “foundation” of this dressing. Fruit juice and natural sweeteners are added to make this dressing a delicious sweet-tart that works well on any green salad topped with vegetables and proteins of your choice. It’s worth giving it a try sometime, especially in the fall months when butternut squash are so plentiful!

Below is a video demonstration of how to make the dressing, followed by a video where I cover the “formula” for developing your own salad dressing. This dressing was based on that formula. The written recipe is below the video links.

Enjoy!
Judi

 

Fruity Butternut Squash Salad Dressing
Makes 3 Cups

3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Deglet Noor dates
1 stalk celery, diced
1-1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice, divided

Peel and cube the butternut squash. Cook the cubes in ¼ cup of the apple juice in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, for about 7 to 9 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender and the juice has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.

In a blender jar, add all ingredients (including the remaining 1-1/4 cups apple juice). Blend until smooth. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and chill well before using.

 

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.

Creamy Raspberry Dressing (Oil Free)

Creamy Raspberry Dressing (Oil Free)

Here’s an easy salad dressing to make. It’s delicious and has no added oil, no added sugar, and no added salt! The flavors can easily be adjusted to meet your needs and taste preferences. Serve this simple dressing over any fruit salad or green salad. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the dressing. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Raspberry Dressing (Oil Free)
Makes About 1 Cup

½ cup cooked white beans of choice
1 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds
¼ cup raspberries
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ stalk celery
2 dates
½ cup apple juice

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Serve over any fruit or green salad. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

Cook’s Note: This dressing has a mild raspberry flavor with all ingredient flavors blending well together. If you want a more pronounced raspberry flavor, simply add more raspberries. If you want it to taste sweeter, add more dates. For more tartness, add more raspberries and/or more vinegar. Experiment with it until it’s your favorite!