Category Archives: Salads

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.

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!

Easier Chickpea Salad

Easier Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)

If you’re looking for a very simple chickpea salad (mock tuna) recipe that’s fast and easy to put together, you found it! This skips using any prepared mayonnaise, has no added oil, and is vegan. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the salad. The written recipe follows the video link.

Enjoy!
Judi

Easier Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)
Makes 1 or 2 Servings

½ cup cooked (or canned, drained) chickpeas
2 Tbsp to ¼ cup diced celery
2 Tbsp diced onion of choice
¼ avocado, diced
1-1/2 to 2 tsp white wine vinegar
1-1/2 to 2 tsp prepared Dijon mustard
Dash of black pepper, or to taste

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and somewhat creamy. Enjoy!

This is excellent by itself, served on a bed of salad greens, used as a sandwich filling, wrapped in a tortilla, or wrapped in large leaves of greens such as kale, collards, cabbage or lettuce leaves. Use this salad any way you would enjoy a tuna or chicken salad.

2 to 4 Servings…
1 cup cooked (or canned, drained) chickpeas
¼ to ½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced onion of choice
½ avocado, diced
1 Tbsp (+1 tsp if more tang is desired) white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp (+1 tsp if more tang is desired) prepared Dijon mustard
Black pepper to taste

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna) (Vegan, No Added Oil)

Here’s a simple salad made with chickpeas, vegan mayonnaise and sweet mustard dressing for a little tang. It can be served with a green salad, on a sandwich, in pita bread, as a dip with tortilla chips, on its own, or in any way you might include something like a tuna salad with your meal. It’s good no matter how you enjoy it! Below are video links showing how to make all the components, and the written recipes follow the videos. If you need a short cut, simply use your favorite mayonnaise and mustard dressing that you have on-hand.

Enjoy!
Judi

Sweet Mustard Dressing

Vegan Mayonnaise

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 1-3/4 cups cooked chickpeas
½ cup sweet mustard dressing, of choice*
1/3 cup mayonnaise, of choice**
1/3 cup diced celery, more or less as desired
2 Tbsp small diced onion of choice, more or less as desired
Black pepper to taste

Place chickpeas in a food processor and pulse very briefly to coarsely chop them up. Transfer the chopped chickpeas to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Chef’s Note: This salad is delicious on a bed of salad greens, used as sandwich filling, wrapped in a tortilla or pita bread, or served with tortilla chips as a dip. It may be used any way you would use a tuna salad.

* For an oil-free sweet mustard dressing, try my Sweet Mustard Dressing (recipe below).
** For a vegan mayonnaise option, try my Vegan Mayonnaise (recipe below).

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option) Makes About 3 Cups
1 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1 avocado, diced
½ cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup or honey

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Enjoy! Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

Vegan Mayonnaise (White Bean and Avocado Mayo) Makes About 2 Cups
1 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR 1-3/4 cups cooked white beans of choice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Avocado, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

Rinse and drain the canned beans, reserving the liquid from the can, if opting to use it. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Use as you would any mayonnaise. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.

Cook’s Note: Since this is made with avocado, it will have a pale green tint, which is unlike traditional mayonnaise. However, the flavor is very similar to that of traditional mayonnaise.

Sweet Mustard Dressing

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option)

Here’s a yummy sweet mustard dressing, made without added oils. It can be vegan, if desired, by using maple syrup in place of honey. Either option will lend a different flavor, but either way is delicious and works well on any green salad or in any food calling for a honey mustard dressing. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the dressing. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option)
Makes About 3 Cups

1 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1 avocado, diced
½ cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup or honey

One-Half of the Recipe (Makes 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Enjoy! Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.