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Package of Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

Review of Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

I did an unbiased review of Lundberg Family Farms’ Wild Blend Rice. It’s a combination of long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, Wehani red rice, and black rice. It’s 100 percent whole grain with nothing else added. I spotted this on one trip to the grocery store and decided to give it a try. The video below is my first encounter with this special blend of grains. My notes on the review follow the video link.

If you have not tried this blend of rice, let me encourage you to give it a try. It’s different than plain rice, with a bit of an “earthy” flavor from the wild rice in the mix.

I hope this helps!
Judi

Review of Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

Note: I have no official ties with Lundberg Family Farms. I purchased the rice package with my own funds and have not been prompted in any way by the company to do a review of this nor any of their products. This is an unbiased review.

A package of Lundberg Wild Blend Rice was purchased. One cup of the blend, plus one tablespoon of butter (a suggested optional ingredient in the instructions) was cooked according to package directions, with 1-3/4 cups of water. The following are the results.

Cooking Time: The package directions state to bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat, and cook the blend at a simmer for 45 minutes in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. The package directions state to use either water or broth. I opted for water so I would have no added flavoring which might skew my taste perception of the blend. I added the amount of water called for in the recipe, which was 1-3/4 cups. At 35 minutes into the cooking time, I noticed that the water was all absorbed. I tasted the rice for texture and it was a little chewy, but done enough for me (I don’t want my rice to be mushy). The package directions state that if the rice is not soft enough when the cooking time is up, to add one or two tablespoons more of the liquid and continue cooking. I opted to not do this. At the 35 minute mark, I removed the pot from the heat and allowed the rice to finish the “steaming” process for another 10 minutes, as per the instructions.

Cooked Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

Cooked Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

When finished, the rice was slightly chewy and cooked enough (it was not hard inside). Again, it was cooked enough for me. It was not mushy, which I prefer.

Options and Comments: I could have added a little more liquid at the 35 minute point, or even added a couple tablespoons more liquid in the beginning. In all fairness to Lundberg, I have an electric stove and it took a little while for the temperature to lower from a hard boil to a slow simmer. This may have caused extra water to evaporate that may have been needed in the cooking process. Bear this in mind if you use an electric range. The heat on a gas range would have been lowered much faster, possibly resulting in needing the full cooking time without extra liquid, as per the instructions.

Flavor: The rice blend had a good flavor; but as rice can be, it was a little bland. The wild rice in the blend gave it a bit of an “earthy” flavor. I can see where the flavor would have been enhanced by some salt being added in the beginning, OR by using a vegetable broth instead of the water. Either option would have enhanced the flavor just enough to make it a very tasty side dish on its own.

Options and Comments: After tasting the rice blend without added flavorings, I could easily see how some added onions, garlic, bell pepper, and seasonings would make it an absolutely delicious side dish that would pair well with many foods. I will be doing some experimenting with this blend, keeping these things in mind!

When I cook the blend in the future, I will add a little salt into the cooking water, if not using vegetable stock with salt already in it. This should help to bring out the natural nutty flavor of the various grains in the blend.

Would I recommend this product? Yes. If you enjoy rice and are looking for something a little different than plain rice, this would be a fine option. I suggest you flavor it any way you would normally flavor rice that you enjoy. The addition of the wild rice in this blend gives it a little different flavor than that of plain rice.

Stove Drip Pans

Test Comparison – Two Ways to Clean Stove Drip Pans

I conducted a comparison test of two different ways to clean electric range burner drip pans. One method used no-heat-needed oven cleaner. The other method was washing with baking soda and a blue scrub sponge. Below is a video demonstration of the test. The test notes, including pros and cons of each method, are below the video link. I hope this helps you decide which method is right for you.

Enjoy!
Judi

Comparison Test: Two Ways to Clean Stove Drip Pans

The following covers details of a comparison test I conducted of two ways to clean electric stove drip pans.

Method 1: Scrub with baking soda and blue scrub sponge

Two electric stove drip pans were washed with dish detergent in warm water to remove any loose debris. They were then sprinkled liberally with baking soda and scrubbed with the rough side of a damp blue scrub sponge. The pans were rewashed in soapy water and dried with a towel.

Results: Most, but not all, of the food debris was removed with some effort of using the scrub sponge and a toothbrush in the tight crevices of the pans. It was difficult, if not impossible, to remove all of the debris that was in the tight folds of the drip pans.

To test if the oven cleaner would further remove residue that the baking soda would not, the one pan that still had some residue on it was sprayed with oven cleaner and returned to the garage. It was allowed to treat for 5-1/2 hours. (Note: The instructions on the can say to allow the spray to treat the oven cavity for 2 hours or overnight, so this timeframe was in between the recommended treatment times.)

Result: The oven cleaner did remove the small amount of remaining food stains from the tight crevices of the drip pan. The pan was cleaned in the same manner as in Method #2 below. No effort was needed to remove the remaining stains from the drip pan when the oven cleaner was used.

Pros:
* No harsh chemicals were involved.
* The baking soda and scrub sponge removed all of the residue from the drip pans, except where scrubbing was extremely difficult, in the tight crevices of the pan.
* Baking soda is safe and effective.
* This method is very inexpensive.
* This method involves something already available (baking soda and a scrub sponge) in most kitchens.

Cons:
* It took some scrubbing action to remove the debris, so there is some work involved.
* It takes a little time to clean the pans this way, depending upon how dirty the drip pans are.
* This method may not remove everything from the pans, especially in tight crevices.
* It is very hard to scrub in crevices of the drip pans. The toothbrush worked a little better than the sponge since the bristles reached into the folds of the pan, but still did not remove everything. Perhaps another type of brush or tool would have done a better job.

Method 2: Spraying drip pans with no-heat-needed oven cleaner

Two electric stove drip pans were sprayed with no-heat-needed oven cleaner. They were placed on newspaper and left overnight in a garage. The next day, they were rinsed with warm water and lightly scrubbed with the rough side of a damp blue scrub sponge. The pans were then washed in warm soapy water and dried with a towel.

Results: All of the food debris rinsed off the drip pans with little to no scrubbing effort needed. Other than chips and mars in the finish of the drip pans, they looked as clean as if they were new.

Pros:
* This method is extremely easy. Just spray and let the pans sit overnight, followed by a light scrubbing the next day.
* This removed all residue from the pans.
* Very little effort was needed to clean the pans.
* This method required very little time.
* No hard scrubbing was needed to remove the food debris.

Cons:
* This method involves a harsh, potentially harmful chemical.
* To be safe, it’s helpful to spray and leave the drip pans in a garage or on a porch (outside of the house).
* Gloves may be needed with this method if you have sensitive skin.
* You may need to take precautions not to breathe in the fumes.
* The oven cleaner may not be something you have readily available.
* The oven cleaner releases harmful chemicals into the environment.
* This method is a bit more costly than Method #1.

Conclusion
Both methods produced very satisfactory results. The use of the oven cleaner provided the easiest and most effective way to remove food debris from the drip pans with little effort. However, the downside of using harsh chemicals may not make it the best choice for all people.

The baking soda method offers a very effective alternative, with a cost-savings advantage plus a less harmful chemical being used in the process. If using the baking soda method, to prevent buildup in the tight crevices of the drip pans, it would be advantageous to clean the drip pans on a regular basis, helping to prevent permanent staining and hard crusting of debris on the pans. With that, the cleaning results would be excellent and even more comparable to that of using the oven cleaner.

Overall winner on effectiveness and ease of use: Method #2, No-heat-needed oven cleaner

A VERY close runner-up: Method #1, Scrubbing with baking soda and the scratchy side of a blue scrub sponge.

Lentils

Lentils 101 – The Basics

The whole-foods, plant-based diet is increasing in popularity. So, lentils, beans, and seeds are being enjoyed by many. Even if you’re a meat eater, having a meatless meal at least once a week is encouraged. Lentils have been around for thousands of years and many people enjoy them. Yet, many others are new to lentils and just aren’t sure what to do with them. Here’s some help for you. Below is a lot of basic information about lentils, covering what they are, the various types of lentils, the nutritional and health benefits of lentils, how to flavor them and what other foods pair well with them, recipe suggestions, and more! Let me know if you need further information about lentils and I’ll do my best to help!

Enjoy!
Judi

Lentils 101 – The Basics

About Lentils
Lentils are in the legume family. They are actually pulses, which are the edible seeds that grow in pods containing only one or two seeds per pod. They are believed to have originated in central Asia, and have been eaten since prehistoric times. They are one of the first foods be cultivated. Lentil seeds dating back 8000 years have been found at archeological sites in the Middle East. Today, most lentils are grown in India, Turkey, Canada, China and Syria. There are many varieties with the most common types in American grocery stores being brown, green and red (but actually more orange in color). There are also yellow, black, and puy lentils.

The brown lentils are the variety most commonly found in American grocery stores. They have a mild, earthy flavor, and hold their shape well when cooked. Brown lentils are “universal” in the lentil family as they can be used in whatever recipe that calls for lentils. They can be mashed and used in meatless burgers, blended into soups, used in salads, and used in casseroles and literally any recipe calling for lentils. They pair well with grains.

Green lentils have a bit of a peppery flavor. This makes them particularly suitable to add to salads or any dish where a pepper flavor is welcome. They take a little longer to cook then the brown variety, but still hold their shape well while maintaining a little firmness. This type of lentil is not as commonly found in American stores as the brown lentils, and can be a little more costly.

Red lentils have a sweet, nutty flavor. They cook up faster than other varieties because they are actually split and the seed coat has been removed. This makes them soft and mushy when cooked, making them a natural thickening agent for soups, purees, and stews.

Yellow lentils are split like red lentils. They have a sweet-nutty flavor, like their red counterpart. Since they are split, they also cook up quicker than brown or green lentils, in 15 or 20 minutes. Yellow lentils are commonly used in Indian cuisine.

Black lentils are also called beluga lentils. These are the most flavorful lentils. They have a somewhat thicker skin than brown lentils, so if you want them tender, they may need to cook a little longer like the green lentils, perhaps up to 40 minutes. If you want to maintain some of their crispness, cook them for less time, about 30 minutes.

Puy (pronounced pwee) lentils come from the French region of Le Puy. They look like green lentils, but are smaller and have a peppery flavor.

Nutrition Tidbits
Lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate, and a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Also, they are a good source of iron, protein, Vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and Vitamin B6. Lentils contain no fat. One cup of cooked lentils provides about 1/3 of our daily protein needs (18 grams) and 230 calories.

Lentils are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber helps to keep our cholesterol in check (by binding with bile in the digestive tract, removing it from the body and forcing the body to use cholesterol in the system to make more bile). The insoluble fiber in lentils helps to prevent constipation while reducing the risk of irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

The fiber in lentils not only helps to regulate cholesterol levels, but also regulates blood sugar. This helps in controlling diabetes, insulin resistance and hypoglycemia. Research has confirmed that eating lentils as part of a high fiber diet helps to release energy slowly and steadily, showing dramatic effects in diabetics by controlling blood sugar and lowering cholesterol levels.

The fiber content, combined with its folate and magnesium content, works wonders in helping to lower the risk of heart disease by lowering homocysteine levels and improving blood flow around the body. Homocysteine is an important amino acid needed in certain metabolic reactions. When our folate level is low, homocysteine levels increase, causing damage to arterial walls and raising our risk for heart disease.

Lentils are also a good source of iron, with one cup of cooked lentils providing over a third of our daily needs. Iron is critical for carrying oxygen throughout the body in the bloodstream. Eating lentils on a regular basis can help keep our energy levels up and prevent iron deficiency.

How to Select Lentils
Most lentils available today are either found in bulk bins or are prepackaged. When buying lentils, make sure there is no sign of moisture or insect damage. Look for ones that are whole and not cracked.

How to Store Lentils
Store lentils in an airtight container in a dry, cool, dark place. They should keep for about a year.

How to Preserve Lentils
Once cooked, lentils will keep in the refrigerator for about one week. Cooked lentils can be frozen and should be used within three months.

How to Prepare Lentils
Compared to other beans or legumes, lentils are very easy to prepare since they need no presoaking. Before cooking them, check them for stones or debris and remove anything as needed. Place the dry lentils in a strainer and rinse them under cold water, then cook as desired.

How to Cook Lentils
When boiling lentils, use one part lentils to three parts water. It is not mandatory, but bringing the water to a boil first before placing the lentils in the water helps to make them more digestible. When the water returns to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes until tender. Brown lentils usually take about 30 minutes to cook. Red lentils take about 20 minutes, and black lentils may take up to 45 minutes to cook. Some recipes call for slightly more firm lentils, requiring a little less cooking time, while other recipes call for very soft lentils, requiring a little more cooking time.

Some suggested ways to use lentils:
* Try mixing lentils with rice or another grain. The combination will make a complete and very digestible protein. Vegetables can be added to make a simple meal. Suggested vegetables include dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, or crunch vegetables like carrots or bell peppers.

* Add cooked lentils to stir-fries or casseroles.

* Use pureed cooked lentils in hummus.

* Cook lentils in your favorite broth to add more flavor to them. Add some herbs to flavor them to your liking.

* Add lentils to soups and stews for a protein boost.

* Use lentils in a curry served over rice.

* Serve chili-spiced lentils with cheese and nacho chips or use them as a taco filling.

* Stuff sweet potatoes with your favorite cooked lentils. Top with cheese.

* Try a creamy red lentil soup.

* Try a lentil salad. Many can be served warm, room temperature or cold…a perfect addition to a summer gathering (or any time for that matter!).

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Lentils
Bay leaf, cardamom, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, garam masala, garlic, ginger, mint, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Other Foods That Go Well with Lentils
Meats and other proteins: Beef, eggs, fish, lamb, sausage

Grains: Rice, pasta and any just about any grains or grain product

Vegetables: Carrots, celery, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes

Dairy: Cheese

Recipe Links
Lentils with Mushrooms and Carrots https://www.judiklee.com/2019/06/04/lentils-with-mushrooms-and-carrots/

Sweet and Savory Lentils https://www.judiklee.com/2019/05/28/sweet-and-savory-lentils/

Mexican Lentils and Rice https://www.lentils.org/recipe/mexican-lentils-rice/

Roasted Spring Vegetable Medley with Crispy Lentils https://www.lentils.org/recipe/roasted-spring-vegetable-medley-with-crispy-lentils/

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Lentils and Quinoa https://www.lentils.org/recipe/teriyaki-stirfry-with-lentils-quinoa/

Instant Pot Lentils Braised with Beets and Red Wine https://www.lentils.org/recipe/instant-pot-lentils-braised-with-beets-red-wine/

Shrimp with White Wine, Lentils and Tomatoes https://www.lentils.org/recipe/shrimp-with-white-wine-lentils-tomatoes/

Quick Pasta with Lentils https://www.lentils.org/recipe/quick-pasta-with-lentils/

25 Ways to Turn Lentils into Dinner https://www.thekitchn.com/25-ways-to-turn-lentils-into-dinner-248332

10 Delicious Ways to Eat Lentils https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/delicious-ways-to-eat-lentils/

Warm Winter Greens with Balsamic Lentils and Roasted Pears https://producemadesimple.ca/warm-winter-greens-with-balsamic-lentils-and-roasted-pears/

8 Surprisingly Fast and Delicious Lentil Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/8-surprisingly-fast-and-delicious-lentil-recipes

25 Creative Lentil Recipes That Go Way Beyond Soup https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/lentil-recipes

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/sweet-potato-and-red-lentil-curry

15 Best Lentil Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/best-lentil-recipes/

Mediterranean Lentil Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14260/mediterranean-lentil-salad/

Lentil Salad https://www.skinnytaste.com/lentil-salad/

Greek Lentil Salad https://cookieandkate.com/greek-lentil-salad-recipe/

Sexy Lentil Salad https://www.recipetineats.com/sexy-lentil-salad/

Lentil Salad https://simpleveganblog.com/lentil-salad/

Lentil and Rice Salad https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/lentil-and-rice-salad

Quinoa Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette https://www.asweetpeachef.com/quinoa-lentil-salad-lemon-vinaigrette/

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

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52#descr

https://www.lentils.org/about-lentils/

https://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=82311&sc=3022

https://www.livestrong.com/article/528308-how-to-spice-up-lentils/

https://www.simplyhealthyfamily.org/lentils-taste/

https://kitchenbyte.com/what-do-lentils-taste-like/

https://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/different-types-lentils

https://www.wideopeneats.com/5-different-types-of-lentils/

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/types-of-lentils

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lentils#types

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5488/7-Health-Benefits-of-Lentils.html

https://www.thekitchn.com/flavor-combinations-beans-herb-75364

Quick and Easy Soup for One or a Crowd

Quick and Easy Soup for One or a Crowd

If you’re looking for a fast, easy and flexible soup recipe, you found it! This simple recipe can be made for one or two people and enlarged to make enough for a crowd. The ingredients can easily be changed to meet your needs and taste preferences. Below is a video demonstration. The recipe is below the video. Enjoy!

Judi

Quick and Easy Soup for One or a Crowd
(That’s Not Out of a Can)
Makes 2 Servings

This truly is an easy and fast soup to make. It’s ready in the time it takes to cook pasta!

The recipe can easily be adjusted to serve from 1 up to a crowd.

4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups frozen vegetables of choice (ie California blend-cauliflower, broccoli, carrots)
½ cup frozen corn*
1 cup cooked beans of choice**
½ cup uncooked Rotini pasta, or any shape you have available
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced (¼ tsp garlic powder)
1/3 cup chopped fresh onion (or 1 Tbsp dried minced onion or 1 tsp onion powder)
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
1/8 tsp dried hot pepper flakes, or to taste

Place everything except the uncooked pasta in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add pasta. Cook uncovered until the pasta is tender, according to the time recommended on the pasta box. Enjoy!

* If you don’t have corn on hand, you could substitute one small potato, peeled and diced, or add another starchy vegetable of choice.

** If you prefer meat instead of beans, add 1 cup cooked, chopped meat of choice. Beef, chicken, turkey or sausage would work well in this soup.

Carrots

Should We Peel Carrots?

I know there are a number of people out there with the question, “Should we peel carrots?” Well, to answer the question in the simplest way, carrot peels are perfectly safe to eat. But even if you’re an avid carrot peeler, there are circumstances where peeling is truly unnecessary and others where you may want to peel them. All that is discussed in the video below. A copy of my video notes is below the video link. Enjoy!

I hope this helps,
Judi

Should You Peel Carrots?

Do you have to peel carrots? Can you eat carrots with the skin on? Should you eat carrots without peeling? These are questions that many people have. Well to answer that in a word: NO…you do not need to peel carrots. Carrots are perfectly safe to eat with the peel, as long as they are thoroughly washed. So scrub them well to remove any dirt and debris, and also cut off the stem end and any areas that don’t look fresh.

Even if you’re an avid carrot peeler, here are circumstances where you really don’t need to peel:

1. When you’re making stock. They will be strained out anyway!

2. When you’re juicing carrots.

3. When they will be pureed. (Who would know they weren’t peeled?)

4. When they’re in a thick and chunky stew.

5. When they’re roasted (with the change in color/texture, the peel would be unnoticeable).

6. When they will be grated or finely chopped.

7. When you’re trying to get the most nutrients from your food. Vitamin C is most concentrated in the peel and immediately below the peel. Whether it’s peeled or not, it’s still very nutritious, but why not take advantage of the added nutrients in the peel?

So when would we want to peel carrots?

1. If you’re buying standard-grown carrots, those grown with the use of chemicals, those chemicals may be concentrated in the peel. So, if you want to avoid eating any added chemicals, in this case you may want to peel your carrots. Note that scrubbing them well under running water or soaking them for 15 minutes in a vinegar or baking soda solution will also remove most of the chemicals from the surface. Rinse and scrub them well after soaking in these solutions. No worries with organically grown carrots.

2. Some people find that carrot peels have a bit of bitterness to them. If you are in this camp, then by all means, peel away if this bothers you! It’s more important to enjoy your food than struggle to eat something you don’t like. Or even worse, to avoid some nutritious food because the peel doesn’t taste good to you. In this case, peel them if that’s what it takes to eat them!

3. Appearance. Peeled carrots certainly look nicer than unpeeled carrots. If you’re presenting raw carrot sticks to guests or taking food to some special occasion and you want your food to look its best, then peeling them may be something you want to do.

Whichever way you prefer to go…to peel or not to peel (THAT is the question), just know that as long as they are scrubbed well, and they look fresh and are blemish-free, there’s not a food safety issue with eating unpeeled carrots.

Resources
https://www.thekitchn.com/5-times-you-dont-have-to-peel-carrots-tips-from-the-kitchn-220405

https://www.livestrong.com/article/518814-should-carrots-be-peeled-or-are-they-more-nutritious-with-the-peel-left-on/

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/13_10/ask-experts/Q-Is-it-true-that-most-of-a-carrots-nutrients_2222-1.html

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/why-you-shouldnt-peel-your-vegetables

Onions

Onions 101 – The Basics

If you do any cooking at all, you’re probably familiar with onions. We grill, roast, saute, and caramelize them, add them to soups, stews, casseroles, and sauces, eat them raw adding them to salsas, salads, sandwiches and more! In the 101 series video below, I go in-depth about the onion including nutrition tidbits, how to select, store, and preserve onions, cooking methods and what herbs, spices and foods go with onions, as well as providing many helpful links on the preparation and use of this pungent bulb, and much more! Watch the video below to learn many interesting facts about onions and how to use them!

My complete video notes are below the video link. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Onions 101 – The Basics

About Onions
What we call an “onion” is also called a “bulb onion” or “common onion.” It is a member of the Allium family, so it is closely related to garlic, leeks, and chives. Onions are grown around the world and are commonly used cooked, as a vegetable or part of a savory dish. It is also used raw to flavor sandwiches, salads, pickles, and chutneys. Onions provide flavor, color and texture to a wide array of foods.

There are many varieties of onions, including scallions, Spring onions, Vidalia onions, ramps, yellow, white and red onions, shallots, pearl onions, Cipollini onions, and leeks. They vary in flavor from sweet and mild (as in Vidalias and leeks) to strong (as in older yellow onions). This web page shows pictures of common (and some not-so-common) types of onions https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/06/differences-between-onions-yellow-red-vidalia-what-are-ramps-shallots-how-to-cook-with-onions-guide.html

This website shows yet more types of onions, some of which are not commonly found in most grocery stores https://www.finedininglovers.com/blog/food-drinks/types-of-onions/

The average American eats 20 pounds of onions each year! Try preparing some common dish that you like without the usual addition of onion, and you’ll have a new-found appreciation for this humble bulb!

Fun fact: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest onion recorded weighed 10 pounds 14 ounces, and was grown in England.

Nutrition Tidbits
Onions are high in Vitamin C, are a good source of fiber and folic acid and contain an array of other nutrients as well. Onions also contain quercetin, an important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoid that helps to protect against heart disease and cancer. Onions have been found to help to control blood sugar, boost bone density, have antibacterial properties, and boost digestive health with their fiber content. So, in addition to the flavor they add to our food, onions also are providing many health benefits at the same time!

How to Select Onions
Bulb onions should be firm and dry with thin papery skins and little to no scent. Avoid those with cuts, bruises, blemishes, and soft or wet spots. The “necks” should be tight and dry.

How to Store Onions
Onions keep best when stored at room temperature in a single layer or hung in mesh bags in a cool, dry, dark, well-ventilated area. The colder the temperature, the better (as long as it is above 32F). Do not store them in plastic bags because the lack of air and accumulated moisture will cause them to spoil easily.

Onions can draw moisture from other vegetables that are stored nearby. Do not store them near potatoes, which release moisture and gases that cause onions to spoil quickly.

Freshly harvested onions taste sweeter. The flavor intensifies the longer they are stored through the winter months.

How to Preserve Onions
Freeze: Fresh onions can easily be frozen by simply peeling and cutting them into desired size pieces, then placing the pieces into freezer bags. They do not need to be blanched. For most cooked dishes, frozen onion pieces can be used with little to no thawing and are a great convenience when time for cooking is short.

Dehydrate: Onions may be dehydrated. Follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions for the best temperature and length of time for your machine.

Raw vs Cooked
Onions can be eaten both raw and cooked.

Raw onions are used in sandwiches, salads, relishes, pickles, salsas, and more. There are some other medicinal and creative uses for raw onion including:

Repel insects by rubbing a raw onion on your skin.

Soothe insect bites and stings by rubbing raw onion on the area.

Soothe a sore throat by drinking onion tea. Bring to a boil 1 cup of water with the peel of half of an onion. Remove the onion and serve.

Soothe burn pains by rubbing the area with raw onion.

Remove a splinter by taping a piece of raw onion to the area. Leave there for about an hour before removing the onion.

Make your own dye by placing onion skins in nylon panty hose. Tie the top shut and boil in a pot for about 20 minutes.

Cooked onions are used in an almost endless array of dishes, ranging from soups to jams and even cakes. Cooking onions reduces the pungent flavor of raw onions. Depending on the type of onion and how it’s cooked, the flavor can turn from pungent to literally sweet, as when they are caramelized.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned
Fresh onions are the most versatile and can be used raw, cooked, pickled, or any way you need.

Frozen onions need to be used in cooked dishes, as their texture changes (becomes softer) after being frozen then thawed. Frozen onions would not be suitable in a dish calling for raw onions.

Canned or Jarred onions have been pickled, French fried, or packed in a salt-water brine. Those packed in the salt-water brine can be added to any dish calling for onions, although their flavor will be less intense than if raw onions were used. The other varieties were packaged for specific uses such as for pickles, alcoholic beverages, and casseroles.

How to Prepare Onions
Cutting fresh onions often causes a stinging sensation in the eyes, resulting in tears. When onions are cut, a series of reactions causes a gas to be released. The gas irritates eyes, which causes them to release tears. To avoid this reaction, cut onions under running water or in a bowl of water. Leaving the root end intact also helps to reduce the reaction because there is a higher concentration of sulfur compounds in that part of the bulb. Also, refrigerating an onion before cutting may also help to reduce that reaction.

The National Onion Association has a video showing how to dice an onion. Here’s the link https://www.onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/how-to-select-cut-prepare-store-onions

Here are detailed instructions on how to peel and chop an onion: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/preparation/chop-peel-onion

Cooking/Serving Methods
Onions can be used with foods from savory to sweet. They can be grilled, sautéed, stir-fried, steamed, added to soups, stews, casseroles and sauces, roasted, caramelized, sweated, browned, battered and fried, pickled, added to salsas and relishes, added raw to salads and sandwiches, and more!

When prepared in certain ways, such as when roasted or caramelized, onions can be wonderful side dishes in themselves, served with many types of meals. More often, they are prepared in a variety of ways and used as flavoring in a whole host of foods.

Whether onions are to be combined with other foods or eaten alone, the following website gives simple details on how to fry, sweat, brown, caramelize, stir-fry or sauté, and roast onions… http://www.professionalsecrets.com/en/ps/ps-university/chef-de-partie-vegetables/onions/cook-onions/

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Onions
Paprika, celery, salt and pepper, coriander, basil, garlic, marjoram, sage, oregano, tarragon, thyme, parsley, rosemary, dill, mint. This is only a partial list, as the versatile onion can pair well with SO many flavorings and foods.

Foods That Go Well With Onions
The list here would be extremely long and practically impossible to be all-inclusive. Here are just a few examples of specific foods that pair well with onions: bacon, bread, cheese, milk and cream, garlic, oil, mushrooms, beef, beets, cucumbers, and potatoes.

Recipe Links
26 Ways to Use up Onions https://www.hungryharvest.net/blog/2016/8/9/26-ways-to-use-up-onions

The Best Onion Recipes: 14 Ways to Use a Bag of Onions https://www.babble.com/best-recipes/the-best-onion-recipes-25-ways-to-use-a-bag-of-onions/

National Onion Association’s Onion Recipes https://www.onions-usa.org/recipes

Herb-Roasted Onions https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/herb-roasted-onions-recipe-1950695

50 Onion Recipes https://www.saveur.com/gallery/onion-recipes

Onion Recipes https://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/onion

21 Recipes That Make Onions the Star of the Meal https://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/our-best-onion-recipes-gallery

How to Make Caramelized Onions https://www.spendwithpennies.com/caramelized-onions/

Caramelized Onions https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/caramelized-onions

Onion Recipes (100+ recipes in this collection) https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/onion-recipes

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

Resources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion

https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/06/differences-between-onions-yellow-red-vidalia-what-are-ramps-shallots-how-to-cook-with-onions-guide.html

https://www.onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/colors-flavor-availability-and-sizes-of-onions

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/onion-benefits#section10

https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/502/

https://www.onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/trivia-and-other-fun-stuff

https://www.care2.com/greenliving/14-surprising-uses-for-onions.html

https://www.hungryharvest.net/blog/2016/8/9/26-ways-to-use-up-onions

https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/preparation/chop-peel-onion

http://www.professionalsecrets.com/en/ps/ps-university/chef-de-partie-vegetables/onions/cook-onions/

https://www.wikihow.com/Match-Herbs-and-Spices-to-Vegetables#Pairing_Vegetables_O-Z_sub

https://www.thespruceeats.com/herbs-used-to-season-onion-dishes-1762130

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

Stop Leaks in Plastic Mason Jar Lids

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

I hope this helps!
Judi

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

Parsnips

Parsnips 101 – The Basics

We usually see parsnips in the grocery store, often near the carrots. They look like white carrots, but they are not, although they are cousins with carrots. If you’ve never tried them and are not quite sure what to do with parsnips, the information below should answer your questions!

Enjoy!
Judi

Parsnips 101 – The Basics

About Parsnips
Parsnips are root vegetables native to Eurasia. They are closely related to carrots and parsley, and have been enjoyed since ancient times. They look like cream-colored carrots, yet they are not carrots. If you should decide to grow them in your garden, note that the leaves, stems and flowers are NOT edible…they contain a toxic sap that can cause severe burns. However, the taproot is very edible and even nutritious.

Parsnips have a high sugar content and in the 16th century, Germans used it to make wine, jams, and flour. Many resources say parsnips have a nutty, earthy flavor. I also found that they have a hint of a honey undertone, hence the natural sweetness the Germans found so long ago!

Nutrition Tidbits
Parsnips are a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and other nutrients along with antioxidants. Their nutritional profile helps to protect our eye health, improve digestion and immune function, and support our overall health including heart function. One cup of parsnips has 100 calories.

How to Select Parsnips
Choose parsnips that are small to medium size. Larger ones tend to have a woody core. Look for ones that are pale, firm, smooth and well-shaped. Try to avoid those that are browned, limp, shriveled, blemished or have soft spots. Parsnip season begins after the first frost, so fall and winter is when you’ll get the freshest parsnips.

How to Store Parsnips
Store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, just like you would carrots. Depending upon how old they are when you purchase them, they can keep for up to three weeks.

How to Preserve Parsnips
Parsnips can be frozen. Wash, peel then cut them into 1/2-inch cubes and blanch them for 2 minutes, drain and cool them in an ice water bath. Or steam parsnip pieces for 3 to 5 minutes then cool them in an ice water bath. Pack into containers, and freeze for 8 to 10 months. Fully cooked parsnip puree may also be frozen for up to 10 months.

Raw vs Cooked
Parsnips can be eaten raw, but are most often eaten cooked.

How to Prepare Parsnips
Scrub parsnips well and peel them with a vegetable peeler. Smaller ones may not need to be peeled. Trim both ends. You may need to cut out the woody core of larger parsnips as it can be tough to eat. They can be used whole, sliced, cut into large chunks, diced, or grated.

Cooking/Serving Methods
Parsnips can be used just like carrots, so they can be enjoyed raw, shaved thin and added to salads. They can also be boiled, roasted, sautéed, steamed, mashed, pureed, added to soups, stews, and casseroles.

Cooking Tips:
* Overcooking parsnips will make them mushy, which is excellent if you’re going to puree them. Otherwise, cook them only until tender.

* Cut them into small pieces if you will be sautéing them with other vegetables. That will help everything to cook at about the same rate.

* Like a potato, parsnips can turn brown if left exposed to air after being peeled and cut. If you need to hold them for a little while after preparing them (before cooking), place them in a bowl of water or sprinkle them with a little lemon juice.

* Small, younger parsnips are more tender than larger ones and would be a better choice if grating them into a salad or eating them raw in some way.

* Carrots and parsnips are interchangeable in most recipes.

Parsnip serving ideas provided by https://producemadesimple.ca

* Add boiled parsnips to your mashed potatoes for a subtly sweet flavor.

* Try roasted parsnips over a warm quinoa salad. Bring out their nutty flavor by adding some walnuts or pecans as well.

* Parsnips and apples are such a classic flavor match: try using it in soups, pies, or even breads.

* You can grate small, young parsnips for salad to enjoy them raw.

* Add some crunch to soups or softer foods: use a vegetable peeler to shave off ribbons of parsnip and flash-fry them in oil until crisp. Remove from oil and let drain on some paper tower. They’ll naturally add texture to your dish.

* Enjoy roasted parsnips as a delicious side dish and then use any leftovers in soup.

* Try making healthy chips with them (the recipe link is below).

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Parsnips
Basil, dill, parsley, sage, thyme, tarragon, maple syrup, brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, pepper, honey and mustard

Other Foods That Go Well With Parsnips
Carrots, apples, potatoes, pears, spinach, pork, chicken

Recipe Links
Oven Roasted Parsnips and Carrots https://producemadesimple.ca/oven-roasted-parsnips-and-carrots/

Carrot, Apple, Parsnip Salad https://producemadesimple.ca/carrot-parsnip-apple-salad/

Parsnip Chips https://producemadesimple.ca/parsnip-chips/

Maple Roasted Root Vegetables https://producemadesimple.ca/maple-roasted-vegetables/

19 Awesome Parsnip Recipes for Mains, Sides and More https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/parsnip-recipes

Roasted Parsnips with Lemon and Herbs https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/roasted-parsnips-lemon-herbs

25 Ways to Use Parsnips https://www.cookingchanneltv.com/devour/2014/02/how-to-use-parsnips

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-parsnips-and-carrots-recipe-1949073

Maple Orange Glazed Roasted Carrots and Parsnips https://bakeatmidnite.com/maple-orange-glazed-roasted-carrots-parsnips/

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

Resources
https://www.care2.com/greenliving/farm-to-table-the-dirt-on-parsnips.html

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/parsnips.html

https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/how-to-use-parsnips/

https://draxe.com/parsnip-nutrition/

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_to_do_with_a_parsnip

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

https://producemadesimple.ca/parsnips/#respond

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/parsnip#section2

https://www.thespruceeats.com/parsnip-storage-and-selection-1807788

https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/12-vegetables-you-didnt-know-you-could-eat-raw-article

Fennel

How to Cut Fennel

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

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

I hope this helps!
Judi

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

Zucchini

Zucchini 101 – The Basics

Zucchini is a summer squash that is mild in flavor and extremely versatile. It is used in breakfast recipes to suppertime desserts, and everything in between. In the video below, I’ve covered some interesting facts about zucchini including nutritional information, how to store and preserve zucchini, what herbs, spices and other foods pair well with it, and more! For your reference, my notes are below the video. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Zucchini 101 – The Basics

About Zucchini
Zucchini is technically a fruit, but we typically eat it as a vegetable. It is a summer squash that looks similar to a cucumber. Zucchini are grown around the world and are harvested at different sizes from very tiny to very large. In fact, the longest zucchini on record was grown to 8 feet, 3.3 inches long, grown in Canada in August 2014. In the United States, zucchini are typically harvested when they are between 6 and 8 inches long.

There are many varieties of zucchini, differing in color, texture, size, shape, and length of time to maturity. The flavor of zucchini is mild, so it has been used in recipes from breakfast to suppertime desserts, and everything in between! The zucchini flowers are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked, and are typically stuffed and fried.

Nutrition Tidbits
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, zucchini is rich in minerals and vitamins including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and riboflavin. It also contains vitamin B6, A, E, and K, sodium, zinc, and iron. It is about 95% water with a lot of the nutrients found in the skin, so don’t peel your zucchini!

The high levels of manganese and vitamin C help protect our cardiovascular health, whereas the magnesium in zucchini helps keep our blood pressure under control. Recent research has also shown that zucchini can help reduce enlarged prostate glands in men. The nutrient profile of zucchini also is known to help regulate blood sugar, a real benefit for those with diabetes.

How to Select Zucchini
Choose zucchini that feel heavy for their size with little to no blemishes on the skin. They should feel smooth and firm. Smaller ones will be more tender and flavorful than larger ones.

How to Preserve Zucchini
Fresh: Store fresh zucchini whole, dry, and unwashed in the refrigerator. Store it in a plastic or paper bag with some ventilation. It will keep well for about 1 week, but will start to show signs of age after only a few days of storage.

Freeze: Sliced zucchini may be frozen by steam blanching for 3 minutes. Then submerge the zucchini in ice water for another 3 minutes. Drain well and place in freezer bags. Frozen zucchini will be softer when used than fresh zucchini, so the frozen vegetable may not be best for all applications.

Dehydrate: Zucchini may be dehydrated, but some resources do not recommend it because the outcome is “poor to fair.” If you want to dehydrate your zucchini, see your dehydrator manufacturer’s booklet for information.

Fresh vs Frozen
Fresh zucchini is the most versatile option and can be eaten raw, or used in any form of cooking, roasting, or baking option you can imagine. Frozen zucchini will be mushy when thawed, so it is only usable in ways that call for cooked zucchini.

How to Prepare Zucchini
Wash zucchini and cut both ends off just before using it. The skin of zucchini is edible and contains many of its nutrients, so it is beneficial to leave the peel on. Cut it into whatever size pieces you need. The seeds do not need to be removed.

Cooking/Serving Methods
Zucchini is mostly water, so you will notice it releases liquid and becomes soft quickly when cooked. Fast cooking methods using little water will result in less mushy squash after being cooked.

Zucchini can be grilled, boiled (briefly), steamed, roasted, sautéed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, added to casseroles and soups, added to warm or cold salads, eaten raw with dip, spiralized into noodles and eaten like a pasta, baked into breads, muffins and cakes, added to a pizza, and more. The uses for zucchini are only limited to your imagination!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well With Zucchini
Basil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, ginger, lemon thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning blend, salt and pepper, onions and garlic, Cajun seasoning blends, garam masala (Indian spice blend)

Foods That Go With Zucchini
Tomatoes, eggplant (as in the Mediterranean dish ratatouille), eggs, seafood, bacon, pasta, roasted or grilled meats and poultry, cheese, lemon, mushrooms, bell pepper, corn, quinoa, rice, pecans, chocolate

Classic Zucchini Pairings Include:
Zucchini + basil + Parmesan
Zucchini + red peppers + eggplant + onions + tomatoes
Zucchini + olive oil + salt + pepper + oregano
Zucchini + feta + lemon + olive oil
Zucchini + cinnamon + chocolate

Recipe Links
Summer Squash Rice Casserole https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3885-summer-squash-and-rice-casserole.aspx

Grilled Vegetable Burrito https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3793-grilled-vegetable-burrito.aspx

Cumin Seasoned Grilled Zucchini https://www.spicesinc.com/p-181-cumin-seasoned-grilled-zucchini.aspx

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3883-zucchini-and-ricotta-galette.aspx

Any Time Frittata http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=124

Southwest Cod Sauté http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=134

Grandma’s Zucchini Cake Recipe https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/grandmas_zucchini_cake/

Zucchini and Tomatoes https://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_31/2002/JUL/12015.html

Grilled Zucchini with Lemon and Herbs https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-zucchini-with-lemon-and-herbs

35 Delicious Ways to Use Zucchini https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/delicious-ways-to-use-zucchini-recipes

40 Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Recipes https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/g562/zucchini-recipes/

Basil, Squash, and Tomato Pasta Toss https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/basil-squash-tomato-pasta-toss

100+ Ways to Use Zucchini and Yellow Squash https://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/essential-ingredients/healthy-squash-zucchini-recipes

Resources
https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3882-all-about-zucchini.aspx

http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-zucchini/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=62

https://www.vegkitchen.com/5-surprising-health-benefits-of-zucchini/

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/zucchini.html

https://www.taste.com.au/quick-easy/articles/top-zucchini-food-pairs-by-matt-preston/yd28k6am

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

https://www.livestrong.com/article/217711-can-you-eat-the-zucchini-skin/