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Cumin Seeds

Cumin 101 – The Basics

Here’s a comprehensive article all about the spice cumin. If you need to know a little something about this highly prized spice that has been enjoyed throughout history, you should find your answer below. From what it is, the history of cumin, its nutritional aspects, and how to use it, is all covered, and more!


Cumin 101 – The Basics

About Cumin
The spice cumin is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been cultivated in the Middle East, India, China, and Mediterranean countries for thousands of years. Throughout history, cumin has played an important part in the cuisines and medicine of the region. During Biblical times, cumin was used as a spice in soup and bread, and also as a currency to pay tithes to priests. Ancient Egyptians used cumin in the mummification process of pharaohs.

Ancient Greeks and Romans used cumin as a culinary spice, especially since it was readily available. It was often used as a substitute for black pepper, which was very expensive and hard to obtain at the time.

Cumin was commonly used in Europe during the Middle Ages. It became known as a symbol of love and fidelity. People often carried cumin seeds with them when attending weddings, and wives often sent loaves of cumin bread with husbands who were going off to war.

Cumin seeds look similar to caraway seeds. They are yellow-brown, and oblong with longitudinal ridges. Cumin belongs to the same botanical family (Umbelliferae) as caraway, parsley, and dill. It has a strong, earthy flavor that can be described as peppery with slight citrus undertones. Cumin is available in both whole seeds and a ground powder. Cumin is the world’s second most popular spice, second to black pepper. The seeds come in brown, black and white colors.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Cumin
Cumin in an excellent source of iron, and has appreciable amounts of manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and Vitamin B1.

Cumin has some important health benefits, as follows…

Iron. Cumin is an excellent source of iron. Since iron is a vital part of hemoglobin in our blood, it plays a key role in transporting oxygen from the lungs to all cells of the body. Iron is also necessary for proper energy metabolism through its role in specific enzymes in the production of energy. Iron is also used in keeping the immune system healthy by being a key component in the reproduction and maturation of immune cells, especially lymphocytes. Two teaspoons of cumin seeds provide almost 3 mg of iron, or about 16 percent of our Daily Value of iron. That’s impressive!

Digestion. Traditionally, cumin seeds have been used to help promote healthy digestion. Recent research has backed that up by finding that cumin promotes the release of pancreatic enzymes which are critical for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Cancer prevention. Cumin seeds may also have anticancer properties. Research has shown that cumin protected laboratory animals from stomach and liver tumors. This anticancer effect may be due to cumin’s ability to enhance liver detoxification enzymes in addition to its powerful free radical scavenging properties. Researchers speculate these properties alone may give cumin health-promoting effects yet to be identified.

How to Select Cumin
For the longest shelf-life, select whole cumin seeds. The ground powder is convenient, but tends to lose its flavor quickly. Cumin seeds can be used whole, or ground to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

How to Store
Cumin seeds and powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dry, and dark place. Ground cumin keeps well for about six months. Whole seeds will stay fresh for about one year. To extend the life of whole cumin seeds, they may be kept tightly wrapped in the freezer.

How to Prepare Cumin
Whole seeds and ground cumin can be used straight from the jar. However, lightly toasting the seeds before being used brings out their full aroma and flavor.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Cumin
* Cumin is often combined with black pepper and honey in middle Eastern countries. This combination is often used to flavor vegetables, chicken and fish dishes.

* A warming cup of cumin tea can be made by bringing seeds to a boil in water, then letting them steep for 8 to 10 minutes. This can help reduce bloating and intestinal gas.

* Cumin is often used to flavor lentils, chickpeas, and black beans. The flavor of cumin blends well with legumes, so remember that as a flavor option the next time you cook beans.

* Flavor up rice by adding toasted cumin seeds, dried apricots, and almonds.

* Cumin goes well with just about any grain. If you want to add a little flavor, sprinkle on a little ground cumin.

* Give vegetables a North African flavor twist by adding a little cumin.

* The flavor of cumin is very strong. If you’re not sure, just sprinkle a little on your food, then taste it, and go from there.

* Whole cumin seeds can be lightly toasted in a hot, dry skillet for 5 minutes. This step intensifies the flavor, giving them a deep, smoky flavor. Keep the seeds moving in the pan so they don’t burn. Add toasted cumin seeds to salads, roasted potatoes or other vegetables, bread doughs, and soups.

* For the best flavor, toast cumin seeds before grinding them into powder.

* Tempering cumin seeds with other spices is a common technique used in Indian cooking. This step releases flavors and aromas from the spices before adding other ingredients. Simply fry them in oil briefly until they are aromatic and start to pop, then add other ingredients. This will infuse the entire dish with the cumin flavor.

* Sprinkle ground toasted cumin on avocado toast.

* Add cumin to pork and lamb dishes.

* Sprinkle a little ground cumin over a boiled egg, along with a little salt.

* Sprinkle a little cumin onto a cheese omelet as it finishes cooking.

* Add whole cumin seeds early in cooking to allow time for the flavors to be released.

* The flavor of ground cumin is more concentrated that that of the whole seeds. When switching one for the other, use less of the ground spice than the whole seed.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Cumin
Cardamom, cayenne, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, curry powder, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Cumin
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, lamb, lentils, peas, seafood, sesame seeds, walnuts

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, chiles, chives, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, sauerkraut, squash (i.e. kabocha), tomatoes and tomato sauce, vegetables (root)

Fruits: Avocados, lemon, lime, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, grains (in general), rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e. cheddar, Swiss), yogurt

Other Foods: Cocoa

Cumin has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
North African cuisines, baba ghanoush, baked goods (i.e. breads), burritos, chili, Cuban cuisine, curries, dals, enchiladas, Greek cuisine, hummus, Indian cuisine, kebabs, Latin American cuisines, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, Moroccan cuisine, purees, salad dressings, salads (i.e. bean, rice), salsas, sauces (i.e. tomato), soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, Spanish cuisine, stews, tacos, Tex-Mex cuisine, Turkish cuisine

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Cumin
Add cumin to any of the following combinations…

Avocado + black beans + lime + tomatoes
Black beans + cilantro + garlic
Cilantro + curry spices
Garlic + Potatoes
Paprika + tomatoes

Recipe Links
Curried Cumin Potatoes

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Refried Beans without the Refry

Vegan Black Bean Soup

Fish Tacos with Honey-Cumin Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Mayo

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

Wilted Cabbage with Toasted Cumin

Chickpea Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Chops

Chickpea Falafels

Black Beans and Rice

Cauliflower Tacos with Cashew Crema

Vegetarian Taco Bowls

Mixed Bean and Avocado Salad


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

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

Black Beans

Black Beans 101 – The Basics

Black beans are a popular and extremely health-promoting legume to include in your meals whenever you can. If you’re wondering about the health benefits of black beans or are looking for ideas on what to do with them, such as what foods, herbs, or spices go well with black beans, you’re in the right place! I’ve answered those questions and a lot more! Read onward for a comprehensive review of black beans.


Black Beans 101 – The Basics

About Black Beans
Black beans are native to North, South and Central America. They date as far back as 7,000 years ago when they were a staple food for Central and South Americans. Black beans are about one-half inch long with a shape similar to a pinto bean. They are members of the plant family Phaseolus vulgaris, along with navy, kidney, and pinto beans. Black beans are sometimes referred to as turtle beans or black turtle beans. Today, black beans are grown worldwide and are enjoyed in many cuisines. Cooked black beans are soft in texture with a mild, but slightly sweet flavor.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Black Beans
Black beans are an excellent source of molybdenum. This trace mineral is critical in the formation of enzymes used in a variety of essential functions including carbohydrate metabolism. They also contain a lot of folate, fiber, copper, manganese, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Furthermore, a one cup serving of black beans provides about 15 grams of protein (about one-third of the day’s needs), 15 grams of fiber, and about 180 mg of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). That’s impressive!

Blood Sugar Control and Resistant Starch. The high fiber content of black beans coupled with the high protein content makes them an excellent food for helping to control blood sugar levels. Both fiber and protein help to regulate the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract, reducing spikes in blood sugar from absorbed carbohydrates. This property gives black beans (and other legumes) a low rating on the glycemic index.

Also, recent studies have shown that black beans have specific peptides (types of proteins) that inhibit the formation of glucose transport molecules. This further inhibits glucose absorption from the digestive tract, also helping to keep blood sugars level. This can help in the management of blood sugar issues, especially Type 2 diabetes.

In addition to the high fiber content of black beans, much of their carbohydrate content consists of resistant starch. Resistant starch is not easily broken down in the upper digestive tract. Instead, it is carried to the large intestines where bacteria feed on the starch, breaking it down into short chain fatty acids. The fatty acids become fuel for our intestinal cells and may play a key role in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, bowel disorders, and some cancers. Short chain fatty acids have been found to aid in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. These properties help to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer in those who regularly eat black beans and other legumes.

Phytonutrient Content: Black beans are an outstanding source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids. Many of these compounds contribute to the rich, dark color of black beans. Anthocyanins acts as antioxidants, fighting harmful molecules in the body. They may provide anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits as well.

A 2010 report published in Nutrition Reviews found that anthocyanins may help to protect heart health by improving cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels, in addition to fighting oxidative stress. All of these factors contribute to heart disease. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that anthocyanins may help to prevent high blood pressure, further protecting our heart health.

Dried vs Canned Black Beans
Dried Black Beans. Dried black beans should first be soaked, rinsed and drained, then cooked before being eaten. This takes some time and may not be feasible for all cooks. However, the nutrient content of dried, soaked and cooked beans is a little higher than that of the canned variety. Dried black beans are cheaper to buy when considering the amount of cooked beans you get from a one-pound bag vs the amount in one can of beans. If the cost factor is important to you, dried beans are the best option.

Storing Dried Black Beans. Store dried black beans in a cool, dry area in a sealed container. When properly stored, they should stay fresh for 2 to 3 years, although they are usually safe to eat beyond that. If you open a container of dried black beans and do not use them all, return the remaining unused beans to an airtight, sealed container stored in a cool, dry place. Dried beans are usually safe to eat beyond their ‘best by” date, although the quality may decline over time. If your dried beans develop an “off” odor or appearance, or show signs of mold or insect infestation, it’s time to discard them.

Canned Black Beans. Canned black beans are a convenient staple food to have in the pantry, and can be found in just about any grocery store. They should be rinsed and drained before eating. Since they are fully cooked, canned black beans can be eaten cold, cooked, pureed, or baked.

The nutrient content of canned black beans is slightly less than that of their dried counterparts, but not so much that they should be avoided. They are typically sorted before processing, as you would dry beans. The beans are then pre-hydrated before being cooked in their sealed cans. Some varieties of canned black beans have added salt and/or calcium chloride to maintain firmness. If you want to avoid those additives, organic and no salt added varieties of canned black beans are available at many grocery stores. The processing of canned black beans is relatively low when compared with other foods, and are considered to be a healthy alternative to dried black beans.

Storing Canned Black Beans. The quality of unopened cans of black beans can be good for 3 to 5 years if kept in a cool, dry place. They are usually safe to eat beyond that, but the quality may decline. Canned black beans usually have a “best by” date stamped on the can. If kept properly, the beans should be safe to eat beyond that day, but the quality may decline. If you notice a bad odor, off appearance or flavor, or mold, the beans should certainly be discarded. If any canned items are leaking, rusting, bulging, or severely dented, they should be discarded.

[On a personal note…When I was young, my parents had a pantry room off the kitchen where they stored canned foods. Apparently, they didn’t check them routinely. One day, a large can of fruit cocktail exploded in the room. It was everywhere! We did the best we could with clean-up, but that room smelled like old fruit cocktail for a VERY long time after that. So…lesson learned: Monitor your canned goods to be sure they are not bulging and use them within a reasonable amount of time!]

How to Prepare Dried Black Beans
Black beans should be soaked before being cooked. This makes them more tender, reduces cooking time, and also reduces their gas-producing tendencies when eaten. Preparing dried black beans is not hard, but does take some time.

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

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

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

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

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Black Beans
* To have a supply of freshly cooked black beans readily available, cook a pound or two of dried beans. Cool them down in cold water, drain well, then transfer them to freezer bags or containers and store them in the freezer. You’ll have plenty of cooked black beans ready when you need them.

* Make a simple salad by combining black beans with celery, bell peppers, tomatoes and your favorite spicy dressing. Serve this on its own, on a bed of greens, or with a cooked grain of your choice.

* Make a quick taco by filling shells with cooked black beans, greens of choice, chopped tomatoes, avocado slices, onions and any other veggies you want. Top with chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of cheese, a drizzle of lime juice, and a dollop of sour cream or cashew cream.

* Make a black bean hummus by blending a can of black beans with tahini or avocado, lime, chili powder, and garlic to taste.

* Add cooked blacked beans to a stuffed baked potato.

* Use black beans in a burrito in place of refried beans.

* Make an easy dip by layering black beans with guacamole, diced tomatoes, onions, and chopped cilantro.

* Make a black bean salsa by combining black beans with diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, and chopped cilantro. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Let rest for 20 minutes for flavors to blend, then serve with tortilla chips.

* Stuff baked sweet potatoes with a mixture of black beans, chopped onions, corn, diced tomatoes, all flavored with cumin, chili powder, cilantro and lime juice. Place the mixture in the baked sweet potato and top with cheddar cheese and a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream or cashew cream.

* Try a black bean and walnut lettuce wrap. In a bowl, combine black beans, chopped walnuts, paprika, chili powder, cumin, chopped onion, diced tomatoes and any other vegetables you want, some lime juice, a little cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and/or salsa. Spoon the filling into large lettuce leaves, wrap and enjoy!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Black Beans
Basil, bay leaf, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, savory, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Black Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, pork, seafood, tempeh

Vegetables: Bell peppers, carrots, celery, chiles, chives, cucumbers, jicama, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Avocado, citrus fruits (esp. lemon, lime, orange), mangoes, olives, plantains

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, grains (in general), quinoa, rice, tortillas

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese, sour cream

Other Foods: Chocolate, coffee, liquid smoke, miso, oil, sherry (dry), soy sauce, stock (vegetable), vinegar

Black beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Black bean cakes, Brazilian cuisine, burritos, Caribbean cuisine, casseroles, Central American cuisines, chili (vegetarian), Cuban cuisine, dips, empanadas, enchiladas, Jamaican cuisine, Latin American cuisines, Mexican cuisine, nachos, pates, Puerto Rican cuisine, purees, quesadillas, refried beans, salads, soups, South American cuisines, Southwestern (U.S.) cuisine, spreads, stews, tacos, Tex-Mex cuisine, tostadas, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Black Beans
Add black beans to any of the following combinations…

Avocado + cilantro + corn + lime juice
Avocado + cilantro + onions + rice
Bell peppers + corn + lettuce + scallions
Bell peppers + garlic + onions
Brown rice + salsa + tomatoes
Cheddar cheese + chickpeas + corn + green onions
Chiles + cilantro + coriander + cumin + lime + scallions
Cilantro + lime + oregano + red onions
Cilantro + orange
Coriander + cumin + ginger
Garlic + thyme
Kale + sweet potatoes
Mango + quinoa
Salsa + sweet potatoes + tortillas

Recipe Links
Black Bean and Rice Salad

Crock Pot Black Bean Chili

Easy Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Southwest Black Bean and Corn Salad

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Grilled Bean Burgers

Texas Black Bean Soup

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas

Slow Cooked Stuffed Peppers

Taco Lasagna

Chili Tortilla Bake

15-Minute Black Bean Salad

Mexican Black Bean Wrap with Avocado and Tri-Colored Slaw

Veggie Burrito Bowls


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.


Pineapples 101 – The Basics

Pineapples are a delicious, sweet tropical fruit that most of us are familiar with. Thanks to modern transportation, many grocery stores have fresh pineapples available year round. Yet, we also can choose from canned, dried, and even frozen pineapple too. Its availability makes it a handy fruit to have on-hand, ready to be used in oh-so-many ways! If you are looking for ideas for something different to do with pineapples, you’re in the right place. Below is a comprehensive article all about pineapples, from what they are to suggested recipe links, and everything in between.


Pineapples 101 – The Basics

About Pineapples
Pineapples are delicious, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They are an extremely popular fruit in America, second only to bananas. Pineapples are members of the Bromeliaceae family of plants. The name stems from the enzyme bromelain, contained in the fruit. They have a wide cylindrical shape with a green, brown, or yellow scaly skin with spiny blue-green leaves on the top. The flesh is yellow with a juicy, delicious sweet-tart flavor. The area closest to the base of the pineapple has the most sugar, so it will taste the sweetest.

It is believed that pineapples originated in South America, but they were first discovered in 1493 by European explorers when they visited the Caribbean island that is now Guadeloupe. From there, the fruit eventually was carried to areas with tropical climates where they thrived.

Pineapples were first cultivated in Hawaii in the 1700s. It is currently the only U.S. state where pineapples are grown commercially. The fruit is also grown commercially in Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Interestingly, it takes about two years for one pineapple to reach maturity, so it has a long growth cycle. Pineapples are available in most grocery stores year-round, with their peak season being in the spring and summer months.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Pineapples
Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese. It also is a good source of copper Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, fiber, folate, and pantothenic acid. Pineapple has negligible fat, but it does contain a high amount of sugar, with a “medium” glycemic load of 56 in a ¾ cup serving. One cup of fresh pineapple chunks has about 83 calories.

Bromelain. Bromelain is a mixture of compounds found in the stem and core of pineapple. These substances have become known as bromelain and are often included in enzyme supplements. Bromelain is known for its protein digesting function. More recent research has found that bromelain extract has other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, excess coagulation of the blood, and suppressing tumor growth. We’re not certain at this time if those same benefits can be obtained from the amounts received when the fruit is eaten in normal amounts.

Antioxidant protection and immune system support. Vitamin C is the body’s main antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. This protection extends to guarding against atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, asthma attacks, colon cancer, and osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, Vitamin C is critical for proper functioning of the immune system, and a one cup serving of pineapple provides 105% of our daily needs for this vitamin. This alone makes pineapple a worthy addition to anyone’s diet!

Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 and the trace mineral manganese. Both have vital roles in energy production and antioxidant functions. Along with Vitamin C, the nutrients in pineapple can play an important part in keeping us healthy and well.

How to Select a Fresh Pineapple
Choose a fresh pineapple that is heavy for its size. Choose one that is free of spots, bruises, and darkened “eyes” or scales, which indicates the fruit is old. Also, smell the pineapple at the stem end. It should smell sweet. Avoid one that smells sour, musty or fermented. Pineapples do not ripen after being picked, so opt for a ripe one that is still fresh and at its prime.

How to Store Fresh Pineapples
Pineapples may be left at room temperature for a day or two after purchase. It will not become any sweeter, but this will help it to soften some and be juicier. Pineapples are very perishable. So, if you do not plan to eat it soon after bringing it home, it’s best to wrap it in perforated plastic and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep like that for up to 3 to 5 days. For best flavor, allow the pineapple to come to room temperature before eating or cooking with it.

Store cut pineapple in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will keep best if it is covered in pineapple juice. Fresh pineapple may be frozen in an airtight container and will keep for up to six months.

Dried vs Canned vs Fresh Pineapple
Dried Pineapple. Nutritionally speaking, the nutrient content of dried fruits is usually reduced when compared with their fresh counterparts. The heat and prolonged exposure to air causes these losses. Vitamin C, B-vitamins, calcium and potassium are all reduced to some degree in the drying of pineapple.

Despite the loss of some nutrients, dried pineapple retains its natural sugar content in the process so it is a deliciously sweet treat. It would be a great addition to granola, trail mix, cereal, and baked goods. Many manufacturers of dried pineapple often coat the fruit with added sugar in the process, making it even sweeter. Like this, it becomes more like a candy than a fruit. If you’re watching your blood sugar levels, you will need to restrict the amount of dried pineapple that you eat in one serving. It is possible to find dried pineapple without added sugar, so be sure to read labels carefully if you’re avoiding added sweeteners.

Canned Pineapple. As would be expected, some nutrients are lost in the canning process of pineapple. For example, almost half of the Vitamin C content of fresh pineapple is lost in the making of the canned version. However, a cup of canned pineapple still has about 28% of our daily value of Vitamin C, which can be a major contributor to the diet. Unfortunately, all of the important enzyme bromelain is lost in the canning process. Despite these losses, canned pineapple is a good staple food to add to your pantry collection. It’s available at a moment’s notice to be used any way you need, whether to be eaten as-is or used in a cooked dish.

Fresh Pineapple. If you’re looking for the highest nutritional value in pineapple, fresh is best. Fresh pineapples are found in many grocery stores most of the time, so they are usually available when needed. Although they do take some time to prepare, nothing can beat the taste of sweet and juicy fresh pineapple. They can be eaten raw or enjoyed in cooked dishes and baked items. Another advantage is that they are often inexpensive, considering how much edible fruit you get from one pineapple. Even though there are great uses for dried pineapple, and canned pineapple is very convenient, give the fresh variety a try if you haven’t already done so. You’ll be glad you did!

How to Prepare a Pineapple
First remove the top and base of the pineapple with a sharp knife. There are many ways to remove the skin. A simple way is to rest the pineapple on its base, then cut downward along the sides to remove the skin. Take a paring knife to remove the “eyes” that remain. The pineapple may also be cut into quarters, leaving the core or removing it with a knife. The quarters can then be sliced, then the skin cut away.

Pineapple corers are also found in many stores. They are a convenient way to remove the core and rind from the fruit. However, they will also likely remove a lot of edible fruit too, so they may or may not be your best choice.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Pineapple
Pineapples are delicious tropical fruits that can be enjoyed in many ways from breakfast to supper time desserts, and anything in between. It can be used raw or cooked, and is commonly used in American, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines. If you’re looking for ideas for something a little different, here are some suggestions…

* Make a shrimp salad with cooked shrimp, diced pineapple, grated ginger, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste and serve on a bed of lettuce.

* Make a pineapple salsa with diced pineapple and chili peppers. Serve with fish.

* Drizzle maple syrup over pineapple slices. Broil until lightly browned, then top with yogurt.

* Make a quick salad with chopped pineapple, grated fennel, and chopped cashews. Serve with chicken.

* Make a tropical fruit salad with diced pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and mango.

* Add chunks of pineapple to a coleslaw or carrot salad.

* Add pineapple to your morning smoothie for a delicious flavor boost.

* Top pineapple with yogurt for a delicious, creamy dessert or snack.

* Top your favorite burger with a pineapple ring for a tropical twist.

* Add pineapple as a topping on pizza.

* The next time you fire up the grill, add some grilled pineapple rings to the menu. You’ll be glad you did! It can be served with your protein of choice, included in a dessert, or paired with a vegetable or cooked grain.

* Add pineapple to pico de gallo for a sweet flare.

* Make an easy pineapple sorbet by freezing canned pineapple with its juice in a shallow container. When frozen, remove the container from the freezer and let it sit on a counter for 10 minutes to partially thaw. Break it into chunks and place them in a food processor. Carefully process it until smooth and serve immediately. Return any leftover to the freezer and repeat the process next time.

* Make easy pineapple popsicles. Blend 3 cups of fresh or drained canned pineapple with 1/3 cup milk of choice, and ¼ cup of sugar (or sweetener of choice). Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups and insert wooden sticks. Freeze until firm and enjoy!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Pineapple
Basil, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, curry powder, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, star anise, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Pineapple
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), cashews, chicken, fish, ham, nuts (esp. almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts), pork, seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sunflower), tempeh, tofu

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers (esp. red), chiles, cucumbers, hearts of palm, jicama, mushrooms (esp. Portobello), onions, parsnips, scallions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Apricots, avocados, bananas, berries (esp. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), coconut, other fruit in general (esp. tropical fruit), grapefruit, kiwi, kumquats, lemon, lime, mangoes, melon, orange, papayas, passion fruit, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Rice, seitan

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

Other Foods: Agave nectar, caramel, chocolate (white and dark), gin, honey, lavender, liqueurs, maple syrup, molasses, oil, rum, sugar (esp. brown), vinegar (esp. apple cider, red wine, rice, white wine)

Pineapples have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. cakes, esp. pineapple upside-down), Caribbean cuisines, chutneys, curries, drinks (i.e. piña coladas), Hawaiian cuisine, salad dressings, salads (green and fruit), salsas, sauces, skewers (i.e. fruit), smoothies, sorbets, soups, stews, stir-fries, Vietnamese cuisine

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Pineapple
Add pineapple to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + vanilla
Apple + brown sugar + ginger + orange juice + soy sauce
Banana + brown sugar
Brown sugar + honey + rum + vanilla
Brown sugar + lime
Chiles + cilantro + garlic + lime + red onions
Cilantro + lime
Coconut + brown sugar
Coconut + ginger + rum
Coconut + passion fruit + white chocolate
Coconut + yogurt
Ginger + maple syrup
Honey + mint + yogurt
Peanuts + sweet potatoes

Recipe Links
Baked Ham with Pineapple

Easy No-Bake Pineapple Cheesecake

Smoked Pork Chops with Pineapple

Refreshing Watermelon Pineapple Smoothie

Coconut Pineapple Paleo Popsicles

Cucumber Salad with Pineapple and Cilantro

Baked Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Blueberry Salsa

Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Salsa

Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

Grilled Pineapple Salsa


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.


Papaya 101 – The Basics

If you live in the tropics, you’ve probably grown up eating papaya, so it’s nothing new to you. I’m sure you could teach us a lot about this interesting fruit! However if you grew up elsewhere, papaya is one of those fruits that you may have never tried. You may not know what to do with it…how to prepare it or how to include it in meals with other foods. Hopefully, the article below will help you out. It’s a comprehensive article all about papaya, from what it is, to how to buy, store, and use it, to suggested recipe links. If you’re curious about papaya, you found the right place to find answers to your questions!


Papaya 101 – The Basics

About Papayas
Papayas are oblong to pear-shaped fruits that are usually about 7 inches long. However, they can be as long as 20 inches. The flesh is orange in color, with yellow to pink hues. Inside are many black, round seeds with a gelatinous coating. The pea-sized seeds are edible with a peppery, bitter flavor. The flavor of papaya flesh is sweet with slight musk undertones. The consistency is soft and butter-like. Papaya trees produce fruit year-round, although they have a peak season in early summer and fall.

Papayas are native to Central America, where they were long revered by Latin American Indians. Explorers carried papayas to other parts of the world, including India, the Philippines, and Africa. They made their way around the world from there. Papayas have been cultivated in Hawaii since the 1920s where they are a major producer of the fruit, along with Mexico, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The papaya tree only grows in warm climates.

Christopher Columbus referred to the papaya as “the fruit of the angels.” In Australia, papayas are referred to as papaws or pawpaws. In Brazil, they are called Mamaos. They can also be referred to as tree melons.

Papayas contain the enzyme papain, which helps to digest protein. The enzyme is especially concentrated in unripe papayas. This enzyme is often extracted from papayas and included in digestive enzyme supplements and some chewing gums. It is also added to commercial meat tenderizers.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Papayas
Papaya is an excellent source of Vitamin C, with one medium papaya providing 224% of our daily needs. Papaya is also a good source of Vitamin A (from beta-carotene), folate, fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, and Vitamin K. One medium papaya has about 119 calories, or 43 calories in a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving.

Possible health benefits of papaya include reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and cancer. It aids in digestion, improves blood glucose control in diabetics, and lowers blood pressure. Beta-carotene, which is plentiful in papayas, has been found to be protective against prostate cancer in men, and also asthma in those who eat a lot of foods containing this antioxidant. Papayas have even been found to aid in wound healing.

Protection from Macular Degeneration. Papayas contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin which is known to filter blue rays from sunlight. By doing this it is believed to help protect our eyes from macular degeneration. Therefore, eating papayas may help to protect your eyes from sun-related damage.

Papaya and Latex-Fruit Syndrome. If you react to rubber, you may also react to papaya, especially unripe papayas. Papayas have proteins that are similar to those found in natural rubber. Some individuals who react to rubber will also react to the proteins in papayas. If you are in this group of people, papayas may not be right for you. Proceed with caution!

How to Select a Fresh Papaya
Papayas with a reddish-orange skin and are slightly soft to the touch are ready to eat right away. So, if you want a papaya for immediate use, that’s the one to opt for. Ones with yellow patches on the skin will take a few days to ripen when left at room temperature. Papayas that are totally green and hard are not ripe and should be avoided, unless you need an unripe one for a specific recipe. The unripe papayas will not develop their characteristic sweet flavor.

Avoid papayas that are bruised and overly soft. A few dark spots on the surface will not affect the flavor of the papaya.

How to Store Papayas
Ripe papayas should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place a yellowish papaya in a paper bag with a ripe banana. Once the papaya ripens up it should be used right away or placed in the refrigerator and used within a few days.

Dried vs Fresh Papaya
Fresh Papaya. Thanks to modern transportation methods, fresh papaya is available in many grocery stores year-round. Both ripe and green (unripe) varieties are available and offer versatility so the fruit can be enjoyed raw in sweet dishes or cooked in savory foods.

Dried Papaya. Dried papaya is a convenient and delicious way to enjoy this tropical fruit and have it available whenever you need it. It’s important to read labels when purchasing dried papaya. A lot of manufacturers add sweeteners, preservatives, and coloring agents during the drying process. However, dried papaya without added sweeteners or chemicals is available from some resources. It may be marketed as organic or natural dried papaya. If you’re avoiding such additives, it’s critical to read labels when you’re shopping to be sure you are getting what you expect.

Dried papaya can be enjoyed on its own or added to quick breads, trail mix, granola, hot porridge (like oatmeal), cookie dough, and sprinkled on ice cream. Use it in any way you would use a dried fruit.

How to Prepare a Papaya
Papayas are easy to use and basically are prepared like a melon. Wash the fruit, then slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds, remove the peel and dice it up, or scoop out the flesh with a spoon or melon baller.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Papayas
Papayas can be eaten raw or used in a number of savory recipes. Experiment with papayas if you’re not familiar with them and surely you’ll find your favorite way to enjoy them. Here are some suggestions…

* Simply scoop out the pulp of a papaya and enjoy it as it is. For a little zing, you could drizzle a little lemon or lime juice on top.

* When adding papaya to a fruit salad, add the papaya just before serving. The enzymes in the papaya can cause other fruit to become soft.

* Although they can be a little bitter, the papaya seeds are edible with a peppery flavor. They can be dried, and chewed whole or blended into a dressing for a pepper flavor.

* Combine diced papaya, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and ginger for a salsa that goes well with seafood.

* Slice a papaya lengthwise, remove the seeds, fill the cavity with a fruit salad, then top with a couple mint leaves for a beautiful presentation.

* Blend papaya, strawberries, banana and yogurt for a delicious smoothie.

* Unripe papayas are often used as a vegetable and added to curries, salads and stews, especially in Southeast Asian dishes.

* Make a tropical fruit salad with fresh papaya, mango and pineapple.

* Add dried papaya to a rice pilaf.

* Add papaya chunks to chicken, tuna, or shrimp salad.

* In many recipes, papaya may be used in place of mango.

* Bake a ripe papaya with a sprinkle of brown sugar and rum for an exceptional flavor treat.

* Add grated or thinly sliced unripe papaya to coleslaw.

* The flavor of ripe papaya is best when it’s cold, so refrigerate it first if you will be enjoying it raw.

* Make a simple breakfast addition or dessert by cutting a papaya in half (lengthwise), and scooping out the seeds. Fill the cavity with yogurt, then top with a few blueberries.

* Enjoy a tropical smoothie by blending some coconut milk with diced papaya and a few ice cubes.

* Make a papaya chia pudding by combining chopped papaya with 1 cup of almond milk (or milk of choice), 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla. Pour the mixture into a small mason jar, cover and place it in the refrigerator to chill and thicken.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Papayas
Cayenne, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, rosemary, salt, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Papayas
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), chicken, fish, legumes (in general), nuts (esp. almonds, cashews, macadamia, peanuts), pork, shrimp, tofu

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, carrots, chili peppers, cucumbers, daikon radish, greens (salad), jalapeno peppers, jicama, lettuce, mung bean sprouts, onions (esp. red), scallions, shallots, spinach, tomatoes

Fruits: Avocados, bananas, berries (esp. raspberries, strawberries), citrus (esp. grapefruit, lemon, lime), coconut, kiwi, mango, melon (esp. cantaloupe, honeydew), passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Rice, tortillas (corn)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese, yogurt

Other: Agave nectar, honey, lavender, oil (olive), soy sauce, sugar (brown), tamari (with green papayas), vinegar (esp. rice wine, tarragon)

Papayas have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Caribbean cuisines, chutneys, curries, ice creams, jams, marinades, salad dressings, salads, salsas, smoothies, sorbets, Thai cuisine (green papayas)

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Ripe Papayas
Add ripe papayas to any of the following combinations…

Bananas + honey
Bananas + mangos + vanilla + yogurt
Bananas + oranges
Bell peppers + cilantro + lime + onions
Cayenne + cilantro + lime
Cayenne + greens + jicama + lemon + lime
Chiles + mango + mint + pineapple
Coconut + rice
Ginger + lime
Honey + mint + yogurt
Jicama + orange + red onions
Kiwi + mango + pineapple
Lime + mango + mint + orange
Strawberries + yogurt

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Green (Unripe) Papayas
Add green (unripe) papayas to any of the following combinations…

Chili pepper + garlic + lime + peanuts
Green beans + lime + peanuts + tomatoes
Lime + peanuts + Thai basil

Recipe Links

Papaya Bars

Papaya Recipes

Chicken and Papaya Stir-Fry

Papaya and Feta Salad

Jamaican Jerk Shrimp with Papaya and Pineapple

Tropical Melon Smoothie

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Spiced Papaya Pie with Graham Cracker Crust


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.


Spinach 101 – The Basics

Spinach is a very healthful leafy green vegetable that most of us are familiar with. We add them to smoothies, salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, juices, and more. But if you’re wondering about spinach and its health benefits, or just looking for ideas for something different to do with this leafy green, look no further! Below is a comprehensive article all about spinach that covers everything from soup to nuts about this wholesome vegetable.


Spinach 101 – The Basics

About Spinach
The leafy green vegetable, spinach, is a member of the chenopod or amaranth family (Chenopodiaceae and Amaranthaceae). Spinach is a cousin to beets (and beet greens) and Swiss chard, also members of the chenopod group. The grains quinoa and amaranth are members of this same plant family.

There are different varieties of spinach, including the most popular savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leafed varieties. The savoy varieties have curly leaves, unlike the flat-leaf variety that most of us are familiar with. We’re accustomed to spinach being green, but other varieties can have purple or even red colors.

Spinach appears to be native to the Middle East and was cultivated there for over a thousand years. Spinach was eventually taken around the world, after initially being traded with Asian cultures. Today, China grows the most spinach commercially, with the United States, Japan and Turkey falling within the top 10 spinach-producing countries.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Spinach
Spinach is a very healthful vegetable to eat. It is an excellent source of Vitamin K. One cup of cooked spinach provides a whopping 987% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K. That’s a LOT of Vitamin K! That same one cup also provides just over 100% of our daily needs for Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), and a lot of our needs for manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, Vitamins B2, B6, E, C, and calcium. It also contains very good amounts of potassium, fiber, phosphorus, Vitamin B1, zinc, protein, and other nutrients as well. Spinach is mostly water, so a 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of fresh spinach has only 23 calories. One cup of raw spinach has a mere 7 calories!

Anti-inflammatory Support. Spinach contains a number of flavonoids known to have anti-inflammatory benefits. These benefits have been shown to have distinct effects within the intestinal tract, promoting the release of nitric oxide, due to the nitrate content of spinach. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure by promoting the relaxation of blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Increased nitric oxide has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.

Note: Naturally-occurring nitrates in vegetables are different than sodium nitrates used as preservatives in processed meats. The nitrates found in vegetables are harmless, and in fact, they are health promoting. To the contrary, the sodium nitrates used as preservatives in processed meats have been found to promote the formation of compounds (nitrosamines) that can cause cancer. So there is no reason to fear eating spinach because of its nitrate content.

Spinach also is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. ALA has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, and in some cases, comparable to that of corticosteroids.

Satiety Effects of Spinach. Spinach is high in chlorophyll and other compounds that have been shown to help regulate hunger, satiety, and also blood sugar levels. These compounds delay stomach emptying, helping us to feel full longer and decrease the level of the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that signals when the stomach is empty sparking the “hunger” feeling, encouraging us to eat. Extracts of these compounds from spinach have been shown to have comparable effects to medications used to control type 2 diabetes.

Cancer Prevention. Spinach contains compounds including antioxidants that may slow cancer growth. One study found that these compounds reduced the growth of cervical tumors. Several studies have linked spinach to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Other studies found that spinach may also reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Eye Health. Spinach is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, which are the carotenoids responsible for color in some vegetables. These same compounds help to protect our eyes from sunlight damage. They have also been found to help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, which are major causes of blindness.

Skin and Hair Health. Spinach contains a lot of beta-carotene, which helps to moderate the amount of oil produced by our skin and hair follicles. The oils help to keep skin and hair healthy. The beta-carotene content of spinach combined with its abundant vitamin and mineral content may also help to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.

Oxalates. Spinach has a high oxalate (also called oxalic acid) content. Oxalates are naturally occurring organic acids found in a variety of foods. Oxalates in themselves are not harmful, but in some people with certain medical conditions (such as being prone to developing kidney stones), dietary oxalates must be highly restricted. Therefore, spinach may not be good for such individuals. The oxalates in spinach can be reduced by boiling the spinach (leaching the oxalates into the cooking water), or by combining spinach with foods rich in calcium, such as milk products. In the latter case, the calcium from calcium-rich foods binds with the spinach oxalates in the intestinal tract, reducing the availability of the oxalates.

Vitamin K. Spinach is extremely high in Vitamin K, an important vitamin used in our blood clotting function. Individuals taking blood thinning medications, such as Warfarin, must control their intake of Vitamin K so it does not interfere with their medication. If you take such a medication, it is important to consult with your physician before increasing your intake of spinach or any other high source of Vitamin K because of the potential interaction with your medication.

How to Select Fresh Spinach
Choose fresh spinach with bright green leaves and stems and no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender and have no signs of bruising or wilting. Avoid any with a slimy coating because that indicates the spinach is old and decayed.

How to Store Fresh Spinach
Keep your fresh spinach UNWASHED in a plastic bag or tub in the refrigerator. If there are signs of moisture in the bag or tub, place a paper towel on top of the spinach (in a tub), or roll the leaves up in a long strip of paper towel (when storing it in a plastic bag) to absorb moisture that forms during storage. Store it wrapped and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Most spinach in bags or tubs will have a best by date stamped on it. Try to use it no later than that day for best quality.

How to Prepare Fresh Spinach
Do not wash your fresh spinach until you are ready to use it. Wash it well by swishing the spinach in a bowl of water. This will remove any sand or debris that was clinging to the leaves. Remove the leaves, empty the bowl, and repeat the process until the water is clean after rinsing the leaves. Spinach may be spun dry or placed in a colander and gently shaken to remove excess water.

Fresh vs Frozen Spinach
Fresh. Fresh spinach is available year-round in most American grocery stores. It has a mild flavor and can be used in salads or included in fresh juices or smoothies. It is versatile, since it can also be cooked or included in any dish that calls for spinach. It is important to note that a tub of fresh spinach can go a long way when used in its fresh, raw state. But when cooked, it quickly dwindles down to seemingly very little, so a little bit of cooked spinach can actually represent a lot of the fresh version.

Frozen. Frozen spinach has been quickly blanched then frozen and bagged. It is a convenient food to have on-hand when a recipe calls for adding spinach to a dish. Frozen spinach cannot take the place of fresh spinach in salads because the texture is entirely different. However, it adds a nice color and nutritional boost to any cooked dish that includes spinach. The flavor of frozen and cooked spinach is stronger than that of fresh, raw spinach. So, if it’s too strong for your taste preferences, it may be good to include it as a component in a mixed food of some sort rather than eating it as a solo side dish.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Spinach
If you want to use more spinach in your meals, but are not quite sure where to get started, here are some ideas…

* Add layers of fresh spinach when making a pan of lasagna.

* A fresh spinach salad with dried cranberries, nuts, and your favorite salad dressing is a nutritious and easy side dish.

* To retain the nutrients in spinach as much as possible, steam it (traditionally), or stir-steam or sauté it for as little time as possible, using as little water as possible.

* Add fresh or frozen spinach to your favorite smoothie.

* Add fresh or frozen spinach to add color and a nutritional boost to any soup. Add it toward the end of cooking since it needs little cooking time.

* The flavor of spinach blends well with eggs. So add a little fresh or frozen spinach to your favorite egg dish or casserole. It adds color, texture and nutrients.

* Add some fresh or frozen spinach at the end of cooking when making a stir-fry.

* Make savory pancakes by adding spinach to the batter. Top them with yogurt, sour cream or cashew cream.

* Toss some fresh or frozen spinach into your favorite pasta dish.

* Stir-steam some fresh spinach with mushrooms and garlic for a fast, easy side dish. Use vegetable stock instead of water for more flavor. Only 2 or 3 tablespoons is enough to do the job.

* Add some fresh spinach along with lettuce and tomato on a sandwich.

* Toss a little spinach into your favorite risotto.

* Add some sautéed spinach to a hot cooked grain of choice for added color, texture and nutrients.

* Blend spinach into your favorite pesto.

* Add some fresh spinach to your favorite burritos or quesadillas.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Spinach
Allspice, basil, capers, cardamom, cayenne, chervil, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lovage, mace, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, sorrel, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Spinach
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beans, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish, hummus, lentils, nuts (esp. almonds, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts), nut butters, peas, seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), shrimp, tahini, tofu

Vegetables: Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, chives, eggplant, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, ramps, scallions, shallots, squash (summer), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, avocado, dried fruit (esp. cranberries, raisins), figs, lemon, lime, olives, orange, pears, tangerines

Grains and Grain Products: Bread crumbs, grains (in general), polenta, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (esp. cheddar, Feta, goat, Gruyere, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Horseradish, miso, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive, sesame), soy sauce, stock, sugar, tamari, vinegar

Spinach has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Burritos, calzones, casseroles, creamed spinach, crepes, curries, dips, egg dishes, falafels, gratins, Greek cuisine, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, Mediterranean cuisines, pasta dishes, pestos, pies, pilafs, pizza, purees, quesadillas, risottos, salad dressings, salads, smoothies, soufflés, soups, spreads, stews, stir-fries, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Spinach
Combine spinach with any of the following combinations…

Almonds + mushrooms + lemon
Avocado + grapefruit + red onions
Beets + fennel + orange + walnuts
Cheese + fruit + nuts
Chili pepper flakes + garlic + olive oil + vinegar
Citrus + pomegranate + onion + walnuts
Dried cranberries + goat cheese + hazelnuts + pears
Fennel + orange + red onions
Garlic + lemon + olive oil + Parmesan cheese + parsley
Garlic + mushrooms + tofu
Garlic + rosemary
Garlic + sesame
Lemon + tahini
Mushrooms + nutmeg + ricotta
Nuts + raisins
Pumpkin seeds + wild rice

Recipe Links
Easiest Cooked Spinach Ever (Judi in the Kitchen video)

Make a Frittata with Breakfast Potatoes and Spinach (Judi in the Kitchen video)

10 Flavorful Ways to Cook Spinach

38 Ways to Eat Spinach That Aren’t Just another Boring Salad

35 Tasty Ways to Use Frozen Spinach

Mediterranean Baby Spinach Salad

Figs, Walnuts and Spinach Salad

Golden Spinach and Sweet Potato Healthy Sauté

Indian-Style Lentils

Fast and Easy Steamed Spinach (Judi in the Kitchen video)

How to Turn a Bag of Frozen Spinach into Your Kids’ Favorite: Skillet Spinach with Garlic

57 Superfood Spinach Recipes


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.

Green Peas

Green Peas 101 – The Basics

Green peas (also known as English peas, garden peas, and sweet peas) are a food most of us are familiar with. We either love them or hate them. BUT, I’d speculate that if you have a hate-affair with peas, it’s because you were always fed the canned variety when you grew up and you weren’t allowed to leave the table until you ate your peas. Right?? Well, if that’s the case, let me urge you to give them another try! But this time, try the frozen variety, and don’t cook them to death. They’re sweet, nourishing, and have a totally different flavor and texture than the canned peas! AND you can eat frozen peas without cooking them at all! To me, that’s the most tasty way to eat them.

Below is a comprehensive article all about green peas, from what they are to their health benefits, to what goes with them, to suggested recipe links. Hopefully you’ll find what information you need below.


Green Peas 101 – The Basics

About Green Peas
Peas are members of the legume family, but they are commonly sold and cooked as vegetables. Other members of this same family include lentils, chickpeas, and beans that are commonly sold as dried beans. There are three types of peas that are commonly eaten, green peas (also called garden peas, English peas, or sweet peas) (Pisum sativum), snow peas ((Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon) and snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon ser. cv.). This article focuses only on green peas.

Green peas have rounded pods that are usually slightly curved with a smooth texture and vibrant green color. Inside of them are green rounded pea seeds that are starchy with a sweet flavor. The pods of green peas are not edible.

The modern-day green pea is thought to have originated from a field pea in central Asia and the Middle East. The history of green peas dates back thousands of years and is thought to be among the first crops cultivated by mankind. Peas are now grown around the world and are used in both the fresh and dry forms. Canada is now the world’s largest producer of peas, growing about 3 million tons per year. A lot of peas are also grown in France, China, Russia and India.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Green Peas
Being a legume that is commonly used as a vegetable, green peas have slightly more calories than a typical vegetable. Yet, they are still fairly low, with 62 calories in a one-half cup serving. Most of the calories (70%) come from carbohydrates, with the rest provided by protein and a small amount of fat. A one-half cup serving of green peas provides a substantial amount of Vitamins A, K, C, and E, thiamine, folate, manganese, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and fiber. Since peas are actually legumes, they have more protein than most vegetables. For example, they have four times the protein of carrots.

Despite their carbohydrate content, green peas have a relatively low glycemic index. Their protein and fiber content have been shown to help control blood sugar level, reducing the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

The fiber in green peas has shown to help lower the risk of bowel conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and even colon cancer. The fiber in peas, combined with their abundant minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium help to protect us from heart disease by lowering total and LDL cholesterol.

The humble green pea is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. These special compounds, combined with the other nutrients found in green peas, make them especially helpful in warding off heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Antinutrients. Despite their healthful qualities, green peas also contain some antinutrients that can prevent the absorption of certain minerals within the peas. They contain phytic acid which can bind to the iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium within the peas, blocking our ability to absorb them. They also contain lectins which can cause gas and bloating in some people, and may interfere with nutrient absorption. The amount of lectins and phytic acid in green peas is lower than that in other legumes and usually does not cause a problem in most people. However, cooking, sprouting, or fermenting foods deactivates most of the lectins. So, it is best not to eat green peas raw, especially if this is a concern to you. Phytic acid should not be a problem in small amounts and has actually been shown to have beneficial effects such as killing cancer cells and warding off kidney stones by preventing oxalates from forming them. So, the best way to ward off any problems associated with phytic acid and lectins in green peas is to ferment, sprout or cook them first and keep serving sizes reasonable. Since frozen peas have been blanched in boiling water, eating frozen and thawed green peas should present no health problem. A one-third to one-half cup serving size of cooked, sprouted, or fermented green peas should present little to no issue for most people.

Selecting Fresh Green Peas
Only about 5% of green peas grown are sold as fresh. The remaining are either frozen or canned. When selecting fresh green peas, they will very likely still be within their pods. Choose pods that are firm and smooth with a bright medium green color. Avoid pods with colors that are very light, very dark, yellowish, whitish, or speckled. Make sure they have no mildew on them and are not water-soaked. Check to be sure they have fully developed peas inside by giving them a gentle shake. If they have a slight rattle, they are full of peas. Fresh green peas are very perishable and should be used within three days of purchasing them. Fresh green peas are usually available from spring up to early winter months.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Green Peas
Fresh. Since fresh green peas will not keep for long, be sure you have the time to prepare them when making your purchase. The pods are not edible, but the peas may be eaten raw, although cooking them is best. So they must be shelled first no matter how you opt to eat them. Unless you grow them yourself, know a local gardener, or have a farmer’s market nearby, fresh green peas are rarely available in local grocery stores, so they are not readily available.

Frozen. Frozen green peas have a bright green color, a delicious mild flavor, and a slight texture when eaten. They have already been shelled and blanched, so they can simply be thawed and added to a salad, and eaten just as they are. They can be added while frozen to stir-fries, soups, or other cooked dishes right out of the bag. Serving them as a side dish involves only brief cooking time, so frozen peas are often the preferred choice of many cooks. Frozen green peas are available in just about any grocery store, so this variety is readily available year-round. Frozen green peas are easy to use since they can be thawed and eaten just as they are. Or they can be easily cooked in very little time, so they are a very convenient food to include on your menu.

Canned. When compared with the frozen option, the color of canned green peas is much duller, the flavor is stronger, and the texture is soft. Most varieties of canned green peas have salt added to them which may or may not be an issue of concern. Most people prefer the flavor and texture of frozen green peas over canned. Nevertheless, canned green peas are a good staple food to have available in the pantry in case of emergencies or power outages.

How to Store Fresh Green Peas
Green peas should be used as quickly as possible after harvesting. So, if you are able to get freshly harvested green peas, they should be shelled and used or frozen as soon as possible. This is because their flavor declines quickly after being harvested, with their natural sugars turning to starch.

Store fresh green peas in perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator with the slider vent closed to help keep them moist. Use them or freeze them within 3 days. They may become soft and turn brown if kept too long.

How to Shell Fresh Green Peas
First, rinse the pods under running water to remove any loose debris. Snap off the top and bottom ends of the pod and gently pull the “string” that runs along the seam of the pod. If there is no “string”, gently cut the pod open along the seam, being careful not to cut into the peas inside. Gently open the pod to remove the seeds (peas). The peas do not need to be washed since they were encased in their pods. The peas can then be cooked or blanched for freezing.

How to Freeze Green Peas
To freeze fresh green peas, wash and remove the peas from the pods. Discard the pods. Blanch the shelled peas in boiling water for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Immediately remove the peas from the boiling water and place them in a bowl of ice water. Allow them to chill for the same amount of time they were in the boiling water (1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes). Drain them well and place them on a tray. Carefully pat them dry with a paper towel, then place the tray in the freezer until the peas are completely frozen. Transfer the frozen peas to freezer bags or containers. Label them with the current date and use them within 1 year for best quality.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Green Peas
Try to keep a bag of frozen green peas in the freezer for easy additions to meals. Here are some quick ideas on ways to use them…

* Add fresh cooked or frozen/thawed green peas to a green salad for a sweet flavor, protein and nutrition boost.

* Make a green pea hummus/dip and serve with fresh vegetables, chips, bread, or toast.

* Make an easy green pea pesto by blending: 1 bag of frozen/thawed green peas, a handful of mint leaves, grated Parmesan cheese (to taste), 1 or 2 garlic cloves, and black pepper to taste. Add a little olive oil through the tube as it’s blending and thin the mixture with some fresh lemon juice. Spread the pesto on toasted bread and top with ricotta cheese. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

* Make a quick pea, tomato and parsley salad by tossing thawed (and warmed, if desired) green peas with chopped fresh tomatoes and parsley. Season with your favorite oil/vinegar mixture or other salad dressing.

* Toss lightly cooked (or frozen/thawed) green peas with cooked couscous, quinoa, rice or other grain or choice. Sprinkle with lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped tarragon. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Give it a quick toss and it’s ready to serve.

* Add frozen/thawed (and warmed, if desired) green peas to your favorite mashed potatoes for a sweet, colorful addition and nutrition boost.

* Make an easy pea soup by placing a bag of frozen peas into a pot. Cover (by about ½-inch) with vegetable stock. Boil the peas in the broth until they are tender, adding in a generous amount of your favorite herbs such as dill or chives. Blend or puree the mixture, then top with cashew cream, sour cream, or a splash of heavy cream.

* Add some thawed green peas to your favorite pasta dish for added sweetness and protein.

* Add some thawed green peas to your favorite macaroni and cheese dish for color, flavor and added protein.

* Add some green peas, along with some sautéed garlic and onion to polenta for an easy side dish. Sprinkle with a little cheese for added flavor.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Green Peas
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, chervil, cilantro, coriander, curry powder, dill, garam masala, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, sorrel, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Green Peas
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (fava), beef, cashews, chicken, eggs, fish, pork, sesame seeds, shrimp, tofu, turkey

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chiles, chives, cucumbers, fennel, greens (bitter), leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, snow peas, spinach, squash (winter), sugar snap peas, tomatoes, turnips

Fruits: Avocados, grapefruit, lemon, lime

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, breadcrumbs, bulgur, couscous, noodles, pasta, quinoa, rice, spelt

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (esp. feta, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, crème fraiche, ghee, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, oil (esp. olive, peanut, sesame, sunflower), pesto, soy sauce, stock, vinegar

Green peas have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, curries, guacamole, hummus, paellas (vegetarian), pasta dishes, pesto, risottos, salads (pasta, vegetable), sauces, soups (pea, spinach, vegetable), stews, stir-fries

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Green Peas
Add green peas to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + grapefruit + thyme
Artichokes + oregano + snap peas
Arugula + potatoes
Buttermilk + mint + olive oil + scallions
Carrots + mushrooms
Coconut + coriander
Dill + mint
Garlic + mint + spinach
Ginger + sesame oil
Lime + mint + paprika
Mint + ricotta cheese
Mushrooms + pasta
Pasta + ricotta cheese

Recipe Links
English Peas with Mint

10 Things to do with Frozen Peas

Minted Green Peas and Carrots

Sautéed Mushrooms with Green Peas

Cream of Cashew Pea Soup

29 Recipes that Start with a Bag of Frozen Peas

Italian Peas

47 Recipes that Start with a Bag of Frozen Peas

Simple Peas and Onions

Green Pea and Chickpea Falafel


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.


Ways to Reduce Your Salt Intake

The current 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2300 mg of sodium a day. That equates to less than one teaspoon of salt. Yet, many Americans still consume a lot more than that. Furthermore, recommendations are moving toward reducing that amount even more, to 1500 mg per day (about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt, and this does not account for naturally-occurring sodium in our food). Where does all this sodium come from? In the average American diet, about 77% comes from processed foods or foods prepared outside the home (such as restaurant meals), 12% comes from natural sources (naturally occurring sodium in foods), 6% from salt added at the table while eating, and 5% added while cooking. When examining those percentages, it’s clear that most of the sodium in our diet comes from foods that we did not prepare ourselves.

We do need some sodium for our bodies to function normally, but the amount is far less than we consume. A mere 186 mg of sodium per day is all that’s truly needed, and that small amount can be found naturally occurring in whole, unadulterated foods. Furthermore, consuming whole, unadulterated plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, provides an abundance of potassium, helping to balance the potassium to sodium ratio in the body.

Many people need (or want) to slash their salt intake for numerous reasons and struggle to do so. The following are some suggestions on how to reduce your sodium intake, balance the sodium to potassium ratio, and yet still enjoy the flavor of our foods.

Prepare Your Own Foods at Home
This may hard to do all the time, especially if you travel a lot in your career, have odd working hours or a lot of responsibilities with little time to spend in the kitchen. You’re forgiven! However, it’s up to you to work out a way to squeeze a little valuable time for yourself to prepare some of your own foods to take along with you so you can reduce your need for restaurant foods.

Here are some ideas for easy food preparation at home…
* Try overnight oats for a ready-to-go breakfast in the morning. Recipes are all over the internet!

* Take time on a day off to prepare foods ahead for the coming week. Many people spend time on the weekend making a lot of food for the coming week’s lunches. Pack them in individual serving containers so you can just grab one and put it into a travel bag with an ice pack on your way out the door. It’ll be ready when you are. If need be, they could be stored in the freezer and placed in the refrigerator the night before you need it so it can thaw safely.

* Plan on having a large salad once a day, or at least as often as you can. Lettuce can be washed in advanced, drained, and then stored in the refrigerator in a covered container between layers of paper towels. It will stay crisp and will be ready when needed. Other vegetables can also be washed and cut in advance and stored in a similar way. Just be sure they’re not stored overly wet, or sitting in a puddle of water, which could cause them to spoil.

* Make a large pot of soup on a day off. Chill it down well, then store it in the refrigerator, either in a large container, or in individual containers. It can also be frozen in individual serving size containers for an easy lunch or supper when needed. If you remember, transfer a container (for the next day) in the refrigerator the night before so it can thaw (or at least start to thaw). Warm the soup on the stove or in the microwave for a fast meal.

* Make sandwich filling of some sort on a day off. Homemade hummus, nut butter and fruit spread, or (if you’re an omnivore) cooked meat or a meat combo if you prefer, are all possible sandwich fillings where you can control what’s in them. Store the filling in a covered container in the refrigerator and sandwiches will be easy to make when you need them.

* Make a large casserole on your day off. Like the soup, salads, and sandwich fillings, making a large casserole ahead of time gives you a nice option of your own foods made to your liking that you can enjoy during the week and have ready when you are. Individual portions can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen until needed. Warming it in a microwave or even toaster oven is an option, as long as your container is appropriate for those methods.

* Put supper in the crock pot/slow cooker in the morning before you leave for work. This may not work for everyone, since it involves extra time in the morning. But if you can get up a little earlier or work it out, a nice, hot, homemade supper will be ready for you when you get home. How convenient is that?

Season Foods with Herbs or Spices Instead of Salt
Sometimes a little added salt goes a long way in making food palatable, and that should be OK as long as we don’t overdo it (or have a medical issue requiring a salt-free diet). However, seasoning our own food with plenty of herbs and spices can reduce our need for added salt. Try some of the following options to flavor your foods instead of salt…

Proteins, Beans, Legumes, and Marinades: Basil, chiles/cayenne, chives, cilantro, coriander, dill (weed), ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Vegetables, Stir-Fries, Salads: Basil, chiles/cayenne, chives, cinnamon, cilantro, coriander, dill (weed), ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Fruits: Cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, mint, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, tarragon (esp. with lemon), thyme (esp. with citrus)

Grains, Grain Products, and Grain Dishes: Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, chiles/cayenne, coriander, ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cardamom, chives, dill (weed), mint, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, thyme (esp. with cheese)

Casseroles, Sauces, Soups, Stews: Basil, cardamom, chiles/cayenne, chives, cinnamon, cilantro, coriander, dill (weed), ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

About some specific herbs/spices used to replace salt…
* Basil. Basil is sweet yet peppery. Fresh basil has more flavor than that of dried. Basil is excellent in pesto, marinades, dressings, sauces, sandwiches, soups, and salads. It is often used in Mediterranean dishes, especially tomato-based sauces and pizzas. There are different varieties of basil, giving different flavors to this herb.

* Cardamom. Cardamom is a warm, aromatic spice. Whole cardamom pods can be used, or the seeds (which are inside the pods) can be used whole or ground. Cardamom is commonly added to Asian spice mixes and curry pastes. It works well in baked goods and sweet breads along with cloves and cinnamon.

* Chiles/Cayenne. Chile peppers vary a lot in their heat, so always add a little at first if you’re not sure. Cayenne is a specific type of Chile pepper. Chile peppers are available fresh, dried, flaked, ground into powder, and made into hot sauce. Hot sauce may be high in sugar and/or salt, so do read labels if you’re on a salt-restricted plan. Opting for fresh hot peppers gives you more control over the sodium content of your food. Chiles work well in most foods, including vegetable and seafood dishes. A pinch of chili pepper with mustard can help you reduce the amount of cheese needed in a cheese sauce (thereby reducing sodium in the sauce, since cheese is high in sodium). Chiles combine well with cumin, coriander seeds, and turmeric. Cayenne pairs well with meats, grains, soups, and vegetables.

* Chives. Chives have an onion-like flavor but are milder than onions. Add chives to hot dishes at the end of cooking to preserve the flavor. Chives are excellent in mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, casseroles, salads, cream cheese, fish and poultry.

* Cinnamon. Cinnamon is most often used in sweet treats and baked goods like cakes, quick breads, and fruit crisps. But cinnamon also works in some savory dishes too. In Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisines, cinnamon is used to flavor chicken and lamb. It can also be used to add a special flavor to curries, tagines, casseroles, roast vegetables, Bolognese sauce, and stewed fruit.

* Coriander/Cilantro. In the United States, we refer to the seeds of this plant as coriander, whereas the leaves are called cilantro. The cilantro leaves have an earthy yet citrusy flavor. The coriander seeds have a warm, spicy, citrus flavor. Cilantro can be used raw or added to hot foods at the end of cooking time to preserve their flavor. The leaves are excellent in salads, soups (esp. carrot and coriander soup), salsas, curries, fish, and chicken dishes. It is often combined with lime and chiles in stir-fry dishes. Coriander seeds are commonly used in Indian cuisine.

* Cumin. The flavor of cumin is earthy and smoky. Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world (whereas black pepper is the first). Cumin pairs well with many foods, but especially chicken, beef, lamb, game, beans and rice. For a Mexican flare, combine cumin with oregano and chili. For a taste of India, combine cumin with cardamom, coriander, and turmeric.

* Dill. Dill seeds and dill weed (the leaves) are both used in a variety of dishes. Their flavor is very different. Dill seeds have a flavor of fennel, star anise, and celery combined. They are what gives dill pickles their characteristic flavor. The leaves (dill weed) have a fresh, bright flavor that add hints of lemon anise. Dill weed blends well with cottage cheese, cream cheese, omelets, seafood, steak, potato salad, and cucumber salads.

* Ginger. Ginger has a sharp aroma and flavor of pepper and lemon. It can be purchased fresh or dried and ground. Ginger enhances both sweet and savory dishes. Grated fresh ginger can be added to stir-fries, rice, curries, and meats. It can be added to salad dressings and even stewed fruit.

* Mint. This refreshing herb works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Try this with salads, pasta or couscous. Mint also goes well with carrots, cucumber, rice, melon, tomato, yogurt, and peas.

* Nutmeg. Nutmeg is sweet yet pungent at the same time. Most people prefer the flavor of freshly grated nutmeg rather than that of dried nutmeg, but use whatever you have on-hand. It works well in baked goods with cinnamon and cloves. Nutmeg plus black pepper complement each other in white sauces and cheese sauces. Nutmeg also adds a natural “warmth” when added to homemade potato, cauliflower, and cabbage soups.

* Oregano. Oregano has a warm, aromatic, and slightly bitter flavor with a strong aroma. It is commonly used in Greek and Mediterranean cuisines. It can be used in meat, poultry and seafood marinades. Use it also in egg dishes, breads, casseroles, and salads. It’s an essential ingredient in spaghetti sauce and gives pizza its classic flavor.

* Paprika. Paprika is made from dried and ground sweet peppers and hot peppers. It is milder and sweeter than cayenne pepper. Paprika can be paired with caraway, coriander, cinnamon and dill for a Hungarian flare. Combine paprika with garlic for a Spanish twist. Paprika also goes well with chicken, lamb and fish, on baked sweet potatoes, in beans, and with scrambled eggs.

* Parsley. Parsley has a mildly bitter, grassy flavor that blends well with other flavors, but does not overpower them. Flat-leaf parsley is preferred by chefs because its flavor holds up well when heated. Curly parsley is often used as a garnish. Parsley goes well with roast lamb, grilled steak, fish, chicken, vegetables, potatoes, omelets, stuffing, soft cheese, marinades, dressing, sauces and soups.

* Peppercorns. Peppercorns are not only the common black variety, but can also be red, green, yellow, and white. Each color has its own flavor. Some are sweet, some are bitter, while others are hot. Try a blend of different colored peppercorns for a warm flavor twist to your dishes.

* Rosemary. Rosemary is an aromatic herb with a pine-like fragrance. Use rosemary sparingly, as it can overpower other flavors. Use rosemary fresh or dried, but crush the dried rosemary first to release its essential oils and flavors. Rosemary can be added to meats, breads, pizza, tomato sauce, beans, potatoes and egg dishes. Roast whole springs of fresh rosemary with root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes.

* Sage. Sage is similar in flavor to rosemary, but with more lemon and eucalyptus flavor. Sage retains its flavor with prolonged cooking, which is unlike many herbs. Sage is often used in Italian and French cuisines where it is added to meats, poultry, and stuffing. Chopped sage is often added to pasta and gnocchi.

* Spice/herb blends. There are a number of spice/herb blends on the market that have no salt added to them. These can make cooking easy for you if you’re in a hurry or don’t want to spend time researching what to season a food with. When shopping for a spice blend, look for “Salt-Free” on the label, or carefully read the ingredients list to be sure there is no added salt in the mix.

* Tarragon. Tarragon has a distinct licorice-like flavor with a star anise aroma. To preserve its flavor, add it near the end of cooking time. Tarragon is often used in French cuisine and goes well with fish, poultry, eggs, beef, and vegetable soups. It can also be added to salad dressings.

* Thyme. Thyme has a strong earthy, slightly minty flavor. Unlike many herbs, the flavor of thyme improves and is released with prolonged cooking. Whole thyme sprigs are often added to dishes early on to release their full flavor. Whole sprigs are often added to slow-cooked meals and casseroles, and removed at the end. Thyme pairs well with rosemary, parsley, sage, savory and oregano. It is used to flavor meats, chicken, game, and roasted vegetables. Thyme pairs well with paprika, oregano, and cayenne in Cajun cuisine. It also pairs well with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper in Caribbean cuisine. Lemon thyme goes well in soups and vegetable dishes.

* Turmeric. Turmeric is a common ingredient in curry and is often used in South Asian dishes. North Africans often use turmeric with ginger in flavoring meats, vegetables, and rice. A little turmeric goes a long way, as its flavor intensifies with cooking.

Foods That Can be Used to Season Dishes Without Added Salt
In addition to specific herbs and spices being used to replace added salt, some foods can be used as ingredients to replace added salt by adding another flavor dimension to a dish. Here are some examples…

Proteins, Beans, Legumes, and Marinades: Balsamic vinegar, beverages (beer, wine, coffee), celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney, vinegar (in general)

Vegetables, Stir-Fries, Salads: Balsamic vinegar, celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney, vinegar (in general)

Fruits: Balsamic vinegar, celery, lemon, vinegar (in general)

Grains, Grain Products, and Grain Dishes: Balsamic vinegar, celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney, vinegar (in general)

Dairy, Non-Dairy, Cheese: Balsamic vinegar, celery, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney

Casseroles, Sauces, Soups, Stews: Balsamic vinegar, beverages (beer, wine, coffee), celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, vinegar (in general)

More about specific foods used to replace salt…
* Balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar can be used far beyond salads. It comes in a variety of flavors that helps it to pair well with many foods. Some balsamic flavors include lemon, cherry, espresso, chocolate, garlic, apple, and more. The flavors enable balsamic vinegar to pair with many foods. It can add a sweet, fruity flavor to ice cream, yogurt, and beverages. It can be used to marinade red meats. Garlic and lemon balsamic vinegars can be used to flavor poultry, seafood and vegetables.

* Beverages (esp. beer, wine, coffee). Assorted beverages have been used to flavor foods in lieu of salt. Beer, wine, and even coffee have been used to flavor stews, soups, chili, pasta sauces, and braised dishes. These liquids can be used on their own or combined with broth. [Note! Beware of commercially prepared broth, as it may be high in sodium. Read the label to be sure it meets your needs regarding sodium intake.]

* Celery. For someone on a highly sodium-restricted diet, eating celery may be questionable. But for the rest of us, the unique flavor of celery can add a salty flare to otherwise bland foods. One stalk of celery naturally contains 32 mg of sodium, which is not a lot. But, since celery is mostly water, that sodium flavor seems to be accentuated in celery. So if you’re mixing up some food of whatever sort and you are missing a salty component, rather than reaching for the salt shaker, try adding a stalk or two of celery. Hopefully it will do the trick.

* Garlic. Garlic is an excellent alternative to salt. We’re all familiar with it and most likely have some in the kitchen, whether fresh or dried. Raw garlic adds a pungent zest to foods while roasted garlic adds a delicious sweet, nutty flavor. Add garlic to chicken, fish, meats, vegetables, salads, breads, and stir-fries…almost anything!

* Kelp granules. This option may be new to some people even though kelp has been available as a food for quite a white. Kelp granules are what they say…dried granules of kelp. It is salt-free, but NOT sodium-free. Along with other nutrients, kelp does contain iodine, a needed element that is added to table salt. Kelp granules do contain some naturally-occurring sodium from growing in the salty sea water. (One teaspoon generally contains about 100 mg of sodium.) However, it is far less than what you would find in table salt. (One teaspoon of table salt contains 2,325 mg of sodium.) This can serve as a good food source of iodine if you’re on a low-sodium or salt-restricted diet. However, it’s important to read the nutrition facts label first to be sure it meets your needs regarding sodium restriction. Also, don’t overdose on kelp because that could lead to an iodine overload!

* Lemon zest/lemon juice (or any citrus zest/juice). Lemon (or any citrus fruit) brightens flavors and pairs with most foods, from appetizers, to main dishes and vegetables, to salads, breads, and desserts. It can be added to marinades to bring flavor to foods without a lot of salt. The zest of the fruit brings out an even stronger flavor than the juice, so add it when you want a more pronounced citrus flavor to foods.

* Mushrooms. Mushrooms can add a subtle umami flavor to foods without adding extra salt to the dish. A mixture of caramelized onions, garlic, and mushrooms with a dash of balsamic vinegar may be all you need to flavor a specific food.

* Nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is deactivated (killed) yeast that comes in powder or flakes. It is an excellent source of an array of vitamins and minerals, with only 5 mg of sodium in two tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes. It is described as having a nutty, cheesy, savory flavor. Nutritional yeast is often used as a vegan cheese substitute. If you’re not used to eating nutritional yeast, it’s best to slowly add it to your diet. Adding it too quickly may cause some unpleasant side effects. (1) Nutritional yeast has a lot of fiber, with about 5 grams in just 2 tablespoons. Adding too much too fast may cause gas, cramps, or even diarrhea. Drinking plenty of liquids with nutritional yeast may help to prevent this. (2) Some yeast products may trigger migraine headaches in some people. This is due to tyramine, a compound the body makes from the amino acid tyrosine contained in yeast products. (3) Nutritional yeast contains high amounts of the B-vitamin niacin, which can cause a flushing reaction in some people. This is like a facial to full-body hot flash, with reddening of the skin followed by burning and itching. It can last for ten to twenty minutes. The condition is uncomfortable, but not harmful. (4) Some individuals with irritable bowel disease are sensitive to yeast products. Nutritional yeast may trigger an immune response, worsening symptoms in some individuals with such conditions.

* Onions. Onions add a deep umami flavor to foods, especially when paired with garlic. Onions are used to flavor many foods including stews, soups, any braised or roasted dish, tomato based sauces, burgers, meatloaf, casseroles, pizza, salads, and more. When caramelized, onions add a sweetness to many foods including vegetarian and vegan dishes.

* Salsa and chutney. Salsas and chutneys add a fresh flavor to meats, fish, omelets, vegan/vegetarian dishes, appetizers, cheeses, chips and crudités. Homemade versions would be ideal for those on a reduced salt plan since you can control the ingredients. When purchasing store-bought varieties, read the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list to be sure it meets your needs.

* Vinegar (in general). When the flavor of a dish seems “flat” and bland, add a touch of acid to brighten it up. Vinegar (or even citrus juice) will enhance the flavors in sauces, salads, green vegetables, marinades, salsas, and chutney. There are many flavors of vinegars which vary from extremely to mildly acidic and very sour to sweet, so experiment with enhancing the flavors of foods with different vinegars rather than added salt.

Foods to Avoid When on a Low-Sodium Diet
* Canned soups. Canned soups are usually very high in salt content, so avoid them if you are on a reduced sodium diet. If you see a low-sodium option, also read the label before purchasing it to be sure it meets your needs, because they may also have too much sodium for some people.

* Bouillon cubes and commercially made broths. Traditional bouillon cubes and prepared broths can be extremely high in added salt. Be sure to read the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list, even if it is labeled as low-sodium. It still may have too much sodium for some people who are on a sodium-restricted diet.

* Chips and salted snacks. This one almost goes without saying. Commercially prepared chips and salted snacks like nuts, pretzels, popcorn, and pork rinds are laden with added salt. If you’re on a salt-restricted plan, such items will be off your list unless you opt for an unsalted or low-sodium version. (They ARE out there!) Always check the label first.

* Milk and cheese products. Cow’s milk has some naturally-occurring sodium (about 105 mg per cup). When milk is made into cheese, the sodium content is concentrated, resulting in products that are often higher in sodium. Furthermore, most cheeses are high in sodium since salt is added during the cheese-making process. Therefore, cheese may be off your list if you’re on a low-sodium diet. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts panel on all milk products to be sure they meet your needs.

* Salted butter and margarines. These foods can be a source of sodium that we often don’t think about, but when combined with the sodium in other foods, it can add up. Opt for unsalted or low-salt versions when possible.

* Flavorings and condiments with added salt. The list can be long here, but this includes all herb/spice blends with added salt, such as garlic salt, celery salt, onion salt, and seasoning salt. Meat tenderizers, barbeque sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, salad dressings, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, pickles and pickle relish, sauerkraut, bacon bits, and even croutons will likely contain added salt. When in doubt, read the label!

* Food mixes. Prepared food mixes are often high in added salt. Such items include gravy mixes, boxed pasta/vegetable/rice mixes with seasonings, instant pudding mixes, Ramen noodles and other instant soups, and all other instant or convenience foods. Even dried bean mixes with seasoning packets are something to beware of when on a sodium-restricted plan. Always check the label to be sure it meets your needs.

* Frozen dinners and prepared frozen foods. These foods are usually laden with added salt used as a flavoring and even preservative. This also includes frozen pizzas. When in doubt, read the label for the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts panel to see if it meets your needs.

* Processed meats. Processed meats such as bacon, lunchmeats, ham, corned beef, hot dogs, salt pork, and sausages, are often very high in salt content. Avoid these unless they are a low-sodium option that actually meets your nutritional needs (check the label).

* Poultry. Many poultry items (such as Thanksgiving turkeys) are injected with broth for moisture and flavoring. This can greatly increase the sodium content of these foods, possibly raising it above your limits. Check the label or ask the meat department manager in your store about the sodium content of what you’re considering.

* Some bread products. Salt is normally added to yeast bread dough because it helps to control the growth of the yeast during the bread baking process. Read the label to be sure any bread you purchase meets your needs.

* Some canned foods. When on a reduced-sodium diet, another way to lower sodium intake is to choose salt-free canned foods rather than “regular” canned options. This includes canned vegetables, beans, sauces, gravies, salsa, and soups. More and more foods are being packed with salt-free options, so the choices are increasing. When on a sodium-restricted plan, reading canned food labels is a must-do.

* Bottled vegetable juice. Many tomato-based vegetable juices are high in sodium. However, some varieties are labeled as being “reduced-sodium.” Read the Nutrition Facts panel to be sure it meets your needs.

* Restaurant foods. Many of these same principles apply when dining at a restaurant. When in doubt, ask the server which menu options are low-sodium.

* Beware of softened water. Softened water is “softened” with added sodium. This should be avoided when on a sodium-restricted plan. Softened water should not be used for food preparation nor drinking when sodium intake needs to be low.


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.

Lima Beans with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Lima Beans with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Here’s an easy and delicious way to serve lima beans. This recipe calls for frozen limas, so it truly is fast…no soaking or pre-boiling the beans! This is delicious as it is, but is also great served over rice or another grain of choice, mashed potatoes, or even pasta. Try it sometime!

A link to a video demonstration is below, with the written recipe following that.


Lima Beans with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
Makes 6 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or 2-3 Tbsp vegetable broth or water, if preferred)
1/3 cup diced yellow onion
4 cloves garlic (or 2 large cloves), minced
1 (8 oz) pkg mushrooms of choice, sliced
1 (16 oz) pkg frozen lima beans
¾ cup vegetable broth or water
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional topping

In a medium to large saucepan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for a minute or two, until the onions start to cook. Add the garlic and mushrooms and sauté another minute or two, until the mushrooms start to soften and cook. Add the remaining ingredients, except the optional topping of Parmesan cheese, if using it. Stir to combine and cover the pot. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lima beans are as tender as you like (use the lima bean package directions as your guideline as to how long to cook the mixture). Remove from heat and serve. This mixture is excellent served over rice or another grain of choice, mashed potatoes, or pasta.

Easy Saute-Steamed Bok Choy

Easy Saute-Steamed Bok Choy

Bok choy is often used in stir-fried vegetables. It’s a delicious vegetable to use that way. But did you ever try it on its own? It’s good as a stand-alone vegetable too. Here’s a simple and fast way to cook bok choy without simply boiling it. The recipe is easy and very flexible, so it can be adjusted to whatever amount of the vegetable and seasonings you want to use.

Below is a video demonstration of cooking bok choy with a saute-steam method. The written recipe is below.


Easy Sauté-Steamed Bok Choy
Makes About 4 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1 cup chopped bell pepper
½ cup chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups washed and chopped bok choy (about 1 medium head)
2 Tbsp vegetable broth or water
Pinch of dried chili pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of ½ fresh lime
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, or amount as desired

Warm the olive oil* briefly over medium heat in a large pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the bell pepper and onion, and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the chopped bok choy, stir to combine, and sauté briefly to combine the vegetables and coat the bok choy. Add the vegetable broth (or water), chili pepper flakes, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to steam until the bok choy is as tender as you want, about 5 to 7 minutes for crisp-tender. Stir occasionally as it steams. Remove from heat and drizzle with lime juice, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

*If preferred, you can omit the oil and use vegetable broth to sauté the vegetables. Since the broth would evaporate faster than oil, you may need to use 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid in place of the oil.


Chickpeas 101 – The Basics

If you’re wondering about chickpeas, from what they are to how to use them, you’re in the right place! Below is a comprehensive article all about chickpeas!


Chickpeas 101 – The Basics

About Chickpeas
Chickpeas are members of the Fabaceae plant family. They originated in the Middle East, where they are still widely used. Researchers have evidence that chickpeas were consumed as far as 7,000 years ago, with evidence that they were cultivated as far back as 3,000 BC. From the Middle East, chickpeas slowly made their way around the world. Today, the main commercial producers of chickpeas are India, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Mexico.

Chickpeas have developed many names around the world, including garbanzo beans, garbanzos, grams, Bengal grams, Egyptian peas, and besan (when ground into flour). There are different varieties of chickpeas commonly grown, with some being green, black, brown, red, or the very familiar tan color. “Kabuli” are large and beige with a thin skin. This is the type commonly found in American grocery stores. “Desi” chickpeas are small and dark with yellow interiors. The Desi type chickpeas are about half the size of the Kabuli chickpea that Americans are familiar with. This is the most popular type of chickpea worldwide. They have a thicker seed coat than the Kabuli type. “Green” chickpeas are younger and have a sweeter flavor than the other types. They are similar to green peas.

Chickpeas are the seeds of the plant, grown for their highly nutritious qualities, including an abundance of fiber, protein and other nutrients. They have a mild, nutty flavor and buttery texture. Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free.

Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits
Chickpeas contain a lot of antioxidants, protein, fiber and other nutrients too. Their antioxidants not only combat free-radicals in the body, but also appear to have anti-inflammatory effects. This alone makes them powerful foods to include in the diet.

Chickpeas also supply a lot of protein, with 1 cup of cooked chickpeas providing over 14 grams. That same cup of cooked chickpeas also provides over 12 grams of fiber, along with a lot of molybdenum, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. One cup of cooked chickpeas has about 270 calories. They have a low glycemic index, so they are digested and absorbed slowly, without a large spike in blood sugar.

Selecting Chickpeas: Dried vs Canned
Dried: Chickpeas are sold dried or canned. Dried chickpeas are usually prepackaged but are sometimes sold in bulk bins. Make sure there is no sign of moisture or insect damage when selecting dried chickpeas. When purchasing from bulk bins, also make sure there is a good turnover of product in the bins so you can be assured they are as fresh as possible.

Canned: Most grocery stores carry canned chickpeas and they are a great staple food to keep in the pantry when time is short. They can simply be used from the can when needed for a salad or hummus, or heated briefly in cooked foods. Many people use the liquid from canned chickpeas (called aquafaba) as an egg white substitute and when making vegan meringues.

The nutritional value of canned chickpeas is good when compared to some other canned foods. The value of most nutrients is lowered by about 15% in canned chickpeas, with the exception of folate, which is lowered by 45% when compared to the folate level in dried chickpeas. There is some concern with the BPA content of canned goods. If you are avoiding BPA from canned foods, be sure to look for cans labeled as BPA-free. Also, some canned chickpeas may contain additives like salt and/or calcium chloride (a firming agent). If those additives are concerns for you, then dried chickpeas may be a better option. However, organic canned chickpeas should contain little to no additives with the exception of salt. Some brands may carry salt-free options in BPA-free cans.

Aquafaba is what many people call the liquid in canned chickpeas. (Note that this does not apply to the liquid in other types of canned beans.) Due to its thick nature, this liquid can be used straight from the can as a substitute for egg whites in cooking. It can also be whipped into meringues and marshmallows.

Mix aquafaba with some cream of tartar and whip as you would egg whites. The fluff will hold together well and lighten quick breads and muffins. According to Bob’s Red Mill, use 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar with ½ cup (8 tablespoons) of aquafaba. For more information on how to use aquafaba as an egg replacer, please visit their site at

To use aquafaba, it’s helpful to first shake the unopened can of chickpeas. Open and drain the can into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, separating the canned peas from their liquid. Briefly whisk the liquid to blend the starches that may have settled on the bottom of the can, then measure it as needed for a recipe. Fresh aquafaba can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Extra aquafaba can easily be frozen for later. Freeze it in 1 tablespoon increments in an ice cube tray. When frozen, transfer the cubes to a labeled freezer bag. It may easily be thawed in the microwave, if desired. Aquafaba will keep for about 2 months in the freezer.

See also: A Guide To Aquafaba at

Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is available in some grocery stores, and can be purchased online. Most chickpea flour available is made from raw chickpeas. When using this type of flour, be sure it is used in a recipe where it is well-moistened and also cooked in some way. This will make it more digestible. Otherwise, the finished product may be hard to digest and could cause excessive gas. Because it is usually made from raw chickpeas, this type of flour should not be eaten raw.

How to Store Chickpeas
Dried chickpeas should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. They will keep well for about a year. The longer they are stored, the drier they will become and may take longer to cook. It’s helpful to rotate your supply of dried chickpeas (like all foods), using the “first-in, first-out” method (cook your oldest chickpeas first). Once cooked, chickpeas should be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container and used within four days.

As with most, if not all canned foods, canned chickpeas should have a “best by” date stamped on the can. For best quality, use them before that date. Store cans in a cool, dry place.

How to Prepare Dried Chickpeas
Dried chickpeas should first be sorted and examined so you can remove any stones, debris, or damaged beans. Then they should be rinsed well and drained. Before actual cooking, chickpeas should be soaked which makes them more digestible. There are two methods for soaking chickpeas.

Quick-soak method: Place the sorted and rinsed beans in a large pot with about 2 to 3 parts of water to 1 part of chickpeas. Bring the contents to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and allow the chickpeas to soak for 2 hours. Then drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add fresh water to the pot and bring it to boil. Lower the heat and simmer until they are tender. The time will vary depending upon how dry the beans were. Drain, then use as planned.

Traditional soaking method: This method involves a longer soaking time, but may actually be preferred because it further reduces compounds in the chickpeas that may cause gas when they are eaten. After the peas are sorted, rinsed and drained, place them in a large pot with at least 3 to 4 parts of water per 1 part of chickpeas. Cover the pot and allow them to soak for at least 6 to 8 hours, up to 12 hours. Drain, then fill the pot with fresh water. Bring them to boil, lower heat and simmer gently until the chickpeas are tender. The time will depend upon how long they soaked and how dry they were initially. Some directions call for cooking up to 2 hours, but I have found that they usually cook faster than that. Drain, then use as planned.

Note! When cooking any type of dried pea or bean, be sure not to add any acid nor salt to the water early on when cooking the pea or bean. Doing so will make the outer shell tough which makes the dried pea or bean hard to cook, and they may not soften like you expect. If you want to salt the water or add an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar), only add it when the peas or beans are almost finished cooking and no sooner.

One cup of dried chickpeas yields about three cups cooked. Cooked chickpeas should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator and used within four days.

Freezing Chickpeas
Sorted, rinsed and soaked, but uncooked chickpeas may be frozen in covered containers. After soaking, drain them well, then place them in an airtight freezer container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 1 year.

If you want to cook dried chickpeas in advance and have them whenever needed, simply drain your cooked chickpeas and place them in a labeled freezer bag. Flatten the bag, lay them down in the freezer and allow them to freeze. Frozen, cooked chickpeas will keep well for 1 year. However, some resources state that they should be used within 6 months for best quality.

Quick Tips and Ideas for Using Chickpeas
* Make an easy hummus by blending chickpeas with olive oil, fresh garlic, tahini and lemon juice.

* Add a nutritional punch to your salads by topping them with some chickpeas.

* Make an easy pasta dish by topping cooked pasta with chickpeas, olive oil, crumbled feta cheese and fresh oregano.

* Add some chickpeas to vegetable soup to enhance its flavor, texture and nutritional value.

* Add chickpeas to a roasted veggie and quinoa salad.

* Add chickpeas to your favorite stir-fry.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Chickpeas
Basil (and Thai basil), bay leaf, capers, cardamom, cayenne, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder and spices, dill, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard seeds, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper (black and white), rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, sumac, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Chickpeas
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, cashews, chicken, lentils, pine nuts, pistachios, seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sesame), tahini, walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard (Swiss), chiles, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, green beans, greens (bitter, like beet greens), greens (salad), kale, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, spinach, squash (summer), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, apple cider, apple juice, apricots (dried), avocados, citrus (lemon, lime, orange), coconut, currants, mangoes, olives, pumpkin, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Bread, bulgur, corn, couscous, farro, millet, pasta, polenta, quinoa, rice, tortillas, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (cheddar, feta, goat, Parmesan), coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, oil, soy sauce, tamari, vinegar

Chickpeas have been used in the following cuisines and foods:
North African cuisine, chana masala, chili (vegetarian), curries, dips, falafels, Greek cuisine, hummus, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, Moroccan cuisine, salad dressings, salads, soups (i.e. minestrone, tomato, vegetable), spreads, stews, tabbouleh, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Chickpeas
Combine chickpeas with the following combos…
Apricots + pistachios + tahini
Basil + brown rice + curry
Basil + cucumbers + feta cheese + garlic + red onions
Bulgur + eggplant + mint + quinoa
Cayenne + feta cheese + garlic + spinach + tomatoes
Chiles + cilantro + lime
Coriander + cumin + mint + sesame seeds
Cumin + eggplant
Garlic + lemon + tahini
Mint + onions + yogurt
Potatoes + saffron + Thai basil
Spinach + sweet potatoes

Recipe Links
Garlic Dip

Minted Garbanzo Bean Salad

Healthy Veggie Salad

Curried Mustard Greens and Garbanzo Beans with Sweet Potatoes

Chickpea Soup

Carrot Hummus

Honey Roasted Chickpea Butter

How to Make Crispy Roasted Chickpeas in the Oven

Risotto with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Chickpeas

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Coconut Ginger Chickpea Soup

Spiced Chickpeas and Greens Frittata

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cauliflower Steaks and Crispy Chickpeas

Mediterranean Avocado Chickpea Pasta Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Chickpea Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

20 Amazing Things You Can Do With Aquafaba

19 Aquafaba Recipes That Prove Chickpea Water is Not as Gross as It Sounds

The 25 Best Vegan Aquafaba Recipes You Never Knew Could Be Vegan


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.