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Quick and Easy Soup for One or a Crowd

Quick and Easy Soup for One or a Crowd

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Should We Peel Carrots?

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

I hope this helps,

Should You Peel Carrots?

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

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

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

2. When you’re juicing carrots.

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

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

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

6. When they will be grated or finely chopped.

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

So when would we want to peel carrots?

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

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

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

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



Onions 101 – The Basics

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

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

I hope this helps!

Onions 101 – The Basics

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

There are many varieties of onions, including scallions, Spring onions, Vidalia onions, ramps, yellow, white and red onions, shallots, pearl onions, Cipollini onions, and leeks. They vary in flavor from sweet and mild (as in Vidalias and leeks) to strong (as in older yellow onions). This web page shows pictures of common (and some not-so-common) types of onions

This website shows yet more types of onions, some of which are not commonly found in most grocery stores

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repel insects by rubbing a raw onion on your skin.

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

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

Soothe burn pains by rubbing the area with raw onion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Onion Association has a video showing how to dice an onion. Here’s the link

Here are detailed instructions on how to peel and chop an onion:

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

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

Whether onions are to be combined with other foods or eaten alone, the following website gives simple details on how to fry, sweat, brown, caramelize, stir-fry or sauté, and roast onions…

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

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

Recipe Links
26 Ways to Use up Onions

The Best Onion Recipes: 14 Ways to Use a Bag of Onions

National Onion Association’s Onion Recipes

Herb-Roasted Onions

50 Onion Recipes

Onion Recipes

21 Recipes That Make Onions the Star of the Meal

How to Make Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

Onion Recipes (100+ recipes in this collection)

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.


Stop Leaks in Plastic Mason Jar Lids

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

I hope this helps!

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


Parsnips 101 – The Basics

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


Parsnips 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Carrots and parsnips are interchangeable in most recipes.

Parsnip serving ideas provided by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Links
Oven Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

Carrot, Apple, Parsnip Salad

Parsnip Chips

Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

19 Awesome Parsnip Recipes for Mains, Sides and More

Roasted Parsnips with Lemon and Herbs

25 Ways to Use Parsnips

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

Maple Orange Glazed Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

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



How to Cut Fennel

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

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

I hope this helps!

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


Zucchini 101 – The Basics

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

I hope this helps!

Zucchini 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Links
Summer Squash Rice Casserole

Grilled Vegetable Burrito

Cumin Seasoned Grilled Zucchini

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

Any Time Frittata

Southwest Cod Sauté

Grandma’s Zucchini Cake Recipe

Zucchini and Tomatoes

Grilled Zucchini with Lemon and Herbs

35 Delicious Ways to Use Zucchini

40 Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Recipes

Basil, Squash, and Tomato Pasta Toss

100+ Ways to Use Zucchini and Yellow Squash


Romaine Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce 101 – The Basics

Romaine lettuce is enjoyed by many. It’s considered to be the most nutritious lettuce variety available. I’ve compiled a lot of information about this beloved lettuce from historical tidbits to nutritional information, how to select and store it, and also ways to include it in your meals…some of which you probably never thought of!

Below is a video where I discuss this information. Following the video are my discussion notes for you. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Romaine Lettuce 101 – The Basics

About Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce, also known as “Cos,” has sturdy, long, crispy green leaves. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean and western Asian area. Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to America in 1493 on his second trip here. In America, it is largely grown in California and is sold as whole heads or “hearts” with the outer leaves removed.

Nutrition Tidbits
Romaine is considered to be the most nutritious variety of lettuce. Romaine has the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants per serving, when compared to green leaf, Boston bib, red leaf, and iceberg lettuces.

Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of Vitamins A (beta-carotene) and K, folate, and the mineral molybdenum. It is a very good source of fiber, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, biotin, thiamine (Vitamin B1), and vitamin C.

The vitamin C in Romaine helps in the absorption of its iron content. Also, the combination of nutrients in Romaine makes it a heart-healthy food by retarding the buildup of plaque in arterial walls. So…eat more Romaine!

How to Select
Choose leaves that look crisp and fresh, with no sign of wilting or brown spots (which indicates age). The heads should be compact with stem ends not too brown.

How to Store
Remove and discard any bruised or damaged outer leaves from your lettuce when you bring it home from the store. Wrap the lettuce in paper towels and store it in the crisper drawer. Or, wrap it in paper towels or a cloth kitchen towel and place the bundle in a grocery store plastic bag. Place it in the refrigerator somewhere where it won’t get crushed or banged around. The crisper drawer or plastic bag will maintain a humid environment, while the paper or cloth towel will absorb any extra moisture that forms, keeping the lettuce from getting wet. Save the washing until you are ready to use the lettuce.

Also, keep stored lettuce away from high-ethylene gas producing fruits like pears, apples, avocados, tomatoes, kiwi, and cantaloupe. The gas released by these foods as they ripen can cause other produce items to age faster. Keeping these foods away from your lettuce will help to keep it fresh and crisp.

When stored properly, lettuce should keep for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Do not freeze lettuce unless you plan to use it for cooking thereafter.

How to Prepare
If your lettuce has started to wilt a little in the refrigerator, place it in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes to revive it. If something looks REALLY bad, toss it out (when in doubt, throw it out)!

Wash your lettuce with cold water and spin it dry, if you have a salad spinner. Otherwise, you could blot it dry with a paper or cloth towel.

How to Use
Romaine lettuce makes a nutritious and crispy addition to any fresh salad where leafy greens are used.

The shape of Romaine lettuce makes it an easy replacement for tortilla or taco shells, or breads in just about any type of wrap you choose. If the leaves don’t seem quite strong enough, simply double them up before adding the filling.

You could top a bed of Romaine pieces with your favorite grilled meat or vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese.

Romaine lettuce can also be braised and served with bread and cheese, as in this recipe for Braised Romaine Lettuce Crostinis

Romaine lettuce leaves can also be topped with your favorite cracker toppings for a simple snack, as in this recipe for Ladybugs on a Leaf (no, there are no “bugs” in this recipe)

Try adding Romaine to salad rolls as in Shrimp and Avocado Summer Salad Rolls

Here’s a link to 10 ways to enjoy lettuce

38 recipes using lettuce at Bon Appetite Magazine

Here’s an interesting recipe for Lettuce Soup (imagine that)!

40 Lettuce Recipes You Can Get Excited About


Broccoli 101 The Basics

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

Broccoli is one of the most healthful vegetables one can eat. Yet, many people don’t like it, usually because of an experience when they were young and having to eat it when it was grossly overcooked. You can’t blame them for their feelings. When broccoli is overcooked, the sulfur compounds are released, making the house stink, and giving the vegetable a VERY strong flavor! If you’re in that camp, I urge you to give it a second try. Just don’t overcook it!

Below is a video where I discuss a lot of information about broccoli including how to cook it without that strong taste that most of us don’t like. Below the video are my discussion notes. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, so it is related to cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Vegetables in this family have many health benefits. It is among foods referred to as “super veggies.” It has anti-cancer properties, helps build and support body tissue and bones, is packed with antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, helps to reduce inflammation, helps control blood sugar due to its fiber content, supports heart health by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, promotes healthy digestion, supports healthy brain and nervous tissue function, supports a healthy immune system, may slow the aging process, supports oral health, and MORE. (See link below.) Broccoli gets its name from the Italian word “broccolo” which means “cabbage sprout.” newsletter “Top 14 Health Benefits of Broccoli” …

Nutrition Tidbits
Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, some B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium. It is a good source of beta-carotene. One cup of cooked broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange! Broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables. It is very low in calories, with only 31 calories in one cup.

Broccoli is high in sulforaphane (among other important compounds), a type of isothiocyanate, which is known to have anticancer effects. If for no other reason, this is one very important reason to include broccoli in your meals on a regular basis. The compound is found in greater concentrations in young broccoli sprouts than in the fully mature broccoli plant. So, if you have not tried growing your own broccoli sprouts, I urge you to try it! The sprouts are a delicious addition to any leafy green salad.

Cruciferous vegetables are SO important for our health that I’ve included some links where Dr. Michael Greger reviews medical scientific literature showing the benefits of eating broccoli and/or broccoli sprouts. This is just a tidbit of videos he has released demonstrating the value of including more fruits and vegetables into our diet. See also Dr. Greger’s website at

Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast …

Lung Cancer Metastases and Broccoli …

Best Food to Counter the Effects of Air Pollution …

Which Fruits and Vegetables Boost DNA Repair? …

Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable …

How to Select Broccoli
Look for bright green heads of broccoli with tightly clustered florets. The more open the florets, the older the broccoli is. Look for firm, strong stalks (flimsy stalks that bend are older and becoming dehydrated). It should feel heavy for its size.

How to Store and Preserve Broccoli
Store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible. It may be stored by misting the heads and wrapping them up loosely in paper towels or a cloth then placing that in a plastic bag to hold in the humidity. Use within 2 or 3 days.

To freeze fresh broccoli it needs to be washed and blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes or steamed for 5 minutes. Immediately cool it in a bowl of ice water, then drain it well and pack into freezer containers or bags. It will keep well for about 12 months in the freezer.

Dehydrating: Broccoli florets may be dehydrated. The stems may remain a bit tough with dehydration, so it is only recommended to dehydrate the florets. Blanch and cool them as above, then drain well. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s directions for the length of time and temperature for proper dehydration with your machine.

How to Prepare Fresh Broccoli
Wash fresh broccoli well right before using it. If it has started to get limp (dehydrated), soak it in water for 10 minutes to crisp it back up.

The stalks are often cut off and discarded. That’s a shame because they are just as edible and delicious as the rest of the broccoli. With a sharp knife, cut off (and discard) the very bottom end where the stem was originally cut from the plant. The woody outer layer of the stem can be trimmed off with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Once that is removed, the inner part of the stalk is very similar to the stalks attached to the floret tops. Why not eat them?

Fresh vs Frozen Broccoli
Fresh: Fresh broccoli is usually available in most grocery stores. This is an excellent way to purchase the vegetable, nutritionally speaking, as long as the stalks do not show signs of age.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten Raw: Raw broccoli contains the most nutrients and anti-cancer agents that the plant has to offer. When eaten in the raw state, we do absorb many of them. Some people have problems digesting raw broccoli, causing gas and bloating. If this happens to you, try cooking your broccoli in some way…steaming, boiling, roasting, etc.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten When Steamed: According to Dr. Michael Greger and research he covers in the following video, we actually absorb more of the anti-cancer nutrients in broccoli when it is lightly steamed. Apparently the (brief) steaming process makes the nutrients more available to the body. See his video at …

Raw vs. Cooked Broccoli …

Dr. Michael Greger explains in the following video, a good way to help maximize your intake of the anti-cancer compounds in fresh broccoli. It’s a simple strategy of cutting/chopping the broccoli, then waiting 40 minutes before actually cooking it. See his video at …

Second Strategy for Cooking Broccoli …

To steam fresh broccoli, cut into medium or small size pieces, place it in a steaming basket above boiling water and steam it up to 4 minutes. To get a boost of sulforaphane with the steamed broccoli, pair it with a raw source of enzymes that will produce the sulforaphane compound, such as horseradish, red radish, mustard, cauliflower, and/or arugula.

Frozen: Frozen vegetables are a great convenience to those with a time crunch in the kitchen. The vegetables are usually processed shortly after being harvested which helps to retain a lot of their nutritional value (over fresh vegetables that have aged before being purchased). According to Prevention (, the freezing process (briefly boiling the broccoli to blanch it) actually destroys the anti-cancer compounds in the vegetable. So we have a “catch-22” problem here, if you’re comparing convenience with nutritional aspects of broccoli. The choice is yours on which way to go. Perhaps include frozen broccoli at times when time is an issue and raw or steamed during other times.

Dr. Michael Greger uncovered a way (via scientific literature) to add enzymes to cooked broccoli that will help restore the development of anti-cancer compounds in broccoli. Simple mustard powder can do the trick! See his short video where he explains this trick…
Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli …

How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Over the years, broccoli has typically been eaten cooked…and over-cooked for sure. Today, we’re learning that less cooking is best when eating vegetables. This is also true with broccoli. Not only does less cooking help to preserve nutrients, but it certainly makes them more enjoyable with a better flavor and texture. Most people prefer “crisp-tender” over “mush” any day! Also, less cooking prevents the release of the sulfur odor and flavor that comes with overly cooked broccoli. So, more and more people are enjoying this fabulously healthy vegetable lightly cooked or even raw.

Broccoli can be boiled, steamed, roasted, baked, sautéed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, put in a casserole, added to soups and salads, and enjoyed raw. So, it’s extremely versatile and well worth trying in a variety of ways to incorporate more if it into your meals!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Broccoli
Some suggested flavorings for broccoli include: basil, cilantro, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, parsley, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme.

The website has a wonderful list of suggestions on what to serve with broccoli. They all sound good to me! Check it out at …

Other Foods That Go Well With Broccoli
Cheddar cheese, onions, bacon, pasta, chicken, ham, bell peppers, cauliflower, hot peppers, leeks, lemon, lime, mushrooms, olives, orange, potatoes, salads, scallions, chives, shallots, spinach, squash, tomatoes

Also: almonds, butter, cashews, cheese (feta, cheddar, goat, Parmesan, etc.), coconut milk, eggs, pesto, soy sauce, tahini, tamari, vinaigrette, vinegar, wine, and yogurt

Recipe links
Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Blanch Broccoli …

Judi in the Kitchen video, Cook Frozen Broccoli (Not Mushy) …

Judi in the Kitchen video, Simple Mustard Sauce for Broccoli …

Judi in the Kitchen video, Marinated Cruciferous Salad …

Judi in the Kitchen video, Easily Cut Fresh Broccoli with Less Mess …

Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Steam Broccoli …

Dairy Council of California, assorted broccoli recipes at …

Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli …

“Seriously The Best Broccoli of Your Life” …

Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic …

Assorted Broccoli Recipes from Bon Appetit Magazine …

Better Broccoli Casserole …

How to Use Refrigerator Crisper Drawers

Just about any modern refrigerator has crisper drawers. These things are provided to help us keep foods organized and fresh as long as possible. Yet, many of us simply don’t give much thought about how to properly use them. It’s common to just stuff them with food that won’t fit on the shelves, still in their original plastic bags from the grocery store. Or maybe we fill them with beverage cans so they’re neatly tucked in and organized, so they’re easily reachable, and so we can see when we’re about to run out. Or maybe we stuff any fruits together in one drawer and any vegetables together in another drawer, move the slider vent to whatever setting seems right and call it done. Well, there’s more to the proper use of these amenities than that, so I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found…

Some drawers will have a high/low humidity setting. This is a simple toggle lever that you slide back and forth that opens or closes a small vent, allowing air to flow or closing it off. Sometimes the closed vent setting will have a picture of a vegetable by the word “high,” indicating high humidity by closing the air vent. That same drawer may also have a picture of a fruit by the word “low” indicating the air vent is open allowing for low humidity in the drawer (refrigerator air is normally very dry). If you have a drawer that does not have a toggle lever, then by default it’s a high-humidity drawer.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, so most of the humidity in the drawers comes directly from the food within. So, when the toggle lever closes off the air vent, it’s creating a highly humid environment for the items in the drawer. When the toggle lever opens the air vent, allowing refrigerator air to flow in and out of the drawer, it creates a low-humidity environment within the drawer. Some items should be stored in the high-humidity drawer, whereas others should be stored in the low-humidity drawer. So, what goes where?

Some fruits and vegetables produce a hormone in the form of ethylene gas that is emitted as a ripening agent. These same foods often react to the gas that they produce by ripening faster. Other fruits and vegetables do not emit this gas. Some fruits and vegetables are sensitive to the gas, causing them to ripen faster than normal, while others are not. This is where the fruit ripening trick comes from where we can place an unripe fruit in a paper bag (such as a mature green tomato) with a ripe apple or banana. The gas emitted by the apple or banana will speed up the ripening process of the other fruit (ie the tomato) that’s in the bag. This works IF that fruit is sensitive or reacts to the presence of ethylene gas.

Fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene gas need to be separated from the gas-producing foods. If not, the gas causes the sensitive foods to ripen and age faster than normal. By closing off the air vent of a drawer containing ethylene-sensitive foods, you’re protecting them from such gas in the refrigerator, while at the same time maintaining a highly humid environment helping to prevent the foods from wilting or withering. Examples of such foods include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, greens (like chard, spinach, turnip and mustard greens), lettuces, parsley, peppers, squash, and strawberries. These include vegetables and fruits that are thin-skinned or leafy and tend to lose moisture easily.

Ethylene-producing foods should be kept together and away from the foods that are sensitive to their gases. These foods should be stored in a crisper drawer with the air vent open, thereby allowing the refrigerator air to flow in and out of the drawer, creating a low-humidity environment. These foods tend to rot (such as apples) rather than wilt (such as lettuce). Some examples of these foods include: apples, apricots, avocados, ripe bananas, cantaloupes, figs, honeydew melons, kiwi, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, and plums.

One simple way to know which food goes in which drawer is to remember this: “stop rot/low humidity” (to prevent rot, open the vent in the drawer creating a low humidity environment) “stop wilt/high humidity” (to prevent wilting or withering, close the vent in the drawer creating a high humidity environment). If nothing else, note that the words in each pair have the same number of letters in them (both “rot” and “low” have 3 letters; both “wilt” and “high” have 4 letters). This association may help you remember which items to put together. For instance, those items that tend to wilt from lack of moisture will need to go in the high-humidity drawer, with the toggle vent closed. Those items that tend to rot will need to go in the low-humidity drawer, with the toggle vent open.

When preparing your refrigerator crisper drawers for newly purchased foods, make sure the drawers are clean and dry. It’s helpful to line the bottom of each drawer with either a couple layers of paper towels or a clean cotton kitchen towel, folded to fit the bottom of the drawer. The liner in the drawers will absorb extra moisture, keeping it from pooling on the food. This helps to keep the food dry which helps to extend the lifespan of the food. If you have fresh greens in a drawer, toss them around occasionally to prevent excess moisture from collecting on the leaves. Also according to the writers at, the drawers seem to work best if they are at least two-thirds full. That’s a good reason to keep plenty of fresh veggies around!

Another important point is to keep meats, poultry and seafood out of drawers with fresh produce. That’s a serious potential for cross-contamination. The drawer in the middle of the refrigerator (if yours has one) is often labeled as a meat drawer. If you always freeze meats and do not keep meats in the refrigerator, you could designate that drawer (which usually doesn’t have a toggle vent) as a high-humidity drawer for whatever foods you need to store there. If you do store fresh meats in the refrigerator and do not have a designated meat drawer, consider keeping meats in their original packaging and storing them in a closed container in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Use them within a few days.

Here is a list of some common foods that can be stored together and in which drawer:

High-Humidity Drawer
The high-humidity drawer (with the toggle vent closed) should contain fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to moisture loss and ethylene gas, and tend to wilt or wither when they age.

Examples include:
Belgian endive
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage (and vegetables in this family such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, etc)
Green beans
Herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme)
Leafy greens (such as kale, lettuces, mustard and turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress)
Summer squash

Low-Humidity Drawer
The low-humidity drawer (with the toggle vent open) should contain foods that are not sensitive to moisture loss, are ethylene gas producers, and tend to rot when they get old.

Examples include:
Bananas (ripe)
Honeydew melons
Plantains (ripe)
Stone fruits (such as apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums)

By storing fresh fruits and vegetables properly, we can help to extend their shelf lives to the fullest potential, thereby saving money and wasting less food.

About the Author
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.