Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fennel

How to Cut Fennel

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

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

I hope this helps!
Judi

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

Zucchini

Zucchini 101 – The Basics

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

I hope this helps!
Judi

Zucchini 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!
Judi

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 https://www.thekitchn.com/weekend-snack-braised-lettuce-115059

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) https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-ladybugs-on-a-leaf-snack-recipes-from-the-kitchn-219272

Try adding Romaine to salad rolls as in Shrimp and Avocado Summer Salad Rolls https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-shrimp-and-avocado-summer-salad-rolls-recipes-from-the-kitchn-192186

Here’s a link to 10 ways to enjoy lettuce https://www.thekitchn.com/lettuce-is-so-much-more-than-salad-here-are-10-more-ways-to-eat-it-tips-from-the-kitchn-220136

38 recipes using lettuce at Bon Appetite Magazine https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/slideshow/lettuce-recipes

Here’s an interesting recipe for Lettuce Soup (imagine that)! https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lettuce-soup-231995

40 Lettuce Recipes You Can Get Excited About https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/lettuce-recipes/view-all/

Resources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=61#descr

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/whats-the-most-nutritious-lettuce/article1360246/

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/tips-tricks-keep-lettuce-fresh/

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!
Judi

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

About
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.”

Healthline.com newsletter “Top 14 Health Benefits of Broccoli” … https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/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 https://nutritionfacts.org

Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ImlLsub2Ok&index=4&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Lung Cancer Metastases and Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Best Food to Counter the Effects of Air Pollution … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Which Fruits and Vegetables Boost DNA Repair? … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSDedXTsQkE&index=10&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mIC_OKOjIQ&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1&index=3

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 … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaY6TS9yxIY

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 … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

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 (https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/a20457091/what-your-frozen-broccoli-is-missing/), 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 … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

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 https://Athleanx.com has a wonderful list of suggestions on what to serve with broccoli. They all sound good to me! Check it out at … https://athleanx.com/for-women/10-new-ways-to-make-broccoli-taste-awesome

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 … https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Judi in the Kitchen video, Cook Frozen Broccoli (Not Mushy) … https://youtu.be/Ig6CeSmgU0c

Judi in the Kitchen video, Simple Mustard Sauce for Broccoli … https://youtu.be/WkZecLPx8Og

Judi in the Kitchen video, Marinated Cruciferous Salad … https://youtu.be/-8wQitQtnvo

Judi in the Kitchen video, Easily Cut Fresh Broccoli with Less Mess … https://youtu.be/mKX8jfNl5IM

Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Steam Broccoli … https://youtu.be/adqpjc_OJIg

Dairy Council of California, assorted broccoli recipes at … https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes/kWord/broccoli

Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli … https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/144346/roasted-garlic-lemon-broccoli/

“Seriously The Best Broccoli of Your Life” … https://www.errenskitchen.com/seriously-best-broccoli-life/

Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic … https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caramelized-broccoli-garlic

Assorted Broccoli Recipes from Bon Appetit Magazine … https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/broccoli-recipes

Better Broccoli Casserole … https://cookieandkate.com/2016/better-broccoli-casserole-recipe/

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 TheKitchn.com, 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
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage (and vegetables in this family such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, etc)
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Green beans
Herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme)
Leafy greens (such as kale, lettuces, mustard and turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress)
Okra
Peas
Peppers
Strawberries
Summer squash
Watermelon

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:
Apples
Avocados
Bananas (ripe)
Cantaloupes
Honeydew melons
Kiwis
Mangoes
Papayas
Pears
Plantains (ripe)
Prunes
Quinces
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.

Resources
https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-to-use-your-refrigerators-crisper-drawer-article

https://www.thekitchn.com/what-to-store-in-your-refrigerator-humidity-drawers-tips-from-the-kitchn-178094

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-use-your-crisper-drawer/

https://nutritionyoucantrust.com/ethylene-foods/

https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fruits-vegetables-storage-conditions-d_710.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/07/11/the-fruits-and-vegetables-you-should-never-be-stored-together_a_21429744/

https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/certain-fruits-and-vegetables-should-not-be-stored-together

https://www.subzero-wolf.com/assistance/answers/ethylene-producing-foods

https://www.thekitchn.com/food-science-ethylene-gas-130275

https://lifehacker.com/keep-leafy-greens-fresh-in-a-towel-lined-crisper-drawer-1752350793

https://www.marthastewart.com/1519551/proper-way-use-crisper-drawer-your-refrigerator

Kale

Kale 101 — The Basics

Kale, a richly colored leafy green vegetable, is truly a powerhouse of healthful compounds for the body. In recent times, people have discovered this king of veggies and found some very creative ways to prepare it, making it very enjoyable to eat, even for those who hate their vegetables.

Below is a video I created about kale. My video notes are below. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Kale 101 – The Basics

About Kale
Like other vegetables I’ve covered so far, kale is a member of the cabbage family, being a cousin to cabbage, cauliflower, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and more. Like some other members of this plant family, kale is often referred to as a “super food.” Kale comes in different varieties with curly, or flat leaves, and colors ranging from deep green and blue-green to purple. Some common varieties of kale include Curly Kale (Scots Kale), Dinosaur Kale, Ornamental Kale, Red Russian Kale, and Siberian Kale. Their leaf styles and colors will vary, and their flavors will also be slightly different.

Nutrition Tidbits
Kale is an absolute powerhouse of nutrients and is often referred to as one of the healthiest foods to eat. PERIOD! One cup of raw kale has only 33 calories, 2.5 grams of fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, folate (a B vitamin), a little omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), and important minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and zinc. Kale also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that protect our eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts. The anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects of kale are well-established in scientific literature.

To learn more about the MANY wonders of kale for our health, visit Dr. Michael Greger’s website at https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=kale

How to Select Kale
Look for dark, crisp, unwilted leaves. Those with yellowing or brown leaves are older, so try to avoid them if you can. The smaller leaf plants will be more tender than those with larger leafs.

How to Store Kale
Kale should be refrigerated. To help extend the life of fresh kale, wrap the bundle in a cloth kitchen towel (or paper towels) and place it in a plastic bag (even a grocery plastic bag will do) and store it in the refrigerator. As with any fresh vegetable, it should be used as soon as possible, but may keep for a week when wrapped in a towel within a plastic bag. Do not wash your kale until you are ready to use it. If it has gotten a little limp in the refrigerator, place the kale in a large bowl or pot of cold water for about 10 minutes. Then wash and use it as desired.

If your stored kale has become soft, discolored or mushy, remove and discard that part before use.

Is kale eaten raw or cooked?
Kale can be eaten raw or cooked. It is also used in raw vegetable juice blends.

How to Prepare Kale
Raw kale can be added to salads, smoothies, and added to vegetable juices. The smaller leaf varieties may be more enjoyable when eaten raw since those leaves are more tender than the larger ones.

Kale can be cooked in a variety of ways: sautéed, baked into chips, steamed, added to soups, chowders and stews, and added to any number of hot dishes along with other vegetables, grains, and sauces.

Steam kale for 5 minutes then add flavorings as desired.

Kale Chips: Here’s a 5-star reviewed, easy recipe for these beloved chips https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/crispy-kale-chips-recipe-1923723

Sautéed Kale: Here’s a video I did for Easy and Fast Sautéed Kale https://youtu.be/tWEtwDTpLSg

Kale With Other Vegetables: Here a simple recipe for Easy Kale, Carrot, and Mushroom Combo https://youtu.be/kbLtLD1RSug

Kale Soup: Here’s a video where I made a really delicious soup with kale, potatoes, carrots and leeks… https://youtu.be/4G9422NnYuc

See below for more kale recipe links.

Fresh vs Frozen
Frozen kale is often found in grocery stores.

You can freeze kale yourself by washing, then cutting it into small pieces. Blanch the kale leaves in boiling water for 2-1/2 minutes, and stems for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water for about 3 minutes. Drain well and place in freezer containers or bags, then freeze. The kale will keep for 8 to 12 months.

Some people will freeze cut kale leaves without blanching or steaming first. Kale frozen this way will only keep for 4 to 6 weeks and should be used within that time frame. Kale frozen this way can be steamed and stir-fried.

Herbs/spices that go well with kale
Basil, bay leaf, coriander, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, lemon, marjoram, onions, oregano, nutmeg, and rosemary

Other Recipe Links
54 Kale Recipes that are Healthy Not Boring https://www.self.com/gallery/50-ways-to-eat-kale

There’s An Easy Way to Make Kale Taste Delicious https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/06/05/theres-an-easy-way-to-make-kale-taste-delicious_a_22127540/

Assorted recipes using kale https://www.mynourishedhome.com/awesome-sauteed-kale/

Assorted recipes using kale https://producemadesimple.ca/?s=kale

37 Different Ways to Eat Kale Because You Can Never Get Enough https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/healthy/g1436/easy-kale-recipes/?slide=7

Assorted recipes at RecipeLink.com https://www.recipelink.com/wwwboard/index.html?cmd=srch&srch_cid=0&srch_prefix=2&srch_sort=1&q=kale&msrch=FIND

References:
https://foodandhealth.com/kale-101/

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/kale-nutrition-and-cooking#1

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17471

https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=kale

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-kale#section4

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38

https://www.oster.com/blog/archive/2014/october/5-ingredients-to-pair-with-kale.html#?sortby=newest

Spring Mix

Spring Mix 101 – The Basics

Are you wondering what to do with Spring Mix? I did research on your behalf and found that it can be used in ways beyond salads! See my video below where I discuss my findings. My notes are below the video. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Spring Mix 101 – The Basics

About Spring Mix
Spring mix contains a variety of fresh greens with different tastes and textures, including red romaine, baby spinach, radicchio, green romaine, red oak leaf, mizuna, red leaf, lollo rosso, arugula, red mustard, green mustard, red chard, frisee, and tatsoi. It contains a mixture of sweet and mild, and also slightly bitter flavors. The variety may vary among different brands.

Nutrition Tidbits
Greens contain vitamins A, C, E, and K, folate, calcium, and potassium. It is very low in calories.

How to Select and Store Spring Mix
Choose greens that look fresh and dry. Store them in the refrigerator and use them before the “Use By” date because they don’t last as long as mature greens. Spring mix greens purchased in plastic tubs tend to last longer than those sold in bags because the tubs help protect them from getting damaged. Spring mix greens are so tender that they are best eaten fresh (rather than preserved via freezing, etc.).

Serving Ideas
Spring mix can be used as a bed of salad greens or mixed with other greens for a delicious salad. When using only spring mix in a leafy salad, use lightweight dressings and ingredients, as the tender greens don’t hold up well with heavy ingredients. Basil, lemon, garlic, onion, parsley, chives, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, fruit, toasted nuts and bacon all go well with spring mix.

Spring mix can also be used as a bed for fresh or grilled fruits and other vegetables.

Toss spring mix with a balsamic vinaigrette and top with fresh sliced strawberries, walnuts, and an ounce of goat cheese.

Toss greens, walnuts, and cranberries in a sweet balsamic dressing. Top with goat cheese.

Add mixed greens, Kalamata olives, feta, pepperoncini, and cucumber in a bowl. Add olive oil and lemon. Toss gently. Salt and pepper to taste.

Take your favorite homemade or premixed grain salad and toss in a handful of baby greens.

Add candied or roasted pecans to your mixed greens and toss in a bowl with feta or goat cheese. Top with fresh raspberries.

Use extra spring mix to make a green smoothie. Blend a couple handfuls with a banana and some other fruit or favored flavorings and enjoy!

Spring mix can also be lightly sautéed in a little fat of your choice along with garlic, sesame seeds, and other flavorings. Top it off with a little rice vinegar, soy sauce, or lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

Spring mix can also be used as a substitute for spinach in any dish, cooked or raw.

Try also quickly steaming spring mix with no special equipment. I show how to steam spinach that way in the following video, but using spring mix instead of fresh spinach would work just as well. Judi in the Kitchen video, FAST and EASY Steamed Spinach … https://youtu.be/ZWuZHxdPGxg

Grilled Chicken and Grape Spring Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey-Balsamic Dressing https://www.cookingclassy.com/grilled-chicken-and-grape-spring-salad-with-goat-cheese-and-honey-balsamic-dressing/

Greek Chicken, Garden Vegetable, and Spring Mix Salad https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/greek-chicken-garden-vegetable-and-spring-mix-salad-recipe-2125971

Spring Mix Salad with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, and Citrus Vinaigrette http://www.dolesalads.ca/recipes/spring-mix-salad-with-grilled-chicken-avocado-and-citrus-vinaigrette/

Karen’s Spring Mix Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/24383/karens-spring-mix-salad/

Spring Mix Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese and Walnuts https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/spring-mix-salad-recipe-with-blueberries-goat-cheese-and-walnuts-low-carb-gluten-free/

Mixed Greens with Bacon and Herbs https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/mixed-greens-with-bacon-and-herbs-106197

References
https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Spring_Mix_503.php

https://www.verywellfit.com/spring-mix-nutrition-facts-calories-and-health-benefits-4119165

Easily Remove Scuff Marks Off a Wall (Without Repainting)

I had a large scuff mark on a wall where my husband’s chair was rubbing against it any time he sat in his chair. I finally moved the chair forward and tackled the scuff mark. To my delight, it was easily removed without harsh chemicals or repainting!

Here’s what I did…I took a damp sponge and rubbed a little baking soda into the sponge side (NOT the scratchy side). Then I GENTLY rubbed the scuff mark with the dampened baking soda side of the sponge. The baking soda was enough abrasion to remove the mark without damaging the paint. As the mark was loosened, I wiped the area with a clean damp cloth. That’s IT! Below is a video showing how this was done…

I hope this helps you out!
Judi

NEW Tip for Saving Fresh Vegetable Juice

It didn’t take me long after getting into drinking fresh vegetable juice every day that I realized I can’t devote that much time to the endeavor on a daily basis. Yes, I realize that’s the best way to drink it, but few people can do that every day. So, I did a little experimenting and found a new way to help keep that juice fresh a little longer. Here’s my video where I talk about it.

No time to watch the video? So what’s the tip?? Add about 1/2 teaspoon of pure ascorbic acid powder to your freshly made juice before it’s poured into individual jars. That amount of ascorbic acid powder has a LOT of vitamin C power, which is a proven antioxidant and works wonders as a preservative. I have found that my fresh juice is keeping far better now even though I’m also following all the other usual tips for preserving juice.

Happy juicing! I hope this helps 🙂
Judi