Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes 101 The Basics (UPDATE)


This is an updated version of my original post on “Sweet Potatoes 101 – The Basics.”  The information has been expanded and new sections added for more comprehensive information. Hopefully, any questions you have about sweet potatoes will be answered below.



Sweet Potatoes 101 – The Basics (UPDATE)

About Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that belong to the morning glory family. They are not the same thing as yams, and are in a different plant family than yams and even common potatoes. Sweet potatoes are sometimes labeled as “yams” in American grocery stores. However, true yams are not commonly found in the United States, except perhaps in international markets.

There are around 400 varieties of sweet potatoes, with skin colors ranging from almost white to yellow, red, purple, and brown. The flesh color ranges from white to yellow, orange, orange-red, and purple. Sometimes sweet potatoes are shaped like a common potato, being short and stout with rounded ends, while other may be longer with tapered ends. Sweet potatoes can be classified as either “firm” or “soft.” When cooked, those in the “firm” category remain firm. Those classified as “soft” become soft and moist when cooked. The “soft” varieties are the variety most likely to be labeled as “yams” in the United States.

Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America. They are among the oldest vegetables known to man and have been eaten since prehistoric times. There is evidence in ancient Peruvian caves dating sweet potatoes back 10,000 years.

Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after visiting the New World in 1492. By the 16th century, they were taken to the Philippines by Spanish explorers and to Africa, India, Indonesia, and southern Asia by the Portuguese. Around this time, sweet potatoes were being grown in the southern United States, where they are still among the traditional cuisine. Currently in the United States, over half of all commercially produced sweet potatoes are grown in the southern states, especially in North Carolina.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Sweet potatoes are one of the most abundant sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A in the body. They are also high in Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, copper, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, potassium, fiber, niacin, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, and phosphorus.

In addition to these vitamins and minerals, sweet potatoes are rich in unique phytonutrients that have strong antioxidant properties, helping us to ward off disease. This is especially the case with the purple and orange flesh varieties.

Beta-Carotene and Eye Health. Sweet potatoes are highly prized for their orange-colored carotenoid pigments. In many underdeveloped regions of the world, sweet potatoes are used as an effective way of providing people with their daily Vitamin A needs. This is important because it helps to prevent blindness due to xerophthalmia, the leading cause of blindness among children in the world. Some studies have found that sweet potatoes were a better source of bioavailable beta-carotene than green leafy vegetables.

Cancer Protection. Beta-carotene is one of many antioxidants found in sweet potatoes that may help to reduce the risk of cancer, including bladder, colon, stomach and breast cancers. Purple sweet potatoes are particularly high in anthocyanins, which appear to have an enhanced protective effect, although all sweet potatoes are protective.

Cardiovascular Disease Protection. Antioxidants also protect us from oxidative stress and atherosclerosis that leads to cardiovascular disease. Soluble fiber, like that found in sweet potatoes, helps to regulate blood cholesterol levels. Being rich in potassium and magnesium, sweet potatoes have been shown to help regulate blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease and associated conditions. With all factors considered, sweet potatoes provide a variety of nutrients that can work together to lower our risk for cardiovascular disease and related problems.

Healthy Skin and Hair. Carotenoids, like those found in sweet potatoes have been found to promote healthy skin and hair. Sweet potatoes are also high in Vitamins C and E. Studies have shown that Vitamin E has the potential of significantly increasing hair numbers in people suffering from hair loss. This effect was due to the antioxidant properties reducing oxidative stress, which is a major cause of hair loss.

Vitamin C has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of hyperpigmentation of skin. It neutralizes the oxidative stress caused by UV light. Vitamins C and E combined have been found to significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer in individuals. It is well established that Vitamin C is used in the making of collagen, a structural protein of the skin, which is vital in the management of healthy skin. The vitamin has been shown to help improve skin conditions such as acne, and promote the healing of wounds. Vitamin A has been an effective treatment for sun-damaged skin, and also skin cancer. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin A also stimulates the production of collagen, making it helpful in slowing the rate of cell aging and inhibiting hyperpigmentation of aging skin.

With sweet potatoes having high levels of Vitamins A (in the form of carotenoids), C, and E, the vegetable can play an important role in the repair and management of healthy skin and hair.

Fiber and Gut Health: The antioxidants combined with the soluble and insoluble fibers in sweet potatoes make them an excellent food for supporting the health of our gastrointestinal tracts. Soluble fiber absorbs water and softens stool. Insoluble fiber provides bulk and promotes movement of the contents of the GI tract. Studies have also found that antioxidants can help promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which further supports the health of the GI tract, and lowers the risk of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Some of each type of fiber provides food for the bacteria that live in the colon, creating short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells lining the intestines keeping them healthy. Fiber-rich diets have been shown to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Cooking Method Makes a Difference. Some people are concerned about the sugar content of sweet potatoes. Yes, they do contain some sugar. However, they are high in fiber, which is very effective in stabilizing blood sugar. Interestingly, how a sweet potato is cooked affects the glycemic index of the vegetable.

Boiling with the skin intact appears to retain most of the antioxidants in sweet potatoes, when compared to roasting and steaming. The skin has nearly ten times the antioxidants as the flesh, which are drastically reduced when the potatoes are baked. The glycemic index of boiled sweet potatoes is much lower than that of baked ones. Steaming also seems to be a good way to preserve the nutrients in sweet potatoes, following second to boiling with the peel on.

A little fat will do. To get the most benefit from the beta-carotene content of sweet potatoes, it is helpful to include some fat with the meal, since sweet potatoes contain very little fat. Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble substance, so fat is needed for its best absorption. Note, that just a small amount of a fat-containing food will do. There is NO need to slather your sweet potato with butter. A mere 3 to 5 grams of fat in a meal can be enough to aid in the absorption of the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes. For instance, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil has 14 grams of fat. Doing the math, a mere teaspoon of oil (providing 3-1/2 grams of total fat) per meal is enough fat to do the job. Or, instead of olive oil, only 3-1/2 walnut HALVES (that’s less than two whole walnuts) could also do the trick, providing about 4-1/2 grams of total fat. So, a little fat will go a long way in helping us to absorb the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes!

How to Select Sweet Potatoes
Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and without cracks, bruises or soft spots. Small to medium size sweet potatoes will tend to be sweet and creamy, whereas larger ones tend to be starchier.

How to Store Sweet Potatoes
Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark, well ventilated place away from a heat source. Ideally, they should be stored below 60F (but above 40F, refrigerator temperature), which would be equivalent to a root cellar. Since most of us don’t have root cellars, a cool, well ventilated place will usually suffice. Refrigeration is not recommended as it will alter the flavor. Also, it is best to store sweet potatoes loosely, not in plastic bags, which could invite mold.

How to Prepare Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be baked, steamed, boiled, roasted, microwaved, dried, juiced, made into soups, added to casseroles, baked into breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, and pies, added to pancakes, and even eaten raw. How you use sweet potatoes is only limited to your imagination! Below are details of just a few ways that sweet potatoes could be cooked.

Wash the sweet potatoes and peel them, if desired. The skin is edible, so it is not mandatory to peel them. Sweet potato flesh will darken after being cut or peeled, so use them immediately after cutting into them. If needed, they can be submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent oxidation, until you are ready to cook them.

To minimize nutrient loss, it is helpful to cook sweet potatoes with the peel on. Then remove the peel, if desired, after they are cooked. The peel is edible and nutritious. However, they may be coated with wax or even dyed if purchased commercially. In this case it may be wise to remove the peel before eating your sweet potatoes. Opting for organic sweet potatoes would avoid those potential issues.

Steaming Sweet Potatoes. Steaming sweet potatoes seems to be a valuable way to cook them while preserving nutrients. Steaming also allows them to cook quickly, while keeping the glycemic index low. Steam 1/2-inch sweet potato slices for 7 minutes, then top them with a small amount of a fat-containing food, like a couple chopped walnuts, to help utilize the beta-carotene in them.

Baking Whole Sweet Potatoes. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub the potatoes and place them on a clean, dry baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the preheated oven. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 1 hour (or more depending on their size), until they are fork-tender. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow them to cool.

Boiling Whole Sweet Potatoes. Boiling whole sweet potatoes is very easy and takes little effort. Wash the potatoes well in cool water. Do not peel them. Place them in a large pot and cover them with water. Place a lid on the pot and bring everything to boil. Turn the heat down to about medium, cock the lid and allow them to boil gently for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, until a sharp knife can easily pierce the potatoes. Drain the water and allow them to cool enough to be handled. Once cooled, the peel can very easily be removed, if desired.

Cooked sweet potatoes should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use them within three to five days.

How to Preserve Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be dehydrated, frozen or canned.

Dehydrating Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes should be cooked first before being dehydrated. They may be either boiled, steamed or roasted. Wash the sweet potatoes and leave the peel on (if roasting or boiling the potatoes). Personally, I have found the best results for dehydrating sweet potatoes when they were roasted first. Roast them (unpeeled, washed, and with no added oil or spices on them) on a rimmed baking sheet at 375°F until they are fork-tender, about 1 hour or more, depending on the size. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool so they can be handled. Remove the peel and slice them about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick. Place them in a single layer on your dehydrator mesh tray, making sure the slices do not touch each other. Follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions for time and temperature for drying your sweet potatoes. When finished, store them in air-tight containers.

For a demonstration on dehydrating sweet potatoes with this method, see my video at https://youtu.be/SmalFyoROgU

Freezing Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be frozen in a number of ways depending on how they will be used later. Here are directions for various ways to freeze sweet potatoes:

Freezing Boiled Sliced or Diced Sweet Potatoes. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, scrub the sweet potatoes and peel them*. Slice or dice the potatoes as desired. Add the potato pieces to the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, or until they just begin to get tender, but are still quite firm. Remove the cooked potatoes and let them stand at room temperature until they are cooled.

Transfer the prepared sweet potato pieces to freezer containers or bags and remove as much air as possible. Label with the current date and place them in the freezer. Alternatively, to keep the potato pieces from freezing in one big lump, you can place the prepared pieces in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or tray. Place the tray in the freezer. When the pieces are frozen, transfer them to a freezer container or bag, label it with the current date, then return them to the freezer. For best quality, use the potato pieces within 12 months.

* Sweet potatoes may also be boiled whole, with the skin intact. Simply scrub them and submerge them in a pot of water. Bring the water to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a sharp knife. Remove them from the hot water and allow them to cool. Remove the skins, then slice them as desired, and proceed as detailed above.

Freezing Whole Baked Sweet Potatoes. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub the potatoes and place them (unpeeled) on a clean, dry baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the preheated oven. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 1 hour (or more depending on their size), until they are fork-tender. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow them to cool. Wrap the cooled sweet potatoes in foil and transfer them to freezer bags to freeze whole. Or, freeze the baked potatoes individually on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to freezer bags and return them to the freezer. For best quality, use them within 12 months.

To reheat whole baked sweet potatoes, remove the foil (if foil was used) and rewrap them in a new piece of foil. Bake at 350°F for about 25 to 35 minutes.

Freezing Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Bake the whole sweet potatoes as directed above. Slip the skins off the cooled potatoes, and put the flesh in a large bowl or food processor. Process until smooth. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice for each pint (2 cups) of mashed sweet potatoes, if desired. Lemon juice helps to prevent browning, but it is not absolutely necessary. The mashed sweet potatoes can be added to casseroles, breads, puddings, cakes, pies, and cookies.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be found fresh, frozen (in some grocery stores), and canned. Fresh sweet potatoes offer the most versatility, but frozen ones (if you can find them) are a great convenience. Frozen sweet potatoes can be used for just about any cooking application and will save time in the kitchen. Canned sweet potatoes are a nice third option, but are usually packed with added sugars and possibly other ingredients. They may be convenient and time-saving, depending upon your intended use of them. They are a handy kitchen staple to have in the cupboard in case of emergencies or when time is running short.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Sweet Potatoes
* Try potato pancakes with a mix of white and sweet potatoes. Top with apple cranberry chutney.

* If you have leftover mashed sweet potatoes, add them to your usual pancake mix for breakfast the next day.

* Raw sweet potatoes will turn dark shortly after being peeled, so it’s best to peel them right before using them. If you need to peel them in advance, place them in a bowl of cool water to keep them from turning dark.

* Make a simple dessert with puréed cooked sweet potatoes and bananas, maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon or allspice. Top with chopped walnuts.

* If you’re low on sweet potatoes and need them for a recipe, possible substitutes include carrots, pumpkin, and winter squash (such as butternut, buttercup, or kabocha).

* It’s best not to keep raw sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. When they get too cold, it can change how their starches break down, making them tougher to cook and eat. According to the USDA, the ideal temperature for keeping sweet potatoes is around 60°F.

* For a quick meal, slice a cooked whole sweet potato in half lengthwise. Top with leftover chili and grated cheese, or black beans and salsa, or baked beans, or scrambled eggs.

* One pound of sweet potatoes will be about 4 cups chopped or sliced.

* Try adding mashed cooked sweet potatoes to baked goods for added moisture without adding extra fat.

* Try sautéed, spiralized sweet potatoes. Top it with your favorite sauce or sweet potato seasonings.

* Try roasted Hasselback sweet potatoes; drizzle with maple syrup and a sprinkle of thyme.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Sweet Potatoes
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder (and spices), garam masala, lemongrass, marjoram, mustard (seeds, powder), nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, savory, thyme, turmeric, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Sweet Potatoes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general, esp. black, green beans), chickpeas, duck, eggs, ham, lentils, nuts and nut butters (in general), peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, poppy seeds, pork, poultry, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tempeh, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard (Swiss), chiles, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens (all types), kale, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes (white), radicchio, scallions, shallots, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, watercress

Fruits: Apples (fresh, cider, juice, sauce), apricots, bananas, coconut, cranberries (dried, juice), dried fruit, figs, lemon, lime, oranges, pears, pineapple, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, corn, couscous, millet, oats, pasta, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Browned butter, butter, cheese (esp. blue, feta, Fontina, goat, Parmesan), coconut butter, coconut cream, coconut milk, cream, crème fraiche, ghee, milk (dairy and non-dairy), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, bourbon, caramel, chocolate, hoisin sauce, honey, maple syrup, miso, molasses, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. grapeseed, hazelnut, olive, peanut, sesame, walnut), rum, soy sauce, stock, sugar (esp. brown), tamari, vinegar (esp. balsamic, red wine, rice wine, sherry)

Sweet potatoes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., biscuits, breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pies), burritos, casseroles, chips (vegetable), croutons, curries, custards, desserts (i.e., custards, pies, puddings), gratins, hash, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, pancakes, pasta dishes, pâtés, purees, quesadillas, salads, salsa, shepherd’s pie, soufflés, soups (i.e., black bean, sweet potato, tomato), stews, tempura, waffles (sweet potato)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Sweet Potatoes
Add sweet potatoes to any of the following combinations…

Allspice + Cinnamon + Ginger + Maple Syrup + Nutmeg [+ vanilla]
Almond milk + Cinnamon + Maple Syrup + Nutmeg [+ vanilla]
Almonds + Almond Milk + Apples
Apples + Ginger
Avocado + Black Beans + Chiles
Balsamic Vinegar + Kale + Sage
Bell Peppers + Garlic + Onions [in hash]
Black Beans + Cilantro + Mango [in salsa]
Black Beans + Salsa [in tortillas]
Browned Butter + Sage
Brown Sugar + Cinnamon + Vanilla
Brown Sugar + Citrus Juice
Brown Sugar + Ginger
Chiles + Ginger + Lime + Salt
Chiles + Honey
Chocolate + Cinnamon + Nuts + Vanilla
Coconut Milk + Curry Spices
Garlic + Herbs (i.e., rosemary, sage, thyme)
Ginger + Honey + Sesame Seeds/Oil + Soy Sauce
Ginger + Lime + Pears
Ginger + Orange + Yogurt
Ginger + Sesame Oil/Seeds
Greens + Quinoa
Honey + Lime
Maple Syrup + Pecans
Molasses + Sesame Seeds
Nuts + Raisins
Sesame Seeds/Oil + Soy Sauce

Recipe Links
Butter Roasted Sweet Potatoes https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-butter-roasted-sweet-potatoes-248389

Sweet Potato Pancakes https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-sweet-potato-pancakes-224305

7-Minute “Quick Steamed” Sweet Potatoes http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=325

Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=94

Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Cinnamon http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=205

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon https://producemadesimple.ca/maple-mashed-sweet-potatoes-bacon/

Sweet Potato Muffins https://producemadesimple.ca/sweet-potato-muffins/

Spicy-Sweet Roasted Sweet Potatoes https://spicysouthernkitchen.com/spicy-sweet-roasted-sweet-potatoes/

Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes https://tasty.co/recipe/rosemary-roasted-sweet-potatoes

50+ Delicious New Ways to Prepare Sweet Potatoes https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g877/sweet-potato-recipes-1009/

Glazed Sweet Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/glazed-sweet-potatoes/

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/roasted-sweet-potatoes-with-honey-butter-recipe-1946538

57 Killer Sweet Potato Recipes to Make This Fall https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/thanksgiving/g622/sweet-potato-recipes/

Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sweet-potatoes-apple-butter

20 Diners That All Start with Sweet Potatoes https://www.thekitchn.com/15-ways-to-turn-sweet-potatoes-into-dinner-236137

6 Amazing Ways to Stuff a Sweet Potato https://www.onelovelylife.com/6-amazing-ways-to-stuff-a-baked-sweet-potato/

Honey Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes Skillet https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/honey-roasted-chicken-sweet-potatoes-skillet/

Red Lentil Sweet Potato Soup https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-red-lentil-sweet-potato-soup-253246#post-recipe-13007























Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

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


About Judi

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


Carrots 101 – The Basics (UPDATE)

This is an updated version of my original post on “Carrots 101 – The Basics.”  The information has been expanded and new sections added for more comprehensive information. Hopefully, any question you have about carrots will be answered below.


Carrots 101 – The Basics (UPDATE)

About Carrots
Carrots are root vegetables that most of us are familiar with. No one knows exactly when carrots first came about, but they can be traced back 5,000 years through historical documents and paintings. They are native to many regions around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Europe. Carrots were eventually carried around the world, and are now grown in most areas as a food crop. Currently, China is the world’s top carrot producer, with many other countries, including the United States, playing important roles in the world’s production of carrots. In America, most carrots are grown in California, followed by Michigan, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Carrots are the sixth most consumed vegetable in the United States, preceded by potatoes, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and sweet corn.

The name “carrot” stems from the Greek word “karoton.” The first three letters were used to designate anything with a horn-like shape. In this case, the name was referring to the taproot of the carrot plant. The Vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene, was actually named from carrots (karoton), because they are so rich in this important nutrient. In America, we are most familiar with the orange variety of carrots. However, they also come in black (actually very deep purple), purple, red, white, and yellow varieties. The color of the carrot root results from various pigments that are intermediate products in the production of the carotenoids in the taproots. There are valuable nutritional qualities about each variety of carrot.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). They also supply a lot of biotin, Vitamin K, dietary fiber, molybdenum, potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, manganese, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, folate, copper, Vitamin E and Vitamin B2.

Carrots are well-known for their high beta-carotene content. This gives them their color and valuable health properties. But they also contain other carotenoids and phytonutrients that provide strong health-promoting properties.

Antioxidant Benefits. All varieties of carrots supply valuable antioxidants in the form of assorted carotenoids. Various research studies have shown that subjects who ate deeply colored foods rich in antioxidant carotenoids, such as carrots, had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, eye disease, and liver disease.

Cardiovascular Disease.  The fiber and potassium found in carrots have been shown to lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Cancer. Antioxidants are known to stop the activity of harmful free radicals in the body. Too many free radicals increase our risk for cancer. A series of research studies has shown that dietary carotenoids, like those found in carrots, can decrease our risk specifically for prostate cancer, leukemia, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Eye Disease. The Vitamin A (carotenoids) in carrots have been shown to help ward off xerophthalmia, an eye disease due to Vitamin A deficiency. If not treated with Vitamin A, this disease leads to night blindness, and can eventually dry out the eyes culminating in total blindness. In fact, xerophthalmia is one of the leading causes of blindness globally, especially in children in underdeveloped nations. Simply eating carrots or other deeply orange-yellow pigmented vegetables can help you avoid this devastating problem.

Liver Disease. The plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene in carrots stimulate and support overall liver function and also help to prevent liver disease. Carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds. When a carrot leaves the stomach, bile is released from the gallbladder into the intestinal tract to help with the digestive process. This stimulates the liver to produce more bile, promoting healthy liver function. In an animal study, researchers at the School of Pharmacy, Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, found that beta-carotene may prevent liver damage caused by alcohol. So, carrots seem to have multiple ways they can help to keep the liver healthy.

Blood Sugar Control. Many people shy away from carrots because they believe they are full of sugar. Actually, the carbohydrate content of carrots is about 10%, with about half of that being sugar. Another 30% of the carbohydrate content is fiber. With a medium carrot providing only 25 calories, that makes carrots a high-fiber, low-calorie food that is relatively low in sugar. Because of this, carrots have a low glycemic index. Boiled carrots have a glycemic index of around 39. This means they are unlikely to trigger a blood sugar spike and are safe for people with diabetes to eat. Researchers have determined that high-fiber foods may help prevent Type 2 diabetes, along with helping those with the disease to manage their blood sugar levels. So, there is no valid reason to fear carrots because of their natural carbohydrate content.

How to Select Carrots
In most grocery stores, fresh carrots can be found whole, with or without their green tops, sliced, shredded, and ground down to “baby” carrot size. This selection can make food preparation faster and easier, depending upon your needs. The following information pertains to purchasing whole, uncut carrots.

Look for carrots that are firm, smooth, bright in color and relatively straight. Avoid those that are excessively cracked, limp or rubbery. If the green tops are not attached, look at the color of the stem end. Darker color indicates an older carrot. If the green tops are still attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery, and not wilted.

The sugars are concentrated in the core of the carrot. So, larger carrots should be sweeter than very thin ones.

How to Store Carrots
Store carrots in the refrigerator, preferably in the coolest part. Minimize moisture loss by keeping them in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer, wrapped in paper towels to help reduce condensation. Another way to store them is in a separate container with a lid, lined with a clean cotton cloth or paper towel. The cloth or paper towel will help to maintain a humid environment while absorbing excess moisture released by the carrots, keeping them from laying in water.  Carrots stored like this should keep well for about two weeks, or longer.

If your carrots came with the green tops attached, the tops should be cut off from the carrots before being stored in the refrigerator. Leaving them attached will pull moisture from the carrot roots, causing them to wilt prematurely. To store carrot greens, wrap them in a slightly damp paper towel or cloth and place them loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They are fragile and should be used soon after purchase, before they wilt.

Store carrots away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears and potatoes. The ethylene gas can cause the carrots to taste bitter. They should keep well for about two weeks in the refrigerator. When you go to use them, discard any that smell or look bad…when in doubt throw them out!

How to Prepare Carrots
Wash and scrub carrots when you are ready to use them. Peeling them is not mandatory, but optional. Cut away and discard the stem end and any parts that look aged or unhealthy.

Peeled carrots that are allowed to sit unused for a while may turn whitish. This is simply a sign of dehydration from being exposed to the air. A little time in a bowl of water will revive them, if desired.

The green carrot leaves ARE edible and are not toxic. However, they do contain some compounds (alkaloids and nitrates) that some people may react to. Therefore, whether you choose to eat the tops or not is solely up to you. If you opt out, toss them outside for your local rabbit to enjoy!

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.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Carrots
In most American grocery stores, carrots are available fresh, frozen and canned, year-round.

Fresh carrots are usually your best nutritional option and they are the most versatile, since they can be eaten raw or cooked in whatever way you want.

Frozen carrots are a great second choice since they are usually processed quickly after being harvested and a lot of their nutritional content has been preserved.

Canned options are always a good staple to have on hand for many reasons, especially in case of emergencies. But nutritionally speaking, they are the least preferred option.

How to Preserve Carrots
Freezing Carrots. Fresh carrots can easily be frozen.  Wash and trim your carrots, removing the stem end and any blemishes. Peeling carrots is optional. Cut them into desired size pieces. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place your prepared carrots (of equal size) into the boiling water and set your timer immediately. Whole small carrots should remain in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Diced or sliced carrots, or those cut into thin lengthwise strips should remain in the boiling water for 2 minutes. As soon as the timer is finished, transfer the blanched carrots to a bowl of ice water and leave them there for the same length of time they were in the hot water. Then drain them well and place them in freezer containers or bags, removing as much air as possible. Label the container with the current date. The blanched carrots should keep well for 10 to 12 months in the freezer.

Dehydrating Carrots. Carrots may also be dehydrated. They should be cut into thin slices or shredded for the best results. The carrots should be washed, trimmed, and blanched as detailed above. Then spread out the blanched, cooled, and drained carrots in a single layer on a mesh dehydrator tray. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended temperature and length of time suggested for dehydrating your carrots. When finished, they should be brittle or very tough and leathery. When broken in half, there should be no soft spots within. If there are, they are still moist inside and should be returned to the dehydrator until completely dry. Store your dried carrot pieces in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Placing an oxygen absorber in the container with the dehydrated carrots, and removing as much air as possible from the container will help to keep them fresh for an extended period of time. Properly prepared and stored dehydrated carrots will potentially last for years, so it is worth the effort to prepare them for the long haul.

Some people choose to dehydrate carrots without blanching them first. Yes, carrots may be dehydrated this way, but their quality will be poor. Blanching helps to preserve their color, texture, and flavor by deactivating enzymes that cause the vegetables to age while in storage. Furthermore, blanching kills any microorganisms that may be on the carrots, which can prevent foodborne illness later. Also, blanched vegetables dehydrate faster than those that were not treated first. If you opt to dehydrate carrots without blanching them first, they should be used within three months.

Tips for Using Dehydrated Carrots: To rehydrate your carrots, place them in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Use twice the amount of water as dried carrots. (Example: Use 2 cups of boiling water to rehydrate 1 cup of dried carrot slices.) Allow them to soak for 20 to 45* minutes. They will be best used in soups, casseroles, sauces, stuffing, baked goods, stews, and any other dishes where they may continue to soak up liquid as needed.

* When using dehydrated carrots in soups or stews, allow them to soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Add any remaining soaking liquid to the pot. When using dehydrated carrots in fried rice, stir-fries, casseroles, etc., allow them to soak for 30 to 45 minutes, then drain any extra liquid before adding the rehydrated carrots to the recipe. The longer the dried carrots are allowed to soak, the more they will resemble freshly cut carrots.

Conversion Rates:
3/4 cup of dried carrot slices = 1 pound of fresh carrot slices
1 cup of dried carrot pieces = 2 cups rehydrated carrot pieces

Here is a link to my video on “Dehydrating or Freezing Carrots”  https://youtu.be/f1XZRLbrL5A

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Carrots
* Add shredded carrots to coleslaws, salads, and wraps.

* Add shredded carrots to baked goods like muffins.

* Enjoy carrot sticks with your favorite hummus as a snack or part of a meal.

* Add carrots to juices or smoothies.

* Enjoy carrots raw or steamed for the most nutritional value.

* Try a simple salad with shredded carrots, beets, and apple.

* For something different, try spiced carrot sticks. Soak carrot sticks in hot water spiced with cayenne, coriander seeds and salt. Allow them to cool in the water, drain, then serve.

* The carotenoids in carrots are fat-soluble, so you’ll absorb them best if they’re eaten with a little fat. [Note that’s a little fat; a lot of fat is not needed.] A couple walnuts, a little diced avocado, or a sprinkle of sesame seeds would provide plenty of fat for adequate absorption.

* For something different, add finely shredded carrots to your next batch of pancakes.

* Here’s a twist on pumpkin pie…make carrot pie instead! Substitute cooked, puréed carrots instead of pumpkin and make your pie as usual.

* FYI…Baby carrots are not a special variety of carrots that grow small. They are regular carrots that were “whittled” down to their small size.

* Top roasted carrots with a blend of yogurt and dates. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Carrots
Allspice, anise seeds, basil, bay leaf, caraway seeds, cardamom, chervil, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill, fennel seeds, marjoram, mint, mustard (ground, seeds), nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Carrots
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general, esp. black, broad, green), beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, edamame, ham, hazelnuts, lentils, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), peanuts, peanut butter, peas, pecans, pine nuts, pork, seafood, seeds (esp. poppy, sesame, sunflower), sesame paste, snap peas, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, celery root, chiles, chives, cucumbers, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens (in general), leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, root vegetables (in general), shallots, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, citrus fruits (in general), coconut, dates, dried fruits (in general), lemons, limes, olives, oranges, pineapple, pomegranate, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bulgur, corn, couscous, farro, millet, oats, pasta, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, browned butter, cheese (esp. cheddar, cream, feta, goat, Parmesan, ricotta, Swiss), coconut butter, coconut milk, cream, crème fraiche, mascarpone, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, maple syrup, miso, molasses, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. coconut, olive, peanut, sesame, walnut), pesto, soy sauce, sugar (esp. brown), vinegar (esp. balsamic, cider, red wine, rice wine, white wine)

Carrots have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., cakes, muffins), chili, crudités, curries, desserts (i.e., cakes, mousses), Moroccan cuisine, noodle dishes (esp. Asian), purees (i.e., carrot, root vegetable), risotto, salads, slaws, soups (i.e., carrot, onion, vegetable), stews (i.e., Moroccan tagines)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Carrots
Add carrots to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Pineapple + Vanilla
Apples + Cinnamon + Pecans + Vanilla
Apples + Raisins + Walnuts
Balsamic Vinegar + Beets + Chives + Greens
Brown Sugar + Orange + Pineapple + Raisins
Caraway Seeds + Cumin
Caraway Seeds + Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil + Parsley
Cardamom + Maple Syrup + Orange + Yogurt [in a soup]
Celery + Onions
Chiles + Cilantro + Lime Juice
Cilantro + Ginger + Scallions + Sesame Oil
Cinnamon + Coconut + Nuts + Pineapple
Cinnamon + Nutmeg + Pineapple + Walnuts
Cinnamon + Orange + Vanilla
Coconut + Garlic + Ginger + Lime Juice
Cranberries + Orange + Walnuts
Cumin + Garlic + Lemon + Parsley
Dates + Sunflower Seeds + Yogurt
Dill + Lemon + Lentils
Fennel + Garlic
Fruit + Nuts (i.e., apples, oranges, pineapple, raisins; almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts)
Garlic + Potatoes + Thyme
Ginger + Honey + Rosemary
Ginger + Orange (or other citrus fruits)
Honey + Lemon Juice + Olive Oil + Raisins + Vinegar + Walnuts
Honey + Orange
Honey + Pineapple + Yogurt
Lemon Juice + Mustard + Parsley
Maple Syrup + Mustard
Nuts + Raisins
Parsnips + Thyme
Sesame Seeds + Sugar Snap Peas

Recipe Links
Easy Orange Glazed Carrots (with Frozen Carrots) https://youtu.be/eVo8j8nzQoc

Roasted Honey (or Maple) Carrots with Walnuts https://youtu.be/AEe-sWP2J0E

Fast, Easy, Honey Glazed Carrots (from fresh carrots) https://youtu.be/pQLXzTl9wIs

Cook Easy, Fast, Glazed Carrots (from frozen carrots) https://youtu.be/2JYgp5d7fBk

Easy Kale, Carrot and Mushroom Combo https://youtu.be/kbLtLD1RSug

Kohlrabi Carrot Pineapple Salad https://youtu.be/fYSuyqJc12I

Carrot Coconut Soup http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=187

Primavera Verde http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=166

Steamed Vegetable Medley http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=58

Super Carrot Raisin Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=164

Minted Green Peas and Carrots http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=189

Carrot Cashew Pate http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=294

Roasted Brown Butter Honey Garlic Carrots https://therecipecritic.com/roasted-brown-butter-honey-garlic-carrots/

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

20 of Our Best Carrot Recipes You Need to Try https://www.thekitchn.com/20-ways-to-use-up-a-bag-of-carrots-242467

32 Simple Carrot Recipes We Love https://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/carrots#4

Minted Green Peas and Carrots http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=189

Raw Carrot Salad with Turmeric Dressing https://producemadesimple.ca/raw-carrot-salad-with-turmeric-dressing/

Apple-Carrot Muffins https://producemadesimple.ca/ontario-apple-carrot-muffins/

20+ Carrot Recipes https://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/20-carrot-recipes

Carrot Cake Pancakes https://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/carrot-cakes

51 Carrot Recipes Worth Their Weight in Gold https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/carrot-recipes






















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

About Judi

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


Oregano 101 – The Basics


Oregano 101 – The Basics

About Oregano
Oregano is a perennial herb that grows into a small shrub with multi-branched stems, with small, oval, grayish-green leaves. As the plant matures, it produces small white or pink flowers that are edible.

Oregano is an herb in the mint family. It is a close “cousin” to marjoram. Oregano is native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia. People have used it for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal uses. Ancient Greeks and Romans associated oregano with joy and happiness, and used it at both weddings and funerals. The couple to be married was adorned with wreaths or garlands of oregano to ensure long years of love and happiness. Graves were planted with oregano to help the deceased find peace and tranquility in the next life.

Ancient Greeks discovered the plant had medicinal properties and used it to treat a variety of ailments. Oregano eventually was taken to China where it was prescribed to relieve fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and itchy skin. In the middle ages, people used oregano to treat rheumatism, toothache, indigestion, and cough. Later, oregano was consumed throughout Europe and Northern Africa where it was used to flavor meats, fish, and even wine. Oregano was hardly known in the United States before World War II. Soldiers discovered the herb during the Italian Campaign and brought the herb to the United States, with suggested ways to use it. Its popularity in America has grown ever since.

Oregano is very popular in Mediterranean cuisines, especially Greek and Italian foods. The leaves have a distinct aroma with a warm, slightly bitter flavor. The intensity of the flavor of oregano can vary among the different varieties. Also, growing conditions (season, climate, and soil) affect the flavor of oregano, so it can vary from a mild to intense, biting flavor.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Even though we don’t eat a lot of oregano at any one time, the herb has an impressive list of compounds known to have disease prevention and health promoting properties.

Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties. Thymol, one of the noteworthy compounds in oregano is known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. In a 2019 study, thymol and carvacrol, another important compound found in oregano essential oil, were found to prevent various strains of Staphylococcus aureus from developing in meat and dairy products, suggesting it could be used to deter bacterial growth in food. Researchers tested the antimicrobial effects of oregano oil against an array of microbes and found it to be effective against eleven different strains of bacteria.

Oregano is also an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is well-known for its antioxidant properties and help in warding off infections.

Antioxidants. Oregano is rich in antioxidant compounds, including Vitamin A, carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. It has been rated to be a plant among the highest with antioxidant benefits. These compounds protect us from dangerous free radical molecules that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Animal studies suggest that oregano extract may reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune arthritis, allergic asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Promotes Healthy Digestion. Oregano stimulates the release of gastric juices, promoting healthy digestion and movement of intestinal contents.

Source of Important Minerals. Oregano is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium, an important electrolyte in cellular and body fluids, is well-known for helping to control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese functions as a co-factor in the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is well-known for helping to prevent anemia, while magnesium and calcium are essential for healthy bones.

How to Select Oregano
Dried oregano is available in just about any grocery store you can name. Fresh oregano is found in the refrigerated produce section of many grocery stores. Many people prefer the flavor of fresh oregano over dried. Also, fresh oregano is richer in essential oils, and vitamins and minerals than its dried counterpart.

When shopping for fresh oregano, select those with a vibrant green color and a firm stem. There should be no mold, discoloration or yellowing.  They should not look wilted.

How to Store Oregano
Do not wash fresh oregano until you are ready to use it. The excess moisture could invite decay.

There are different ways fresh oregano can be stored…

(1) Store fresh oregano in the refrigerator in the original clamshell container it came in. Stored this way, it will keep for a few days.

(2) Store fresh oregano in the refrigerator, in a zip-lock bag. Like the plastic clamshell container, fresh herbs kept this way will have a tendency to dry out and should be used within three days.

(3) Store fresh oregano loosely wrapped, jelly roll style, in a slightly damp paper towel or cloth, placed loosely in a plastic bag, and kept in the refrigerator. When stored this way, it may keep for up to one week.

(4) Fresh oregano may also be kept like fresh cut flowers, standing up, cut side down, in a glass with a little water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. Change the water every day or two. Try to use oregano kept this way within one week.

Store dried oregano in an airtight container in a cool, dry, place, away from a heat source and light. For best flavor, use it within six months.

How to Freeze Oregano
First, wash and dry your fresh oregano sprigs. Remove the leaves from the stems and place them loosely in a freezer bag. Remove as much air from the bag as you can. Try to place it somewhere in the freezer where the leaves won’t get crushed. Use within one year.

Fresh oregano may also be frozen in ice cubes. Wash and remove the leaves from stems. Place a measured amount of leaves in ice cube trays. Fill with water and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or container. To use, simply add however many cubes you need to soups, sauces, stews, or marinades. Use your cubes within one year.

How to Dry Oregano
Like storing and freezing fresh oregano, there are different ways it can be dried.

(1) Wash and dry the fresh oregano on the stems. Tie the stems toward the cut side, and hang them upside down to dry in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. The area should have plenty of ventilation. Once dried, the bundle can be placed in a bag or container and stored away from light and heat. Use within six months for best flavor. To save space, the leaves can easily be removed from the stems before being stored.

(2) Wash and dry the fresh oregano on the stems. Place the oregano, stems and all, in a clean paper bag that is large enough so the stems won’t be overly crowded. Close the paper bag by folding over the top. Lay the bag on its side in a cool, dry place. Two or three times a day, gently shake the bag to keep any branches from sticking together and turn the bag over. Check it periodically for dryness, starting after a week or so. When they are completely dry, remove the leaves from the stems and place them in an airtight container. Store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Use within six months for best flavor.

(3) Fresh oregano may also be dried in a dehydrator. Wash and pat the stems and leaves dry. Place the stems on a mesh dehydrator sheet and follow the manufacturer’s directions for drying your herbs. The usual temperature for drying herbs is as low as possible, about 95°F. Allow them to dehydrate until they are crispy and completely dry. Remove the leaves from the stems and transfer them to an airtight container. As with the other methods, store it in a cool, dry place away from a heat source and light. Use within six months for best flavor.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Oregano
* Add dried oregano at the beginning of cooking to allow it to rehydrate and the flavor to be released. Add fresh oregano at the end of cooking so the flavor will remain in your food.

* Some varieties of oregano can be spicier than others. Italian oregano is sweeter and milder in flavor. Greek and Mexican oregano is hotter and spicier in flavor.

* If your pizza is lacking that “classic” pizza flavor, sprinkle it with a little dried oregano. Oregano is the herb that makes pizza taste like pizza.

* Try adding oregano to tomato-based pasta dishes, omelets, breads, roasted potatoes, kebabs, chicken, and lentils.

* Add a little sprinkle of dried oregano leaves to a green salad for a spicy flavor.

* If a recipe calls for fresh oregano and all you have is dried (or vice versa), here’s the conversion rate: 1 part of dried oregano = 3 parts of fresh. Example: 1 teaspoon of dried oregano = 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of fresh oregano.

* If you’re making your own fresh dinner rolls, finely mince a few tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves, and knead it directly in the dough for fresh herb rolls.

* Try adding some fresh, chopped oregano leaves to a pot of beans during the last 15 minutes of cooking for an earthy oregano flavor.

* Make a robust, savory pesto using fresh oregano instead of basil leaves. Serve a little on a green salad, toss it with roasted vegetables, or brush it on your favorite bread.

* For a simple and satisfying salad, sprinkle oregano on sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

* If you elect to use oregano oil on your skin, be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Oregano
Basil, capers, cayenne, cilantro, cumin, marjoram, pepper (black), salt

Foods That Go Well with Oregano
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish (and other seafood), lamb, pork, tahini, turkey, veal

Vegetables: Bell peppers, chiles, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, squash (summer and winter), tomatoes and tomato sauce, vegetables (roasted, stir-fried), zucchini

Fruits: Citrus (in general), lemons, olives, orange

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

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., feta, soft, white)

Other Foods: Mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive)

Oregano has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Chili, Greek cuisine, Italian cuisine, kebabs, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, pasta dishes, pizza, salad dressings, salads (esp. Greek), sauces (esp. pasta, pizza, tomato), soups (esp. minestrone, spinach, tomato, yogurt), Southwest American cuisine, stews, stuffings

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Oregano
Add oregano to any of the following combinations…

Cannellini beans + zucchini
Feta cheese + tomatoes [in salads]
Garlic + lemon [in salad dressings]
Lemon juice + olive oil [in marinades]

Recipe Links
Chimichurri Sauce https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/68003/chimichurri-sauce/

Fast, Fresh Grape Tomato Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/223168/fast-fresh-grape-tomato-salad/

Cajun spice Mix https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/149221/cajun-spice-mix/

Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/242352/greek-lemon-chicken-and-potatoes/

Daddy Eddie’s Roast Pork, Puerto Rican-Style https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/254168/daddy-eddies-roast-pork-pernil-puerto-rican-style/

Homemade Pizza Sauce https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/234536/how-to-make-homemade-pizza-sauce/

Herbs de Provence https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/223272/herbs-de-provence/

Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/36520/absolutely-fabulous-greekhouse-dressing/

Oregano Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/seasonings/herbs/oregano/oregano-recipes?slide=91503ca7-1673-4fde-b3b1-1f75cdfa0db9#91503ca7-1673-4fde-b3b1-1f75cdfa0db9

Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini Pasta Salad https://www.sunset.com/recipe/grilled-yellow-squash-zucchini-pasta-salad

Orange, Radicchio, and Oregano Salad https://www.sunset.com/recipe/orange-radicchio-oregano-salad

Grilled Potato Salad https://www.sunset.com/recipe/grilled-potato-salad

Tagliatelle with Fresh Oregano Pesto https://www.tastymediterraneo.com/tagliatelle-with-fresh-oregano-pesto/














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


About Judi

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


Broccoli 101 – The Basics (UPDATE)

This is an update to my original post on Broccoli 101 – The Basics. This post has expanded, more comprehensive information about broccoli. However, the original post has a lot of valuable information, so please check it out too! https://www.judiklee.com/2019/02/28/broccoli-101-the-basics/


Broccoli 101 – The Basics (UPDATE)

About Broccoli
Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables in the cruciferous family and is enjoyed worldwide in many different cuisines. It is a member of the Brassica family of plants, and is related to many other popular vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, and Brussels sprouts.

The most popular variety of broccoli forms a “head,” referring to a flowering portion of the plant. This is the part of the plant we commonly refer to as the “florets.” If the plant is left to mature, the florets (head) would develop flowers that eventually produce seeds. Non-heading varieties of broccoli produce florets throughout the plant at the ends of the shoots. Broccoli varieties can range in color from deep sage to dark green to purplish green.

From what we understand, broccoli had its origins as a type of wild cabbage. Through centuries of selective planting, it was developed into the varieties that we are familiar with today. It is now grown in virtually all continents around the world and is especially diverse and plentiful in the Mediterranean area of Europe, the central and western parts of Asia, and the western half of North America. Almost all of the broccoli produced commercially in the United States is grown in California, followed by Arizona. Broccoli imported to America mostly comes from Mexico.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Broccoli is exceptionally high in many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. It is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, chromium and folate. It also supplies a lot of fiber, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, choline, Vitamin B1, Vitamin A, potassium, copper, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc, calcium, iron, niacin, and selenium. One cup of cooked broccoli has as much Vitamin C as an orange. It is also very low in calories, with one cup having only 31 calories. It is truly a powerhouse of nutrition!

In addition to its long list of vitamins and minerals, broccoli is concentrated with an array of phytonutrients which are key to its important health-promoting benefits.

Anti-Cancer Connection. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are particularly high in glucosinolates, which are converted into a group of compounds called isothiocyanates. These compounds are known to help shut down the inflammatory process. Sulforaphane is one of the well-known isothiocyanates known to squelch the inflammatory process, providing powerful health benefits.

There are other compounds in broccoli that work together synergistically providing potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, helping to reduce our risk for assorted types of cancer. Laboratory animal and test tube studies have shown sulforaphane to reduce both the size and number of cancer cells. Population studies have found that people who have a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables have a significantly lower cancer rate than those who eat less cruciferous vegetables.

It is noteworthy that sulforaphane is only activated through enzyme interaction when the vegetable is cut or chewed. Also, raw mature broccoli has more sulforaphane potential than lightly steamed broccoli. Broccoli sprouts have been found to have many times more of the health-boosting phytonutrients, including sulforaphane, than mature broccoli. To learn how to grow your own broccoli sprouts, see my video … https://youtu.be/U-e87xKofPs

Detoxification. In conjunction with the anti-cancer benefits of broccoli, it also has detoxification properties. Compounds in broccoli have been shown to improve Phase 2 of our detoxification process, which also helps to reduce our risk for cancer. The amount of broccoli shown to produce this effect is from 1 to 2 cups per day.

The vast blend of compounds in broccoli makes it a unique food in terms of cancer prevention. Oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and inadequate detoxification are well-documented connections to the development of cancer. Research has shown that broccoli has compounds that fight all three of those problems, thereby making it a highly valuable food in the fight against cancer. Even though 1 to 2 cups of broccoli a day may be ideal, researchers have found benefit with as little as ½ cup of broccoli daily. Even a 2-cup serving twice a week is enough to offer valuable benefits.  So, “the moral of the story” is…Eat your broccoli, whenever you can, as much as you can!

Cardiovascular Support. Recent studies have shown that broccoli can lower LDL cholesterol levels, decreasing our risk for heart disease. A recent study showed that as little as 1/3 cup of broccoli per day for 3 months lowered LDL cholesterol in subjects by 2.5 percent. Both raw and steamed broccoli showed cholesterol-lowering effects, although a stronger LDL-lowering effect was found with steamed broccoli.

Broccoli is also high in Vitamin B6 and folate, both of which are important nutrients in lowering homocysteine levels. Having lower homocysteine levels is associated with lowered risk for atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack.

Eye Health. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids found in significant amounts in broccoli, are especially important for eye health. Low levels of these compounds can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, both raising our risk for vision loss. Therefore, eating broccoli on a regular basis can help to prevent eye issues that can lead to vision loss over time.

Diabetes Risk. A human study reported in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, showed significantly reduced insulin resistance in subjects with Type 2 diabetes who ate broccoli sprouts daily for one month.

Healthy Digestion. Broccoli is high in fiber and antioxidants, both of which support healthy digestive function and the gut microbiome. Nutrients, such as those found in broccoli, have been found to promote reduced levels of inflammation in the colon along with favorable changes in the gut bacteria.

Brain Support. Some of the compounds in broccoli may slow mental decline and support healthy brain function. A study with 960 older adults showed that one serving a day of dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, helped to resist mental decline associated with aging. Animal studies showed that a compound in broccoli, kaempferol, lowered the incidence of brain injury and reduced inflammation following a stroke-like event. Another animal study showed that mice treated with sulforaphane had significant brain tissue recovery and reduced inflammation after a brain injury or toxic exposure.

Most of the current research on the effects of compounds found in broccoli on brain health are limited to animal studies. However, they are promising and may lead to further human studies.

Other Benefits of Broccoli. There are numerous other potential benefits of eating broccoli on a regular basis. The high Vitamin C level in broccoli supports a healthy immune system. The antioxidants found in broccoli, especially sulforaphane, may help to slow the aging process. Some of the compounds found in broccoli have been shown to support dental and oral health. Vitamin C, calcium, and kaempferol, a flavonoid found in broccoli, appear to play a role in preventing periodontal disease. Sulforaphane in broccoli may also reduce the risk for oral cancers. Broccoli is high in Vitamin K, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, all of which are nutrients vital for maintaining strong bones. Researchers have extensively studied the health benefits of broccoli and its components, and are finding new implications regularly. Joint health, pregnancy support, and skin health are also among the areas being studied.

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. The florets should be uniformly colored with no yellowing. Look for firm, strong stalks (flimsy stalks that bend are older and becoming dehydrated). Broccoli should feel heavy for its size. Any attached leaves should be vibrant in color and not wilted.

How to Store Fresh Broccoli
Do not wash fresh broccoli until you are ready to use it. Store it in the refrigerator. It may be stored in a plastic bag if you plan to use it quickly. However, for the longest storage life, place it in a container with a lid, with the bottom lined with a paper towel or clean cloth. That will absorb any moisture released by the broccoli, preventing it from sitting in water. At the same time, the cloth or paper towel will help to maintain a humid environment when it becomes damp from the moisture released by the broccoli. This will help to keep it from dehydrating. Use your fresh broccoli within 7 days.

How to Prepare Fresh Broccoli
Rinse fresh broccoli when you’re ready to use it. If it has started to dehydrate (get limp) in the refrigerator, it may be soaked in cold water for about 10 minutes to help crisp it back up.

The florets may be cooked whole or cut into smaller pieces, depending upon how you plan to use them. Of course, the smaller pieces will cook faster than the whole florets.

The stalks are often cut off and discarded. This is unfortunate, because they are edible and taste just like the florets. The outer edges of the stalks me be somewhat “woody.” If they are, the outer, tough area may be trimmed away (and discarded) either with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Then simply cut the stalks into desired size pieces, roughly the same size as the florets and cook them along with the florets.

Fresh broccoli may be eaten raw or cooked and used in just about any way imaginable: steamed, boiled, stir-fried, stir-steamed, roasted, added to casseroles, soups, stews, salads, smoothies, and juices. The use for broccoli is limited only to your imagination!

How to Preserve Fresh Broccoli
There is a trend today among some people to simply wash, chop, and place vegetables in the freezer without being pretreated first. Although this method does save time, it is appropriate for some vegetables (such as onions and bell peppers), but not for all. Broccoli is one of the vegetables that should be pretreated first to stop the enzyme activity that will cause the vegetable pieces to continue to age while in the freezer. If you insist on freezing broccoli without pretreating it, be sure to label it with the current date and use it within three months for best quality. Pretreating your broccoli first to disable the enzymes, will allow you to keep your broccoli for much longer with a better quality, up to about a year. It will be edible beyond that but the quality will dwindle over time.

Freezing Broccoli (Blanching). First wash the broccoli, and cut the florets into desired size pieces. The stems may be frozen, but first remove the woody area along the outer edges, then cut the stems into desired size pieces, comparable to the size of the florets. If you prefer larger pieces, it is best if all of the florets are no more than one inch across and stems are no longer than five inches.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place your prepared broccoli in the boiling water and set your timer right away. Allow smaller pieces to blanch (remain in the hot water) for 3 minutes. If your pieces are very large, they will need to remain in the water for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on size. Once the timer has finished, immediately transfer the broccoli to a large bowl of ice water. Allow the broccoli to chill in the cold water for as long as it was in the hot water. Then drain the broccoli well and transfer it to freezer bags or containers. To prevent it from freezing in a large lump, you could first spread your blanched broccoli pieces on a tray and place that in the freezer. When the pieces are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Label the container with the current date, and return them to the freezer. Use your broccoli within 12 months for best quality.

For a video demonstration on how to blanch broccoli, watch this video… https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Freezing Broccoli (Steaming). Fresh broccoli may also be preserved by steaming it first, instead of water blanching. Prepare your broccoli as detailed above. Place a steamer basket in a pot (that has a lid) and add water to a level that will not rise above the bottom of the steaming basket when the water boils. Bring the water to boil. Add the broccoli pieces and place the lid on the pot. Set the timer for 4 minutes if the pieces are small, or 5 minutes if the pieces are large. When the timer is finished, transfer the steamed broccoli pieces to a large bowl of ice water and follow the same procedure as detailed above for chilling and freezing your broccoli.

Dehydrating Fresh Broccoli: 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 your broccoli pieces as detailed above. They may either be water blanched or steam blanched. Once the broccoli pieces have been cooled, spread them on your dehydrator mesh tray. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s directions for the length of time and temperature for proper dehydration with your machine.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Broccoli
* Try raw broccoli served with a dip or hummus.

* Add broccoli, raw or cooked, to your next green salad.

* Try roasting broccoli with cauliflower, flavored with olive oil and garam masala.

* Add broccoli to your next breakfast omelet or quiche.

* For a quick pasta dish, toss cooked pasta with some olive oil, pine nuts, and steamed broccoli. Season with a pinch of garlic powder, parsley and oregano. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

* Try making “broccoli rice.” Simply place chopped raw broccoli in a food processor. Pulse until the broccoli is in small, rice-like pieces. Then briefly sauté it in a skillet like you would make fried rice.

* Try adding some frozen and thawed chopped broccoli along with some shredded cheddar cheese to your next batch of corn bread. The bread will be moist and flavorful.

* If your raw broccoli has started to get limp, soak it in cold water for about 10 minutes and it will crisp back up.

* Make a broccoli dip by blending steamed broccoli, yogurt, chives or green onions, paprika, and fresh garlic. Use it as a dip for raw vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, yellow squash, and zucchini.

* Try steamed broccoli topped with your favorite hummus.

* For some citrus-flavored broccoli, stir-steam broccoli in a little orange juice with a pinch of orange zest. Add some crushed red pepper flakes or black pepper for extra “zing.”

* Make your broccoli with a Mediterranean flare. Top steamed broccoli with a little marinara sauce and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese or shredded mozzarella.

* Make a salad with lightly steamed broccoli, feta cheese, grape tomatoes, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

* Try a stir-fry with broccoli, red bell peppers, and sesame oil. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

* Make delicious side dish by roasting broccoli pieces flavored with olive oil, salt and pepper. When it’s finished, drizzle it with a little lemon juice, then sprinkle with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Broccoli
Basil, capers, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, coriander, curry powder, dill, marjoram, mustard (seeds, powder), oregano, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, sage, salt, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Broccoli
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. cannellini, green, white), beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, flax seeds, ham, hazelnuts, mung bean sprouts, nuts (in general), peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pork, pumpkin seeds, sausage, seafood, sesame seeds, soybeans, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cauliflower, chiles, chives, garlic, ginger, greens (in general), leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (summer and winter), tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Avocado, coconut, lemon, lime, olives, orange

Grains and Grain Products: Bread crumbs, bulgur, noodles and pasta (in general), quinoa, rice, seitan, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter and browned butter, cheese (in general, esp. feta, cheddar, goat, Parmesan), coconut milk, cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, miso, mustard (Dijon), oil (esp. olive, peanut, sesame, walnut), sauces (esp. Hollandaise), soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinaigrette, vinegar (esp. balsamic, rice, tarragon), wine (dry white)

Broccoli has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, crepes, crudités, curries, egg dishes (custards, omelets, quiches), gratins, guacamole, hummus, pizzas, baked potatoes (toppings), salads (i.e., green, pasta, tomato, vegetable), sauces, slaws, soufflés, soups (esp. broccoli, creamy), stews, stir-fries, tempura

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Broccoli
Add broccoli to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Citrus Fruits + Garlic
Almonds + Mushrooms
Almonds + Romano Cheese
Basil + Garlic + Olive Oil + Parmesan Cheese + Walnuts
Bell Peppers + Capers + Olives
Bell Peppers + Mozzarella Cheese
Chiles + Garlic + Ginger + Lime + Olive Oil
Chiles + Garlic + Olive Oil
Chiles + Garlic + Orange (juice, zest)
Feta Cheese + Mint + Red Onions
Flax Seeds + Lemon
Garlic + Ginger + Sesame Oil/Seeds + Tamari
Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil + Chili Pepper Flakes
Garlic + Lemon + Tahini
Ginger + Orange
Lemon + Parsley
Lime + Noodles + Peanuts
Onions + Orange
Orange + Parmesan Cheese + Tomatoes
Red Onions + Yogurt
Rice Vinegar + Sesame Oil + Sesame Seeds + Soy Sauce or Tamari

Recipe Links
Cook Frozen Broccoli (Not Mushy) https://youtu.be/Ig6CeSmgU0c

How to Steam Broccoli https://youtu.be/adqpjc_OJIg

How to Blanch Broccoli https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Easily Cut Fresh Broccoli with Less Mess https://youtu.be/mKX8jfNl5IM

How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts https://youtu.be/U-e87xKofPs

Lemon-Garlic Broccoli (NOT Mushy! Using Frozen Broccoli) https://youtu.be/bg6hb9qIQIM

35+ Of Our Best Broccoli Recipes https://www.thekitchn.com/20-ways-to-eat-more-broccoli-tonight-237483

27 Broccoli Recipes You’ll Want to Make Tonight https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/broccoli-recipes

Broccoli Soup https://producemadesimple.ca/broccoli-soup/

50 of the Best Broccoli Recipes We’ve Ever Tasted https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/superstar-broccoli-recipes-even-picky-eaters-will-love/

15 Best Broccoli Recipes https://www.thespruceeats.com/recipes-that-will-make-you-rethink-broccoli-4155771

11 Best Broccoli Recipes/Easy Broccoli Recipes https://food.ndtv.com/lists/10-best-broccoli-recipes-731246

Beef with Broccoli https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/beef-with-broccoli-2495686

Broccoli Recipes https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/1113/fruits-and-vegetables/vegetables/broccoli/

Simple and Satisfying Broccoli https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/simple-and-satisfying-broccoli-recipe-1923557

10 Family-Friendly Broccoli Recipes https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/popular-ingredients/broccoli-recipes

Sweet and Sour Cod with Cabbage and Broccoli http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=136

Asian-Flavored Broccoli with Tofu http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=254

Seriously, The Best Broccoli of Your Life https://www.errenskitchen.com/seriously-best-broccoli-life/#wprm-recipe-container-7680

33 Amazing Broccoli Recipes Even Broccoli Haters Can’t Hate https://www.delish.com/cooking/nutrition/g241/broccoli-recipes/

15 Favorite Broccoli Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/tasty-broccoli-recipes/

Broccoli Cornbread with Cheese https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/231966/broccoli-cornbread-with-cheese/

Our 15 Best Broccoli Salad Recipes https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/best-broccoli-salad-recipes/











The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. 3rd ed. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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

About Judi

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

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers 101 – The Basics


Bell Peppers 101 – The Basics

About Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are native to the Caribbean and North, Central, and South America. These popular peppers were gradually distributed around the world and are now grown in a number of countries. Bell peppers are commercially grown in greenhouse and non-greenhouse settings. In the United States, most greenhouse bell peppers are imported, usually from Mexico. The United States also imports bell peppers from Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Spain. Within the United States, bell peppers are a popular summer food to grow among home gardeners. They are also grown commercially in California, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan.

Bell peppers are members of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, along with chili peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes (not sweet potatoes). The name “bell peppers” was applied to these fruits (that we use as vegetables) to distinguish them from their hot cousins, including cayenne and jalapeno peppers.

Classic bell peppers have four lobes on the bottom. Increasingly, we’ll find three-lobed green bell peppers in the bin in grocery stores. These are more elongated in shape and are referred to as the Lamuyo type of pepper. Bell peppers are considered to be sweet rather than hot because they do not contain capsaicinoids that give hot peppers their classic, flavorful “heat.” The amount of capsaicinoids in a pepper is measured on the Scoville heat scale. It’s an indication of how “hot” a pepper is. Bell peppers are given a score of “0” on this scale, whereas the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers have a score of 2 million! Ouch!!

Most varieties of bell peppers are green during the growing process and will undergo a color change during maturation. The colors can be yellow, orange, red, purple, lilac, brown, and even ivory. The colorful peppers are usually more expensive than the green, less mature peppers. This is because it takes a longer growing time to allow the peppers to mature, so the cost of production is increased. It is noteworthy that some varieties of bell peppers remain green, even with maturation, and others undergo color changes early in the development process.

Mini bell peppers are relatively new on the market. They are not young bell peppers, but are separate varieties of peppers. They can be more challenging to grow since they are less disease resistant than the larger peppers. Hence, they can be more expensive.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Bell peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6. They also contain a lot of folate, molybdenum, Vitamin E, fiber, Vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, niacin, and potassium. They also contain Vitamin K, manganese, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, and magnesium.

The shining star of bell peppers is their abundant content of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. These many, assorted compounds in bell peppers provide an array of health benefits. Overall, such compounds reduce oxidative stress. This in itself reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Eye Health. The carotenoids and other antioxidants have been shown to help prevent age-related macular degeneration of the eyes, which can result in vision loss.

Neurodegenerative Diseases. The compounds in bell peppers can help ward off neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Compounds in bell peppers, especially ripe, colorful bell peppers, have been shown to block the release of amyloid proteins. It is the release of such proteins that allows them to accumulate around certain nerve cells in the brain (cholinergic neurons) that increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Although all bell peppers contain these antioxidants (primarily lutein and zeaxanthin), the darker, richer colored peppers contain more than the green, immature peppers.

How to Select Bell Peppers
Choose bell peppers that are bright in color, firm, with smooth skin, and no blemishes. The stems should be green and fresh looking. They should be heavy for their size. Avoid those that are soft and wrinkled, have blemishes, or are damaged in some way.

How to Store Bell Peppers
Store bell peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. The drawer slider should be set on high humidity (with the air vent closed). Since bell peppers are high in water content, this will help to keep them hydrated during storage. They should be in a humid, but not wet environment. Stored this way, they should keep for about 7 to 10 days.

Once cut, bell peppers should be placed in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator. Use them as quickly as possible, within two or three days.

How to Prepare a Bell Pepper
Preparing bell peppers is very easy. Simply wash them well under cold water and pat them dry. With a sharp knife, cut across the top of the pepper, as if you were creating a “lid” for the lower portion of the pepper. The stem can then easily be removed from the top section and the top portion can then be cut and used as desired. Then, the seed core can easily be grasped and removed from the lower portion of the pepper. It’s best to do that over a trash can or bowl, since individual seeds will likely be released in the process. If desired, remaining membranes can easily be removed from the interior of the peppers. The pepper can then be cut and used as desired.  To see my demonstration on how to cut bell peppers with this method, watch this brief video … https://youtu.be/HTWMHMy6fmk

How to Freeze Bell Peppers
Freezing bell peppers is really about as easy as it can get. They can be blanched, but it’s optional. Bear in mind, that once frozen, they will not be appropriate for use like you would have used fresh peppers. Their texture will be soft, so they will be suitable only for cooked applications.

First, simply wash and dry your whole peppers. Remove the stems and seeds (like detailed under “How to Prepare a Bell Pepper” in this article). Cut the peppers into whatever size pieces you want, depending upon your intended use(s) later. To allow them to freeze separately so they won’t freeze into one big lump, spread the cut peppers out on a baking sheet or tray. Place it in the freezer until the peppers are completely frozen. Transfer the frozen pepper pieces to an airtight freezer container or bag. Label them with the date and return them to the freezer. To avoid freezer burn, use them within six months.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Bell Peppers
* Add slices of bell peppers to your snack trays for scooping up dips. They would add color, crunch, flavor, AND nutrition.

* Add bell peppers to omelets, soups, and pasta sauces.

* Use diced or sliced bell peppers as pizza toppings.

* Are you looking for ways to get children to eat more veggies? Stuff bell peppers with macaroni and cheese.

* Add bell peppers to your favorite stir-fry.

* Add chopped bell peppers to tuna, chicken, and potato salad.

* Don’t store bell peppers in sealed plastic bags (even in the refrigerator). Moisture will develop inside the bag, inviting them to spoil faster.

* Sauté sliced bell peppers with onions, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Add the mixture to tacos, fajitas, sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, pastas, frittatas, and quiches. This mixture can also be used as a foundation for soups, stews, and sauces.

* Add diced bell peppers to any green salad for extra flavor, crunch, and nutrition.

* Stuff bell peppers with any meat or bean, grain, and vegetable mixture that you enjoy. Bake them until the peppers are just tender and enjoy! Embellish the baked stuffed pepper with your favorite tomato or other sauce for added flavor and moisture.

* Mix up a batch of your favorite hummus and use bell pepper slices for dipping the hummus. Take this one step farther by stuffing mini bell peppers with hummus, making small, bite-size appetizers.

* Add diced bell peppers to your next batch of corn bread. It’s a perfect match and will give the corn bread a touch of sweetness.

* Add diced bell peppers to your favorite green smoothie. Using red, orange or yellow peppers will add a touch of sweetness.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Bell Peppers
Anise, basil, bay leaf, capers, cayenne, celery seeds, chervil, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, marjoram, mint, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper (black), saffron, sage, salt, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Bell Peppers
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black, fava, red), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, ham, lentils, pine nuts, pork, sausage, seafood (in general), sesame seeds, snow peas, tahini, tempeh, tofu, tuna, walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chiles, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens (salad), jicama, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, shallots, squash (summer), sweet potatoes, tomatoes (fresh, paste, sauce, sun-dried), vegetables (summer), zucchini

Fruits: Lemon, lime, mango, olives, peaches, pears, pineapple, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bread, bulgur, corn, corn bread, grains (whole), millet, noodles (Asian), pasta, polenta, quinoa, rice (esp. brown, wild)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp. cheddar, feta, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, soft), coconut milk, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, miso, oil (esp. canola, corn, olive, peanut, sesame), pomegranate molasses, stock, vinegar (esp. balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine (dry red, white)

Bell peppers have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Bruschetta, casseroles, chili, coulis, couscous, curries, dips, egg dishes (frittatas, omelets, quiches, scrambled, tortillas), gazpacho, gratins, hash, meatloaf, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, pasta dishes (lasagna, linguini, orzo, spaghetti), pilafs, pizzas, purees, quesadillas, ratatouille, relishes, risottos, romesco sauce, salads (bean, green, pasta, potato, tomato, vegetable), sandwiches, sauces, slaws, sofritoes, soups (i.e., bean, gazpacho, gumbo, red pepper, tomato, vegetable), South American cuisines, spreads, stews, stir-fries, stuffed peppers, stuffings, Tex-Mex cuisine, Thai cuisine, Turkish cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Bell Peppers
Add bell peppers to any of the following combinations…

Balsamic vinegar + basil + garlic + olive oil
Balsamic vinegar + chili pepper flakes + garlic + olive oil
Balsamic vinegar + olive oil + red onions
Basil + chiles + garlic
Basil + eggplant + garlic
Basil + fennel + goat cheese
Basil + garlic + olive oil + onions + oregano + tomatoes
Cheese + eggs + tomatoes
Chiles + cilantro + lime + mint + scallions
Cucumbers + garlic + tomatoes
Dried cranberries + mushrooms + sage + wild rice
Eggs + mushrooms + onions
Garlic + olive oil + tomatoes + zucchini
Cider vinegar + garlic + honey + olive oil + red onions
Lemon juice + mint + pine nuts + rice
Olive oil + onions + red wine vinegar + thyme
Pomegranate molasses + walnuts

Recipe Links
45 of Our Favorite Bell Pepper Recipes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/bell-pepper-recipes/

25 Bell Pepper Recipes That Make the Most of This Colorful Veg https://www.marthastewart.com/275370/bell-pepper-recipes

Pan-Roasted Peppers https://www.thespruceeats.com/pan-roasted-peppers-482763

15 Favorite Bell Pepper Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/favorite-bell-pepper-recipes/

Healthy Veggie Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=311

Zesty Mexican Soup http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=30

Braised Kidney Beans and Sweet Potato http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=110

Spicy Black Bean Burrito http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=248

Sautéed Vegetables with Cashews http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=229

Tahini and Crudités Appetizer http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=312

Romaine and Avocado Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=45

Black Bean Chili http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=43

Bell Pepper Lentil Dip https://www.naturefresh.ca/recipes/bell-pepper-lentil-dip/

11 Best Bell Pepper Recipes/Easy Bell Pepper Recipes https://food.ndtv.com/lists/10-best-bell-pepper-recipes-1395400










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


About Judi

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


Oranges 101 – The Basics


Oranges 101 – The Basics

About Oranges
Oranges are one of the most popular fruits around the world. There are over 600 varieties of oranges, with two categories: sweet and bitter. Of course, the sweet variety is most popular. Sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis) include Navel, Valencia, and Blood oranges. Bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium) are sometimes used to make jam or marmalade. The zest of bitter oranges is used to flavor liqueurs such as Grand Marnier and Cointreau.

The origin of oranges is unknown, but their cultivation is believed to have started in eastern Asia thousands of years ago. Sweet oranges were introduced in Europe around the 15th century by various explorers and traders who found them in Asia and the Middle East. Christopher Columbus brought them to the Caribbean during his visits, where they have been grown ever since. Spanish explorers brought them to Florida in the 16th century, and Spanish missionaries took them to California in the 18th century. This started the cultivation of oranges in the two most orange-producing states in America. When mass transportation was developed in the 20th century, oranges were taken around America for all to enjoy.

Today, they are grown in most warm climates around the world and are consumed mostly fresh and juiced. The countries that produce the most oranges commercially include the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, China and Israel.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Oranges are well known for being an excellent source of Vitamin C. They also supply a lot of fiber, Vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, folate, Vitamin A, calcium, copper, and potassium.

The vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient compounds found in oranges give this delicious fruit an array of health promoting properties.

Antioxidant Protection and Immune Support. The Vitamin C alone in oranges provides generous antioxidant protection to the body along with helping the immune system to ward off the effects of invading microbes. Together, these compounds can help to lower the risk of colon and other types of cancer, and inflammation that can lead to asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and stroke.

Lower Cholesterol. Researchers have found that a group of compounds in orange peel, polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), has the potential to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs. And, they do this without side effects. The juice of oranges also contains PMFs, but at a much lower amount than what was found in the peel. The researchers suggest that zesting a tablespoon a day (from a well-scrubbed, preferably organic orange), and including it in tea, salads, salad dressings, yogurt, soups, oatmeal, buckwheat, or rice may be an easy way to include more of this important compound in the diet.

Kidney Stone Prevention. Researchers reported in the British Journal of Nutrition that women who drank ½ to 1 liter of orange, grapefruit or apple juice daily had significantly lower risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Reduced Risk of Ulcers and Stomach Cancer. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition that involved over 6,000 adults enrolled in the Third NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) project found that subjects with the highest blood levels of Vitamin C had a 25% lower infection rate with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). This is the bacterium that causes peptic ulcers, which increases the risk for stomach cancer. They concluded that eating an orange a day, or drinking a glass of orange juice daily may help prevent gastric ulcers, and ultimately stomach cancer. The lead researcher urges people who have tested positive for H. pylori to increase their intake of Vitamin C-rich foods to help combat their H. pylori infection.

Respiratory Health. The orange-red carotenoid found in oranges, corn, pumpkin, papaya, red bell peppers, tangerines, and peaches may significantly help to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. A study of over 60,000 adults in Shanghai, China, reported in the September 2003 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that those eating the most foods containing this orange-red pigment had a 27% reduction in lung cancer risk. When examining the data of smoking subjects, their risk of developing lung cancer was 37% lower than smokers who ate the least amount of such foods.

Protection Against Rheumatoid Arthritis. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice a day can significantly lower your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. These findings were backed up by a study of over 25,000 subjects as reported in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer Incidence (EPIC)-Norfolk study. Participants with the highest daily intake of various carotenoids (zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin) had a much lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (40% to 52% less likely) when compared with those who consumed the least amount.

All of these studies should be enough to encourage you to eat an orange or drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice every day!

How to Select an Orange
To choose the best oranges, opt for ones that have smoothly textured skin and are firm and heavy for their size. Those that are spongy or light weight for their size will not have as much juice in them. Avoid those with soft spots or traces of mold on them.

If you’ve ever lived where oranges are grown, you know that oranges, as they appear on the trees, are not uniform in color, like the ones we see in grocery stores. Naturally, they may be partially green and/or have brown speckles on them. They are not bad, nor old with those discolorations. That is merely how they appear naturally on the trees as they ripen. The purely uniformed orange-colored fruits that we typically see in grocery stores have been dyed in their skins with artificial coloring to make them look so pretty. It’s something to bear in mind when you use orange zest! If you plan to zest your oranges and want to avoid the artificial dyes, it is recommended to buy organic oranges for that purpose.

How to Store Oranges
Oranges may be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature. It is a matter of personal preference. They will last about the same amount of time either way they are stored. The key to storing oranges is to store them loosely, and NOT wrapped in plastic. The moisture that accumulates in plastic bags will invite mold and cause them to spoil faster.

If you purchase a bag of oranges and find that one in the bag has spoiled, throw away the spoiled orange, then rinse and dry the remaining oranges to remove any mold spores that may be on them. You can take further precaution with the remaining oranges by wiping them with a paper towel or cloth that has been moistened with white vinegar. They can be allowed to dry that way, or rinsed off with cool water then dried. This last step may be especially helpful if you plan to zest your oranges.

Ways to Prepare Oranges
There are a variety of ways to zest, peel, slice, dice, segment, and serve oranges. Here is a link to a web page that covers it all in detail, complete with pictures. If you’re not sure how to cut an orange to achieve a specific outcome, check out this page… https://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t–968/all-about-oranges.asp

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Oranges
* Zest oranges before you cut them up…it’s much easier that way.

* Freeze extra orange zest in ice cube trays with some water. Add them to your glass of water for a refreshing orange flavor.

* If you are juicing oranges, they will yield more juice when at room temperature, rather than when chilled from the refrigerator. Also, to free up more juice, roll them on a flat surface under the palm of your hand before juicing.

* Make a refreshing salad with orange segments, slivered fennel and slices of boiled beets.

* If you’re making a salad with fruit that browns quickly, like apples and/or bananas, add a little orange juice and toss the fruit to disburse the juice. The fruit will not turn brown as fast and should be fine when made a little in advance.

* Use blood oranges for added color and flavor in sweet and savory dishes.

* If you’re only juicing oranges, zest them first and freeze the zest to be used later. Use frozen zest within 6 months.

* One pound of oranges is about 3 medium oranges, yielding 1 cup of juice, about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of orange sections, and 4 to 5 tablespoons of grated peel.

* One medium orange will yield about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of juice, 10 to 12 segments, and 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons of grated peel.

* Try adding orange segments to your favorite green salad.

* Make a simple snack by layering your favorite yogurt with orange segments and oats or granola. Drizzle with a little caramel sauce for an added touch.

* Make a simple fruit salad with orange segments, diced apple, sliced banana, red grapes, and some dried coconut. Top with 2 or 3 tablespoons of unsweetened pineapple or orange juice and toss to combine. Enjoy!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Oranges
Anise seeds, basil, cardamom, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, mint, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, sage, star anise, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Oranges
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (i.e., black, white), beef, chicken, chickpeas, fish, ham, nuts (i.e., almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts), pork, sesame seeds, snow peas, tofu, turkey

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, beets, broccoli, broccolini, cabbage (red), carrots, celery root, chiles, chives, daikon radishes, endive, escarole, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens (i.e., dandelion, salad), horseradish, jicama, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, radicchio, radishes, rhubarb, rutabagas, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, turnips, watercress, yams

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, berries (i.e., blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), coconut, cranberries, dates, figs, fruit (in general, fresh, dried), grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, mangoes, olives, papayas, pears, pineapple, plums, pomegranates, pumpkin, starfruit

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bulgur, cereals, couscous, millet, noodles (Asian), quinoa, rice, seitan, wild rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., cream, feta, goat), cream, mascarpone, yogurt

Other Foods: Brandy, chocolate, honey, liqueurs (orange), maple syrup, miso, mustard (Dijon), oil (olive, sesame, sunflower seed), soy sauce, sugar (esp. brown), tamari, vinegar (i.e., balsamic, champagne, cider, red wine, rice wine, sherry, white wine), wine (red)

Oranges have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Asian cuisines, baked goods (i.e., cakes, muffins, quick breads, scones, tarts), beverages (i.e., juices, sangrias, smoothies), cereals (hot breakfast), Chinese cuisine, compotes, desserts (i.e., puddings), gremolata, marinades, marmalade, salad dressings, salads (i.e., avocado, carrot, fruit, green), sauces, smoothies (i.e., berry, pineapple), soups (i.e., fruit), sorbets, stir-fries

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Oranges
Add oranges to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + lettuce + jicama
Almonds + dates + figs
Arugula + hazelnuts
Avocados + beets
Avocados + black beans + red onions
Balsamic vinegar + beets + fennel
Barley + fennel + radishes
Black beans + quinoa
Carrots + ginger
Cashews + rice
Chickpeas + couscous + fennel
Chili pepper flakes + garlic + ginger + soy sauce
Cilantro + jicama
Cinnamon + honey + pears
Cranberries + pears
Fennel + olives
Fennel + walnuts
Fennel + watercress + white beans
Goat cheese + pomegranates + walnuts
Honey + rosemary
Pecans + radicchio
Sesame + spinach

Some Varieties of Oranges Found in the United States
All of the oranges listed below, except the Seville oranges, are considered to be “sweet” varieties of oranges and are excellent for eating in a variety of ways. Try them as they become available in your area, and enjoy the subtle differences between the citrus varieties.

Blood Oranges. The flesh of blood oranges is a deep red color, and is very sweet. They may have a tinge of redness on the skin. They came from Italy, and are now grown mostly in California and in Florida. They are not always found in American grocery stores, but can be seen occasionally.

Clementine Oranges (AKA “Cuties”). Clementine oranges are small, sweet, and seedless. They are the perfect snack for young and old alike, and work well on fruit trays. They are in season from November to January.

Hamlin Oranges. Hamlin oranges are medium to small in size with few, if any seeds. They have a thin, smooth skin, with a finely pitted surface. Hamlin oranges are tender, juicy, and sweet with little acid. They are a major crop in Florida and Brazil.

Kumquats. A Kumquat looks like a very tiny elongated orange. Kumquats are known for their edible, thick peel, so they are eaten whole (there’s not much left if they are peeled). However, their flavor is somewhat sour. Kumquats are often made into marmalade, or pureed and included in cream pies.

Mandarin Oranges. Mandarin oranges are a type of tangerine that is small, mild and sweet. They are sold mostly in cans or jars, but fresh Mandarins are increasing in popularity.

Navel Oranges. Navel oranges are the most common type of orange marketed in the United States. They are medium to large in size, sweet, juicy, seedless, and very popular. They have thick skin and a little dimple on one end that resembles a human navel. They can be used in both raw and cooked applications.

Satsuma Oranges. Satsuma oranges are a type of small Mandarin orange. They are seedless and easy to peel. They are in season from November to January, and are grown around the Gulf Coast in the United States to California.

Seville Oranges. Seville oranges are a sour variety of orange that is often used in making marmalade. The juice from Seville oranges also works well for cooking, and being included in cocktails and salad dressings (in place of lemon or lime juice). They are a rather small orange with limited availability, usually from December to the beginning of February.

Sunburst Tangerines. Sunburst tangerines are an early crop that is widely grown commercially in Florida. The somewhat flattened fruit is medium in size, with a thin, smooth skin that is easily removed. They contain anywhere from 10 to 20 seeds.  They are juicy with a sweet flavor.

Tangelo. A Tangelo is a cross between a grapefruit or pummelo and a mandarin orange. They look like dark oranges with a stubby, protruding stem end. The Minneola tangelo is the most common variety found in the United States. They are sweet and juicy.

Valencia Oranges. Valencia oranges are best known for their juice. However, they are excellent eating oranges too. They have thin skins, a few seeds and (of course) are very juicy. They were named after the Spanish city, Valencia, when they were first introduced in California. Today, Valencia oranges remain an important citrus crop in California.

Recipe Links
Candied Orange Peel https://stacylynharris.com/candied-orange-peel-example-sustainability/#wprm-recipe-container-11842

67 Sweet and Savory Orange Recipes https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/sweet-and-savory-oranges-gallery

7 Ways with Fresh Oranges https://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/7-ways-with/recipes-using-fresh-oranges?slide=745af901-cc25-4c31-8e91-fc44e7fc7885#745af901-cc25-4c31-8e91-fc44e7fc7885

16 Surprising New Uses for Old Oranges https://www.readersdigest.ca/home-garden/tips/5-things-do-oranges/

90 of Our Most Irresistible Orange Recipes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/orange-recipes/

25 Ways to Use Oranges https://www.cookingchanneltv.com/devour/2014/03/25-ways-to-use-oranges

30 of the Best Orange Recipes https://thewholecook.com/30-best-orange-recipes/















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


About Judi

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


Spearmint (Mint) 101 – The Basics


Spearmint 101 – The Basics

About Spearmint
When someone uses the general term, “mint,” they are usually referring to spearmint, Mentha spicata. This same perennial herb has also been called garden mint, lamb’s mint, Our Lady’s mint, spire mint, and sage of Bethlehem.

Spearmint is native to the Mediterranean region, where it has long been a popular herb used as both food and medicine. In ancient times, mint was known as an herb of hospitality. The leaves were used to clean and scent tables and floors. It has been stuffed in pillows and mattresses and scattered on floors to cover odors and deter pests and rodents. Mint was also used with other herbs in tombs as an aromatic. The Romans brought mint to Europe. Mint was carried to America by early English settlers who used it medicinally, to make tea, and as an aromatic for the body and home.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Mint is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate, along with the trace minerals manganese and iron. It also contains some calcium and magnesium.

Digestive Upsets. Mint tea has been used to help relieve nausea, cramping, and indigestion.

Respiratory Problems. Inhaling steam scented with mint has been used to help relieve respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.

Antibacterial Agent. Spearmint is added to many toothpastes and mouthwashes. In addition to freshening the breath, spearmint has been found to contain antimicrobial properties that can help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. Furthermore, research has shown that spearmint essential oil can help destroy harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Listeria, that cause foodborne illnesses.

Lowers Blood Sugar. Animal studies have shown that spearmint tea may help to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Human studies in this area are lacking, but the animal studies that have been conducted are promising.

Reduces Stress. In many countries, spearmint tea is commonly used to induce relaxation and reduce stress. Animal studies have shown that spearmint tea does, in fact, produce such an effect. The menthol in the leaves may be responsible for this effect. So, if you’re feeling stressed, enjoy a cup of mint tea! Furthermore, mint aromatherapy has been used to help ease mental sluggishness and agitation.

Relieves Arthritis. Animal and human studies have found that spearmint can help relieve arthritis pain. People who drank spearmint tea twice a day for 16 weeks had reduced stiffness, pain, and physical disability from arthritis of the knee.

How to Select Spearmint
Look for fresh mint leaves that are bright green and not wilted. If possible, smell them. Their aroma will clue you into their degree of freshness. If they have no aroma, they’re not fresh. If your bunch of leaves was tied together with a twist tie or rubber band, remove it when you get it home.

How to Store Fresh Spearmint
Fresh spearmint is delicate and can bruise easily. If it was purchased in a closed plastic container, store it dry in the refrigerator, in that same container until you’re ready to use it. Wait to wash it until you’re ready to use it.

If your mint leaves were bundled, they may be stored in a couple different ways. First, you can store them like cut flowers, in the refrigerator. Place the stems, cut side down in a glass or jar with a small amount of water. Cover them loosely with a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Change the water every day or two.

Another way to store fresh mint leaves would be to spread them out on a SLIGHTLY damp paper towel or cloth. Roll the towel or cloth like a jelly-roll and place that loosely in a plastic bag. Store it in the refrigerator. Try to use your stored fresh mint within a week.

How to Preserve Mint
Freeze. Fresh mint may be washed, removed from stems, chopped, then frozen in ice cube trays with water. Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or container and use them when you want to add mint flavor to cold beverages or any cooked dish calling for mint.

Fresh mint may also be washed, dried, then frozen whole in an airtight plastic bag. This mint would be best used in pesto, sauce, or jelly.

Dry. There are several ways that fresh mint leaves can be dried.

(1) Wash the mint leaves while still on the stems. Carefully dry the leaves, then remove the stems. Place the leaves on a baking tray in a single layer. Be sure the leaves are completely dry before proceeding. Place the tray in a warm oven at its lowest temperature or 180°F until the leaves are dry. It may take two hours or longer. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Allow them to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container. The dried leaves may be left whole or crumbled. If crumbled, sift them through a screen to remove any remaining stems.

(2) Fresh mint leaves may also be dried in a dehydrator. Prepare the leaves as detailed above and lay them in a single layer on a mesh dehydrator tray. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the recommended temperature and length of time to dry the leaves.

(3) Yet another way to dry fresh spearmint would be to wash and dry the leaves completely. They may be removed from the stems or left on. Place them in a paper bag and close the bag by folding over the top edges. Lay the bag on its side and shake the bag to disburse the leaves so they’re not in a big clump. Place the bag away from a heat source and sunlight. Two or three times a day, shake the bag and turn it over to “toss” the leaves around, then lay it on its side again. Continue to do this until the leaves are completely dry. This may take a week or more. Once dry, remove the leaves from the stems, if not already done and transfer them to an airtight container.

After your dried mint leaves have been placed in their storage container, check the container after a few days to be sure there is no moisture inside. This would indicate that the leaves were not completely dry, and will invite decay. If moisture is found, remove the leaves and dry them again.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Spearmint
* Recipes that call for “mint” generally mean spearmint, so the two terms are usually interchangeable.

* For a quick dessert or snack, combine sliced strawberries, mint leaves, and yogurt.

* Make an easy mint tea by placing 5 to 10 torn mint leaves in a mug. Muddle (smash) them just a bit with a wooden spoon. Pour hot (not boiling) water over the leaves and allow them to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Removing the leaves is optional. Enjoy!

* To make mint tea using dried leaves, steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for about three minutes. Strain and enjoy!

* Add 3 or 4 fresh mint leaves to your favorite chocolate or berry smoothie.

* Make a delicious strawberry salad that can be eaten as it is, used as a topping for a green salad, or as a topping for your favorite bread along with some goat or ricotta cheese. Combine 2 cups of sliced strawberries with 10 to 20 chopped fresh mint leaves, an equal number of chopped fresh basil leaves, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

* Dress up diced watermelon with equal parts of chopped fresh mint and basil leaves, some feta cheese, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

* Add fresh mint leaves to plain or sparkling water for a nice refresher. Better yet, freeze mint leaves with water in ice cube trays. Cool your water with mint ice cubes.

* When ingesting spearmint, use only dried or fresh leaves. Use spearmint essential oil for aromatherapy or dilute it in a carrier oil when massaging it on the body.

* Add fresh mint leaves to a mixed fruit salad to make it extra special.

* Make a simple refreshing sachet by placing some dried mint leaves in a small square of fabric or cheesecloth. Tie the ends together and place it in drawers, closets, shoes, or anywhere you want to freshen with the aroma of mint.

* Here’s a fun activity if you like mint-chocolate. Wash and dry fresh mint leaves. One at a time, dip each leaf in your favorite melted chocolate. Place the leaves on a wax paper-lined dish. When all the leaves have been dipped, place the dish in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened. Enjoy!

* Try adding finely chopped mint leaves to your favorite chocolate pudding or ice cream.

* If you only have dried spearmint and need fresh, or vice versa, here’s the conversion rate: 1 part of dried mint = 3 parts of fresh. Example: 1 teaspoon of dried mint is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint.

* When adding fresh spearmint to a cooked dish, add it toward the end of cooking, or when cooking is finished, for best flavor. When adding dried spearmint to a cooked dish, add it early during cooking so it will have time to rehydrate and release its flavor.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Spearmint
Basil, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, dill, lemongrass, lovage, parsley

Foods That Go Well with Spearmint
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. black, green, white), bean shoots, beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, lamb, lentils, lima beans, peanuts, peas, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, salmon (and other seafood), turkey, veal

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, ginger, jicama, kale, lettuce, marinated vegetables, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, berries (esp. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), citrus fruits (in general), coconut, figs, fruits (in general, dried and fresh), grapefruit, grapes and grape juice, lemon, lime, mangoes (green), melon (esp. honeydew), olives, oranges and orange juice, papaya (esp. green), peaches, pears, pineapple, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, corn, couscous, grains (in general), millet, noodles (Asian, esp. rice), pasta, quinoa, rice, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., feta, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Bourbon, chocolate, gin, rum, sugar (esp. brown), vinegar (esp. balsamic, white wine)

Spearmint has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Asian cuisines, beverages (juleps, lassis, lemonades, mojitos, teas), cakes, candies, chutneys, curries, desserts, frostings, ice cream, Indian cuisine, jellies and jams, Mediterranean cuisines, Middle Eastern cuisine, Moroccan cuisine, pestos, pies, pilafs, raitas, risotto, salads (bean, fruit, grain, green, Thai, vegetables), salsas, sauces, soups, Southeast Asian cuisines, stuffings, tabbouleh, teas, Vietnamese cuisines

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Spearmint
Add spearmint to any of the following combinations…

Artichokes + chiles
Balsamic vinegar + berries
Balsamic vinegar + peaches + ricotta cheese
Bell peppers + chiles + garlic + papaya + pineapple
Cardamom + ginger + lemon
Chiles + cilantro + garlic + olive oil + vinegar
Chiles + lemon + shallots + sugar
Citrus + zucchini
Cucumber + yogurt
Feta cheese + lentils
Feta cheese + peas + rice
Lemon + strawberries
Olive oil + white beans + white wine vinegar

Recipe Links
20 Recipes That Use Fresh Mint https://www.thekitchn.com/10-recipes-that-use-fresh-mint-kitchn-recipe-roundup-188533

50 Ways to Cook with Fresh, Fragrant Mint https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/get-fresh-with-mint-recipes-gallery

20 Recipes for Mint Lovers https://www.foodandwine.com/seasonings/herbs/mint/mint

14 Recipes That Freshen Up Dinner with Mint https://www.brit.co/dinner-recipes-with-mint/

Thai Ground Beef Recipe with Mint, Carrots, and Peppers https://eatingrichly.com/thai-ground-beef-recipe-with-mint-carrots-and-peppers/

Spiced Beef Stew with Carrots and Mint https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spiced-beef-stew-with-carrots-and-mint-237295

63 Fresh Mint Recipes to Help You Use Up That Bumper Crop https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/fresh-mint-recipes/

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad https://kalynskitchen.com/recipe-favorites-middle-eastern-tomato/

27 Fresh Recipes for Leftover Mint https://www.taste.com.au/quick-easy/galleries/recipes-leftover-mint/0hgpmndk

18 Recipes for Leftover Mint https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/26/18-recipes-for-leftover-mint










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


About Judi

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


Grapefruit 101 – The Basics


Grapefruit 101 – The Basics

About Grapefruit
Grapefruits are large citrus fruits related to oranges, lemons and pomelos. Their flesh can be white, pink or red (ruby). Their skin color is yellow, sometimes with a pinkish hue. Grapefruits can range from 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Some have seeds, while others do not. They are juicy, tart and tangy with an underlying sweetness.

Grapefruits were discovered in Barbados in the 18th century. Botanists believe they were a natural cross breeding between the orange and pomelo, a citrus fruit that was brought to Barbados from Indonesia in the 17th century. The resulting fruit was named “grapefruit” in 1814 in Jamaica. The name reflects the fact that it grows in clusters like grapes.

Grapefruit trees were planted in Florida in the early 19th century. They became a commercial crop later that century. Florida is still a major grapefruit producer in America, along with California, Arizona, and Texas. Other countries that grow grapefruits commercially include Israel, South Africa, and Brazil.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Grapefruits are an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They also supply a lot of pantothenic acid, copper, fiber, potassium, biotin, and Vitamin B1. Like most plant foods, grapefruit also contains health-promoting phytochemicals. One fresh pink grapefruit provides well over half the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.

Immune Support. Being rich in Vitamin C, grapefruit supports the immune system, helping to fight symptoms and severity of colds and flu. This vitamin also helps to neutralize free radicals thereby reducing inflammation associated with asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. By reducing inflammation through its Vitamin C content, grapefruit can also help to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer.

Lycopene. Red and pink grapefruits (but NOT white grapefruit) are rich in lycopene, a type of carotenoid. Lycopene appears to have anti-tumor effects through its capacity to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells in their path. Antioxidants, such as lycopene, neutralize such harmful molecules, preventing damage such as inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Limonoids. Grapefruits are rich in phytonutrients called limonoids. This class of compounds fights tumor formation by sparking the liver to make toxic compounds more water-soluble so they can be excreted from the body. In laboratory tests, limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach, and colon.

Lower Cholesterol. Research studies have found that both white and red grapefruits lowered LDL cholesterol when grapefruit was added to the diet for a period of 30 days. Red grapefruit was found to be more than twice as effective at lowering triglyceride levels than white grapefruit. The researchers concluded that adding fresh red grapefruit could be beneficial for people with high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. [IMPORTANT NOTE: Compounds in grapefruit are known to increase blood levels of several prescription drugs, including statins. If you fall in this category, it would be wise to have the blood levels of your medications monitored if you suddenly increase your intake of grapefruit.]

DNA Repair. A flavonoid, naringenin, that is concentrated in grapefruit has been shown to help repair damaged DNA in human prostate cancer cells, as published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. With age comes cellular division. The more we age, the more times our cells have divided. With each division, there is greater chance for DNA mutations to happen. Repairing DNA is one of the body’s main defense mechanisms against developing cancer. Naringenin helps to restore damaged DNA, thereby lowering the risk of cancer.

Precautions. As mentioned in the section “Lower Cholesterol” above, if you are taking certain prescription drugs, you may need to consult with your doctor before increasing your intake of grapefruit juice. When combined with grapefruit juice, some drugs, including cyclosporine, calcium channel blockers, the antihistamine terfenadine, the hormone estradiol, statin drugs, and the antiviral agent saquinavir may become more potent. This is because compounds in grapefruit slow the normal detoxification processes in the intestines and liver, hindering the body’s ability to break down and eliminate these drugs.

How to Select Grapefruit
Choose grapefruits that are firm and feel heavy for their size. They should have plump, glossy skin. Grapefruits do not need to be uniform in color to be of good quality. Skin discolorations and small scratches do not affect the quality of the fruit.

Signs of age and decay include an overly soft spot near the stem end of the fruit. Areas that appear waterlogged should also be avoided when choosing grapefruits. Also avoid those that are overly wrinkled or rough.

How to Store Grapefruit
Store grapefruits at room temperature for up to a week, or up to three weeks in the refrigerator crisper drawer (set on low humidity, with the air vents open). Grapefruits are juicier when at room temperature, so it may be helpful to allow them to warm up before eating, if they were stored in the refrigerator.

How to Prepare a Grapefruit
Even though you very likely won’t be eating the peel, do rinse them off with cool water before cutting into your grapefruit. It’s important to rinse off any bacteria that may be lingering on the surface so you don’t transfer it onto the flesh that you will eat, when cutting into it with a knife.

Grapefruits may be cut in half horizontally, then sectioned with a knife along the membranes. A spoon can then be used to remove the flesh. Grapefruits may also be cut into quarters so you can fold the peel back and release the flesh that way. Remove as much of the white pith in the process, since that is rather bitter. The sections can be cut as desired. They can also be eaten like oranges, peeling the grapefruit with a knife.

Here’s a video demonstrating ways to cut grapefruit, …

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Grapefruit
* Try a salad with red grapefruit sections, avocado slices, and slivered fennel on a bed of arugula and other salad greens. Top with a citrus or honey mustard vinaigrette dressing.

* Try a grapefruit salsa by combining chopped grapefruit sections, avocado, mango, chili peppers, lime and grapefruit juice, olive oil, and lots of chopped herbs (basil, cilantro, or mint). Use as a topping for fish, chicken, or for scooping up with bread or chips.

* Grapefruit picked earlier in the season will be tarter than those picked late in the season. They are at their peak season from early winter through Spring.

* Add grapefruit sections to a smoothie. Blend together 1 medium grapefruit (peeled and seeds removed), 1 large sweet apple, 1 large banana, 2 cups fresh spinach, about ½ cup milk of choice (or water or orange juice), 2 or 3 ice cubes, and ½ tsp fresh grated ginger (optional).

* Are you looking for a way to make grapefruit taste better without loading it with sugar? LIGHTLY sprinkle just a LITTLE salt on your cut grapefruit. Yes, salt. NOT a lot. Just a little will cut the sourness or bitterness, and actually make it taste sweeter.

* Try a simple citrus salad for a quick snack or dessert. Combine cut grapefruit and orange sections with some vanilla yogurt, and a drizzle of honey (optional). Give it a little stir and you’re done. You could dress it up more with a sprinkle of ground flax seeds and/or a little granola for crunch.

* Try adding grapefruit sections to your favorite morning oatmeal. Round it out with some coconut milk and a drizzle of honey, if you want the added sweetness. Top it with toasted walnuts for some added crunch.

* For something different, try broiled grapefruit. Cut the grapefruit in half (horizontally) and remove the seeds. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and sprinkle each half with 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Broil until the sugar has melted and started to bubble, about 3 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the grapefruit halves to cool just a bit. Enjoy while it’s still warm!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Grapefruit
Basil, cardamom, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, mint, mustard, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, salt, tarragon, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Grapefruit
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, cashews, chicken, fish, hazelnuts, pistachios, pork, salmon, scallops, shrimp, sunflower seeds, walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes (Jerusalem), arugula, beets, cabbage (i.e., napa), celery, celery root, chicory, chiles, cucumber, endive (Belgian), fennel, ginger, greens, jicama, kale, scallions, spinach, watercress

Fruits: Avocados, bananas, cherries, coconut, dates, kiwi, lemon, lime, melon, oranges, passion fruit, pears, pineapple, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur (wheat), farro, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, wild rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., feta, Parmesan, ricotta), coconut cream, mascarpone, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, caramel, honey, maple sugar, maple syrup, mustard, oil (olive), soy sauce, sugar (i.e., brown, coconut, date), vinegar (i.e., champagne, rice wine, sherry, white wine), vodka, wine (i.e., sparkling)

Grapefruits have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Compotes, drinks (i.e., sparkling wine cocktails), granita, ices, salad dressings, salads (i.e., fruit, grain, green), sauces, smoothies, sorbets

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Grapefruit
Add grapefruit sections to any of the following combinations…

Arugula + olive oil
Arugula + hazelnuts + pomegranates
Avocado + salad greens + fennel
Honey + mint
Maple syrup + strawberries

Recipe Links

21 Delicious Ways to Cook with Grapefruit https://www.self.com/gallery/delicious-grapefruit-recipes

Top 4: Grapefruit Recipes https://www.sprouts.com/healthy-living/top-4-grapefruit-recipes/

29 Sweet and Tangy Grapefruit Recipes https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/10-sweet-and-tangy-grapefruit-recipes-gallery

14 Ways to Upgrade Your Grapefruit Game https://www.delish.com/cooking/g1332/grapefruit-recipes/

Pink Detox Salad https://www.cookingclassy.com/pink-detox-salad/

32 Great Grapefruit Recipes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/great-grapefruit-recipes/

9 Grapefruit Recipes Better Than Just Dumping Sugar on Top https://greatist.com/eat/grapefruit-recipes#1

Grapefruit Smoothie Bowl https://www.hummusapien.com/grapefruit-smoothie-bowl/#tasty-recipes-22986

11 Unexpected Ways to Use Grapefruit https://www.foodbeast.com/news/unexpected-ways-to-use-grapefruit/

Broiled Grapefruit https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/broiled-grapefruit.html

Freekeh Tabbouleh with Grapefruit https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/amazing-grains/freekeh-grapefruit-tabbouleh/

Grain Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Dates, and Grapefruit https://walnuts.org/recipe/grain-salad-with-toasted-walnuts-dates-and-grapefruit/

Ancient Grain Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/ancient-grain-salad-avocado-grapefruit/49ba980a-599b-4c53-9761-862198d98939

Grapefruit Grain Salad with Roasted Chickpeas https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/grapefruit-grain-salad-roasted-chickpeas-vegan/

Millet Salad with Grapefruit, Olives and Chickpeas https://www.lastingredient.com/millet-salad-with-grapefruit-olives-and-chickpeas/

Farro and Spinach Salad with Grapefruit and Goat Cheese https://www.self.com/recipe/farro-spinach-salad-grapefruit-goat-cheese

California Wild Rice, Arugula, Grapefruit, Toasted Pecan Salad https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/california-wild-rice-arugula-grapefruit-toasted-pecan-salad

Black Rice Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit https://www.thekitchn.com/vegetarian-lunch-black-rice-salad-with-avocado-and-grapefruit-166905#post-recipe-8301

Pink Grapefruit, Black Bean, and Rice Salad Recipe https://www.womanandhome.com/us/recipes/pink-grapefruit-black-bean-rice-salad/

Grapefruit-Coconut Oatmeal http://www.theoatmealartist.com/grapefruit-coconut-oatmeal/

Grapefruit Marmalade https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/272814/grapefruit-marmalade/

Grapefruit Baked Oatmeal with Walnut Streusel http://immaeatthat.com/2016/01/28/grapefruit-baked-oatmeal-walnut-streusel/









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

About Judi

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

Banana-Strawberry Nice Cream

Banana-Strawberry Nice Cream

Here’s a simple recipe for a refreshing, healthful dessert. It makes a lot, so it can easily feed two people for a nice, light dessert or snack. To see a video demonstration on how to make this delicious mixture, watch below!


Banana-Strawberry Nice Cream
Makes 2 Servings

1 Frozen banana
4 Large strawberries, fresh or frozen
10 Red grapes, fresh or frozen
2 to 4 Tbsp Extra creamy oat milk OR coconut milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth, thick and creamy. Add more milk (of choice) to make it softer, if needed. Enjoy!

Tip: If using all frozen fruit, more milk may be needed to help it blend up and become creamy. If using some fresh fruit, less milk can be used to make it a creamy texture. Add more milk, and maybe even some veggies of choice, and make this into a delicious smoothie!


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.


Walnuts 101 – The Basics


 Walnuts 101 – The Basics

About Walnuts
Walnuts have been cultivated for thousands of years, with the different types having different origins. There are many different species of walnut trees, with the three most popular being the English (or Persian) walnut, the black walnut, and the white (or butternut) walnut. The English walnut is the most popular type in the United States. It has a thinner shell that is easily broken with a nutcracker. The black walnut has thicker shells that are harder to crack, and a pungent, distinctive flavor. The white walnut has a sweeter, oilier flavor than the other two common types of walnuts. It is not widely available and may be hard to find in grocery stores.

English walnuts originated in India and areas surrounding the Caspian Sea. Hence, it is also known as the Persian walnut. In the 4th century, Romans introduced walnuts to many European countries, where they have been grown ever since. Throughout history, walnut trees have been highly prized, not only for their very long lifespan, but for the fact that they produced food, medicine, shelter, dye, and lamp oil for many civilizations throughout history.

Black and white walnuts are native to North America, in the Central Mississippi Valley and Appalachian areas. Walnuts had an important role in the diets and lifestyles of both Native Americans and early European settlers.

Today, China is the largest commercial producer of walnuts, harvesting about 360,000 metric tons each year. The United States falls second in line, harvesting about 294,000 metric tons of walnuts annually. Within the United States, most walnuts are grown in California.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Walnuts are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids. In fact, a 1/4-cup serving of English walnuts provides 113% of the recommended daily amount of omega-3 fats! They also contain noteworthy amounts of molybdenum, biotin, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium, and zinc. Walnuts also supply a lot of phytonutrients with important health benefits, along with Vitamin E.

As long as we don’t have a tree nut allergy, it is recommended that we eat about one ounce of walnuts or other nuts a day. With walnuts, that amounts to 7 whole walnuts or 14 walnut halves.

Cardiovascular Benefits. The benefits of walnuts on heart and circulatory health have been widely studied and verified by research. Walnuts contain compounds with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that positively affect our blood pressure, blood composition (including blood cholesterol and fat levels), inflammation-regulating factors in the body, and flexibility of blood vessel walls. These benefits are attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats found in walnuts, along with their generous supply of phytonutrients. Researchers have found that people who ate as few as four walnuts a day, showed improved biomarkers.

Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a term that includes a number of simultaneous problems including high blood pressure, imbalanced blood fats and cholesterol (low HDL with high total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides), and obesity. Recent research has shown that eating one ounce of walnuts a day for 2 to 3 months can reduce the problems associated with metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, these benefits were achieved with the loss of belly fat and without weight gain (which one might expect from adding nuts to the diet). If you have metabolic syndrome, speak with your healthcare provider about adding some walnuts to your daily routine.

Benefits for Type 2 Diabetes. In addition to other health problems, people with Type 2 diabetes are particularly at risk for cardiovascular issues. Reducing those risks is usually a part of the healthcare plan for such patients. Repeated research on the health value of walnuts has shown improved responses in the cardiovascular system of individuals with Type 2 diabetes following meals containing a small amount of walnuts on a daily basis. A mere one ounce of walnuts daily has shown such benefits.

Anti-Cancer Benefits. Walnuts have shown measurable anti-cancer benefits due to their array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. In particular, the risk of prostate and breast cancers has been shown to be reduced by the inclusion of walnuts in the diet. However, in this case, subjects included three ounces of walnuts per day in their foods instead of the usually recommended one ounce.

How to Select Walnuts
When buying whole walnuts still in their shells, select ones that feel heavy for their size. The shells should be intact and not cracked, pierced or stained. Those can indicate that the nuts inside have decayed.

Shelled walnuts are usually available prepackaged. They may be in halves, in pieces, or chopped. Look for the “Best by” date on the packaging and select one with the farthest date in the future to help ensure freshness.

When buying walnuts in bulk bins, be sure there is a fast turnover of the product, to help ensure they are fresh.  Avoid any that look rubbery or shriveled. If possible, smell them to be sure they are not rancid. If they have an “off” odor, choose something else.

How to Store Walnuts
Walnuts have a high fat content, which makes them very perishable. They will go rancid when exposed to warmth for long periods of time. Shelled walnuts should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for six months. They may also be stored in the freezer, where they will keep for one year.

Walnuts that are still in their shells will keep best in the refrigerator. However, they may be kept in a cool, dry, dark place for up to six months.

If you notice an “off” odor to any walnuts that you have, they have become rancid and should be thrown away. Some have described the smell of rancid walnuts as being similar to paint thinner. If they don’t smell fresh, with the usual aroma that walnuts should have, throw them away. When in doubt, toss them out!

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Walnuts
* Add toasted walnuts to your favorite green salad.

* To easily toast walnuts on the stove, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add walnuts to a dry pan, adding only enough to create a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Transfer to a plate to cool. Don’t walk away during the process. Walnuts can burn fast!

* Try adding walnuts to your favorite smoothie.

* Try a simple salad with spinach, arugula, and/or mixed greens. Top the greens with sliced red onion, toasted walnuts, and raspberries. Top with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

* Add chopped walnuts to your breakfast oatmeal. Dress it up even more by topping it with vanilla yogurt.

* Wait to shell and/or chop walnuts until you’re ready to use them. Since they are very perishable, this will help to keep them fresh when you need them.

* Make your own trail mix with a mixture of walnuts and other nuts, seeds, and dried fruit of choice. Example: Chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, dried apple pieces, and diced dried apricots. Toss in some dried coconut for a little tropical flavor.

* Top yogurt with chopped walnuts and fresh fruit.

* Top roasted Brussels sprouts with toasted walnuts.

* Try a kale salad with diced fresh pears and chopped walnuts. Top with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

* For added crunch, flavor and protein, add walnuts to brown rice in vegetarian dishes.

* Add chopped toasted walnuts to your favorite stuffed squash recipe.

* When eating shelled walnuts, try to include the thin skin that is found on the walnut meat itself. Some resources recommend removing it before eating the walnut. That’s simply because it has a slightly bitter flavor. However, that bitterness comes from important, very healthful compounds found only in the skin. In fact, 90% of the phenols found in walnuts are in that skin. So, if you can bear to eat it, do so for your own health benefits.

* Add chopped walnuts to your favorite poultry stuffing.

* Add walnuts to your favorite sautéed vegetables.

* Try homemade walnut granola. In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of honey, 3 tablespoons of molasses, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, a dash of salt, and a teaspoon each of spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and/or nutmeg. Stir well to combine the ingredients. Add 6 to 8 cups of rolled oats to the honey mixture and toss to coat well. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and bake at 275°F (135°C) for 45 minutes. Cool and mix in ½ to 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Enjoy!

* To roast walnuts, it’s best to do so at a low oven temperature to preserve the healthy qualities of the oils in the nuts. Spread walnuts on a cookie sheet and roast at 160-170°F (about 75°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Walnuts
Basil, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, parsley, salt, sage, thyme, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Walnuts
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general), beef, cashews, chicken, eggs, fish, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, pork, pumpkin seeds, turkey

Vegetables: Artichokes, artichoke hearts, arugula, beets, bell peppers (esp. red roasted), cabbage, carrots, celery, celery root, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, greens, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, spinach, squash (summer and winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, apricots (esp. dried), avocados, bananas, berries, cherries, coconut, cranberries, currants, dates, figs, fruits (in general, dried and fresh), grapefruit, grapes, kumquats, lemon, olives, oranges (juice and zest), peaches, pears, plums (dried and fresh), pomegranate, pumpkin, quinces, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Amaranth, barley, bulgur, couscous, whole grains (in general), muesli, oats, oatmeal, pasta, phyllo dough, quinoa, rice, spelt berries, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese, cream, ice cream, mascarpone, yogurt

Other Foods: Caramel, chocolate (dark, milk, white), coffee, honey, maple syrup, miso, molasses, oil, pomegranate molasses, sugar, vinegar (esp. sherry), wine (sweet)

Walnuts have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pastries, tarts), baklava, cereals (hot), desserts (pies, fruit crisps), granola, Greek cuisine, pancakes, pastas, pâtés, pestos, pizzas, salads, sauces, snacks, soups, stuffings, tabbouleh, tapenade, trail mix

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Walnuts
Add walnuts to any of the following combinations…

Apples + beets [in a salad]
Apples + cinnamon [in oatmeal]
Apples + wheat berries
Arugula + beets + feta cheese
Basil + eggplant
Beets + spinach
Roasted bell peppers + garlic + parsley [with pasta]
Blue cheese + onions
Bread crumbs + garlic + olive oil + Parmesan cheese
Butternut squash + sage
Carrots + raisins
Cheese + fruit
Cranberries + ginger + orange + vanilla
Figs + honey + yogurt
Mushrooms + thyme

Recipe Links
Sweet & Spicy Walnuts https://walnuts.org/recipe/sweet-spicy-walnuts/

Mexican Dark Chocolate Cinnamon-Coated Walnuts https://walnuts.org/recipe/mexican-dark-chocolate-cinnamon-coated-walnuts/

17 Delicious Sweet and Savory Walnut Recipes You’ll Go Nuts For https://morningchores.com/walnut-recipes/

40+ Nutty Walnut Recipes https://www.myrecipes.com/ingredients/recipes-with-walnuts

Roast Beef with Walnut, Thyme, and Sea Salt Crust https://fishernuts.com/recipes/entrees/beef-roast-with-walnut-thyme-and-sea-salt-crust

Chinese Honey-Glazed Beef and Walnuts https://www.daringgourmet.com/chinese-beef-with-walnuts/

Spicy Beef-Style Walnut Meat https://www.plantpowercouple.com/recipes/walnut-meat-beef-style/

Walnut Meat (4 Ways) https://simple-veganista.com/walnut-meat/

Walnut Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/nuts-seeds/nuts/walnuts/easy-walnut-recipes

Beef with Candied Walnuts and Garlic https://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipes/make-your-own-fancy-take-out-beef-with-candied-walnuts-and-garlic

Walnut Pear Yam Skillet https://walnuts.org/recipe/walnut-pear-yam-skillet/

Walnut Pear and Oat Nuggets https://walnuts.org/recipe/walnut-pear-and-oat-nuggets/

Pears with Walnut and Spinach with Citrusy Dressing https://walnuts.org/recipe/pears-with-walnut-and-spinach-with-citrusy-dressing/

Walnut Broccoli Apple Slaw https://walnuts.org/recipe/walnut-broccoli-apple-slaw/

Walnut Pear and Avocado Bowl https://walnuts.org/recipe/walnut-pear-and-avocado-bowl/

Creamy Egg Cups https://walnuts.org/recipe/creamy-egg-cups/

California Walnut Meatless Meatballs https://walnuts.org/recipe/california-walnut-meatless-meatballs/

Walnut Pear Quesadilla with Spicy Pear Salsa https://walnuts.org/recipe/walnut-pear-quesadilla-with-spicy-pear-salsa/

50 Crunchy Walnut Recipes for the Seriously Nutty https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/walnut-recipes/

10 Easy and Delicious Ways to Use Walnut in Your Diet https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/10-easy-and-delicious-ways-to-use-walnut-in-your-diet/photostory/67572243.cms

Unbelievable Walnut Crusted Chicken https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/unbelievable-walnut-crusted-chicken/

Stir-Fried Walnut Chicken https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/stir-fried-walnut-chicken/

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

Portobello Mushroom and Walnut Salad https://producemadesimple.ca/portobello-mushroom-walnut-salad/

Roasted Halibut with Walnut Crust https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/roasted-halibut-with-walnut-crust-240087

Turkey with Walnut-Parmesan Sauce https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/turkey-with-walnut-parmesan-sauce

Walnut Crusted Pork Chops https://www.ketoresource.org/keto_recipes/keto-walnut-crusted-pork-chops-dinner-recipe/











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


About Judi

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