Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds 101 – The Basics

Chia Seeds 101 – The Basics

About Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family, Salvia hispanica. It is native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala. The seeds have been used as a staple source of nutrition dating back to ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, and it was cultivated as far back as 3500 B.C. Today, chia seeds are primarily grown in Mexico and Central America, as well as several other Latin American countries and Australia. They have become a commercially popular health food in the last decade or so. They can be found in black and white varieties.  Any brown seeds that you see for sale were not fully matured when harvested and will be undesirable in flavor and have a lesser nutritional value than the fully matured seeds.

Chia seeds have a very subtle flavor, so taste is not what they are prized for. Instead, their texture and nutritional value are what attracts people to chia seeds. They have the ability to absorb many times their dry weight in liquid, making them miniature tapioca-like balls, thickening any liquid they are in.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Chia seeds pack a strong nutritional punch, with the black and white seeds being the same in nutritional value. They are high in fiber, protein (with a good balance of essential amino acids), Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin K, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. They also contain zinc, niacin, potassium, selenium, copper, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and folate. They are naturally gluten-free and non-GMO. They are also high in antioxidants, which help to preserve the fatty acids within the seeds and provide valuable health benefits when we eat them. Two tablespoons of chia seeds supply about 140 calories.

Weight Control. The soluble fiber in chia seeds absorbs a lot of water and expands in the stomach, which increases fullness and slows the absorption of food. Also, the high-quality protein in chia seeds helps to reduce appetite and ultimately food intake.

In 2017, a study reported in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice, demonstrated that eating chia seeds for breakfast increased satiety and reduced food intake (in the short-term).

Another study reported in 2017 in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, found that chia seeds helped to promote weight loss in obese individuals with Type 2 diabetes who were on a reduced-calorie diet.

Researchers in these studies concluded that adding chia seeds to the diet alone is unlikely to induce weight loss, but experts agree they can be a useful addition to a weight loss diet and lifestyle.

High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Gram for gram, chia seeds have more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. However, it’s important to note that we would normally eat more salmon in one serving than we would chia seeds. Nevertheless, chia seeds do contain a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids. Milled chia seeds will release more of these essential fatty acids than whole chia seeds, since we do not break them down well in the digestive process.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease. Since chia seeds are high in fiber (especially soluble fiber), protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, they may reduce the risk of heart disease. Research studies have shown that chia seeds can reduce triglycerides, inflammation, and insulin resistance, and may also raise HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, all leading to a lower risk for heart disease. A few studies have also shown that chia seeds reduced blood pressure in subjects with hypertension. Overall, chia seeds appear to benefit heart health, especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Bone Health. Chia seeds are high in nutrients that support bone health, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. In fact, one ounce of chia seeds provides 18% of the recommended dietary intake of calcium. This makes chia seeds an excellent source of calcium.

It is important to note that chia seeds contain phytic acid, which can bind to the calcium and other minerals within the seed, inhibiting their absorption. Soaking the seeds before eating them will release the phytic acid, allowing those minerals to be utilized by the body. Also, considering the fact that the soluble fiber in chia seeds will soak up a LOT of liquid, it is advisable to soak them first rather than eating them dry, to prevent dehydration or a choking hazard.

Stabilized Blood Sugar Levels. Blood sugar levels can tend to rise after a meal, depending upon the food eaten. Such spikes can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Animal and human research studies have found that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control by stabilizing blood sugar levels after meals, reducing the risk of disease.

Possible Inflammation Reduction. Inflammation is a normal and necessary response to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Some lifestyle habits can increase our risk for chronic inflammation, such as smoking, inactivity, and a poor diet. On the contrary, other lifestyle habits can reduce the risk for chronic inflammation, with dietary choices being one of them. A study published in a 2007 issue of the journal Diabetes Care showed that subjects with diabetes eating 37 grams (about 2-1/2 tablespoons) of chia seeds a day for three months had reduced inflammatory markers (hs-CRP) by 40%. The control subjects in the study experienced no benefit when fed wheat bran. However, other studies with obese subjects did not show such promising results. So, the data are preliminary but do suggest that chia seeds may have beneficial effects on chronic inflammation.

Note of Caution: Omega-3 fats may have blood-thinning effects. People who take blood thinning medications should consult their doctors before adding large amounts of chia seeds to their diet. Their prothrombin time may need to be monitored for a while.

 

How to Select Chia Seeds
When shopping for chia seeds, choose seeds that are either speckled black or white. Avoid those that are uniformly brown, which indicates the seeds didn’t mature properly. Brown seeds will be bitter and have fewer nutritional benefits.

How to Store Chia Seeds
Store chia seeds in a cool, dry place. The refrigerator is ideal. When kept cool and dry, they should keep for several years. If you have room, storing them in the freezer will give them the longest life.

How to Prepare
Chia seeds need no special treatment. They are ready to use straight from the container they came in.

Some resources say they may be eaten dry, sprinkled on salads or puddings. However, since they soak up a lot of liquid, be sure you consume plenty of liquid if you do opt to eat them dry, so you don’t become dehydrated or cause a choking hazard. Otherwise, to avoid possible issues from eating dry chia seeds, it’s best to soak them with plenty of liquid first before eating them.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Chia Seeds
* Chia seeds do not have to be ground for digestive reasons, like flax seeds do, so they are easy to include in the diet without special treatment.

* Chia seeds can be added to porridge, pudding, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and baked goods.

* Chia seeds may be eaten raw, but they should be soaked first to allow their soluble fiber to soak up liquid, and also allow the phytic acid to be broken down.

* Chia seeds may be used to thicken sauces, gravies, or soups.

* To make an egg substitute, simply combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir, and allow them to sit for about 5 minutes or until a gel is formed. This replaces one egg in baked items like cupcakes, muffins, or cookies.

* Make easy chia pudding. Simply mix ¼ cup of seeds in one cup of liquid, such as nut or oat milk and/or fruit juice. Allow the mixture to rest at least 15 minutes, until it is no longer watery, but more of a “pudding” texture. Chia seeds don’t have much flavor, so many people add spices of choice, and chopped fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, or other toppings. The pudding will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

* Chia seeds may be eaten whole or ground. However, recent studies show that we may absorb more nutrients from ground chia seeds than whole ones.

* Try grinding chia seeds and add into breadcrumbs when making meatballs or breading meats, poultry, vegetables, or other foods.

* Try adding chia seeds to your favorite pancake mix.

* Since chia seeds absorb liquid, forming a gel in the process, they can be used in place of pectin when making jam.

* Try mixing some chia seeds in your favorite dip.

* Try adding chia seeds to homemade crackers.

* Try freezing your favorite chia pudding, making it into an ice cream.

* It is noteworthy that Omega-3 fats may have blood-thinning effects. People who take blood thinning medications should consult their doctors before adding large amounts of chia seeds to their diet. Their prothrombin time may need to be monitored for a while.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Chia Seeds
Cinnamon, ginger, mint, nutmeg, sage, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Chia Seeds
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), flax seeds, meats, fish, and poultry (in a breading or crust), nuts (in general), nut butters (in general), tofu

Vegetables: Kale, maca, squash (winter, esp. spaghetti)

Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries (of all types), coconut, dates, lemon, lime, mango, pears, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Baked goods, cereals (breakfast), oats, oatmeal, oat bran

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Coconut milk, coconut butter, milk (in general), cashew milk, hemp seed milk, yogurt and frozen yogurt

Other Foods: Carob, chocolate, cocoa, honey, maple syrup, sugar (all types)

Chia seeds have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., biscuits, breads, cakes, cookies, muffins), chili (vegetarian), drinks (i.e., limeade), granola, meatballs, porridge, puddings, salads, smoothies, soups, veggie burgers

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Chia Seeds
Add chia seeds to any of the following combinations…

Almond Milk + Apples + Buckwheat + Cinnamon
Cashews + Coconut + Dates
Cocoa + Honey + Silken Tofu + Vanilla
Ginger + Pears + Almond Milk

Recipe Links
Blueberry-Chia Ice Pops https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/blueberry-chia-ice-pops

Chia Pudding with Dried Apricots and Pineapple https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chia-pudding-dried-apricots-pineapple

Blueberry-Chia Seed Jam https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/blueberry-chia-seed-jam

Pomegranate-Chia Seed Yogurt Parfait https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pomegranate-chia-seed-yogurt-parfait

Lemon Chia No-Bake Slice https://thechiaco.com/us/lemon-chia-no-bake-slice/

Nut Free Oat Slice https://thechiaco.com/us/nut-free-oat-slice/

Three-Ingredient Chia Pudding https://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/3-ingredient-chia-pudding/#wprm-recipe-container-5591

26 Chia Recipes That Don’t Just Involve Pudding https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/chia-seed-recipes

32 No-Brainer Chia Seed Pudding Recipes https://greatist.com/eat/chia-seed-pudding-recipes

25 Recipes to Get Some Chia in Your Day—Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner https://www.brit.co/living/healthy-eating/chia-recipes/

Overnight Chocolate Chia Pudding https://minimalistbaker.com/overnight-chocolate-chia-seed-pudding/


Resources
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28989578/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28089080/

https://www.lifehack.org/596479/exposed-get-the-most-out-of-chia-seeds-by-soaking-them

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20087375/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23778782/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17686832/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19628108/

https://theprettybee.com/chia-egg/#wprm-recipe-container-20215

https://cronometer.com/

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/chia-seeds

https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20141021/use-chia-seeds-with-caution-researcher-warns

https://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/chia-seeds/?DFA=1&UTM_Medium=PaidSearch&UTM_Source=GOOGLE&UTM_Campaign=SWAN_National_Gen_Search_NonBrnd_DSA_All+Webpages+DSA+-+Blog&UTM_Content=DYNAMIC+SEARCH+ADS&SourceCode=INTLBVDNA&gclid=CjwKCAjwz_WGBhA1EiwAUAxIcYohGjGlMKACPDo5pX1LDjnGMM05Cc95FgKD38qk5GGtNzXvwPXb6BoCAfAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/35-ways-eat-chia-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_36

https://www.worldofchia.com/chia/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chia-vs-flax#TOC_TITLE_HDR_9

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.

Beta-Carotene Rich Food

Beta-Carotene 101

Beta-Carotene 101

What is Beta-Carotene?
Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid found in many foods. Carotenoids are pigments found in plants, algae, and some bacteria. There are over 600 different types of carotenoids, with beta-carotene being one of the more common examples. About fifty carotenoids can be converted into vitamin A. The major carotenoids in humans are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Beta-carotene is yellow to orange to red in color and gives many fruits and vegetables their characteristic bright colors ranging from green to orange, red, and purple. Examples include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, red bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, and apricots. The color of beta-carotene in dark green vegetables is masked by the chlorophyll in the plants.

Beta-carotene serves as a provitamin (or precursor) to Vitamin A in the body. This means that the body uses beta-carotene to make Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin with a variety of functions in the body. Provitamin A (in the form of carotenoids, with beta-carotene being one of them) is only found in plants, whereas preformed Vitamin A (a group of retinoids) is found in animal foods such as dairy products, fish oils, eggs, and meat (especially liver). The Vitamin A your body makes from beta-carotene does not accumulate in the body to toxic levels, whereas preformed Vitamin A from animal sources can.

All carotenoids, including beta-carotene, serve as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are critical molecules that help to protect us from harmful free-radicals by neutralizing them, stopping their damaging chain reactions. This helps to protect us from developing a number of chronic diseases and health issues, ranging from cognitive decline to cancer.

Health Benefits of Beta-Carotene
As mentioned above, Vitamin A (that we can make from beta-carotene) has a number of important functions in the body. It helps cells reproduce correctly, is essential for good vision, helps ward off cancer, protects our brain health, and is needed for proper development of an embryo and fetus during pregnancy. It also helps keep the skin and mucous membranes that line various cavities of the body healthy. Vitamin A also plays a role in growth, bone formation, reproduction, wound healing, and the functioning of our immune system.

Vision. Vitamin A is critical for good vision. It is a component of rhodopsin, a protein that allows the eye to see in low-light environments. It is well established that a deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to night blindness.

Vitamin A is also important for proper functioning of the cornea, the protective outer layer of the eye. When Vitamin A is deficient, eyes produce too little moisture to stay lubricated. Prolonged deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to xerophthalmia, the leading cause of blindness among the world’s children in developing countries, many of which die within a year of losing their sight. In this preventable condition, the eyes become very dry, damaging the cornea and retina, eventually making the eyes themselves very crusty and unable to function. Simply ensuring adequate intake of Vitamin A or beta-carotene-rich foods prevents these serious eye problems and possible death, especially among children.

Furthermore, research shows that those who eat a diet rich in beta-carotene (or Vitamin A) are less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, and have a lower risk of developing cataracts.

Immunity, Pregnancy Outcome, and Children. Vitamin A deficiency impairs immunity by hindering normal reproduction of mucosal cells. These cells line cavities and openings of the body, including all parts of the digestive tract including the mouth, and also the nose, sinuses, bronchial tubes and lungs, vagina, urethra, and anus.  The mucosal cells form barriers helping to prevent infectious microbes from entering the body. When a Vitamin A deficient barrier is damaged by invading microbes, the function of our immune cells (specifically, neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells) is hindered. These cells function in innate immunity. Vitamin A is also needed for adaptive immunity, where the development of T-cells and B-cells are needed to recognize the same invading microbe in the future. In this function, Vitamin A deficiency reduces antibody-mediated responses, reducing our ability to fight the microbe in future infections.

Because of its role in the immune function, Vitamin A deficiency is believed to account for many deaths among infants, young children, and pregnant women around the world. The deficiency lowers the body’s ability to fight infections, leading to respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, slower growth rates and bone development in children, and a lowered rate of survival with serious illness. Simply eating more beta-carotene-rich foods can prevent such tragedies.

Antioxidant Protection. Beta-carotene, like all carotenoids, as an important antioxidant in the body. An antioxidant is a compound that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules, protecting the body from harmful free radical molecules. Free radicals damage the body by robing healthy cells of electrons. This damage can lead to a number of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants are capable of donating electrons to free radical molecules, stopping their destructive damage. In the process, antioxidants themselves are not damaged. Studies have shown that those who eat at least four servings a day of beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing cancer or heart disease.

Cancer. A number of research studies have shown an association between diets high in carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, and a reduced incidence of many types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, colon, esophagus, cervix and skin (melanoma). The antioxidant properties of carotenoids appear to be the reason for this effect. Also, researchers have found that beta-carotene can lower the rate of chronic diseases in addition to cancer. It is believed that beta-carotene enhances immune cell function, and this effect is especially seen in the elderly.

Healthy Skin.  Beta-carotene can help to boost the health of skin. This effect appears to be most likely due to its antioxidant properties. A study reported in the November 2012 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that an optimal amount of antioxidant nutrients in the skin increases basal dermal defense against UV irradiation, supports longer-term protection, and contributes to overall maintenance of skin health and appearance. However, the researchers noted that dietary antioxidants such as beta-carotene or lycopene can offer some degree of sun protection, although it is lower than that of a typical sunscreen.

Vitamin A compounds (retinoids) regulate the growth and differentiation of many types of cells in the skin. Deficiency leads to abnormal keratinization. Keratinization is a process where cells are filled with keratin, which is a type of protein filament that forms tough, resistant structures such as hair and nails. Keratin also helps to provide structure to and contributes to the function of soft tissues, such as skin and mucosal membranes. Deficiency of Vitamin A leads to abnormal epithelial keratinization, which can show up as dry, scaly, tough skin, and hindered wound healing of damaged tissue.

Cognitive Decline. Researchers have shown that those who have a long-term high beta-carotene intake are far less likely to develop cognitive decline then those who did not consume a lot of beta-carotene. Oxidative stress is believed to be a key factor in cognitive decline. The antioxidant properties of beta-carotene, when ingested in high amounts over time, appear to help prevent the deterioration of brain function, including memory. Antioxidants, like beta-carotene may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
Symptoms of a serious deficiency of Vitamin A include dry eyes (which can lead to xerophthalmia, a condition where the eyes become completely dried and thickened, leading to irreversible blindness), night blindness, diarrhea, skin problems, and impaired immunity. Vitamin A deficiency may also contribute to impaired immune function (leading to gastrointestinal and/or respiratory tract infections), poor pregnancy outcomes, and slow growth and bone formation in children.

Keratinization of the skin can occur in Vitamin A deficiency. Keratin is used by the body to form hair and nails (and feathers in birds). When keratinization of the skin occurs, the skin can develop thick, tough, dry, and scaly areas. Examples include the development of corns and calloses. Keratinization can also occur in mucous membranes in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tracts from a severe Vitamin A deficiency.

Should You Take Vitamin A Supplements?
Vitamin A supplements may contain only provitamin A (such as beta-carotene), preformed Vitamin A (usually retinyl palmitate, from animal foods or from fish oils), or a combination of both.

Hypervitaminosis A (Vitamin A Toxicity). Hypervitaminosis A is a condition where a person has too much Vitamin A in their body. This can happen when a person takes too many (preformed) Vitamin A supplements or uses some acne creams over a long period of time.

A wide range of symptoms can be indicative of hypervitaminosis A. If a person has taken a large dose of preformed Vitamin A in a short period of time, symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity can include irritability, drowsiness, nausea, abdominal pain, a feeling of pressure on the brain, and vomiting.

Symptoms of chronic Vitamin A toxicity, where a person has taken preformed Vitamin A over a long period of time where it slowly accumulated in the body include mouth ulcers, bone swelling, cracked fingernails, bone pain, loss of appetite, cracks in the corners of the mouth, vision problems, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to sunlight, skin problems (rough, dry, peeling, or itchy skin), jaundice, hair loss, confusion, or respiratory infection.

Taking large supplemental doses of beta-carotene is generally not recommended. Even though large doses are not known to be toxic to the general public, they can be harmful to specific groups of people, including smokers. Smokers who take high doses of beta-carotene supplements have been found to be at a greater risk of developing fatal lung cancer. This same precaution also applies to individuals who have been exposed to asbestos, or who consume excessive alcohol. In such cases, beta-carotene supplements have been linked not only to lung cancer, but also heart and liver disease. Other than the serious risk to these groups of individuals, taking long-term large supplemental doses of beta-carotene may cause the skin to turn orange-yellow. However, this can be corrected by simply discontinuing the supplements.

A study reported in the February 1999 issue of Free Radical Research found that the greatest antioxidant protection associated with beta-carotene and lycopene (a type of carotenoid found in tomatoes, watermelon, red grapefruits, and papayas), was at the concentration found in foods. When greater amounts (as would occur from supplementation) of these compounds were tested, researchers found the antioxidant protection was quickly lost and may have actually increased DNA damage, taking on a prooxidant effect. Similar effects were found when testing the protection of cellular membranes. This suggests that supplementation with individual carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, significantly raises blood and tissue levels with little to no benefit, and may actually be harmful.

Conversely, some studies such as research reported in 2000 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that some individuals do not adequately convert beta-carotene from foods into the active form of Vitamin A. This may be due to inadequate enzymes necessary for the conversion, lack of adequate fat intake when beta-carotene is consumed, or a simultaneous zinc deficiency, since zinc is necessary for beta-carotene uptake and its conversion into the active form of Vitamin A.

If a person is not receiving adequate Vitamin A or beta-carotene in their diet, or for some reason cannot adequately convert beta-carotene to active Vitamin A, the Council for Responsible Nutrition considered supplements of 10,000 IU daily of preformed Vitamin A (retinol) to be generally safe. Those who routinely eat liver or organ meats may be getting enough from their diet and should use caution when considering Vitamin A supplements.

Foods That Contain Beta-Carotene
Foods that are rich in color are usually high in beta-carotene. Some examples include dark leafy greens (such as kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, arugula, and spinach), sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, butternut squash, cantaloupe, red and yellow bell peppers, apricots, peas, papayas, plums, mangoes, raspberries, and romaine lettuce. Some herbs and spices also contain beta-carotene. Examples include paprika, cayenne, chili pepper, parsley, cilantro, marjoram, sage, and coriander.

Effects of Cooking on Beta-Carotene in Foods
There is a great debate on whether it’s better to eat fruits and vegetables raw or cooked. The true answer is not simple. It depends on which nutrient you’re talking about, which food you’re considering, and also which cooking method you’re using vs eating something raw. Carrots are well-known for their high beta-carotene content.  Whether they are cooked or raw, they supply plenty of beta-carotene. However, cooking carrots actually increases their beta-carotene content, especially when they are lightly boiled or steamed. This is because cooking opens the cell walls and releases more beta-carotene then when the carrot is raw. This same principal applies to raw vs cooked spinach and Swiss chard. Furthermore, we are able to absorb more of the beta-carotene from cooked carrots than we can from raw carrots, since the cell walls in carrots are softened when cooked, making them easier to digest. If you want to enjoy your carrots raw, chopping them well (and chewing them thoroughly) can help to break down the cell walls, releasing more of the beta-carotene then would be available if they were eaten whole.

Increasing Your Absorption of Beta-Carotene from Foods
A Little Fat Goes a Long Way.  Beta-carotene along with preformed Vitamin A, are both fat-soluble nutrients, meaning that they are absorbed along with fats in the digestive tract. Having a little fat in your meal with foods high in beta-carotene (or including a food in the meal that naturally contains some fat) can help to enhance the absorption of the nutrient. This was demonstrated in a study conducted at Iowa State University where graduate students were recruited to eat green salads with tomatoes. Various types of salad dressings were used, ranging from fat-free to traditional Italian dressing made with oil. Students had IV lines inserted so researchers could test blood before and after the meals. Results clearly showed that students who were given fat-free or low-fat salad dressings did not absorb the carotenoids as well as those who ate the traditional dressings.

Cooked vs Raw Foods.
As detailed in the section above (Effects of Cooking on Beta-Carotene in Foods), beta-carotene is better absorbed from foods that have been cooked or finely chopped. This is because beta-carotene is bound tightly within plant cells. Finely chopping or cooking helps to break down the cell walls, releasing the beta-carotene so it can be absorbed more easily during the digestive process. Whether you enjoy beta-carotene-rich foods cooked or raw, be sure to chew them well to further release the beta-carotene from the foods.

Zinc Status.   In the March 2003 issue of The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, an animal study was reported where subjects were fed the same diets, except for the levels of zinc. One diet was low in zinc, whereas the other contained adequate zinc. The findings demonstrated that a low intake or marginal deficiency of zinc resulted in decreased absorption of beta-carotene. The study suggested that adequate zinc status is an important factor in the absorption of beta-carotene. So, ensuring you have adequate zinc intake will help boost your absorption of the very important nutrient and antioxidant, beta-carotene.

Resources

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=BetaCarotene

https://www.healthline.com/health/carotenoids

https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/natural-food-sources-of-beta-carotene.php

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/beta-carotene

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-beta-carotene#1

https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-a-palmitate#vitamin-a-palmitate-vs-vitamin-a

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322238

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326758#vitamins

https://www.who.int/data/nutrition/nlis/info/vitamin-a-deficiency

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10604207/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11684388/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10193582/

https://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/reviews/vitamin-a-the-key-to-a-tolerant-immune-system/

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/96/5/1179S/4577133

https://www.healthline.com/health/beta-carotene-benefits#benefits

https://www.healthline.com/health/beta-carotene-benefits#foods-sources

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/vitamin-a-retinol

https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional-disorders/vitamin-deficiency-dependency-and-toxicity/vitamin-a-deficiency

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/keratinization

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6049112/

https://askthescientists.com/food-preparation/

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https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12742542/

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/beta-carotene

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11375434/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252758

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31389093/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5917548/

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/vitamin-a-deficiency/

https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/what-is-xerophthalmia


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.

Red Potatoes

Red Potatoes 101 – The Basics

Red Potatoes 101 – The Basics

About Red Potatoes
Botanically, red potatoes are classified as Solanum tuberosum. This is a broad category of plants including many different varieties belonging to the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. Tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers are among the plants that fall within this category. Red potatoes are sometimes called “new potatoes.” However, that term only refers to those potatoes that are harvested early and are small in size. That may or may not apply to red potatoes.

Red potatoes are small to medium in size, with a round or oval shape. The smooth skin is thin with a ruby to deep red color, with some light brown speckles, spots, and indentations. The flesh of red potatoes is crisp, white, and firm. Also, the flesh is lower in starch and has a higher moisture content than other potatoes. When cooked, these properties give red potatoes a waxy, dense texture with a mild flavor.

Red potatoes were first cultivated in the mountains of Peru. Spanish explorers took potatoes home with them and introduced them to Europe in the 1560s. The potatoes became popular and were carried across Europe, and eventually to the United States. Today, red potatoes are available year-round in most markets in South America, the United States, and in Europe.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Like other potatoes, red potatoes have nutritional value beyond what we would imagine. A baked red potato is high in Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin B1, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, calcium, and it even has some protein. For the most nutritional value, bake red potatoes with the skin on. Then, of course, eat the skin along with the flesh of the potato.

When comparing the nutritional aspects of 100 grams of fresh banana with 100 grams of baked red potato, the red potato surpasses the banana in potassium. That’s an interesting fact we don’t often hear about when looking for food sources of potassium!

As a “white” food, potatoes are often included with white bread and pasta and are “off the list” when people are trying to eat healthier. However, potatoes are filled with nutrients (as listed above) that promote health and wellness. Red potatoes are especially healthy to eat since we are more likely to eat their skins, which are full of fiber, B vitamins, iron and potassium.

The red color of the skin of red potatoes is due to the presence of anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanins are strong antioxidants with many important health benefits. Red potatoes are also high in quercetin, a flavonoid with very strong anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Antioxidants. Free radicals are produced in the body through normal metabolism and also through other factors like smoking. Free radicals attack healthy cells making them more prone to disease. Antioxidants help to protect cells against free radicals by stopping their destructive chain reactions. Red potatoes are high in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and anthocyanins found in the red skin. Eating red potatoes on a routine basis can help to ward off serious diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, and vision loss, among others. Furthermore, researchers have found that antioxidants function optimally when consumed packaged naturally in foods rather than when taken in supplement form. This is because they tend to work best in combination with other nutrients, plant chemicals, and even other antioxidants, as found in whole foods.

Lower Blood Pressure. Consider eating more red potatoes if you need to lower your blood pressure. One medium baked red potato supplies 943 milligrams of potassium. Potassium reduces the effects of sodium and may help to lower blood pressure, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Most Americans don’t meet the recommended 4,700 milligrams a day of potassium, so red potatoes can help meet that need. As stated earlier, when comparing gram per gram, baked red potatoes have more potassium than bananas.

Iron Absorption. It is well established that Vitamin C in a meal helps the body to absorb more iron from the foods in that meal. Since red potatoes contain both Vitamin C and iron, eating them can help to increase your iron status, helping to build the blood and ward off iron deficiency.

Heart Health. The fiber (in the skin), potassium, Vitamins C and B6, coupled with the lack of cholesterol in red potatoes all support heart health. Researchers in the NHANES study found that a higher intake of potassium along with a lower sodium intake reduced the risk of all-cause mortality along with heart disease. The high level of niacin in red potatoes helps to lower LDL (low-density-lipoprotein) cholesterol, the type of cholesterol we need to keep down to help prevent heart disease. Niacin also helps to support healthy skin and nerves. That’s all the more reason to enjoy red potatoes.

Brain and Nervous System Health. Vitamin B6 is important for maintaining our neurological health. It is used in creating chemicals in the brain including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This means that eating potatoes may help with the management of depression, stress, and possibly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Also, the ample carbohydrates in potatoes can help to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the brain’s preferred food and is important for proper brain functioning. A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that modest increases in glucose can help to enhance learning and memory. The high potassium in potatoes helps ensure your brain gets enough blood, since it promotes the relaxation (widening) of blood vessels.

Immunity. All potatoes are high in Vitamin C, which is well-known for supporting a healthy immune system. One medium baked potato provides a substantial amount of this critical vitamin.

How to Select Red Potatoes
Choose potatoes that are firm, smooth, and without sprouts. Avoid those with wrinkled skins, soft dark areas, cuts, bruises or with green areas. Any green areas should be cut away before using potatoes.

How to Store Red Potatoes
Store red potatoes unwashed in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation. They should keep well for about two weeks. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator. The cold temperature causes the starch in potatoes to convert to sugar, which will cause the potato to darken when cooked. Also, do not store potatoes near onions. Both vegetables release gases that can cause the other to age and decay faster than they normally would.

How to Prepare Red Potatoes
Gently scrub red potatoes under cool water with a vegetable brush. The skin of red potatoes is very thin, so it’s good to leave the skin on the potato, if possible, when preparing, cooking, and handling them. If needed, the skin can be removed with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

Red potatoes may be cooked in many ways, but are especially delicious when cooked with moist heat. They may be boiled, steamed, sautéed, grilled, and roasted. They are excellent in potato salad since they hold their shape well when cooked. They can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, gratins, and salads. They can also be made into potato hash, scalloped potatoes, and mashed potatoes.

How to Preserve Red Potatoes
Like other potatoes, red potatoes can be preserved either through freezing or dehydrating. It is not a difficult process, but does take some time and effort. There is a growing trend to freeze vegetables without first blanching them. This should not be done with potatoes because they will turn dark in the process. This is very undesirable and will lead to results you won’t be happy with. So, if you have an overabundance of red potatoes, allow enough time to prepare them properly and in the long run, you’ll be glad you did!

Freezing Red Potatoes.  Wash, peel the potatoes, then dice or slice them, as desired, or leave them whole. As you are preparing your potatoes, place them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning dark. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the prepared potatoes into the boiling water and immediately set the timer for 3 minutes (for diced or sliced potatoes), or 5 minutes (for small whole potatoes) or 8 minutes (for larger whole red potatoes). The potatoes should be partially, but not completely cooked. When they feel “al dente” or just barely soft enough for a knife to poke through, they are ready. When the time is up, immediately transfer the potatoes to a bowl of ice water. Allow the potatoes to cool for about the amount of time they were in the hot water. Drain them well and spread them out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place them in the freezer until frozen, then transfer the frozen potatoes to a freezer container or bag. For best quality, use them within 1 year.

Dehydrating Sliced Red Potatoes.   Dehydrating potatoes is not hard, but of course, does take some preparation and time. Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice them into 1/8 to ¼ inch thick slices. Place them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning dark. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the potatoes in the boiling water and boil them for about 5 minutes, until they are barely fork-tender. When the time is up, immediately transfer the potatoes to a bowl of ice water. Allow them to cool completely. Drain them well, then arrange them in a single layer on mesh drying trays. Set the dehydrator for 135°F, or the manufacturer’s recommended temperature for drying vegetables. Allow them to process until they feel dry, are crisp, and have no sign of moisture inside when broken open. This can take anywhere from 10 to 24 hours, depending upon how many potatoes are in the dehydrator, and the dehydrator itself. Once they are dry, allow them to cool, then transfer them to air-tight containers. Their shelf life will be prolonged if an oxygen absorber is placed in the container and as much air as possible removed from the container before storage. Mylar bags or glass mason jars work well for this application. Keep the potatoes in a cool, dry, dark environment. Dehydrated potatoes should keep well for 5 to 10 years.

Dehydrating Cubed Red Potatoes. Prepare potatoes as above (Dehydrating Sliced Red Potatoes), except cut them into ½-inch cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the prepared potatoes and allow them to remain in the boiling water until they are barely fork-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Allow the potatoes to completely cool, then drain them. Spread them in a single layer on a mesh dehydrator tray. Set the temperature according to the manufacturer’s recommendations (usually 135°F), and allow them to process until they feel dry, are crisp, and have no sign of moisture inside when broken apart. This can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending upon how many potatoes you are drying and your dehydrator. When they are ready, allow them to cool, then transfer them to air-tight containers. For the longest shelf life, place an oxygen absorber inside the container and remove as much air as possible. Mylar bags or glass mason jars work especially well for preserving dehydrated food.  Store your containers in a cool, dry, dark environment. Dehydrated potatoes should keep well for 5 to 10 years.

Dehydrating Potatoes for Hash Browns. Potatoes for hash browns should be washed, then peeled. They can be left in large pieces and cooked about 2/3 of the way, until just barely fork-tender, then cooled and shredded. Or they may be shredded first, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately transferred to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool completely. Drain them well to remove excess water. Spread the cooked, cooled, and shredded potatoes on a mesh dehydrator tray, breaking up any large clumps of potatoes. Set the dehydrator for the temperature recommended by the manufacturer (usually 135°F) and allow them to dry until crisp, translucent, and have no moisture inside when broken apart. This may take 3 hours or more, depending on the volume of potatoes and the dehydrator itself. When they are dried, remove them from the dehydrator trays to a shallow dish or baking tray to cool completely. If they are left on the dehydrator trays, they may stick as they cool down. Store them as you would other dehydrated foods, preferably in Mylar bags or glass jars with an oxygen absorber inside. Remove as much as air as possible for the longest shelf life. Store in a cool, dry, dark environment. Potatoes prepared in this way and stored properly can keep well for 5 to 10 years.

To Use Dehydrated Potatoes. For hash browns, soak the dehydrated shredded potatoes in hot water for 15 minutes, drain, and pan fry as usual.

Dried potato slices or cubes, may be added in their dry state to casseroles, soups, or stews. You will need to add extra fluid to recipes when adding them dehydrated. You could also rehydrate them first by placing them in a bowl and covering them with hot water. Allow them to rest for about 30 minutes or more, until they become rehydrated. Drain off any extra water and add them to recipes as needed.

Conversion Rate. As a general rule, dried potatoes will double in size once rehydrated. For example, 1 cup of dried potatoes will yield 2 cups when rehydrated.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Red Potatoes
* Red potatoes are high in moisture and low in starch. This combination makes them excellent for roasting, pan frying, and smashing.

* The skin of red potatoes is thin and tender, so they can easily be eaten. Save some time and add color to your dish by using unpeeled red potatoes.

* Red potatoes are an excellent salad potato because they hold their shape well when cooked.

* Try red potatoes in soups, stews, casseroles, and curries, or serve them baked or mashed.

* Red potatoes are excellent when diced and sautéed. Try including them in a breakfast hash.

* Do not store potatoes around onions. Both vegetables release gases that cause the other to age and decay faster than they normally would.

* When baking or roasting red potatoes, cook extras at the same time. Grate them and make hash brown potatoes with them in the next day or two. If that’s not convenient, grate them, then spread them on a tray and freeze them. When frozen, store them in an airtight container in the freezer for easy hash browns later.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Red Potatoes
Basil, bay leaf, capers, caraway seeds, cardamom, cayenne, celery seeds, chervil, chicory, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder and curry spices, dill, fenugreek, garam masala, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lavender, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard powder, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, sorrel, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Red Potatoes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general), beef, cashews, chickpeas, eggs, green beans, lamb, lentils, meats (in general), peas (including split peas), pine nuts, pork, poultry, sausage, seafood, tahini, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chard, chiles, chives, eggplant, fennel, greens (all types), kale, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, root vegetables (in general), rutabagas, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress

Fruits: Coconut, lemon, olives

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

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (esp. cheddar, goat, Gruyère, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, Swiss), coconut cream, cream, crème fraiche, milk (dairy and non-dairy), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, mustard (prepared), oil (esp. olive), pesto, stock, vinegar, wine (i.e., dry white)

Red potatoes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes), casseroles, curries, French cuisine, frittatas, gratins, Indian cuisine, omelets, potato cakes/pancakes, quiche, salads (i.e., egg, green salads, potato salads, cold or hot), skordalia, soups and bisques, stews, stuffed baked potatoes/twice-baked potatoes, tortillas

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

Butternut Squash + Sage
Cauliflower + Leeks
Cheddar Cheese + Chiles + Corn
Chives + Lemon + Olive Oil
Cider Vinegar + Dill + Horseradish + Olive Oil
Cream + Garlic + Thyme
Crème Fraiche + Dill
Dill + Olive Oil + Parsley + Milk of Choice [in mashed potatoes]
Fennel + Garlic + Leeks
Fennel + Lemon + Yogurt
Garlic + Herbs (i.e., oregano, rosemary, sage)
Garlic + Lemon + Mustard
Garlic + Olive Oil
Garlic + Shallots + Tarragon + Vinegar
Herbs (i.e., oregano, rosemary, thyme) + Lemon
Horseradish + Mustard + Scallions + Yogurt
Leeks + Nutmeg + Onions + Parsley

Recipe Links
Tonight It’s All Meat and Potatoes https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/can-eat-salad-tomorrow-tonight-meat-potatoes

Five Ingredient Crock Pot Rosemary Lemon Red Potatoes https://www.runninginaskirt.com/crock-pot-rosemary-lemon-red-potatoes/

Southwest Roasted Red Potato https://www.aberdeenskitchen.com/2016/05/southwest-roasted-potato-salad/

Smashed Potatoes https://www.simplejoy.com/italian-roasted-smashed-potatoes/#wprm-recipe-container-20848

Healthy No Mayo Potato Salad https://oursaltykitchen.com/no-mayo-potato-salad-basil-vinaigrette/

Potato Soup https://www.tipsfromatypicalmomblog.com/2010/01/potato-soup-recipe-machine-shed.html

Roasted Potato Cups with Loaded Guacamole https://www.shelikesfood.com/roasted-potato-cups-filled-loaded-guacamole-gfv/

Tamarind Chickpea Curry Recipe http://treataweek.blogspot.com/2007/05/tamarind-chickpea-curry-channa-bateta.html

Red Hasselback Potatoes https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/red-hasselback-potatoes-51230610

Warm Garlic Herb Red Potato Salad https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/warm-garlic-herb-red-potato-salad/

Ginger Turmeric Mashed Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/ginger-turmeric-mashed-potatoes/

Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/air-fryer-garlic-parmesan-potatoes/

Thai Lettuce Cups with Red Curry Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/thai-lettuce-cups-red-curry-potatoes/

56 Ways to Use Red Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/red-potato-recipes/

Green Goddess Vegan Potato Salad https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/green-goddess-vegan-potato-salad/

Roasted Red Potatoes https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a29787990/roasted-red-potatoes-recipe/

15 Red Potato Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/red-potato-recipes/

67 Smashed, Mashed, and Roasted Red Potato Recipes to Transform the Baby Spud https://parade.com/1209630/felicialim/red-potato-recipes/

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes https://breadboozebacon.com/garlic-parmesan-roasted-red-potatoes/

 

Resources
https://cals.arizona.edu/fps/sites/cals.arizona.edu.fps/files/cotw/Red_Potato.pdf

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Red_Potatoes_2015.php

https://healthyfamilyproject.com/produce-tips/potatoes/

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/how-to-choose-the-right-potato-for-recipes/

https://www.potatogoodness.com/red-potatoes/

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/173944-170435/100g-100g/1-1

https://www.livestrong.com/article/417195-are-red-potatoes-healthy/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280579#tips_for_eating_potatoes

https://healthfully.com/385187-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-red-potatoes.html

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/

https://www.finecooking.com/article/red-potatoes-5-ways

https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-freeze-red-potatoes/

https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/drying/dehydrate-potatoes-for-various-uses-zbcz1507

https://www.gettystewart.com/dehydrating-potatoes/

https://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/assets/images/default/PDFs/rehydrate_chart.pdf

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/ranking-types-of-potatoes-by-how-healthy-they-are

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6071262/

https://www.livescience.com/45838-potato-nutrition.html

Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. Bulletin 989. Athens, GA: Cooperative Extension Services, The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences/Athens.

MacKenzie, Jennifer, Jay Nutt, and Don Mercer. (2015) The Dehydrator Bible. 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.

Russet Potatoes

Russet Potatoes 101 – The Basics

Russet Potatoes 101 – The Basics

About Russet Potatoes
Potatoes are one of the most beloved vegetables around the world. Many people think of them as comfort food. This sentiment probably carried into their scientific name, Solanum tuberosum, since “solanum” is derived from the Latin word meaning “soothing.” Their scientific name reflects the fact that potatoes belong to the Solanaceae family of plants, along with tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos.

There are about 100 varieties of edible potatoes, ranging in size, shape, color, starch content, and flavor. They are often classified as either “mature” (or larger) potatoes or “new” potatoes, that are harvested before maturity and are much smaller in size. Russet Burbank potatoes are among the most popular varieties of mature potatoes.

Russet potatoes are large and oblong with a thick, rough skin. They are often called Idaho potatoes because the state of Idaho leads in their production within the United States. However, only potatoes grown in Idaho may be advertised as Idaho potatoes. Russet potatoes are a high-starch potato, with a flesh that is white and dry. They are the ultimate baking or roasting potato, and make excellent mashed potatoes that are soft, light, and able to absorb a lot of liquid or other embellishments. Russets make wonderful French fries and creamy gratins. They make delicious puréed potato soup. However, their flesh does not hold up well when cooked, so they are not the best choice for most potato salads, or in cooked dishes where you need the potato to maintain its shape.

Potatoes originated in the Andes mountains in South America. It is estimated that potatoes were cultivated by those living in the region as far as 7,000 years ago. Since potatoes can be grown at high altitudes, they became a staple food in the area.

Potatoes were discovered by Spanish explorers, who carried them from South America to Europe in the early 16th century. Since potatoes were found to be high in Vitamin C, they were eventually used to feed Spanish sailors to prevent scurvy. It is believed that potatoes were first brought to the United States in the early 18th century by Irish immigrants. People were slow to adopt the Irish potato and large-scale cultivation did not start until the 19th century.

By the early 19th century, potatoes were grown throughout Northern Europe and were the main food in Ireland. In 1845 and 1846, a blight ruined most of the potato crop in Ireland, causing major devastation, known as the Irish Potato Famine. Almost 750,000 people died, and hundreds of thousands moved to other countries, including the United States, in search of sustenance.

Today, potatoes have grown to be one of the most popular foods throughout the world and the one food that Americans eat more than any other. Worldwide, the main potato producers are the Russian Federation, Poland, India, China, and the United States.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Potatoes are high in Vitamin B6, potassium, copper, Vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, pantothenic acid, protein, and fiber (if you eat the skin). It is important to note that many nutrients, especially minerals, are found in the skin of potatoes. If you want to get the most nutrients out of your potato, eat the peel along with the inner flesh.

Potatoes are an extremely popular food among many people around the world. Potatoes themselves are very healthful to eat. However, most people enjoy them fried (as French fries or potato chips) or loaded down with assorted fats, such as butter, margarine, sour cream, cheese, and/or bacon. This combination makes them a far unhealthier food than they should be. Eating them with lots of fat makes them a potential contributor to heart disease. Take away the fat and they can offer significant protection from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Furthermore, many people fear potatoes because of their high carbohydrate content. However, when eaten simply cooked with the skin, and without added fat, they are an extremely healthy food that provides many needed nutrients for good health. Also, carbohydrates in their natural, unrefined, unprocessed form (and without added fats) provide the body with its preferred form of fuel. Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for the brain, heart, muscles, and internal organs such as the adrenal glands and liver. In addition to the valuable carbohydrates that potatoes offer, they also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. These include carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic acid, and unique proteins, such as patatin, which exhibits activity against harmful free radical molecules.

Lower Blood Pressure Potential. At the Institute for Food Research, UK scientists identified blood pressure-lowering compounds in potatoes called kukoamines. This finding indicates that there are yet potentially many undiscovered health-promoting compounds in plant foods. Researchers also examined tomatoes, which are in the same botanical family as potatoes, and also found kukoamine compounds in tomatoes. With kukoamines being new in the scientific arena, scientists are now examining their stability during cooking and how much of these compounds are needed to impact health.

Vitamin B6…Building Your Cells and Nervous System, Providing Cardiovascular Protection, and Boosting Energy. Potatoes are known to be high in Vitamin B6, with one medium russet potato providing over one-third (36%) of the Daily Value of this important nutrient. Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 enzymatic reactions in the body. Enzymes enable chemical reactions to occur, so Vitamin B6 is active literally everywhere in the body. This includes building proteins, such as nucleic acids in the creation of our DNA. Proteins and nucleic acids are critical parts of new cell formation, so Vitamin B6 can affect all new cells in the body. This is one nutrient we surely don’t want to be deficient in, and potatoes can help to prevent that!

Vitamin B6 is also important in maintaining brain (neurological) activity. It is used in the creation of amines, which are neurotransmitters that the nervous system uses to transmit messages from one nerve to the next. Some neurotransmitters use Vitamin B6 for their production. This includes:

* Serotonin, which is important in avoiding depression.

* Melatonin, the hormone needed for a good night’s sleep.

* Epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that help us manage stress.

* GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), which is needed for normal brain function.

Vitamin B6 is also used in methylation, a chemical process where methyl groups are transferred from one molecule to another. Many chemical processes in the body rely on methylation. For example, genes can be turned on or off through methylation, which is important in cancer prevention since the tumor suppressor gene can be turned on or off this way. Methyl groups may also be added to toxic substances, making them less toxic, encouraging their elimination from the body.

In cardiovascular health, methylation changes homocysteine, a potentially dangerous molecule, into benign substances. Without this conversion, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls, inviting the progression of atherosclerosis. High homocysteine levels are associated with a much higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Eating foods rich in Vitamin B6 helps to keep homocysteine levels down, and such foods have been associated with overall lower rates of heart disease.

Vitamin B6 is also necessary for the breakdown of glycogen, the molecule that stores sugar in muscle cells and the liver. Adequate Vitamin B6 is very important for adequate athletic performance and endurance.

Fiber. One baked potato provides over 3 grams of fiber. However, remember that most of the fiber is in the skin. So, to receive this additional benefit from potatoes, be sure to also eat the peel. Doing this will help to keep your cholesterol levels in check, reduce the risk of colon cancer, and support healthy bowels in addition to preventing constipation.

How to Select Russet Potatoes
Choosing the right potato for your intended use is helpful for success in the kitchen. Russet potatoes are excellent as baked potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and French fries. They can be used in soups, stews, and casseroles. However, they do not hold their shape well when cooked, so they should be added during the last 20 minutes to soups and stews so they don’t overcook. Russets can be used in salads if they are not overcooked, and you don’t mind if they break apart easily.

When shopping for russet potatoes, look for ones that are firm and not spongy. Avoid those with eyes or dark spots, which indicates they are old. If you’re planning on making baked potatoes or fries, choosing potatoes that are about the same size will allow for the most even cooking times. Choosing potatoes individually rather than packed in plastic bags allows you to inspect each potato and reduces the chances of buying old or spoiled ones.

Also, avoid those with a greenish tint to the skin, which indicates they have been exposed to too much sunlight. Solanine is a chemical that may be in the greenish area of the potato. This chemical is produced to help protect the potato from insects and bacteria, but it is toxic to humans. Try to choose potatoes without any greenish tint in the skin. If you find that you have purchased greenish potatoes, cut that area away and discard it when you are preparing the potatoes. If there is a lot of green on any one potato, it may be best to throw that potato away. Cooking the potato will not destroy the solanine in it. Individuals may or may not react to any ingested solanine from potatoes. Various factors (like weight, age, and amount ingested) will affect how much, if at all, a person reacts to ingested solanine. The classic symptoms of solanine poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, headaches and stomach pain. Relatively mild symptoms should resolve in about 24 hours. In extreme cases, severe effects, such as paralysis, convulsions, breathing problems, coma, and even death have been reported. So, when in doubt, throw it out!

How to Store Russet Potatoes
Potatoes keep the longest in a dry, dark, cool place. The ideal temperature is 45° to 50°F. It is best to remove them from the plastic bags they are sold in because they need air to help keep them from aging too fast. Do not refrigerate raw potatoes, which would cause the starch to convert to sugars, altering the flavor of the potato. Store potatoes away from onions, which release gases that cause potatoes to spoil faster.

How to Prepare Russet Potatoes
Depending upon how you intend to cook the potatoes, the skin may be left on or peeled away. Scrub the potatoes under running water and cut away any eyes or dark spots with a paring knife. If desired, peel the potatoes with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. To keep cut potatoes from turning dark, place cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to cook them. Adding a little lemon juice or vinegar to the water can help prevent them from turning dark, but it is not mandatory.

Once prepared as needed, Russet potatoes may be boiled, steamed, baked (and twice-baked), roasted, fried, sautéed, grilled, smashed, mashed, slow-cooked, hasselbacked, skewered, made into hash browns, tater tots, and latkes, and included in scalloped potato dishes, gratins, soups, hot or cold salads, quiches, pancakes, breads, frittatas, potato hash dishes, pierogis, gnocchi, and even dips. The question is…What CAN’T you do with russet potatoes?

How to Preserve Russet Potatoes
If you have too many russet potatoes and need to preserve them, there are a variety of ways this can be done. With whatever way you choose, potatoes should not be frozen when raw. Both the color and texture will change, and the quality will be undesirable when they are used thereafter.

* Freezing Whole COOKED Potatoes. Wash the potatoes well, and do not peel them. Drop them into a pot of boiling water. Allow them to cook until not quite done (a sharp knife inserted in the center will pierce the potato, but there will be some resistance). Remove the potatoes and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Allow them to remain in the water until completely cooled. Place them on a large tray and transfer that to the freezer until the potatoes are frozen. Place them in a freezer bag or airtight container and return them to the freezer. For best results, use them within three months. When you are ready to use the potatoes, place them in the refrigerator overnight, for the easiest way to thaw them. Even if they are not completely thawed, they should be able to be cut at that point, if desired. Or finish cooking them as desired, allowing a little extra time for them to finish thawing during the cooking process, if needed. Since they were almost cooked before being frozen, recipe cooking time will need to be adjusted accordingly.

* Freezing COOKED Potatoes for Diced, Larger Chunks, or Hash Browns. First scrub your potatoes well. Bake them as desired, either in the oven, microwave, or other appliance you choose. Allow the potatoes to cool, then peel them. For hash browns, shred the cooked and cooled baked potato with a cheese grater, which should be very easy to do at this point. For diced or larger cut potatoes, cut them as desired. Spread the prepared potato pieces on a baking tray and place it in the freezer until the potatoes are completely frozen. Transfer them to freezer bags or air-tight containers and store them in the freezer for up to one year. When you are ready to use them, they can be used directly from the freezer. If thawing is preferred, place them in the refrigerator the night before so they can thaw. Use them as desired in any recipe that calls for COOKED potatoes, or cook them as you would hash browns. Since they are precooked, they will not take as long to cook as if they were raw.

* Freezing Prepared Mashed Potatoes. Simply prepare mashed potatoes as usual. Divide the batch into serving size portions, and dot with butter, if desired. Wrap each portion individually and lay them on a baking tray. Place that in the freezer until the potatoes are frozen, then transfer them to an air-tight container or bag. To use them, place them in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use them so they can thaw. They may be reheated in the microwave or in the oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. They may also be reheated in a slow cooker set on low heat for about 2 hours, or until they are completely warmed. The time will vary depending on the cooker itself, the amount of potatoes being heated, and whether they are completely frozen or partially thawed. Use frozen mashed potatoes within one month.

* Freezing Potato Soup. Use your favorite recipe to make potato soup. Enjoy some with a meal, then freeze the rest in an airtight container for later use. It is helpful to place your frozen potato soup in the refrigerator the night before you want to enjoy it, so it can start to thaw. Use the frozen soup within six months.

* Freezing BLANCHED Potatoes for Hash Browns, Wedges, Larger Chunks, or Fries. As always, scrub your potatoes well and peel them as needed for your intended use, then cut them as desired. Place the cut potato pieces in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to blanch them.

Hash Browns: Shred your washed potatoes, placing the small pieces in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to blanch them. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Transfer the potatoes to the boiling water. Immediately set your timer for 1 minute. When the timer is up, drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool completely, then drain them well. Spread the potato pieces on paper towels or a clean cloth so they can be patted dry. Transfer them to a freezer bag or (to keep them from freezing into one large lump) spread them out on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Place the tray in the freezer and allow the potato pieces to freeze completely. Transfer them to a freezer bag or container and return them to the freezer. Cook them as you would any store-bought frozen hash brown potatoes.

Wedges, Larger Chunks, or Fries: Cut your washed and peeled (if desired) potatoes into wedges, chunks, or long as for fries. Place them in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to blanch them. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Transfer the potatoes to the boiling water. Immediately set your timer for 2 or 3 minutes, depending on the size of the wedges or chunks. When the timer is up, drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool completely, then drain them well. Spread the potato chunks on paper towels or a clean cloth so they can be patted dry. Transfer them to a freezer bag or (to keep them from freezing into one large lump) spread them out on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Place the tray in the freezer and allow the potato pieces to freeze completely. Transfer them to a freezer bag or container and return them to the freezer. Bake, roast, or cook them as you would store-bought frozen potatoes.

* Dehydrating Potatoes. When dehydrating potatoes, they should be scrubbed well and peeled. They may be dried sliced, cubed, or grated.

Dehydrated Sliced Potatoes: Cut peeled potatoes crosswise into 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick slices. A mandoline slicer helps to cut slices thinly and uniformly. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the sliced potatoes in the boiling water and immediately set a timer for 5 minutes. When the timer is up, transfer the potatoes to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool completely, then drain well. Place the slices in a single layer on mesh drying trays and dry at 130°F to 135°F, whichever temperature is recommended by the manufacturer of your dehydrator. Allow them to dry until the slices are crisp and have no sign of moisture inside when broken open. This usually takes 8 to 10 hours, but the time may vary depending upon the brand of your dehydrator and size of slices. Store in an airtight container, preferably a glass jar with as much air removed as possible. Placing an oxygen absorber inside the jar helps to retain freshness. If needed, dehydrated potato slices may be broken into smaller pieces for rehydrating and cooking.

Dehydrated Potato Cubes: Cut peeled potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the potato cubes in the boiling water and immediately set a timer for 10 minutes. When the time is up, transfer the potatoes to a bowl of cold water and allow them to cool completely. Drain well. Place the prepared potato cubes in a single layer on mesh drying trays and dry at 130°F to 135°F, whichever temperature is recommended by the manufacturer of your dehydrator. Allow them to dry until the cubes feel dry and crisp and have no sign of moisture inside when broken open. Be sure the potatoes are completely dry inside. They may feel firm on the outside when they still have some moisture inside. When in doubt, leave them in the dehydrator longer to prevent premature spoilage. Drying usually takes 12 to 16 hours, but the time may vary depending upon the brand of your dehydrator and the amount of potatoes being dried. Store in an airtight container, preferably a glass jar with as much air removed as possible. Placing an oxygen absorber inside the jar helps to retain freshness.

Dehydrated Grated Potatoes: Peel potatoes, and shred them on the coarse side of a box grater, or use the shredding plate of a food processor. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the shredded potatoes in a heatproof colander or strainer and lower them into the boiling water. Immediately set a timer for 30 seconds. As soon as the time is up, remove the strainer from the boiling water and plunge the hot potatoes into a large bowl or pot of cold water. Allow them to cool completely. Remove the strainer and gently press the potatoes to squeeze out excess water. Spread the shredded potatoes on a fine-mesh drying tray and dry at 130°F to 135°F, whichever temperature is recommended by the manufacturer of your dehydrator. Allow them to dry for 2 to 3 hours (or until dry), stirring them occasionally to break up any clumps to ensure even drying. Allow them to dehydrate until they are dry, crisp, and translucent. Transfer the potatoes from the trays when they are still warm to a shallow dish or baking tray. If left to cool on the screens, they may stick. Transferring them to another dish or tray should prevent that problem. When they are cool, transfer the dehydrated shredded potatoes to an airtight container, preferably a glass jar with as much air removed as possible. Placing an oxygen absorber inside the jar helps to retain freshness.

* Labeling and Storing Dehydrated Foods. Be sure to label all containers of dehydrated foods with the date they were processed. Store dehydrated foods in a cool (the colder, the better), dry, dark place with good ventilation. When prepared properly, and airtight with an oxygen absorber and air removed from the container, dehydrated foods may keep from 1 year up to infinity, depending upon what type of food it is. Potatoes may keep up to 20 years. Yours may or may not last that long, as the longevity depends on the preparation, storage method, temperature, humidity, and light conditions. Generally, for best quality, using them within two or three years is a good rule of thumb.

*Rehydrating Dehydrated Potatoes. As a general rule, dehydrated potatoes will double to triple in size when rehydrated. Use that as a general guideline when determining how much to use in a recipe. Place your dehydrated potatoes into a bowl or container. Add enough boiling water to barely cover the potatoes. Allow them to rehydrate for about 15 minutes, or until fully rehydrated. Cook as desired.

If you plan to add your dehydrated potatoes to a cooked dish that contains liquid, like a soup or stew, they may be added to the pot without being rehydrated. However, it is important to note that they will absorb a lot of moisture during the cooking process, so recipes will need to be adjusted. With a soup or stew, you can simply add more liquid as needed while it cooks. When making a baked casserole using dehydrated potatoes, it would be best to rehydrate them first because it will be hard to judge how much extra liquid needs to be added to get the sauce consistency you want.

It is also important to note that many times, a rehydrated food may not regain the exact moisture level and texture of the original fresh food. Expect it to be slightly different. However, it should still be tender and palatable.

Also, consider rehydrating foods in a liquid other than plain water. Substituting vegetable broth or a combination of water and milk when rehydrating potatoes will give them enhanced flavor. However, whether to do that will depend on your intended use for the potatoes. Sometimes, a little experimentation to test the outcome is time well spent.

Best Uses for Russet Potatoes
Since russet potatoes are high in starch, they cook up soft and don’t hold their shape well. This makes them an excellent potato for creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes. They are also excellent as baked potatoes or twice-baked potatoes. They are also excellent for French fries since their interior would be tender while the outside becomes crispy.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Russet Potatoes
* Russet potatoes are perfect for “twice-baked” potatoes. Microwave or bake your potatoes as desired. Split them open and remove a little of the flesh. Fill the cavity with ingredients of your choice, then bake them at 375°F for about 10 minutes until everything is heated through. Enjoy!

* Combine leftover mashed potatoes with a little onion and diced bell pepper. Form into patties and pan fry for a fun appetizer or side dish with any meal.

* Add cooked potatoes to quiches, savory pies, omelets, soups, stews, and salads.

* Add raw potato chunks to stews and hearty soups for the last 20 minutes of cooking time.

* Russet potatoes are thick-skinned potatoes and hold up well when baked or fried.

* Russet potatoes are a high-starch potato. This is indicated by the creamy white liquid on the knife when they are cut. The more the residue, the higher the level of starch in the potato.

* Because russet potatoes are so high in starch, they are creamy and fluffy when mashed.

* Pan fry chopped baked potato with garlic and onions for part of breakfast or a tasty side dish with lunch or supper.

* Use leftover mashed or baked potatoes in potato pancakes or flatbreads.

* Sometimes when potatoes are cut and not yet cooked, they may develop a pinkish or brownish discoloration. This is from the starch reacting with oxygen in the air. Potatoes that become discolored are safe to eat, so don’t throw them out. The color usually disappears with cooking.

* When you are preparing potatoes, to keep cut potatoes from turning dark, place the cut pieces in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to cook them. Adding a little lemon juice or vinegar may also help, but is not mandatory. This brief soaking will also help to keep the potato from falling apart when it is cooked. To help retain as much of the water-soluble nutrients as possible, limit soaking to no more than two hours.

* When mashing potatoes, allow the cooked and drained potatoes to steam dry in the hot pot over very low heat for 1 or 2 minutes. This will remove any excess water so you have a drier, lighter mash.

* It is best not to store potatoes in the plastic bags they are sold in. They need air to keep them from aging too fast. Store them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place away from sunlight.

* When you don’t have much time to prepare a meal and you want some mashed potatoes, use dehydrated potato flakes. They can be prepared easily in very little time and with little effort. Just follow the directions on the package and you’ll have mashed potatoes in no time. Keep a box in your pantry so you’ll have them when needed. Important! Read the label when buying dried potato flakes to be sure it has only dehydrated potatoes and no other unwanted additives.

* If you decide to use frozen potatoes of any type in a recipe that calls for using raw potatoes, be sure to reduce the liquid called for in the recipe and the cooking time. Since frozen potatoes are already partially cooked, they will take less liquid and time to finish cooking than if raw potatoes were used. The adjustment to the amount of liquid and cooking time will depend on the recipe and size of the frozen potato pieces being used. When you’re not sure how much to adjust, start with small amounts and make adjustments as needed.

* One medium russet potato = 12 ounces = 2-1/4 cups diced (1/2 inch).

* One pound is about 2 small russet potatoes.

* If you are cooking and you don’t have enough russet potatoes available, you could substitute Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, or green plantains.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Russet Potatoes
Basil, bay leaf, capers, caraway seeds, cardamom, cayenne, celery seeds, chervil, chicory, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, curry spices, dill, fenugreek, garam masala, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lavender, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, sorrel, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Russet Potatoes
Potatoes go with just about anything. They can be served on their own or included in just about any dish you can name, from breakfast to supper, appetizers to desserts, and from vegan to omnivore cuisines. Because of that, most people hardly need a list of foods that go with potatoes. However, if you are looking for some new ideas, hopefully this list will provide what you need!

Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general), beef, cashews, chicken, eggs, ham, lamb, lentils, peas, pine nuts, pork, poultry, seafood, tahini, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chard, chiles, chives, eggplant, greens (i.e., collards, mustard, salad, winter), kale, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, other root vegetables (in general), parsnips, rutabagas, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, truffles, turnips, watercress

Fruits: Avocado, coconut, lemons, olives

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, gnocchi, grains (in general), quinoa, spelt, pasta

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (all types), coconut milk and cream, cream, crème fraiche, milk (all types), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, mustard (prepared), pesto, stock, vinegar (i.e., champagne, sherry, white wine), wine (i.e., dry white)

Russet potatoes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes), casseroles, curries, egg dishes (frittatas, omelets, quiches, tortillas), French cuisine, gratins, Indian cuisine, potato cakes/pancakes, salads (i.e., egg, green, potato salad, hot or cold), skordalia, soups (i.e., leek, potato, sorrel, vegetable), stews, stuffed baked potatoes/twice-baked potatoes

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

Buttermilk + Chocolate + Cinnamon + Vanilla
Butternut Squash + Sage
Cauliflower + Leeks
Cheddar Cheese + Chiles + Corn
Cilantro + Coconut
Cream + Garlic + Thyme
Crème Fraiche + Dill
Fennel + Garlic + Leeks
Fennel + Lemon + Yogurt
Garlic + Herbs (i.e., oregano, rosemary, sage)
Garlic + Lemon + Olive Oil + Parsley + Vinegar
Garlic + Lemon Zest + Parsley + Rosemary + Thyme
Garlic + Olive Oil
Garlic + Olive Oil + Walnuts
Gruyère Cheese + Winter Squash
Herbs (i.e., oregano, rosemary, thyme) + Lemon
Leeks + Parsley

Recipe Links
Mashed Potato Casserole https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/mashed-potato-casserole

Veggie Potato Fritters https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/veggie-potato-fritters/

Hash-Brown Breakfast Casserole https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/hash-brown-breakfast-casserole

Heirloom Bean Potato Cassoulet https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/heirloom-bean-potato-cassoulet

Potato-Ricotta Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce and Basil https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/potato-ricotta-gnocchi-with-marinara-sauce-and-basil

Roasted Russet Potatoes https://www.tablefortwoblog.com/our-favorite-way-to-roast-potatoes/

Rainbow Potato Pancakes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/rainbow-potato-pancakes/

Family Favorite Baked Fries https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/family-favorite-baked-fries/

Mediterranean Potato Half Shells https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/mediterranean-potato-half-shells/

Potato Toast with Creamy Avocado https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/potato-toast-with-creamy-avocado/

Festive Papas Tapas https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/festive-papas-tapas/

Easy Potato Skillet https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/easy-potato-skillet/

Quinoa Potato Cake https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/quinoa-potato-cake/

Easy Baked Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/easy-baked-potatoes/

21 Ways to Use Russet Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/russet-potato-recipes/

Favorite Loaded Breakfast Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/favorite-loaded-breakfast-potatoes/

Texas Garlic Mashed Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/texas-garlic-mashed-potatoes/

The Best Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/the-best-cheesy-scalloped-potatoes/

Scored Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/scored-potatoes/

The 28 Best Potato Salad Recipes for Any Cookout Flavor https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/potato-salad-recipe-slideshow

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes https://anoregoncottage.com/slow-cooker-cheesy-garlic-scalloped-potatoes/

28 Recipes for Using Leftover Mashed Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipe-category/leftover-mashed-potatoes/

20 Ways with Russet Potatoes https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/russet-potato-recipes/?

 

Resources
https://www.finecooking.com/ingredient/russet-potatoes

https://www.potatogoodness.com/russet-potatoes/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48#descr

https://producemadesimple.ca/potatoes-go-well/

https://producemadesimple.ca/potatoes/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/green-potatoes#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-do-potatoes-last

https://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/make-your-own-frozen-hashbrowns

https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/cooking-tips-tutorials/a36970244/can-you-freeze-mashed-potatoes/

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/what-types-of-potatoes-are-best-for-which-recipes/

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-to-freeze-potatoes

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-potatoes-healthy#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/170030/wt2/1

https://www.potatogoodness.com/potato-tips-tricks/

https://www.southernliving.com/veggies/potatoes/how-to-freeze-potatoes

https://www.superprepper.com/dehydrated-foods/

https://shop.honeyville.com/dehydrated-potato-slices.html

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

MacKenzie, Jennifer, Jay Nutt, and Don Mercer. (2015) The Dehydrator 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.

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi Fruit 101 – The Basics

Kiwi Fruit 101 – The Basics

About Kiwi Fruit
Kiwis are small, oval fruits with brown fuzzy skin (some varieties have smooth skin without the fuzz). Inside, the flesh is semi-translucent green speckled with a few white veins and small black seeds. Kiwis are described as being sweet/sour, with notes of melon and/or strawberries, with a soft texture accented by tiny, crunchy seeds.

The most common species is Actinidia deliciosa, commonly known as Hayward kiwi. Interest in kiwi fruit is growing, so other species are becoming more widely available. Some are smooth-skinned varieties, the size of cherries, with flesh a golden yellow-green color. There are over 50 varieties of kiwi fruit.

Kiwis are native to China and were originally known as Yang Tao. They were carried to New Zealand from China by missionaries in the early 20th century. The first commercial plantings took place decades later. In 1960, they were renamed Chinese Gooseberries.

In 1961, Chinese Gooseberries first appeared at a restaurant in the United States where they were discovered by an American produce distributor who believed the U.S. market would be very receptive to this exotic fruit. She started the importation of these delicious fruits into the United States in 1962, but changed the name to kiwi fruit, in honor of the kiwi, the native bird of New Zealand, whose brown fuzzy coat resembled the skin of the fruit. Today, Italy, New Zealand, Chile, France, Japan, and the United States are among the leading commercial producers of kiwi fruit.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Kiwis are an excellent source of Vitamins C and K, a very good source of copper, and a good source of fiber, Vitamin E, potassium, and folate. Kiwis also contain some pantothenic acid and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, magnesium, manganese, and a little calcium. They are considered to have a low glycemic index, so they are not known to cause a large blood sugar rise after being eaten. There are 110 calories per 1-cup serving of kiwi fruit.

Antioxidant Protection. Kiwis are exceptionally high in Vitamin C, one of the primary water-soluble antioxidants in the body. It is known to neutralize harmful free radical molecules that damage cells, leading to inflammation and cancer. Adequate Vitamin C has been shown to help reduce the severity of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. It can also help prevent colon cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetic heart disease. It is well established that Vitamin C plays important roles in maintaining a healthy immune system, so it helps to prevent or lessen the severity of many infectious diseases. Researchers have clearly demonstrated that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Researchers have also found that phytonutrients in kiwis have the ability to protect DNA in the nucleus of human cells from oxygen-related damage. They have not identified exactly which compounds provided this benefit.

Protection from Respiratory Problems. Researchers have also found in a study with 6- and 7-year-old children in Italy that the more kiwi or citrus fruit the children ate, the less likely they were to have respiratory-related problems including wheezing, shortness of breath, or night coughing. Children who had asthma when the study began appeared to benefit the most, even in those who ate fruit only once or twice a week!

Protection from Macular Degeneration. Researchers have found that eating three or more servings of fruit per day may reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration, the main cause of vision loss in older adults. This study, as reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology involved over 110,000 subjects. Researchers evaluated participants’ consumption of fruits, vegetables, and the antioxidants Vitamins A, C, and E, and carotenoids, and compared that with the development of age-related macular degeneration. Food intake was recorded for 18 years for women, and 12 years for men. Interestingly, fruit intake (more than vegetable intake) was found to be the most protective against the severe form of the disease. Three or more servings of fruit a day was found to be the most protective. Since kiwi fruit is so high in Vitamin C, it is one to seriously consider eating on a regular basis, especially if you are at risk for age-related macular degeneration.

Cardiovascular Health. Enjoying a couple of kiwi fruit each day may significantly reduce your risk for blood clots while reducing the amount of fats (triglycerides) in your blood. This combined effect helps to protect cardiovascular health. Aspirin is often recommended to help reduce blood clotting, but can have unwanted side effects like stomach irritation and intestinal bleeding. However, the side effects of enjoying kiwi fruit on a regular basis are all beneficial. The high levels of Vitamin C, polyphenols, and potassium in kiwis work together to help protect the blood vessels and heart. In one study, volunteers who ate 2 to 3 kiwi fruit each day for 28 days reduced their platelet aggregation response (potential for blood clot formation) by 18% compared to controls who ate no kiwis. Also, triglyceride levels dropped by 15% in those who ate the kiwis, when compared to the controls. This is all the more reason to eat kiwi fruit on a regular basis!

Kiwis are also a very good source of fiber. Eating enough dietary fiber throughout the day can help to reduce high cholesterol levels, which in turn may reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

Other Health Benefits. Fiber is also known for binding and removing toxins from the colon, which can help prevent colon cancer. Fiber-rich foods, like kiwi fruit, are a healthy way to keep blood sugar levels under control in diabetic patients. With kiwis having a low glycemic index, they should be safe for diabetics to consume. When in doubt, check with your healthcare provider before making changes to your diet.

How to Select Kiwi Fruit
When buying kiwis, hold them between your thumb and forefinger. Gently apply pressure. If it yields gently to pressure, it is ready to be eaten and will have the sweetest flavor. Those that are very soft, shriveled or have bruised or damp spots are overripe and will not be the best choice.

Kiwis that do not yield when you apply gentle pressure with your hand are not yet ready to be eaten. They will not have reached their peak of sweetness. They can be purchased and left to ripen for a few days to a week at room temperature. Monitor them daily and enjoy them when they are at their best…when they yield slightly to gentle pressure.

How to Store Kiwi Fruit
Store kiwis at room temperature if they need to ripen up some. Keep them away from sunlight or heat sources. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place them in a paper bag with an apple, banana, or pear. The ethylene gas released by the other fruit will hasten the ripening of your kiwis. Monitor them daily. When they give to slight pressure when held between your thumb and forefinger, they are ripe and ready to eat. If you need to keep them longer, transfer them to the refrigerator. Kiwis may also be cut in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Ripe kiwis will keep for several days at room temperature, and up to four weeks in the refrigerator.

How to Prepare and Use a Kiwi
Kiwis are delicious no matter how they are eaten.

* They can be peeled with a paring knife, sliced, then enjoyed on their own or as part of a fruit or vegetable salad of your choice. If you are adding kiwi fruit to any salad, it’s best to enjoy it right away. Enzymes in cut kiwis act as a food tenderizer, which acts on the kiwi itself in addition to other foods. So, when adding kiwi to a salad, if you prepare the salad in advance, wait until the last minute to add your kiwi.

* Kiwis may also be cut in half and the flesh scooped out with a spoon.

* The skin of kiwis may also be eaten. They are full of nutrients and fiber, and are very thin so they are not hard to chew. If preferred, the outer fuzz can be rubbed off before eating.

* Kiwis may be cut up in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

How to Preserve Kiwi Fruit
Kiwi fruit can be used to make jams, jellies, and preserves. Oregon State University Extension Service has some simple recipes for these ideas at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/8836/sp50832preservingkiwifruit.pdf

Kiwis may also be frozen, dehydrated, and made into chutney. Oregon State University Extension Service provides details on how to prepare kiwis in these ways at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/8836/sp50832preservingkiwifruit.pdf

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Kiwi Fruit
* When stored at room temperature, kiwis will continue to sweeten.

* For a simple way to enjoy a kiwi, simply cut it in half around the middle, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Enjoy!

* Enjoy a kiwi parfait! Layer yogurt or pudding, chopped kiwi, and some granola. Add other fruit such as a banana, strawberries, blueberries, or grapes, if you want. Enjoy!

* Try a kiwi-mint slushie on a hot day. In a blender, add some ice, kiwis, frozen limeade, a little fresh mint, and some honey, sugar, or a date or two for sweetness. Blend for a refreshing treat.

* Try a kiwi smoothie by blending yogurt or your favorite milk, banana, kiwi, a handful of baby spinach leaves, and a couple ice cubes.

* Add kiwi slices to your favorite chia pudding.

* Try homemade kiwi juice. Blend three kiwis with up to 4 cups of water, 1 cup of ice, and some honey as desired. Blend briefly until smooth.

* Try kiwi-pineapple popsicles! Briefly blend 1-1/2 cups of pineapple juice with 4 peeled, cut kiwis. Add a little sugar or honey, if desired for added sweetness. Pour into popsicle molds, freeze, then enjoy!

* Add kiwi fruit to tossed green salads. If making the salad in advance, the kiwi may also be cut in advance, but store it in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator. Add it to the salad at the last minute when preparing it for serving.

* Make a simple dessert or snack by topping sliced kiwi fruit and strawberries with your favorite yogurt.

* Make a fruit chutney with chopped kiwi, orange, and pineapple. Serve as an accompaniment to chicken or fish.

* Try a fruit soup by blending kiwis with cantaloupe. Add yogurt for a creamy consistency.

* If a recipe calls for kiwis and you don’t have any or don’t have enough, you could substitute any of the following: gold kiwis, strawberries and gooseberries, dragon fruit (pitaya).

* Two whole kiwis = about ¾ cup chopped or sliced.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Kiwi Fruit
Basil, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, mint, rosemary, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Kiwi Fruit
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, cashews, chicken, fish, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), pistachios, poppy seeds, pork, seafood, walnuts

Vegetables: Celery, celery root, cucumbers, greens (esp. baby greens), jicama, kale, radishes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, avocados, bananas, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, coconut, grapefruit, grapes, guava, lemons, limes, lychees, mangoes, melons (all types), oranges, papaya, passion fruit, peach, persimmon, pineapple, pomegranates, raspberries, star fruit, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Cereals (breakfast)

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Cream, cream cheese, ice cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Brown rice syrup, chocolate, honey, Kirsch, maple syrup, rum, sugar, vinegar (balsamic), wine (sparkling wine, i.e., Champagne, sweet)

Kiwis have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Desserts, drinks, kebabs, marinades, puddings, salad dressings, salads (esp. fruit), sorbets, tarts (fruit)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Kiwi Fruit
Add kiwis to any of the following combinations…

Bananas + Orange Juice
Bananas + Strawberries
Honey + Lime
Mint + Yogurt

Recipe Links
25 Best Kiwi Recipes https://insanelygoodrecipes.com/kiwi-recipes/

Kiwi and Lime Strawberry Salad https://www.thekitchenmagpie.com/strawberry-kiwi-lime-salad/#wprm-recipe-container-35558

Kiwi Cucumber Salad with Walnuts and Fresh Mint https://www.flavourandsavour.com/kiwi-cucumber-salad-with-walnuts-and-fresh-mint/#recipe

Kiwi Avocado and Tomato Salad with Kiwi Dressing https://saltedplains.com/kiwi-avocado-tomato-salad-recipe/

Winter Fruit Salad https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/winter-fruit-salad/#recipe

Kiwi Pineapple Salsa https://www.kimscravings.com/kiwi-pineapple-salsa-recipe/

Kiwi Lime Sorbet https://bromabakery.com/kiwi-lime-sorbet/

Prawn and Avocado Salad with Golden Kiwi https://thedevilwearssalad.com/prawn-avocado-kiwi-salad/

Fresh Fruit Platter Extraordinaire https://thedevilwearssalad.com/fresh-fruit-platter/#recipe

Resources
https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-kiwifruit/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=41&tname=foodspice#nutritionalprofile

https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/8836/sp50832preservingkiwifruit.pdf

http://www.calharvest.com/kiwifreezing.html

https://thedevilwearssalad.com/what-goes-well-with-kiwi/

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.

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens 101 – The Basics

Mustard Greens 101 – The Basics

About Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are members of the Brassicaceae (or “Brassica”) family of plants. This same family of plants is also known as the Crucifereae (or “Cruciferous”) family of plants, and may also be called the “mustard family.” They are all one and the same. Other familiar plants in this family include cabbage, kale, collards, turnips, cauliflower, radishes, and horseradish, among other.

There is no consensus on where the mustard plant originated. It is possible it came from parts of Europe. Wherever it originated, it quickly spread around the world and is now commonly found throughout Europe, Northern Africa, India, Asia, and North America.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Mustard greens have a lot to brag about regarding nutrient contents. They are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They are an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A (beta-carotene), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, copper, manganese, and calcium. They are a very good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, protein, Vitamin B2, and iron. They are considered to be a good source of potassium, Vitamin B1, magnesium, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate. One cup of raw mustard greens has a mere 15 calories!

Interestingly, the utilizable amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and copper in mustard greens increases when they are cooked. However, some (but not all!) of the Vitamin C and Vitamin E are lost during cooking.

Mustard greens are also a valuable source of an array of phytonutrients including glucosinolates, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. With all things considered, mustard greens are an extremely healthy food to eat and we should all eat them as often as we can!

Rich in Antioxidants (Disease Prevention). Mustard greens are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. These are compounds that fight against oxidative stress caused by an excess of harmful free radicals in the body. Such molecules can cause cellular damage leading to serious, chronic conditions, like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, autoimmune disorder, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. Eating mustard greens and other leafy greens in the Brassica family on a regular basis can help us avoid these conditions.

Very High in Vitamin K (Blood Clotting and Bone Health). As mentioned earlier, mustard greens are extraordinarily high in Vitamin K. One cup of raw mustard greens provides 120% of the daily value, whereas one cup cooked provides a whopping 690% of the daily value.

Vitamin K is important in proper blood clotting function and is essential for heart and bone health. Inadequate Vitamin K has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Recent studies have also suggested there is a link between Vitamin K deficiency and impaired brain functioning, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. All the more reason to be sure you’re getting enough Vitamin K!

Important Note! If you are taking blood thinning medications such as Warfarin, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of Vitamin K-rich foods. The boost in Vitamin K may alter your prothrombin time and your medication dosage may need to be adjusted.

Immune System Support. With mustard greens being high in Vitamins C and A, there is good reason to determine it provides valuable support for the immune system. Vitamin C is essential for a strong immune system. Research has shown that a Vitamin C deficiency weakens the immune system making us more prone to getting sick.  Vitamin A is also important for proper immune functioning because it promotes the growth and distribution of T cells. These are a type of white blood cell needed to help fight off potential infections.

Supports Heart Health. Mustard greens are high in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and beta-carotene (a Vitamin A precursor), which have been associated with a reduced risk of developing and dying from heart disease. A study reported in 2016 in the journal JRSM Cardiovascular Disease found that a high intake of leafy green vegetables in the Brassica family was associated with a significant 15% reduced risk of heart disease.

Anticancer Effects. Glucosinolates are among the powerful phytonutrients found in mustard greens. These compounds have been shown to help protect cells against DNA damage and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. Observational studies have shown a link between overall intake of Brassica vegetables and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including stomach, colorectal, and ovarian cancers.

Eye Health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are among the strong antioxidants found in mustard greens. These specific compounds have been shown to protect the retina from oxidative damage, reducing the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the world.

How to Select Mustard Greens
Choose mustard greens that are free of blemishes, yellowing or brown spots. They should look fresh and crisp with a bright green color.

How to Store Mustard Greens
To store mustard greens, wrap them in paper towels or a clean cloth. If they are wet from being in the produce display at the grocery store, simply place them in a plastic bag after wrapping them and store them in the refrigerator. If the leaves are dry, after rolling the leaves, slightly dampen the cloth or paper towels with up to ¼ cup of water. Place the rolled leaves in the dampened cloth inside a plastic bag and store that in the refrigerator. Storing them with some dampness allows them to maintain crispness in a humid, but not wet environment (within the plastic bag). Wait to wash the greens until you’re ready to use them. Enjoy your greens within four days.

How to Prepare Mustard Greens
Simply wash mustard greens under cold water. Then roll the leaves and slice them into ½-inch ribbons. There is no need to remove the stems unless you prefer to do that. Cook as desired.

How to Freeze Mustard Greens
Freezing mustard greens is a simple procedure of blanching, cooling, draining and freezing your greens. This is necessary to stop enzyme activity that would cause them to further age while being stored.

Simply wash your greens very well. You may remove the stems if desired, but it’s not mandatory. Slice the washed leaves into ½-inch ribbons. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the prepared leaves in the boiling water and immediately set a kitchen timer for 2 minutes. As soon as the timer is up, transfer the greens to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool down completely, then drain them very well. Place the blanched leaves in freezer bags or containers and remove as much air as possible. Label with the current date and use them within 12 months.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Mustard Greens
* When cooking mustard greens in liquid, always add them to boiling liquid rather than cold, which would “set” the bitterness.

* To help neutralize the strong flavor of mustard greens, combine them with miso or with other milder-tasting vegetables.

* If mustard greens are too strong or bitter for you, here are some easy ways to tame them down: Blanch them first and discard the blanching water; pair them with strong-flavored ingredients (such as bacon, sausage, or garlic); add something sweet (such as roasted squash or dried fruit); add some acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar) at the end of cooking time; add some salt or a salty ingredient (such as bacon or ham); or braise them (slow cooking in a liquid helps to cut bitterness as it softens the leaves).

* Try stir-steamed mustard greens with walnuts.

* Add young mustard green leaves to a smoothie for a spicy flavor.

* Young mustard greens will be more tender than large, mature leaves. Try adding young mustard greens to a green salad for a flavor boost. Mix them with other greens to balance flavors.

* Try adding chopped mustard greens to a pasta salad. Combine cooked pasta with chopped tomatoes, pine nuts, goat cheese, and young mustard greens. Toss with olive oil and serve.

* If a recipe calls for mustard greens and you don’t have any, broccoli rabe, arugula, turnip greens, radish greens, collards, escarole, kale, mature spinach, or green chard may be substituted.

* One pound of fresh mustard greens = 6 to 7 cups raw, or 1-1/3 to 2 cups cooked

* Ten ounces of frozen mustard greens = 1-1/4 cups cooked

* Try adding mustard greens to soups, stews, and casseroles.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Mustard Greens
Capers, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, pepper (black), salt, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Mustard Greens
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general, esp. kidney), beef, black-eyed peas, cashews, chickpeas, eggs, fish (and other seafood), lamb, peanuts, peanut butter, pine nuts, pork, sausage, sesame seeds, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Carrots, celery, chiles (and chili pepper paste), greens (other, milder greens such as dandelion, spinach), kale, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, shallots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables (in general, milder and/or sweeter), yams

Fruits: Lemon, olives, oranges, pears, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Bread crumbs, farro, grains (in general), millet, noodles, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., goat, smoked Gouda, Parmesan, ricotta)

Other Foods: Miso, molasses, oil (i.e., chili, mustard, olive, peanut, sesame, sunflower seed), soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, red wine, white wine), wine (i.e., rice), Worcestershire sauce

Mustard greens have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
African cuisines, Asian cuisines, Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, salads (i.e., pasta, potato), sandwiches, sauces, soups (i.e., bean), Southeast Asian cuisines, Southern (U.S.) cuisine, stews, stir-fries, tofu or egg scramble

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Mustard Greens
Add mustard greens to any of the following combinations…

Capers + Lemon
Chiles + Cumin + Garlic + Olive Oil + Vinegar
Cider Vinegar + Molasses + Peanuts
Garlic + Ginger + Soy Sauce
Garlic + Peanuts
Lemon Juice + Olive Oil + Walnuts
Onions + Tomatoes
Scallions + Sesame Oil + Tamari

Recipe Links
Simple Southern Mustard Greens with Bacon https://www.thespruceeats.com/mustard-greens-3060133

10 Ways to Use Mustard Greens https://www.foodandwine.com/vegetables/greens/10-ways-use-mustard-greens

3 Quick Meals You Can Make with Mustard Greens https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/g20506296/3-quick-meals-you-can-make-with-mustard-greens/

Sautéed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Lemon https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/sauteed-mustard-greens-garlic-lemon-recipe

Coconut Creamed Greens https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/coconut-creamed-greens

Soba Soup with Shrimp and Greens https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/soba-soup-with-shrimp-and-greens

Sake-Braised Mustard Greens with Sesame https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sake-braised-mustard-greens-with-sesame

The Greatest Creamed Greens https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/the-greatest-creamed-greens

Greens Eggs and Ham https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/greens-eggs-and-ham

Spiced Chickpeas and Greens Frittata https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/spiced-chickpeas-and-greens-frittata

Mustard Greens https://www.bonappetit.com/ingredient/mustard-greens

Asian-Inspired Mustard Greens https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/218501/asian-inspired-mustard-greens/

Vegetarian Mustard Greens https://www.budgetbytes.com/vegetarian-mustard-greens/

Mustard Greens https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/mustard_greens/

Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/07/balsamic-glazed-chickpeas-and-mustard.html

15-Minute Mustard Greens Recipe https://plantbasedandbroke.com/15-minute-mustard-greens-recipe/

Curried Mustard Greens and Garbanzo Beans with Sweet Potatoes http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=41

Instant Pot Mustard Greens https://spicecravings.com/sarson-ka-saag-spiced-mustard-greens#recipe

 

Resources
https://www.thekitchn.com/5-ways-to-tame-bitter-greens-214850

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=93#preptips

https://www.glad.com/food-storage/protection-pointers/how-to-store-mustard-greens/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mustard-greens-nutrition

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4973479/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-mustard-greens#2

Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. Third edition, Bulletin 989. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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.

Berries

Anthocyanins 101

Anthocyanins 101

What are anthocyanins?
Anthocyanins are a very large group of water-soluble colored pigments found in various plants, especially flowers and fruits. They are also found in the leaves, stems, and roots of assorted other plants, including foods.

Anthocyanins are types of flavonoids that are formed when their related compounds, anthocyanidins, are coupled with sugars. Sugars can bind at different places on the anthocyanidin molecule. With assorted types of sugars and different binding sites available, many different types of anthocyanins may be formed. In fact, over 600 different anthocyanins have been identified in plants.

The color and stability of the pigment is affected by pH, light, temperature, and its own structure. Acidic conditions make the pigments red, whereas alkaline conditions turn them blue. Diversity of anthocyanins is further increased by the chemical combination of sugars with organic acids. So, from the various potential molecular combinations, the different types of anthocyanins are vast.

Anthocyanins have a variety of functions for the plants that contain them. They serve as antioxidants, protectants from UV-light, and defense mechanisms. They are also used in pollination and reproduction. The colors help attract pollinators, such as bees and hummingbirds. Some anthocyanins also protect plants against some destructive larvae.

Anthocyanins are what makes many foods red, purple, or blue. The amount of anthocyanin found in a food is generally proportional to the depth of color of the skin of the food. The compounds are found mostly in the skin, except for some fruits such as red berries and cherries, which also contain anthocyanins in their flesh.

Plants containing these compounds have been traditionally used as medicine, and natural food colorants, and dyes. More recent research has uncovered various important health properties of these colorful compounds.

Health Benefits of Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins have been found to have potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, improve eye and neurological health, and also provide protection against various diseases. Some anthocyanin-rich foods, such as black carrots, red cabbage, and purple potatoes have been considered as functional foods, and are often eaten for the prevention of specific diseases. Anthocyanins have been shown to help ward off diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and inflammation.

Antioxidant Effects. Most of the health benefits of anthocyanins are attributed to their antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are critical for health by neutralizing harmful free radical molecules. Free radical molecules are generated in the body through normal metabolism, and also when we’re exposed to toxins of any sort, infections, high blood sugar levels, alcohol, cigarette smoke, excessive or intense exercise, radiation, and more. They are missing an electron and are very unstable. In an effort to gain stability, a free radical will steal an electron from a nearby molecule making themselves stable, while damaging the other molecule in the process. That “robbed” molecule then becomes a free radical, and the process continues until an antioxidant comes along. The antioxidant is able to “donate” an electron to the unstable molecule without itself becoming unstable and turning into a free radical. An antioxidant stops the damaging process.

Free radicals can serve important functions that are essential for health. For instance, immune cells use free radicals to fight infections, destroying viruses, bacteria, and damaged body cells along the way. Then, antioxidants are used to neutralize the free radicals, stopping further damage in the body. The body strives to maintain a balance of free radicals and antioxidants. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it leads to a state of oxidative stress, which invites disease.

Excessive free radicals in the body can damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells. They have been linked to many illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye diseases, atherosclerosis, senile dementia, asthma, inflammatory joint disease, and more. Antioxidants stop harmful free radical molecules by the means detailed above. Antioxidants are critical in the body for health and well-being.

The body makes its own antioxidants. However, since the body needs so many antioxidants, it’s also important to obtain them from foods to help the body in its neutralizing efforts. Antioxidants may also be obtained from various foods (especially plant foods), certain vitamins (such as Vitamins C, E, and the Vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene), and minerals (such as zinc and selenium). It is important to note that it is best to obtain antioxidants from food sources, rather than taking very high dosages of supplements because in some cases, such high dosages may actually promote oxidative stress and the formation of free radicals. Foods that are high in antioxidants should be included as a regular part of the diet to help ward off many diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease. Researchers have found that anthocyanins help to relax blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. They also help to prevent excessive blood clotting. Anthocyanins have also been found to improve the blood lipid profiles of healthy subjects by increasing the formation of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), while decreasing the formation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Anthocyanins have also been found to lower the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction (heart attacks). So, including anthocyanin-rich foods in the diet can be an important part of helping to ward off heart disease.

Anticancer Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to suppress tumor growth, inflammation, and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels that feed tumors). Such effects have been seen in the deterrence of esophageal, breast, colon, and prostate cancers, as well as leukemia.

Antidiabetic Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to increase insulin sensitivity (reducing insulin resistance), thereby reducing blood sugar levels. The improved lipid profiles, enhanced antioxidant capacity, and reduced insulin resistance promoted by anthocyanins all work together to help ward off Type 2 diabetes. Anthocyanins have also been found to improve kidney function by reducing oxidative stress, lipotoxicity (the accumulation of fats in non-fatty tissue such as the kidneys, liver, heart and skeletal muscle), and angiogenesis in the kidneys of diabetics, helping to protect them from the damaging effects of diabetes.

Visual Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to improve the visual function in patients with glaucoma. They have also been found to improve blood flow to the eyes without increasing intraocular pressure. In another research project, anthocyanins reduced inflammation in photoreceptor cells, helping to improve their functioning. Anthocyanins have been found to improve dark adaptation, so this may be helpful in people with poor night vision. They have also been found to prevent the formation of cataracts in diabetic subjects.

Antimicrobial Properties. Researchers found that anthocyanins protected cell walls from damage due to invasive microbes. Antibacterial activity was demonstrated against a variety of gram-negative bacteria, including Escherichia choli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aeromonas hydrophilia, and Listeria innocua. Therefore, anthocyanins can help to protect us from the diseases caused by these harmful bacteria.

Antiobesity Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to slow weight gain and suppress the formation of fatty tissue, while improving the lipid profiles of obese subjects. Researchers also found that anthocyanins reduced blood and urine glucose concentrations in obese subject. So, if you are striving to lose weight, it would be in your interest to include as many anthocyanin-rich foods in your diet as possible.

Neuroprotective Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to protect against inflammation and degeneration of nerve fibers in mouse models and cell studies. These effects offer protection against Alzheimer’s Disease by preserving memory and synaptic nerve transmission function. The enhanced antioxidant effects of anthocyanins were found to provide extra protection against free radical damage and oxidative stress, improving the functioning of nerve pathways. Anthocyanins were also found to provide protective activity by suppressing dopamine-producing cell death commonly found in Parkinson’s disease.

Foods That Contain Anthocyanins
Deeply colored foods with red, purple or blue hues contain anthocyanins. They are particularly high in berries (such as elderberries, chokeberries, bilberries, black raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries).

Anthocyanins are also found in black currants, black olives, goji berries, red cabbage, black plums, cherries, red and black grapes, strawberries, red raspberries, cranberries, black rice, wild rice, purple corn, red onions, red radishes, pomegranates, purple cauliflower, blood oranges, rhubarb, black beans, eggplant, black or purple carrots, and other foods in lesser amounts.

Although they have high nutritional value in their own way, grapefruits, nectarines, peaches, apples and pears contain some, but not appreciable amounts of anthocyanins.

How to Protect Anthocyanins in Foods
Fresh vs Frozen. Researchers have found that anthocyanins in fresh food degrade relatively quickly after being harvested. When fresh and frozen foods were analyzed, they found that frozen foods, such as berries, contained higher amounts of anthocyanins than their fresh counterparts that spent three to ten days in refrigeration after harvest. Since foods are usually processed and frozen quickly after being harvested, if you want to obtain the highest level of anthocyanins in berries, unless you are picking your own or purchase them freshly harvested at a farm market, frozen berries may be a better choice.

Cooking. In a meta-analysis study published in 2014 in Food Research International, researchers compared the anthocyanin levels in foods that were cooked with various methods, including pressure boiling, pressure steaming, conventional steaming, microwaving, and baking. They found that foods cooked with moist heat methods tended to lose the most anthocyanins. The greatest loss of anthocyanins occurred when foods were pressure-steamed.

Dry-heat methods of cooking, such as microwaving and baking, tended to increase the concentration of anthocyanins in the foods tested. Anthocyanins were increased the most when foods were microwaved.

Based on the results of the above studies, if you must cook a food that is high in anthocyanins, baking or microwaving the food may be your best options for preserving as many anthocyanins as possible. When consuming fresh anthocyanin-rich foods, such as berries, use them as quickly as you can after purchase. When consuming frozen foods such as berries, to obtain the most anthocyanins, use them frozen, or allow them to thaw naturally or very briefly in the microwave.


Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613902/

https://www.healthline.com/health/gram-positive#vs-gram-negative

https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400525/articles/jafc54_4069-4075.pdf

http://www.food-info.net/uk/colour/anthocyanin.htm

https://pediaa.com/difference-between-anthocyanin-and-anthocyanidin/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-antioxidants

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained#free-radicals

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7619452/

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Anthocyanin-contents-in-foods-of-plant-origin_tbl2_44609005

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278599/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055

https://drannwellness.com/foods-highest-in-anthocyanins-in-order-from-most-to-less/

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-are-anthocyanins-and-why-are-purple-foods-so-healthy

https://content.iospress.com/download/journal-of-berry-research/jbr022?id=journal-of-berry-research%2Fjbr022

https://www.tuscany-diet.net/2014/05/06/anthocyanins-fruits-vegetables-cereals/

https://foodandnutrition.org/november-december-2016/colorful-truth-anthocyanins/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996914004074

https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress#effects

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf104724k

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0570178314000025

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11853511/

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrients-purple-cauliflower-5633.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815309/


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.

Vegetable Bean Chili

Vegetable Bean Chili

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious vegan bean chili recipe, you found it! It’s full of vegetables, and the variety of beans can be adjusted to your personal preferences. Add ingredients to a big pot with a lid, bring to a boil, then allow it to simmer for an hour, and supper is ready! Adorn it with any garnish you choose and it’s fit for company. There is a video demonstration below, followed by the written recipe.

Enjoy!
Judi

 

Vegetable Bean Chili
Makes About 7 Servings

1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic

2 cups vegetable broth
1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp chili powder (to taste)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 large (28 oz) can OR 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
3 cans beans of choice, rinsed and drained (i.e., black, kidney and/or pinto beans)
6 Tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp red wine vinegar (optional)

Optional garnishes:
Grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream

Place the first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped.

Place all ingredients except the red wine vinegar in a large pot with a lid. Cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and allow the vegetables to cook for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are soft and flavors are blended. Stir occasionally, and taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. When the chili is finished cooking, remove from heat and add the red wine vinegar. Stir to combine. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish, as desired.

Tip: If you want a smoother, more blended chili, remove some of the finished chili and blend it until smooth. Return it to the pot, stir, and serve. Or, if preferred, an immersion blender could be used to blend the chili in the pot to the desired texture you want.

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.

Turnips

Turnips 101 – The Basics

Turnips 101 – The Basics

About Turnips
Turnips are round root vegetables often associated with potatoes or beets. However, they are in the Brassicaceae (mustard) family of plants, cousins with kale, broccoli, cabbage, collards, rutabagas, and many more popular cruciferous vegetables. There are over 30 varieties of turnips, differing in size, color, flavor, and usage. The purple-top turnips are the most common variety.

Both the bulbous taproot and the leafy greens are edible. Turnips have been eaten for thousands of years. They appear to be native to Siberia, where they originally took a lot of space to grow. Since World War II, different turnip varieties that need less space to grow have been developed. This has led to greater production around the world with increased consumer acceptance. Currently, turnips grow from Siberia to the northern United States.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Turnips are an excellent source of Vitamin C, with a 1 cup serving providing 30 percent of the daily recommended intake. They are also a good source of copper, and also contain lesser amounts of fiber, manganese, Vitamin B6, potassium, pantothenic acid, folate, Vitamin B1, choline, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B2, niacin, magnesium, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, iron and selenium. One cup of cubed turnip has only 36 calories.

With their wide array of nutrients, including a variety of antioxidants, researchers have found that turnips offer a variety health benefits, including:

Relieving Intestinal Issues. Fiber is important for moving the contents of the intestinal tract forward, reducing pressure and inflammation in the colon. This reduces the risk of developing diverticulitis and other gastrointestinal tract issues.

Lowering Blood Pressure. In a study reported in a 2013 issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers found that foods such as turnips and collard greens, may reduce blood pressure and inhibit platelet stickiness. Compounds within such vegetables can be converted into nitric oxide that helps blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure under control helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Reducing Cancer Risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as turnips, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, has been associated with a lower risk of cancer. Such vegetables contain compounds that have been shown to have protective effects against cancer. Sulforaphane, a compound famed for being abundant in broccoli sprouts is one of those compounds. However, broccoli sprouts are not alone in being high in sulforaphane. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables, including turnips, are high in sulforaphane. So, be sure to include other cruciferous vegetables (besides broccoli sprouts) in your diet to get your fair share of sulforaphane.

Aiding Weight Loss and Digestion. Turnips and other cruciferous vegetables that are high in fiber help to make you feel full for a longer period of time, and helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. Adequate fiber also helps to promote regular bowel movements, removing toxins from the body and helping us to feel more comfortable. Also, turnips are low in calories. All factors combined help to improve digestion and ward off hunger.

How to Select Turnips
When buying turnips, look for brightly colored ones with creamy-looking bulbs. Mature turnips may have a purple-hued ring around the top, whereas baby turnips will look more like large, white radishes. Choose ones that are firm, feel heavy for their size, and are without blemishes. Avoid any with signs of rot. In the fall and spring, you may find turnips with their greens still attached. During winter months, turnips will have been stored, so their leaves will have been removed.

Turnips are available year-round, but are at their best in the fall, when the mature vegetables are fresh. They are also good in the spring, when they are still small and sweet. Larger, older turnips have tough skin, which can have a bitter aftertaste if not peeled away. Older, larger turnips have a stronger flavor than the younger, more tender ones. However, the larger turnips are great for mashing or adding to soups and stews.

How to Store Turnips
If you buy turnips with the greens still attached, remove the greens when you get them home. The greens should be wrapped in a clean cloth or paper towel and placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They should be used as soon as possible.

The turnip roots should be loosely wrapped in a container or plastic bag and placed in the refrigerator. Try to use them within a week.

If you have a root cellar, they may be stored loosely there. Any very cool, dry place will be suitable. When stored properly, they may keep for months, if freshly harvested shortly before being purchased.

How to Prepare Turnips
Turnips may be eaten raw, but are more often served cooked. They can be cooked in a variety of ways. First, cut away any attached greens and trim off any remaining roots. Rinse them well and peel, if the skin is thick and tough. Peeling small turnips with more tender skins is optional. Cut them as needed for your recipe (left whole, cut into large chunks, diced, or sliced into sticks).

Smaller turnips may be eaten raw and diced or shredded into salads or slaws, or sliced and added to an appetizer tray and served with a dip.

Turnips may be roasted, which mellows and sweetens their flavor. They may also be mashed, baked, added to soups or stews, or cut into sticks and baked as fries. The greens may be prepared as you would any deep, leafy greens.

How to Preserve Turnips
Freezing Turnips. Select small to medium, firm turnips that are tender. Wash, peel, and cut into ½-inch cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil and place the prepared turnip cubes in the water. Set the timer for 2 minutes. When the timer is finished, immediately transfer the turnip cubes to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool for about 2 minutes, then drain well. Pack the blanched cubes in freezer bags or containers and freeze. Alternatively, if you want to freeze them so they don’t become one frozen clump of turnip cubes, spread the blanched, cooled, and drained turnip cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread them into a single layer, if possible. Place the baking sheet in the freezer long enough for the cubes to freeze. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Label it with the date and return them to the freezer. Use them within 1 year.

Dehydrating Turnips. To dehydrate turnips, wash, peel, then cut the turnips into ¼-inch thick slices. Bring a large pot of water to boil, then place the prepared turnip slices in the boiling water. Set a timer for 3 minutes. When the timer is finished, immediately transfer the turnip slices to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool for about 3 minutes, then drain well. Arrange the prepared turnip slices in a single layer on a mesh dehydrator tray. Try to leave about ½-inch of space on all sides between slices. Place the trays in the dehydrator and turn it on with the temperature set at 150 F/65 C and allow them to dry for one hour. Then reduce the temperature to 135 F/57 C and allow them to dry for another 3 hours, or until they are crisp and dry. Remove the trays from the dehydrator and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes. They should crisp up further during this cooling process. (If they are not crisp after being cooled, they are not completely dry. Return them to the dehydrator to finish drying.) Transfer your dried turnip chips to clean, dry containers. To help preserve them, it is helpful to place an oxygen absorber inside the container. Label them with the date they were dried and store them in a cool, dry place. They will keep indefinitely, but for best quality, use them within one year.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Turnips
* Raw turnips can be a good addition to a green salad and/or slaw. Treat them like you would a radish.

* Try using turnips in place of potatoes for a low-starch alternative to French fries and other potato dishes.

* Roast turnips with other root vegetables like sweet potatoes as a flavorful side dish.

* Try raw turnip sticks for dipping on an appetizer tray.

* Add turnips to your favorite soups or stews.

* It is not mandatory to peel turnips, but the larger ones will have a thick, tough skin, sometimes with a bitter aftertaste. So, it is often recommended to peel the larger ones.

* One pound of turnips = 3 to 4 medium turnips = 2-1/2 cups chopped and cooked.

* Although the flavors may be somewhat different, if a recipe calls for turnips and you don’t have any available, you could substitute rutabaga, kohlrabi, parsnips, or broccoli stems in place of the turnips.

* Turnips may be eaten raw, steamed, roasted or boiled. They are best when not overcooked.

* When buying turnips, choose smaller ones if you prefer a sweeter, milder flavor. The larger turnips will have a spicier flavor and their texture will be woodier and the peel will be tough.

* Roasting turnips brings out their sweeter flavors. Try adding the herb thyme for a good flavor combo.

* Try boiled and mashed turnips for an alternative to mashed potatoes.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Turnips
Allspice, anise seeds, basil, bay leaf, caraway seeds, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cinnamon, curry powder, dill, lemon thyme, mustard powder, nutmeg, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, savory, star anise, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Turnips
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beef, chickpeas, eggs, lentils, peas, pecans, pine nuts, poppy seeds, pork, poultry, salmon (and other seafood), sesame seeds, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Beets, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, carrots, celery, celery root, chives, garlic, ginger, greens (turnip), kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, root vegetables (in general), rutabagas, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples, apple cider, apricots (dried), citrus (zest), lemon (juice, zest), orange (juice, zest), pears, pumpkin

Grains and Grain Products: Bread, bread crumbs, couscous, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e., blue, cheddar, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Gruyère, Parmesan), cream, ghee, mascarpone, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, maple syrup, miso, mustard (prepared), oil (i.e., grapeseed, nut, olive, sunflower, walnut), soy sauce, stock, sugar, vinegar (esp. balsamic, red wine, rice, sherry, white wine), wine (red, sherry)

Turnips have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
French cuisine, gratins, mashed (like potatoes), purees, salads, soups (i.e., creamy, minestrone, potato, turnip), stews, stir-fries, vinaigrette

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Turnips
Add turnips to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Balsamic Vinegar
Basil + Black Pepper + Lemon
Caraway Seeds + Carrots
Carrots + Greens
Carrots + Lentils
Carrots + Potatoes
Garlic + Leeks + Rutabagas + Thyme
Ginger + Orange + Rosemary
Greens + Lemon + Pine Nuts
Leeks + Miso
Maple Syrup + Parsley
Pasta + Turnip Greens
Potatoes + Rutabagas
Potatoes + Tarragon + Tomatoes

Recipe Links
Easy, Delicious Mashed Turnips https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-delicious-mashed-turnips-2217302

Roasted Turnips https://www.thespruceeats.com/roasted-turnips-2217054

Creamy Turnip Soup https://www.thespruceeats.com/creamy-turnip-soup-recipe-2217429

25+ Turnip Recipes That Prove Just How Delicious the Veggies Can Be https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g4640/turnip-recipes/

Raw Turnip Salad https://www.mariaushakova.com/2015/03/raw-turnip-salad-recipe/

Root Vegetable Hash Egg Skillet https://naturallyella.com/root-vegetable-hash-egg-skillet/

Roasted Potato and Turnip Mash https://fashionablefoods.com/2015/12/14/roasted-potato-and-turnip-mash/

Herb Roasted Sweet Potato and Turnip Skillet https://www.jessiskitchen.com/herb-roasted-sweet-potato-and-turnip-skillet/#tasty-recipes-9679-jump-target

12 Turnip Recipes for Main and Side Dishes https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/turnip-18-recipes-underrated-root-vegetable

Crunchy Turnip, Apple, and Brussels Sprouts Slaw https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/crunchy-turnip-apple-and-brussels-sprout-slaw

Simple Roasted Turnips https://www.spendwithpennies.com/simple-roasted-turnips/


Resources
http://www.healthiestfoods.com/healthy-foods/vegetables/turnip/

https://www.producemarketguide.com/produce/turnips

https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-turnips-4772271

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruciferous_vegetables

https://www.britannica.com/plant/turnip

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284815

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-facts/170465/wt1/1

https://www.wakemed.org/assets/documents/childrens/nutrition-notes-understanding-nutrition-labels.pdf

https://www.thespruceeats.com/drying-turnips-in-a-dehydrator-1327548

Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. Third edition, Bulletin 989. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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.

Apples

Apples 101 – About Ambrosia Apples

Apples 101 – About Ambrosia Apples

Origin
Ambrosia apples were discovered as a very young stray tree in an apple orchard in British Columbia, Canada in the 1990s. They are believed to be a cross between Jonagold and Golden Delicious apples. The tree was allowed to grow and develop fruit so it could be tested. The original owners of the tree found the apples to be of exceptional flavor and characteristics, so they decided to grow them commercially. They chose the name “Ambrosia,” which in Greek mythology means “Food of the Gods.” Today, Ambrosia apples are grown according to strict guidelines in licensed orchards in the United States, Canada, Chile, Europe, and New Zealand.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Ambrosia apples have a lot to offer nutritionally. They supply a lot of fiber, Vitamin C, and potassium. They also contain phosphorus, manganese, zinc, iron, Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, biotin, pantothenic acid, and Vitamin E. They also contain a lot of water, which is important in helping to hydrate us, improving digestion, and maintaining healthy skin. In addition to the list of vitamins and minerals, Ambrosia apples also contain a variety of antioxidants that help to boost our health and fight disease. Many of the nutrients found in apples are in the skin, so it is important to eat the whole apple with the skin, if at all possible.

Brain Health and Cognitive Function. Focus, concentration and memory all benefit from eating an apple a day. The fiber and Vitamin B6 found in Ambrosia apples, can help support brain function. Magnesium, as found in Ambrosia apples, helps us to concentrate and retain information more effectively. Studies have even found that drinking apple juice may help keep neurotransmitters working optimally while slowing the aging of the brain.

Better Digestion and Heart Health. Like other apples, Ambrosia apples are also a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Insoluble fiber is notable for moving the contents of the intestinal tract forward, preventing constipation. The water in apples works with their fiber to help prevent constipation, and make us feel full longer, providing greater satiety. This also helps to reduce the risk of assorted bowel diseases, including cancer. Soluble fiber is known for helping to keep blood cholesterol managed by binding with bile and removing it from the body through the feces. This forces the liver to make more bile from existing cholesterol, in turn reducing blood cholesterol. This helps to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Immune System Support. Ambrosia apples contain a variety of antioxidants, such as quercetin, that help to boost the immune system. This helps the body fight viruses, bacteria, inflammation, and various diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Studies have shown that obtaining antioxidants from whole foods is more effective than obtaining them from processed foods or isolated supplements. So, eating a whole, fresh apple each day is a valuable and easy way to help maintain your health.

Other Health Benefits. Apples (in general, including Ambrosia apples) have been attributed to a variety of health benefits, in addition to the ones mentioned above. These include blood sugar regulation, cancer prevention, weight management, mood control, dental health, and sustained energy. It is important to remember that a lot of the nutrients in apples are found in the peel, so eat the skin if you possibly can!

Characteristics of Ambrosia Apples
Appearance. Ambrosia apples are medium to large, with a conical shape. The skin is smooth and glossy with a golden yellow base covered with a red to pink blush. The flesh is light yellow to cream color. The apple has a small fibrous core with a few small seeds. Unlike most apples, Ambrosia apples are very slow to turn brown or oxidize, which makes them an excellent choice for any fresh fruit application. They are low in enzymes that promote oxidation after being cut.

Flavor and Texture. Ambrosia apples are firm, crisp, and juicy with a sweet, honey-like flavor. They are very low in acid, so they are sweet with only a hint of tartness. They are sweeter than many other apples, which can allow you to use less sugar in baking or cooking applications when using Ambrosias. The dense flesh holds up well in any cooking or baking application. The skin of Ambrosia apples is not thick nor tough, like some apples. Instead, it is thin, tender, and easy to bite into, so there is little need to peel Ambrosias. Since the skin of an apple contains a lot of nutrients, this makes Ambrosia apples advantageous for people who have a hard time chewing apple peels.

Storage/Shelf-Life.  Ambrosia apples have a long storage life when kept cold, like in the refrigerator. In fact, they can still taste crispy and fresh months after harvest when kept in cold storage. Ambrosia apples are excellent options if they are available to buy in bulk, as long as you can keep them in cold storage. Ambrosia apples are harvested in the Fall, but since they store so well, they can be found in many grocery stores through Springtime.

Best Uses for Ambrosia Apples
Fresh. Ambrosia apples are an excellent choice for eating fresh. They stay fresh tasting, crispy, sweet, and juicy for months after harvest, as long as they were kept in cold storage. They are also very slow to oxidize or turn brown after being cut, so they can be cut early when served on appetizer trays or included in salads or slaws. There is no need to treat them with lemon water when used in this way. Thin slices of fresh Ambrosia apples can be added to burgers or sandwiches. They also pair well with sharp cheeses.

Baking. Ambrosia apples hold their shape well when baked, so they are also a perfect apple for any baking application. They are excellent when roasted with root vegetables. They will add sweetness and moisture to baked goods like cakes, muffins, and dough nuts. Because they are so sweet, added sugar in a recipe can often be reduced (sometimes by up to one-half) when Ambrosia apples are included in the recipe. Since they hold their shape well when baked, they are excellent to include in pies, tarts, and served as baked apples.

Cooking. Ambrosia apples will compliment any sweet or savory food preparation. They hold their shape and flavor well when cooked, so they can be used in any recipe calling for apples, whether sweet or savory. Try adding diced Ambrosias to polenta, couscous, or rice. Ambrosia apples can even be made into applesauce.

Drying.  Ambrosia apples can be dehydrated or baked into chips. Because Ambrosia apples are so slow to brown, they can even be dehydrated without being treated with lemon water. Here is a link from the AmbrosiaApples.ca website, giving detailed instructions on how to dehydrate Ambrosia apples without using special treatment to preserve color, while retaining the natural flavor of these special apples… https://ambrosiaapples.ca/dehydrate-delicious-ambrosia-apples-oven/

Here is a link to a page on the AmbrosiaApples.ca website, giving a detailed recipe on how to make baked Ambrosia Apple Cinnamon Chips… https://ambrosiaapples.ca/make-ambrosia-apple-cinnamon-chips/

Recipe Links
Ambrosia Apple Pico De Gallo https://www.maebells.com/ambrosia-apple-pico-de-gallo/

Ambrosia Apple Upside Down Cake (Gluten Free) http://www.nutritiouseats.com/ambrosia-apple-upside-cake/?utm_content=bufferf2db9&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Healthy Ambrosia Apple Dessert Nachos https://www.dinner-mom.com/ambrosia-apple-dessert-nachos/

Fish Tacos with Ambrosia Apple Slaw http://www.bctreefruits.com/recipes/category/1/Entrees/fruit/0/Apples/recipe/141/Fish_Tacos_with_Apple_Slaw/

Cinnamon-Spiced Quinoa with Apples and Sweet Potato https://farmflavor.com/recipes/cinnamon-spiced-quinoa-apples-sweet-potato/

Ambrosia Apple Granola Bar https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-apple-granola-bar/

Roasted Cauliflower and Ambrosia Apples https://ambrosiaapples.ca/roasted-cauliflower-ambrosia-apples/

Slow-Cooker Apple Maple Pork Tenderloin https://ambrosiaapples.ca/slow-cooker-apple-maple-pork-tenderloin/

Ambrosia Apple Kale Salad https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-kale-salad/

Dips for Ambrosia Apples https://ambrosiaapples.ca/dips-for-ambrosia-apples/

Ambrosia Apple Muffins https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-apple-muffins/

Vegan Ambrosia Apple Slaw https://ambrosiaapples.ca/vegan-ambrosia-apple-slaw-recipe/

3 Ambrosia Apple Smoothies Perfect for Spring https://ambrosiaapples.ca/3-ambrosia-apple-smoothies-perfect-for-spring-recipes/

Ambrosia Apple Baked Beans https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-apple-baked-beans-recipe/

Ambrosia Applesauce 5 Ways https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-applesauce-5-ways/

Ambrosia Apples and Tomato Gazpacho Recipe https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-apples-and-tomato-gazpacho-recipe/

Ambrosia Apple and Pumpkin Soup https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-apple-and-pumpkin-soup-recipe/

Ambrosia Apple Breakfast Bowl https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-apple-breakfast-bowl-recipe/

Crustless Ambrosia Apple Pie a la Hasselback https://ambrosiaapples.ca/crust-less-ambrosia-apple-pie-a-la-hasselback-recipe/

German Apple Cake https://ambrosiaapples.ca/german-apple-cake/

Ambrosia Apple and Feta Salad with Roasted Almonds https://ambrosiaapples.ca/ambrosia-apple-feta-salad-with-roasted-almonds/

Easy Homemade Applesauce https://www.runningwithspoons.com/easy-homemade-applesauce/

Resources
https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/ambrosia_apples_238.php

https://ambrosiaapples.ca/6-mistakes-people-make-with-ambrosia-apples/

https://www.fitbit.com/foods/Apple/747239326

https://ambrosiaapples.ca/10-health-benefits-eating-ambrosia-apples/

https://minnetonkaorchards.com/ambrosia-apples-an-apple-as-sweet-as-honey/

https://www.homefortheharvest.com/ambrosia-apples/

https://www.bcfarmfresh.com/5-ways-ambrosia-apples-boost-energy/

https://www.runningwithspoons.com/easy-homemade-applesauce/

https://fitforthesoul.com/everything-about-ambrosia-apple/

https://ambrosiaapples.ca/what-you-need-to-know-about-antioxidants-and-ambrosia-apples/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/quercetin#what-it-is

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=15#healthbenefits

 

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.