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Tag: vegetables

Add Crunch with Celery!

The original form of celery, called smallage, was bitter and very stringy.

Do you like celery? It is often used as an ingredient in many recipes from soup, salad, main dish, snacks and more. It is available throughout the year which makes it an affordable addition to many meals.

Select celery that is light green, with fresh leaves, and free of bruises and discoloration. A bunch of celery should feel heavy and when you squeeze the bunch of celery, it should “squeak.” Avoid celery that is limp, easily bends and spreads out.

Separate each stalk, trim ends and damaged spots, and wash under running water with a scrub brush. Store celery in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It is best used in 1-2 weeks. It can be frozen, but will lose its crunch due to high water content.

Celery is a low calorie vegetable but high in vitamin C, A, and K, folate and potassium.

Sources: http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_Food$ense_2012-04pr.pdf and www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

Give Acorn Squash a Try!

September 7 is designated Acorn squash day. So give it a try! It can be served as a main dish, a side, or even dessert.

Roast or steam for easy preparation. Then add it to pasta, puree into a soup, or stuff with your favorite meatloaf mix or apple mixture.

Save the seeds and toast them like pumpkin seeds for a snack.

The shells are useful as a serving bowl or soup bowl.

Acorn squash come in a variety of colors such as yellow, dark green, tan, and orange.

Learn more at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/acorn-squash.

 

Spinach and Kidney Stones

Spinach is a nutritious and economically important vegetable in our diet. But, many varieties contain high amounts of oxalate, a natural compound in the plant, that can lead to kidney stone formation.

Researchers have now identified eight spinach varieties with low oxalate levels. They analyzed the genetic code of 310 spinach varieties and identified six DNA markers that contribute to oxalate levels. Knowing the amount of oxalate concentrations in these varieties can help breeders reduce oxalate concentrations.

Spinach contains higher concentrations of oxalate than most crops, but it is an economically important vegetable crop worldwide and it’s considered healthful because of its high concentration of a number of key nutrients. Foods such as beets, rhubarb, strawberries, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran, and almost all dry beans also are known to increase oxalate in the urine and may contribute to kidney stone formation.

Source: www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2017/making-spinach-with-low-oxalate-levels/

 

Fire Up the Grill for Vegetables!

A rainbow of veggies

While you have the grill hot for the main dish, throw on some vegetables to compliment the meal. Here are some tips:

  • Grill larger pieces and chop them up when ready to serve.
  • For most vegetables, toss them with a light coating of vegetable oil before grilling. An exception is husked ears of corn.
  • Use skewers to hold small vegetables like mushrooms, chunks of summer squash or peppers, and small tomatoes.
  • Place skinny, long vegetables perpendicular to the grate so they don’t fall through.
  • Use a vegetable basket to toss together a mix of vegetables and for easy transfer from grill to table.

Chop up grilled vegetables and add to pasta!

Source: Fine Cooking, June/July 2017

 

Defining Clean Eating

A rainbow of veggies

Lots of conflicting information about eating healthy can leave anyone confused. So the American Heart Association is trying to help clear the confusion.

To start, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This is a common message from many health organizations and educators. Lean meats, low-fat and non-fat dairy, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds are also beneficial.

A healthy, clean diet can also include frozen, canned, and dried foods. Select low-sodium canned foods and fruits canned in water or 100% juice. Choose frozen and dried foods without added salt or sodium.

Some say to avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store. The truth is, many foods in the middle aisles can be a part of a healthy diet.

Source: https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/infographics/what-is-clean-eating

 

Go Green!

Lettuce in Colander

Spring is almost here! So it’s time to think green for your menu. Green produce can help reduce some cancer risks, build bone and teeth health, and improve vision health.

Challenge yourself to eat more green foods. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • All leafy greens including lettuce, spinach, kale and more.
  • Edamame adds protein to snacks and meals.
  • Avocados can be added to sandwiches, salads and dips.
  • Broccoli and broccolini can be steamed, roasted, or sautéed for a side dish.
  • Green fruits such as kiwi, honeydew melon and apples add sweetness and crunch.
  • Asparagus just screams spring!

Learn more at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/go-green-with-fruits-and-vegetables

 

Prepping Vegetables for Freezing

Enzymes are a natural component of food. They work inside food and can change flavor, texture, color and nutrition. Blanching stops enzymes and protects the food from quality changes.
Enzymes are a natural component of food. They work inside food and can change flavor, texture, color and nutrition. Blanching stops enzymes and protects the food from quality changes.

Most vegetables need to be blanched before freezing to inactivate enzymes and protect their quality. This is done by water or steam blanching. Can blanching be done in the microwave?

Using the microwave may produce poor results. Due to uneven heating, the microwave may not completely inactivate enzymes. This results in off flavors, poor texture and loss of color. The microwave does not save time or energy.

For best results, use water or steam blanching. Learn more about freezing at www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/freezing.html.

 

 

Are Pesticide Residues a Risk?

Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes the “Dirty Dozen” report of foods that test positive for pesticide residues.

While these foods may show pesticide residue is present, the risk is negligible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tolerance levels for pesticide residues is protective of human health. Test results are at levels well below tolerances set by the EPA.

Drs. Carl Winter and Josh Katz of the Department of Food Science and Technology a the University of California-Davis are leading experts in the issue of pesticide residues.

In a peer-reviewed, scientific article in the prestigious Journal of Toxicology (2011) they state the following conclusions:

  1. “Exposures to the most commonly detected pesticides on the twelve commodities pose negligible risks to consumers.”
  2. “Substitution of organic forms of the twelve commodities for conventional forms does not result in any appreciable reduction of consumer risks.”
  3. “The methods used by the environmental advocacy group to rank commodities with respect to (potential) pesticide risks lacks scientific credibility.“

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135239/

Other resources:

www.clemson.edu/extension/peach/faq/dirty-dozen-pesticide-residues.html

http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/faq/pesticides-on-food

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pi230

www.ams.usda.gov/datasets/pdp

Introducing….Kalettes!

The choices for vegetables just added a new member! Your local grocer may be offering Kalettes. What is this new vegetable?

It is a cross between kale and brussels sprouts. It looks like a little cabbage with heads that are loose and frilly, green-purple leaves. Kale and brussels sprouts are in the same family, Brassica Oleracea, along with cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. The goal was to create a versatile vegetable that is easy to prepare and attractive. Their flavor is said to be sweet and nutty.

Kalettes can be eaten raw or sautéed, roasted, or grilled.

Kalettes were created in Britain after a decade of research by Tozer Seeds using traditional hybridization techniques.

Learn more about Kalettes at www.kalettes.com/.

 

Pretty Spring Peas

Peas
Peas can be eaten raw or cooked. Select firm, bright green, medium-sized pods for best freshness.

Add a pop of green color to meals with Spring peas! Here are some ideas:

  • Add to soup or stew.
  • Add to rice or barley pilaf.
  • Substitute half of the avocado in guacamole with mashed peas.
  • Add to stir-fry meals.
  • Liven up a green salad, pasta salad or any salad.

Learn more at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/peas.