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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Pistachios

Pistachios:

About:

The pistachio (Pistacia vera) which is amember of the cashew family, is a small tree originating in Central Asia and the Mi9ddle East.  The tree produces seeds which are widely consumed as food.  The word pistachio is from the Medieval Italian "pistaccio".   Pistachio is a desert plant and is highly tolerant of saline soil.   It is reported to growwell when irrigated.  Pistachio trees are fairly hardy in the right conditions.  The shell of the pistachio is a beige color, but it is sometimes dyed red or green commercially.  Originally, dye was applied by importers to hide stains from when the seeds were picked by hand.  Today most pistachios are picked by machine.  Pistacahio nuts have been a symbol of wellnes and robust health since ancient times.  Pistachio tree are planated in orchards, and take approximately 7 to 10 years to reach significant production.  The world's largest producer of pistachios is Iran, followe4d by the U.S., Turkey and China.

History:

Pistachios were a common food as early as 6750 BC.  The pistachio was one of the trees unique to Syria which was introduced into Italy by a Roman Proconsul and at the same time to Hispania.  The modern pistachio was first cultivated in Bronze Age Central Asia.  Remains of the Atlantic pistachio and the pistachio seed along with nut cracking tool were found in ancient Israel..  Pistachios have been commercially cultivaterd more reently in maqnay parts of the English speaking world in Australia and in the U.S. in California and New Mexico where it was introduced as a garden tree in 1854. 
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My Story:

My first memory of pistachios was as a kid in Brooklyn.  They were sold in vending machines and for a penny you could turn the key and get a handful of red pistachio.  That was in the old days when pistachios were picked by hand and the red dye was added to cover up any stains on the natural beige shell.  You would eat the pistachios and your hands would be red from tahe dye.    There was a story that one of the kids in the neighborhood knew how to use a bobby pin and get his penny back and a double size portions of the nuts.  I don't know if it was true but it was a good story.  There was also a soft ice ream stand next to Nathans Famous Hot Dogs in Coney Island that had green colored pistachio flavored soft ice cream.  Delicious!

Uses of Pistachios:

The kernels are often eaten whole either fresh or roasted  and salted.  Pistachio is a popular flavoring for ice cream and is used in kulfi, spumoni,  and historically in Neopolitan ice ceam.  Pistachios are used to make pistachio butter, pistachio paste, and confections such as baklava, pistachio chocolate, halvah, lokum, or biscotti and in cold cuts such as mortadella.  Americans make pistachio salad which includes fresh pistachios or pistachio pudding whipped cream and canned fruit .  Roasted andf crushed kernels can be sprinkled over salads, desserts, sundaes and other ice cream preparations, biscuits, sweets and cakes.  Split pistachios are a great addition to vegetable or fruit salads.  Pistachiop oil extracted is one of the healthiest cooking oils.  It has a pleasant nutty aroma and possessesexcellent emollient properties.  It helps the skin protected from dryness.  It is also employed as a carrier or base oil in traditional medicines in massage therapy, aroma therapy, and in the pharmeceutical and cosmetic industries.

Nutrition:

In a 100 gram serving of pistachios they provide 562 calories and are a rich source (20% or more of  Daily Value) of protein, dietary fiber, dietary minerals and B vitamins, thiamin, and especially vitamin B6.  Pistachios are a good sourve (10 - 19% DV) of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, folate, vitamin E and vitamin K.



 
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Health Benefits:

Regular consumption of pistachios (a handful a day) in the diet may help lowering total as well as LDL Cholesterol levels and increase good HDL Cholesterol  in the blood.  They compose proper amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and antioxidants which can help reduce coronary artery disease and stroke risk by favoring a healthy blood lipid profile.  Pista kernels are a rich source of many antioxidant phytochemical substances such as carotenes, vitamin E and polyphenolic antioxidant compounds.  These compounds may help remove toxic free radicals from the body and protect it from diseases, cancers and infections.   Pistachios are an excellent source of vitamin E which iS a potent lipid-soluble essential for maintaining the integrity of mucosa and skin.  Vitamin E also works as a scavenger of harmful free-oxygen radicals.  Pistachios are a good source of protein helpful for before or after a workout.

Season:

Pistachios are available year round in the grocery store.  They are found shelled, whole (in the shell) roasted, salted, and sweetened or flavored. 

Selecting and Storing:

Look for unshelled (with intact outer coat) whole nuts rather than processed.  They are generally available in airtight packs and bulk bins.  Look for healthy compactuniform off-white unshelled nuts that feel heavy in hand.  They should be free from cracks other than the natural split, mold, spots and rancid smell.
Raw unshelled pistachios can be placed in a cool dry place for many months.  Shelled kernels should be placed in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator in order to prevent them from turning rancid.

So, eat up, enjoy.  Eat some Pistachios.  They're good for you.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Chocolate

Chocolate: 

About:

  Chocolate is a typically sweet usually brown food preparation of "Theobroma cacao" seeds roasted and ground.  It is made into the form of a liquid, paste, or a block, or used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods.  Cocoa solids are a source of flavonoids and alkaloids, such as theobromine phenethylamine and caffeine.  Chocolate also contains anandamide.   Chocolate has become one of the most popular types and flavors in the world. 
The seeds of the cacao have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop their flavor.  After fermentation cacao beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted.
The cacao tree is native to Central and South America.  Today it is cultivated around the equator and can be found in the Caribbean, Africa, South East Asia and even in the South Pacific Islands of Samoa and New Guin

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History:

Cacao has been cultivated by many cultures for at least 3 millennia in Mesoamerica.  The earliest evidence of use tracks to the Mokaya (Mexico and Guatemala) with evidence of chocolate beverages dating back to 1900 BCE.  Although cocoa originated in the Americas recent years have seen African nations assuming a leading role in producing cocoa.  
Columbus had taken the cacao bean with him back to Spain, but chocolate had no impact until Spanish friars introduced it to the Spanish court. 

The






Types:

Dark Chocolate: so called because it contains less milk than other chocolates and sometimes no milk at all.  It is made by mixing cocoa solids, fat, and sugar.  Usually  chocolate with a cocoa solid component of 35% or more is deemed dark chocolate.  Because of the lack of milk, dark chocolate is far browner in color.  It is often used in baking and cooking.  Dark chocolate is less sweet and has a higher percentage of cocoa soli9ds with more of a bitter taste.

Milk Chocolate: most  likely the most popular kind of chocolate.  It is made by adding milk, most often milk powder, into the traditional chocolate combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and frequently vanilla flavoring.

White Chocolate: is a very sweet variety made without using cocoa solids.  White chocolate is a mixture of sugar, milk and cocoa butter.  The absence of cocoa solids and the presence of milk gives it an ivory or yellow rather than brown color.

Unsweetened Chocolate is a term often used interchangeably with baking chocolate.  Unsweetened chocolate is made without the addition of sugar which also makes it very rich and also quite bitter.  Chocolate liquor and fat are the 2 ingredients used to make unsweetened chocolate which is primarily used in baking.

Semisweet Chocolate is technically a kind of dark chocolate.  To qualify as semisweet dark chocolate must contain half as much sugar as it does cocoa solids.

Compound Chocolate: is made by combining cocoa solids with a cocoa butter substitute such as vegetable oil, coconut oil and a variety of other hydrogenated fats.  Compound chocolate is often used as a topping or coating for other confectionery goods because it tends to be cheaper to produce and purchase.

Raw Chocolate: chocolate that has not been processed in any way or mixed with any different ingredients.  It is sold as a healthy alternative to traditional chocolate since it does not include sugar or milk products.

Health Benefits:

The latest research backs up claims that chocolate has cardio=vascular benefits.  In a 9 year study in Sweden of 31,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week    cut their risk of heart failoure by as much as one third.  Another big long term study in Germany this year found that about a square of dark chocolate a day lowered blood pressure and reduced the risk of stroke by 39%.  Most of the credit goes to flavonoids and antioxidant compound that increase the flexibility of veins and arteries.  
Chocolate is rich in antioxidants.  Potential benefits of eating chocolate are said to include : lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cognitive decline, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.  Chocolate has been said to cause acne and tooth decay, and has a reputsation for being a fattening, non-nutritious food.  On the other hand chocolate is also known for being an antidepressive to an aphrodisiac.   Most of the bad effects of chocolate have been found to be over-stated of just false.  

So, eat up.  Enjoy.  Have some chocolate.  It's good for you!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Chia

Chia:

About:

Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a species of flowering plant in the mint family.  The word "chia" translates from the Mayan word for "strength".   Chia seeds are grown and commonly used as food in several countries in western South America, western Mexico and the Southwestern United States.  Typically , chia seeds are small oval and mottle colored with brown, gray, black and white.  The seeds are hydrophilic absorbing  up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked.  Chia is a naturally gluten-free grain.  

History:

Chia is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.  Chia seeds were one of the staples in Mayan and Aztec diets as early as 3500 B.C.   They were used in these ancient cultures as medicine and food.  They were consumed by warriors to produce strength and stamina.


Nutrition:

A 1 ounce serving of chia seeds contains:
  • Fiber...............11 grams
  • Protein............4 grams
  • Fat..................9 grams (5 of omega-3)
  • Calcium,,,,,,,,,,18% RDA
  • Manganese.....30% RDA
  • Phosphorus....27 % RDA
Also contains lesser amounts of Zinc, Vitamin B3,  Potassium,  Vitamin B1 and B2.


Health Benefits:

 Chia seeds are considered a super food because of the variety of valuable nutrients in them that give you so many of the daily nutrients your body needs, like protein, calcium, iron, and magnesium.  Chia is grown commercially for its seeds, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.   Chia seeds are  high in antioxidants which fight production of free radicals which can damage molecules in cells and  contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.  Chia seeds are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acid.  They are rich in valuable amino acids, antioxidants, and flavonoids including chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, kaempherol.

Freshness:

Chia seeds can be kept for years because their natural antioxidants prevent deterioration of their important essential oils.


Uses for Chia Seeds:

Chia seeds can be eaten alone or added to smoothies, protein shakes, yogurt, cereal, salads, energy bars, granola bars, tortillas, or bread.   They have a very mild flavor that is slightly nutty, but mostly neutral.  When hydrated or mixed with water they form a clear gel.

So..... East up !  Enjoy !  I'll show you how.



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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cayenne

Cayenne:

About:

The cayenne pepper, also known as Guinea spice, cow horn pepper, red hot chili pepper, aleva, bird pepper or when powered red pepper, is a variety of Capsicum annum, which is related to bell peppers, jalapenos, paprika and  others.   It is named for the city of Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana.  
The fruits of the pepper are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make a powdered spice called cayenne.  Cayenne pepper has been used for both food and medicine for the last 9000 years.

Uses:

Cayenne is a very versatile spice that can be added to everything from fish to eggs, soups, casseroles, tacos, and pasta.

 Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form or in a thin vinegar-based sauce. The cayenne pepper is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units, the measure of hotness for peppers.  The green bell measure measures zero.  
Cayenne pepper is also used as an herbal supplement and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his "Complete Herbal, 1653", as guinea pepper , a misnomer for Guiana.

Cayenne is a popular spice in a variety of cuisines.  It is employed variously in its fresh form, dried and powdered, and as flakes.  It is also a key ingredient in a variety of hot sauces, particularly those employing vinegar as a preservative.  Cayenne pepper is often spread on sandwiches or similar items to add a spicy flavor.




Cayenne pepper nutritional value per tablespoon or 5 grams (DV = Daily Value):

Calories17 kilocaloriesVitamin A44 percent DV
Vitamin C4.0 milligrams (7 percent DV)Vitamin E1.6 milligrams (8 percent DV)
Niacin0.5 milligrams (2 percent DV)Vitamin B60.1 milligrams (6 percent DV)
Calcium, Ca7.8 milligrams (1 percent DV)Iron, Fe0.4 milligrams (2 percent DV)
Magnesium, Mg8.0 milligrams (2 percent DV)Phosphorus, P15.4 milligrams (2 percent DV)
Potassium, K106 milligrams (3 percent DV)Sodium, Na1.6 milligrams (0 percent DV)
Zinc, Zn0.1 milligrams (1 percent DV)Copper0.0 milligrams (1 percent DV)
Manganese0.1 milligrams (5 percent DV)Selenium0.5 micrograms (1 percent DV)

Nutrition:

Cayenne pepper by weight is high in vitamin A.  It also contains vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, and manganese.  Because of the very small amount of cayenne pepper consumed in a serving, the dietary intake of these nutrients is only negligible. 

Cayenne pepper consumption dilates the blood vessels and speeds the body's metabolism due to high 
amounts of capsaicin, which causes the body to produce heat, which in turn causes the body to lose weight.   This increases blood circulation and blood flow to major organs, facilitatimg oxygen and nutrient delivery.  Capsaicin may support a healthy energy balance while suppressing appetite.  Capsaicin has been shown to increase energy expenditure, so acts as a metabolism booster, and is beneficial in long term weight loss. 

Cayenne pepper is also claimed to be an aphrodisiac, because it contains capsaicin.  It has also been shown to aid oxidation of adipose tissue, regulate high blood pressure, promote healthy liver function and tissue production, help the digestive system, and promote healthy mucus production in the membranes that line the internal organs.  Cayenne pepper is high in flavonoids and carotenoids, giving the spice its red color. 


Health Benefits:

Cayenne pepper produces natural warmth in the body and stimulates peristaltic motion in the intestines aiding assimilation and elimination.  This is one of its prime health benefits.
It regulates blood flow from head to feet, equalizing pressure and influencing arteries, capillaries and nerves. 
 It helps alleviate allergies, muscle cramps, improves digestion, gives more pep and energy and helps wound healing with minimal scar tissue.
It is a counter-irritant bringing blood to the surface and allowing toxins to be taken away. 
Capsaicin supports natural rhythm of the viscera and interior actions of the glandular, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive systems. 
It helps alleviate heartburn
It is powerful in helping the body remove toxins from the blood.
It is good for dyspepsia and flatulence.
It eases a toothache and preserves teeth from rotting     

So..... East up !  Enjoy !  I'll show you how.


   

Incorporating Cayenne Pepper in Your Diet:  

  • Add cayenne pepper to spice mixtures such as curry and barbecue rub
  • Make homemade dressing using part oil, part vinegar, cayenne pepper and other seasonings.
  • Spice up your marinades by adding cayenne pepper. 



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Monday, March 27, 2017

Flax

Flax:

About:

Flax (Linum Usitatissium) , also known as "common flax" or "linseed", is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world.  
Canada is the world's largest producer of oilseed flax followed by Russia, France, and Argentina. 
In the U.S. and Canada most commercial flax production involves oilseed varieties of flax in which the seeds will eventually be dried and crushed and used to produce different grades of oil.  Flax seeds are small brown, tan, or golden colored seeds that are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids known.

History:

Sometime between 4000 and 2000 BC flax cultivation became common practice in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and in regions of the Middle East.  From the very beginning the value of flax was both culinary and domestic since flax could be spun into linen     to provide clothing and other textile related products.  
The earliest evidence of humans using flax was as a textile from the present day Republic of Georgia dating back 30000years.  Evidence exists of a domesticated oilseed flax with increased seed size by 9000 years ago in Syria.  Use of the crop had spread reaching Switzerland and Germany by 5000 years ago.  In China and India domesticated flax was cultivated by at least 5000 years ago.  Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient Egypt, where the temple walls had pictures of flowering flax, and mummies were entombed in linen..  Egyptian priests only wore linen as flax was considered a symbol of purity.

Uses: 

Flax is grown for its oil, used as a nutritional supplement, and as an ingredient in many wood finishing products.  Flax is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens.  Flax fibers are used to make linen.  Flax fibers are taken from the stem of the plant and are 2 - 3 times as strong as cotton.   Flax is grown on the Canadian prairies for linseed oil which is used as a drying agent in paints and varnishes and in products such as linoleum and printing ink.



Flax seed Benefits:

  1. High in fiber, low in carbs
  2. Healthy skin and hair - can improve symptoms of acne, rosacea, eczema , and dry eye syndrome
  3. Weight loss - full of healthy fat and fiber
  4. Lower cholesterol  also gluten free 
  5. Anti inflammatory
  6. High in antioxidants (Lignans) Lignans are known for their anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties
  7. Digestive health
  8. Anti - Cancer - proven fighter of breast, prostate, ovarian, and colon cancers
  9. High in Omega-3 fatty acids
  10. Menopausal symptoms 
2 to 3 tablespoons of flax seeds per day are enough to be beneficial.

Flax seeds are best consumed ground as our bodies cannot digest the seeds whole to access the  nutrients.

Adding Flax seeds in your Diet:

  • Add 1 to 3 TBS to a morning smoothie
  • Mix a TBS in with yogurt and raw honey
  • Bake into muffins, cookies and breads
  • Add to granola
  • Can be mixed with water and used as an egg substitute
  • Sprinkle on hot or cold cereal
  • Sprinkle on vegetables

So..... East up !  Enjoy !  I'll show you how.


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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quinoa

Quinoa:

About:

Quinoa (pronounced: keen - wah) is the common name for Chenopodium quinoa of the flowering plant family Amaranthiceae.  It is grown as a grain crop primarily for its edible seeds.  It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal due to its not being a grass.  Quinoa is closely related to the edible plants beetroot, spinach, and amaranth.
When cooked the nutrient composition is comparable to common cereals like wheat and rice supplying a moderate amount of dietary fiber and minerals.  Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest.  2013 was declared the International Year of Quinoa
There are 3 main types of quinoa: white, red, and black.

History:

Quinoa originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia,m and Chile.  The Incas, who considered the crop to be sacred called the crop "Mother of all grain."  It was domesticated 3000 to 4000 years ago for human consumption.  It has become increasingly popular in the U.S. , Canada, Europe, Australia, China, and Japan.  Quinoa has become popular in the Jewish community as a substitute for the leavened grains that are forbidden during the Passover.  In 2013 the "Orthodox Union", the world's largest kosher certification agency announced it would begin certifying quinoa as kosher for Passover. 

Nutrition:

Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that contain all nine amino acids of protein.  It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants.  Quinoa is gluten free. 

Health Benefits:

  1.  Protein - 8 grams                                                                                                                              Fiber - 5 grams                                                                                                                                Manganese - 58% RDA                                                                                                                  Magnesium - 30% RDA                                                                                                                  Phosphorus - 28% RDA                                                                                                                  Folate - 19% RDA                                                                                                                            Copper - 18% RDA                                                                                                                          Iron - 15% RDA                                                                                                                              Zinc - 15% RDA                                                                                                                              Potassium - 9% RDA 
           Over 10% Vitamins B1, B2, B6                                                                                                                Small amounts calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E                                                                                  Total 222 calories with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams fat, and a small amount of omega3                     fatty acids.  No GMO, gluten free.

      2.  Contains the plant compounds quercetin and kaempferol which are flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial effects on health.  Quercetin and kaempferol have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animals.

     3.  Quinoa is much higher in fiber than most grains
    
     4.  Very high in protein with all the essential amino acids  

     5.  Has a low glycemic index , however is relatively high in carbohydrates

     6.  High in important minerals like iron and magnesium

     7.  Has beneficial effects on metabolic health.  Studies found quinoa significantly reduced blood                 sugar, insulin, and triglyceride levels

     8.  Very high in antioxidants

     9.  May help you loose weight because it is high in protein which can increase metabolism and                 reduce appetite.

Preparation:

Put 2 cups of water or broth in a pot.

Add 1 cup raw, rinsed quinoa, with a dash of salt.

Boil for 15 - 20 minutes until water absorbed 

Eat.

Eating Ideas:

  • Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander.  Season to taste.  eat as a salad. 
  • Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as a breakfast porridge. 
  • Add quinoa to vegetable soup.
  • Use quinoa as a substitute for bulgar wheat when making tabbouleh.

So..... East up !  Enjoy !  I'll show you how.


Simple but Good:

Quinoa with Black Beans and Corn

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion chopped
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup raw quinoa rinsed with cold water
1 1/2 c vegetable broth 
1 tsp cumin 
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 c cooked kernel corn 
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until lightly brown (about 10 
minutes).
Mix quinoa into onion mixture and cover with broth.  Add cumin,  cayenne, pepper, and salt.  Bring to a boil Cover and  simmer until broth is absorbed (about 20 minutes.
Stir in corn and cook about 5 minutes.  Add black beans and cilantro.. 


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Friday, January 27, 2017

Ugli Fruit

Ugli Fruit:

About:

The ugli fruit is a form of tangelo from Jamaica that was developed by crossing a grapefruit, an orange,  and a tangerine.   The name "ugli" is a variation  of the word "ugly" used do to the fruit's unsightly appearance.  It has a rough, wrinkled, greenish-yellow rind with an orange pulpy citrus inside.  The name "Ugli" is actually a registered trademark of Cabel Hall Citrus Limited, which markets the fruit.  
The light green surface blemishes turn orange at the peak of ripeness.  As a  tangelo the ugli is slightly larger than a grapefruit with fewer seeds.  The flesh is very juicy and tends towards the sweet side of the tangerine rather than the bitter side of the grapefruit with a fragrant rind.  The taste is often described as  more sour than an orange and less bitter than a tangerine.
The Ugli Fruit may also be called Uniq Fruit or Unique Fruit 


History:

The ugli fruit was discovered as an accidental seedling in Brown's Town, Jamaica where it was propagated and exported starting in 1914. 


Health Benefits:

There are only 45 calories in a serving of half of one fruit.  A serving contains 70% of the recommended allowance of vitamin C, which is great for fighting infections and important for the formation of collagen and maintaining artery  elasticity.  The ugli fruit has a good supply of calcium as well as vitamin A  with 8% of your daily fiber needs.  The ugli fruit is cholesterol free and has a low glycemic index.



Season:

The Ugli is in season from December to April.  It is distributed in the U.S. and Europe between November and April, and occasionally available from July to September.  

Selecting and Storing:

Choose fruit that is heavy for its size.  Do not be concerned about surface scarring, uneven color, or loose skin.  Smaller fruit tends to be more flavorful, and sweeter.  Check for soft or brown spots and press them with your thumb, if  the skin gives through, the fruit is probably spoiled. 
Store at room temperature and use within 5 days, or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. 


So..... East up !  Enjoy !  I'll show you how.


Simple but Good:

Ugli Fruit Smoothie:



1 ugli fruit peeled and quartered
1 banana 
1/4 cup pineapple juice 
1/4 cup milk 
2 TBS sugar
8 ice cubes

Peel and cut up the ugli fruit.  Peel and slice the banana.  Put the ugli fruit, banana, pineapple juice, milk, and sugar into a blender and blend until smooth.  Add ice and blend again. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
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