Google+ Followers

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spaghetti Squash


Spaghetti Squash: 

About:

Spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a winter squash that received its name from its resemblance to cooked spaghetti (pasta).  Spaghetti squash is  also known as vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, vegetable marrow, and squaghetti. 
Spaghetti squash is an oblong vegetable that measures from 8 - 14 inches in length and weighs 2 - 3 pounds,  Its flesh has a pale yellow color and it has a mild taste which is similar to pasta.  It is often used as a low carbohydrate substitute for pasta.

History:

Spaghetti squash originated in China.  In 1921 it was introduced to Japan by a Chinese agricultural research firm and was brought to the U.S. 15 years later.  It was commonly planted during WWII , but only gained popularity in the late 20th century.  

Uses: 

Spaghetti squash can be added to a number of dishes, such as soups and stews.  It can also be eaten raw.  When served like a pasta it can be topped with a wide variety of sauces.

Health Benefits:

Spaghetti squash is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which can help prevent free radical damage to cells.  Other antioxidants in this squash are beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are linked to healthy vision and optimal eye health.   Spaghetti squash is also rich in B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin, which promote optimal cellular function. Folate, which supports the formation and development of new cells is found in spaghetti squash, which makes it good for pregnant women.  This nutrient can help filter out homocystene from your blood, which will promote cardiovascular health.  Spaghetti squash contains potassium, which is helpful to people with high blood pressure.  It also contains manganese, a mineral that assists in bone and tissue health, metabolism, calcium absorption, and nerve function.  Spaghetti squash also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fats , which are associated with the prevention of inflammation which may cause heart disease, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.


Season: 

Winter squashes are available year round.  Peek season is September through March.


Selecting and Storing:

All squash should have a solid heavy feel.  Choose spaghetti squash with a deep yellow colored skin.  An unripe squash will be marred with green marks and is best avoided.  Spaghetti squash can be stored at room temperature for several weeks. 

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


Simple but Good:


Spaghetti Squash with Bacon, Hazelnuts, and Parsley

1 Spaghetti squash cut in half lengthwise with seeds and mush removed
4 slices bacon, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. hazelnuts, chopped
1 c. minced fresh parsley
Salt, olive oil, and sherry vinegar to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet and cover with foil.  Roast in oven 30 - 40 minutes until the squash can be easily pierced with a knife.  
Add bacon to skillet and cook on low heat.  As fat renders increase heat to medium high and cook until crisp.  Add garlic and chopped hazelnuts and cook until fragrant, about 2 - 3 minutes.  Add parsley.  
Use a fork to shred squash into strands
into a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and gently stir.  Put a portion on a plate and spoon bacon, hazelnuts, and parsley over top.  Drizzle with olive oil and sherry vinegar
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
amzn_assoc_ad_type = "contextual"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "fruita0f-20"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_placement = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = ""; amzn_assoc_fallback_products = ""; amzn_assoc_width = "300"; amzn_assoc_height = "250";

Friday, December 4, 2015

Rapini Revisited

Rapini Revisited:

About:

Rapini, also called "Broccoli Rabe" pronounced "broccoli rob", is a green cruciferous vegetable and member of the turnip family. Contrary to its name, it is not a member of  the broccoli family.  The leaves, buds, and stems are all edible.  The buds resemble broccoli, but do not form into a head.  Rapini is known for its slightly bitter taste and is associated with Italian, Galician, and Portugese cuisines.  Rapini's flavor is described as nutty, bitter, and pungent.
 Rapini is always sold fresh.  I have never seen it canned or frozen.  Rapini is known by many names throughout the world. The stangest name though is "taitcat".  I've never heard that name before and do not know anything about its origin. 

History:

Originating in the Mediterranean and also in China , it is actually a descendant from a wild herb.  It is one of the most popular vegetables among the Chinese.  It is probably the most popular vegetable in Hong Kong and is also widely used in the western world.  Today rapini is grown in California, Arizona, New Jersey, Quebec, and Ontario.  

My Story:

Growing up I had heard of "Broccoli rabe".  I never heard the name "Rapini" until later in the supermarket.  Broccoli rabe was not something was my mother cooked.  I guess my parents weren't fond of its bitterness.  When thinking about Broccoli rabe, I always think of my cousin, Bobby.  Actually, he was a butcher by trade,  but after many years with a butcher shop he expanded into produce as well.   He would prepare Broccoli rabe.  It was great. 

Health Benefits:

Broccoli rabe is nutrient dense and has many health benefits.  Here are some of the claims made for Broccoli rabe:  It slows aging, strengthens bones, decreases risk of hypertension, lessens inflammation, prevents cancer, Alzheimers, strokes, and birth defects. Rapini has cancer preventing properties due to bioactive compounds called sulforaphanes.  These phytonutrients may protect agains cancers of the stomach, lung, esophagus, colon, and breast.  It also contains lutein, a phytonutrient that protects the retina of the eye from oxidative damage and may slow the progression of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Season:

Rapini is grown throughout the world, and is available all year long, but its peak season in the Northern Hemisphere is fall to spring. 

Selecting and Storing:

Choose rapini with large dark green leaves that are crisp, upright, and not wilted.  Avoid ones with leaves that are wilted  yellowing, or have dark green patches of slime.  Refrigerate rapini  unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag for up to 3 days. 

Using:

The tough stem bottoms of rapini are easily removed before cooking.  Blanching for one minute will reduce bitterness.  Rapini can be steamed, saute'ed, stir fried, or braised.  It combines well with pasta and rice.  To prepare remove the tough bottoms of the stem, about a half inch, and rinse.  Cut crosswise into two inch pieces.  Drop into salted boiling water for one to two minutes.  Remove from water with a slotted spoon.  Saute the blanched rapini in olive oil and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes until tender.   It can be mixed with any number of things ( onions, tomatoes, sausage, etc)  and used as a side dish or as a topping for pasta.


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

Simple but Good:

Rapini with Garlic and Red Pepper

Salt and black pepper to taste
1 bunch rapini
2 TBS olive oil
2 - 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/8 - 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Have a large bowl of ice watger ready.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Salt the water generously.  Add the rapini and cook for 2 minutes.  Using tongs transfer the rapini to the ice water and let it cool.  Drain well in a colander
In a large non-stick saute' pan over medium heat warm the olive oil.  Add the garlic and saute' until golden brown (45-60 seconds).  Add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (20 seconds). Add rapini and cook until heated through ((1-2 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

<(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash:

About:

Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) is a type of winter squash with a sweet nutty taste similar to a pumpkin.  It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp.  When it ripens it turns increasingly deep orange and becomes sweeter and richer.  Although a fruit butternut squash is used as a vegetable. 

History:

Modern day squash developed from the wild squash that originated in an area between Guatemala and Mexico.  While squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years it was originally cultivated for its seeds.  Christopher Columbus brought back squash to Europe from the New World.

My Story:

I remember having butternut squash as a kid.  My mother would have it every once in a while.  She would buy it frozen.  It came in a brick and you would defrost and cook it in a saucepan.  I don't remember any other winter squash coming frozen like that.  At any rate it was always a treat to have.  I still enjoy butternut squash  and buy it whenever it's at a good price. 

Uses:

Butternut squash can be roasted, toasted, pureed for soups or mashed and used in casseroles, bread, and muffins.  In Australia it is regarded as a pumpkin and is used interchangeable with other types of pumpkin.

Nutrition:

Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.  It is also an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

Health Benefits:

Butternut squash, as a winter squash, has outstanding antioxidant benefits.  No other single food provides a greater percentage of certain carotenoids than winter squash.  The same properties that make cucurbitacins potentially toxic to some animals and microorganisms make it effective as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory when we consume them in winter squash.
Many studies suggest that increasing consumption of plant foods like butternut squash decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and overall mortality while promoting a better complexion and increased energy and overall lower weight.

Season:

Butternut squash is available year round.  The peak season is September through March.

Selecting and Storing:

Select butternut squash that are firm, heavy for their size, and have dull, not glossy rinds.  Avoid soft rinds and any signs of decay.  Winter squash can be kept for a week up to 6 months.  It should be kept away from exposure to direct light and should not be subjected  to extreme heat or extreme cold.


Preparation:

 One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is to roast it.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise (You can put the whole squash in the microwave for one minute to soften it a little, so it will be easier to cut.  Remove the stem and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Lightly brush the cut sides with oil and put cut side down on a baking sheet.   Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees F.   The seeds are edible either raw or cooked.  The skin is also edible and softer when roasted.   If you prefer to remove the skin it  can be done with a vegetable peeler or knife. 


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

Simple but Good......

Roasted Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash - peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garalic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss butternut squash with olive oil and garlic in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet.
Roast in preheated oven until squash is tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.


amzn_assoc_ad_type = "contextual"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "fruita0f-20"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_placement = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = ""; amzn_assoc_fallback_products = ""; amzn_assoc_width = "300"; amzn_assoc_height = "250";

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cardoon Revisited

Cardoon Revisited:

About:

Cardoon is a Mediterranean vegetable closely related to the artichoke which is cultivated for its edible leafstalks and roots.  Cardoon is a naturally occurring  form of the same species as the globe artichoke.   The cardoon is also called artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni, or cardi. 

History:

 Cardoon is native to the western and central Mediterranean, where it was cultivated in ancient times.  The cardoon was popular in Greek, Roman, and Persian cuisine and remained popular in medieval and early modern Europe.  It was common in the vegetable gardens of colonial America, but fell from fashion in the late nineteenth century.  Cardoons are a common vegetable in northern Africa and often used in Algerian or Tunisian couscous. Today cardoon is considered a weed in Australia and California because of its invasive nature and adaptability to dry climates.  Although not very popular today cardoons can be found in some supermarkets and farmer's markets, usually during the winter months.  Cardoon is harvested in the winter and spring.

My Story:

My first exposure to cardoon was working in a supermarket in Florida.   The box was marked "Cardone" and all the people in the produce department thought it was such a hoot when someone would come in around the holidays and ask for "cardooni's".  The sound of it kind of reminded me of "Father Guido Sarducci" from Saturday Night Live.  Cardoon was one of those items that you were required to carry, but you would be lucky to sell half the box before you had to throw it away.

Using:

Cardoons are only edible when cooked.  The taste has been described as a cross between artichoke and celery.  To cook, trim off any leaves or thorns and peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler to remove the indigestible outer fibers.  Cardoons discolor when cut so place cut pieces in cold water with lemon juice.  Cardoons can be braised, sauteed, boiled in soups and stews, or dipped in batter and deep fried.  One caveat though, depending on age they can take up to an hour to get soft and tender enough to eat. 
Cardoon has attracted attention recently as a possible source of bio diesel.  The oil extracted from the seeds of the cardoon is called artichoke oil and is similar to safflower and sunflower oil in composition and use.   Cardoons are used as a vegetarian source of enzymes for cheese production and are also grown as  ornamental plants for their imposing architectural appearance.   

Season:

Cardoon are available September to March.

Selecting and Storing:

Choose firm and very crisp cardoons with a touch of dew on them.  Discoloration of the cut end is normal.  To store cut in half crosswise and wrapped in a wet paper towel and put in a paper or plastic bag.  Refrigerate in the crisper for one to two weeks, but no longer.  Use the top half first.  Dried out cardoon is inedible.  

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


Simple but Good

Fried Cardoon

1/2 bunch of cardoon trimmed of leaves, thorns, and outer fibers, cut to 3 inch pieces
lemon juice for simmering water
egg, beaten
seasoned bread crumbs
canola oil for frying

Add lemon juice to pot of boiling water.   Add cut cardoons and boil for 15 to 30 minutes.  They are done when you can easily push the ridge flat with a fork.  Allow to cool then dip the flattened cardoon in the egg and then the breadcrumbs.  Fry until golden brown.  Remove to a piece of paper towel to drain excess oil.   Enjoy while warm. 





Thursday, November 5, 2015

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash:

About:

Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata) also called pepper squash or Des Moines squash is a winter squash with distinctive longitudinal ridges and sweet yellow-orange flesh.  Although considered to be a winter squash, it is the same species as all summer squash (including zucchini and yellow crookneck squash.  Acorn squash is often mistaken as a gourd.  
Most commonly dark green in color with a single splotch of orange on the side or the top.  Acorn squash can also be variegated (multicolored).  Its shape resembles an acorn giving it its name.  Typically the acorn squash weighs one to two pounds and is 4 to 7 inches long.  Acorn squash is good and hardy to save throughout the winter, keeping several months in a cool dry place, such as a cold cellar.  


History:

Indigenous to North and Central America, the acorn squash was introduced to early Europeans by Native Americans.

Nutrition:

Acorn squash is not as rich in beta-carotene as the other winter squashes, but is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamin C and B, magnesium, and manganese.  

Uses:

Acorn squash is most commonly baked, but can be microwaved, sauteed or steamed.  It may be stuffed with rice, meat, or a vegetable mixture.  The seeds of the squash can be eaten usually after being toasted.  The skin is also edible.

Season:

Available year round, the peak season is September through March. 

Selecting and Storing:

Select squash that is solid and heavy with dark green skin and some orange.  Avoid  squash with soft spots.  Store acorn squash in a cool dark place (like your pantry).


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


Simple but Good:


Roasted Parmesan Acorn Squash

cooking spray
1 acorn squash 
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. with a rack in the middle.  Coat a rimmed sheet pan with cooking spray.  
Trim ends of squash, and cut in half from stem to opposite end.  Scoop out seeds and pulp, and slice into 3/4 inch half moons.  Place half moons on the pan and drizzle with oil and rub to coat.   Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan.  Turn the squash over and repeat.  
Roast without turning until the squash is golden brown and tender (350to 40 minutes).

amzn_assoc_ad_type = "contextual"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "fruita0f-20"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_placement = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = ""; amzn_assoc_fallback_products = ""; amzn_assoc_width = "300"; amzn_assoc_height = "250";

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Brussels Sprouts Revisited



Brussels Sprouts Revisited:

About:

The Brussels sprout is a variety of cabbage grown for its edible buds.  The Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium and may have originated there.   Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables in the same family as collard greens, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi.  Brussels sprouts grow clustered on a thick stalk but are most often sold loose or packaged in pint size cartons. 


History:

Production of Brussels sprouts in the U.S. began in the 18th century, when French settlers brought them to Louisiana.  Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello.  

My Story:

What I remember about Brussels Sprouts in the supermarkets is they most often were packaged in one pound cup covered with cellophane.  After a time the outer leaves of the Brussels Sprouts would  begin to turn black.  We would open up the package and trim off the butt end the the dark leaves and re-package them for sale usually at a lower price. 

Health Benefits:

Brussels sprouts contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre.   They provide special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development  as well as cancer prevention.  These three systems are 1) the body's detox system, 2) its antioxidant system, and 3) its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system.   Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase the risk for cancer.   Brussels sprouts intake is most associated with the prevention of these cancers: bladder cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. 

Uses:

Brussels sprouts can be boiled, steamed, stir fried, grilled, or roasted.   As with many other healthful vegetables boiling results in significant loss of anti-cancer compounds.  Care should be taken to not over cook Brussels sprouts.  Over cooking will turn buds gray and soft, and then develop a strong flavor and taste that some people dislike. 

Season:

Brussels sprouts are available most of the year.  California is the largest producer of Brussels sprouts  in the U.S.  and they are available October through March.  Brussels sprouts are also grown on Long Island and upper New York state.  These can mostly be found on the market in the fall.  

Selecting and Storing:

Select fresh green sprouts free of wilt, yellowing, or spots.  Buy them on the stalk if you can.   Cut Brussels sprouts will keep in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to ten days.

Cooking:

 To cook rinse and remove any wilted or yellow leaves.  Score the stem ends with a knife.  Put into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook just until tender (about 7-10 minutes).   You can steam, which is actually preferred, just until tender (about  10-15 minutes).  Be careful not to overcook. 

Here are some common toppings or additions for Brussels sprouts:  balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, bacon, pistachios, pine nuts, mustard, brown sugar, and pepper.

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

Simple but good:

Dressed Brussels Sprouts:

1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1/4 cup shelled pecans
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional:  1 tablespoon dijon mustard; 1 tablespoon minced parsley

In a steamer let steam build up and then add quartered Brussels sprouts.
Let steam for 5 minutes.  Transfer sprouts to a bowl and add other ingredients and toss.  Serve warm. 


amzn_assoc_ad_type = "contextual"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "fruita0f-20"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_placement = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = ""; amzn_assoc_fallback_products = ""; amzn_assoc_width = "300"; amzn_assoc_height = "250";

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fall Fruits and Vegetablesfa



Fall Fruits and Vegetables:

 Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season for best quality and price.


 What to look for:

Here are the vegetables that are fresh in season during the fall:

Acorn Squash                                                   Endive
Arugula                                                            Hot Peppers
Belgian Endive                                                Jerusalem Artichokes
Broccoli                                                           Jicama
Brussels Sprouts                                              Kale
Butter (Bibb) Lettuce                                      Kohlrabi
Buttercup Squash                                            Pumpkin
Butternut Squash                                             Radicchio
Cauliflower                                                      Sweet Potatoes
Daikon Radish                                                 Swiss Chard
                                                                         Winter Squash


Here are the fruits that are fresh in season during the fall:

Asian Pears                                                       Kumquats
Cape Gooseberries                                            Passion Fruit
Cranberries                                                        Pears
Grapes                                                               Pomegranite
Huckleberries                                                    Quince




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

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
amzn_assoc_ad_type = "contextual"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "fruita0f-20"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_placement = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = ""; amzn_assoc_fallback_products = ""; amzn_assoc_width = "300"; amzn_assoc_height = "250";

Monday, October 26, 2015

Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Yams and Sweet Potatoes:

About:

Sweet potatoes and yams are completely different foods belonging to different plant families.   In most U.S. grocery stores you should assume you are purchasing  sweet potatoes, even if the sign says, "yams".  Government agencies have allowed the two terms to be used somewhat interchangeably on labeling.  The U.S.D.A.requires all sweet potatoes labeled as yams to be also labeled sweet potatoes.
 Sweet potatoes and yams both come in a variety of colors.  It is possible to find sweet potatoes and yams that look reasonably alike in terms of size, skin color, and flesh color.  Sweet potatoes are much more available in the U.S. than yams.  Yams are not as sweet as sweet potatoes.  They are usually longer and have a very different nutritional profile including not being as concentrated in carotenoid phytonutrients.   The sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the genuine yam, which is native to Africa and Asia, and belongs to a different botanical family.  The sweet potato's large starchy, sweet tasting tuberous roots are, of course, a root vegetable.  The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens.


History:

 The origin and domestication of sweet potatoes is thought to be in either Central America or South America.  In Central America sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5000 years ago.  In South America sweet potato remnants dating back as far as 8000 BC have been found.    Today sweet potatoes are cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperature regions, wherever there is sufficient water to support growth. Sweet potatoes have been an important part of the diet in the U.S. for most of its history, especially in the southeast.   The sweet potato is North Carolina's state vegetable.   

My Story:

My father used to tell how, when he was a boy, he would make what he called a "Mickey" .  He would get an empty tin can and poke holes in it.  Then he would attach a wire handle to the top.  A lit piece of charcoal was then put in the can and then a sweet potato.  By swinging the can around by the handle he would fan the charcoal and cook the sweet potato.    It sounded fun, but the thing was I never cared for sweet potatoes as a kid.   I acquired the taste later in life.   My trick was when working in the supermarket in the evening by myself  I would use the hot plate on the wrapping machine to cook broken pieces of sweet potato that would otherwise be discarded. 

Health Benefits:

Besides simple starches, raw sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and beta-carotene, while having moderate contents of other micronutrients including vitamins B5, B6, manganese and potassium.  When baked small changes in micronutrient contenmt occur to include higher content of vitamin C and increase in polyphenol levels.   Anthocyanins and other color related pigments in sweet potatoes are valuable for their anti-inflammatory health benefits.   Sweet potatoes have the ability to improve blood sugar regulation - even in persons with type 2 diabetes.   Boiled or steamed sweet potatoes can carry a very reasonable glycemic index.  Recent research has shown extracts from sweet potatoes can significantly increase blood levels of adiponectin, which is an important modifier of insulin metabolism.

Using:

Try sweet potatoes  boiled, roasted, pure'ed, steamed, baked or grilled.  Add to soups and stews or grill and place on top of leafy greens. 


Season:

Sweet potatoes  are availble year round in the store fresh and in cans.

Selecting and Storing:

  Avoid fresh sweet potatoes in June and July as they have been in storage for almost a year.  Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have cracks, bruises of soft spots.   Avoid those that are stored in the refrigerated case as cold negatively alters their flavor.  Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark and well ventilated place  where they will keep fresh for up to 20 days. 

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

Simple but good:

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 pinch cayene pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place sweet potato chunks into a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle olive oil, then sprinkle other ingredients over the top.  Toss to coat.  Spread on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn over with a spatula and continue baking until golden and tender, 10 - 15 minutes more.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
amzn_assoc_ad_type = "contextual"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "fruita0f-20"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_placement = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = ""; amzn_assoc_fallback_products = ""; amzn_assoc_width = "300"; amzn_assoc_height = "250";

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Currants:

About:

Zante currants, Corinth raisins, or Corinthian raisins, also called simply currants are dried berries of the small, sweet, seedless grape variety called "Black Corinth"(Vitis vinifera).  All forms of currants are deciduous shrubs , fast growing under optimum conditions.  
In the U.S. there is confusion as to what is a currant, what is a Zante currant, and are raisins the same as currants.   So called Zante currants, Zante raisins, or just "currants" without the Zante prefix are in fact dried grapes and have nothing to do with  real currants.  Grapes grow on vines and are sweet.  Currnats grow on bushes and are quite tart. 

Two Different Fruits callewd Currants:

1. The first resembling a small dark raisin is a seedless dried Zante grape (also called Champayne grapes) from the island of Zante off the coast of Greece.  In cooking this type of currant (like raisins) is used mainly in baked goods.

2.  The 2nd type of currant is a tiny berry related to the gooseberry.  These are black, red, or white currants.  The black ones are generally used for preserves, sysrups, and liqueurs (such as cossis), while the white and red are good for eataing out of hand, and such preparations as the famous French preserve bar-le-duc and using the red currants, cumberland sauce.


History:

The currant is one of the oldest known raisins.  The first written record was is A.D. 75 by "Pliny the Elder" who described a tiny, juicy, thick skinned grape in small bunches.  The first attempt to introduce the Black Corinth variety in the U.S.  was 1854.  The first successful vineyards of White and Red Corinth were in California in 1861.  Around 1901 David Fairchild of USDA imported high quality Black Currant cuttings from the Greek village Panariti.  Due to the popularity of Thompson Seedless grapes American production of the Black Curranat remained modest until the 1920's and 1930's  when their popularity  increased due to athe higher price they could bring and improved cultivation practices.Greece is the primary producer of currants at 80% of total world production. California, South Africa, and Australia share most of the remainder. 

Description:

Clusters of Black Corinth are small, round, and a reddish black color. The skin is very thin and the flesh is juicy and soft.  It is mostly seedless except for an occaisional large berry.  The fresh fruit of the Zante Currant s are very small and sweet with quick intense flavor.  Black Corinth, White Corinth, and Red Corinth are often marketed in the U.S. under the name "Champayne grapes" but despite the name they are not used to make champayne.  When dried they are used in cooking, especially baking and are a major ingredient in currant slice (or currant square) and currant cake in the U.K.  They are usually called simply "Currants" and are often used in scones, currant buns, Christmas cake,  Christmas pudding and mincemeat.

Nutrition:

Black currants are an excellant source of vitamin C.  They have small but significant amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta carotene, zea-zanthin, and crypto-xanthin levels.  Black curranats are rich in many essential vitanins such as vitamins B5, B6, and B1.  They contain good amounts of mineral iron and are a good source of important minerals such as copper, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and potassium which are essential for body metabolism.

Health Bemefits:

Black currants carry significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins.  Scientific studies suggest consumption of Black curranats can have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.

Season:

Fresh currants are in season June through August. 

Selecting and Storing:

Choose currants that are plump and without hulls.  Place currants in a tightly covered container and store up to 4 days./  Wash with cold water just before using. 

Using:

  • Sweet, and delicious red, pink and white varieties of currants can be consumed fresh or dried as snacks.
  • Tart, astringent quality black currants are favored in many culinary dishes, especially boiled and pureed, across Europe.
  • They give refreshing taste when added to fruit cocktails.
  • Black currants are being used in the preparation of muffins, pie fillings, and ice creams.
  • The berries can be used in food industry in preparation of sauce, jam, jelly.
  • The berries are also used in flavored drink preparation.


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

Simple but Good:

Couscous with Pistachio, Scallions, and Currants:

1/2 c. currants                               2 pinches cinnomon
1 1/2 c. chicken broth                   6 TBS olive oil
2 TBS butter                                 1/2 c. sliced scallions
1 c. couscous                                1/2 c. pistachios
3 TBS lemon juice                        2 TBS parsley



In a small bowl cover currants with hot water.  Let sit and plump for 15 minutes.  In a saucepan heat the chicken brothand butter to a boil.  Stir in couscous.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 - 10 minutes.  Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, cinnamon, and olive oil.  When couscous is done, transfer to a bowl and break up lumps with a fork.  Drain currants and add.  Stir in scallions, pistachios, and parsley.  Toss with dressing and serve. 

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
amzn_assoc_ad_type = "contextual"; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "fruita0f-20"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_placement = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "OZL7KATSDNEQZ7CN"; amzn_assoc_emphasize_categories = ""; amzn_assoc_fallback_products = ""; amzn_assoc_width = "300"; amzn_assoc_height = "250";