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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Cucumbers

I have always loved cucumbers. I find their crunchy texture and mild and refreshing flavor irresistible. It always baffles me that there are people out there that don’t like them (ahem…you know who you are ;-). I’m a HUGE fan of pickles (I’ll thank my Essenmacher roots for that!) and I love cucumbers on salads (green salads, pasta salads, etc.). I’ve also had refreshing cucumber waters and cucumber cocktails. JeIMG_0531nnifer Tyler Lee also recommends Asian cucumber salad, minty cucumber salad, and cucumber tea sandwiches. All of which sound great!

Food Facts:

  • Seventy percent of the US pickle crop is made into pickles.
  • Cucumbers are composed mostly of water, making them a very refreshing option during summer.
  • The flesh contains vitamins A and C and folic acid, while the skin is rich in fiber and contains the minerals silica, potassium, magnesium, and molybdenum. [My thoughts on peeling vegetables: peeling them is just extra work AND it takes away vital nutrients, so no thanks.]
  • Good source of vitamin K and B5, phosphorous, copper, and manganese.
  •  Cucumbers belong to the same family as melons, summer squash, and winter squash.
  • Have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Are a good source of flavonoids, lignans, and triterpenes.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and whfoods.com.

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Basil

basil in bowl 1000pxWhile working at the Campbell Farmer’s Market, basil was always a top seller for Tomatero. Tomatoes, strawberries, and basil always brought folks to the booth. In fact, one of my coworkers would often wave some basil through the air to release the scent to help lure them in like Yogi Bear. I love basil. I like making traditional caprese salads, basil pesto, and my awesome sister-in-law Amy, makes a watermelon caprese salad (watermelon subs nicely for tomatoes for those avoiding nightshades). Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests trying a nut free pesto – using sunflower seeds or adding fresh peaches and basil to ice cream! YUMMMY! What’s your favorite use for basil?

Food Facts:

  • Sweet basil is the variety that we typically eat, however Holy basil or tulsi is a variety that is coveted for its medicinal purposes and is native to India.
  • Excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C and maganese.
  • It is rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids.
  • Basil’s essential oils are antifungal and antimicrobial and have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
  • It is also an anti-inflammatory and can be used to support conditions where inflammation is a factor.
  • Basil should be stored with stems in a glass of water on the counter. Putting basil in the fridge turns it black.
  • There are more than 60 varieties of basil.
  • It belongs to the mint family.
  • Some of the major medicinal uses include: digestive support, a mild sedative, headache relief, kidney support, poor circulation, and intestinal spasms.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Green Onions

Green onions probably aren’t anything new for many of us, but they are an essential ingredient in all types of cuisine. I don’t mind onions raw, I lovgreen onions matte 4-1000pxe them cooked, and I ADORE them caramelized. I realize that not everyone feels this way about onions, especially children. Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests including them in omelets or even making savory green onion pancakes. I like the idea of using them to make savory pancakes, but choosing a grain free flour for the pancakes, rather than whole wheat flour. (You probably know my stance on wheat, but if not, check out this post.)

Food Facts:

  • Onions are members of the allium family, like garlic and leeks.
  • Smaller onions have less water and a greater concentration of phytonutrients.
  • The sweeter the onion, the less phytonutrient activity.
  • The Western Yellow variety of onion has the most antioxidants
  • The papery skin layer of the onion has the most concentration of bionutrients. And while we don’t eat that part of the onion, it should be saved and added to homemade broth.
  • Onions are a rich source of the antioxidant quercetin. This phytonutrient is vital to support digestion and gut issues.
  • The antioxidant values in onions have been shown to prevent cancer
  • Onions have also been shown to fight against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
  • Good source of vitamins C and B6, potassium, and manganese.
  • Onions have been also been shown to support the respiratory system and fight coughs and congestion.
  • The sulfur in onions (and all alliums) is great for liver detoxification.

From: The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard, and Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson.

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Salmon

Salmon is my most favorite fish. I’ve loved it since I was a kid. My uncle John would go out fishing and always bring home plenty of salmon to share. Often, he would smoke the salmon and this was my very favorite treat. It’s like I had arrived in healthy heaven. Today it is still my favorite, along with halibut.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests a sesame crusted salmon, which sounds delicious. She also suggests a recipe for crispy salmon chips (salmon skin) which intrigues me!

Planked Alaskan salmon and asparagus

Food Facts:

  • Always opt for wild salmon. Its nutrient values are far superior to that of farmed salmon. Wild salmon has 20% higher protein content and 20% lower fat content as compared to farmed salmon.
  • The chinook and sockeye varieties of salmon are fattier than ono, pink, and chum.
  • Salmon is a great source of potassium, selenium, niacin, phosphorus, thiamine, folate, riboflavin, and magnesium, and vitamins B5, B6, B12, C, and E.
  • Great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Wild salmon has a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats.
  • Cold-water fish, like salmon, have been shown to protect against heart disease, alzheimer’s disease, and many types of cancer.
  • Salmon is good for combatting inflammation.
  • It has also been shown to help prevent against depression.
  • It is a great protein source for detoxification of the liver. [aka Love your liver with salmon.]

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Sunflower Butter

Sunflower butter or sunbutter is a great option for those that are allergic to nuts but can tolerate seeds. It has a great peanut-y flavor. As with all nuts and seeds, I recommend opting for organic because fat is where the toxins (herbicides) are stored. I also generally recommend raw nuts and seeds because roasting can damage the fragile fats and is often used to hide the rancidity of nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds have a season when they are fresh, just like all fruits and veggies. Choosing raw allows you to know that the nuts and seeds are still fresh. Although, raw and organic nut butters are CRAZY expensive (like $12-$25 for a fairly small jar). You can certainly make your own. Add the nuts or seeds to a food processor and turn it on. Once they become the right consistency, turn off and store in a jar (in the fridge to slow the oxidation process). Some people add salt, sugar, or oil to it. Feel free to experiment away!

Jennifer Tyler Lee, like many parents, was looking for a nut-free alternative for her children while at school. She suggests using it as you would peanut butter…ants on a log and apple slices dipped in sunbutter. She also suggests a no bake snack called Bitty Bites. I would obviously sub out the whole wheat flour for a grain-free option like cassava flour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFood Facts:

  • Good source of vitamins B1, B5, B6, and E, folate, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron, and protein.
  • Sunflower seeds contain phytochemicals, especially phytosterols, which can help to lower blood cholesterol.
  • They are a great source of monounsaturated fats (24 grams per 1/3 cup serving).
  • Sunflower seeds also contain arginine an essential amino acid that is important during periods of growth.
  • Contain heart healthy compounds.
  • Have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiallergenic.

 

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.

 

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Rhubarb

My mom talks about growing up in Michigan and picking rhubarb from their backyard garden, sprinkling it with salt, and munching on it. I believe there was also a backyard swing involved in that story, although I could be merging two stories together. The first time that I tried rhubarb, the taste reminded me of picking sour grass with my grandma as a child. Like many people, I have also tried it in strawberry rhubarb pie. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends a strawberry rhubarb crisp or rhubarb ice pops (YUM!). Additional ideas for use include in sweet fruit breads, rhubarb syrup, and rhubarb mojitos (!!!!!). I like sour things, so I imagine that I would like it chopped in a salad with other raw veggies. How do you use rhubarb?

Food Facts:

  • rhubarbThe leaves of the plant are poisonous. The stalks are the edible part of the plant.
  • It can be used to help constipation.
  • It has been shown to have anticancer effects in lab studies.
  • It is rich in lycopene and can be supportive in preventing heart disease.
  • It has vitamins K and C and calcium, potassium, and manganese.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • It is an early spring plant – one of the first to grow, especially in colder regions.
  • Choose firm stalks when harvesting or purchasing.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Wikipedia, and The Pioneer Woman.

 

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Cherries

Well this post will be up just in time for cherry season to be over :(. Cherry season typically starts near the end of May and goes through late June/early July.  But better late than never! Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that folks dehydrate them, making “Sour Cherry Blasters” or make them into a cherry compote to accompany vanilla ice cream. Cherries are not one of my favorite fruits, but I will enjoy them raw. While I do think they are tasty, I just like other stone fruit better.

Food Facts:

  • Sour (tart) cherry juice can be used to help improve sleep and has been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease and and diabetes.
  • Cherries are a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, copper, and manganese.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Both sour and sweet cherries have been shown to reduce inflammation.cherries
  • Cherries have also been reported to reduce Gout attacks.
  • Sour cherries are lower in calories than sweet cherries.
  • They are a rich source of flavonoids, especially anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins.
  • Cherries were one of the first fruits to be brought to the “new world”.
  • One study found that runners that drank Montmorency cherry juice (one glass before the race and one glass during the race) were less sore afterwards because of the ability of the cherries to help with muscle recovery.
  • Fresh cherries are firm, shiny, and lack dents, pits, or bruises. They also have bright green stems. The fresher the cherry, the more nutrients!
  • Store cherries in the fridge and eat them quickly!

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murry, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planetby Tonia Reinhard, and Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson.

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In Season, in July

July is here! I love July because it truly symbolizes summer for me. Although, this July I do have to work for a couple of weeks, generally, for teachers, July is the only month of year where there is actually no school. The other reason I love July is because all the wonderful fruit and vegetable options available in July.

Figs are top of my list of IMG_5958exciting fruits this month! And everyone loves when toma
to season is here! I’m looking forward to caprese salads this summer – it brings me back to Italy! Yum! What are you looking forward to this July?

 

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie

July 2014 Book of the Month – AntiCancer

July’s Clean Eating book of the the month: Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PHD. In the wake of my Breast Cancer diagnosis in 2014, I read as many books on cancer as I could get my hands on. I’m sure I’m not alone here. Anticancer was by far my favorite.  In this *five strawberry* book, Servan-SchreibScreen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PMer tells readers what they can do to help keep cancer at bay, keep it from coming back, or to surpass a not-so-optimistic prognosis.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber helps to bridge the gap between what the oncologists are telling patients and what they aren’t telling patients – like what cancer patients can do to help themselves. This is what people diagnosed with a disease want desperately to hear – give them some control and power when they feel like they have no control and no power over this situation. He is an MD and a PHD and a two-time brain cancer survivor- so this isn’t quackery here!

In Anticancer, Dr. Servan-Schreiber details his cancer story (or stories, I should say), studies about patients, and several main recommendations. Those recommendations are: 1) eat a diet that includes lots of plants, high-quality meats, low in sugar, low in refined carbs, and low in poor-quality fats, 2) supporting a healthy state of mind through meditation, 3) avoiding the fear hamster wheel by attending support groups, and lastly 4) getting enough exercise.

FullSizeRender-1Servan-Schreiber tells readers that “[c]ancer lies dormant in all of us. Like all living organisms, our bodies are making defective cells all the time. That’s how tumors are born. But our bodies are also equipped with a number of mechanisms that detect and keep such cells in check.” This quote instills a bit a fear in me, knowing that cancer can be happening to all of us, all the time, BUT it also inspires hope because it empowers each of us to know that we have the power to make changes in our bodies and our futures.

A great read for anyone working to avoid cancer in their lifetime, anyone with cancer, cancer survivors, or caregivers. Anticancer gives readers the feeling of some control and power in battling this disease. Highly recommended for everyone!

 

March 2014 Book of the Month – Cooked

The March Clean Eating book of the month is Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan. I give this book 5 out of 5 Strawberries!Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PM
It’s no secret that I have a food crush on Michael Pollan. I often call him my food guru. I write about how he convinced me to try eating meat again in The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals in this post. I realize that it’s not much of a surprise that I liked his most recent book, as I have liked all of his books. Although the picture of pasta on the cover did make me question whether or not this would be the first of Pollan’s books that I would not like ;-).  Allow me to share the reasons why I really liked Cooked.
The goal of this book is to help you see the value of cooking food for yourself in a world of short cuts, fast food restaurants, and microwaves. The book is organized into four parts: Fire, Water, Air, Earth. Part of what I love about Cooked is that Pollan takes a historical and cultural look into how humans have fed themselves since the beginning. Additionally he takes what he has learned and then tries it out for himself in his own kitchen. You gotta love a guinea pig!

The section on Air is really a section on fermentation and bacteria. He discusses the work of Sandor Katz [pretty much the godfather of fermentation, his bible is The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World] and he discusses the work of Sister Noella Marcellino, a raw cheesemaker and holds a Ph.D. in microbiology. perhaps I found this section the most fascinating because of my studies and work as a nutrition consultant. Here is quote showing the immense importance and need for probiotics in our diet: “Probiotics-beneficial bacteria ingesIMG_0421ted either in fermented foods or in supplements- have been shown to: calm the immune system and reduce inflammation; shorten the duration and severity of colds in children; relieve diarrhea and irritable bowl syndrome; reduce allergic responses, including asthma; stimulate the immune response; possibly reduce the risk of certain cancers; reduce anxiety; prevent yeast infections; diminish levels of E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle and salmonella in chickens; and improve the health and function of the gut epithelium. (Pollan, 2013, p.335)”.

I hope you’ll check out this book and the Cooked four part series on Netflix.