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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 – Strawberries

The 52 New Foods Challenge Food of the Week: Strawberries

This is the most exciting of all the foods and it’s likely not new for most people. There is just something about strawberries that I just can’t get enough of. For me, berries also mean summer. Ahhhhhhh. I’m pretty much a snob about my berries though…I only eat fresh berries when they are in season and I only buy them from Tomatero Organic Farm in Watsonville, CA. I choose Tomatero for three reasons: 1) They are local and organic. Organic is a big deal with strawberries as they absorb many of the pesticides that are sprayed on them and they are consistently on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen. 2) They grow several varieties of strawberries, all of them great, but this season I have been loving the Sweet Anne. 3) Also, I used to slang berries for them at local farmer’s markets for four years. You know, the whole “know the farmer” idea. 4) They are the best!!!! (I know, I said three reasons 😉

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests serving strawberry sauce on pancakes instead of syrup. I LOVE that idea. I also had sliced strawberries in a turkey sandwich with arugula (think: turkey and cranberry sauce) at an amazing place called Centrally Grown in Cambria, CA.

Food Facts:

  • Wild berries and heirloom varieties have more nutritional value and more phytonutrients.
  • Strawberries do not continue to ripen after they have been harvested, so should be strawberries cut 1000pxpicked ripe. This also means that if your strawberry has traveled some distance to arrive to you, they are being picked when only three-quarters ripe.
  • Underripe strawberries are less nutritious than fully ripe berries. (Maybe we should all just grow our own, huh?)
  • Most supermarket berries are large, firm, white-fleshed, and hollow. This variety has been chosen because of their ability to travel well and last longer. There are many other varieties with other flavor profiles, softer textures, pink flesh, and juicy. I HIGHLY encourage you to go the farmers market and taste them all.
  • Jo Robinson, of Eating on the Wild Side, suggests that consumers up their standards for produce, especially for berries, so that the stores will have to supply higher quality produce (ripe, not moldy, flavorful, etc.).
  • Organic berries offer more of an anti-cancer effect than conventional berries.
  • The antioxidant activity of berries increases when left out at room temperature. The antioxidants contained in strawberries include: ellagic acid, anthocyanin, catechin, quercetin, and kaempferol.
  • They help to fight against inflammation, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Good source of vitamin C, folate, and manganese. They are also rich in vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Good source of fiber.

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, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Blueberries

This is probably the most exciting time of year for someone that LOVES fruit and that tries to eat by the seasons. Plus, I have two blueberry bushes and they are exploding with blueberries right now. Since I live in California, my blueberry bushes last year weren’t very prolific. The rain this season has been significantly better but we also started collecting the water from when we’re letting it warm up to take showers. Moral of the story: lots and lots of blueberries, which equals a super happy Katie.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that blueberries are a gateway food for kids because they are willing to try blueberries and therefore step outside their food comfort zone. She has recipe for a Cinnamon-Blueberry Sauce that would be great on ice cream, pancakes or waffles, or CREPES!!!! Yum!

Food Facts:

  • blueberries cropped 1 1000pxBlueberries have a shelf life of about two weeks – freeze whatever you can’t eat. Frozen berries are almost as nutritious as fresh berries. Ideally they are “flash frozen”.
  • Great source of vitamin C, K, manganese, and fiber.
  • Contain flavonoid antioxidants such as: anthocyanins, kaempferol, and stilbenes.
  • The antioxidant content of blueberries helps to counterbalance free radical damage and the inflammatory response.
  • High intake has been associated with lower risk of ovarian cancer, lung cancer risk in smokers, reduced anxiety, depression, and inflammation.
  • Risk of dementia decreased with an increased weekly consumption of blueberries and strawberries.
  • Aronia berries, a relative of modern blueberries, have nearly 5 times the antioxidant value of our most nutritious modern blueberry.
  • Blueberries are also known for their ability to lower blood pressure, reduce arterial plaque, and prevented obesity in rat studies.
  • Cooked blueberries are actually more nutritious than raw berries because the cooking process makes the antioxidants more bioavailable (easier for your body to use).
  • Dried blueberries are less nutritious than fresh berries.

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.

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Asparagus

The 52 New Foods Challenge Food of the Week: Asparagus

The first spring food for our challenge! (That puts me at least a couple week behind!) Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests roasting asparagus or adding them to a frittata. A couple of weeks ago, when I found them at my favorite vendor at my local farmers market for the first time this season, I decided to make cream of asparagus soup. The recipe I had called for heavy cream, but I decided to paleo-ify it by using cashew cream instead. It was great! I’ll be making it again!asparagus(2) 2 -1500px

Food Facts:

  • The season generally starts in March and only is a few months long, so I rarely buy asparagus after spring is over
  • Asparagus is best cooked and served as soon as it is harvested, so growing your own is highly recommended. When purchased from the farmers market or store, cook within a few days
  • Shorter spears are up to ten times sweeter than spears that are 10+ inches long
  • Cooked asparagus is more nutritious than raw and steaming is the most nutritious way to cook it
  • Purple asparagus is more nutritious than green asparagus
  • Member of the lily family
  • Good source of vitamins A, C, and K, and potassium, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, manganese, and copper
  • Good source of fiber
  • Includes antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene
  • Considered to be a good prebiotic. Our digestive systems are home to billions of bacteria (when they are functioning well, that is) and the bacteria colony needs to prebiotics to thrive
  • Because of their high fiber content, they help to lower cholesterol
  • Asparagus has been shown to suppress the growth of liver cancer cell

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

 

Photo Credit: Laci Smith https://www.instagram.com/laciphotography/

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Black Beans

The 52 New Foods Challenge Food of the Week: Black Beans

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests making them in a slow cooker. Black beans are one if my favorite beans, but I love all beans. I have loved them since I was a kid but I am now discovering that they bother my gut. I have cut way back on the amount of beans I can eat. [Insert Sad Face here.] 5-black beans 1000 pixelsThis is our last winter food! Spring produce starts next week.

Food Facts:

  • Dried beans are very high in phytonutrients and black beans have are second only to lentils
  • Canned beans have a higher antioxidant value than home cooked beans (makes me feel good about almost never making home cooked beans!)
  • Good source of potassium, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, manganese, magnesium, zinc, calcium, copper, and omega-3s
  • Good source of fiber
  • When eaten with grains, beans make a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids
  • It helps protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes
  • Because of their high fiber content, they help to lower cholesterol and also prevent a rapid increase in blood sugar, making them great for people with hypoglycemia or insulin resistance
  • One study (Nurses’ Health Study II) showed that women that ate 2+ servings of beans or lentils each day had a 24% reduced risk of breast cancer. 

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

Photo Credit: Laci Smith https://www.instagram.com/lululuvtap23/

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Quinoa

The 52 New Foods Challenge Food of the Week: Quinoa

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests making savory quinoa cakes or a quinoa stuffing. When I make it plain, I use equal parts water, broth, and quinoa (usually one cup of each). I also made a great Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf that was delicious! My favorite quinoa was toasted with smoked trout from Nopa in SF. Seriously amazing!!

Food Facts:quinoa cup top view 1000pixels

  • Indigenous to South America
  • Not a member of the grass family, like other grains. It’s actually the seed of plant that is likely related to chard, beets, and spinach. The leaves of the plant are edible and very nutritive
  • High protein content compared to other grains
  • Good source of vitamins E and B6, and potassium, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, selenium, and copper
  • Good source of fiber
  • It helps protect against oxidative damage
  • Can be used instead of cornmeal for polenta or as a hot breakfast cereal
  • Contains antioxidants called polyphenols and flavonoids
  • Much less allergenic than grains
  • Persons that have had calcium oxalate containing kidney stones should limit their consumption of quinoa due to its moderate amounts of oxalate.

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

Photo Credit: Laci Smith https://www.instagram.com/lululuvtap23/