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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 – 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

Aug. 2014 Book of the Month – Eating on the Wild Side

The Clean Eating August 2014 Book of the Month is Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson. I give this book FIVE strawberries- an absolutely fascinating book.Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PM

Robinson examines the varieties of foods to determine which foods and which varieties are the healthiest. She also looks at the healthiest methods for preparation and when certain food need to be prepared in order to obtain the most nutrients.

When I first worked at the farmer’s market for Tomatero Organic Farms I remember learning about the three varieties of strawberries that we sold, Albion, Seascape, and Chandler. Each day customers would come up and ask about the berries and be shocked to learn that there was more than one type of strawberry. I would always explain that just like apples, all produce has multiple varieties. However, when we shop at the grocery store they generally only have one type of variety. The varieties that are chosen for grocery stores are varieties that ship and travel well, last a fairly long time, and that look appealing to customers. You might think that all produce should look appealing, and I agree, but let me give you one example. The Rosas variety of strawberry (another variety that Tomatero has sold over the years) is a pink berry. Most customers think it is underripe because it is pink, but that isn’t the case, that is just the characteristics of that variety type. That is just one example of how certain produce doesn’t fit our “standards” of looking appealing. [These are my very favorite Strawberry variety, by the way. If you find them, I highly recommend that you try them.]

In Eating on the Wild Side, You’ll learn that sweet potatoes aren’t in the potato (nightshade) family but in the morning glory family, that drinking a glass of beet juice FullSizeRenderbefore a run will help you run longer (due to the naturally occurring nitrates), that the outer leaves on lettuces are the most healthy because they make the most chlorophyll, and that broccoli loses most of it’s phytonutrients within 24-hours of harvest – so grow your own or shop at the farmer’s market and look for it on ice.

There’s about million more gems like these in the book, so take a look for yourself and learn how to eat on the wild side.

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie

 

 

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Plums

I have very fond childhood memories of eating all the fruit growing up. My grandfather grew up on a farm in Lake Huron, MI. When the Essenmacher clan moved to California, he set up a bountiful backyard garden. Among the many things that he grew were plums. The plum tree was nestled next to my childhood swing set. I still love plums to this day and I’ll give my grandparents all the credit for my fruit addiction. IMG_0281

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that readers roast plums with pistachios or try making an Asian plum sauce. While I can easily eat about a half dozen fresh farmer’s market or backyard plums, I do like the idea of cooking the fruit. I’m particularly fond of grilled stone fruit served over some vanilla ice cream.

Food Facts:

  • Wild varieties pack the most nutrients. Look for red, purple, black, or blue plums because they will have more phytonutrients, especially anthocyanins.
  • Plums should be ripened on the the tree and can be susceptible to chilling injury.
  • Plums are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, K, fiber, potassium, and copper.
  • Plums and prunes (or dried plums as they are now being referred to in order to boost their popularity) are known for their laxative effects.
  • Their content of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids [phenols] has been documented to have antioxidant and anticancer properties.

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 Laura Pizzorno, 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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Mexican Style Coleslaw [GF, Paleo, Primal, Vegetarian]

Weekly shopping trips to the farmer’s market are my inspiration for the week’s menu. Some people plan their meals around what’s on their shopping list, but I go to the farmer’s market to see what produce is in season and let that guide my weekly meal planning. Then I head to grocery store to pick up whatever else I need for the week’s meals. I realize this may seem backwards to many, but eating seasonally is my thing, so you’re probably not too surprised! 😉

This past week, there were the cutest little heads of cabbage for one dollar each. I decided coleslaw would make a great accompaniment to the Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs from The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally.

I always make my own paleo mayonnaise, but I remembered that I recently got a free jar of Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Avocado Mayo from Thrive Market. I was feeling a bit lazy and not wanting to make my own mayo, especially when I had a perfectly good paleo mayo on hand. I decided I would “make it work”.  Then I had a lightbulb moment: what if I made a coleslaw that had a Mexican flare to it? And thus Mexican style coleslaw was born. This coleslaw was much, much better than simply “making it work”. I have made this huge batch of coleslaw 3 times in the span of one week. My husband looks at me with a big goofy grin when he eats it, because it is just that good. It was also a HUGE hit at our Father’s Day picnic at the winery. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Recipe:

FullSizeRender1 small head of purple cabbage, sliced

1 small head of green cabbage, sliced

6 stalks of celery, grated

6 medium carrots, grated

1 small jicama, grated

1 medium yellow onion, grated

1 cup Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup raw local honey

1 t cumin

1 t chili powder

1 t cayenne pepper

2 t garlic sea salt

1 lemon, juiced

freshly cracked pepper

the zest of one lemon

minced chives, for garnish

 

Directions:

  1. I prefer using a food processor to grate and slice my veggies. It makes making a big batch of coleslaw that much easier. But feel free to slice and grate your veggies however you like. 🙂
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the veggie ingredients. (Reserve the chives and lemon zest.)
  3. In a small bowl, whisk mayo, vinegar, mustard, honey, and herbs and spices. Add the lemon zest.
  4. Stir the dressing onto the coleslaw and top with chives.
  5. Serve and Enjoy!

Serves 12-16

 

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie

 

In Season, in June

Well, this post is later than I had planned, but better late than never! Summer is in full swing here in Northern California and it has been quite warm. School is out, the days are long, sunny, and beautiful, and the bounty of produce options leaves me like that heart googly eyed emoji. IMG_5957

Now we have herbs like basil in season. And. Then. Blueberries. I literally can’t get enough of them. Next up is corn. I know most people LOVE corn, and I while I do like it, I almost never eat or buy it. If I do, it absolutely must be organic. Once we went paleo, it was one of those things that I just didn’t feel the urge to splurge. I am also very excited that it is now raspberry  and nectarine season. And that summer squash will be coming to a zoodler near you! Here is the Spiralizer that I use to turn my zucchini into “noodles”:  Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiral Slicer, Strongest-Heaviest, Best Veggie Pasta Spaghetti Maker for Low Carb/Paleo/Gluten-Free Meals.

Happy June! Enjoy the bounty from the farmer’s market!! Or join a CSA!

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie