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. Jennifer Tyler Lee also recommends Asian cucumber salad, minty cucumber salad, and cucumber tea sandwiches. All of which sound great!
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.
While 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?
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.
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 love 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.)
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.
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.
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 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!
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 exciting 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?
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.
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 picked 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.
Welp, I’ve fallen off the wagon. The “post a new food each week” wagon. But this week I’m getting back on the wagon. Rather than trying to play catch up for about 2-3 months worth of foods, I’m just going to start with the current food of the week: PEACHES!!
Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that you grill peaches (I’ve done this: YUM!), make peach ice cream, or try making fruit leather. Recently I made some paleo turkey meatballs with Thai chili and peach jam. Jim said, “the peaches are what make this dish!”.
A little background: I started this challenge to encourage myself, a notoriously picky eater, to try and to LIKE more foods. This is my first post on the blog, but I’ve been posting these since December 2014 on my Facebook page and my Instagram page. I was a very picky eater as a kid, and although, I’m much less picky now, there are still more vegetables that I would like to ENJOY eating. From personal experience, I’ve found that the more often that I am exposed to a vegetable, the more I like it. This has been my experience with Kale, Beets, Tomatoes, and Cilantro.
Peaches and nectarines are identical except for one gene – the “fuzziness” gene (it also happens to affect a couple of other minor traits)
Nectarines can spontaneously appear on peach trees and vice versa (WOW!)
Stone fruits, including peaches, are picked when unripe and continue ripening after being picked but if not kept in ideal conditions, they become mealy, brown, leathery, or dry. This is what causes most conventional grocery store peaches to leave people feeling disappointed. (read: buy your peaches at the farmers’ market)
White-fleshed peaches and nectarines have more antioxidants than yellow-fleshed peaches and nectarines
The white-fleshed fruits are also sweeter
Peaches and nectarines are consistently on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, so you should buy organic and eat the skins (it is the most nutritious part)
Peaches and nectarines are good sources of vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, niacin, and copper. Peaches are also a good source of vitamin K and manganese
Good source of fiber
High in antioxidants – especially carotenoids and flavonoids (white-fleshed have less carotenoids)
Peach extract has been shown to inhibit breast cancer cell growth
They help to protect against Heart Disease, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Registered Dietician or Medical Doctor. As such, I do NOT provide medical nutrition services, or diagnose and treat disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life. I advise people with existing medical problems to consult with medical doctors. I shared evidence-based health information, whether to class participants, wellness counseling client sessions, or on this website.