The 52 New Foods Challenge – Persimmons

Persimmons are not a “new” food for me, however, I’m not a big fan of them. This is probably the only fruit that I don’t really like. From what I gather, if you grew up eating them (probably because you had a tree in your yard – at here in silicon valley), you like them, if you didn’t grow up eating them, eh, no so much. You guessed it, I didn’t have a tree in my yard or in any of my relatives’ yards. And while I don’t have many recipes for using persimmons, I have made a seasonal salad at Thanksgiving that included persimmons, and it was delish!

Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends baking persimmons, making a persimmon cake, or making persimmon chips.

Food Facts:

  • Persimmons are a relative of the apple and the pear.
  • Good source of vitamins A, C, B6, E, and K,  maganese, potassium, and copper.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Persimmons contain antioxidant carotenoids, including: lycopene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and phenols.
  • Because of the nutrients they possess, persimmons are heart protective.
  • Studies have also shown that persimmons have an anti-viral effect.
  • In season in late fall and early winter.
  • A new study shows persimmons being used to combat breast cancer cells while not harming regular breast cells. This is due the content of fisetin, a flavonoid.
  • Originally from Asia.
  • There are two types of persimmons, astringent and non-astringent. The astringent persimmons are bitter when eaten raw.
  • Fuyu are best peeled and eaten raw and can be eaten while the fruit is still firm.
  • Hachiya are best used for baking. They are also commonly dried by hanging them from a string and allowing the sun to “candy” them.
  • Hachiya have an elongated shape and the Fuyu are short and stout.

From:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, http://blog.outoftheboxcollective.com/recipes/glorious-persimmons/ and http://foodfacts.mercola.com/persimmon.html.

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Pumpkin

It’s not surprising that I love pumpkin, it seems like most people do. However, I’m not a fan of pumpkin flavoring. I’ll be honest, that stuff is crap, and I avoid crap like the plague. So that means no Pumpkin Spice Latte or any of the other pumpkin flavored BS out there in the stores. I know, some of you are probably hating me right now. You’re entitled to your love of whatever you want, but just be real with yourself as to what’s in it and what effect it has on your body.

I like pumpkin savory dishes as well as pumpkin sweet things. We had the MOST EPIC pumpkin and seafood soup on our Honeymoon in Puerto Rico. I have made a few attempts to recreate the soup, but haven’t been able to do so. I LOVE pumpkin curry from Jasmine Thai, our local joint. My favorite sweet pumpkin treat surprisingly isn’t pumpkin pie. I KNOW! I have a recipe for pumpkin cookies that is AMAZING! So bread-like and scrumdiddlyumptious. I’m in the process of trying to paleo-ify the recipe. STAY TUNED!

Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie with a ginger spiced crust, and roasted pumpkin seeds with two different flavor profiles. I should also say I’m a huge sucker for homemade pumpkin seeds. It’s like crack to me.

Food Facts:

  • Member of the cucurbitaceae family.
  • Because of the thick skin, winter squashes, like pumpkin, can last in cold storage for up to six months.
  • The deep orange coloring is a sign that it contains high levels of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor.
  • Of all the winter squashes, pumpkin contains the most beta-carotene.
  • Foods rich in carotenoids, like beta-carotene have been shown to be protective against many cancers, especially lung cancer.
  • Carotenoid rich food is also protective against heart disease and the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Good source of vitamins B1, B5, B6, and C, and folic acid, niacin, potassium, and manganese.
  • Pumpkin has been shown to enhance immune activity in rodent studies.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies. This is another childhood favorite. My mom steamed it with butter and if you put butter on veggies, I’ll eat it. Now I love cauliflower roasted in butter. It’s simple and delicious. I also love cauli mash (instead of potatoes), cauli rice (here’s one of my favorite recipes), and cauli alfredo. It’s such a versatile veggie AND it’s good for you!!!

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that folks try roasted caulitflower – especially the purple variety or use a yogurt dip for raw cauliflower.

Food Facts:

  • Member of the Brassica/Cruciferous family.
  • White cauliflower is rich in glucosinolates, an important antioxidant.
  • Colorful varieties contain even more antioxidants than white cauliflower. For example, purple cauliflower, the graffiti variety, has two and a half more times the antioxidants than white cauliflower. 
  • It is believed that the white variety is actually an albino mutant from the more colorful varieties.
  • For fresh cauliflower, look for:
    • bright green leaves
    • no spots, speckles, or bruises
    • no traces of grey mold
  • It can be stored for about week in the fridge without compromising the nutrient value.
  • Steaming or sautéing the cauliflower will retain the most nutrients. Avoid boiling cauliflower.
  • Opt for fresh over frozen for the most nutrition.
  • Good source of vitamins B6, C, and K, folate, potassium, maganese, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Due to its sulforaphane content, it is veggie that is great for the liver.
  • Contains many anticancer properties.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Brussels Sprouts

B R U S S E L S  S P R O U T S ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hopefully that conveys my excitement for this fall and winter veggie. I could seriously have them nearly every day and still love them. But it wasn’t always that way. The first time I had Brussels sprouts was at my step sister’s wedding in 2009. I had avoided them for all of my childhood and well into my twenties. At the wedding, they were pretty boring, so I didn’t add them to my list of new favorites just yet. Then in 2010 I began working for Tomatero Organic Farm and in the fall we had Brussels. So I bought some and found a recipe in a cookbook for how to prepare them (roasted in butter and topped with bacon). And you know what? I LOVED them. From there on out, I was hooked!

Brussels Sprouts Vegetables Food Brussel Sprouts

Danielle Walker of Against All Grain has a great recipe and I have created my own favorite recipe too. Look for it soon! Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests Brussels Sprouts Chips, which surprisingly, I have yet to try! She also suggests roasting them with bacon [this is a very common way they are prepared] and also sautéed with lemon and walnuts.

VEGGIE TIP: If you aren’t on the Brussels bandwagon yet, it’s probably because these are DENSE little veggies and if not cooked through to the center, they aren’t very tasty. Using a food processor, try grating them or slicing them (my favorite). Now they will be cooked through and it won’t take an hour to chew them.

Food Facts:

  • Member of the brassica/cruciferous family.
  • Sinigrin and progoitrin and the bitter chemicals that are responsible for some folks distaste of Brussels sprouts.
  • Brussels kill more human cancer cells than any other member of the cruciferous family.
  • When shopping for brussels:
    • It’s important to buy them in season for less of a bitter flavor.
    • Brussels should be bright green with densely packed leaves.
  • Frozen Brussels have only 20% of the caner-fighting compounds as fresh Brussels.
  • Like broccoli and artichokes, Brussels respire rapidly, so refrigerate immediately and eat as soon as possible.
  • Steaming Brussels for 6-8 minutes will help them to retain the most nutrients (although that’s not how I like to cook them).
  • Great source of vitamin B6, C, and K, folic acid, beta-carotene,  thiamine, and potassium.
  • Rich in fiber.
  • Contain the antioxidant, glucosinolates, that help to fight cancer.

Sources:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Artichokes

Boy! It has been waaayyyy too long since I blogged last! But I am nearly done with blogging about The 52 New Foods Challenge, so even though it’s Winter now and these foods are from the Fall portion of the book, I’m just going to finish up! PLUS, here in Northern California (where the self-proclaimed Artichoke Capital of the World is located) artichokes are in season in March, April, and May, so I feel like it’s okay that we’re talking artichokes in February.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests grilling artichokes or steaming them with lemon butter. Honestly, I don’t really get artichokes. I’d like to get them, but I don’t. As a kid, I thought they were weird and avoided them like the plague. As a grown up, I’ve only had them a handful of times because I’m really sure that I’m doing it wrong. Am I supposed to be getting some meat off of these leaves?!?!? I think they taste fine, so I’m willing to keep trying them, but I’m still baffled.

Food Facts:

  • Native to Northern Africa.
  • We eat “… the leaflike bracts of the unopened flower” (Robinson, p.196, 2013).
  • Artichokes have been used historically for their liver protective properties. Recent studies have found that artichokes contain silymarin and cynarin, both liver protective compounds.
  • Artichokes have a higher ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – a measure of antioxidant capacity) value than any other modern fruit and vegetable.
  • A rich source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps to feed the probiotic colony in the gut.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • The Globe/French artichoke is the most nutrient dense variety.
  • In order to get the maximum nutrition from artichokes, they should be eaten as closet to harvesting as possible due to their high respiration rate.
  • To pick a fresh artichoke
    • Rub two together and they should squeak.
    • It should feel firm when you squeeze it.
  • Boiling artichokes is a great way to prepare them because it increases their antioxidant levels.
  • Steaming artichokes is the BEST way to prepare them – you get three times the antioxidant levels of boiled artichokes.
  • Good source of vitamins K and C, folate, potassium, lutein, niacin, riboflavin, and iron.

Sources:

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

 

Jan. 2017 – Book of the Month – The Great Cholesterol Myth

I first heard of The Great Cholesterol Myth when I was attending Bauman College. A fellow student had read the book when she was diagnosed with high cholesterol in her mid-20’s. She wasn’t satisfied with the idea of being on statins for the rest of her life. This peaked my interest and so when it was time to do research on a topic relating to heart health, I read the book. Several months after reading the book, I went to the Paleo F(x) conference and saw Jonny Bowden speak.

If you’ve ever been concerned about your cholesterol levels or if high cholesterol runs in your family, this is a must read. It was a fascinating read and paradigm-shifting book. And yet, the authors are able to break down this very complicated topic so that even the non-health nut, non-science-y folks can learn a great deal.

SPOILER ALERT: Rather than animal foods that are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats, the authors build a very strong case that processed foods, sugar, soda, trans fats, and vegetable oils are the main culprits in our SAD diet (Standard American Diet). They also suggest that lifestyle factors, like STRESS, need to be dealt with in order to keep cholesterol levels in healthy ranges. Another SPOILER ALERT: Bowden and Sinatra demonstrate what the pharmaceutical companies don’t want us to know: “…[c]holesterol is a relatively minor player in heart disease and a poor predictor of heart attacks” (p.31, Bowden & Sinatra, 2012).

I’ll leave you with these facts about cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol is a waxy steroid that is found in every cell membrane in your body.
  • Without sufficient levels of cholesterol in your diet, your body will make it (in the liver) because it is essential.
  • It is a building block for important structures such as sex hormones, bile, vitamin D, and it supports brain function, serotonin production, and it acts as an antioxidant.
  • It also helps to digest fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), insulates the nerves, and aids in fighting infection.

In the wise words of LeVar Burton, “of course, you don’t have to take *my* word for it.”

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Garlic

Well it’s hard to find folks out there that are not fans of garlic, although they do exist. I, however, am not one of them. There’s a garlic meme that I’ve seen floating out there garlicand just I had to include it for this post. It is me to a T. While garlic is not new to most any of us, there are always new and inventive ways to include this superfood in your diet. I include it in tomato sauces, in my bone broth, in stuffed peppers, Asian StyleTurkey Lettuce Wraps, and in the fresh gingered beets recipe that my husband loves (it can be found here:  Flavors of Health Cookbook), and in many, many more recipes. Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests roasting garlic because the flavor profile is more tolerable for kids. She also suggests making garlic mushroom toasts. (Again, I would opt for a gluten-free or paleo “bread” option instead of whole wheat toast. See this post for more on why.)

Food Facts:

  • Member of the lily family.
  • Because garlic has not be breed to be sweeter, larger, or milder tasting, it contains most of its “wild” nutrients.
  • All varieties of garlic are quite similar nutritionally.
  • Allicin is the active health ingredient in garlic and is a combination of alliin, the protein fragment, and alliinase, the heat-sensitive enzyme. When raw garlic is either cut, pressed, or chewed, these two ingredients are combined. It was discovered that by cooking the garlic immediately after slicing, the heat-sensitive enzyme is destroyed and no allicin is created. Allicin is the active ingredient in garlic that is revered for fighting cancer and protecting the heart. In order to get the most nutrition out of garlic, it is important that you cut/mince/slice/chop the garlic and then let it sit for TEN MINUTES before exposing it to heat.
  • A garlic press is the best tool for combining the alliin and alliinase. Jo Robinson says, “press, then rest”.
  • Many grocery stores carry garlic grown in China; check where your garlic is coming from. This is frustrating for someone that grocery shops in the same county as Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world. I am a locavore, after all.
  • There are two garlic varieties: softneck and hardneck. Hardneck garlic has a hollow stub that protrudes from the top. Softneck garlic appears to have a stem, but it is simply the papery skin that has been twisted.
  • Store garlic in the fridge (not the crisper drawer) for the longest shelf life. Until it is cut it will not leave the fridge with bad odors.
  • It is native to the Mediterranean, Syria, and China.
  • Excellent source of vitamins B6 and C, manganese, and selenium and a good source of phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron, and copper.
  • garlic-Has been demonstrated to protect against atherosclerosis, heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure.
  • Historically has been used to to fight infections because of its antimicrobial activity.
  • Can help protect against colon cancer.

 

 

From:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, Eating on the Wild Side, by Jo Robinson, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Micheal Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.

 

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Sweet Potatoes

Food of the Week: Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes, but I haven’t alway loved them. I remember the first sweet potato French fry that I had back in 2003 in Monterey. I hated them. Now, I could each them nearly every day. One of my favorite recipes for sweet potatoes is for savory sweet potato cakes from Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. This is a great recipe. We usually just bake them and add plenty of Kerrygold butter (grass-fed). Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends mashed sweet potatoes or crispy sweet potato fries. Yum!

Food Facts:

NCI5_POTATO

  • Sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family and are not at all related to potatoes (nightshade family).
  • They are native to Central America/northern South America. Colobus brought sweet potatoes back to Spain with him, but those original sweet potatoes were similar to carrots, not like our modern sweet potatoes.
  • Their glycemic index is 45 (sugar is 100). The glycemic index of potatoes by comparison is 75-100. The glycemic index is a measurement of how much a food raises the blood sugar.
  • They are rich source of antioxidants, especially the carotenes.
  • In the supermarket, most yams are simply marked as yams, but are truly just another variety of sweet potatoes. True yams are hardly ever sold in the United States.
  • If you’re looking to grow a very nutrient dense variety of sweet potato, opt for the Carolina Ruby.
  • Do not store uncooked sweet potatoes in the fridge.
  • Boiling sweet potatoes reduces their antioxidant value, while steaming, roasting, or baking does not.
  • The skin is more nutritious than the flesh.
  • Good source of vitamins C, B2, B6, and manganese, copper, biotin, and pantothenic acid.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • In animal studies, they have been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels.

From: The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Chickpeas

Well chickpeas are pretty normal for most folks and this is an easy one for me, since I’ve always liked them. They aren’t considered Paleo, so I don’t eat them super often, but I do enjoy some good hummus every once in a while. I add chickpeas to salads, enjoy them in chana masala, and love to make my own avocado hummus. Jennifer Tyler Lee also suggest making them into hummus or using them in a curry dish.

Food Facts:

  • Good Source of Vitamnins B6 and K, folate, thiamine, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, pantothenic acid, calcium, selenium, and potassium.
  • Good source of fiber and contains protein. Must be served with grains to be a complete protein source.
  • Rich in antioxidants. chickpeas-from-above-1000px
  • They are “in season” in late summer.
  • Chickpeas are native to the Middle East.
  • Due to their fiber content, they can help reduce cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar levels. This makes them a great food choice for diabetics and those with insulin resistance.
  • Chickpeas contain the trace mineral molybdenum, which is required for detoxification of sulfites in the body. Those that sensitive to sulfites and deficient in molybdenum may experience headaches, racing heartbeat, or confusion when consuming chickpeas.
  • Eat with caution if you have gout or kidney stones. Chickpeas contain purines which are broken down into uric acid in the body. Uric acid can contribute to kidney stones and gout. Chickpeas also contain oxalate and those with oxalate containing kidney stones  may consider avoiding chickpeas.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge, by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Micheal Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.

The 52 New Food Challenge – Okra

Jennifer Tyler Lee has found something that I almost never eat; I believe I have had it once or twice. I don’t think okra is very common out here in California but I know I have seen it in some Indian dishes. It’s not that I don;t like it, but since it isn’t very common I haven’t sought it out much. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends sautéing it with garlic or making an Okra Risotto. I love risotto, so I’m supporting this option!

Food Facts:okra

  • It originated in Africa and migrated to the Mediterranean.
  • It is a mucilaginous veggie which some folks like and other detest.
  • Good source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • It contains the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
  • Studies have shown that the seeds in okra may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  • In mice studies, the antioxidants helped to reverse cognitive deficits that were due to nerve damage.
  • Cooking okra does not lessen the nutrient value.
  • Younger okra pods are less mucilaginous.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.