The 52 New Foods Challenge – Pomegranates

This is the FINAL post for The 52 New Foods Challenge! WOW! It has taken me MUCH longer that 52 weeks to blog about this, but hey, I stuck with it!!

Pomegranates are a fruit that I didn’t really eat until I was an adult. I loved buying the ready-to-go pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe’s! So easy! They are quite a fun snack, although they are a bit of work when you buy the whole fruit. I also enjoy adding pomegranates to salads. The seasonal Thanksgiving salad that I mentioned here, also had pomegranate seeds. Danielle Walker of Against All Grain adds them to a Brussels sprouts dish, which adds a delightful twist.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests making a sauce using pomegranates instead of cranberries or add them to a wild rice and pistachio dish. Both sound delicious!

Food Facts:

  • Pomegranates are thought to be the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, rather than apples.
  • They originate from Iran.
  • The red seeds are called arils.
  • Pomegranates are a good source of vitamins K, E,  and B6, and folate, potassium, manganese, and pantothenic acid.
  • Rich source of antioxidants, especially tannins and flavonoids.
  • Studies show that pomegranate juice can inhibit the growth of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancers.
  • Pomegranates have been shown to be heart protective, as it can improve blood pressure and improve blood flow.

From:

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


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 – Apples

While Apples are pretty much a staple in most homes in North America, I imagine that there are many varieties that you have yet to try! My grandparents had an apple tree in their backyard and I grew making apple crumbles and apple pies with my grandma. Despite all those apples as a kid,  I did not really like raw apples until I was an adult. Green were too tart for me and red and yellow were always too mealy (I now know that’s because they were OLD – many months out of season). Americans are so used to getting all types of produce year round in super markets, but in reality, those foods are either stored in cold storage for many months, grown in a different climate and shipped in, or grown in a greenhouse.

As an adult, I have come to really like all kinds of pink apples: pink lady, fuji, gala, and honeycrisp. I also only eat apples during apple season and during the very early weeks of cold storage. In Northern California, apple season begins in mid-late July and generally lasts until October. Thus, I  only consume apples from July-December.

Besides eating apples with almond butter, my favorite thing to use apples for is apple pie, any surprises there??? Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends that folks make an apple galette, warm cinnamon apples, or apple chips.

Food Facts:

  • Wild apples have SIGNIFICANTLY more phytonutrients than our domesticated varieties – some wild varieties have up to 475 times more phytonutrients than certain domesticated varieties.
  • If you were to plant the five apple seeds from an apple, you would get FIVE different varieties from those new trees. Once a variety is identified, new trees are grown by grafting (a method that involves cutting off branches from a tree and attaching that branch to a less desirable tree that has been trimmed back). This is known as extreme heterozygosity.
  • Any apple that is less than two inches in diameter is considered a crabapple.
  • Most of our modern apples can be traced back to central Asia.
  • There were once 15,000 varieties of apples growing in the United States, now there 500 varieties.
  • Apples harvested at the end of apple season will store the longest – several months, as compared with apples harvested in the beginning of apple season – several weeks.
  • Apples store best in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • An apple with the peel contains 50% more nutrients than an apple without the peel.
  • Raw apples contain more nutrients than cooked apples.
  • Apples are a good source of vitamins C and K and potassium.
  • Good source of pectin and other fibers.
  • Rich source of flavonoids.

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, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, and The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

 


To snack or not to snack?

I get a lot of questions from folks wondering what they can eat for snacks when they switch their diet from a SAD diet (Standard American Diet) to a whole foods/ real food/ paleo type diet. Before I give a green light on what to snack on,  let’s rethink the idea of snacking altogether.

The idea of six small meals or three bigger meals with a morning and an afternoon snack is really a new idea. This is certainly not how we evolved. Let’s take a moment and think about blood sugar. In general, when you eat, your blood sugar rises. In order to deal with the rise in blood sugar, the pancreas secretes insulin which allows the glucose (blood sugar) into the cells where they are put to work. When you are always eating (as with six small meals or chronic snacking) your body is always 1) working to produce enough insulin (which prioritizes the production of the hormone insulin over other hormones), 2) dealing with elevated blood sugar, and 3) digesting food, which does not allow for your digestive system to have breaks throughout the day.

Here is the other “issue” I have with snacking. When we are taught to eat small meals, we are essentially setting ourselves up for snacking. You’re simply NOT going to be satisfied with the small meals and you’re going to have to snack. Simple as that. What I propose instead are three larger meals. Crazy, right? Three larger meals, with breakfast being your largest and dinner being your smallest. I’m also going to suggest that you increase your fat intake and possibly your starchy carbohydrate intake. Fat provides the most calories per gram (9, as compared to 4 from both protein and carbohydrates) making it more satiating. Fat keeps you fuller longer. And let’s remember that fat doesn’t make you fat. That is false.

With all that said, sometimes I do snack. So I do have some healthier recommendations for snacking.

    1. Beef Jerky or Turkey Jerky. We found Clean-n-Jerky during our trip to Colorado last spring and we love it. Small business, check. Woman owned and operated, check. Simple, real, and easy to pronounce ingredients, check. Well-sourced ingredients, check. Bonus: it’s also 21DSD compliant.
    2. Dip and veggies. I’m mainly referring to homemade dips because it is amazing what they manage to add to store-bought dips! I always think, I don’t put that into my dip when I make it at home, what could it possibly be used for? Anyways…guacamole and veggies, hummus and veggies, avocado-hummus and veggies, tzatziki and veggies, etc. Make some dip and cut up some veggies and enjoy! While veggies are not the same as chips in terms of flavor and texture, when your dip is delicious, the chips are really just a vehicle for the dip, so why not swap them out for a healthier vehicle or even just a spoon!
    3. Avocados make great snacks. I like to slice up half an avocado (or sometimes the whole thing!) and add a bit of sea salt and lemon and I’m all set! My husband loves avocado with hot sauce, which is also pretty great too.
    4. Fruit is also a great snack. Obviously I’m going to suggest eating whichever fruits are in season.
    5. Nuts or Nut Butters. A handful of nuts is a great option and so is a spoonful of nut butter. Sometimes I like nut butter on a apple or banana too.
    6. Deli meats and cheese. Avoid those conventional crackers because they are crap. No really, they are total crap. Also choose your cheese and deli meat wisely. I look for organic at a bare minimum, but ideally they are from pasture raised animals. Here are a few brands that I like.

      Hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful to guide your snacking options. You’ll probably notice that most of my suggestions have some fat or some protein – this is intentional. If you just eat a simple carbohydrate, your blood sugar will quickly spike and then quickly fall, which is something to be avoided as much as possible.

      I leave you with two tips: 1) The less processed the better. When you are left with a challenging choice to make, go for as little processing as possible. 2) No naked carbs. In nutrition school, this was one of the first tips we learned – be sure to include some fat or some protein with your carbohydrates for healthy blood sugar management.

Hugs and Health,

Katie

 

 


The 52 New Foods Challenge – Cherry Tomatoes

It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes. I’ve never liked them. In fact, I’m the black sheep of the family in regards to my dislike of tomatoes. With that being said, I believe that one day I will love raw tomatoes [growth mindset]. I do like cooked tomatoes of all kinds (except ketchup, yuck!). I am starting to like heirloom tomatoes in a caprese salad. I think the reason I don’t really like tomatoes is because of their strong flavor – it totally changes the taste of a burger, sandwich, or salad. Jennifer Tyler Lee and I are kindred spirits in this way. 🙂 The other fact that helps me feel justified in not liking raw tomatoes is that unless it’s summer, tomatoes are either grown in greenhouses or internationally, or are grown in Florida (Florida’s “soil” is actually just sand and is void of nutrients). So unless they are garden tomatoes or farmer’s market tomatoes, they are often mealy and are picked when green. The book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit is fascinating. Highly recommended! Anywho… Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato pops! I recently made a cherry tomato chutney at a Sur la Table cooking class – it was delicious!

Food Facts:

  • They are technically a fruit!
  • Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family (along with potatoes, eggplant, peppers- all kinds, and some spices). Nightshades are known to be inflammatory. Nightshades are commonly removed during a 5-R Protocol to determine food intolerances.
  • There are over a THOUSAND different types of tomatoes and can be a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.cherry-tom-with-logo-1000px
  • Native to South America.
  • The leaves of the tomato are toxic. It was long believed that tomatoes were poisonous because they belong to the nightshade family which houses other poisonous plants (poisonous nightshade and black henbane).
  • Great source of vitamins B6, C, and K, carotenes (especially lycopene), beta-carotene, biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin, and fiber.
  • Lycopene content is FIVE times greater in cooked tomatoes because cooking causes the cell walls to burst and “free” the lycopene. Also, the redder and riper the tomato, the more lycopene content.
  • Lycopene in particular has been shown to protect against cancers of the breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate. Additionally, it has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
  • Highest levels of vitamin C can be obtained from raw tomatoes.
  • Fully ripe tomatoes cannot be shipped long distances. Therefore they are picked when underripe and then gassed with ethylene. You probably know what I’m going to say here….buy them at a local farmer’s market, CSA, or grown your own!
  • Cherry tomatoes have more lycopene per ounce and are sweeter and more flavorful than their larger counterparts. Smaller is better!

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


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.


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 exciting fruits this month! And everyone loves when tomato 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

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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.

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.


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.

Now we have herbs like basil in season. And…….. 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

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In Season, in May

May is the first sign of summer produce. It makes me extremely h
appy so see summer produce. For me, it’s the berries that are the most exciting. I could eat a pint of strawberries every day. And actually, I pretty much do. ;-). My husband loves when cherries are in season and it is a pretty short season. I try to buy them for him often during May and June. I have never bought rhubarb, so it should go on my list of things to buy and cook with.

What are you most excited for?

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie

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