The 52 New Foods Challenge – Rainbow Carrots

Carrots are generally quite the crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike. Although I can imagine that it could be tricky to get kids to eat rainbow carrots. I have always liked carrots raw but only recently in the last few years have I really learned to love roasted carrots too. Jennifer Tyler Lee also recommends roasted carrots, but she also recommends a fresh carrot salad which also sounds delicious!

Food Facts:

  • The ancestors of our modern carrots came from Afghanistan and were purple.
  • During the cultivation of carrots, two mutant varieties began appearing – white and yellow.
  • Orange carrots were not seen until 400 years ago when breeders crossed a red and yellow carrots.
  • Purple carrots contain nearly TWENTY times the amount of phytonutrients as orange carrots.
  • Baby carrots should be avoided whenever possible. They are not actually “baby carrots”, rather they are carrots that have been whittled down. The outer layers that have been peeled off contain the most nutrition
  • Carrots are sweetest and freshest when the green tops are still attached.
  • However, if you do not plan on using the carrots within a day or two of purchase, remove the tops, as the carrots will remain firm and fresh longer. They will also retain their moisture longer.
  • Frozen carrots are not as nutritious as fresh carrots.
  • Carrots are more nutritious when cooked!!
  • Sautéing or steaming carrots retains more nutrients than boiling carrots.
  • Whole cooked carrots contain more cancer-fighting compounds called falcarinol than carrots that have been cut before cooking.
  • Eat carrots with some fat! Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is a fat-soluble vitamin.
  • Carrots have a low respiration rate.
  • The anthocyanins in purple carrots have been shown to support a healthy liver in rodent studies.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Good source of vitamins K, C, and B6, potassium, thiamine, and biotin.

Sources:

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.

 

Photo Credit:

Luv Kreativ Photography 

 


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.

 


The 52 New Foods Challenge – Corn

This week’s new food is Corn. While I do love corn on the corn and am totally addicted corn tortilla chips, this is a contentious food for me for a couple of reasons.

  1. Most corn is genetically modified. I personally don’t trust GMO foods and try to avoid them as much as possible.
  2. Corn is in everything. Dextrose, corn syrup, HFCS, maltodextrin, corn starch, and more. Many foods that are highly processed and then added to processed foods are also highly allergenic foods. As a species survival mechanism, plant foods contain tiny amounts of toxins. Overconsumption of one type of food builds up the amount of toxins we are exposed to. So I recommend limiting corn consumption.
  3. Corn is one of the top 8 most allergenic foods.
  4. Ever seen whole corn kernels in your stool? MOST people don’t digest corn well.
  5. It’s not a nutrient dense food and crowds out room for more nutritious foods.

With all that said, I do occasionally eat corn, I usually opt for blue or purple corn because these heirloom varieties are less likely to be genetically modified. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends a corn salsa or popping the corn while it’s still on the cobb. That sounds like fun! I DO love heirloom popcorn made on the stove with ghee and then topped with real butter. It’s my vice.

Food Facts:

  • purple-cornCorn is native to Central America.
  • Corn is high in vitamins A, B5, B6, C, folate, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, and zinc.
  • Good source of carotenoids, specifically zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, as well as phenols.
  • Carotenoids can help to lower blood pressure as well as reduce risk of breast cancer for post-menopausal women.
  • Modern corn has been bred to have more sugar and is lower in phytonutrients.
  • Blue corn has nearly thirty times the antioxidant values of modern white corn.
  • Darker yellow corn varieties have more nutrients than white corn.
  • There are other varieties as well: red, orange, purple, blue, and black. These varieties are rarely found at the store but could be grown at home.
  • Frozen corn is equally nutritious as fresh corn; canned corn can also be as nutritious as fresh corn.
  • Corn is not a complete source of protein alone.
  • Corn contains niacin, but in whole food form, it is not bio-available. Native Americans soaked their maize in lime which allowed  the niacin become available for the body.

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


The 52 New Foods Challenge – Butter Lettuce

Butter lettuce is another favorite of mine. I appreciate that it has a mild flavor and butterlettuceis a healthier alternative to iceberg lettuce. While working for Tomatero Organic Farm, it was a very popular item. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends Chinese chicken lettuce wraps and of course, salad. Like Jennifer, I use butter lettuce in salads and in lettuce wraps. I think this is a great gateway lettuce for those that like iceberg lettuce in their salads (as I used to as a kid and teenager). It’s mild with a nice texture and can hopefully get people to start liking more nutrient dense and flavorful greens in their salads.

  • This type of lettuce is has a delicate texture and a slightly sweet flavor.
  • Common varieties include Boston and Bibb.
  • The darker the leaves, the more nutrients due to higher photosynthesis activity, and therefore higher phytonutrient values.
  • Additionally, the less tightly packed leaves on a head of lettuce, the more phytonutrients it has (i.e. iceberg has very tightly packed leaves, whereas loose leaf lettuces are not tightly packed at all). Lettuce leaves need sunlight to grow but the UV rays can also damage them. In order to survive, plants make “sunscreen” in the form of antioxidants. Those antioxidants make the plant more nutrient dense and that plant protection then becomes our own protection when we eat them.
  • The inner leaves on the lettuce head are exposed to very little sunlight and therefore are very low in nutrients; as a result, the outer leaves are exposed to the most sunlight and are higher in nutrients.
  • Precut lettuces (like in pre-made salads) start loosing their antioxidant values as soon as they are cut.
  • Lettuce all are a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin K.
  • Moisture on lettuce leaves cause them to prematurely degrade, opt for a salad spinner to rinse and dry lettuce. This can help the lettuce to last several days.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.