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 – 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.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Basil

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?

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.

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 before 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

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Strawberries

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.

Food Facts:

  • 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.
  • Good source of fiber.

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, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.

Photo Credit: Luv Kreativ Photography https://www.instagram.com/luvkreativ/?hl=en

In Season, in April

April is here and that means that STRAWBERRY season
is upon us. This means that I will be eating as many strawberries as I possibly can from now until about October.  Here is a list of what is in season in April (in Northern California). 

What are you looking forward to in April?

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie

Dill Pesto Recipe

Dill Pesto Recipe [Paleo, Primal, Vegetarian, GF, 21DSD]

During our travels this summer, we had an amazing dinner in Florence, Italy. The food was so good that we ate lunch AND dinner at Trattoria Il Francescano during the course of one weekend. The salad that I ordered came with pesto sauce on it. This may seem simple, but for me it was revolutionary. I’ve used pesto in soups, on pizza, and on salmon, but never on salad. Since then I’ve been pretty obsessed with making my own basil pesto. Last week at the farmers market, Tomatero had huge bunches of fresh dill. I only needed a little for my salmon dinner that night, so rather than let the herb go to waste, I decided to make Dill Pesto. Result = AMAZING. I have these cool little herb freezer storage containers that allow me to save the extra. Highly recommended!

 

Recipe:

2 small bunches of dill

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. Simply Organic garlic sea salt

1 tsp. Simply Organic lemon pepper 

Directions:

  1. Rinse the dill and trim the ends off.
  2. Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until combined. A blender could be used instead.
  3. Serve on salads, veggies, or on salmon. Enjoy!

Olive Oil is a great source of omega-9 fatty acids, copper, iron, and vitamin E. Olive oil has been shown to help manage and prevent cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis, cancer, and blood sugar disregulation. It also helps to lower inflammation.

Dill is a member of the Umbelliferae family which includes, carrots, celery, parsley, and fennel. Dill has been shown to reduce flatulence and digestive ailments. It also has antimicrobial and anticancer effects. It helps the liver in detoxification. Dill is also a known sleep aid. In addition to its phytonutrients, it is rich in vitamins A and C and manganese and potassium.

Pine Nuts are a good source of protein – more than any other nut or seed! They are a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and E and manganese, copper, magnesium, molybdenum, zinc, and potassium.

Sources:

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.

World’s Healthiest Foods. (November 8, 2015) Retrieved from: http://whfoods.com/index.php