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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?