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As long as you don’t add gobs of sugar, fat and salt to your garden produce, they will be some of the healthiest fruits and vegetables in your kitchen. However, there are ways to store, preserve, and prepare them so that they can even be healthier.

Phytonutrients are natural compounds derived from plants that can have health benefits when consumed. As opposed to nutrients, omission of phytonutrients in the diet will not cause deficiency symptoms, but including them can have additional health benefits. Some examples include anthocyanins in berries, capsaicin in peppers, and carotenoids in melons, carrots, tomatoes, sweet corn, green leafy vegetables, and green beans.

Nutrients and phytonutrients in the diet are important to our health because they often neutralize harmful substances called free radicals which are thought to be culprits of chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer. They are also helpful in preventing or slowing down inflammatory processes also linked with chronic disease. If you already live with a chronic disease such as diabetes, consumption of fruits and vegetables can help prevent or delay complications such as eye, kidney, or nervous system diseases.

Fruits, vegetables, and their combination of nutrients and phytonutrients likely play a role in preventing or delaying the development of age-related chronic diseases, like cancer and cardiovascular disease. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend that most people consume 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day.

How Cooking or Preserving Can Impact the Nutrition of your Harvest

Cooking and preservation exposes the fruit or vegetable to heat, oxygen and light, all which can degrade nutrient and phytonutrient levels. How do you maximize the levels in your food? Keep reading:

  • Boiling—Shorter cooking time minimizes nutrient loss. Consume cooking water or save for later, such as in soups or for cooking rice.
  • Steaming—Minimal contact with water helps retain water-soluble nutrients. Light steaming improves the availability of nutrients and phytonutrients.
  • Sautéing—Lower temperatures and shorter cooking times minimize nutrient loss. Lack of water during cooking reduces loss of water-soluble nutrients. A small amount of oil can increase availability of carotenoids.
  • Roasting or grilling—Compared to other cooking methods with lower temperatures, may result in a higher nutrient loss.
  • Canning—Can improve absorption of lycopene (a carotenoid) from tomatoes. Can cause loss of vitamin C.
  • Freezing—Results in high nutrient retention. Blanching (briefly boiling) can have small loss of heat-sensitive and water-soluble nutrients.
  • Drying—Loss of all water-soluble nutrients, but retains fiber. To maximize nutrient and phytochemicals, a different preservation method is advised.

What’s in your Garden? Nutritional Powerhouses!

Your garden produce have many health promoting vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. USDA’s MyPlate model suggests that consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables is a key to good health, since nutrients often work together.

Vegetables

  • Beets have significant sources of folate, potassium and phytonutrients called betalains, compounds that may prevent the development of heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Cruciferous vegetables (leafy vegetables, broccoli) contain vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and phytonutrients called glucosinolates. Many of these compounds may provide cancer protection, especially for the bladder and prostate.
  • Green beans and pea pods have vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and phytonutrients including carotenoids, chlorophyll, polyphenols and saponins. These compounds may prevent development of heart disease and cancers.
  • Sweet corn contains vitamin C, niacin, and carotenoids. The compounds in sweet corn are antioxidants and have been demonstrated to slow digestion and control blood sugars.
  • Tomatoes contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and carotenoids. Tomatoes may provide protection from heart disease and certain cancers, especially prostate.
  • Green leafy vegetables contain vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium. Phytonutrients include carotenoids and polyphenols. Compounds in leafy vegetables may prevent cancers and promote bone health.
  • Peppers have vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, carotenoids, phenolics, and capsaicin. Compounds found in peppers may provide cancer protection and improve cholesterol.
  • Winter squash, pumpkins and carrots contain vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and carotenoids. These compounds are antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory. Health benefits include possible cancer protection and blood sugar control.

Fruits

  • Apples, pears and peaches have vitamin A, vitamin K and the phytochemical quercetin, which are all anti-inflammatory.
  • Berries contain vitamin C, vitamin K, and have the phytonutrients anthocyanins and ellagitannins. Many of these are anti-inflammatory compounds and are thought to provide cancer protection, especially of the mouth, esophagus, intestine and prostate.
  • Melons contain vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, carotenoids and polyphenols. These compounds may prevent the development of heart disease and certain cancers.

Source: Ohioline Factsheet HGY 5581: Farm to Health: Maximizing Nutrients and Phytonutrients in Ohio Produce. Retrieved on 8/27/2017 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5581

Author: Dan Remley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County

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Fruits & Veggies

We are entering that wonderful time of the year when local farmers’ markets are open, roadside stands pop up and even local grocery stores offer plentiful displays of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. With all of this bounty, sometimes the question arises on how to choose the most flavorful, ripe product. You will want to choose fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness for the best flavor and nutritional value.

Here are some helpful hints to remember when you are shopping:

  • Look for fruits or vegetables that have the shape, size and color that are usually thought of for the item. Remember though, they don’t have to be perfect to be good! That tomato or pepper that is slightly misshapen should be just as tasty and nutritious as its perfect neighbor.
  • Avoid fruits/vegetables with obvious bruises or discoloration. These spots will spoil quickly. If you notice a spot after you bring the produce home, cut out the bad spot and use as soon as possible.
  • Feel the item. If it is very soft it may be overripe; if it is too hard, it hasn’t ripened enough to eat yet. Melons can be especially difficult to choose. Here is great information on choosing ripe melons.
  • Smell! Fruits/vegetables that have the characteristic aroma associated with the item should be ready to eat. Think fresh peaches!

Not all vegetables and fruits will continue to ripen once they have been harvested.

  • Tomatoes, unripe melons, and tree fruits such as pears, peaches and nectarines should be kept at room temperature to ripen. They will get sweeter and more delicious.
  • Grapes, berries, and cherries won’t get better while sitting out, so they should go into the refrigerator right away.
  • Other fruits, like citrus, could sit out for a day or two but then should also be put in the refrigerator.
  • Most vegetables should be refrigerated when harvested or purchased. Some exceptions would be onions, garlic and potatoes.

Don’t forget about food safety with your fresh produce!

  • Always wash your fresh produce before using.
  • Some fruits and vegetables are better stored in the refrigerator before you wash them. Items such as beans and berries are more likely to spoil if stored damp. Be sure and brush off as much dirt as possible before storing. Place them in bags to keep them from contaminating other food in your refrigerator and them wash well when you are ready to eat them.
  • All produce should be rinsed under cool running water. Do not use soap or bleach as the residue left on the produce could make you ill.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. By buying fresh, seasonal items at the peak of their freshness and having them available to eat makes it easier to incorporate them into our daily diet.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County. Rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County. treber.1@osu.edu

https://articles.extension.org/pages/19886/storing-fruits-and-vegetables

http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5523

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-food

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Are you starting to see these markets opening up in your area?  Farmers’ markets are a great place to get locally-grown vegetables, fruits, and other foods for you and your family.

As more and more locations open each year, it is important to follow basic food safety guidelines to ensure that the fresh food you are buying is safe.  Many markets have their own food safety rules, and vendors must comply with them, as well as any applicable government regulations.  However, it is a good idea to remember to use the guidelines.

Buying and preparing produce:

  • Select produce that is not damaged, bruised, or molded
  • Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are bagged separately from your meat, poultry, and seafood products
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after handling fresh produce
  • Wash produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking
  • If you plan to peel the produce, you should still wash it first
  • Refrigerate any cut or peeled produce within 2 hours of preparation

Eggs

  • Make sure that eggs are properly chilled. The FDA requires that untreated shell eggs must be stored and displayed at 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Before buying them, open the carton and make sure they are clean and not cracked

Meat and Poultry

  • Check to make sure the meat is kept in closed coolers or refrigerated to maintain cool temperatures
  • Keep meat and poultry separate from your other purchases so the raw juices do not come in contact with your other foods
  • Bring a cooler with ice or an insulated bag to keep your meat and poultry cool until you get home

Following these simple steps will help you keep your food and your family safe while supporting local growers in your area.

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension, http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5353

United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index

U. S. Food and Drug Administration,

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index

Writer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

 

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Many of us know we should be eating fruits and vegetables. However, few of us are actually getting the recommended intake.  In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 76% of adults do not meet fruit recommendations of 1.5-2 cups per day. Additionally, 87% of adults do not meet vegetable recommendations of 2-3 cups per day. When the CDC examined children’s’ eating habits, they found 60% did not meet fruit recommendations and 93% did not meet vegetable recommendations.  One could say “the apple does not fall far from the tree. “No pun intended! However, these statistics suggest that neither adults nor kids are  getting an adequate intake of important nutrients found in fruits and vegetables such as fiber, vitamins A, C, and potassium.

 

Do you ever feel short on time to prepare fruits and vegetables to your meal?  I know for me this can be a struggle. However, the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website has over 300 recipes that take 30 minutes or less. Why not check  out Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website today and add more produce to you and your family’s diet!

quick and easy roasted veggies

 

Another great resource for recipes is the United States Department Of Agriculture ” What’s Cooking ” USDA Mixing Bowl.

Baked Apples and Sweet Potatoes:

Makes: 6 servings

Total Cost: $4.54

Serving Cost: $0.76

 

Ingredients

5 sweet potatoes (cooked)

4 apples

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup margarine

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup hot water

2 tablespoons honey

Directions

1. Boil 5 sweet potatoes in water until they are almost tender.

2. After the sweet potatoes cool, peel and slice them.

3. Peel the apples. Remove the cores, and slice the apples.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

5. Grease the casserole dish with butter or margarine.

6. Put a layer of sweet potatoes on the bottom of the dish.

7. Add a layer of apple slices.

8. Add some sugar, salt, and tiny pieces of margarine to the apple layer.

9. Repeat steps 6, 7, and 8 to make more layers of sweet potatoes, apples, and sugar/salt.

10. On the top layer of apples, sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar and margarine pieces.

11. Sprinkle the top layer with nutmeg.

12. Mix the hot water and honey together. Pour the mix over the top layer.

13. Bake for about 30 minutes until apples are tender.

Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County. Erie Basin EERA

Reviewed by: Daniel Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness

Source:

  1. Moore LV, Thompson FE. Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations – United States, 2013. Center for Disease Control Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. July 10, 2015; 64(26):709-713.
  2. Zies S. Fruits and vegetables are a convenience for busy people! Ohio State University Extension: Family and Consumer Sciences Fact Sheet.  

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Drinking a smoothie is an easy way to sneak in a serving or two of fruits and veggies towards your daily goal. A smoothie is great for breakfast, on the go meal, or a snack. Here’s how to blend a fruit- and veggie-packed smoothie that’s nutritious, satisfying and energizing.

 kalesmoothie

  1. Choose a Base Start with a liquid base such as low-fat milk, soymilk, or nonfat Greek yogurt that delivers protein, vitamins, and minerals with a sensible amount of calories. If using juice, choose 100% grape, orange, apple, or cranberry varieties and try adding just a splash of it to a milk base so you don’t miss out on the protein. Remember juice adds extra sugar and calories so watch portion sizes.
  2. Add Fruit When adding fruit, most fresh, frozen and canned fruits shine in smoothies. For calorie control and to cap added sugar, choose plain, unsweetened frozen fruit and drain canned fruit packed in water or light syrup to reduce excess sugar. Slicing bananas and freezing them works really well.
  3. Yes…you can add veggies! Even vegetables can be added to smoothies. Just remember to use mild-tasting veggies so their flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. If using a standard blender, you may need to chop them very finely or add a little water to help the blending process. Cucumbers, spinach, kale, and beets are popular options.
  4. Nutrient Boosters Super-charge your smoothie with flavorful and nutrient-packed blend-ins such as flaxseed, chia seeds, quick oats, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger), unsweetened cocoa powder, or powdered peanut butter.
  5. Less is More Remember to keep smoothie ingredients simple and take a ‘less is more’ approach. The more ingredients in a smoothie, the more calories it contains.

Kale Smoothie with Pineapple and Banana

1/2 cup coconut milk, skim milk, soymilk, nonfat Greek yogurt, or almond milk

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach

1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)

1 ripe banana, chopped

Water for desired consistency

  1. Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, the kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.
  2. You can add a few almonds for extra protein if you would like!

For a great beet smoothie click here https://foodhero.org/recipes/un-beet-able-berry-smoothie.

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:

www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

www.realsimple.com

www.foodhero.org

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Asparagus, a member of the lily family, is available from April to early June. It is fat and sodium-free, with about 35 calories per cup. This nutrient rich food is filled with folate; vitamins A, C, and K; potassium; and iron. These nutrients are shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. White asparagus is grown out of the sun and contains fewer nutrients than green, while purple asparagus contains additional anti-oxidants.

To select the best asparagus – look for straight and firm stalks. Avoid wilted or limp stalks. Selecting stalks that are uniform in size will assist with cooking. Asparagus is easily perishable, for optimum quality keep at 40 degrees or below and use within one to two days. Wash with cold water only before using, to prevent bacterial growth.

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be used in salads, soups, or main dish recipes.1574360-SMPT

To steam: bring an inch of water to a boil, insert rinsed stalks, and cover pan. Stalks will be done in 2 to 5 minutes – based on thickness of stalks.

To microwave: rinse stalks and place on microwave safe plate with about 2 tablespoons of water, cover and microwave 2 to 3 minutes – until done.

To roast: preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rinsed stalks on foil-lined sheet. Drizzle with small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes until tender-crisp. Parmesan cheese is also a tasty option on roasted stalks.

To grill: place stalks on grilling skewers or grill griddle, brush lightly with olive oil, grill 2 to 5 minutes – turning once.

To freeze asparagus for future use: sort stalks to similar size; blanch by placing in boiling water for 90 seconds – small stalks, 2 minutes for medium stalks, and 3 minutes for larger stalks; cool immediately in ice water; pat dry and place in freezer bags. Stalks may be left whole or cut into 2 inch sections before starting the blanching process.

Seasoning options for asparagus include soy sauce, sesame oil or seeds, lemon juice, parsley, or vinaigrette dressing.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

Sources:

Utah University Cooperative Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/Viva%20Vegetables%20Asparagus%20Recipes.pdf.

Ohioline, Ohio State University Extension, B. Brahm, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5508.pdf.

Washington State University Extension, http://county.wsu.edu/chelan-douglas/health/Documents/Asparagus%20Information%20and%20Springtime%20Warnings.pdf.

Photo credit: Gerald Holmes, Valent USA Corporation, Bugwood.org.

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With a range of medications available to help the 50 million Americans suffering from arthritis many may not know that what you eat can influence your symptoms and alsoartritis hands how the disease progresses.

Rather than supplements in the form of pills, food with certain nutrients can help.

·         Vitamin C about the amount in two oranges (152 milligrams a day) has been found to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.  Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of cartilage, collagen and proteoglycans.  It also is an antioxidant which helps limit the free-radical oxygen compounds that can damage cartilage.

·         Vitamin D was shown to cut the progression of arthritis.  Living in the northern attitudes especially in the winter, makes it difficult to get enough Vitamin D.  This is the one vitamin that you may need to  supplement.  Vitamin D not only plays a role in bone building it seems to affect the production of collagen.

·         Beta-carotene reduced the progression of arthritis when 9,000 IU were consumed daily.  This was not seen when people consumed 5,000 IU.  Most Americans only get 3,000 to 5,000 IU a day of beta-carotene.  However, you can easily increase your amount by using orange vegetables and fruits.  One medium sweet potato contains 21,909 IU.  fruits-vegetables

·         Vitamin E – In a study with people who had knee osteoarthritis those that consumed 6-11 milligrams of Vitamin E daily (from food) saw a 60% reduction in the progression of the disease over 10 years compared to  those getting 2-5 milligrams daily.  Due to the increased risk of lung cancer, smokers should not take extra Vitamin E or beta-carotene pills.

·         Vitamin K is being studied now.  So far, the study suggests that Vitamin K may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  Good sources of Vitamin K are spinach, broccoli, leaf lettuce, kale, asparagus and olive, soybean and canola oils.

·         Omega-3 Fatty Acids suppress inflammation in the joint.  This is what causes so much stiffness and pain.  Eating two or more servings of fish (baked or broiled) per week reduced the chance of developing arthritis.   Other sources of omega-3 are flaxseed and nuts.  Canola, soybean and olive oil have some omega-3s.   Best to avoid omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and corn oils.  These are usually also in processed foods and fried foods, so limit your consumption of them.

·         Limit consumption of sugar.   More inflammation has been linked with higher sugar consumption.

· Drink more water         Drink Water.  Water  helps all around from moisturizing, giving support to joints, carrying nutrients and removing wastes from the body.  Some medicines used for arthritis also change your thirst level.  Be sure to drink plenty of water, preferably 8 cups or more a day of liquids.

Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein along with oils rich in omega-3s.  Limit sweets and other fats and oils.  Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains will increase your fiber intake which the Arthritis Foundation says may keep inflammation down.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewer:  Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

References:

Tufts University, [2013]. Eating Right for Healthy Joints, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, June 2013.

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