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Stock your pantry with low fat snacks - popcorn and baked potato and corn tortillas chips.
Make sure to keep plenty of fresh fruits and cut veggies in the refrigerator for snacking.
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Week of April 29, 2007

How Long will Fresh Veggies Keep?

Wonder how long fresh vegetables will keep? Use the following guidelines for storage length and location. Place unwashed vegetables in perforated or regular vegetable bags before storing. Vegetables keep as follows:

Refrigerate 2 to 4 days: Asparagus, beet greens, chard, collard greens, green peas, green onions, fresh lima beans, mushrooms, mustard greens, spinach and turnip greens. Leave sweet corn in husks and refrigerate uncovered.

Refrigerate 3 to 5 days: Bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, green beans, lettuce, okra and summer squash.

Refrigerate 1 to 2 weeks: Beets, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, radishes and turnips.

Store in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place between 45ºF and 60ºF for 2 weeks: Garlic, onions, potatoes, uncut winter squash with hard rinds. Store onions and potatoes separately to reduce spoiling.

Store at room temperature: Tomatoes (they’ll ripen). Keep tomatoes away from direct sunlight, which can make them mushy and pulpy.

Week of April 22, 2007

The Joys of Fresh Ginger

Fresh ginger root is a very popular ingredient in many cuisines and can easily be found in most grocery stores in the produce section. When shopping for ginger, look for firm ginger with a smooth skin. Fresh ginger has a characteristic, bitingly pungent, slightly sweetish and aromatic flavor, which is more intense than is the case with dried ginger.

Look for ginger with a thin skin that's smooth, unblemished, and almost translucent. If you break off a knob, the texture should be firm, crisp, and not overly fibrous (making it easier to slice). It should have a fresh, spicy fragrance. Keep in mind that, like many spices, ginger's flavor fades as it cooks. So for more gingery oomph, add some or all of the ginger at the end of cooking.

So what is the easiest way to peel and clean these gnarly little roots?

First break off just the amount of ginger root that you will need for your recipe.

Peeling or scraping ginger with a spoon is one of the most common ways to peel ginger. The skin is thin and scrapes off easily. Scrape the ginger with the inside of a spoon, getting the edge of the spoon into the crevices of the ginger.

The skin will come off with a gentle scrape. It takes a bit more effort than a paring knife or a peeler, but it's less wasteful and lets you maneuver around the knobs and gnarls.

Now the ginger can be sliced into planks or matchsticks, chopped, grated, puréed, and minced, depending on its final destination.

Week of April 15, 2007

The Goodness and Health Benefits of Berries

Berries have long been known to be rich sources of nutrients -- from B vitamins to C -- and packed with fiber. But it's their phytochemical content that seems to have intrigued scientists lately. These disease-fighting compounds appear to offer a defence against a range of illnesses including heart disease and stroke, certain cancers and even cognitive decline.

Considering the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of berries, it's wise to enjoy them all year long. When fresh ones aren't available or the price is out of sight, go for frozen. Try our berry sauce on top of angel food cake, pancakes or fat free frozen yogurt for a real berry treat.

Berry Berry Sauce
Makes 4 cups

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 pints fresh blueberries
12 ounces fresh blackberries
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, stir together sugar, lemon juice, and half the blueberries and blackberries. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until blueberries burst and release juices, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir into sauce.

Simmer, stirring, about 1 minute more, until sauce thickens slightly. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining berries. Transfer sauce to a serving bowl. Chill until cold; stir before serving with pie.

COOKS NOTE: If you are watching sugars or calories, use sugar substitute to replace sugar.

Week of April 08, 2007

When to Choose Organic Produce?

When faced with lesser choices and higher prices of organic produce, remember to consider the pesticide factor. Tests conducted by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that certain types of produce consistently contain higher traces of agricultural chemicals than others.

Use this list to make wise decisions on whether to choose organic produce and stick with conventional produce.Find more facts at foodnews.org .

The produce ranking was developed by analysts at the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004. For more information please visit www.ewg.org.

The Full List: 43 Fruits & Veggies

RANK

FRUIT OR VEGGIE

SCORE

1 (worst)

Peaches

100 (highest pesticide load)

2

Apples

89

3

Sweet Bell Peppers

86

4

Celery

85

5

Nectarines

84

6

Strawberries

82

7

Cherries

75

8

Pears

65

9

Grapes - Imported

65

10

Spinach

60

11

Lettuce

59

12

Potatoes

58

13

Carrots

57

14

Green Beans

53

15

Hot Peppers

53

16

Cucumbers

52

17

Raspberries

47

18

Plums

45

19

Grapes - Domestic

43

20

Oranges

42

21

Grapefruit

40

22

Tangerine

38

23

Mushrooms

37

24

Cantaloupe

34

25

Honeydew Melon

31

26

Tomatoes

30

27

Sweet Potatoes

30

28

Watermelon

28

29

Winter Squash

27

30

Cauliflower

27

31

Blueberries

24

32

Papaya

21

33

Broccoli

18

34

Cabbage

17

35

Bananas

16

36

Kiwi

14

37

Sweet peas - frozen

11

38

Asparagus

11

39

Mango

9

40

Pineapples

7

41

Sweet Corn - frozen

2

42

Avocado

1

43 (best)

Onions

1 (lowest pesticide load)

Note: Grapes are listed twice because we looked at both domestic and imported samples.

Week of April 01, 2007

Using an Immersion Blender

One of the handiest tools you can have in your kitchen is an immersion blender, also known as a hand blender. Immersion blenders can do almost everything that a regular blender does.

To mix, blend or puree, all you have to do is literally immerse the blade in your pot, cup or bowl and push the button. The blade must remain fully immersed or you’ll splatter yourself a bit.

Cleanup is a snap and if you have your choice of models and a great range in prices.

A quick tip: When you are pureeing, be sure to keep the base of the blender at an angle to the base of the pot. If the blender is touching the bottom of the pot, the food won’t circulate, and the machine can’t do its job. You need to keep it angled to allow the food to move through the mechanism. Depending on the depth of what you are blending you should keep the blade about an inch above the bottom of the pot, and you should move the unit through the liquid as if you were gently stirring it.

The appliance is extremely versatile and can be used for milk shakes, smoothies and pureeing soup, it is also wonderful for making homemade refried beans and Hummus.

 


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