of March 26, 2010
is a great way to cook low fat meals by cooking
in a small amount of liquid over low heat. This
is known as "moist heat" cooking. Braising
enhances the flavors and tenderizes the food being
Many dishes can be made in advance, which actually
intensify the flavors of the dish when reheated.
Braising may be done on a stove-top burner or
in the oven; use a tight-fitting lid on the pot
or Dutch oven to keep the liquid from evaporating.
fish and shellfish require shorter braising times,
while lamb, pork and beef require longer braising
can also braise vegetables. Try this lovely dish
for Braised Red Cabbage.
Personalize this recipe by adding slices apple,
caraway seed or minced.garlic
red cabbage (2 to 2 1/4 lbs)
1 large onion, cut thin slices
1/2 cup currants
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth, plus more
out core of cabbage and discard any tough or discolored
Slice cabbage into quarters, then slice lengthwise
into 1/8-inch shreds.
This should yield about 12 cups.
Toss cabbage and onion in large nonstick skillet
and add currants, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper,
oil and stock. Bring to boil over high heat, then
Reduce heat to medium and braise, stirring occasionally,
until there is only a small amount of liquid left
and cabbage is moist but still has a little crunchiness
left, about 40 to 45 minutes. (Add more stock
if skillet starts to dry before cabbage is done)
Adjust seasonings and serve.
Serving: 94 Calories; 2g Fat (17.4% calories from
fat); trace Saturated Fat; 3g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate;
3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 313mg Sodium.
Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2
Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
of March 19, 2010
You may have noticed an ever-expanding choice
of oils at your local grocery store over the past
few years. While once your options were limited
to corn, canola, safflower and maybe olive oil,
now your choices include walnut, almond, grapeseed
and other types of oil as well. You may have even
splurged on a bottle of fragrant truffle oil.
of these oils has its place in the kitchen and
serves a specific function. Understanding which
oil is suited for which use will help you to make
the best choices for you and your family. Also,
understanding the difference between the so-called
"good" and "bad" fats will
allow you to cook and eat more healthfully.
years, Americans were told to consume as little
fat as possible. Now, experts recognize that while
too much fat is bad for you, some fat is a necessary
part of our diet; fats are a source of essential
nutrition and flavor,", Neil Blomquist CEO
of Spectrum Naturals, a Petaluma, Calif.-based
manufacturer of organic vegetable oils and healthy
trick is to consume the right kind of fat in the
appropriate amount. When it comes to calories,
all oils are the same. They each contain 9 calories
per gram -- this includes oils labeled "light,"
a term which refers only to the oils taste,
not its nutritional makeup. But some oils are
better for you than others.
and oils are either saturated or unsaturated;
unsaturated fats can be either monounsaturated
or polyunsaturated. "No oil is completely
made of one fat; they all are a combination of
the three fats in different percentages, based
on the nut, seed or fruit from which the oil is
derived," explains Blomquist.
fats, which come mainly from animal sources, increase
cholesterol levels. Tropical oils such as coconut
and palm are two non-animal examples of saturated
fat. Hydrogenated oils such as margarine and vegetable
shortening are saturated fats that have been chemically
transformed from their normal liquid state into
solids. During the hydrogenation procedure, extra
hydrogen atoms are pumped into unsaturated fat.
This creates trans fatty acids, the most unhealthy
type of fat found to be the number one cause of
fats are known to help reduce the levels of LDL
(bad) cholesterol without lowering the good HDL
cholesterol. The most widely used oils that are
high in monounsaturates are olive oil, canola
oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats, made
up of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids
are also considered relatively healthy and include
corn, soybean, safflower, and grapeseed oil. .
Oils high in omega-3 rich polyunsaturate fat such
as walnut oil, flaxseed oil and canola oil are
a good addition to the diet since our body require
omega-3s for good health but cannot manufacturer
them. New studies show incorporating omega-3s
into your diet reduce the risk of stroke, heart
attack and heart disease.
way the oil is extracted also plays a role in
how healthy it is," notes Blomquist. Oil
is extracted using one of two methods -- mechanical
or chemical. Chemical extraction, often called
solvent extraction, is the most common and cost
efficient method. It employs high heat and a series
of chemical processes, primarily exposure to hexane
gas, to remove and refine the oil.
mechanical extraction, called cold pressed or
expeller pressed, oil is squeezed from the source,
usually with hydraulic presses. This minimal exposure
to heat preserves the natural flavor of the oil
but limits the yield, making mechanically extracted
oils more expensive than chemically extracted
oils. "We use only mechanical extraction,
to maintain the nutrients and health benefits
of our oils," says Blomquist.
as each oil has a unique nutritional makeup, they
also have distinct flavor components and smoke
points, making some oils more appropriate for
certain uses than others.
oil past its smoke point can cause it to have
an off flavor, lose its nutritional value and
turn the once healthy oil into a trans fat laden
heart disease machine. Oils that can take high
temperatures make good all purpose cooking oils.
Choose from canola, sunflower and peanut for high-heat
uses such as searing and frying. Medium-high heat
oils are good for baking, sautéing and
stir-frying; try grapeseed, safflower or sunflower
oil. For sauces, lower-heat baking and pressure
cooking, medium-high heat oils are best. Good
choices are olive oil, corn oil, pumpkinseed oil
and walnut oil.
are some oils that should never be heated,"
Blomquist points out. Rather, These oils, found
on the supermarket shelves in the nutritional
supplement category in the refrigerator, can also
be used as condiments.Use them in dips and dressings,
or add to a dish after it has been removed from
heat. For example, add walnut oil, with its nutty
flavor, to your salad; or add sesame oil to your
stir-fry after its done cooking to add extra flavor.
Other oils to use unheated are Normally found
in capsule form wouldnt apply), flax, evening
primrose, borage, black currant, hemp and wheat
germ oils. This is also a good way to incorporate
essential fatty acids into your diet.
extend the shelf life and preserve the nutritional
value of culinary oils, store them in the refrigerator
once theyve been opened. Oils rich in omega-3
essential fatty acids such as flax, walnut, pumpkin
and other nutritional oils should be protected
from heat and light whether or not they have been
opened. For other types of oil, a dark, cool pantry
is a good storage option.
Courtesy of ARA Content, www.ARAcontent.com
of March 12, 2010
vegetables provide a variety of vitamins and minerals,
they are low in fat, and they provide fiber. USDA
nutritionists recommend 3 to 5 servings from the
vegetable group each day. Count as a serving 1
cup raw leafy vegetables, l/2 cup of other vegetables
that are cooked or chopped raw, or 3/4 cup of
vegetable juice. Go easy on the fat and salt added
during cooking or at the table in the form of
spreads, sauces, dressings, toppings, and seasonings.
you are a newbie to the "fresh" scene,
here are some tips from the US Department of Agriculture
on how to choose the best fresh veggies.
are no set rules for buying vegetables because
they all have individual characteristics and values.
Experience in personal selection is the best teacher.
The following alphabetical list is designed as
a handy reference to help you make your selections.
The globe artichoke is the large, unopened flower
bud of a plant belonging to the thistle family.
The many leaf-like parts making up the bud are
called "scales." Produced domestically
only in California, the peak of the crop comes
in April and May.
for: Plump, globular artichokes that are heavy
in relation to size, and compact with thick, green,
fresh-looking scales. Size is not important with
respect to quality.
Artichokes with large areas of brown on the scales
and with spreading scales (a sign of age, indicating
drying and toughening of the edible portions),
grayish-black discoloration (caused by bruises),
mold growth on the scales, and worm injury.
California, New Jersey, Washington, and Michigan
are the chief sources of domestically grown asparagus.
for: Closed, compact tips; smooth, round spears;
and a fresh appearance. A rich green color should
cover most of the spear. Stalks should be almost
as far down as the green extends.
Tips that are open and spread out, moldy or decayed
tips, or ribbed spears (spears with up-and-down
ridges or that are not approximately round). Those
are all signs of aging, and indicate tough asparagus
and poor flavor. Also avoid excessively sandy
asparagus, because sand grains can lodge beneath
the scales or in
the tips of the spears and are difficult to remove
Snap beans, produced commercially in many States,
are available throughout the year. Most beans
found in the food store will be the common green
podded varieties, but large green pole beans and
yellow wax beans are occasionally available.
for: A fresh, bright appearance with good
color for the variety. Get young, tender beans
with pods in a firm, crisp condition.
Wilted or flabby bean pods, serious blemishes,
and decay. Thick, tough, fibrous pods indicate
Beets, available year-round, are grown in most
parts of the Nation. Many beets are sold in bunches
with the tops still attached, while others are
sold with the tops removed.
for: Beets that are firm, round, with a slender
tap root (the large main root), a rich, deep red
color, and smooth over most of the surface. If
beets are bunched, you can judge their freshness
fairly accurately by the condition of the tops.
Badly wilted or decayed tops indicate a lack of
freshness, but the roots may be satisfactory if
they are firm.
Elongated beets with round, scaly areas around
the top surface -- these will be tough, fibrous,
and strong-flavored. Also avoid wilted, flabby
beets -- they have been exposed to the air too
A member of the cabbage family, and a close relative
of cauliflower, broccoli is available throughout
is the heaviest producer, although other States
also produce large amounts of broccoli.
for: A firm, compact cluster of small flower
buds, with none opened enough to show the bright-yellow
flower. Bud clusters should be dark green or sage
green -- or even green with a decidedly purplish
cast. Stems should not be too thick or too tough.
Broccoli with spread bud clusters, enlarged or
open buds, yellowish-green color, or wilted condition,
which are all signs of overmaturity. Also avoid
broccoli with soft, slippery, water-soaked spots
on the bud cluster. These are signs of decay.
Another close relative of the cabbage, Brussels
sprouts develop as enlarged buds on a tall stem,
one sprout appearing where each main leaf is attached.
The "sprouts" are cut off and, in most
cases, are packed in small consumer containers,
although some are packed loose, in bulk. Although
they are often available about 10 months of the
year, peak supplies appear from October through
for: A fresh, bright-green color, tight fitting
outer leaves, firm body, and freedom from blemishes.
Elongated beets with round, scaly areas around
the top surface -- these will be tough, fibrous,
and strong-flavored. Also avoid wilted, flabby
beets -- they have been exposed to the air too
Three major groups of cabbage varieties are available:
smooth-leaved green cabbage; crinkly-leaved green
Savoy cabbage; and red cabbage. All types are
suitable for any use, although the Savoy and red
varieties are more in demand for use in slaw and
may be sold fresh (called "new" cabbage)
or from storage. Cabbage is available throughout
the year, since it is grown in many States. California,
Florida, and Texas market most new cabbage. Many
Northern States grow cabbage for late summer and
fall shipment or to be held in storage for winter
for: Firm or hard heads of cabbage that are
heavy for their size. Outer leaves should be a
good green or red color (depending on type), reasonably
fresh, and free from serious blemishes. The outer
leaves (called "wrapper" leaves) fit
loosely on the head and are usually discarded,
but too many loose wrapper leaves on a head cause
early-crop cabbage may be soft or only fairly
firm, but is suitable for immediate use if the
leaves are fresh and crisp. Cabbage out of storage
is usually trimmed of all outer leaves and lacks
green color, but is satisfactory if not wilted
New cabbage with wilted or decayed outer leaves
or with leaves turned decidedly yellow. Worm-eaten
outer leaves often indicate that the worm injury
penetrates into the head.
cabbage with badly discolored, dried, or decayed
outer leaves probably is over-aged. Separation
of the stems of leaves from the central stem at
the base of the head also indicates over-age.
Freshly harvested carrots are available year round.
Most are marketed when relatively young, tender,
well-colored, and mild-flavored -- an ideal stage
for use as raw carrot sticks. Larger carrots are
packed separately and used primarily for cooking
or shredding. California and Texas market most
domestic carrots, but many other States produce
for: Carrots which are well formed, smooth,
well colored, and firm. If tops are attached,
they should be fresh and of a good green color.
Roots with large green "sunburned" areas
at the top (which must be trimmed) and roots which
are flabby from wilting or show spots of soft
Although most abundant from September through
January, cauliflower is available during every
month of the year. California, New York, and Florida
are major sources. The white edible portion is
called "the curd" and the heavy outer
leaf covering is called "the jacket leaves."
Cauliflower is generally sold with most of the
jacket leaves removed, and is wrapped in plastic
for: White to creamy-white, compact, solid,
and clean curds. A slightly granular or "ricey"
texture of the curd will not hurt the eating quality
if the surface is compact. Ignore small green
leaflets extending through the curd. If jacket
leaves are attached, a good green color is a sign
A spreading of the curd -- a sign of aging or
overmaturity. Also avoid severe wilting or discolored
spots on the curd. A smudgy or speckled appearance
of the curd is a sign of insect injury, mold growth,
or decay, and should be avoided.
Celery, a popular vegetable for a variety of uses,
is available throughout the year. Production is
concentrated in California, Florida, Michigan,
and New York. Most celery is of the so-called
"Pascal" type, which includes thick-branched,
for: Freshness and crispness in celery.
stalk should have a solid, rigid feel and leaflets
should be fresh or only slightly wilted. Also
look for a glossy surface, stalks of light green
or medium green, and mostly green leaflets.
Wilted celery and celery with flabby upper branches
or leaf stems. You can freshen celery somewhat
by placing the butt end in water, but badly wilted
celery will never become really fresh again.
with pithy, hollow, or discolored centers in the
branches also should be avoided. Celery with internal
discoloration will show some gray or brown on
the inside surface of the larger branches near
where they are attached to the base of the stalk.
avoid celery with blackheart, a brown or black
discoloration of the small center branches; insect
injury in the center branches or the insides of
outer branches; and long, thick seed stems in
place of the usually small, tender heart branches.
Primarily a salad vegetable, Chinese cabbage plants
are elongated, with some varieties developing
a firm head and others an open, leafy form.
for: Fresh, crisp, green plants that are free
from blemishes or decay.
Wilted or yellowed plants.
These vegetables, used mainly in salads, are available
practically all year roundbut primarily in
the winter and spring. Chicory or endive has narrow,
notched edges, and crinkly leaves resembling the
dandelion leaf. Chicory plants often have "blanched"
yellowish leaves in the center which are preferred
by many people. Escarole leaves are much broader
and less crinkly than those of chicory.
for: Freshness, crispness, tenderness, and
a good green color of the outer leaves.
Plants with leaves which have brownish or yellowish
discoloration or which have insect injury.
Witloof or Belgian endive is a compact, cigar-shaped
plant which is creamy white from blanching. The
small shoots are kept from becoming green by being
grown in complete darkness.
Sweet corn is available practically every month
of the year, but is most plentiful from early
May until mid-September. Yellow-kernel corn is
the most popular, but some white-kernel and mixed-color
corn is sold. Sweet corn is produced in a large
number of States during the spring and summer,
but most mid-winter supplies come from south Florida.
best quality, corn should be refrigerated immediately
after being picked. Corn will retain fairly good
quality for a number of days, if it has been kept
cold and moist since harvesting. Therefore, it
should be refrigerated as soon as possible and
kept moist until used.
for: Fresh, succulent husks with good green
color, silk-ends that are free from decay or worm
injury, and stem ends (opposite from the silk)
that are not too discolored or dried.
ears that are well-covered with plump, not-too-mature
kernels. Sweet corn is sometimes sold husked in
overwrapped film trays.
Ears with under-developed kernels which lack yellow
color (in yellow corn), old ears with very large
kernels, and ears with dark yellow or dried kernels
with depressed areas on the outer surface. Also
avoid ears of corn with yellowed, wilted, or dried
husks, or discolored and dried-out stem ends.
Although cucumbers are produced at various times
of the year in many States, and imported during
the colder months, the supply is most plentiful
in the summer months.
for: Cucumbers with good green color that
are firm over their entire length. They should
be well developed, but not too large in diameter.
Overgrown cucumbers that are large in diameter
and have a dull color, turning yellowish. Also
avoid cucumbers with withered or shriveled ends
-- signs of toughness and bitter flavor.
Eggplant is most plentiful during late summer,
but is available all year. Although the purple
eggplant is more common, white eggplant is occasionally
seen in the marketplace.
for: Firm, heavy, smooth, and uniformly dark
Those which are poorly colored, soft, shriveled,
cut, or which show decay in the form of irregular
Escarole (See Chicory)
A large number of widely differing species of
plants are grown for use as "greens."
The better known kinds are spinach, kale, collard,
turnip, beet, chard, mustard, broccoli leaves,
chicory, endive, escarole, dandelion, cress, and
sorrel. Many others, some of them wild, are also
used to a limited extent as greens.
for: Leaves that are fresh, young, tender,
free from defects, and that have a good, healthy,
green color. Beet tops and red chard show reddish
Leaves with coarse, fibrous stems, yellowish-green
color, softness (a sign of decay), or a wilted
condition. Also avoid greens with evidence of
insects -- especially aphids -- which are sometimes
hard to see and equally hard to wash away.
Among the leading U.S. vegetables, lettuce owes
its prominence to the growing popularity of salads
in our diets. It's available throughout the year
in various seasons from California, Arizona, Florida,
New York, New Jersey, and other States. Four types
of lettuce are generally sold: iceberg, butter-head,
Romaine, and leaf.
lettuce is the major type. Heads are large, round,
and solid, with medium-green outer leaves and
lighter green or pale-green inner leaves.
lettuce , including the Big Boston and Bibb varieties,
has a smaller head than iceberg. This type will
have soft, succulent light-green leaves in a rosette
pattern in the center.
lettuce plants are tall and cylindrical with crisp,
dark-green leaves in a loosely folded head.
lettuce includes many varieties -- none with a
compact head. Leaves are broad, tender, succulent,
and fairly smooth, and they vary in color according
for: Signs of freshness in lettuce. For iceberg
lettuce and Romaine, the leaves should be crisp.
Other lettuce types will have a softer texture,
but leaves should not be wilted. Look for a good,
bright color -- in most varieties, medium to light
green. Some varieties have red leaves.
Heads of iceberg type which are very hard and
which lack green color (signs of overmaturity).
Such heads sometimes develop discoloration of
the inner leaves and midribs, and may have a less
desirable flavor. Also avoid heads with irregular
shapes and hard bumps on top, which indicate the
presence of overgrown central stems.
the lettuce for tip burn, a tan o r brown area
around the margins of the leaves. Look for tip
burn of the edges of the head leaves. Slight discoloration
of the outer or wrapper leaves will usually not
hurt the quality of the lettuce, but serious discoloration
or decay definitely should be avoided.
Grown in houses, cellars, or caves, mushrooms
are available year-round in varying amounts. Most
come from Pennsylvania, but many are produced
in California, New York, Ohio, and other States.
usually describe mushrooms as having a cap (the
wide portion on top), gills (the numerous rows
of paper-thin tissue seen underneath the cap when
it opens), and a stem.
for: Young mushrooms that are small to medium
in size. Caps should be either closed around the
stem or moderately open with pink or light-tan
gills. The surface of the cap should be white
or creamy, or uniform light brown if of a brown
Overripe mushrooms (shown by wide-open caps
and dark, discolored gills underneath) and those
with pitted or seriously discolored caps.
Okra is the immature seed pod of the okra plant,
generally grown in Southern States.
for: Tender pods (the tips will bend with
very slight pressure) under 4-1/2 inches long.
They should be bright green color and free from
Tough, fibrous pods, indicated by tips which are
stiff and resist bending, or by a very hard body
of the pod, or by pale, faded green color.
The many varieties of onions grown commercially
fall into three general classes, distinguished
by color: yellow, white, and red.
are available year-round, either fresh or from
onion-growing States are California, New York,
Texas, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, and Idaho.
for: Hard or firm onions which are dry and
have small necks. They should be reasonably free
from green sunburn spots or other blemishes.
Onions with wet or very soft necks, which
usually are immature or affected by decay. Also
avoid onions with thick, hollow, woody centers
in the neck or with fresh sprouts.
Onions and leeks (sometimes called scallions)
are similar in appearance, but are somewhat different
in nature. Green onions are ordinary onions harvested
very young. They have very little or no bulb formation,
and their tops are tubular.
have slight bulb formation and broad, flat, dark-green
in small, tied bunches, they are all available
to some extent throughout the entire year, but
are most plentiful in spring and summer.
for: Bunches with fresh, crisp, green tops.
They should have portions extending two or three
inches up from the root end.
Yellowing, wilted, discolored, or decayed tops
(indicating flabby, tough, or fibrous condition
of the edible portions). Bruised tops will not
affect the eating quality of the bulbs, if the
tops are removed.
Parsley is generally available the year-round.
It is used both as a decorative garnish and to
add its own unique flavor.
for: Fresh, crisp, bright-green leaves, for
both the curled-leaf and the flat-leaf types of
parsley. Slightly wilted leaves can be freshened
by trimming off the ends of the stems and placing
them in cold water.
Yellowing, discolored, or decayed leaves.
Although available to some extent throughout the
year, parsnips are primarily late-winter vegetables
because the flavor becomes sweeter and more desirable
after long exposure to cold temperatures, below
40 °F .
for: Parsnips of small or medium width that
are well formed, smooth, firm, and free from serious
blemishes or decay.
Large, coarse roots (which probably have woody,
fibrous, or pithy centers) and badly wilted and
flabby roots (which will be tough when cooked).
Most of the peppers that you'll find are the sweet
green peppers, available in varying amounts throughout
the year, but most plentiful during late summer.
(Fully matured peppers of the same type have a
bright red color.) A variety of colored peppers
are also available, including white, yellow, orange,
red, and purple.
for: Peppers with deep, characteristic color,
glossy sheen, relatively heavy weight, and firm
walls or sides.
Peppers with very thin walls (indicated by lightweight
and flimsy sides), peppers that are wilted or
flabby with cuts or punctures through the walls,
and pepper with soft watery spots on the sides
(evidence of decay).
For practical purposes, potatoes can be put into
three groups, although the distinctions between
them are not clear-cut, and there is much overlapping.
potatoes" is a term most frequently used
to describe those potatoes freshly harvested and
marketed during the late winter or early spring.
The name is also widely used in later crop producing
areas to designate freshly dug potatoes which
are not fully matured. The best uses for new potatoes
are boiling or creaming. They vary widely in size
and shape, depending upon variety, but are likely
to be affected by "skinning" or "feathering"
of the outer layer of skin. Skinning usually affects
only their appearance.
purpose potatoes" include the great majority
of supplies, both round and long types, offered
for sale in markets. With the aid of air-cooled
storage, they are amply available throughout the
year. As the term implies, they are used for boiling,
frying, and baking, although many of the common
varieties are not considered to be best for baking.
grown specifically for their baking quality also
are available. Both variety and area where grown
are important factors affecting baking quality.
A long variety with fine, scaly netting on the
skin, such as the Russet Burbank, is commonly
used for baking.
for: With new potatoes, look for firm potatoes
that are free from blemishes and sunburn (a green
discoloration under the skin). Some amount of
skinned surface is normal, but potatoes with large
skinned and discolored areas are undesirable.
For general-purpose and baking potatoes, look
for reasonably smooth, firm potatoes free from
blemishes, sunburn, and decay.
Potatoes with large cuts, bruises, or decay (they'll
cause waste in peeling) and sprouted or shriveled
avoid green potatoes. The green portions, which
contain the alkaloid solanin, may penetrate the
flesh and cause bitter flavor.
Radishes, available the year-round, are most plentiful
from May through July. California and Florida
produce most of our winter and spring supplies,
while several Northern States provide radishes
the rest of the year.
for: Medium-size radishes -- 3/4 to 1 inch
in diameter -- that are plump, round, firm, and
of a good, red color.
Very large or flabby radishes (likely to have
pithy centers). Also avoid radishes with yellow
or decayed tops (sign of over-age).
This highly specialized vegetable is used like
a fruit in sweetened sauces and pies. Very limited
supplies are available during most of the year,
with best supplies available from January to June.
for: Fresh, firm rhubarb stems with a bright,
glossy appearance. Stems should have a large amount
of pink or red color, although many good-quality
stems will be predominantly light green. Be sure
that the stem is tender and not fibrous.
Either very slender or extremely thick stems,
which are likely to be tough and stringy. Also
avoid rhubarb that is wilted and flabby.
Summer squash includes those varieties which are
harvested while still immature and when the entire
squash is tender and edible. They include the
yellow Crookneck, the large Straightneck, the
greenish-white Patty Pan, and the slender green
Zucchini. Some of these squash are available at
all times of the year.
for: Squash that are tender and well developed,
firm, and fresh-appearing. You can identify a
tender squash, because the skin is glossy instead
of dull, and it is neither hard nor tough.
Stale or overmature squash, which will have a
dull appearance and a hard, tough surface. Such
squash usually have enlarged seeds and dry, stringy
flesh. Also avoid squash with discolored or pitted
(Fall and Winter)
Winter squash are those varieties which are marketed
only when fully mature. Some of the most important
varieties are the small corrugated Acorn (available
all year-round), Butternut, Buttercup, green and
blue Hubbard, green and gold Delicious, and Banana.
Winter squash is most plentiful from early fall
until late winter.
for: Full maturity, indicated by a hard, tough
rind. Also look for squash that is heavy for its
size (meaning a thick wall and more edible flesh).
Slight variations in skin color do not affect
Squash with cuts, punctures, sunken spots, or
moldy spots on the rind. These are indications
of decay. A tender rind indicates immaturity,
which is a sign of poor eating quality in winter
Two types of sweet potatoes are available in varying
amounts the year-round. Moist sweet potatoes,
sometimes called yams, are the most common type.
They have orange-colored flesh and are very sweet.
(The true yam is the root of a tropical vine which
is not grown commercially in the United States.)
sweet potatoes have pale-colored flesh and are
low in moisture.
sweet potatoes are grown in the Southern tier
and some Eastern States, in an area from Texas
to New Jersey. California also is a major producer.
for: Firm sweet potatoes with smooth, bright,
uniformly colored skins, free from signs of decay.
Because they are more perishable than white potatoes,
extra care should be used in selecting sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes with worm holes, cuts, grub injury,
or any other defects which penetrate the skin;
this causes waste and can readily lead to decay.
Even if you cut away the decayed portion, the
remainder of the potato flesh may have a bad taste.
is the worst problem with sweet potatoes and is
of three types: wet, soft decay; dry, firm decay
which begins at the end of the potato, making
it discolored and shriveled; and dry rot in the
form of sunken, discolored areas on the sides
of the potato.
potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator.
Extremely popular and nutritious, tomatoes are
in moderate to liberal supply throughout the year.
Florida, California, and a number of other States
are major producers, but imports supplement domestic
best flavor usually comes from locally grown tomatoes
produced on nearby farms. This type of tomato
is allowed to ripen completely before being picked.
Many areas, however, now ship tomatoes which are
picked right after the color has begun to change
from green to pink.
your tomatoes need further ripening, keep them
in a warm place but not in direct sunlight. Unless
they are fully ripened, do not store tomatoes
in a refrigerator -- the cold temperatures might
keep them from ripening later on and ruin the
for: Tomatoes which are smooth, well ripened,
and reasonably free from blemishes.
fully ripe fruit, look for an overall rich, red
color and a slight softness. Softness is easily
detected by gentle handling.
tomatoes slightly less than fully ripe, look for
firm texture and color ranging from pink to light
Soft, overripe, or bruised tomatoes, and tomatoes
with sunburn (green or yellow areas near the steam
scar), and growth cracks (deep brown cracks around
the steam scar). Also avoid decayed tomatoes which
will have soft, water-soaked spots, depressed
areas, or surface mold.
The most popular turnip has white flesh and a
purple tope (reddish-purple tinting of upper surface).
It may be sold "topped" (with leaves
removed) or in bunches with tops still on, and
is available in some food stores most of the year.
for: Small or medium-size, smooth, fairly
round, and firm vegetables. If sold in bunches,
the tops should be fresh and should have a good
Large turnips with too many leaf scars around
the top and with obvious fibrous roots.
are distinctly the yellow-fleshed, large-sized
relatives of turnips. They are available generally
in the fall and winter, but cold-storage rutabagas
are often available in the spring. Late winter
storage rutabagas are sometimes coated with a
thin layer of paraffin to prevent loss of moisture
and shriveling. The paraffin is readily removed
with the peeling before cooking.
for: Heavy weight for their size, generally
smooth, round or moderately elongated shape, and
Rutabagas with skin punctures, deep cuts, or decay.
Watercress is a small, round-leaved plant that
grows naturally (or it may be cultivated) along
the banks of freshwater streams and ponds. It
is prized as an ingredient of mixed green salads
and as a garnish, because of its spicy flavor.
Watercress is available in limited supply through
most of the year.
for: Watercress that is fresh, crisp[, and
has a rich green color.
Bunches with yellow, wilted, or decayed leaves.
of March 05, 2010
a Healthy Diet
we age, maintaining a good diet becomes more and
more important in remaining healthy.
within your daily calorie needs and eat foods
from each required food group. Choose those that
are low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals,
and fiber. If you think they can be found in the
prepared foods sections of your grocery store,
think again. If you try to stick to fresh produce,
meats and fish and fresh bakery section of your
store, you will find more nutrious and low calorie
moving; sitting on the couch and watching TV will
just not cut it. Physical activity is as important
as smart eating for a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining
a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet contributes
to increased energy levels so you will feel like
foods like almonds, vegetable oils, and dark,
leafy greens that are high in vitamin E, can contribute
to your health as you age by reducing the risk
of diseases such as Alzheimer's.
forget that the amount you eat is important too.
Portion control is key to maintaining a healthy
weight. Even foods that are good for you can cause
weight gain if you overeat. Make sure that you
know what constitutes a correct serving size.
FOR EMPTY NESTERS: If you are used to cooking
for 3 or 4, but the kids have grown up and moved
or gone to college, you need to rearrange you
tried and true recipes. Most of us cook amounts
that we learned to cook with. Either start
cutting your recipes that you have in half or
find some new one with serving amount that are
realistic to the people you are serving. That
way you will not feel obliged to make sure there
Cereal, Rice, and Pasta ( 6 to 11 servings
These complex carbohydrates make up the base of
the pyramid. They provide B-vitamins, minerals,
and fiber. Try to steer clear of the more highly
processed carbohydrates such as white bread and
cereals that have high sugar content. Choose whole
grain products whenever possible. They have more
vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
serving = 1 slice of bread, 1/2 bagel or bun,
1 ounce dry cereal, 1/2 cup cooked cereal, 1/2
cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup cooked pasta.
(3 to 5 servings a day)
Vegetables are your best source for vitamins and
fiber. They're also naturally low in fat and calories.
Yellow or orange vegetables, like carrots and
squash, are a great source of vitamin A. Vegetables
from the cabbage and pepper families (broccoli,
Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bell peppers) are super
high in vitamin C.
serving = 1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup any
other chopped vegetable, 3/4 cup vegetable juice
(2 to 4 servings a day)
Fruit makes a fantastic snack or a heart healthy
dessert. Most fruits are high in potassium, low
in sodium, and full of vitamins. Strawberries,
watermelon, and citrus fruits (like oranges and
grapefruit) are full of vitamin C; apricots and
other orange fruits have lots of vitamin A and
cantaloupe, mangos and papayas have both vitamins
A and C. Skip sugarary canned fruit in heavy syrup
and opt for fruit in juice only.
serving = 1 medium apple, banana, or orange; 1/2
cup chopped fruit or berries; 3/4 cup fruit juice.
Yogurt, and Cheese ( 2 to 4 servings a day)
Milk products are rich sources of calcium and
protein. A glass of milk or a cup of yogurt has
protein equal to an ounce of meat or cheese or
to one egg. Try to choose reduced fat dairy products
whenever possible. A glass of whole milk has the
equivalent of two teaspoons of butter or three
tablespoons of sour cream.
serving = 1 cup milk or yogurt, 1-1/2 ounces of
natural cheese, 2 ounces of processed cheese.
Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts (2
to 3 servings a day)
This food group is a major source of protein.
Cooked beans are high in protein and fiber and
low in fat. Tofu and white beans provide calcium.
Almonds are good sources of vitamin E. Beef contains
highly absorbable trace minerals like iron, zinc,
and magnese. Poultry and seafood contribute vitamin
B6, and pork is a rich source of thiamine.
serving = 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry,
or fish; 1 egg; 1/2 cup cooked beans, 2 tablespoons
peanut butter, nuts, or seeds.
Oils, and Sweets (Use sparingly)
This group represents the tip of the pyramid.
It includes butter, oils, margarine, sour cream,
soda pop, candy, and sweet desserts. Remember,
not all fats are created equal. You want to minimize
saturated fats found in animal products like meat
and dairy, and trans-fats found in margarine or
fried snack foods (look out for "partially
hydrogenated" anything). Choose instead heart-healthy
unsaturated fats such as those found in olive
oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado. Sweets should be
minimized as well. These treats are usually high
in calories and devoid of nutritional benefits.
calories per day is appropriate for many sedentary
women and some older adults.
group servings . . . . . . . . . .6
Vegetable group servings . . . . . . .3
Fruit group servings . . . . . . . . . . .2
Milk group servings . . . . . . . . . . .2-3
Meat group (in total ounces) . . . . 5 oz.
Total fat (in grams) . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Total added sugars (in grams). . . .24
calories per day is about right for most children,
teenage girls, active women and sedentary men.
Women who are pregnant or breast feeding may need
group servings . . . . . . . . . .9
Vegetable group servings . . . . . . .4
Fruit group servings . . . . . . . . . . .3
Milk group servings . . . . . . . . . . .2-3
Meat group (in total ounces) . . . . 6 oz.
Total fat (in grams) . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Total added sugars (in grams). . . .48
calories per day is good for teenage boys, many
active men, and some very active women.
group servings . . . . . . . . . .11
Vegetable group servings . . . . . . .5
Fruit group servings . . . . . . . . . . .4
Milk group servings . . . . . . . . . . .2-3
Meat group (in total ounces) . . . . 7 oz.
Total fat (in grams) . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Total added sugars (in grams). . . .72