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Eating seasonally – Part 2 Fall Fruits

Assorted Squash

Summer is quite bountiful for fruits but there is a great decline in the variety of fruits during the fall.  The fruits that are available are wonderful and have many uses.  Eat them while they are available so you get the best flavor and nutritional benefits.  Try these:

Apples – Apples are a staple in my house.  There are so many kinds of apples as well as uses.  You can eat the raw, make applesauce, make apple pie, apple muffins and breads, add to oatmeal or salads, and make into juice.  Dice some up and toss them in any meal you can.  

Cranberries – Cranberries are known for their benefits with urinary tract issues.  They can be beneficial all the time.  I like to make Cranberry Tea – add a handful of fresh or frozen cranberries to a pot of water and boil for 10 minutes.  Drink hot or cold, you can also sweeten with honey.  Cranberries also bake well so add to your next fruit muffin mix.

Pears – A bite into a nice, soft pear cannot be beat.  Pears can be quite mild in flavor but they tend to work similarly than apples.  You can make a pear sauce, pear tarts, salads with pears, or poached.

Persimmons – Persimmons taste best when they are cold, firm and crisp.  They work great in salads, turned into salsa, or made into jam.

Pomegranates – Pomegranates seeds are tiny bursts of flavor.  When you open a pomegranate, it should be ruby red and gleaming.  To take the seeds out with less mess, open and hold under water while freeing the seeds.  Pomegranates are extremely nutritious and taste best raw but can also juiced or cooked into a sauce.  I like mine mixed with spinach and pecans.  

Pumpkins – Pumpkins are traditionally used for Jack O Lanterns or baked from a can.  Pumpkins offer a wide variety of nutrients.  There are numerous ways to eat pumpkin.  I like to eat baked pumpkin items like Pumpkin Bread.  You can make breads, pies, muffins, frostings, soups, and roasted vegetables.  Pumpkins works well sweet or savory.

Quince – Quince is best eaten cooked.  It is quite tart, which makes it hard to eat raw.  When cooked, it will turn a pretty pink color.  Quince is not very popular anymore but can be seen in stores every once in awhile.  

Figs – Figs are known for the lovely cookies they make up.  Figs are soft and sweet, and can be eaten raw or cooked.  They are quite versatile.  You will find them mostly dried.  

Grapes – Grapes are delicious – seriously.  Grapes are quite nutritious and have been shown to have many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory benefits.  Grapes are versatile; they can be used in sweet dishes, savory dishes, eaten raw, cooked, made into jams, juiced, and frozen (my favorite way – tastes like ice pops).  

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Eat more fruit!

Eat More Fruit
Courtesy of bittopper.com

We are all used to hearing that we should eat more fruits and vegetables.  But do you know why?  Each piece of produce has its own individual benefits, slightly different from the others.  Anywhere from cancer fighting to beautiful skin.  The nutrients required for our body are vast.

Fruit offers so many nutrients that our body requires.  Even the different colors of the fruits offer a key to knowing what nutrients are in each fruit.  Typically, the richer the color, the higher the nutrient levels.

Most fruit also has a huge amount of water in it to help with hydration.  The right amount of water can be hard to drink every day.  Adding fruits to your diets can help increase the amount of water in your diet.

When considering fruit, avoid fruit juices.  Juice does not contain the fiber that a whole piece of fruit contains.  Fiber is helpful for eliminating waste, can help lower glucose and cholesterol, and can keep you full longer.  Fruit is one of the best options for fiber.

Fruits can be consumed many different ways.  You can eat a whole piece of fruit.  You can cut up many types of fruit and eat a fruit salad.  You can blend one or many fruits to make a smoothie (be careful or added sugars), dried, or you can cook the fruits – sauté, bake, fry (not the best option), microwave.

For me, each fruit taste better a different way.  I prefer apples soft – sautéed or cooked into oatmeal.  Strawberries – I like to mix with other fruit like bananas, kiwis, or blueberries.  I will eat bananas any way they come.

How do you prefer your fruit?  What’s your favorite?

 

 

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Infused Waters!

Strawberry and Basil

Most of us don’t drink nearly enough water in a day.  Some will turn to flavored waters.  Flavored waters can be expensive and full of chemicals you really don’t want in your body.  Why not try making your own.  It is fairly simple.

     You need:

          Pitcher with lid (lid optional but helpful)

          Your favorite fruit and herbs

          Ice

          Filtered Water

          Refrigerator

 

You will need about ½ cup or more of fruit and herbs.  This will enable the water to have the flavor of the ingredients you use.  Prepare the fruit depending on type, and pinch herbs.  Add to the bottom of the pitcher and add a bunch of ice.  Fill in with water and stick in the refrigerator for at least 1 to 2 hours.  Some fruits you will be able to taste right away but most need to steep.

Some of my favorite combinations are:

       Strawberry and Basil (or Mint)

       Strawberry and Lemon

       Cucumber and Mint

       Melon and Basil

       Cinnamon Stick and Apple slices

       Oranges, Lemons, and Lime

       Peach, Blackberry and Thyme

  • Strawberry greatly sweetens your water so this works well if you are trying to cut back on the sweeter drinks (soda, juice). Slicing the strawberries will tint your water pink.  Leave whole if you don’t want it tinted (you will still get the flavor)
  • Basil and mint can be added to almost any fruit to give them a kick.  Or simply add them alone.  Basil is surprisingly sweet when left to steep.  Rosemary, lavender, thyme, cinnamon sticks also work.
  • Always use fresh fruit and herbs.  Frozen fruit may work in some cases but smaller fruits will disintegrate.  Dried herbs will flavor eventually but will take much longer and are smaller so they will be in every sip.
  • Slice larger fruit like peaches and citrus.  Berries can be cut in half but don’t cut too much smaller.  Cut berries will color your water.
  • Do not store for more than 48 hours.

You can try any combination, including other herbs.  Bananas do not work!

You can also use large mason jars and scale down your ingredients.  This way you can have many kinds in the same day.  

Let me know what great combination you came up with!

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Cilantro substitute

Fresh Parsley

Parsley is a strong herb that is grown in many gardens.  Stores usually carry two varieties – Italian and Curly.  These are equally delicious and tend to be inexpensive.  We have already learned how to make chimichurri sauce, so we will now talk about another unusual use for it.  

I am a huge fan of Mexican food.  The main problem I have is that I am not a huge fan of cilantro.  I know, it seems contradictory.  When first making salsas, I would just leave it out completely.  Of course it tasted like something was missing.  Adding cilantro was just too much.  So I began adding parsley.  It worked like a charm.  Parsley is much more mellow than cilantro but gives a similar flavor and texture.  I realize it’s cheating and not hugely authentic but it makes a difference.  

So if cilantro is not your favorite, try replacing it with equal parts of parsley.  Both have similar nutritional advantages so whichever you prefer, add it!  You can try it in a basic Pico de Gallo recipe:

Pico de Gallo

1 cup finely chopped onion (I prefer yellow)

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

2 limes, juiced

3 cups small diced roma tomatoes

½ cup chopped parsley

1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinate as long as you can (2 hours is best).  

 

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Chimichurri

Chimichurri

Parsley is great to always have on hand.  I have some in my garden but it’s never quite enough.  (Its very easy to grow and requires minimal attention).  I also usually keep some dried for those in between times when I am out of fresh.  Dried works well in equal parts.  This week my nose found a bunch on the organic booth at my Farmer’s Market.  I couldn’t resist.  Since I already had a chuck roast and perfect, tiny red potatoes from the Tudor Hall Farm booth, I decided to make a classic meat and potatoes meal for Sunday dinner, with a twist.   Continue reading Chimichurri

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A New Way To Use Squash

Assorted Squash

During fall time, there is squash everywhere you look.  They are used for decorations or fall filled meals.  My house is a bit picky when it comes to squash, usually sticking to zucchini and pumpkin.  Knowing the wonderful benefits of squash, I often try to add it to our diet.  I have gone online to find fun ways to use different kinds of squash.  I have roasted acorn squash with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  I thought this was great but my household does not seem to care for sweet side dishes.   Continue reading A New Way To Use Squash

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How to get more produce into your life!

Red Onions and Shallots

Each and every one of us should be eating better.  Especially this time of year.  No matter how well you are doing, you can still do better.  If you are cooking for others, it can be even more difficult.  But how do you get more produce into your diet without living off salads… Continue reading How to get more produce into your life!

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Garlic

Organic Garlic Bulbs

Garlic is an extremely versatile vegetable.  This pungent bulb vegetable is great in all cuisines.  When cooking or eating garlic, it tends to be in small amounts compared to other vegetables.  This does not deter from its great flavor and high nutritional value. Continue reading Garlic

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Turnips

White and Purple Turnips

Turnip are an unsung hero in the vegetable world.  They do not tend to be the first vegetable you think of when meal planning.  In other countries, they are consumed regularly.  I have to admit I have never had one until recently.  So I have been working on adding unfamiliar produce to my diet when I can.  Which is harder than it sounds. Continue reading Turnips

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8 Health Benefits of Eating Greens

Beets with Greens

Vegetables are wonderful.  They are very tasty and wonderfully healthy for you.  There are so many vegetables to choose from and they each have different nutritional benefits.  The recipes are also quite endless.

Today, I want to focus on greens.  I have spent a lot of my time researching certain nutrients, only to find that greens is on all the lists of examples.  Greens consist of typical leafy greens, like spinach and romaine, as well as less recognized greens like the greens from beets or turnips.  Even though some greens have slightly different nutritional benefits, all greens are extremely beneficial.   Continue reading 8 Health Benefits of Eating Greens

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Fresh Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkins

**RECIPE**  It’s fall time and we are all seeing pumpkins everywhere.  Most pumpkins are sitting on someone’s porch or mantel as a seasonal decoration.  I usually cut Jack O’lanterns with the kids and buy prepared pumpkin puree for all the delicious pumpkin foods.  This year I decided to try to roast my own pumpkin for a puree I could use.  If you want to eat a pumpkin, make sure to get a baking pumpkin, not a Jack O’lantern pumpkin.  The baking pumpkin tastes much better.   Continue reading Fresh Pumpkin Muffins

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Carrots

Garden Carrots

**Recipe**   I am proud to say that the carrots pictured here are from my garden.  This was my first time growing carrots so getting any production was exciting.  They were quite easy; allowing for questionable soil, and inconsistent watering.  I did make the mistake of planting in a ground that was far too hard which made the carrots stunt but did not affect the flavor.  My kids ate them right up.   Continue reading Carrots

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Anti-inflammatory Foods and Combination Ideas

Tatsoi

Inflammation is an issue that plagues many of us regularly.  A lot of us rely on medications like ibuprofen to help our aches and pains.  There are many foods that can make inflammation worse but there are many foods that can actually help in a great way.  Foods that help don’t have to be hard to find.  The following foods are easy to find and easy to add to your diet: Continue reading Anti-inflammatory Foods and Combination Ideas

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Eating seasonally – Fall vegetables

Potato Pile

We have all heard that we should eat local and seasonal.  But why?  First, local food means you are buying it from farmers near you and will support local economy.  It also means the food did not sit in a truck as long and is more likely to have been picked when ripe and not beforehand.  If you eat food seasonally, it will  taste significantly better.  For example, Tomatoes in July will always taste better than tomatoes in December. Your produce will likely be cheaper too Continue reading Eating seasonally – Fall vegetables

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Leafless salads

Mediterranean Salad Completed

Don’t get me wrong!  I love salads.  All kinds!  But when I plan to have salad with a meal, or as a meal, I tend to do the same combinations.  Some greens with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and maybe some other fill-ins.  Top it all with some store bought dressing.  Don’t feel bad if this sounds like you.  It definitely sounds like me.  It’s easy and takes very little thought.  

Continue reading Leafless salads

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Snack Pack Mix Ins

Snack Pack Ideas

 

Snack packs are mixes of random non perishable food that you can eat at snack time.  We make a lot of snack packs in my house.  It is easier and cheaper than buying Chex Mix or something along those lines.  I make large bags since it all keeps well, so that I can grab and go.  If there is a bulk section in your grocery store, I highly suggest walking up and down it to find your flavors!  A bulk aisle will decrease your cost drastically.  Bulk aisles also tend to have options like unsalted.  Making your own Snack Pack will lower the salt, sugar and preservatives in you daily snack.

Now let’s try making our own with some of these great mix ins:

Nuts and seeds25%. Almonds, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds.  

These are extremely nutritious but can be high in calories and fat.  Limit these but do not ignore them.  This is the mix in that will help keep you full until dinner!  There are more seeds and nuts then this list.  See one?  Then give it a try.

Continue reading Snack Pack Mix Ins

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Healthy Baking Substitutes

Baking Substitutions

Baking can be quite fun and satisfying but can leave you with a little guilt.  Or you may be hesitant to even try simply because you don’t want to bust your waistline.  Making a few changes can make your decadent cake, brownie, cookie, or muffin a bit less guilt ridden, while simultaneously adding nutrients to your recipes.  I would not recommend changing each part of a recipe because you are likely to end up with a mushy mess.  Here are some of the changes you can make to help your recipe.  Some changes will cause the texture or taste to be a little different, but know that you are adding flavor not subtracting it.

Applesauce – use applesauce to replace half of your fat.  Also can replace half your sugar in equal parts. Again do not replace all the sugar

Continue reading Healthy Baking Substitutes

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Herbs and Spices to always have in your house!

Herbs and Spices

Seasoning blends are an easy way to make a homemade dinner.  A huge problem with a lot of these blends and mixes, is the huge amount of salt and unnatural ingredients.  Why not try to make your own?  The internet is full of recipes for all sorts of things… including seasoning mixes.  Here is a list of the herbs and spices I keep in my cupboard at all times.

Chili powder

  • Not necessarily spicy but it adds a smoky, rich, deep flavor.

Thyme 

  • This can take a dish to the next level.  This works great in soups, fish, chicken, and with vegetables.

Continue reading Herbs and Spices to always have in your house!