101 foods that could save your life – Part6

 Mushrooms (Basidiomycota)

 
Did you know…to the untrained eye, there are no easily recogniz able differences between poisonous  and edible mushrooms? My grandmother’s  “surefire” method was to have my grandfather try the wild mushrooms  she picked first and if he suffered no ill effect, she then fed them to the family!
 
What’s the Story?
 
Mushrooms are actually the “fruits” of fungus called mycelium, growing in soil, wood, or decaying matter. There are thousands of varieties of mushrooms, ranging in size, shape, texture, and color. Some more popular types include black trumpet, chanterelles, cloud ears, lobster, morels, oyster, porcini, portobella, shiitake, truffles, white button, and wood ear mushroom. Mushrooms impart a fifth taste sense called unami in Japanese, translated to mean “savory” or “meaty.” Not all edible mushrooms are used in cooking; some are used for medicinal benefits and are sold in supplement form.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
Mushrooms, in one variety or another, have been around since the very beginnings of vegetation. Eastern cultures have used mushrooms for both food and medicine for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians believed that eating mushrooms would make you immortal. France became one of the first countries renowned for cultivation of mushrooms. After King Louis XIV’s reign, mushroom cultivation gained popularity in England, and in the late nineteenth century, cultivated mushrooms came to the United States.
 
Where Are Mushrooms Grown?
 
China accounts for thirty-two percent of worldwide production. The United States cultivates sixteen percent of world output.
 
Why Should I Eat Mushrooms?
 
Though not generally thought of as “nutrition-packed” vegetables, many culinary mushrooms contain large amounts of selenium (in fact, more so than any other produce). Mushrooms are also a good source of B vitamins such as riboflavin and pantothenic acid. White, crimini, and portobella mushrooms are excellent sources of potassium. White button mushrooms start out as a good source of vitamin D, but if exposed to ultraviolet light for just five minutes after harvesting, a single serving will contain a powerhouse punch of 869 percent of the daily value of vitamin D! The benefit of this level of vitamin D is currently being investigated. Polyphenols are the main contributor to the antioxidant activity of mushrooms. Another antioxidant called ergothioneine, known for its anticancer properties, reaches its greatest value in fungi.
 
Home Remedies
 
Many species of mushrooms and fungi that have been utilized for thousands of years as folk medicines, for anything from warding off cancer to fighting heart disease, have come under intense study by ethnobotanists and medical researchers in recent years.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
BREAST CANCER: A research study revealed that of seven vegetable extracts tested, white mushroom extract was the most effective in inhibiting aromatase, an enzyme associated with breast cancer growth.
 
 
 
 
PROSTATE CANCER: White button mushroom extract suppressed the growth of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells and decreased tumor size in a dose-dependent manner in in vivo and in vitro studies.
 
 
 
 
IMMUNE SYSTEM ENHANCEMENT: Mushrooms contain beta-glucans and other substances that may help the immune system recognize and devour abnormal cells that cause disease.
 
 
 
 
MIGRAINES: Psilocybin, originally an extract of certain psychedelic mushrooms, is being intensely studied for migraine headaches (as well as for illnesses like obsessive-compulsive disorder).
 
Tips on Using Mushrooms
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Wild mushrooms are available seasonally. You may find morels in the spring, chanterelles in midsummer, and porcini in the fall.
 
• For common mushrooms, choose those with a firm texture and even color with tightly closed caps.
 
• Store mushrooms partially covered in your refrigerator crisper. Use them within three days.
 
• Store dried mushrooms in an airtight container.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Dried mushrooms should be soaked in hot water or part of the recipe cooking liquid for about an hour before using. The liquid may be used for added flavor.
 
• Gently wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth or soft brush to remove occasional peat moss particles. Or, rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
 
• Mushrooms can be fried, sautéed, or stir-fried on their own and eaten as a side dish, or used to top an entrée.
 
• Mushrooms can be used in salads, soups, sauces, stir-fries, meat dishes, and other main courses.
 
 
 
Portobella Mushrooms with Tiger Shrimp
 
by Chef J. Hugh McEvoy
 
Servings: 6 • Prep and cooking time: 35 minutes
 
To make this dish vegetarian, use “no-chicken” chicken stock by Natural Foods instead of regular chicken stock and omit the shrimp. This recipe features six powerhouse ingredients.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
6 large portobella mushrooms
 
6 large (21/25 count) tiger shrimp
 
¾ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
 
2 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
 
1/3 cup sweet red bell pepper, chopped
 
1/3 cup fresh shallots, chopped
 
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped fine
 
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped fine
 
¾ cup chicken stock (low-salt)
 
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 
Salt and pepper to taste
 
DIRECTIONS:
Remove stems from mushrooms. Using a heavy sauté pan, sauté mushroom caps in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Sauté peppers, shallots, and chopped mushroom stems in olive oil until lightly browned. Add breadcrumbs and heat through. Add chicken stock. Mix until evenly blended. Remove from heat. Add fresh chopped herbs and cheese to mixture. Fold together until evenly blended. Set aside. Steam tiger shrimp in shells. Peel and devein shrimp. Set aside. Stuff each mushroom cap three-quarters full with filling mixture. Do not overfill. Top each filled mushroom with steamed tiger shrimp. Curl shrimp inside mushroom cap. Brush each filled, topped mushroom with melted butter. Using a shallow baking pan, brown the stuffed mushrooms under a broiler until brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each cap with a fresh basil leaf. Serve immediately.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 200; Total fat: 12g; Saturated fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 35mg; Total carbs: 14g; Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 9g.
 
 
 
Oats (Avena sativa)
 
Did you know…all forms of oats, whether old-fashioned,  quick-cooking, steel-cut, or instant oatmeal, fall under the definition of whole grain? Because all three parts of the grain are preserved during the milling—no  matter which variety—all provide the same nutrients in the same amounts. Bottom line…it’s a matter of taste and texture! Eat the form that suits your taste and lifestyle!
 
What’s the Story?
 
The seed portion of the oat plant is what we commonly refer to as “oats.” After the inedible hull is removed, a “groat” remains. A variety of oat products are made from the groat, such as steel-cut oats (commonly known as “Irish oats”), old-fashioned oatmeal, quick oatmeal, instant oatmeal, oat flour, and oat bran. Oats in general have a mild, creamy, and somewhat floury texture.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
Oats were one of the earliest cereals cultivated by humans. Many believe oats originated in Eurasia and were consumed in ancient China as long ago as 7000 B.C. The ancient Greeks were the first people known to have made porridge (cereal) from oats. In England, oats were considered an inferior grain, while in Ireland and Scotland they were used in a variety of porridges and baked goods. Cultivated oats came to America with the first British immigrants in the early 1600s. In fact, the British Quaker influence inspired the name “Quaker Oats” and the company remains the main supplier of oats to the United States today.
 
Where Are Oats Grown?
 
The top ten producers of grain include Russia, Canada, the United States, Poland, Finland, Australia, Germany, Belarus, People’s Republic of
China, and the Ukraine. Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa, and central Canada lead in oat production in North America.
 
Why Should I Eat Oats?
 
Oats contain healthy amounts of vitamin E, several B vitamins, the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and the trace minerals selenium, copper, zinc, iron, and manganese. They are rich in the phytochemicals 1,3-beta-glucan and avenanthramides. Oats contribute both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber benefits the digestive system. The soluble fiber found in oats works like a sponge by going after cholesterol and removing it before it has a chance to clog arteries and lead to heart disease.
 
Home Remedies
 
When oats first arrived on the scene in the American colonies, they were used to cure stomach discomfort and digestive ailments. Oats have also been reported to have antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and stimulant properties and have also been used as a folk remedy for tumors. Externally, for centuries people have taken oat baths to help soothe itchiness, eczema, and other disorders of the skin.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
HEART HEALTH: There  are over forty clinical studies spanning forty years that confirm oats’ ability to lower not only total cholesterol but also harmful LDL cholesterol, both significant risk factors for heart disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first food-specific health claim for use on oatmeal packaging and in advertising in 1997. Eating three grams of soluble fiber from oats as part of a low-fat and low- cholesterol diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), the particles that carry cholesterol into your arteries. In a study in the Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers found that a substance in oats called beta-glucans significantly reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
 
 
 
 
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE:  In a study in the Journal of Family Practice, groups of men and women who had high blood pressure experienced significant reduction in blood pressure, the need for antihypertensive medication, and improved lipids and blood glucose, when oats were added to their diet.
 
 
 
 
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT:  Research shows that beginning the day with a nutritious, fiber-rich diet can help you maintain a healthy weight. Oatmeal was found to have the highest satiety value out of all breakfast foods, providing a greater feeling of fullness.
DIABETES: Several long-term studies show that people with high whole grain intake had from twenty-eight to sixty-one percent lower risk for
developing type 2 diabetes compared with those with the lowest intakes.
 
Tips on Using Oats
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Look for tightly sealed boxes or canisters. Avoid bulk cereals; grains in open bins may be exposed to moisture, mold, and insect contamination.
 
• Keep oats in an airtight and moisture-proof container to prevent bugs from getting in and mold/fungi growth from forming.
 
• Properly stored and dry, rolled oats may keep for as long as a year.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Oats can be prepared in a variety of different ways. They can be processed into cereals and snacks, made into beer, and baked into cookies, muffins, and breads.
 
• For creamier-style oatmeal, bring the oats, milk or soy beverage, or water to a boil, then simmer.
 
• The most popular oatmeal toppings are: milk, sugar, and fruit such as raisins and bananas.
 
• Try them in meatloaf and meatballs, or as a coating for chicken and fish.
 
• Quick or old-fashioned oats can be substituted for up to one-third of the flour called for in recipes for muffins, biscuits, pancakes, loaf-type quick breads, coffee cakes, yeast breads, cookies, and bars.
 
• Oatmeal cookies are the number one non-cereal usage for oats.
Ina’s Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
 
by Ina Pinkney
 
Servings: 12 pancakes • Prep time: 8+ hours—oats have to refrigerate overnight Cooking time: 5 minutes
 
I made these pancakes for my wife on Mother’s Day. She exclaimed that hands down, these were the best pancakes she had ever had! Their creator, Ina Pinkney, is the chef and owner of the renowned Ina’s Kitchen in Chicago. Ina says the test of a good pancake is how it tastes unadorned, on its own. I couldn’t agree more! These whole wheat oatmeal pancakes are great straight up but they also taste great with slices of bananas or a few blueberries placed on the pancake before flipping it over. Just a little pure maple syrup drizzled over the top is needed to bring out the rich flavors contained within! This recipe contains three powerhouse foods.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
 
2 cups buttermilk, low-fat
 
¼ cup whipping cream, light
 
1 egg
 
2 tablespoons brown sugar
 
2 tablespoons canola oil
 
½ cup whole wheat flour
 
½ cup all-purpose flour
 
½ teaspoon salt
 
1 teaspoon baking soda
 
DIRECTIONS:
Combine rolled oats, buttermilk, and cream in a mixing bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, beat egg with brown sugar and oil in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine flours, salt, and baking soda. Stir into egg mixture along with the oats soaked in buttermilk and cream. Batter will be thick. Coat a large, nonstick pan with cooking spray. Add batter, measuring ¼ cup for each pancake. Pancakes should be about 4? across. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, until tiny bubbles appear and the surface loses its sheen. Flip. Cook second side, 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through. Repeat until all batter is used.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 120; Total fat: 5g; Saturated fat: 1.5g; Cholesterol: 30mg; Sodium: 250mg; Total carbs: 15g; Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 4g.
 
 
 
Olives (Olea Europaea)
 
Did you know…fresh  olives off the tree taste horrible? Commercially available olives are brine-, salt-, or olive oil–cured first before they ever meet human lips.
 
What’s the Story?
 
Olives are fruits that grow on trees, contain a single pit, and have flesh filled with oil. The ripe fruits are either pressed to extract oil or sold whole. There are dozen of cultivars of olives but some of the most popular are Ascolano, Barouni, Gordal (one of the most popular table olives from Spain), Manzanillo, Mission (most widely used for cold-pressed olive oil in California), Picholine, Rubra, and Sevillano (the largest California commercial variety).
 
Did you know…that green and black olives are really the same olive and only vary in the degree of ripeness—black being the most ripe?
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
The olive has a very long history dating back to biblical times. The olive branch, a symbol of peace known worldwide, was brought back to Noah by a dove signifying the end of God’s wrath. In fact, carbon-dating of an olive seed found in Spain suggests an age of eight thousand years old! Besides the Mediterranean region, olives are thought to also have originated in tropical and central Asia and various parts of Africa. Olives were grown in Crete as long ago as 2500 B.C. Olives spread to Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean area. Olive trees first appeared in California in the late 1700s.
 
Where Are Olives Grown?
 
According to the International Olive Oil Council, Spain is the largest producer of olive oil, followed by Italy and then Greece. Tunisia, Turkey, Syria, Morroco, and Portugal round out the next highest group for production. These eight countries combined account for over ninety percent of world olive oil production.
 
Why Should I Eat Olives?
 
Olive oil contains seventy-five percent heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and only thirteen percent from saturated fat. Many of olive oil’s health benefits come from active compounds such as oleocanthal, which has a strong anti-inflammatory action to fight heart disease and cancer. The flavonoid polyphenols in olive oil are natural antioxidants that boast a host of beneficial effects, from healing sunburn to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of coronary disease. Many other nut and seed oils have no polyphenols whatsoever.
 
Home Remedies
 
A few drops of warmed olive oil, also known as sweet oil, placed in the ear canal has been known to help alleviate earaches.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
CANCER PREVENTION: Epidemiological evidence suggests that olive and olive oil consumption as part of a Mediterranean diet has cancer- protective properties.
 
 
 
 
COLON CANCER: Spanish researchers found that the active ingredients maslinic and oleanolic acids in olive oil prevented human colon cancer cells from multiplying and restored apoptosis (programmed cell death).
 
 
 
 
HEART DISEASE: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in clear, albeit careful, terms has stated: “Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.”
 
 
 
 
HIGH BLOOD  PRESSURE:   In 2007, the Journal of Nutrition reported the findings of researcher Isabel Bondia-Pons from the University of
Barcelona. She and her colleagues evaluated the effects of moderate consumption of olive oil (about two tablespoons a day) by non-Mediterranean
men who typically consumed very low levels of olive oil. They experienced a modest reduction in their systolic blood pressure which was attributed to the increase of heart-healthy oleic fatty acids in their diet.
 
Tips on Using Olives
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• For the highest antioxidant content, choose “extra-virgin” or “virgin” oil, the least-processed forms.
 
Extra-virgin olive oil: comes from the first pressing of the olives and is favored for its superior taste.
 
Virgin olive oil: has a greenish tint, is obtained by pressing crushed fruit in coarse bags and removing the oil. It has a stronger taste than extra-virgin.
 
Except in a pinch, you should avoid bottles and containers labeled “refined oil,” “pomace olive oil,” or “light oil.”
 
• Transfer olive oil to a sealable container and refrigerate. It will become solid but rapidly reliquefies if left at room temperature for a few minutes.
 
• Store oil away from light and heat to maintain phytochemical content.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Use olive oil for lower-temperature cooking. The particles found in extra-virgin olive oil cause it to burn and smoke at higher temperatures. Once the oil burns, many of the health benefits go POOF—up in smoke!
 
• Use to flavor sauces and gravies or as a dressing on salads and vegetables. Olive oil infused with fresh herbs also makes a delicious dip for hot, crusty Italian bread! Mangia, Mangia!
 
• Place a medium black olive on each fingertip and you will have exactly one fat serving (give or take a finger). They are fun to eat that way too.
Honey-Balsamic Dressing
 
 
 
 
This recipe contains three powerhouse foods. INGREDIENTS:
 
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
 
½ cup balsamic vinegar
 
2 tablespoons honey
 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
 
1 teaspoon black pepper
 
½ teaspoon salt
by Dave Grotto
 
Servings: 12 • Prep time: 10 minutes
 
DIRECTIONS:
Whisk together vinegar, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until well blended. Slowly add olive oil while whisking. Serve over salad or hot vegetables, or use as a dip for bread.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 100; Total fat: 9g; Saturated fat: 1.5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 100mg; Total carbs: 5g; Fiber: 0g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 0g.
 
 
 
Onions (Allium cepa)
 
Did you know…the thickness of an onion’s skin has been used to predict how bad the next winter may be? Thin skins mean a mild winter is coming, while thick skins indicate a rough winter ahead.
 
What’s the Story?
 
Onions are a member of the lily family and there are two basic types:
 
• Bulb-forming:
 
Storage, fall/winter onions: Examples include white, yellow, and Spanish.
 
Fresh, spring/summer onions: Examples include Maui, Vidalia, Walla Walla, Grand Canyon, and Texas SuperSweet.
 
• Perennial—produce clusters of onions that can be replanted for another crop. Varieties include Egyptian onions, shallots, and potato onions.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
The origin of the onion is thought to be in Asia, where onion gardens have been excavated dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. Pharaohs were buried with onions as a sign of eternity. The Romans believed the onion could cure whatever ailed them. Well into the twentieth century, the three main vegetables of European cuisine were beans, cabbage, and onions. During the Middle Ages, onions were an acceptable form of currency used to pay rent, and they were always a welcome wedding gift!
 
Onions were growing wild in the United States long before the first Pilgrims arrived. The Native Americans used wild onions for cooking and seasonings, in syrups, and in dyes. Onion cultivation in the United States began in 1629 and it is now one of the top ten vegetables grown in this country.
 
Where Are Onions Grown?
 
The world’s leading producers are China, India, United States, Turkey, and Pakistan. In the United States, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, and Texas are the largest producing states.
 
Why Should I Eat Onions?
 
Onions contain quercetin, a powerful flavonoid antioxidant. Onions are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Green onions (scallions)
have moderate amounts of vitamin A. Phytochemicals found in onions, particularly allyl sulfides, appear to reduce the risk of some cancers.
 
Home Remedies
 
In many parts of the world, onions have been used to heal blisters, boils, and damaged skin. In the United States, products that contain onion extract are used in the treatment of topical scars; however, in a side-by-side test, onion extract did not perform any better than a petrolatum salve.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
CANCER: In a study that evaluated the top ten vegetables consumed in the United States, yellow onions were the third highest in phenolic (a type of antioxidant) content and were fourth highest in anticancer-growth activity. The National Cancer Institute has found that onions have a modest level of cancer-protective activity.
 
 
 
 
LUNG CANCER: Onions are rich in the phytochemical quercetin, which has been shown to have beneficial effects against lung cancer. A case- controlled study of 582 subjects found that people who increased their onion consumption decreased their risk of developing cancer. In a Finnish study, men who ate foods high in quercetin had a sixty-percent-reduced incidence of lung cancer.
 
 
 
 
COLON AND LIVER CANCER: Researchers at Cornell University found that strong-tasting onions—particularly New York bold, western yellow, and shallots—do a better job of inhibiting the growth of liver and colon cancer cells than do milder-tasting onions.
PROSTATE CANCER: A U.S. researcher found that the strongest risk reduction factors for prostate cancer were onions, cereals and grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
 
 
 
 
HEART HEALTH: Allyl sulfides, found in onions, decrease the tendency of blood clots to form, significantly lowering total LDL cholesterol levels. A study of Japanese women found that those with the highest onion intake had the lowest LDL cholesterol. University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers  found that the stronger-tasting  and -smelling  onions made blood platelets less sticky, thus reducing risk for atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.
 
 
 
 
BONE HEALTH: A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported that onion consumption increased bone density in rats, possibly decreasing the risk for osteoporosis.
 
Tips on Using Onions
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Onions are available in fresh, frozen, canned, and dehydrated forms.
 
• An onion shouldn’t smell like an onion until you cut it.
 
• Avoid onions that are sprouting, are soft, or whose skin is wet.
 
• If stored at 55 degrees, they may retain all their vitamin C content for as long as 6 months.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Slicing an onion causes its cell walls to tear, which releases a sulfur compound called propanethial-S-oxide, which in turn causes eye irritation. Place the onion in the refrigerator about 1 hour before cutting to reduce this effect. Cutting an onion under running water also helps reduce irritation to the eyes.
 
• Cooking onions gives them more of a sweet taste. “Caramelizing” onions occurs when prolonged heat causes the sugars to brown the onion.
 
• Popular onion uses include being employed as an ingredient in casseroles, pizzas, soups, stew, salads, onion rings, and as a garnish.
Simple Southern  Italian Onion, Tomato, and Basil Salad
 
by Rosalie Gaziano
 
Servings: 4 • Prep time: 10 minutes
 
This salad is especially good when kept in the refrigerator for a few hours or even overnight. This recipe includes five powerhouse foods.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
4 red tomatoes, ripe
 
1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion
 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 
1 pinch crushed red pepper to taste
 
1 large bunch fresh basil (½ cup when chopped) Salt to taste
A fewwhole leaves of basil to garnish
 
DIRECTIONS:
Cut wedges of fresh tomatoes into clear glass or favorite colorful salad bowl. Peel and wedge onion into same bowl. Pour olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil, and toss well. Chop fresh basil and garnish with one or more sprigs for color.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 110; Total fat: 8g; Saturated fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 15mg; Total carbs: 9g; Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 2g.
 
 
 
Oranges (Citrus sinensis)
 
Did you know…oranges are the largest citrus crop in the world?
 
What’s the Story?
 
Oranges fall into two categories: sour oranges and sweet oranges. There are many different varieties and subvarieties of sweet orange. The navel is the most popular eating orange in the world; the Florida and California Valencia is mostly juiced. Other popular varieties include the blood or pigmented orange such as the Ruby, and the acidless orange, more native to the Mediterranean region. Mandarins or tangerines, Citrus reticulata, are considered distinct from the sweet orange but there are hybrids, such as the Temple orange, that combine the best of sweet and tangerines.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
Sour varieties of oranges were cultivated well before the Middle Ages. The sweet varieties have only been around since the fifteenth century. The origins of the orange are thought to be in Southern Asia and from there, it spread to Syria, Persia, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Columbus brought them to the West Indies, and Spanish explorers brought them into Florida, where they were first planted around 1875. Spanish missionaries were responsible for introducing them to California.
 
Where Are Oranges Grown?
 
Brazil is the leading orange-producing country in the world, followed by the United States, Mexico, Spain, Italy, China, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, and
Greece. Florida and California are the leading orange-producing states in the U.S.
 
Why Should I Eat Oranges?
 
Oranges are a great source of potassium, a mineral that’s important for heart health, and an excellent source of vitamin C, providing one hundred thirty percent of the recommended daily value (RDA) per orange. Oranges are also a good source of the B vitamin folate, which helps protect against heart disease and birth disorders. Phytochemically speaking, oranges are a rich source of flavanones, a specialty group of the flavonoid family of antioxidants which offer cell protection against a host of diseases. A four-ounce glass of orange juice is equivalent to one fruit serving.
 
Home Remedies
 
Oranges, orange juice, and orange rind have been used as home remedies for a variety of conditions including coughs and the common cold, constipation, toothaches, cataracts, and anorexia. Orange is applied topically for acne.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
HEART HEALTH: The Food and Drug Administration advises that “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”
 
 
 
 
WEIGHT CONTROL: Fibers  found  in the white layer of an orange curb appetite and suppress hunger levels for up to four hours after eating. Studies show that people who eat fruit such as oranges tend to eat less at subsequent meals compared to people who eat snacks such as chips, snack crackers, desserts, or candy.
 
 
 
 
ANXIETY: Patients awaiting dental procedures who were exposed to the odor of orange had reduced anxiety and improved mood compared to the control group.
 
 
 
 
KIDNEY STONES: In a randomized study, researchers found that orange juice, more than any other citrus juice, boosted levels of citrate in the urine, necessary to stop kidney stones from forming.
 
Tips on Using Oranges
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
• Fruit: Look for fruits that are firm and heavy for their size, with bright, colorful skins. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled, or discolored skins; this
indicates the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly.
 
• Juice: Drink orange juice by the sell-by date on the carton and within one week after opening the carton.
 
• Oranges will keep at room temperature for several days. But for best results, store in a plastic bag or the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
 
• Oranges can be frozen, too.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
There are several ways to peel oranges:
 
• The “basketball” peeling method: Slice off the stem end of the fruit. Without cutting into the “meat” of the fruit, score the peel with a knife or a citrus peeler into quarters like a basketball. Pull away the peel.
 
• The “round and round” peeling method: Using a slight sawing motion, cut only the outer, colored peel away in a continuous spiral, leaving the white membrane. Cutting lengthwise with the curve of the fruit, remove the white membrane.
 
• Add orange segments to a parfait or to a salad with red onions and romaine lettuce.
 
• Use orange juice as a meat tenderizer, as a component of marinade, or in dressings.
Orange and Dried Pear Compote
 
by Ina Pinkney
 
Servings: 6 (1/3cup servings) • Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes
 
This recipe contains six powerhouse foods.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
½ cup water
 
½ cup orange juice
 
¼ cup honey
 
1 large orange, peeled and sectioned with seeds removed
 
¼ cup lemon juice
 
6 ounces dried pears, sliced into thin strips
 
2 tablespoons mint, fresh, finely chopped
 
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
 
DIRECTIONS:
In a heavy saucepan, combine water, orange juice, and honey and bring to a boil. Add the orange segments, lemon juice, and pears. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until the fruit is plump and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs. Let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Can be served cold or at room temperature.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 140; Total fat: 0g; Saturated fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Total carbs: 37g; Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 30g; Protein: 1g.
 
 
 
Oregano (Origanum)
 
Did you know…ancient Romans and Greeks would crown a bride and groom with oregano during a wedding ceremony because the herb was believed to banish sadness?
 
What’s the Story?
 
Oregano, also called Greek oregano, wild marjoram, mountain mint, and known by some as “Joy of the Mountains,” is a member of the mint family. There are over twenty different species of oregano.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
Oregano originated in the Mediterranean and was traded as a spice. It came with European colonists to North America, where it was grown in gardens and grew in the wild as well. Originally, oregano was used in the United States for medicinal purposes, until after World War II, when soldiers returning from the Mediterranean brought back a taste for the herb as a seasoning.
 
Where Is Oregano Grown?
 
Oregano is mostly grown in Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America.
 
Why Should I Eat Oregano?
Did you know that a tablespoon of oregano packs the same antioxidant strength as an apple?
 
One tablespoon of oregano also has about the same antioxidant capacity as one banana or a cup of string beans or one half cup of steamed carrots. It contains many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that act as strong antioxidants. It is also a good source of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.
 
Home Remedies
 
Ancient Greeks applied oregano leaves to soothe aching muscles. The Romans would use oregano for scorpion and spider bites. In the United States, oregano was used for chronic coughs, asthma, and to help relieve toothaches. Men turned to a mixture of olive oil and oregano as a scalp treatment in hopes of revitalizing hair growth. The same olive oil and oregano combination has been applied to rheumatic limbs and sprains with success. (At least, with greater success than as a cure for baldness.)
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
CANCER: Oregano contains important phenolic acids that have strong free radical–scavenging activity, which can help prevent certain types of cancers from forming. Indian oregano was shown to have protective properties against radiation-induced DNA damage in an animal cell study.
 
 
 
 
ANTIBACTERIAL, ANTIFUNGAL, ANTIPARASITIC ACTIVITY:  In a cell study, oregano oil caused damage to E. coli bacteria within one minute. Oregano was found in another study to cause irreparable damage to Giardia lamblia, a nasty little parasite that causes diarrhea and abdominal pain.
 
 
 
 
ULCERS: Combining cranberry extract and oregano extract was more effective in killing h. pylori than either cranberry or oregano extract alone. Researchers believe that therein lies a synergistic effect of oregano and cranberry phenolics, nicely illustrating the benefit of combining many of the
101 foods!
 
Tips on Using Oregano
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Choose fresh oregano that is bright green and not wilted; avoid oregano leaves and stems that are blackened or yellowed.
 
• The smell should be sweet, with an aromatic flavor.
 
• Fresh oregano can be kept in the refrigerator up to three days.
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Oregano can be chopped fresh or dried and used in a variety of recipes.
 
• Oregano can be used to add flavor to yeast breads, marinated vegetables, black beans, zucchini, eggplant, roasted meats, and fish; it also enhances cheese and egg dishes.
 
• Try it in stews and soups too!
 
• Garlic, thyme, parsley, and olive oil complement the flavor of oregano.
Broiled Bufala Mozzarella, Tomato, and Oregano on Garlic Whole Wheat Crostini
 
 
 
 
 
This recipe contains six powerhouse foods.
by Dave Grotto
 
Servings: 4 • Prep and cooking time: 15 minutes
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
1 clove garlic
 
2 tablespoons olive oil
 
1 large tomato, sliced
 
4 slices whole wheat crostini
 
4 ounces bufala mozzarella, sliced in four pieces
 
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
 
1 tablespoon fresh basil
 
Salt and pepper to taste
 
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat broiler. In a bowl, combine oregano, basil, salt, and pepper; mix and set aside. Rub crostini with garlic clove and brush on olive oil. Toast crostini until slightly browned. Place tomato slice and then cheese slice on top of crostini. Sprinkle on herb mixture. Place crostini on a cookie sheet and broil for approximately 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and browned.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 220; Total fat: 14g; Saturated fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 22mg; Sodium: 190mg; Total carbs: 16g; Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 8g.
 
 
 
Papaya (Carica papaya linn.)
 
Did you know…papain, a naturally occurring digestive enzyme in papaya, is often used as a meat tenderizer?
 
What’s the Story?
 
The papaya fruit “tree” is, in reality, a large herb that can reach up to 20 to 30 feet. The papaya is also known as “Papaw” or “Paw Paw” in Australia and Mamao in Brazil. Individual fruits can weigh up to 20 pounds!
 
There are two types of papayas, Hawaiian and Mexican. Most papaya found in grocery stores is the sweeter, pear-shaped, yellow-orange skinned (when ripe) Hawaiian type, and the flesh of the Hawaiian papaya is usually orange or pinkish with small black seeds in the center. Mexican papayas are much larger than the Hawaiian variety and can weigh up to 10 pounds.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
The origins of papaya are unknown but it is thought to have come from southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. Spaniards carried papaya seeds throughout Central and South America and later to the Philippines in the mid-1500s to 1600s. Today, the papaya is grown in most tropical regions throughout the world.
 
Where Is Papaya Grown?
 
Commercial production of the papaya is primarily in Hawaii, tropical Africa, the Philippines, India, Ceylon, Malaya, and Australia. Small-scale production also occurs in parts of Latin America, such as Mexico. Forty percent of Mexico’s papaya crop is produced in the state of Veracruz.
 
Why Should I Eat Papaya?
 
One half of a small papaya provides 150 percent of the daily value of vitamin C. Papayas are also a good source of vitamin A, potassium, folate, and fiber. They contain carotenoids, mainly cryptoxanthin, which may reduce the risk of lung and colon cancer and possibly benefit rheumatoid arthritis. Papaya is known for its protein digestive enzyme, papain. Besides being an aid to digestion, it is also commonly used in commercial food processing, as a meat tenderizer, and as a beer stabilizing agent.
 
Home Remedies
 
In many tropical regions, the latex found in the papaya plant is used as a vermifuge to rid the body of parasites. Parts of the root are used to expel roundworms. The latex is also used as a way to heal boils and warts, and remove freckles.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV): Women  who had an increased consumption of beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein/zeaxanthin, and increased intake of vitamin C, had lower rates of infection by HPV, the cervical cancer virus, according to one research study. The researchers concluded that women who consumed at least one papaya (rich in all of the aforementioned nutrients) or more per week had lower risk of contracting the HPV infection than those who didn’t.
 
 
 
 
BURN/WOUND-HEALING: Russian scientists have found that the antioxidants and natural enzymes in papaya can accelerate the healing of burns and wounds. Rats treated with papaya-based medicine had wounds that were half the size of those not given the treatment.
 
 
 
 
DECREASED RISK OF AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION:  Phytochemicals  such as lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin, present in papaya, may help maintain better eyesight longer in older people.
 
Tips on Using Papaya
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Papayas that are hard and green are immature and will never properly ripen. Look for papayas that are mostly or completely yellow.
 
• The papaya should give slightly to pressure, but should not be soft at the stem end.
• Avoid buying fruit that is bruised, shriveled, or has soft spots.
 
• Store unripe papayas at room temperature until they are fully golden all over.
 
• To ripen quickly, place papayas at room temperature in a brown paper bag. Then transfer to the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Wash papaya under cool running water, cut in half, and spoon out seeds.
 
• Blend with milk, yogurt, or orange juice for a smoothie.
 
• Puree papaya to make salad dressing or a base for ice cream.
 
• Add papaya slices to make any type of fruit salad.
 
• Papayas can be used to make hot and spicy salsa.
 
• Papaya seeds taste like peppercorns and can be dried and ground and used in salads or other dishes.
 
• Immerse tough meat in papaya juice overnight to tenderize.
Ginger Papaya Cocktail
 
by Lisa Dorfman
 
Servings: 2 • Prep time: 10 minutes
 
All five ingredients (including the garnish but not the vodka in the alcohol option) are powerhouse foods.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
1 large ripe papaya, deseeded and peeled
 
Juice of 2 key limes
 
3 tablespoons ginger, grated
 
*For an evening cocktail add 2 ounces of vodka.
 
2 tablespoons agave syrup
 
2 mint leaves
 
DIRECTIONS:
Puree papaya flesh in a food processor or blender. Add lime juice and grated ginger. Continue to blend. Garnish with mint leaf.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…(NONALCOHOLIC VERSION)
Calories: 170; Total fat: 0g; Saturated fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 10mg; Total carbs: 46g; Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 28g; Protein: 2g.
 
 
 
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
 
Did you know…parsley  is traditionally added on the plate as a garnish of both beauty and function? The function is to eliminate strong odors on the breath after a meal.
 
What’s the Story?
 
Parsley belongs to the Umbelliferae family that includes celery and carrots. Petroselinum is derived from the Greek word petros which means “stone,” referring to the plant’s preference for growing in rocky places. Among several varieties in cultivation, the most popular two are the curled- leaved, also known as “curly” leaf (crispum) and the broad-leaved Italian, also known as “flat” leaf (P. neapolitanum). Curled-leaved parsley is most often used as a garnish.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
Parsley’s origins appear to be from the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. The variety crispum was mentioned by the Roman philosopher Pliny. Greeks valued parsley for its culinary and medicinal uses and symbolic value. They often adorned their victors in battle and sport and their heroes in death with ornamental parsley.
 
Where Is Parsley Grown?
 
Parsley is grown all over the world. In the United States, it is mostly grown commercially in California and Florida but is readily available from other states depending on the season.
 
Why Should I Eat Parsley?
 
Parsley is a source of vitamin C, iodine, iron, and many other minerals. Parsley has potent phytoestrogenic activity, equal to that found in soybeans, suggesting possible cancer-preventative properties. There are many volatile oils and flavonoid phytochemicals in parsley, all having cancer- protective attributes.
 
Home Remedies
 
Parsley is one of the medicinal herbs used by diabetics in Turkey. It is valued as a breath-freshener, due to its high concentration of chlorophyll, and in tea form, parsley is often used as a diuretic.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
DIABETES: The Turks were on to something! In a study testing parsley’s benefits with diabetic rats, researchers found that the rat subjects who were given parsley experienced lowered blood glucose while their GSH (a cell protector) levels increased. Parsley extract was also found to have a protective effect comparable to the diabetic medication, glibornuride, against liver toxicity caused by diabetes.
 
 
 
 
CANCER: Myristicin, a phytochemical that has been isolated in parsley, is an effective inhibitor of tumors in mice.
 
Tips on Using Parsley
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Parsley comes in both dried and fresh forms.
 
• Choose fresh parsley that does not have wilted or yellow leaves—a sure sign that it is not fresh!
 
• Trim off any wilted parts before storing fresh parsley refrigerated in a plastic bag.
 
• Curled-leaved parsley can be frozen.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Wash fresh parsley by swishing it around in a bowl of water. Drain and repeat.
 
• When trimming, keep some of the stem with the head of parsley.
• Recipes commonly call for parsley to be sautéed at the beginning of the dish. Save half of the parsley and add it at the end of the cooking
process for best taste and nutritional value.
 
• Italian flat-leaf parsley is best for hot dishes.
 
• Parsley is the cornerstone ingredient in the Middle Eastern dish made from bulgur wheat called tabbouleh.
 
• Add parsley to soups and sauces, vegetable and grain dishes, meat and fish, or use to garnish salads.
 
 
 
Green Eggs and Ham
 
by Chef J. Hugh McEvoy
 
Servings: 4 • Prep and cooking time: 20 minutes
 
The original recipe called for ham, eight whole eggs, and three tablespoons of butter. By swapping out four of the whole eggs with egg whites, replacing the ham with “wham,” and replacing butter with far less canola oil, you save 100 calories, 268 milligrams of cholesterol, ten grams of fat, and seven grams of saturated fat! And best yet, no sacrificing TASTE! This recipe contains seven powerhouse foods.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
 
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
 
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
 
2 ounces (2 slices) Worthington Wham (veggie ham) or honey ham, chopped
 
1 tablespoon sweet red bell peppers, chopped
 
1 tablespoon fresh shallots, chopped
 
2 ounces Brie cheese—¼? cubes
 
1 tablespoon canola oil
 
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
 
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
 
1 pound white asparagus
 
4 eggs
 
4 egg whites
 
4 tomato slices (optional)
 
DIRECTIONS:
Trim asparagus. Steam just until tender and set aside. Using heavy sauté pan, lightly brown wham/ham, shallots, and sweet peppers in canola oil. Beat eggs into a froth in a small bowl. Add eggs to sauté pan mixture. Blend while cooking only until set. Add cheese. Fold until just evenly mixed. Remove from heat. Add coarse chopped herbs. Fold gently into eggs. Do not overmix. Keep colors separate! Season with salt and pepper to taste. This dish can be served by itself or over toast points, beside the white asparagus over fresh red tomato slices.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 220; Total fat: 13g; Saturated fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 195mg; Sodium: 380mg; Total carbs: 6g; Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 17g.
 
 
 
Passion Fruit (Passiflora edulis)
 
Did you know…in  some cultures, a popular belief is that after eating passion fruit, you will fall in love with the next person you meet?
 
What’s the Story?
 
Passion fruit comes from the passionflower plant and is part of the genus Passiflora. There are two main types of passion fruit commonly used for commercial purposes: the New Zealand purple passion fruit and the Hawaiian yellow passion fruit. The taste of the yellow and purple passion fruit is similar; both are sweet and tart, but the purple passion tends to be less acidic and is juicier than the yellow variety.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
The purple passion fruit is thought to be native to Brazil, possibly from the Amazon, but no one knows for sure. The purple passion fruit was mainly grown in Australia before the 1900s. Seeds were brought to Hawaii in 1801.
 
Where Is Passion Fruit Grown?
 
Passion fruits can be found in most tropical regions but the main commercial growers are located in South America, the Caribbean, Brazil, Florida, Hawaii, Australia, East Africa, and South Africa.
 
Why Should I Eat Passion Fruit?
 
Passion fruit is a good source of vitamin A and an excellent source of vitamin C (supplying nearly seventy percent of the daily allowance) as well as potassium, calcium, and iron. One passion fruit also contains about fifteen percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron. When eaten with the seeds, a serving is an excellent source of fiber (about fifteen grams). It is also rich in a number of phytochemicals including passiflorine, lycopene, and carotenoids.
 
Home Remedies
 
Puerto Ricans eat passion fruit to lower blood pressure. Brazilians eat the seeds to induce sleep. The Spanish discovered that passion fruit was used as a sedative in many folk medicine practices throughout South America. In Madeira, the juice is taken to aid in digestion and also used as a treatment for gastric cancers. Passionflower has been used to treat nervous and easily excited children, bronchial asthma, insomnia, nervous gastrointestinal disorders, and menopausal problems.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
CANCER: Phytochemicals found in passion fruit were able to increase apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a line of cancer cells. The common phytochemicals thought responsible were carotenoids and polyphenols.
 
 
 
 
HYPERTENSION: An extract of passionflower significantly lowered systolic blood pressure in hypertensive rats.
 
 
 
HEART HEALTH: Passion fruit seeds were shown to reduce total lipids, triglycerides, and cholesterol in hamsters.
 
Tips on Using Passion Fruit
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Choose large, heavy, and firm fruit.
 
• When passion fruit are ripe, the outside will turn from green to a deep purple, red, or yellow color.
 
• If purchased unripe, leave at room temperature until ripe; the skin will wrinkle but the fruit will not soften too much. Once at desired ripeness, place in the refrigerator for up to one week.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
• Cut the passion fruit in half lengthwise and scoop out the seedy pulp with a spoon.
 
• To remove seeds, strain in a nonaluminum sieve or use cheesecloth, squeezing to extract the juice.
 
• The seeded pulp can be made into jelly or combined with pineapple or tomato in making jam.
 
• Spoon the pulp over other soft fruits or ice cream.
 
• The pulp makes a delicious jam or jelly and the seeds add a nice crunch!
 
• Add passion fruit to mixed green salads or fruit salads for a new taste.
 
• Top chicken, fish, or pork with a spoonful of passion fruit for a fruitful change.
 
• Add passion fruit and fruit juices to any fruit salad or smoothie for a refreshing new taste.
 
• In Australia they eat the pulp with cream and sugar on it.
 
• In Venezuela, passion fruit is used to make ice cream and added to rum cocktails.
Passion Fruit Sorbet
 
 
 
 
 
This recipe contains four powerhouse foods. INGREDIENTS:
 
2 cups fresh purple passion fruit juice
 
20 ounces fresh purple passion fruit
 
½ cup white granulated sugar
 
½ cup water
 
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
 
2 tablespoons fresh grated orange peel
 
2 tablespoons mint leaves for garnish
by Chef J. Hugh McEvoy
 
Servings: 14 • Prep time: 15 minutes
“Cooking” time: 6½ hours
 
DIRECTIONS:
Using a heavy saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Dissolve sugar completely. Add lime juice and passion fruit juice—bring back to boil. Remove from heat. Add passion fruit pulp including seeds. Transfer mix to a freezer-safe container. Chill in refrigerator for at least six hours— do not freeze yet. Using a home ice-cream maker, churn the chilled mix into sorbet until almost solid. Add grated orange zest and blend evenly. Put in freezer and freeze until solid. Serve garnished with mint leaves.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 78; Total fat: 0g; Saturated fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 12mg; Total carbs: 20g; Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 17g; Protein: 1g.
 
 
 
Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea)
 
Did you know…that 2.4 billion pounds of peanuts are consumed in the United States each year—about half of it in the form of peanut butter?
 
What’s the Story?
 
The peanut is not really a nut at all. It is technically a legume along with its cousins beans and peas, all belonging to the Leguminosae family. Legumes are edible seeds enclosed in pods. Peanuts grow underground, unlike “tree nuts” such as walnuts, almonds, and pistachios. Virginias, Runners, and Spanish peanuts are the three main types grown in the United States. Virginias (cocktail nuts) are large-kerneled. Medium-size kernels are called Runners and small-size kernels are called Spanish peanuts. A fourth type, Valencia peanuts, characterized by three or four small kernels in a long shell, are grown less frequently in the U.S.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
The peanut is grown mainly in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world but is thought to be native to the Western Hemisphere, most likely originating in Brazil or Peru. Spaniards brought the peanut to Europe; Portuguese explorers transplanted it to Africa, and from there it was brought back to the Americas. Peanuts were consumed by soldiers during the Civil War as a cheap source of protein. George Washington Carver, considered by many to be the father of the peanut industry, was the one who suggested to farmers that they rotate their cotton plants and cultivate peanuts. He also developed more than 300 uses for peanuts ranging from food uses to industry applications.
 
Where Are Peanuts Grown?
 
China and India are the largest producers of peanuts. In both countries, most nuts are processed for oil and sold locally. The United States, Argentina, Sudan, Senegal, and Brazil are the major producer–exporters. In the United States, peanuts are grown mainly in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Oklahoma.
 
Why Should I Eat Peanuts?
 
Scientists  at the University of Florida found that peanuts rival fruits in their levels of antioxidants. The Florida researchers  identified  high concentrations of polyphenols, particularly p-coumaric acid. Roasting can increase the level of the polyphenols, boosting overall antioxidant content by as much as twenty-two percent. Peanuts are an excellent source of beta-sitosterol, known to have anticancer properties. They are also a good source of resveratrol, an antioxidant also found in red wine that may help fight heart disease.
 
Home Remedies
GUM IN HAIR: Smearing peanut butter on hair that has gum stuck in it helps with the gum’s removal.
 
 
 
 
STICKER AND INK REMOVER: Same deal—just smear peanut butter on surfaces containing unwanted ink and stickers and they should come off!
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
HEART HEALTH: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a qualified health claim for peanuts in 2003: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that regular consumption of peanuts lowered triglycerides and improved diet quality by increasing nutrients associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
 
 
 
 
TYPE 2 DIABETES: Study subjects who ate half a serving of peanut butter or a full serving of peanuts five or more times a week had up to a twenty-seven percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
 
 
 
 
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: A USDA survey found that peanut eaters were better able to meet their needs for vitamin A and E, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and fiber. The participants in this survey had lower BMIs (Body Mass Index—a measurement used to determine obesity) than non–peanut eaters.
COLON CANCER: A study found that female subjects who frequently consumed peanuts and peanut products had reduced risk for colorectal cancer.
 
Tips for Using Peanuts
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Look for peanuts either shelled or unshelled, as oil, as peanut butter (with or without additives like sugar and salt, smooth, creamy, chunky, super-chunky, and more), and as an ingredient in confections or sauces—you name it!
 
• Peanuts can turn rancid quickly so try to taste one before you buy them.
 
• Shelled peanuts can be stored up to three months in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Make your own peanut butter in a food processor.
 
• Toss chopped peanuts on a salad.
 
• Use peanut oil in a vegetable stir-fry.
 
• Try a peanut butter and banana sandwich for a change of taste.
Aztec Cocoa Fire Peanuts
 
by Chef J. Hugh McEvoy
 
Servings: 18 • Prep and cooking time: 18 minutes
 
This recipe definitely has a grown-up taste, with a slight cocoa flavor and not overtly sweet. This is a great snack to serve by itself but it also makes a great topping on salads for added crunch. Tasty tip: Omit the cayenne pepper and substitute hot cocoa mix for dark cocoa powder for more kid appeal. This recipe contains four powerhouse foods.
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
1 pound dry-roasted peanuts
 
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
 
2 tablespoons egg whites
 
½ teaspoon sea salt
 
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
 
3 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder
 
DIRECTIONS:
Beat egg whites, cayenne pepper, salt, and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Blend in peanuts and coat evenly. Spread evenly on a greased or papered baking sheet. Roast nut mixture at 350 degrees for 4 minutes. Take out of oven and stir and coat evenly again. Return to oven for another 4 minutes (do not overbake). Cool nuts at least 15 minutes. Mix well to separate nuts. Dust peanuts with unsweetened cocoa mix. Dust again. Serve with plenty of refreshing beverages.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 160; Total fat: 13g; Saturated fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 70mg; Total carbs: 7g; Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 6g.
 
 
 
Pears (Pyrus L.)
 
Did you know…the pear was nicknamed “butter fruit” because of its smooth texture?
 
What’s the Story?
 
Pears are part of the rose family. There are over 3,000 known varieties but only three species of pear trees bear the fruit we typically consume today. The Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Seckel, and Forelle pear varieties are the most popular in the United States.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
It is thought that the pear was used as a source of food during the Stone Age. The pear’s likely place of origin was Asia and southeastern Europe. Records of cultivation can be traced as far back as 5000 B.C. in China. Around the seventeenth century, pears became popular in Europe. The pear tree was immortalized alongside a partridge in the eighteenth-century Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” An attempt at planting the first pear tree in the northeastern American colonies failed due to a poor growing climate in 1620. Pear trees did much better farther west in Oregon and Washington and have flourished there since the 1800s.
 
Where Are Pears Grown?
 
The leading pear-producing countries are China, the United States, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, and France. More than ninety-five percent of the pears sold in the United States are grown in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.
 
Why Should I Eat Pears?
 
One medium-size pear contains as much vitamin C and potassium as one half cup of orange juice. An average pear contains about four grams of fiber, much of which is made up of soluble pectins and lignans. It is also packed with powerful phytochemical antioxidants.
 
Home Remedies
 
Pears have been used throughout history for a variety of health challenges such as digestive disorders and spasms, and for reducing fevers. Topically, pear fruit has been used as an astringent.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
REDUCED COUGH WITH PHLEGM: A study conducted in Singapore found an association between increased dietary fiber from fruit and reduced risk of certain types of lung disease. There was an inverse relationship between cough with phlegm and fruits particularly high in flavonoids, such as quercetin and catechins found in pears.
 
 
 
 
WEIGHT LOSS: A study found that diets high in fruits, such as pears and apples, helped women between the ages of 30 and 50 to lose weight. After 12 weeks, those women who ate pears and apples lost on average over three pounds. This study also found a significant decrease in overall blood glucose and cholesterol in the women who consumed the two fruits.
 
Tips on Using Pears
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Pears are one of the only fruits that will ripen best off the tree.
 
• Choose firm and unblemished pears.
 
• To ripen pears quickly, place in a brown paper bag and store at room temperature.
 
• Bartlett pears will turn from green to yellow when they are ripe.
 
• To check for ripeness, press your thumb against the stem end of the pear (when slightly soft to the touch the pear is ready to eat).
 
• Pears should be stored at room temperature until ripe.
 
• Ripe pears can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 days.
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Wash and eat…. Eating the skin will provide your body with more fiber!
 
• Dried pears have higher fiber and potassium, lower vitamin C.
 
• Slice a ripe juicy pear into oatmeal or place in yogurt or a fruit smoothie.
 
• Add pears to your favorite green salad or fruit salad.
 
• Bake pears in the oven and sprinkle with cinnamon for a sweet-tasting treat.
Simple Baked Pear
 
 
 
 
This recipe contains three powerhouse foods. INGREDIENTS:
 
1 ripe medium pear
 
1 tablespoon maple syrup
 
1½ tablespoons water
 
1 tablespoon raisins
 
Pinch freshly grated cloves and nutmeg
by Cynthia Sass
 
Servings: 2 • Prep and cooking time: 40 minutes
 
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine maple syrup, water, and spices in a small bowl so raisins are fully covered. Soak raisins in maple solution for 20 minutes. Wash and core pear. Remove raisins and stuff into center of pear. Drizzle maple solution over top and sides of pear. Bake in glass baking dish covered loosely with foil at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until tender.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 90; Total fat: 0g; Saturated fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Total carbs: 23g; Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 18g; Protein: 0g.
 
 
 
Pecans (Carya illinoinensis)
 
Did you know…that the name “pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe nuts requiring a stone to crack?
 
What’s the Story?
 
The pecan tree belongs to the hickory family and is one of the largest fruit-bearing trees known. There have been over 1,000 varieties created, of which only 500 now exist; and only a handful of varieties are commonly used today. The most popular pecan varieties include the Cape Fear, Desirable, Elliott, Schley, and the Sumner. The pecan is the only tree nut that is truly native to the United States.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
Pecans were first “discovered” growing in North America and parts of Mexico by European colonists in the 1600s. America’s President, Thomas Jefferson, loved pecans and had trees imported from Louisiana planted in his Monticello orchards. One of the origin tales of the pecan pie recounts that pecan pie was created by a French person who settled in New Orleans, and was introduced to the nut by Native Americans.
 
Where Are Pecans Grown?
 
Eighty percent of the world’s pecans comes from the United States, with Georgia leading the nation in production. Other states that grow pecans include Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, California, and Kansas. Pecans are also grown in Mexico, Australia, Israel, Peru, and South Africa.
 
Why Should I Eat Pecans?
 
Pecans are a source of thiamine, gamma-tocopherol (a type of vitamin E), magnesium, protein, and fiber. They ranked fourteenth in total antioxidant capacity according to a 2004 report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and eighth out of fifty foods according to a report from the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Oslo in Norway. They are also rich in the heart-healthy phytochemical beta- sitosterol. Pecans are also a rich source of heart-healthy oleic acid, the same type of fat found in olive oil.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
HEART HEALTH: Researchers from Loma Linda University and New Mexico State University discovered that adding 1½ ounces of pecans a day (27 to 30 pecan halves) as part of a heart-healthy diet reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol twice as much as those who did not add pecans to their American Heart Association Step I diet. Triglycerides were also reduced and HDL (“good”) cholesterol rose for those who consumed the pecans. Another study from Loma Linda showed that adding just a handful of pecans into one’s diet each day dramatically increased levels of gamma- tocopherol, a type of vitamin E thought responsible for reducing lipid oxidation. Study subjects who had normal lipid levels ate a little over two ounces of pecans per day for eight weeks and showed significant decreases in LDL and total cholesterol.
 
Tips on Using Pecans
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• When selecting pecans, look for plump nutmeats that are fairly uniform in color and size.
 
• Unshelled pecans can be stored in a cool, dry place for three to six months.
 
• Shelled pecans need to be refrigerated in airtight containers and can be kept up to nine months. Pecans stored in freezer bags can be frozen for up to two years.
 
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Basic toasted pecans: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place ½ cup of shelled pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for approximately seven minutes but be careful not to burn them.
 
• Sprinkle chopped pecans on salads and fruit salads.
 
• Throw some on cold or hot cereal, whole wheat pancakes or waffles.
 
• Add chopped pecans to just about any side dish—they really add flavor to pilafs.
 
• Use crushed pecans as an alternative to breading meat or fish.
Black Cherry, Gingersnap, and Pecan Parfait
Courtesy of the Georgia Pecan Commission
 
Servings: 4 • Prep time: 10 minutes
 
This wonderful dessert is best made at least thirty minutes ahead of serving, allowing time for the gingersnap crumble to soften slightly. My kids, who are not exactly nuts about nuts, enjoyed this dessert. This recipe contains four powerhouse foods. The “ginger” snaps don’t count but they sure make the dish yummy!
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
8 gingersnaps
 
½ cup pecan halves, toasted if desired
 
2 (6 ounces each) containers nonfat black cherry yogurt
 
2/3 cup fat-free whipped topping
 
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
 
1 black cherry for garnish (optional)
 
DIRECTIONS:
In a medium-size resealable plastic bag, combine gingersnaps and ¼ cup pecans; seal bag. With a rolling pin or large heavy spoon, gently pound mixture to crumble cookies and pecans. (The mixture should be somewhat coarse, not finely ground.) Set aside. In a small bowl, mix all yogurt together. Add whipped topping and gently fold in to blend. Do not overmix. To assemble in individual 6-to 8-ounce glass serving pieces, spoon 2 tablespoons gingersnap-pecan mixture into bottom of each glass. Top each with ¼ cup yogurt mixture. Portion the chopped kiwi into each glass and top with remaining yogurt mixture. Top each serving with remaining gingersnap-pecan mixture. Coarsely chop remaining ¼ cup pecan halves and sprinkle on top for garnish. Refrigerate parfaits at least 30 minutes or up to two hours. Serve chilled.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 254; Total fat: 9g; Saturated fat: .5g; Cholesterol: 1mg; Sodium: 150mg; Total carbs: 30g; Fiber: 2.5g; Sugar: 16g; Protein: 6g.
 
 
 
Peppers (Capsicum)
 
Did you know…red and green bell peppers are one and the same? A red bell is a riper version of the green but has twice as much vitamin C and eleven times more beta-carotene!
 
What’s the Story?
 
The Capsicum umbrella of peppers includes varieties from the sweet bell (red, yellow, green, and purple) to hot chili peppers. There are several varieties of chili peppers and each differs in flavor and heat intensity. The pain caused by the heat of the pepper is actually a group of phytochemicals called capsaicinoids, which act on pain receptors in the mouth and throat. Capsaicin is the primary capsaicinoid and can be found in varying degrees throughout the pepper. William Scoville, a chemist, developed a heat-ranking scale based on the amount of capsaicin a pepper has. Bell peppers rank a zero (no capsaicin) while the habanero varieties may go well beyond 350,000! In general, larger chilies are milder because they contain fewer seeds and white membrane (the hottest part of the chili) in proportion to their size. Most pepper varieties can be found dried, canned, or fresh.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
Peppers have been traced back 6,000 years ago in Central and South America. Columbus brought pepper seeds back to Spain in 1493.
 
Where Are Peppers Grown?
 
China, Turkey, Spain, Romania, Nigeria, and Mexico are the main producers of bell peppers. India, Mexico, Indonesia, China, and Korea are the leading hot pepper producers.
 
Why Should I Eat Peppers?
 
Peppers are rich in vitamin C and a good source of beta-carotene and B vitamins. They also contain flavonoids and capsaicinoids, inflammation- reducing phytochemicals.
 
Home Remedies
 
Heat up cold feet with a pinch of cayenne pepper in each sock. (Can you smell what the sock’s got cookin’?) You’d think the last thing you might want to swallow is hot peppers when you have a sore throat, but because of its anti-inflammatory effects, cayenne pepper may be soothing instead.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
SKIN CANCER:  There appear to be other capsaicinoids beyond hot capsaicin that have health benefits. A mouse study showed that capsiates in sweet pepper induced cell death (apoptosis) in skin cancer cells.
 
 
 
 
PROSTATE CANCER:  Capsaicin, found in red peppers, had an antiproliferative effect on both androgen-positive and -negative prostate cancer cells when fed to mice with prostate cancer.
 
 
 
 
ARTHRITIS: A task force found that out of seventeen evaluated treatment types for hand arthritis, only six of them were supported by research evidence. The use of topical capsaicin (a phytochemical in hot pepper) cream was one of them.
 
Tips on Using Peppers
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Bell peppers come in a variety of colors.
 
• Choose peppers with tight skin and that are firm to the touch.
 
• Store unwashed bell peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for about a week. Sweet peppers can be frozen without being blanched.
 
• Green bell peppers will stay fresh a little longer than the yellow and red ones.
PREPARATION AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
 
• Cut top off of peppers and remove seeds.
 
• Grill peppers until skin becomes blackened. Place peppers in a Ziploc bag for 15 minutes to allow them to steam. Remove pepper from bag and scrape the skin off. Remove stem and core, and remove seed from pepper.
 
• Add a dash of cayenne pepper to your favorite sauce or side dish to spice it up!
 
• Grilled sweet bell peppers are delicious on sandwiches.
 
• Chop up a little jalapeño or serrano pepper and add it to chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, and green pepper for a tasty salsa cruda.
Red Pepper Hummus on Zahtar Whole Wheat Pita
 
by Dave Grotto
 
Servings: 8 • Prep and cooking time: 15 minutes
 
Zahtar is a Middle Eastern seasoning consisting of sesame seeds, sumac, and thyme. It is easy to make but much easier to buy at a specialty store. This recipe contains five powerhouse foods.
 
HUMMUS INGREDIENTS:
 
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
 
1/3 cup sesame tahini
 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 
2 cloves garlic
 
¾ cup (1 large) roasted red pepper
 
ZAHTAR PITA INGREDIENTS:
 
2 tablespoons zahtar
 
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
 
2 whole wheat pitas
 
DIRECTIONS:
Roast red pepper over open flame until charred. Remove black skin. Core and remove seeds. Slice into medium pieces. Combine red pepper and all other ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy. Set aside. Brush olive oil on pita bread. Sprinkle zahtar seasoning liberally over pita. Toast until browned. Cut into triangles and serve with hummus.
 
BREAK IT DOWN…
Calories: 210; Total fat: 11g; Saturated fat: 1.5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 90mg; Total carbs: 22g; Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 7g.
 
 
 
Persimmon  (Diospyros  kaki L.)
 
Did you know…the Greek word diospyros means “food of the gods”?
 
What’s the Story?
 
More than two thousand different varieties of persimmons exist today! Persimmon, also known as “Sharon fruit” or “Kaki,” can be classified into two general categories: those that bear astringent fruit until they are soft-ripe and those that bear nonastringent fruits. The shape of the fruit varies from spherical to acorn to flattened or squarish, and the color can range anywhere from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red. The size can be as little as a few ounces to more than a pound. The entire fruit is edible except for the seed and calyx.
 
An astringent cultivar must be jelly-soft before it is fit to eat and include varieties such as Eureka, Hachiya, Honan Red, Saijo, Tamopan, Tanenashi, and Triumph. A nonastringent persimmon can be eaten when it is crisp as an apple and includes varieties such as Fuyu (Fuyugaki), Gosho/Giant Fuyu/O’Gosho, Imoto, Izu, Jiro, Maekawajiro, Okugosho, and Suruga. Then, a third category is seedless astringent varieties, which include Chocolate, Gailey, Hyakume, Maru, and Nishimura Wase. The Hachiya type makes up approximately ninety percent of the available fruit and can be identified by its acornlike shape.
 
A Serving of Food Lore…
 
The Asian persimmon is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries. It then spread to Korea and Japan many years ago, where additional cultivars were developed. The plant was introduced to California in the 1880s when a United States naval commander brought back a native Japanese persimmon variety to Washington, D.C.
 
Where Are Persimmons Grown?
 
The largest producers are China, Brazil, Japan, Italy, and Korea. The majority of persimmons in the United States are grown in California and they are also grown to a lesser extent in Hawaii, Texas, and some other southern states.
 
Why Should I Eat Persimmons?
 
Persimmons are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of vitamin C, and rich in fiber. They contain a variety of phytochemical antioxidants such as proanthocyanidin, epicatechin, gallic, and p-coumaric acids. One study found persimmons to be higher in soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, total phenols, and many minerals than apples.
 
Home Remedies
 
The leaves of the persimmon have been used in Chinese medicine for a variety of conditions: as a poultice for snakebites and skin irritations, as a beverage made from boiled leaves for hypertension, for reducing blood clotting, and to fight cancer.
 
Throw Me a Lifesaver!
 
LEUKEMIA: Two human cell line studies showed that persimmon extract strongly inhibited the growth and induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) of leukemia cells.
 
 
 
 
CHOLESTEROL: Rats  who had a persimmon-supplemented diet had significantly less total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipid peroxides compared to rats who didn’t eat persimmons.
 
Tips on Using Persimmons
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
 
• Look for persimmons that are round and plump, and have smooth, glossy skin and deep red undertones. Avoid fruits that are missing the green leaves at the top.
 
• Unless you are planning to eat them right away, buy firmer fruits and allow them to ripen.
 
• Ripe Fuyu persimmons look like flattened tomatoes and are crisp%2

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