Ingredient of the week: Pineapple

Ingredient of the week: Pineapple

I am often asked whether I only cook and feature ingredients that I like. For the most part, the answer is always yes, I do have to try and eat all the leftovers! However, pineapples are not one of my favorites. I typically shy away from eating pineapples in fruit salads or choosing pineapple dishes at restaurants, but for you my readers, and my sister, a pineapple enthusiast, this week I am all about the pineapple.

Ingredient of the week: Pineapple

Did you know that pineapple are a symbol of hospitality? In my department at work, we give each new staff member a pineapple at the first staff meeting. (however, pineapples are certainly not the most fun item to carry home from work or take on the metro). Has anyone every used a pineapple as a sign of hospitality?

Four Facts about Pineapple Nutrition

  1. One cup of pineapple chunks has 100 percent of your daily need of Vitamin C.
  2. Vitamin C is associated with boosting your immune system by stimulating white blood cells to act against free radicals.
  3. Additionally, Vitamin C plays a role in building collagen and collagen is the essential protein base of blood vessel walls, skin and organs
  4. Bromelain is a substance found in the core of the pineapple they may help reduce inflammation and excessive blood coagulation. However, if you are on blood thinning medication, stay away from the pineapple core.

Ingredient of the week: Pineapple

Ingredient of the week: Pineapple

Ingredient of the week: Artichokes

Did you know that artichokes are actually flowers of a thistle!? The purple part is the top of the flower bud before it blooms and the “hairy” part is the actual flower which becomes bright purple when it bloom!

How to: Artichokes

But I’ll be the first one to admit, that breaking down artichokes can be intimidating. I don’t have a lot of experience breaking them down either! Below I took step by step photos of how to do so. I always watched this video  from Whole Foods.

Step 1: Cut off the stem.

How to: Artichokes

How to: Artichokes

Step 2: Cut of the top third and trim the tips.

How to: Artichokes

Step 3: Slice in half.

How to: Artichokes

Step 4: Remove the purple leaves and “hair.”

How to: Artichokes

How to: Artichokes

Now you are ready to cook them!

4 Facts on Artichoke Nutrition

  1. Artichokes have high amounts of phytonutrients which are antioxidants. Some research suggests that artichoke hearts have more antioxidant than blueberries, red wine, and dark chocolate. Antioxidants help fight off free radical damage. Free radical damage is linked to cancer.
  2. Artichokes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, like many vegetables. Dietary fiber helps keep you full and also keeps you regular 😉
  3. Artichokes are a good source of folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that is especially important for women of childbearing age to prevent neural tube defects in babies.
  4. Artichokes are a good source of potassium. Potassium is known to help balance sodium in your blood which leads to better maintained blood pressure.

Ingredient of the week: Rhubarb

Ingredient of the week: Rhubarb

Happy May! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate these spring time temperatures than with Rhubarb (especially in pie form). Did you know that Rhubarb is actually a vegetable! Now you might feel even better about adding it to your pie! But, be careful! Did you know the leaves of the rhubarb plant are actually poisonous!

Ingredient of the week: Rhubarb

Four Facts to know about Rhubarb Nutrition

  1. Rhubarb is a good source of Vitamin K. Adequate levels of Vitamin K help limit neuronal damage and stimulate brain activity, which may be important for Alzheimer’s Disease
  2. Vitamin K is also important for bone health. Vitamin K helps promote bone formation and bone strengthening
  3. Rhubarb is very low calorie, 100 grams of rhubarb, only has 20 calories. (pucker up if you plan on eating that much Rhubarb!)
  4. Rhubarb is also a good source of Vitamin C

Ingredient of the week: Rhubarb

Storage information: Fresh rhubarb is perishable. Place the stalks in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator to help retain moisture. Rhubarb lasts in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

 

Ingredient of the week: Parsnips

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It may be spring, but I have one last winter root veggie to feature in my recipes. Besides, the weather doesn’t quite yet fit my definition of spring, so some warm noodles and soups are still in order.

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Four Facts to know about Parsnip Nutrition

  1. Parsnips are a good source of dietary fiber. A 100 g root provides 4.9 mg or 13% of fiber. Fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, and keeps you full for longer periods of time.
  2. Parsnips are an excellent source of Vitamin C that helps the human body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth, and gums.
  3. Parsnips are also a good source of the B vitamins folate, folate is especially important for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in babies.
  4. Parsnips have high levels of antioxidants Vitamin C and E. These vitamins help eliminate or neutralize free radicals that can damage cells, which may be one of the causes of cancer.

 

Ingredient of the week: Radishes

Radishes are certainly an unlikely ingredient of the week to feature. They are usually after thoughts or additions to salads and tacos, not the star. However, watermelon radishes are now an instagram obsession, and I have been looking for them ever since. Then I found out they would be in my grocer box and I new I had to use them!

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Alas, what can you do when nature isn’t as bright as you hoped!

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Radishes are very low calories vegetable, only 16 calories per 100 grams. Interestingly, they are a very excellent source of vitamin C.

Ingredient of the week: Beets

I feel like beets have gained a great deal of popularity in recent years due to their beautiful colors and ability to be used in puns. Color & Puns basically equals instagram gold. beet-pun

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three varieties of beets, red beets, golden beets, and Chioggia 

Beets can be enjoyed both raw or roasted. To eat beets, wash and remove all the skin. Then simply slice and enjoy raw or wrap in tinfoil and roast in the oven. Be careful, the longer the roast, the more pigment that will seep from the beet.

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golden beets
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red beets 
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Chioggia Beets 

Ingredient of the week: Broccoli

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You can never have too many anthropologie bowls! Am I right?!

An anecdote about H. Pylori. In my health communications class, when we talked about testing campaign concepts, we always talked about a CDC campaign about H. Pylori. The campaign concept was to inform Americans that stomach ulcers are caused by H. Pylori bacteria and not stress. As I am sharing this story, I am slowing realizing that there is really no point to it besides to inform you that stomach ulcers are caused by H. Pylori and not stress. As a child who was often told I would give myself stomach ulcers, i think its a good tidbit to know. so yep that was the story. CDC tested a lot of concepts, most did not test well. One of the concepts had a caricature of a woman who looked exactly like the professor who taught the class. In case you have actually read through this nonsense story. This is the concept that won.

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Moral of the story: Eat Broccoli!

 

 

Ingredient of the week: Pumpkin

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Who else loves Fall? Aside from summer fruits which are hard to beat, fall harvest vegetables bring endless possibilities. But out of all the fall veggies & squashes, pumpkin by far is my favorite. I have a soft spot for pumpkins. As an October baby, I had just about every birthday party at our local farm, picking pumpkins and going on hay rides. So a week of eating pumpkin dishes is right up my alley!

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Hay Rides at Wards Berry Farm

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Somehow my mom missed the picture of me with the cake… so a juice box will have to do.

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Speaking of cake… look at that pumpkin cake… it’s pretty awesome Mom!

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Also, I can’t get enough of everything pumpkin at Trader Joes. But, like a lot of things at Trader Joes- a lot of pumpkin items are anything but healthy. Stay tuned later this week, for a list of my favorite Trader Joe’s pumpkin thing! I got all of these mini pumpkins & gourds there too!

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Can anyone else not get enough of Trader Joes Pumpkin Palooza? Each year it seems like they have more and more products. However, a lot of them are not the best healthy choices. Last week I bought some of my favorite items to share with you.

Organic Pumpkin: An absolute staple in my kitchen. Pumpkin Puree is essential for baking and cooking alike. Find it in these recipes: Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin Butter: The perfect spread for toast and oatmeal. Just use a little because it contains a lot of sugar.

Pumpkin Soup: I love this soup from time to time but be careful, it is high in sodium. I suggest pairing it with a salad such as: Apple Autumn Salad or Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad 

Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli:These ravioli are low in calories and saturated fat. I love eating ravioli with greens and a little olive oil and vinegar.

Pita Crisps with Cranberries and Pumpkin seeds: These chips are perfect as is and and the first ingredient is whole wheat flour.

Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps: I really love all the crisps that Trader Joes sells. These ones are low in calories, and have no saturated fat, and low sodium. They pair perfectly with Brie.

Pumpkin Tortilla Crisps: These chips are a higher in fat than the previous fats but still low in saturated fat which is the important one to look for. They are also naturally gluten free.

 

 

 

Ingredient of the week: Apples

Apple season is one of the best seasons all year! I am never worried when I have a pound of apples in my kitchen. I can think of 100 things to do with them in addition to just eating them plain. With the exception of summer, I pretty much eat an apple a day. Do you remember that adage you learned in school, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well is it really true?

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Find more health benefits of apples on the well-being secrets.

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The important thing to keep in mind about apples, is that the skin is the most nutritious part, so be sure to eat it too. I actually love apple skin. When I was younger and my mom  was baking with apples, I used to just eat all the skin that she would have thrown out. Did anyone else do that?

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As far as a favorite, although I don’t really discriminate… I love a good granny smith. Is it true that the white dots on the skin indicate how tart they are? My sister and I always told my mom to buy the ones with the most dots because we thought they were extra tart.

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As for a least favorite… that’s easy…red delicious… those are by far the worst.

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