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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category


Fresh strawberries from a U-Pick It farm near Mt. Vernon, Washington.

What do imported grapes, domestic blueberries, celery, lettuce, strawberries, spinach, bell peppers, peaches and nectarines have in common? If they are conventionally raised, they have some of the highest amounts of pesticides of any produce available. They are known as the “Dirty Dozen”, and experts  strongly recommend that you purchase these items organically. The trouble is, some items such as bell peppers, are waaaaay more expensive if purchased organically. My solution? Select an alternative produce item if the cost is too burdensome. Or, grow it yourself.

 

Baby spinach growing big and strong in our little home garden!

The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, also provides a “Clean Fifteen” list that names the cleanest non-organic, or conventional, foods are avocados, domestic cantaloupe, onions, and a few more. These are safer to purchase non-organically. The foods selected for the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” were tested for pesticide residues after produce was rinsed and/or peeled. Often, people think that purchasing produce with skin gives their food a layer of protection from pesticides. But little do they realize that fruits and veggies are porous, and are comprised primarily of water. They absorb everything from their skins and make it part of its cellular makeup, just as our bodies do with whatever we put onto our skin. Not everyone can afford a fully organic diet – nor is creating a fully organic diet an easy task. Thanks to this guide from EWG, however, we can selectively decide which produce  we must buy organically, and which we can cut corners on. Print the list and keep it with you for an easy reference. Make sure everyone in your family understands the list, too.

An even better option: grow the produce that is expensive to purchase organically!

Okay, now I want to hear from YOU: Do you purchase organic foods, and if so, which items are top priority to buy as organic on your shopping list? Please tell me in the comments section below.

Please rate this post and share the love with those you love.

Thanks for your support!

xoxo

Frances

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Plants are friggin’ sexy. They have refined themselves through countless and fast life cycles to maximize their attractiveness to humans. Edible plants keep us sexy by helping us stay healthy, lean, youthful, energetic and glowy. Let me tell you a bit more.

Most of us don’t realize this, but plants that are exposed to more bugs (via fewer pesticides) actually have a stronger plant immunity. So yes, organic is usually better (there are some exceptions, and that’s another blog post, Darlin’.) Much like in the animal kingdom where the predator preys on the young and the weak, bugs prefer to eat weaker plants. They usually leave the stronger plants alone because strong plants produce their own pesticides & insecticides that repel creepy crawly pests. Essentially, the more bug exposure plants experience, the stronger the plants become because they are defending themselves by creating more of these endogenous* bug repellants. Gee, doesn’t that sound like a handy skill to have in during mosquito season?

The stress from pest exposure helps the strong plants become “super-duper” plants because they develop more endogenous phytochemicals**, while the creepy crawlies munch out on wimpier plants. This strong plant immunity results in tough anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-disease compounds within the plant that are just waiting to join you and help you in defending your body against modern diseases, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other unappealing diseases. *THANK YOU, PLANTS!* This all promotes a sexier, stronger you!

Get your sexy on! First, start with colors. Eating a rainbow of colors will supply you with a better variety of nutrients. Try a new plant or fruit each week. Edible plants provide you with the hot-ticket phytonutrients that people pay a wallop of cash to buy in the form of supplements. You might already be familiar with a few of them: lycopene, zeaxanthin, lutein, carotenes, and so on. FYI: Supplements can never replace real food. You get waaaay more from whole foods than from the sum of its manufactured parts!

Do us both a favor: save the money you would spend on supplements by purchasing and eating more plants. At the end of the day, you will still have money left over, and have me over for dinner for telling you this money-saving, health-saving tip! Plants are pretty sexy, don’t you think?

What are your favorite plants to eat? Which ones are repulsive to you? Please post your answer in the comments below. I want to hear from YOU, oh sexy plant eater!

Do you think this post is helpful? Please rate it, “like” it, and share it with others! And thanks for reading. Love ya!

Hugs and plant kisses,

Frances

Definitions:

* Endogenous: produced from within

**Phytochemical:  These are protective, disease-preventing, non-nutritive plant substances that are vital for preventing diseases.

Phyto = plant

+ Phytonutrients: essential nutrients that protect and promote life, found in plants.

 

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Simple tip:
The next time your bananas are speckling into an over-ripened state, try this simple trick to buy yourself a few weeks of time before using them:
  1. Peel each banana
  2. Slice bananas into coin shapes, about 1/2-inch thick
  3. Freeze in a clear container – a freezer bag or an old yogurt container will work

The next time you need a quick pick-me up or a sweet fix, blend the frozen bananas with any of the following ingredients:

  1. Frozen berries, milk or yogurt, and a little frozen juice concentrate;
  2. Peanut or almond butter, milk and cinnamon.

You can also mash the bananas before freezing. Then thaw and use easily for banana bread or other recipes calling for added sweeteners (just add a little more liquid to the recipe than is called for.)

Health tip:

Bananas are effective in helping reduce diarrhea. Banana flakes are sometimes used to bulk up loose stool.

Please share this post!

Hugs and Kisses,

Frances

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I’ve felt a bit taxed the last few days, as though a cold is reaching its long, nasty tentacles for me. I made a super-immune booster drink in less than five minutes, and I’ve felt great ever since I consumed it this morning. It contains fresh carrots and orange juice, both which boast large amounts of immune-powering vitamin C and flavanones, which are specialty flavonoids that protect you from many diseases.

Ginger hosts potent antioxidants as well, and holds its own for biting back at cancer tumors. It’s known for its immune-enhancing properties in Ayurvedic medicine, and the story goes like this: ginger is hot, which opens pores and allows you to sweat out toxins. The toxins that don’t make it out through your pores can become neutralized by ginger because it is an anti-pyretic for the common cold. (Read more about Ayurveda and medicinal uses for ginger here.) Aromatically, ginger gives this drink an exciting and pungent kick, so start off with small amounts if you aren’t used to it.

Use ORGANIC. Organic supplies you with better nourishment than conventional, plus it will save your body from the burden of processing synthetic pesticides in your food.

Don’t be a weeny – drink the damn pulp! Unless you have a medical condition that forbids you consume fiber (and you probably don’t), you need your fiber. If you use a juicer for this recipe, add the pulp back into your juice.  The fiber is a *brilliant* gift of life, and your DNA evolved consuming A LOT of roughage. Most Americans are missing out on the valuable benefits fiber. The average American barely meets one-third to one-half of their recommended fiber intake. What a loss! Fiber improves your overall weight, too. It fills you for longer, which encourages you to eat less! If you weren’t filling up on fiber, chances are that you’d fill up on fat and carbs instead. It also slows the rate of sugar entering your blood, so your blood sugar is more stable. Real Americans eat fiber!

So there.  Drink and be merry for this glass of juice and all its fibery goodness. It’s a lovely smoothie. Give thanks you have tasty, life-giving foods. Be happy you aren’t drinking Sunny Delight or Hawaiian Punch.

Have another wonderful juice recipe? Please share it with us in the comments section below!

If you like this post, please share with your friends on email, twitter, facebook, or wherever you like.

Bottoms up,

Frances

Vitamix Blender

Makes 2 servings

Equipment needed: A mighty, mighty blender that is tough enough to puree carrots (I use a VitaMix). You can use a juicer, if you have one.

Assemble:

4 carrots, washed and chopped into chunks (sized appropriately for your blender) – avoid skinning them to retain nutrients.

2-4 Tbsp RAW ginger – peel ginger skin (don’t fuss over getting it all off, or you will ruin a pleasant evening). Chop coarsely. *If using powdered ginger, sprinkle it into juice lightly because it tastes about 6X stronger when powdered.

Optional: apple slices (leave skin on)

Orange or apple juice.

WAAAIT! Add a little water to this blender, shake and drink it down (or give it to your compost bucket).You can also scrape with a spatula. Don't let it go to waste -we're in a depression and resources are precious.

Combine carrots and ginger in your mighty, mighty blender. Fill with enough juice so that it just passes the top of the vegetable line. Puree. Add more juice if needed. Taste and adjust the ginger or any other flavors, if needed.

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As fall ripens and cooler temperatures sweep in, pumpkins begin dotting front porches and fences as we prepare for Halloween.  Decorating and scary-evil pumpkin faces aside, these ancient fruits are a super power against chronic and killer disease.  Pumpkin has proven itself worthy of cancer-fighting powers, specifically in decreasing the risk of prostate, breast, lung, colorectal and gastric cancers.  Despite being a high-carbohydrate fruit, research shows that blood glucose control is improved when participants eat plenty of pumpkin. In studies with rats, the oils found in pumpkin seeds reduce hypertension from advancing. And, the seeds are also wonderful because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which means they are a fantastic means of increasing your daily omega-3 intake. (Read about how to fall in love with omega-3’s here.)

Pumpkins come in all varieties, including white, red, gray, green, blue, striped, and heirlooms, as well as large and small. Their flavors are as dynamic as their appearances. They can take a humble background note in casseroles and soups, or they can proudly hold the center stage with vibrant flavors in main dishes and stand-alone side dishes. By giving yourself the opportunity to explore with these ancient and veritable fruits, you’ll not only excite your eyes and pallette, you’ll also support your immune system, your skin and eye health.

Personally, I enjoy sprinkling a handful of pumpkin seeds over warm cereal (such as cooked millet or oats). I also regularly add them to yogurt parfaits, salads, and rice-bean-veggie dishes, such as kitchari.

Pumpkin is great in soup. Try this adventurous recipe for Pumpkin-Curry-Coconut-Apple Soup from Crescent Dragonwagon in her famed book, “Passionate Vegetarian”. If you are short on time, buy the stock and use a little apple juice in place of water. Just read the ingredients list to avoid using anything with hydrogenated oil, trans-fat, or MSG, please. Buy something with ingredients that you can understand and pronounce, like carrot, potato, celery, etc. You get the idea. Pacific Naturals is a great company that produces organic soups and stocks. (Perhaps one of my upcoming posts should be on ways to easily make your own stock. It’s always cheaper and healthier, and it is faster than you might think!)

Find great pumpkins at farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and pumpkin patches or pumpkin orchards. Remember, save some of your pumpkin seeds for next year. Pumpkins are simply delightful to grow, especially for kids, growing with giant enthusiasm, as if showing you how grateful they are for the opportunity, and require relatively little tending. Start them in the late spring or early summer. Plant raw seeds (not roasted or salted) in healthy soil and in a very sunny location. You can  train the vines to grow up alongside your home and onto your rooftop. Imagine what how cool your rooftop would look if dotted with pumpkins! If you decide to do this, you MUST send me photos, okay? Another important note is that they are up to 90% water, so pumpkins are thirsty fruits  and require a lot of water, and prefer to drink before the hot sun rises (before 11 AM). You can mulch around the pumpkin patch to reduce moisture losses, but you’ll still need to water them every day. Don’t skimp! Here is a charming and thoughtful article on how to grow your own pumpkins next year.  For the more adventurous gardener, try growing an heirloom variety. Follow this link for a free growers guide from a NON-GMO, heirloom seed company. Your prolific pumpkins will provide you with enough product to trade with someone who is growing another crop you didn’t grow this year. Growing will save you money, will nurture positive relationships through sharing and trading, and will sponsor a joyful communion with nature and traditions.

Do you have another pumpkin recipe or growing tip? Please tell us about it in the comments! Help readers to discover the tantalizing ways we can enjoy the exciting world of PUMPKIN!

Love you Pumpkin-Heads,

Frances

P.S. If you like this, please share this post with others you love via Facebook, Twitter, and Email!

Other Resources:

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

Pumpkin Waffles Blog

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The thing about garlic is the way that it lingers on your tongue for hours, if not days, after its consumption. Garlic leaves its mark so powerfully that even the most sophisticated tools – toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and tongue scraper – fail to remove its mark. For someone like me, garlic’s sticky taste serves as an echo of the euphoria I experienced while eating it, and so I tend to enjoy its aftertaste. But for someone like the brave Acupuncturist and his two eager students examining my tongue, the echos of garlic I ate today were probably more reminiscent of a fermented stink bomb. What’s more is that they’ve asked me not to chew gum for at least 30 minutes prior to my appointment. And since I ate the garlic with stinky fish today, the fish caught my tongue, hook, line, and stinker, committing itself to my every breath for the rest of the day. Talking and breathing seemed to obnoxiously invade the collective space. For every breath that escaped, it fastened itself to every air molecule in sight, refusing to dissipate. Is it a good sign, or a sad one, then, that the Acupuncturist encouraged me to visit three times per week?

Fiesta Fish and Massaged Kale Salad - Originally, a brilliant idea.

Thankfully, my honey didn’t have a chance to notice my dragon breath because I smartly passed him a large plate of stinky garlic fish. This tactic works well because when both of you stink, it seems as though you both smell normal. Stink bomb breath goes unnoticed. Brilliant! Or, is it. Now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder how his patients on the Medical-Telemetry floor of his hospital accepted him tonight. Oops. Hopefully they are sleeping and won’t notice whether he went to work today with a dragon in his mouth. Fingers crossed.

I can honestly say that I’ve learned from this experience. My first mistake was that I baked up stinky Dover Sole. It grew smelly because I left it in the fridge for at least a day too long. Fish is sensitive, and since I’m not that experienced with fish, I didn’t think about it much (I’ve just recently claimed the “part-time omnivore” badge, and am therefore still a beginner). Because this Sole was wild caught and $1 off per pound at PCC, I decided to buy just over two pounds, plus a full trout, on top of the salmon I already have in the freezer. (Later, when I learned that fish freezes poorly, I realized my naivety in thinking I would buy now, eat later.  I’ll need to have a large dinner party in order to get through all of this fish before the freezer burn scars its flavor.)

My next bonus mistake was eating stinky fish. We all know that you aren’t supposed to eat fish that smells fishy. But when you’ve just paid $7/pound of fish, and when you think about the fact that  these precious creatures died for your welfare, well, you can’t just throw it away. What a terrible waste and mis-use of life! So, I decided I would try Monika’s mom’s trick (Monika is my sister-in-law) – soak it in milk, and don’t drink the milk if you know what’s good for you. It didn’t work out so well for me, despite my high hopes. By the time I finished baking the fish, the entire house swelled with a thick layer of fish haze that left me certain I’d died and been buried in a sardine graveyard.

If I’d not used fish in this condition, I am confident that I would be writing mostly about the aromatic garlic and onion, not the stinky fish. Luckily for you, dear reader, you can benefit by not repeating my mistakes. So, when you have some fresh fish to use, you’ll love this Fall season recipe. It’s well served with kale salad and a side of whole grains, if you like. And because you’re using fresh ingredients, you’ll be celebrating the party in your mouth, instead feeling awkward about the dragon in your mouth, like I did. Enjoy the aphrodiasiatic garlic, which also might lends you a lovely “you smell healthy” aroma (as my late grandmother Elena used to put it).

Please try this recipe on fresh fish or tofu and let me know how you like it, or how you’ve improvised. If you enjoy this post and others, please give it a 5-star rating at the top and “like” it at the bottom.  Thanks for your support!

Sole with green tomatoes, garlic, onion, and strawberries.

Fiesta Fish Ingredients:

6 fresh fish fillets

2-3 medium Green tomatoes, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

5-6 large strawberries, chopped

Sauce (be willing to improvise here. Be bold and brave about trying on new flavors! Here’s what I did.)

1/2 cup butternut squash soup (leftovers. I started with almost 1 cup and had too much leftover).

1 tbsp mango butter (can use mango puree, strawberry jam, honey, maple syrup  . . .  going for a hint of sweet and adventure!)

1 tbsp curry powder (don’t hold back! This stuff is GOOD for you and your mouth)

1-2 tsp spicy chipotle (can also use black pepper, white pepper, lemon pepper, fresh diced peppers . . . you get the idea)

Give it a taste. It should be slightly sweet and spicy!

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Layer non-smelly fish in single-file (avoid stacking, which will promote uneven cooking). Drizzle healthy portions of sauce all over your fish. Sprinkle chopped veggies, garlic, and berries. Insert into oven when it’s reached full temperature and bake until fish is flaky (probably 10-15 minutes, but I didn’t watch the clock closely!). Serve with salad, such as massaged kale salad.

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Organic Seedless Watermelon

Watermelon is thought to first be cultivated around 5,000 years ago among Egyptians, and are found painted in hieroglyphics in buildings. They were highly prized and often buried in the tombs of kings for nourishment in the afterlife. Melons were cultivated for thousands of years in China, Greece, Rome, and the Mediterranean. At long last, they reached the United States with European colonists and African slaves. Now, over 1200 varieties of melons exist, with 200-300 varieties growing in the US and Mexico. Forty-four states now grow watermelon, with the biggest producers being California, followed by Florida, Texas, and Georgia. It’s inner flesh ranges from deep red to pink, orange, yellow, and rarely, white.

Watermelon provides about as much lycopene as two medium tomatoes. They are also a fine source of beta carotene. Studies have boosted watermelon’s status, showing that eating it with other fruit, can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Eating it with other carotenoid-containing foods can lower the risk of prostate cancer. Watermelon also provides a lot of water and minerals.

Not only this, but did you know that you can eat the rinds? Watermelon rind supplies citrulline, an amino acid that promotes nitric oxide’s production, which improves arterial blood flow and might reduce blood pressure. In many traditional African cuisines, watermelon flesh and seeds (a source of fatty acids and protein) are cooked and served as a vegetable. I’ve enjoyed pickled watermelon rind -which was sweet and heavily spiced with clove – with cream cheese and crackers. As a home remedy, the rind can be applied to skin that is suffering from the itch of poison ivy and poison oak for relief.

Did you know that the seeds are also edible? Human trials have shown that you can safely eat the seeds without risking sprouting a watermelon tree from your belly button! In some parts of India, the seeds are ground into flour. Watermelon seed tea was once used medicinally for reducing blood pressure and as a diuretic. In Russia, watermelon juice is also processed and enjoyed as an alcoholic beverage.

Even if you don’t plan to eat the rinds – just yet, anyway – people often think that the thick skin of the melon will protect it from the effects of pesticides. Not true! Depending on the variety of melon, its flesh is at least 90% water or more. This means that when your thirsty melon is slurping up every ounce of water it can find, it’s also gulping in any pesticides or other chemicals it encountered during its growing period.

 

Watermelon's Ripe Spot

Tip for selecting a ripe watermelon: Look for a melon that is heavy and has a hard rind. Be sure it is free of bruises and dents. Look for the spot where it sat on the ground. If the spot is yellow, it was allowed to ripen on the vine longer. If the spot is white, it is less ripe. Unfortunately, watermelons do not ripen off of the vine. The debate continues on as to whether thumping the melon to test ripeness actually works. An uncut melon will keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature. Store cut melons, covered, in the refrigerator. Watermelon is best when it is grown in season.

I recently enjoyed a watermelon salad, made by my friend Nicole for our day at the beach in Lake Tahoe. She combined cut watermelon with chopped tomato, basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. What a wonderful treat! It is also wonderful when paired with something salty or tangy, such as feta.  Here are some links to other watermelon recipes:

Tomato-Watermelon Soup with almonds, red-wine vinegar, and feta

Chilled Watermelon Soup with lime, mint & ginger

Thai Spiced Watermelon Soup

Watermelon-Jalapeno Salsa

Watermelon-Feta Salad

Please share your experiences with us: How do you like to eat your watermelon?

To Health and Happiness,

Frances

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