Acorn Squash: A Rock Star Among Superfoods!

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Winter squash is actually grown from late summer through December and has a satisfying flavor, luscious texture and extensive shelf life. For locavores, who support sustainable agriculture by eating seasonal foods grown within a 100-mile radius, this versatile vegetable has a lot to offer.

Acorn squash is prized for its sweet golden flesh and unique ribbed shell, which makes attractive scalloped bowls when halved and a handy case for savory stuffing.

Acorn squash is a very good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, as well as manganese, thiamin and potassium. One cup of cooked acorn squash has 115 calories 9 grams of fiber and 895 mg of potassium.

Potassium is an essential mineral that is integral to the functioning of all living cells. Continue reading “Acorn Squash: A Rock Star Among Superfoods!”

Want to Lose Weight? Eat Potatoes

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What’s the most popular vegetable in America?  If you guessed potato, you are right!  Plant foods, the exclusive source of dietary fiber, also provide us with precious vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  And since potatoes are grown throughout the year, they’re also a fresh, seasonal and sustainable option for your winter meals.  Unfortunately, potatoes have often been denounced as fattening and the anti-carb craze of recent years has only added to that undeserved perception.

Weight control is rapidly becoming the major health issue of the 21st Century. More than a third of adults in the US are overweight and obesity is reaching epidemic proportions.  We know that potatoes are great tasting, inexpensive and nutritious, but how does this versatile vegetable become part of the solution?

Medical and nutrition experts have long advocated the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Potatoes are root vegetables and complex carbohydrates high in water-absorbing fiber. Therefore eating potatoes makes you feel more satisfied and less hungry and can actually help you to lose weight. Continue reading “Want to Lose Weight? Eat Potatoes”

Purple Jasmine Rice Pudding: Fair Trade and Gluten-Free. Sweet!

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The Fair Trade initiative is a market-based approach that empowers small growers and craftspeople by organizing them into co-operatives.  Fair Trade’s strategic intent is to work with marginalized producers and workers to achieve economic self-sufficiency and environmental standards.

According to Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO), as of 2007 almost 8 million producers and their families have benefited from Fair Trade projects.¹ The global market for Fair Trade goods experienced significant growth in 2008 and in the face of a global recession, realized sales of about $4.08 billion worldwide, a 22% annual increase.²  An impressive feat that can be attributed to the outstanding partnerships that have evolved between Fair Trade companies such as Alter Eco and the producer communities nurtured by international Fair Trade organizations. Continue reading “Purple Jasmine Rice Pudding: Fair Trade and Gluten-Free. Sweet!”

Mayo Clinic Study: Celiac disease 4 times more common than 1950s

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According to findings of a Mayo Clinic study published July 2009 in the journal Gastroenterology¹, Celiac disease (CD) is over four times more common today than it was 50 years ago. The study also found that subjects who did not know they had celiac disease were nearly four times more likely than celiac-free subjects to have died during the 45 years of follow-up.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten, a response is triggered by the body’s immune system that damages the lining of the small intestine. Over time, this interferes with the absorption of nutrients and can lead to a wide range of serious problems.

Because of this, people with celiac disease must avoid eating any food that contains gluten. Even small amounts of gluten can affect those with CD and damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present. Continue reading “Mayo Clinic Study: Celiac disease 4 times more common than 1950s”

The Skinny on Soy

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Soyfoods are hot – or not – depending on whom you believe. Soy, superstar of healthy alternatives, has been under attack. The Internet is a great resource for news and information about health and science and 87 percent of online users have researched a scientific topic at one time or another.¹ The Internet is also where sensationalistic claims based on half-truths and junk science, are legion.

There’s no denying that the mighty soybean is a nutrition powerhouse, containing high quality protein, complex carbohydrates and a virtual pharmacopeia of phytochemicals credited with the prevention of coronary heart disease, hypertension and many forms of cancer.²

Soyfoods’ appeal was once limited to the counter-culture. In recent years, interest in the health benefits of soy intensified in the research community and the popularity of soyfoods skyrocketed. Continue reading “The Skinny on Soy”

Freedom Gardeners: Homegrown Revolution

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In March of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama planted the first White House vegetable garden since the ‘Victory Garden’ days of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Edible landscaping is as old as Babylonia and has been cultivated throughout history, often gaining prominence in times of social or economic instability. This type of urban agriculture sprouted up in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe where the potager or kitchen garden supplied vegetables, herbs and fruit.

In WWI they were called Liberty Gardens and subsequently became the Relief Gardens of the Great Depression era.

Freedom Gardens, a sort of a Facebook meets Farmer’s Almanac, is a social networking site for homegrown food enthusiasts that launched in May of 2008. Here, novice and expert growers from all over the world gather to post success stories, ask questions and share techniques and ideas that support self-sustained living. Continue reading “Freedom Gardeners: Homegrown Revolution”

Turmeric: Spice of Life

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In the Old World, where spices were valued for depth of flavor and prized for therapeutic properties, turmeric was called ‘The Spice of Life.’

Turmeric has flavored food and prevented spoilage for centuries, adding a characteristic golden hue and warm ginger flavor to dishes from Asia to the Middle East. Spices are cited repeatedly as a significant part of the ancients’ daily lives in Egyptian hieroglyphics recorded on the walls of the pyramids and in passages of the Old Testament.

There is evidence of cultivated spices, herbs and seeds long before recorded history and archeologists estimate that primitive man had discovered aromatic plants as early as 50,000 B.C. Continue reading “Turmeric: Spice of Life”

Quinoa: Super Grain with Environmental Benefits

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Elegant, delicious, and easy to digest, quinoa (keen-wa) is a small disk shaped seed that looks a lot like a sesame seed. Classified as a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach.

Quinoa is simple to prepare and cooks in just 15 minutes to a light, fluffy consistency with a delicate, nut-like flavor. The germ is external and pulls away slightly when cooked, forming an attractive, delicate ring around the perimeter. Quinoa makes a lovely presentation and can be used in place of most other grains in any recipe.

Revered as sacred by the ancient Incas, quinoa has been recognized as a “superfood” because of its remarkable nutritional value. Like soybeans, quinoa is exceptionally high in lysine, an amino acid that is rare among vegetables. This versatile grain is high in protein, calcium and iron, a good source of phosphorous, vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. In addition to all this, quinoa tastes terrific! Continue reading “Quinoa: Super Grain with Environmental Benefits”

Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce

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It’s probably not news to anyone that pesticides have been shown to have carcinogenic and other adverse health effects on humans and that organic produce is the best choice for people and for the planet.

Mounting evidence confirms that many commonly used pesticides can suppress the normal immune system response to invading bacteria, viruses, parasites and tumors.¹ The immune system is the body’s first line of defense and weakening its response can increase the incidence of disease.

A study by the National Cancer Institute identified pesticides as a likely cause of elevated rates of several forms of cancer among farmers². Farmers are at higher risk for certain cancers, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, skin melanomas, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and cancers of the lip, stomach, prostate and brain. Exposures to a number of pesticides have been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while exposure to insecticides has been associated with leukemia, multiple myeloma and brain cancer³. Continue reading “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce”

Chilled Asparagus with Creamy Dill Dressing

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Asparagus is a wonderful spring vegetable with tender fleshy spears that make a lovely distinctive presentation. Long known for its strong diuretic properties, the early Greeks used this delicately flavored vegetable for medicinal purposes, believing that it could prevent bee stings and ease toothaches.

In California, asparagus is picked as early as February, however the season is considered to run from April through May. In the East and Midwest, the growing season extends through the end of July.

Asparagus is very low in calories and sodium, a good source of fiber and an excellent source of natural antioxidants.¹ A cup of asparagus supplies 288 mg of potassium, which is important for brain function, muscle growth and a healthy nervous system. Continue reading “Chilled Asparagus with Creamy Dill Dressing”