Showing posts with label Fruit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fruit. Show all posts

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boost Your Health With Fruits in Season

Whenever possible, choose the freshest fruit you can get. Studies suggest that, for many kinds of fruits and vegetables, the more time passes from when they were picked until you eat them, the less nutritional value they retain. While refrigeration will slow the nutrition decay for some fruits and vegetables, it cannot be stopped. One good example is green beans. Studies show that their nutritional value wanes considerably after five days from the vine. And kale’s decay rate is even more startling.  In a 2007 study, The Effect of Cold Storage on Bioactive Compounds in Curly Kale, scientists discovered that the nutritional vitamin C content of refrigerated kale after six weeks was 600 percent less than freshly-picked kale.

fruit recipes
Kumquats are a tasty winter fruit.
Freshness is one of the best reasons for selecting local foods; a locally grown fruit or vegetable is much more likely to have been recently picked. Buying your fruits and vegetables locally increases the likelihood that they have been ripened while still attached to the plant. Such vine-ripened foods are often much higher in nutritional content than foods that were picked earlier, as is often the case when foods are grown far from your market, because ripe fruits and vegetables are too fragile to make the long trip. 
 
In a perfect world, you would pick the fruit and use it immediately. That’s possible for very few of us, unfortunately, as most Americans no longer grow their own foods and more of us than ever are city dwellers, where even our neighbors may not grow food during warmer seasons.

And then comes winter – is it possible to enjoy vitamin-rich healthy fruits in winter? Fortunately, yes, if you make a few strategic adjustments to your buying habits and fruit selection.
 

Winter fruits

Winter
Many citrus fruits naturally ripen
in winter.
Taking advantage of local resources for fresh fruits and veggies is trickier in winter, but absolutely possible, if you choose wisely. Some foods are known as cold weather crops, – those which naturally ripen in winter. Plus, farmers these days use such things as hoop houses or other ways to extend the natural growing season far beyond what the local weather would allow otherwise. Finally, consider choosing a tried-and-true way of enjoying vegetables beyond the Fall by selecting storage vegetables – those which store well without going bad. This includes root vegetables such as cabbage or potato.
 
Winter time fruits are available locally, depending on where you live. Here are some that may be available to you locally:
  • CLEMENTINES – a small, sweet orange available fresh in many areas of the U.S. from December until Spring.
  • GRAPEFRUIT – if you live in the state of Texas, California, Florida, or Arizona, it comes into season in the heart of winter.
  • KIWIS – in temperate areas, they can be fresh-harvested winter through Spring.
  • KUMQUATS - often eaten raw and whole, they have a sweet rind and sour center throughout winter.
  • LEMONS – often tastiest when harvested in winter or spring.
  • MANDARINS small citrus fruit also known as the Christmas orange, peak season is December.
  • ORANGES different varieties ripen at different times, but as a winter fruit, you can't go wrong with this vitamin C packed citrus.
  • PEARS different varieties are in season from late summer through early spring.
  • PERSIMMONS – catch ‘em quick – they ripen between Autumn and early winter.
  • TANGERINES in season from October through April.


Where to find in-season fresh fruits

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting the freshest of fresh picks is to buy from local sources. And unless you've got a fruit or vegetable farmer living next door, your best resource is your nearest farmers market.
 
If you’re not sure where your local farmer’s markets are, you’re in luck, thanks to the Internet. Here are two great resources for locating farmers’ markets in your area, or anywhere you may be traveling to in the U.S.
 

LocalHarvest

The Local Harvest site focuses on helping you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainable grown food in your area.  Local harvest provides two ways to search: either by clicking on their interactive map of the U.S. to zoom into your area, or a more traditional search engine. The latter option allows you to zero in on just farmers’ markets and even on a specific fruit or vegetable, using the product search box:
tangelo
Farmers' market search options available at Local Harvest

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory 

This federal site is designed to provide members of the public with convenient access to information about U.S. farmers markets. Its listing includes locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, their website address, if any, and accepted forms of payment. You can search by zip code.  To hone your search even better, go to the Products Available tab and select Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:
lime fruits
USDA Farmers' Market database, with the option to filter search by fruit

In-season fruit recipes

Depending on where you live in the U.S., you may be able to enjoy one of the following in-season fresh fruit recipes, from Food Fit (From the HealthCentral Network), incorporating fun options, such as tangelo, blood orange, pomelo, and lime fruits:

For a full list of fruits by season, see the seasonal fruits charts at Fruits InfoFood Fit  provides a detailed list of winter fruits and vegetables. And remember: fresher is better!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Friday, August 31, 2012

An Apple A Day

August is the time to get apples from the farmsor in my case, my yard.  I was lucky to buy a home with fully mature apple trees on the property.  In fact, I have several different varieties available and ready for the picking.  I’m not even certain of all the types of apples I am growing, but I can tell you that here in Seattle, “It is a great year for apples."   
nutritional benefits apples
Healthy and sweet there are many types of apples!
I have lived in this house for 4 years, and this year's harvest is the biggest yet. That could mean lower prices for apples at the store.  But if low prices don't make your mouth water for this tasty fruit, then knowing the nutritional benefits will.  So take advantage of our bountiful harvest and, hopefully, great prices.

A Tempting Fruit

First things first… how many calories are in an apple?  A medium apple has about 95 calories and counts as one cup of fruit.

What about the health benefits of apples… Is it true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Here are a few of the nutrition facts:
  • Vitamin C – one of the benefits of apples is immune boosting Vitamin C.  Apples provide about 14% of the daily recommended value.  
  • Pectin – a fiber that helps lower blood pressure and sugar levels.
  • Boron -- a nutrient that supports strong bones and a healthy brain.
  • Quercetin--  a powerful antioxidant with anti-histamine effects. This may be a great way  to curb allergy symptoms. Or at least keep those sneezes to a minimum. I don’t think it is an accident that apples come into season at the same time as allergies. 
  • Phytonutrients plant chemicals that help prevent disease. Apples are full of them. They include vitamins A,  E, and beta carotene. They may have an effect on overall health and may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Just think… all these benefits in one little fruit.  The fiber content, health benefits and how satisfying an apple is make it a great snack.  I’d say these 95 calories are well worth it. Whether you're trying to lose weight or just stay fit, apples are truly a great choice. 

As fresh fruits go, those are some impressive apple nutrition facts!  I think it's safe to say that  an apple a day might just keep the doctor away.

Oh the Variety

It turns out there are about 7,500 varieties of apples. That's a lot of choice! You're bound to find at least one that will satisfy your tastes. Here is a list of just a few of the top favorites, just in case there is one you haven’t tried yet. These varieties are grown here in Washington state. Since we are known for our apples, I thought this would be a good place to start: 
  • Jonathan - sweet and juicy with a tang
  • Gala - sweet and crunchy
  • Fuji - mildly sweet, juicy and crisp
  • Braeburn - firm texture, sweet with a hint of tart
  • Granny Smith - firm and smooth with a tart flavor
  • Red and Golden Delicious - firm and crisp can be very sweet or mildly sweet, depending on the climate where they are grown
  • Honey Crisp - very crispy and juicy, flavor ranges from mildly sweet to very sweet
  • Cameo - a crisp crunch with a deep juicy flavor
  • Cripps Pink - firm and crisp, they have a tangy-tart sweet flavor
apple pie apple crisp
Easy does it with this easy apple dessert.
One of the things I love best about apples is the many tasty apple dessert recipes. From apple pie to apple crisp or plain sliced apples with caramel dip, they're all delicious. But let’s not forget apple cider, a real favorite up here in the Northwest! 

Juicing apples is a great way to get the most from all the nutrients available in this family favorite. Since finding easy apple dessert recipes is well, easy, I thought I would include a juice recipe that my husband and grandson really love! So pull out that juicer you bought but never use, because this is one you'll want to make for yourself!
Yummier Than it Sounds Apple Juice Favorite
5 small to medium apples
3 stalks of celery
2-3 handfuls of spinach
1 small beet
½-1 cup purified water

Drink slowly and truly ENJOY! Have a fabulously clear headed and healthy day! 

Gwendolyn
Contributing Writer

Friday, August 17, 2012

Plum Healthy

Plum nutritional benefits
Fresh plums from the local farm!
My personal motivation for knowing so much about what foods have to offer is based on my quest for health.   Good health is something that most people take for granted, but there are those of us that are more “health challenged”.   Therefore, getting the most from the foods we eat becomes imperative.  So for those who need, or would like, to take their health; energy level; and external beauty up a notch, I invite you to learn about the benefits of what you are putting into YOUR body.

As I have studied through the years and continue to do so, I am amazed at all the wonderful fruits, we have that can help us live better in so many ways.  This includes the many benefits of eating Plum Fruit.  The plum tree can produce many different colors of plums like:  yellow, green, purple - also known as red plum fruit.  The plum nutritional benefits really are worth knowing, so here is a quick rundown:
  1. Eating plums may reduce your chances of contracting heart disease… the number one killer in this country.   Plums have certain cleansing agents that keep the blood pure and prevent complications of the heart.  That one plum nutrition fact is a “biggy”. 
  2. Ladies, this next one is good for you to know, in particular, because we lose this mineral each month during our fertile years.  Consumption of plums, and prunes, helps in the production and absorption of iron in the body.  This also leads to improved blood circulation, which increases the growth of healthy tissues.  And for those of you who struggle with anemia, eating plums may be even more helpful. 
  3. Researchers have found that plums have anti-cancer agents that may help prevent the growth of cancerous cells and tumors in the body.  With cancer rates on the rise, eating “on purpose” becomes even more important. 
  4. Fresh plums are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.  Consumption of foods high in vitamin C help body in resisting infectious agents; decreasing inflammation; and in scavenging harmful free radicals.  The benefits of vitamin C are so extensive, I could dedicate the whole blog to the merits of eating foods rich in this nutrient. 
  5. A piece about plums, or prunes-the dried version of plum fruit, would be incomplete if we didn’t bring up the dreaded subject of “constipation.”  There are compounds in plum fruits, such as the fiber and sorbitol, that are known to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system.  So drink your prune juice “regularly”...and you’ll stay that way, too! 
  6. Plum juice concentrate has also been shown to be effective in preventing and reducing human influenza A, so drinking this during "flu season" may be a great first line of defense. 

Savory plum recipes

The plums nutritional benefits can be found in more than just the fresh fruit.   I would be remiss if I didn't wrap this up with a list of some of the wonderful plum recipes using this fabulous fruit:
Plums Fruit
These bit sized plums are a sweet snack!
  • Plum sauce
  • Plum Wine
  • Plum Pudding
  • Prune Juice
  • Plum Compote

Wash your fruits first

Please keep in mind, conventionally-grown stone fruits (ex: plums, apricots, pluots) are often coated with a petroleum-derived wax containing a fungicide to prolong their shelf life, a chemical substance that simply cannot be washed off!  And that is in addition to any pesticides that may have been sprayed during their cultivation.  Whenever possible, seek out organically-grown plums.  That way you ensure the farmers who grew plum trees and other fruit trees are dedicated to sustainability, your health and the quality of their product.  And you are supporting local farmers in your own community!

There are many more health benefits to eating the delicious, succulent Plum Fruit.  So the next time you take a bite into a fresh plum be sure and take the time to pat yourself on the back for making a wise and healthy choice.   Let’s add plums to our grocery list!

Here is a great recipe I found on the web because as we approach fall - any type of fruit crisp smells and tastes so good.

Raw Plum Crisp by Diane Stobo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF63ezSd-5g


Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise, and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

Friday, August 10, 2012

Respect Your Elder-berries

I have to be honest.   Elderberries, or Sambucus, are not one of the first berries that come to mind when I think “berries.”  But all of that is about to change.  It turns out the health benefits of elderberries are too awesome to be ignored.  According to those in the know at herbwisdom.com, the elderberry:
  • Is a powerful antioxidant
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Improves vision
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Improves heart health
This little berry can be taken and is effective for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections, and tonsillitis.  According to a study done in Norway and published at Pubmed.gov, a random study was done on influenza patients with the following results, "Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza."

elderberry health benefits
Elderberries - a hidden health fruit!
There are also herbalists that believe the chemicals in the black elderberry have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiviral properties.  This is also reflected in the University of Maryland Medical Center article on elderberries.  The benefits of elderberry juice were even used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.  Who could argue with health information like that?

Elderberry health benefits can be found in drug stores and grocery stores and even the wine store in items like:
  • Elderberry cough syrup
  • Elderberry extract
  • Elderberry juice
  • Elderberry syrup
  • Elderberry tea
  • Elderberry wine
  • Elderberry jelly
The elderberries nutritional information is impressive.  Sambucus elderberry contains vitamins A, B, C and amino-acids.  Other elderberry benefits include carotenoids and flavonoids which have a huge impact on the immune system.  As a food there is a load of nutrition packed in these tiny little berries.  Like many berries with a deep rich color, such as these, some consider them a “Superfood.”

Although elderberries are a great source for vitamins, if you are taking medication of any kind, be sure to check with your pharmacist especially if you are looking for a flu or cold remedy.  It should not replace your medication without the supervision of your doctor and NEVER mix herbs with your medications or with other
elderberry syrup
Health benefits by the  bunch!

In the Natural

Elderberry plants are not actually plants, but more like a tree.  My sister grows one in her backyard, but they can also be found in the wild.  They typically grow where there is water nearby.

There are some cautions that come with this powerful little berry.  Black elderberry extract is considered safe when used for up to five days, but it’s not known what the effects are of taking elderberry juice extract for long periods of time.

The cooked elderberry fruit is safe for consumption.  But the raw and unripe fruit could cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea.  Only fully ripe or cooked berries are safe so don't pick it off the tree and eat it!     You should never eat the stems, unripe berries, or any other part of the elderberry plant.  But don’t let fear stop you from enjoying the elderberry syrup benefits or the elderberry juice benefits; it could be just what your body needs.

Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise, and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Savings at the Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market Stand
Ma & Pa produce stand that gets the job done.
I have to be honest with you that I am not a big Farmer's Market shopper.  Mainly because I live in a small rural community and we don't have the big demand for it and we only have a Farmer's Market every weekend.  I know, CRAZY!!!  Not to mention Safeway is only a 30 second drive and when I am in the mood for some good veggies and fruit I don't want to wait for the weekend.  What we do have are the Ma and Pa farms with fruit stands that you can go to and purchase all the fresh produce you want and also plenty of flowers and some nuts.  You can even purchase homemade salsa that will please your taste buds.

fruit produce
Fresh wholesale fruits are a great find.
When I started on my 40 minute trip to the local Farmer's Market to see what kind of money saving tips I could tell everyone, I really didn't know what to expect.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when I got there and saw all the variety of home grown and wholesale products that was offered to me.  When I think of a Farmer's Market I think of fruits and vegetables with maybe some flowers.  To my pleasant surprise it had everything I could think of.  From the typical farm produce you see at market stands to wine, cooking oil, eggs, jams, chocolates, and seaweed.  You name it they had it.  As for the prices, their farm fresh produce wasn't much different from the grocery store prices.  There were some things that were cheaper like my favorite zucchini (3 for $1), plums (.99 per pound), nuts ($1.99 per bag, awesome) and  the flowers (.10 per flower).  I also bought some nectarines for $1.99 per pound which I thought was a good deal since that is what I usually get it for at the grocery store when they are on sale.  I actually went to the store that same day to pick up some things and saw them on sale for .99 per pound.  So that ended up not being better but the Farmer's Market nectarines were locally grown and fresher so it wasn't a complete bust.

Farmers market Flowers
Money saving finds in fresh flowers, produce.
I did notice that there were some big price differences with the flowers, nuts, jams, local wines, and homemade products.  I think I would just go every weekend to purchase those products.  I am not a big flower person but when I saw all the different types, I think I became one.  You can do so many different arrangements on your own and save big bucks.  I purchased a bundle of flowers for $2.00, YES $2.00.  That same bouquet at the flower or grocery store would have been at least $20.00.  Just on that savings alone you can pay a little extra for your fruit and vegetables and do all your shopping in one place.  As for the local wines we live just North of Napa Valley so we are still considered wine territory and there are always good deals on the local wines.

Wines, Vinegars, Farmers Market
Great sauces, wines, and oils were
throughout the Farmer's Market with great prices!
The bottom line on saving at the Farmer's Market is that it all depends on what you buy.  If you are going there solely to buy produce you may not save much. If you are going there to just check things out and browse around and see what kind of deals you can get you will save. I personally just liked the atmosphere of the Farmer's Market and I would go just for that alone.  As for the fresh fruits and vegetables I would purchase what I could get for a good deal since my family isn't too picky and whatever I brought home they would eat without any complaints.

The Farmer's Market was very lively but quaint at the same time and not to mention smelled great.  When I left I felt healthier and more peaceful for some reason.  Call it coincidence or maybe since I knew I was buying healthier and giving back to my community I felt better about myself.  Just that alone will get me back to the Farmer's Market next week.

Marci
Contributing Writer


Friday, August 3, 2012

“Peach-y” Keen Nutrition

Indulge me for just a moment, and give yourself a treat.  Now… picture yourself walking on a beautiful hillside.  You see a peach tree… and approach it curiously.  Reaching up you pick a beautifully ripe peach.  Now smell it, and savor that fabulous aroma.  Slowly you take a big bite of this incredibly juicy fruit.  Enjoy the sweet flavor that only a ripe peach can have.  What a treat for all the senses.  This fruit is luscious to look at, touch, smell, and taste.  What more can you ask for from a food?  Well, in this case, we can also ask for great health benefits because peach's nutrition is amazing!  The plain peach fact is that the nutritional value of peaches can improve your health!
nutritional value of peaches
Sweet, juicy peaches - a yummy summer treat!
Should we say "A Peach A Day?"

Peaches, actually, originated in China where eating for health is not only a priority, it is a mindset.  A “mindset” we would be wise to adopt.  This delectable fruit was believed to increase longevity, and for good reason.   Here are some of the nutritional information of peaches:
  1. Potassium:  Peaches provide a high source of this mineral. A deficiency in potassium can cause fatigue, anxiety, muscle weakness, skin problems, poor memory, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, congestive heart failure or heart deterioration, and vibration in your ears.
  2. Beta-carotene:  The body changes beta-carotene to Vitamin A. It is essential for supporting your vision, skin, healthy bone growth and your immune system. As an antioxidant vitamin A helps skin to repair, stay moist, and produce the enzymes that stabilize the production of collagen. If you’re after strong, silky locks, you’ll want to remember that vitamin A is also good for your hair. 
  3. Lycopene and lutein:  Also part of the carotene family, these elements give color to the peach. They help prevent macular degeneration, cancer, and heart disease.
  4. Fiber:  Fiber does a body good and you can find two types in peaches have two types:  insoluble fiber, which doesn't dissolve in water and soluble fiber, which does. Insoluble fiber is good for you because it collects water and increases the bulk of the stool.  Helping you push more of the waste out. This means your body can absorb more nutrients.  Soluble fiber is equally important.  It takes longer to break down which helps control blood sugar and it binds with fatty acids to help control cholesterol.  
  5. Vitamin C:  This antioxidant helps fight cancer by improving the immune system and preventing cellular change.
  6. Iron:  When you eat a peach, you get almost as much usable iron as spinach. Eat up ladies!
I used to live in Georgia where growing peach trees is an art form.  There are many peach tree varieties around the world.  The sweeter varieties of peaches include the Donut, Elberta, Frost, Hale-Haven, Harken, Honey Babe, O'Henry, Polly White, and White Lady.  Needless to say, making recipes with all of these varieties of peaches in them was also an art form in Georgia.  There are no shortage of fresh peach recipes from peach desserts to muffins, drinks, and even main entrees to be found on the internet and cookbooks.  Since I appreciate, and revere, the philosophy the Chinese hold in regard to food, I have yet another nutrient packed green smoothie recipe with peaches to help you build a strong body, mind, and spirit.

“Peachy” Green Smoothie
  • 2 peaches, sliced and pitted
  • 1 banana
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (honey flavored)
  • 1 tbsp. agave sweetener or honey
  • 1 cup water
Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!


Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified