Apples for the Teacher

Marvelous Mushrooms!

 
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There are many different varieties of mushrooms that are grown by Ontario farmers. Did you know it only takes a few weeks to grow mushrooms? Imagine if humans grew that fast too!

Although there are thousands of mushroom varieties worldwide, only 25 are grown by farmers. This is because the others are either not safe or don’t taste good. The most common mushroom grown in Ontario is the White Button Mushroom. Other varieties include Shitake, Oyster, Portabello, and Cremini mushrooms.  

When buying, look for mushrooms that are firm and are not damaged. All mushrooms bruise easily and should be handled with care. Use your mushrooms as soon as possible after buying because they do not keep for long. If needed, keep them cold in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for up to several days. Loose White Button, Cremini, and Portabello mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag. Shitaki and Oyster mushroom should be stored in a container with a damp cloth covering them to prevent them from drying out. Pre-cut or packaged mushrooms can be stored in their original packaging.

When you are ready to eat your mushrooms, rinse them gently in cool water to remove any dirt or debris. Pat them dry gently with a towel. Cut off any dry stem ends. Mushrooms are very versatile, and although they are very popular on pizzas, in mushroom soup, or in omelettes, there are many ways to use them! Try using them in these different dishes:

  1. Stuff and bake mushroom caps to offer as appetizers instead of raw mushrooms with dip.

  2. Try making a mushroom risotto dish with brown rice for a healthy alternative to traditional risotto.

  3. Sauté mushrooms with spices and spread on top of baked fish for extra flavour.

 

Moroccan Stuffed Mushrooms

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 12 large Ontario White Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. (2 mL) ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. (1 mL) ground coriander
  • ½ cup (125 mL) uncooked quick couscous
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. (25 mL) currants
  • 2 Tbsp. (25 mL) fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. (25 mL) fresh mint, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Cut stems from mushrooms; trim inside edge of cap to enlarge stuffing area. Set caps aside.

  2. Finely chop mushroom stems.

  3. In large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add mushroom stems, onion, carrot, and garlic; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until softened.

  4. Add cumin, coriander, then couscous; stir in stock and currants. Cover and bring to boil; remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Add parsley and mint.

  5. Fill mushroom caps with couscous mixture. Bake in 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until mushroom are tender.

Recipe Credit: Foodland Ontario

 

Sautéed Herbed Wild Mushrooms Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp.unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp.olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound chanterelle mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound mixed cremini and button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp.  salt*
  • ¼ tsp. pepper

Instructions

  1. Melt butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until the onion is softened.

  2. Add the mushrooms; increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, 5 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

  3. Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.

Cooking Note

*Use ½ teaspoon salt to reduce sodium to 205mg per serving.

Recipe Credit: American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

 

References & Additional Resources

https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/food/mushrooms

Baby Cucumbers

 
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Can you imagine anything better than biting into a cool, freshly picked cucumber in the hot months of the summer? Cucumbers are crisp and juicy, and are a perfectly refreshing vegetable to enjoy during the summer heat in Ontario!

Cucumbers are grown two ways in Ontario. There are field cucumbers, which are grown in soil in a farmer’s field. There are also greenhouse cucumbers, which are grown using hydroponics, using a growing medium other than soil.

While greenhouse cucumbers are available all year round, field cucumbers are available from June to October in Ontario. To pick the best cucumbers, make sure they are firm and do not have any bad or soft spots. This may mean that the cucumbers have started to rot. Ccucumbers should be dark green with no yellow spots on them. Yellow spots usually develop when the cucumbers are too ripe. When they get that ripe, they usually no longer smell or taste fresh. Lastly, you should also avoid choosing cucumbers that have wrinkles. Wrinkly cucumbers usually mean that they have been stored too long or at too high temperatures and have lost some of their moisture. 

Cucumbers are fairly perishable. This means that you will have to buy fresh cucumbers every week. Store cucumbers in the refrigerator if you are not using them right away. Cucumbers that are wrapped in plastic or that are waxed will last longer than cucumbers that are not covered.

Scrub the cucumbers with a produce brush under cool, running water when you are ready to use them. The peel has lots of nutrients, so leave it on if you can! If you have used a cucumber and have leftovers, tightly wrap the extras in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Use the leftovers as soon as possible, as they will only stay fresh for another couple of days.

Fresh cucumbers slices are a popular choice for pairing with dip! To try something new, use your cucumbers in following ways:

  • Try using cucumber (and your other farm fresh veggies!) to make a cold soup like gazpacho!
  • Instead of leafy greens, use cucumber as the base of a salad. Try the Tomato & Cucumber Salad below!
  • Cut cucumbers into ¾ inch thick rounds. Scoop out the middle and replace with a dallop of dill flavoured dip for fancy (and healthy!) finger food!

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 + ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups baby cucumbers, sliced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley leaves, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion. Add dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with parsley. Toss and serve.

Tips: For maximum flavor and texture store tomatoes at room temperature. Use a sharp or serrated knife to cut tomatoes. If you’d like, stir in 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese.

Recipe Credit: Foodland Ontario

 

 

Summer Fresh Gazpacho with Avocado and Feta Cheese

Serving Size: 1 ½ cup  Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 small cucumber, cut in large pieces
  • ½ small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ½ jalapeño pepper*
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium tomato or vegetable juice**
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Place the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, garlic and jalapeño pepper in a large blender or food processor bowl. Add the basil and oregano. Pulse until coarsely chopped (but not puréed).
  2. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Add the tomato or vegetable juice, vinegar and black pepper. Blend well.
  4. Cover; refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight to chill and develop the flavors.
  5. Pour into soup bowls or mugs. Top with the avocado and feta cheese.

Cooking Notes

*Instead of jalapeño, substitute a dash or more of hot sauce, to taste.

**Choose either regular or spicy tomato juice or vegetable juice, depending on your flavour preference.

Recipe Credit: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

 

References & Additional Resources

https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/food/greenhouse-cucumbers

Tasty Tomatoes

 
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Grape, cherry, roma, beefsteak… there are more than 300 varieties of tomatoes grown in Ontario! These varieties are usually separated into three, larger categories: round, plum, and beefsteak. Did you know that for many years, North America and Europe considered tomatoes just a decorative plant, and thought that eating them was unhealthy? We now know that just isn’t true - tomatoes are a great source of some key vitamins and antioxidants!

To get the most out of tomatoes, enjoy them both cooked and raw! Each category of tomato is best used for a specific purpose. Foodland Ontario recommends using the different varieties for different purposes:

  • Round (or slicing) tomatoes are best raw in salads and sandwiches. 
  • Plum (or Roma) tomatoes are best for sauces and pastes because they are less juicy than round tomatoes.
  • Beefsteak tomatoes can be used in both raw and cooked dishes. They are also less juicy than round tomatoes.

Although you will usually find tomatoes amongst other vegetables in the grocery store, they are technically a fruit! When in the grocery store, look for tomatoes that are firm but not hard. Tomatoes will continue to ripen after they are picked, so they will continue to soften when you bring them home. The skin should be smooth without any  bruises or cuts.  

After you bring your tomatoes home, store them unwashed and uncovered at room temperature until they are ripe. Do not keep them in direct sunlight so they ripen evenly. Once they are ripe, store them in the refrigerator and use them within a few days. If you have peeled or cut the tomatoes, store them in a clean container in the fridge for up to three days.

Clean under cool, running water. Tomatoes that are sliced from stem to bottom keep their juices better than tomatoes sliced horizontally. If you’d like to get rid of the juice, cut the tomato horizontally and gently squeeze the halves.

Tomatoes can be used in many different ways, but here are some unique ways to use them!

1.    Use fresh tomatoes to make your own salsa or bruschetta!

2.    Toast your favourite whole grain bread and make a toasted tomato sandwich.

3.    Stuff a tomato with quinoa and veggies in place of a pepper.

 

Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Preparation Time: 15 minutes Serves: 4 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL)  Ontario green beans
  • 4 - Ontario tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • 1 cup  Ontario mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese cubes
  • 2 - Ontario green onions, chopped
  • Ontario romaine lettuce leaves

    Dressing: 
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp (25 mL)Lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp, 25 mL Fresh basil, chopped 

Directions

1.    Blanch green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking and set colour.

2.    On a large platter, arrange tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, and cheese in concentric circles on Romaine leaves. Sprinkle tomatoes with green onions.

3.    Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients. Spoon over salad.

Recipe Credit: Eat Right Ontario

 

 

Blueberry and Tomato Bruschetta

Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Makes: 24 slices

 

Ingredients

  • 2 pints (255 g each) Cherry tomatoes, quartered 
  • 8 fresh Basil leaves, chopped 
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Fresh blueberries 
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) Extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) Aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Salt 
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Crumbled feta cheese 
  • 1 - Baguette, sliced

 

Directions

1.    In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, blueberries and basil.

2.    In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and salt. Pour over tomato mixture and add feta. Stir gently to combine.

3.    Spoon mixture onto baguette slices to serve.

Recipe Credit: Eat Right Ontario

 

 

References & Additional Resources

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-safety-fruits-vegetables/tomatoes.html

https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/food/field-tomatoes

https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-Food-Preparation/It%E2%80%99s-Time-for-Tomatoes!.aspx

 

Whole Carrots

 
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by Samantha Penlington

I think it’s safe to say that when many of us think of bright orange, whole carrots, we picture Bugs Bunny chewing on a carrot and up to his usual shenanigans. Carrots aren’t just for rabbits – they can offer us lots of nutrients that are key for good eye and heart health.

If you haven’t yet tasted local, freshly picked carrots then you are missing out! They are sweet, juicy, and the perfect kind of crunchy.

Carrots can be bought locally in Ontario all year long. They are mainly grown in the Bradford area north of Toronto. In 2011, farmers produced over 482 million pounds of carrots! All of those carrots combined are heavier than the weight of the CN Tower!

When buying carrots, look for carrots that are firm and bright orange. Their skin should be smooth with no cracks. Look for the Foodland Ontario logo or ask the grocery store manager if they sell locally grown carrots.

Carrots should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to retain their moisture. Remove the leafy green tops before storing, as they will take the moisture out of the carrots and they will become wilted and soft. If stored properly in the crisper, they should keep for up to three weeks.  

To use the carrots, clean them under cool running water by using a produce brush. Once the carrots are clean, you can either eat them with or without the skin. Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. There are many ways to cook carrots such as roasting, steaming, or boiling them. But, here are some different ways to incorporate more carrots into your diet:

  1. Enjoy a healthy carrot and bran muffin at breakfast. Add some shredded carrot to your favourite recipe!

  2. Pair carrot sticks with a homemade dill dip. The flavours really complement each other.

  3. Throw some shredded carrot onto your salads for extra sweetness and crunch!

The following recipes use carrots in an unexpected way to experiment with eating carrots in different ways!

 

Roasted Carrot & Beet Soup Recipe 

Ingredients
Vegetable oil cooking spray
5 large carrots, peeled and sliced (3 cups)
1 pound fresh beets, peeled and chopped*
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced (1½ cups)
1 large onion, quartered (2 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 14-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream for garnish**
Fresh chives, chopped, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with the cooking spray. Combine the carrots, beets, celery and onion in the dish. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. Toss to coat vegetables. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour, or until the vegetables are fork tender. Cool slightly.

  3. In a food processor or blender, puree the roasted vegetables with the broth in batches until smooth. Combine the batches in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Heat on medium-low until warmed through.

  4. Garnish with sour cream and chives.

Cooking Notes
*Substitute 1 15-ounce can beets, rinsed and drained. Instead of roasting, puree them with other vegetables in food processor or blender.
**Substitute Greek yogurt.

Recipe Credit: EatRight.org


 

Carrot Cake Muffins

Ingredients
Olive oil spray (or canola oil spray)
1 ½ cups carrots, grated
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
¾ cup calcium-fortified 100-percent pure orange juice
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup coconut, grated

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F; spray muffin pan with cooking oil spray.

  2. Shred carrots and set aside.

  3. Combine flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon and sea salt in a bowl, and mix.

  4. Add egg, orange juice and applesauce to the bowl, and mix thoroughly.

  5. Fold in carrots and coconut until blended.

  6. Spoon mixture into muffin tins, filling until ⅔ full.

  7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until browned.

  8. Cool and enjoy!

Recipe Credit: EatRight.org

References & Additional Resources
https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/page/carrots
https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Budget/All-about-carrots.aspx

Potential Health Benefits of Spinach

 
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Popeye had the right idea about spinach! It has many health benefits such as: 
   Spinach is low in carbohydrates but rich in fiber, which helps add bulk during digestion and prevents constipation.
   It is an excellent source of carotenoids. Carotenoids that enter the body can be converted into vitamin A.
    Spinach is also rich in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that promotes your immune system and skin health.
    Spinach can provide your body with a good source of vitamin K, which is essential in blood clotting.
    Spinach is also rich in folate acid, iron, and calcium. It is overall a nutrient-dense vegetable.
    It also contains plant compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help block or reverse the sunlight damage to your eyes.
    Because of the rich antioxidants, spinach can actually lower oxidative stress in your body and suppress the growth of cancer cells.
    The nitrate provided by spinach is beneficial for blood pressure regulation, which can help improve heart health.

All About Spinach!

 

When asked to think of a leafy green vegetable that is good for your health, many think of spinach! 
However, do you know that spinach actually belongs to a different food family than a lot of other leafy green vegetables? 
While leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard, turnip greens, bok choy, arugula and collard green all belong to the cruciferous family, spinach falls into another family called the chenopod or amaranth family. The chenopod or amaranth family, also scientifically known as the Chenopodiaceae or the Amaranthaceae, contains not only vegetables but grains amaranth and quinoa as well. 

Within the Spinacia oleracea species, there are a lot of different varieties of spinach. The most popular varieties are the savoy, semi-savoy, and the flat-leafed. The savoy are varieties of spinach that have curly leaves, while the flat-leafed spinach often has smoother and wider leaves. 

Spinach originated from and has been cultivated for thousand years in the Middle East. With increased trading over time, spinach has migrated and now gained popularity around the world. Currently, China produces the greatest amount of spinach in the world.

Guacamole

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Calories: 262 kcals

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup diced onion

  •  3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavour, or serve immediately.

Tips for Preparing Avocado

 
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Many people avoid eating avocados simply because they do not know how to store and prepare them.  

Did you know you should not store unripened avocados in the fridge? 

You should actually store them at room temperature until they ripen. It can take up to 4 or 5 days to ripen.  You will know an avocado is ripe when it has black or dark purple skin and yields to gentle pressure. Once ripe, you can then store your avocado in the fridge for up to one week to slow down nutrient losses.


To preserve the nutrients in the avocado, it is usually recommended to prepare it in the unheated form. Heating the avocado can damage the fats in it and therefore can cause it to lose its beneficial health effects. If you like to put your avocado in recipes that requires cooking, you should minimize the cooking time and use the lowest temperature possible so you don’t change its fat profile!

All about Avocado!

 

Do you know that there are huge number of avocado varieties out there?

Avocados, which belongs to the species group of Persea Americana, actually has over 50 different commercial varieties!

These different varieties are often categorized into three basic types: West Indian avocados, Guatemalan avocados, and Mexican avocados. As you can probably tell by their names, they are categorized according to their place of origin. Avocados originated in West India, Guatemala, Mexico, or Central and South America. However, due to the hybridization, crosslinking, and normal avocado cultivation, it becomes difficult to classify into one of these categories. Fuerte is an example of an avocado variety that is Mexican-Guatemalan cross. The most popular variety of avocados is Hass avocado.

In the fruit category, avocados are quite unique in comparison to other fruits. While most fruits contain mostly carbohydrate and very little fat, avocado actually contains a very high healthy fat content. Because of its great nutritive value, and its unique flavour and rich texture, avocados are very popular amongst health conscious individuals and are incorporated into many different dishes!

Seared Scallops with Spicy Papaya Sauce

 

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Calories: 223 kcals

 

Ingredients

  • 1 small papaya - peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound sea scallops

 

Directions:

1.     In a medium bowl, combine papaya, red pepper, jalapeno, onion, lime juice, cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

2.     In a large sealable bag, combine flour, black pepper, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Add scallops, and shake to coat.

3.     In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add scallops; cook and stir until golden. Serve scallops over papaya sauce.

Tips for Buying and Preparing Papaya

 

When choosing papaya, consider when you are going to eat it.

If you are planning to eat it right away, then it is best to choose the ones that have a reddish-orange skin and are slightly soft to the touch.

If you plan on buying your papaya a few days in advance, then choosing those with patches of yellow colour on them is the best way to go. It will take them a few days to ripen.

Black spots on the papaya do not affect the taste, but you should avoid those that are too soft or are bruised.

Papayas are usually the same way you eat a melon -  raw. Make sure to give them a wash before you cut them in half. Scoop out the black seeds in the center with a spoon. then either scoop out the flesh or into pieces. If cutting them into pieces be sure to peel the skin off.

You can eat the flesh as it is or add it into a fruit salad or other recipes. Remember, you should add the papaya to the salad just before you are about to serve it because it tends to make other fruits in the salad very soft.

The black seeds are actually edible but some people find the peppery flavour quite bitter that's why most people just tend to discard the seeds. But if you are curious and maybe feeling a little adventurous, definitely give the seeds a try! They can be chewed on whole or you can blend them into dressings.

Potential Health Benefits of Papaya

 

Papayas are packed with goodness. They are rich in antioxidants such as carotenoid, vitamin C, and flavonoid. Papayas are also an excellent source of B vitamins like folate and pantothenic acid, and minerals such as potassium, copper, and magnesium. On top of all that they are also a good source of fibre.

Another thing papayas contain is papain, which is an enzyme that helps to digest proteins chains found in meat. The enzyme papain is especially rich in unripe papaya.

With respect to its nutritional value, papaya can benefit your health in the following ways:

  • The strong antioxidant effect of papaya can help neutralize the free radicals in your body so they can no longer create harm. Oxidative stress is reduced and several disease risks are lower.
  •  The high lycopene (a type of carotenoid) and vitamin C may help improve heart health by enhancing the protective effects of HDL, which is known as the “good” cholesterol.
  • The antioxidants including lycopene and vitamin C can reduce free radical activities and thus protect your skin from damages. These antioxidants may help defend your skin from sun damage or wrinkling.
  • Carotenoids in papaya help reduce inflammation in your body.
  • The papain enzyme helps your body to digest protein, and hence improves constipation and bloating.
  • Fibre in papaya can bind to toxins in the colon and keep them away from healthy cells. The folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E in papaya are also associated with reduce risk of colon cancer.

All about Papaya!

 

When Christopher Columbus tasted a papaya he called it “the fruit of the angels.” Papaya is not only delicious but it is packed with numerous nutrients. 

Papaya, also know as the Carica Papaya plant, belongs to the Caricaceae family of the flowering plants. They originated from Central America and Southern Mexico, but are now grown in tropical regions around the world.

Papayas usually hold a pear shape or a spherical shape and can be up to 20 inches long. The ones that we often see in the market are about 7-8 inches long, and usually weigh about 1 pound.

The skin of a papaya ranges from green to orange. When it is unripe, the skin is green; when it is ripe, the skin turns orange. The flesh is orange with yellow to pink hues, and there are many black seeds in the center of the fruit.

Both unripe and ripe papaya can be eaten, but the unripe ones should be cooked because of its high latex content that can stimulate contraction. The seeds inside the fruit are also edible, however they do taste bitter so are usually not eaten by many people.

 

Cream of Broccoli Soup

 

We all know that broccoli is very versatile. It can be eaten raw or cooked in various ways. Cream of broccoli soup is one of the most popular broccoli dishes worldwide.  Here’s a great recipe for you to try!

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Yields: 6 Servings

Calories: 205 kcals

 

Ingredients:

  •  4 Cups Water
  • 4 Cups Broccoli Floret
  •  2 Tablespoons Margarine
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
  •  1/3 Cup All-purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Bouillon Powder
  • 2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
  •  1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

 

Directions:

1.     In a medium-sized cooking pot, add water and broccoli florets and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving all of the water.

2.     In a food processor or blender, process half the cooked broccoli until fairly smooth. Chop remaining broccoli and set aside.

3.     In a heavy-bottomed cooking pot, melt butter or margarine, add onion and celery and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until soft. Stir in flour and continue stirring constantly for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add reserved water and vegetable bouillon granules, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring constantly until thickened.

4.     Stir in milk, nutmeg, pepper, and processed and chopped broccoli, and heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve garnished with grated cheddar cheese.

Tips for Cooking Broccoli

 

When preparing Broccoli for cooking, you should always rinse your broccoli under cold running water first. Then it can be cut into small pieces so it is easier to cook. The stem and florets of a broccoli provide different flavours, therefore it is a good idea to include both parts in your dish.

In fact, different cooking methods can have different impacts on the nutrition content of broccoli. For instance, glucosinolate retention seems to be the best with steaming for a shorter time, while antioxidant capacity is the best at 5-10 minutes of steaming. Vitamin C levels in broccoli appear to be the best when using a pressure cooker. Microwave cooking is also preferred over steaming when trying to achieve maximum Vitamin C retention.

If you wish to stir-fry your broccoli, a lower heat skillet at approximately 250°F/121°C with a shorter cooking time of 3 minutes or less is recommended. Broccoli can also be eaten raw. It just requires a longer chewing time than cooked broccoli, but it can be a great snack!

Potential Health Benefits of Broccoli

 

Broccoli is often referred as “super veggie” because of its beneficial health effects. It is very high in many nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, potassium, and fibre. Besides these nutrients, broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables.

This might sound surprising to some of you: broccoli actually contains 90% of water, with the remaining being 7% carbohydrate, 3% protein, and almost no fat. With all that being said, broccoli is very low in calories. It has only 31 calories per cup.

The following are some of the potential benefits of broccoli:

  • Broccoli provides a good amount of fibre which can promote gut health
  • Broccoli contains a compound family called isothiocyanates, which can reduce many risk factors and disease, possibly including the risk of cancer.
  • Broccoli may lower the cholesterol level in the body by binding to bile acids, causing cholesterol to be expelled.
  • Broccoli contains carotenoid, which promotes eye health and reduce risks of eye-related diseases

However, for those who are taking or need to take blood thinner, you may want to be careful not to consume too much broccoli. Since broccoli contains a high amount of Vitamin K, which helps blood to clot, consumption of large amount of broccoli may counteract the effect of blood thinners.