Tag Archives: produce

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Recipe: Spinach salad with apples, cranberries, avocados and pecans in balsamic vinaigrette

Eating salad daily is one of the simplest ways you can do to jumpstart your efforts to implement healthy eating habits and dramatically improve your health. It is a convenient way to work in a heaping serving of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Salads start off healthy, what with the natural ingredients that make the base. However, many salads wind up being unhealthy because of the toppings and dressings that people embellish them with either at home or at restaurants.

FoodFacts.com shares this salad recipe that’s guaranteed high in nutrition and low in calories.

Time: 30 minutes

Serving: 4

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine spinach, apples, cranberries and avocados.
  2. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and toss.
  3. Chop pecan halves into smaller bites and sprinkle on salad.
  4. Serve immediately.

 

Love salads? Find out how your favorite dressing fares in our health score with the all my foodfacts app. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

Mashed Potatoes with Chives AND Tomato with Eggplant Tian 001

Recipe: Provençal Tian

While FoodFacts.com is all about promoting more fresh produce consumption this National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, we thought we’d share this healthy, delicious and easy-to-prepare comfort food from Provençe, France.

Provençal tian is a French term that pertains to both the shallow earthenware as well as the dish prepared in it. Traditionally, Provençal tian is made with eggplant, zucchini and tomato.

Time: 20 minutes to prepare ingredients; 40 minutes to bake

Serving: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplant, cut into thick slices
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Provençal herbs: rosemary and thyme sprigs
  • Ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Coat earthenware with olive oil, and arrange eggplant alternately with zucchini, tomatoes and onions.
  3. Repeat sequence to fill the dish, making sure to fit the ingredients tightly.
  4. Sprinkle minced garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary and thyme sprigs.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender and browned around the edges.

Provençal tian is usually served as a side dish for grilled, baked, barbecued or roasted meat.

Note: Serve in a clear dish to show off the layers!

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It’s National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month! It’s no surprise that FoodFacts.com would take every opportunity to encourage our readers to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. If we haven’t said it enough, fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential in making your body work, feel and look its best. They provide the nutrients for vital health and aid in lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.

The dietary guidelines for the amount of fruits and vegetables intake basically depend on one’s gender, age, and activity level. Based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, two cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables are recommended, whether fresh, frozen or canned.

There are many easy ways you can get yourself eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Below are some of them:

Grow them yourselves

Vegetable and fruit gardens in people’s backyards are always a pleasant sight. Making use of space this way is a great way to utilize and maximize it. For those who don’t have the room and time for an edible garden, there are small and low-maintenance herbs that you can grow indoors, such as basil and parsley.

Buy locally grown

If homegrown is not an option, locally grown is the next best thing. The shorter the distance the fruits and vegetables have traveled, the fresher they are. Roadside stands and farmers’ markets are the best places for those! Be sure to find out if your farmers’ markets are selling goods that they have grown or made themselves or are carrying other farms’ goods. National, state and city laws require farmers’ markets to disclose if they are “producers only” or “carrying” products from others.

Buy in-season produce

Nature has its way of telling us what the best foods to eat are and when to eat them. Fruits and vegetables offer the most nutritional value and flavor when they are in season; plus, they cost less when supplies are aplenty.

Learn fast and easy ways to prepare them

While eating raw produce have many health benefits, there are certain fruits and vegetables that are better consumed cooked. For instance, cooked tomatoes contain increased lycopene, a phytochemical rich in antioxidant properties, than raw tomatoes.

Be sure to always wash produce before eating. It’s also a great idea to prepare ahead – wash, cut and store them safely for future use.

Go for the healthy snacks

When you’re craving snacks, you want something convenient and ready-to-eat. This is where the pre-prepared fruits and vegetables come to play. Go for the cut-up fruits and veggies when you have the urge to reach for some bag of chips!

Try something new

Keep things interesting by trying something new, not just for the enticing colors and flavors, but for the body’s nourishment. No fruit or vegetable contains all of the nutrients that your body needs. So, shake things up and keep a variety – the options are limitless!

Another great reason to go organic: pesticides in our produce

Earlier this summer, The Environmental Working Group released the eighth edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This is a great resource for consumers and FoodFacts.com wants to make our community aware of its findings.

Researchers different fruits and vegetables to determine pesticide contamination. This year’s study provides information on 45 different fruits and vegetables. All the samples of these fruits and vegetables were either washed or peeled prior to testing. In this manner the study actually reflects the amount of pesticides present when the food is actually being consumed. The results are pretty sad and kind of frightening.

An apple a day, for instance might actually end up sending you to the doctor, instead of keeping the doctor away. 98% of non-organic apples tested contained detectable levels of pesticides. Lettuce samples reflected the presence of 78 different pesticides. All the nectarines tested contained pesticide residue. Grapes “won” in the fruit category, with 64 different pesticides found in samples tested. Strawberries and blueberries were both on the list as well.

Most disturbing, however, was pesticide testing for fruit and vegetable baby food. This year’s study included green beans, pears and sweet potatoes. Sadly, after analyzing about 190 baby food samples, 92% of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. On the up side virtually none of the sweet potato baby food products contained any pesticide. On the down side, the pesticide iprodione which has been categorized as a probably carcinogen showed up in three baby food pear samples. The pesticide is not registered with the EPA for use on pears at all.

The EPW also publishes a list of produce that is least likely to test positive for pesticides. Those products include asparagus, cabbage, grapefruit, watermelon, eggplant, pineapple, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.

It’s important to note that this report is not designed to reflect the affects of pesticide exposure. It is specifically meant to measure the presence of pesticides in common fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle … and now the baby food aisle as well. Research is ongoing regarding the affects of those pesticides on consumers, which ones and in what amounts. But having an understanding of what pesticides are found and where, can help all consumers make better decisions at the grocery store. FoodFacts.com encourages you to read more about this fascinating report: http://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-releases-2012-shopper-s-guide-pesticides-produce. Information like this helps us all to understand what’s really in our food.

A Miracle Fruit?

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Foodfacts.com recently came across this article in TIME magazine regarding a “miracle fruit” that changes sour into sweet. How? Read below to learn more!

If you have any foodie friends, you’ve probably heard of miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum), a native West African berry that looks like a cranberry, but acts like a psychedelic for your taste buds.

Eat the miracle fruit on its own and it doesn’t taste like much of anything. But let the juices coat your mouth, then consume sour foods — like lemons, limes, goat cheese, beer, vinegar, pickles — and a remarkable thing happens: they all taste sweet.
“Beer tastes like sweet juice. Lemon tastes like sweet orange,” Keiko Abe of the University of Tokyo told Discovery News.

The fruit’s effect lasts for an hour, and like other trippy experiences, it’s more fun to do it in groups. So adventuresome eaters seek out “flavor tripping parties” during which people pop a berry, then gorge on all manner of sour foods. Guinness beer tastes like chocolate. Tabasco sauce tastes like “hot doughnut glaze,” as one flavor tripper was quoted as saying in this story in the New York Times.

This week, Abe reported the key to miracle fruit’s magic. To figure it out, Abe’s research team used cell cultures to test human taste receptors at various pHs. According to Discovery News:

The key ingredient in the fruit, a protein known as miraculin, binds strongly to the sweet taste receptors on our tongues, Abe reported, but it does not activate the receptors at neutral pH.

When acid is introduced, the miraculin protein changes shape in such a way that it turns on the sweet receptors it is bound to, creating a sensation of ultra-sweet without affecting the other flavors in the food.

After the acidic food is swallowed, miraculin returns to the inactive shape, but it remains bound to the sweet receptor for up to an hour, ready to receive a new acid trigger. The strong binding explains the molecule’s lasting effect.

Abe said the sweet-making power of miraculin was stronger than nearly all other known sweeteners. Given that it’s calorie-free, of course there has been no shortage of interest in developing it into a commercially usable sweetener. Perhaps it will be in Japan, where the production of a purified miraculin extract is currently being sought. As for the U.S., however, a 1974 ruling by the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of an extract.

(TIME)

Some consumers willing to pay more for GMO foods

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

According to a recent study done by researcher Wallace Huffman at Iowa State University, research shows that some consumers will pay up to 25% more for genetically modified foods. For the few of you that may not know, genetic modification is basically carrying genes from one organism into another to create a new hybrid product. This became popular within the last 2 decades, and we’re still not quite sure if there are any long-term health implications involved. However, it’s still being done by major biotechnology companies, and apparently some people are willing to pay extra bucks for it.

Why are some willing to pay more money? There has been a lot of hype surrounding antioxidants, and some vitamins and minerals. We too recognize that these nutrients can provide an abundance of health benefits, and we suggest getting them from natural sources. However, some fruits and vegetables now undergo intragenic modification (modified within own species, rather than from other species) to take antioxidant properties from other plants, and insert them into new ones. This means that some produce that once lacked a certain vitamin or antioxidant, now has the ability to carry different nutrients.

Some farmers and home-gardeners try accomplishing this through cross-breeding, however this can be very difficult to do with many plants. This is when genetic modification came into play, eliminating the difficulties with cross-breeding.
However, many are still skeptic about purchasing any genetically modified product. Again, we’re not exactly sure of any long-term effects or health implications that this process may cause, because it is still fairly new.

Few studies using animals as subjects have suggested genetic modification to cause renal damage, progressive tumor growth, certain types of cancers, and cardiovascular issues. However, these studies have been for the most part small in sample size and brushed off by government agencies.

“The basic idea is that when consumers saw that the intragenic produce had elevated healthful attributes, they were willing to pay more for them,” said Huffman.

What do you think? Would you be more at comfort knowing a genetically modified product was modified with a plant within its own species rather than a plant outside of its species? Or is genetic modification still lacking evidence for you to trust it at all?