Pumpkin

This post was researched and written by my Mentee, Ashley Langston. Check back each month for more posts by her.

Background Info:

  • Pumpkins are a type of squash in the Cucurbitaceae family, and the cultivar originated in Mexico approximately 10,000 years ago.
  • The modern day version of the Jack-O’lantern is based off of the Irish myth of Stingy Jack and the Jack O’Lantern. Using pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns became popularized by Irish immigrants who came to America in the 1800’s.

Health Benefits:

  • The bright orange color of pumpkins come from a high beta-carotene content, and in the body, beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A.
  • High in dietary fiber.
  • Good source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and folate.
  • The seeds, pepitas, are high in protein, fiber and other nutrients. They may be eaten with or without the hull, and roasting or drying are popular methods of preparing them.

Nutrition Information: (1 cup, cubed)

  • Calories: 30
  • Fat: < 1 gram
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 8 grams
  • Fiber: 1 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 1 milligram
  • Vitamin A: 2650 IU
  • Vitamin C: 12 milligrams
  • Calcium: 23 milligrams
  • Iron: 1 milligram
  • Folate: 21 micrograms
  • Potassium: 395 milligrams

Taste:

  • Sweet

Season:

  • Fall and Winter

Choose:

  • Firm pumpkins, that have a slightly hollow sound when gently knocked on.
  • No soft spots or bruises.
  • Firm bases.
  • Do not carry a pumpkin by the stem, as it can break off and damage the pumpkin.

Store:

  • Cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not leave cut pumpkins outside if there is extreme heat, a threat of frost, or rain.
  • May be frozen for up to 1 year in a non-metallic container. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
  • Pumpkin may be canned using a pressure canner, making sure to follow recipe directions carefully.
  • Pumpkin may be dried using a dehydrator and low oven, and kept in an air-tight container.
  • Pumpkin may also be used in chutneys, butters, and preserves. These items cannot be pressure canned, and may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Cook:

  • Pumpkin rinds range from thick to hard, and peeling the pumpkin may be challenging.
  • To bake: Cut pumpkin into quarters with the rind on. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or until fork tender.
  • Steaming or boiling: Cut pumpkin into chunks, and steam or boil until fork tender.
  • Make sure to scoop out the fibers and seeds beforehand.
  • Once cooked and cooled, the rind may be peeled off or the flesh scooped out.
  • The cooked flesh may be used as is, mashed, or pureed.
  • Pepitas may be seasoned, and roasted or dried for a healthy snack.

Serve:

  • Add cooked and peeled, cubed squash to salads, casseroles, soups, stews, and stir-fries.
  • Cooked pumpkin makes a great main dish if stuffed and baked with vegetables, rice, and ground meat.
  • Pumpkin is a popular pie filling, and may be used in several desserts.

References:

 

Cherry

Background Info:

  • Cherries were brought to the U.S. by ship in the 1600s
  • Cherry production began in the 1800s in Northern Michigan
  • States that produce the majority of cherries in the U.S.:
    • California, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Utah

Nutrition Information (1 cup without pits):

  • Calories: 97
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 25 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 20 grams
  • Calcium: 20 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Potassium: 343 mg
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Iron: 1 mg
  • Vitamin C: 8 mg
  • Vitamin A: 97 IU
  • Folate: 6 mg

Taste:

  • Sweet or sour/tart
    • Sweet varieties include Bing, Stella, Van, and Rainier
    • Montmorency is a tart variety

Season:

  • Summer
    • Sweet cherry season is from May to August
    • Tart cherry season is from June to August

Choose:

  • Select firm cherries that are uniform in color and glossy with stems attached
  • In general, the darker the cherry, the sweeter its flavor
    • There are exceptions such as yellow cherry varieties
  • Avoid soft, shriveled, or blemished cherries

Store:

  • Refrigerate fresh ripe cherries up to 10 days in loose plastic wrapping to allow exposure to oxygen
    • Do not stack too many or the weight can crush the cherries on the bottom
  • Keep canned cherries up to 18 months at 70°F
  • Frozen cherries should maintain high quality for 1 year
  • Dried cherries can be held for 24 months at 70°F
  • Jams should keep for a least 1 year

Prep:

  • Stem & wash thoroughly just before using
  • Handle carefully to avoid bruising
  • If desired, remove pits

Cook:

  • Can cherries to create a cherry pie filling or jam
  • Dry for cherry raisins or fruit leather
  • Add to salads, oatmeal, yogurt, or trail mix
  • Mix into smoothies
  • Garnish meat dishes or create a glaze for ham
  • Make into a syrup to top pancakes, waffles, or French toast
  • Bake into cakes, cookies, and muffins
  • Enjoy cherry ice cream
  • Dip into melted chocolate for dessert or a garnish
  • Enjoy cherries Jubilee
  • Make a cherry vinaigrette

References:

Peaches

Background Info:

  • Originally came from China
    • In the early 1600s, Spanish explorers brought the peach to the new world
  • There are 2 main types of peaches
    • Freestone – the flesh doesn’t stick to the pit
    • Clingstone – the flesh “clings” or sticks to the pit, usually sold for canning
    • The oval pit needs to be remove before eating
  • Skin is slightly fuzzy
    • Nectarines are a type of peach which have smooth skin without fuzz
  • Size of a baseball
  • Flesh inside is usually yellow but may be white

Nutrition Information (1 medium peach = 1 cup fresh sliced peaches):

  • Calories – 60
  • Protein – 1 gram
  • Carbohydrate – 15 grams
  • Fat – 0 grams
  • Calcium – 9 mg
  • Cholesterol – 0
  • Fiber – 2 grams
  • Potassium – 285 mg
  • Sodium – 0 mg
  • Sugar – 13 grams

Season:

  • Summer

Choose:

  • One with a golden hue beneath the blush that is firm and fuzzy
  • They are ripe when they yield to gentle pressure 
  • Avoid blemishes
  • Green peaches means they were picked too early
  • You can also purchase canned or frozen

Store:

  • If ripe:
    • Store a room temperature for use within 1-2 days
    • Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to 5 days
  • If unripe:
    • Room temperature, stem side down until ripe
    • o speed ripening, place in a paper bag for a day or two
  • If cooked:
    • Store in a tightly closed container not made from metal in the refrigerator

Prep:

  • Wash in cold running water to remove any dirt
  • Keep cut peaches from turning brown by sprinkling with lemon or orange juice
  • To easily peel, dip peaches cut into halves into boiling water for 30 seconds or until skin loosens
    • Remove the peaches with a spoon and dip into cold water, the skin will then slide off

Cook:

  • Eat as a tasty snack whole, sliced, or chopped
  • Add to yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal
  • Mix into batters for pancakes, waffles, muffins, or bread
  • Blend into a smooth
  • Can also be baked or grilled

 

References

  • Glisan, Maggie. “Prime Time.” Better Homes & Gardens. August 2018. 98.
  • “Peaches”. (2018, July 16). USDA. Retrieved from https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/peaches
  • “Peach: Nutrition. Selection. Storage”. Retrieved from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/peach
  • “Peaches”. (2012, December). USDA. Retrieved from https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/factsheets/HHFS_PEACHES_FRESH_900205Dec2012.pdf
  • “Peach”. SNAP-Ed, Iowa Nutrition Network and Iowa Team Nutrition. Retrieved from http://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/Files/INN/Peach.pdf

Strawberry

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Health Benefits:

  • Contain phytonutrients that are possibly responsible for anti-inflammatory benefits
  • May play a role in reducing total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels
  • Polyphenols found in strawberries may play a role in keeping blood glucose levels in check.

Nutrition Information (1 cup, sliced)

img_5379

  • Calories: 53
  • Carbohydrates: 13 grams
    • Dietary Fiber: 3 grams
    • Sugar: 8 grams
      • Added Sugar: 0
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 2 mg
  • Calcium: 27 mg
  • Iron: 1 mg
  • Potassium: 254 mg
  • Vitamin C: 102 mg
  • Folate: 37 mcg

img_4222

Season:

  • Spring and Summer

Choose:

  • The berry should be bright red, firm, shiny, and plump
  • Caps should be green and intact
  • Avoid soft spots, mold, or white shoulders or mushy, leaky berries

    img_4237

Store:

  • Avoid washing until ready to eat
  • If you notice any mold on any of the strawberries, be sure to remove those prior to storing
  • Store in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days
  • To freeze, wash & remove cap, gently pat dry, transfer to a sealed container or freezer bag for up to 2 months

Cook:

  • Enjoy plain as a tasty side dish in place of dessert
  • Dip in a nut butter for a delicious snackcrepe
  • Combine with other berries and fruits for a yummy fruit salad
  • Slice up as a topping for a breakfast or dessert on French toast, waffles, crepes, or cake
  • Make strawberry salsa by adding pineapple, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and sugar
  • Puree and add lemon juice and maple syrup or honey if berries are tart for a quick sauce to go with yogurt or waffles
  • Combine with balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar to make
    balsamic strawberries
  • Grill on skewers by adding some brown sugar

References:

Pomelo

Nutrition Information:

Taste:

  • Tart-sweet
  • Mix of orange and grapefruit

Season:

  • Winter

Choose:

  • A fruit that is heavy for its size, a sign that it has a lot of juice inside

Prep:

  • Cut through the thick skin with a sharp chef’s knife to quarter it before peeling

Eat:

  • Juice it
  • Peel off the bitter pith and eat in segments
  • Great with fresh mint in drinks and salads
  • Delicious in Asian dishes
  • Sauteed greens are a perfect counterpoint
  • Blend into a dressing
  • Serve as a topping for fish
  • Make a sweet and spicy salsa

References:

  • Malia, Michelle. “6 Juicy Secrets to Winter Health.” Men’s Health. January/February 2016. 36-37.
  • Moore, Marisa. “Citrus appeal”. Food and Nutrition. January/February 2015. 22-23.
  • “Try it now … pomelos.” Shape. January/February 2016. 94.

Peaches

Background Info:

  • Peaches come in varieties such as white, donut, and yellow

Health Benefits:

  • Stone fruits have compounds that can reduce obesity & inflammation
  • May help fight breast cancer

Flavor:

  • White varieties are lower in acid so they are sweeter than yellow varieties
  • Yellow peaches are sweet and tart

Choose:

  • A ripe peach is aromatic and slightly soft when gently squeezed
  • Be wary of peaches with a green tint
    • This shows the peach was picked before fully ripe and unripe peaches will not be as sweet.

Store:

  • Keep on the counter until just soft then put in the fridge
  • Try to use within a week of refrigerating as they will become mealy

Cook:

  • Yellows can be eaten raw and are the variety to choose for cooking

References:

  • Harnish, Amelia. “The 7 healthiest summer fruits.” Ladies’ Home Journal. July/August 2014. 58
  • “Peach Perfect.” Everyday with Rachel Ray. July/August 2015. 20

Grapefruit

Background Information: 

  • Varieties include red seedless, pink seedless, or white seedless
  • The redder the flesh, the sweeter the taste and the greater the lycopene
  • So named because they grow hanging in clusters like grapes

Health Benefits: 

  • Could help with weight loss
    • Full of water and fiber which can help curb your appetite
  • May improve insulin resistance
  • Contains lycopene
    • Antioxidant linked to lowering the risk of breast cancer and heart disease

Nutrition Information (1/2 cup): 

  • Calories: 40
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium: 0
  • Carbohydrate: 10 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 9 grams
  • Vitamin A: 46%
  • Vitamin C: 70%
  • Calcium: 2%

Choose:

  • Find a heavier fruit, it will be juicier
  • Check that it doesn’t have any soft spots
  • Look for a slightly flat end
  • When pressed, the skin should feel springy and have a smooth texture
    • Signs that it isn’t dried out

Store: 

  • Room temperature
    • Away from direct sunlight
    • 1 week
  • Refrigerate
    • In the vegetable bin or cut in a container not made of metal
    • 2-3 weeks

Serve: 

  • Fruit is the juiciest when eaten at room temperature
  • Add to salads

Cook: 

  • Great for grilling, as a spritzer, or in salsa
  • Half, char on a medium-hot grill pan, drizzle with honey

Food & Drug Interactions: 

  • Grapefruit can increase the absorption of some drugs into the bloodstream making them toxic or can interact with the metabolism of the drug making them less potent
  • Examples:
    • Some statin drugs to lower cholesterol, such as Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Pravachol (pravastatin)
    • Some blood pressure-lowering drugs, such as Nifediac and Afeditab (both nifedipine)
    • Some organ transplant rejection drugs, such as Sandimmune and Neoral (both cyclosporine)
    • Some anti-anxiety drugs, such as BuSpar (buspirone)
    • Some anti-arrhythmia drugs, such as Cordarone and Nexterone (both amiodarone)
    • Some antihistamines, such as Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Be sure to speak with your physician or pharmacist as this is not a complete list of drugs

Research:

  • 1 red grapefruit a day can lower the bad cholesterol by 15.5% and triglycerides by 27%
  • Those who ate 1/2 of a grapefruit before meals lost more weight than those who didn’t

References:

  • Bauer, Joy. “Cancer-fighting foods.” Woman’s Day. October 2014. 148.
  • Young, Grace. “Scarlet fever.” Weight Watchers. January/February 2015. 67
  • “Grapefruit, fresh.” (2012, December). Retrieved from http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/HHFS_GRAPEFRUIT_FRESH_December2012.pdf
  • Fujioka, K et al. The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome. J Med Food. 2006; ;9(1):49-54. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16579728
  • “Grapefruit juice and medicine may not mix.” (2014, January). Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM292839.pdf
  • Reistad-Long, Sara. “Healthy Eating Grapefruit.” Better Homes & Gardens. January 2016. 91.
  • Malia, Michelle. “6 Juicy Secrets to Winter Health.” Men’s Health. January/February 2016. 36-37.