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:

Fad Diets – Ketogenic Diet

 

History

Ketogenic diet, also called the keto diet, has been used by many in the past but not always for weight loss. A major use of the diet is to help treat epilepsy in children that do not respond to medication.

The Diet 

The point of the diet is to put the body into ketosis by reducing the amount of carbohydrate consumed to below 20 grams per day.

Physiology

Your body needs glucose for energy but if you don’t take it in through your diet your body will create another form of energy. First, your liver & muscles will use up extra stored glucose called glycogen. When that is depleted you are in ketosis. During ketosis, your body will make ketone bodies for energy and reduce storing fat & glucose. These ketone bodies are made from breaking down fat.

Pros

  • May help control hunger & improve fat metabolism which would reduce body weight
  • Can help reduce lipid levels which are associated with high intakes of sugar and refined carbohydrates

Cons

  • During the first few days of the ketogenic diet, there are complaints of lethargy, headaches, nausea, and irritability
  • Those with renal insufficiency and kidney transplant patients have a potential of worsening kidney problems from high levels of nitrogen excretion during protein metabolism
  • You will be reducing whole grains and fruit which will lower your fiber intake and can result in constipation plus when you omit whole food groups it puts you at risk for micronutrient deficiencies
  • It can cause social isolation as it can be difficult for some to adhere to when you are out with friends and see them enjoying indulgences such as ice cream, rice, pasta, creamy soups, etc.

Researchers Say

  • It is not exactly known why someone following a ketogenic diet will lose weight. Below are some of the hypotheses:
    • Since you are using glycogen stores from your muscles to create fuel you can lose muscle mass which will result in weight loss, although not the desired kind. As you continue on the diet glucose is derived more from fat resulting in a more desired weight loss.
    • Some claim that you will be more full from eating higher protein foods in place of higher carbohydrates resulting in decreased overall energy intake which causes weight loss.
    • Others suggest a reduced appetite from the ketone bodies created
  • It is also believed that a ketogenic diet can have benefits others than weight loss.
    • As mentioned previously, it helps with children who have epilepsy that does not respond to medication
    • May have a positive effect on mood in overweight individuals
    • Can improve glycemic control, HgbA1c, and lipid markers
    • Reductions in insulin and other medications
  • We need long-term studies to show if the weight loss is maintained

Bottom Line

With the help of a dietitian to ensure you have adequate protein, calories, and micronutrients and the approval of your primary physician, you could lose weight in a healthy way while also improving lipid levels and glycemic control but it could be hard for most to sustain this lifestyle change long term. You cannot have a “cheat day” or even a cheat meal on the ketogenic diet because it will put you out of ketosis.

References

Eggplant

Background Info:

  • Glossy back vegetable that has white flesh and meaty texture
  • Member of the nightshade or potato family
    • Also includes tomatoes and hot peppers
  • Can be purple, green, white, or striped
  • May be  pear-shaped or cylindrical
  • Size can vary from the size of golf ball to a football

Nutrition Information (1 cup cubed and cooked):

  • Calories: 35
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 5 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Calcium: 7 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Potassium: 188 mg
  • Sodium: 2 mg

Taste:

  • Smaller ones are often less bitter than larger eggplants

Season:

  • Summer

Choose:

  • Look for shiny, smooth skin without bruises or blemishes
  • Pick ones that are heavy for their size
  • Find a green stem that is free of mold

Store:

  • Keep whole until ready to use
  • Store in the refrigerator crisper drawer
  • Use within 5-7 days

Prep:

  • Wash and cut off ends
  • Leave the skin on
  • Sprinkle with salt after cutting into piece and let sit for 30 minutes
    • This pulls out some water and prevents eggplant from absorbing too much oil while cooking
    • Rinse afterwards to remove most of the salt

Cook:

  • Bake, roast, steam, or saute
  • If baking whole, pierce the eggplant several times with a fork
    • Remove the flesh from the skin and mash or puree and combine with other ingredients
  • Often used as a meat substitute

References:

  • “Eggplant”. (2018, August 24). Retrieved from https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/cauliflower
  • “Eggplants”. Retrieved from http://eatfresh.org/discover-foods/eggplants
  • “Eggplant: Nutrition. Selection. Storage”. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/eggplant
  • Kirkland, Louise. (2009). “Eggplant”. Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/4307e/

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

Comparing Tomatoes

Beefsteak:

  • Background: broad category that includes heirloom, Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple varieties – the most famous type is the New Jersey beefsteak which is commonly used in delis because it holds its shape when pre-sliced

Brandywine:

  • Color: pink-red
  • Flavor: sweet
  • Grows: slow
  • Look: splits, spots, and deep grooves in the skin are normal
  • Purchase: common at farmers markets
  • Size: large beefsteak
  • Texture: meaty

Campari:

  • Color: bright red
  • Shape: globe
  • Size: larger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than on-the-vine tomatoes
  • Taste: sweet
  • Pairs with: Italian cheeses and meats

Cherry: 

  • Color: variety including red, yellow, orange, and black
  • Shape: round
  • Size: small
  • Uses: crudite platters, salads, pastas

Grape: 

  • Shape: oblong
  • Size: smaller than cherry tomatoes
  • Texture: thick skins & low water content
  • Uses: eat raw as a snack or roasted in a recipe

Heirloom:

  • Background: cultivated with open-pollination seeds (no human intervention) that were preserved and passed on throughout the past couple of decades
  • Look: unique
  • Purchase: specialty supermarkets and local farmers markets
  • Taste: flavorful

Hybrid: 

  • Background: not genetically modified but produced by crossing 2 different types of tomatoes, bred to be resistant to disease, uniform in appearance, and available in the off-season

Kumato:

  • Background: trade-name given to this greenhouse-grown hybrid known in Spain as Olmeca
  • Color: brownish-red
  • Size: medium
  • Taste: sweet yet tart
  • Uses: a favorite for slicing

Roma: 

  • Background: commonly referred to as plum or plum Italian
  • Texture: firm
  • Uses: canning or making sauce due to the lower water content

San Marzano: 

  • Background: Named for the volcanic region south of Milan where they are grown
  • Purchase: imported canned at supermarkets
  • Shape: long
  • Texture: meaty
  • Uses: tomato sauce as they are easy to peel

Sungold: 

  • Color: golden yellow/cherry-tomato hybrid
  • Purchase: at farmers markets in the late summer
  • Plant: in a garden or pot to enjoy high yields all summer
  • Shape: round
  • Taste: juicy & candy-like
  • Uses: eat them roasted or tossed into pasta sauces, salads, and omelets

Yellow Pear:

  • Background: one of the oldest varieties grown in the US
  • Color: yellow-orange
  • Flavor: mild
  • Shape: pear
  • Size: small

To learn more about tomatoes in general, check out my post in Nutritional Science – Tomato

 Reference: 

Lieberman, Layne. “From the vine”. Food and Nutrition. July/August 2017. 30-31.

Grocery Store Savings – 10/12/17 Publix

2017-10-12 sabra

Original Price: $9.98 for 2 packs of hummus singles      paid: $0.99 for 2 packs 

Sabra Hummus Singles $4.99 BOGO + two $2 off 1 printable coupons

  • That’s only $0.50 for each pack of hummus which has 6 individual cups making it $0.08 for each serving!
    • Side note: if you have Ibotta you can get $0.25 on the any item rebate at Publix
  • This is the perfect example when people ask me how to eat healthy on a budget. Obviously these packs would be pretty pricey but if you’re patient and wait for the sale and match it with coupons you can have an easy and nutritious snack for less than the cost of fast food.

I found the savings here:

****Keep in mind prices may vary at different Publix locations