Energetics of Kohlrabi: Discover Your New Favorite Vegetable

photo credit: postbear via photopin cc

photo credit: postbear via photopin cc

Kohlrabi is more than a funny name, it is also very good for you. It’s name comes from the German word kohl, cabbage, and rabi, turnip. Hence its nicknames German Cabbage and turnip cabbage. Its origin in nature is the same as that of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts: they are all bred from, and are the same species as the wild cabbage plant (Brassica oleracea).

The Best Way to Choose and Store

The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter. Young stems in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although not as sweet. Kohlrabi is grown annually. They weigh about 150 g and have good standing ability for up to 30 days after maturity. There are several varieties commonly available, including White Vienna, Purple Vienna, Grand Duke, Gigante (also known as “Superschmelz”), Purple Danube, and White Danube. Coloration of the purple types is superficial: the edible parts are all pale yellow. The leafy greens can also be eaten. Kohlrabi stems are surrounded by two distinct fibrous layers that do not soften appreciably when cooked. These layers are peeled away prior to cooking or serving raw. This results in stems that often provide a smaller amount of food than you assume from their intact appearance. Kohlrabi root is generally served raw in salads, while the leaves are a bit more versatile. The leaves can also be eaten raw, or they can be cooked and used like collard greens or kale.

Energetics

Kohlrabi nutritionKohlrabi is rich in vitamins and dietary fiber while only containing on 27 calories per 100g. Kohlrabi is especially high in vitamin C, with 102% of your recommended daily value. It also contains health-promoting phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol that are supposed to protect against prostate and colon cancers. Kohlrabi has high levels of minerals throughout the plant. The stem also has an abundance of copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and phosphorus. The leaves are also very nutritious, with high levels of carotenes, vitamin A, vitamin K, minerals, and B-complex group of vitamins.

Kohlrabi improves qi energy circulation, eliminates blood coagulation and stagnancy, reduces damp conditions in the body, relieves painful or difficult urination, stops bleeding in the colon, reduces swelling of the scrotum, and alleviates the effects of intoxication by drugs or alcohol. It is used in the treatment of indigestion and blood sugar imbalance, especially in people with hypoglycemia and diabetes. The juice is drunk as a remedy for nose bleeds.

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium kohlrabi (2 1/4 lb with greens or 1 3/4 lb without)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 1/2 lb butternut squash

 

Preparation

Put oven rack just below middle position and put baking pan on rack, then preheat oven to 450°F. (If roasting vegetables along with turkey, preheat pan for 15 minutes while turkey roasts, then roast vegetables underneath turkey.)

Trim and peel kohlrabi, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Toss kohlrabi with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Transfer kohlrabi to preheated pan in oven and roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel butternut squash, then quarter lengthwise, seed, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Toss squash with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in same bowl.

Stir kohlrabi, turning it, then push it to one side of pan.

Add squash to opposite side of pan and roast, stirring and turning squash over halfway through roasting, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes total (after squash is added).

Toss vegetables to combine and transfer to a dish.

 

Source

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash

Energetics of Plantains: A Plethora of Pleasant Pancakes

Plantains are a wonderfully delicious and beneficial fruit from the plant family Plantaginaceae. This is amongst the few fruits which can be consumed—and thoroughly enjoyed—during a wide range of unripe to very ripe states. Each varied state of ripeness will provide a wide gamut of flavor profiles, and of course, energetic qualities that affect the body in very specific ways.

Energetics:

Unripe (bitter) plantains strengthens yin, directs energy inward and downward to the lower body, are cooling to the system, and are helpful in relieving diarrhea, colitis, and hemorrhoids; bitter foods affect the heart & small intestine Officials and assist in reducing body heat and drying body fluids.

Ripe (sweet) plantains strengthens yang, are warming to the system, lubricate the intestines and lungs, benefit conditions of thirst and dryness, and detoxifies the body. Sweet foods affect the spleen-pancreas & stomach Officials. Ripe plantains are especially beneficial in the treatment of constipation and ulcers, dry lung or dry cough, addiction (especially alcoholism), and hypertension. Furthermore, ripe plantains are supportive to the elderly as they are helpful in regulating blood pressure, relieving dryness, and are easy to digest.

Preparation:

Depending on the taste profile that you prefer—and most especially the energetic health effects that you’re looking for—choosing your ideal ripeness is essential for the preparation of plantains.

Green (unripe & bitter) plantains are going to be closer to the consistency and starchiness of a potato and less messy when removing the skin.

Yellow -> black (ripe & sweet) plantains are much closer to the taste of a banana and can be messy when removing the skin. If you’re looking for the sweeter taste, then you want the plantain skin to be BLACK. I know this seems weird compared to most other fruits, however, this is when it is in its prime sweetness; simply be cautious to make sure that it has not developed mold while ripening.

Plantains don’t peel like a banana; you need to cut off both ends, slice into the ‘seams’ of the fibrous peel (without cutting into the fruit), and then use the knife to pry the peel off of the fruit. Here’s a great Plantains 101 blog if you want some more guidance on this process

RIPE Plantain Recipe:

Plantain & Coconut Pancakes by Sonia, The Healthy Foodie

Ingredients

  • ½ very ripe plantain, peeled and sliced
  • 3 whole eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut water
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • Pinch Himalayan or unrefined sea salt
  • ¼ tsp chai spice (see this post for Sonia’s mix)

Garnish ideas

  • 1 tbsp full fat coconut milk (refrigerated works best)
  • 1 tbsp toasted coconut shavings (organic, unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp unpasteurized/raw liquid honey

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and blend until very well combined.
  2. Let the batter sit for a few minutes to give the coconut flour a chance to thicken.
  3. Meanwhile, add some coconut oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  4. When pan is hot enough, slowly pour about ¼ of a cup of batter per pancake and cook until tops become sort of matte and dull looking and edges appear cooked.
  5. Very delicately flip the pancakes and continue cooking until golden.
  6. Place the cooked pancakes in a very low temp oven to keep them warm while you cook the remaining pancakes.
  7. Garnish with coconut milk, a drizzle of honey and sprinkle with toasted coconut shavings, if desired.

UNripe Plantain Recipe:

Egg-Free Green Plantain Pancakes

Recipe by Amanda Torres, The Curious Coconut

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 -15 minutes

Total time: 15 – 20 minutes

Yield: about 12 large pancakes

Ingredients

Cooking Directions

  1. You will need a good blender to make this recipe. Begin by peeling the plantains and slicing into pieces about 1 inch wide. To peel, use a knife to cut both tips off, then cut the plantain in half or in quarters. Next, use your knife to cut a slit down the length of the fruit, being careful not to cut into the flesh of the fruit (it may come off with the peel if you do). Use your fingers to lift the peel off. Use your knife to help clean up any bits that are hard to remove with your fingers. Add peeled plantain pieces to blender.
  2. Add your seasoning of choice, salt, baking soda, and coconut oil to the blender. Don’t turn it on yet.
  3. Prepare gelatin. **YOU CANNOT USE GREAT LAKES COLLAGEN HYDROLYSATE (green can) IN THIS RECIPE.** I recommend the RED can, since it comes from grass-fed cows. First, you need to “bloom” (wet) the gelatin, then melt it. To bloom, put the 3/4 cup filtered water into a small pot. Slowly sprinkle gelatin on top of water and watch that it soaks into the water. When you near the last of the gelatin, you will need to use a fork to stir the dry gelatin into the wet gelatin. I whisk it several times. Put pot on stove and heat over medium low heat while continuing to stir. Continue heating until all gelatin has melted and no clumps remain. Pour into blender with other ingredients.
  4. Pre-heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat. I use an anodized aluminum double-burner skillet that doesn’t require greasing. If using a frying pan, heat a few Tbsp of coconut oil in the pan.
  5. Blend on high. Use a spatula to scrape down sides of blender to ensure that all of the plantain gets pureed. I usually have to scrape the sides down once or twice and blend for a total of about 60 seconds or so.
  6. Pour batter into your hot pan in desired size. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then flip. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes then serve.
  7. This recipe will make about 12 large pancakes and is enough to feed 2 – 4 people. I like to top with fresh or cooked berries (cooked with a splash of water in a small pot until crushed easily) and a bit of grade B maple syrup. Non-autoimmune paleo topping options include creme fraiche, yogurt, or even some soft cheeses. I also like to pair these with a few slices of bacon for a great sweet and salty juxtaposition.

One Last Alternative Recipe (non-pancake): Monfongo

Energetics of Scallions: How They Differ from Green Onions

photo credit: leezie5 via photopin cc

photo credit: leezie5 via photopin cc

While browsing the produce section of my local supermarket I encountered a perplexing revelation. I was looking at a very popular type of onion and wondering, “Is that a scallion or a green onion?” Is there a difference, or are they the same thing?

The Best Way to Choose and Store

“Scallion” is actually the group name for many members of the onion family, including green onions and scallions themselves. The difference being a green onion is a new onion harvested while its top is still green and its bulb small. Whereas, a scallion is younger than a green onion, and its white base is skinnier. A baby onion is considered a scallion until its bulb matures to about three-quarters of an inch, and then it’s called a green onion. So, essentially they are the same thing, just the name differs depending on age.

When buying scallions look for ones that have fresh, green tops that appear crisp and tender. The base blub should have two to three inches of whitish color. Avoid any that have yellow or wilted tops.

scallion nutrition

Energetics

Scallions are surprisingly full of nutrients.  They are a member of the Allium family, like garlic.  Most of flavonoids or antioxidants are found just under the outer skin, so try not to peel more than absolutely necessary.  The phytonutrient polyphenol content in onions is higher than in garlic, leeks, tomatoes, carrots or bell peppers.  Quercetin, a flavonoid, will transfer to the broth when simmered (low heat) in a soup or stew.

Scallions help promote urination and sweating, alleviates exterior conditions such as common cold or flu if taken during the first stages (especially when the cold is a “wind-cold” influence), it is a antifungal and antimicrobial, and relives dampness and watery accumulations like edema. They are also used to treat heart and chest pain, diarrhea, abdominal swelling and pain, arthritis pain associated with coldness disorders, and in tea form treats measles.

Caution: avoid when heat signs prevail, including yellow tongue coating, yellow mucus, fever, aversion to heat, and great thirst.

Spicy Scallion and Onion Salad

Spicy Scallion and Onion Salad

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Preparation

Place onion and scallions in a medium bowl of cold water. Chill until scallions curl, at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk gochugaru, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl. Let sit, whisking occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and sauce looks shiny, about 10 minutes.

Drain onion and scallions and spin in a salad spinner or pat dry. Transfer to bowl with gochugaru sauce. Add vinegar and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.

Do ahead: Onion and scallions can be soaked 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Source

Spicy Scallion and Onion Salad

Energetics of Horseradish: Spicy Spring Antioxidant

 

Horseradish Facts

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana, is a cruciferous vegetable that is part of the Brassica family (which contains mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and others). This potent root vegetable is also considered a perineal plant and has a multitude of beneficial uses. The root of the plant is what most are familiar with consuming, however the leaves and flowers can also be harnessed in various ways—nearly every part of the plant has medicinal properties.

Horseradish can be used as an expectorant to fight the common cold, flu, and various respiratory disorders. Horseradish has also been found to have antibiotic, antifungal, and anticancer properties. The German Commission E (equivalent to the US FDA) prescribes horseradish as a treatment for UTIs

Energetics

Horseradish nourishes the Lung, Spleen, and Large Intestine meridian channels. It has a warming constitution and a pungent flavor profile. The pungent energetics will assist in opening the orifices of the body: expels congestion in the lymph system and phlegm in the lungs.  The energetics of horseradish also strengthen yang by dispersing cold and treats external conditions like fevers and chills. It also supports, warms, and invigorates the lungs, supports liver yang, promotes urination, and assists in removing blockages from the body.

Nutrition of Horseradish

The nutrition of horseradish starts with Glucosinolate, found in horseradish, is a vital antioxidant compound that has many benefits for the human body. This compound is a main proponent for its anti-cancer ability. Glucosinolate protects the body from toxic mutagens and also assists the body in detoxifying those that are already present within the system (by increasing blood flow to the areas infected by pathogens). Broccoli and others from the Brassica family have this compound as well, however, it is 10 times more abundant in horseradish. For more information about the scientific evidence for horseradish’s nutritional components see the life extension link at the bottom of this blog post.

Recipe Using Horseradish

Horseradish Tea

The leaves of horseradish can be put into hot water to drink as tea. This form of medicine was used to treat scurvy (due to its high vitamin C content).

Pungent Probiotic: Homemade Horseradish

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. kombucha (or whey if your meal is a dairy meal)

1 6 inch horseradish root, peeled and chopped

½ tsp. salt

*Cold water

Alternative addition: beets!

Method:

Peel and chop the horseradish root into ½ inch slices.  Put on your onion goggles and proceed in a well-ventilated space.  Put the horseradish root, kombucha (or whey), and salt, into your food processor.  Process on high for 30 seconds.  Add cold water 1 tbsp. at a time, if necessary, to allow the blades to process the horseradish root freely.

*if using store-bought kombucha, then make sure to get an unflavored version. Also, open the bottle and allow it to stand on the counter for a couple days to a couple weeks (put cheesecloth over it with a rubberband to keep bugs out). This will allow for the kombucha to become more potent*

When the horseradish root is pureed fully, transfer the prepared horseradish root to a jar and refrigerate.  The kombucha (or lacto-bacteria in the whey) will preserve the horseradish for several weeks, if kept refrigerated.

Recipe by Joybilee Farm

 

http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2009/11/horseradish-protection-against-cancer-and-more/page-01

https://www.eastwesthealingacademy.com/herbs/horseradish/

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/horseradish.html

http://joybileefarm.com/horseradish-passover/

 

Energetics of Shishito Peppers: Roulette for the Sweet or Spicy

shishito-green-and-redShishito peppers are part of the nightshade family, and they are much sweeter than most peppers—well for the majority of the time. Beware though: shishito peppers can be quite unpredictable because 1 out of 10 can be very spicy!

The common understanding is that these peppers originated from Japan, yet they may have actually been originally introduced by Portuguese travelers. These peppers are green in color when young (when they are usually eaten), and they eventually become bright red as they grow older.

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Energetics:

Improves appetite and digestion, reduces swelling, promotes circulation, promotes optimal health, promotes heart health, promotes vision health, helps build strong bones, and aids in healthy weight control.

Peppers generally have anti-inflammatory properties, however individuals with loose stools (spleen-deficiency) should avoid shishito peppers (whereas in other individuals peppers can strengthen digestion). Peppers, in general, can weaken digestion in spleen-deficient individuals; if you are one of these individuals, then search through our blog for foods that nourish spleen deficiency. Check out this blog on winter squash

 

 

Flavors and Direction

Affected organ

Effects

Food

Pungent (yang) Warming, direct energy outward and to upper body, expansive, dispersive Lung/Large Intestine Stimulates circulation, cardioprotective, clear obstructions and improve liver function, moistens the kidneys affecting fluids in the entire body, improve digestion, and reduce mucous conditions, expels parasites Warming: spearmint, rosemary, scallion, garlic, onion, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper, all peppers, cayenne, mustard greens, fennel, anise, dill, nutmeg, basil and horseradishCooling: peppermint, marjoram, white pepper and radishNeutral: taro, turnip and kohlrabi
Sweet (yang)Warming, direct energy outward and to upper body (upward) Spleen-pancreas Stomach Slows acute reactions and neutralizes toxic effects of other foods, also lubricates and nourishes the body. Those to benefit most are dry, cold, nervous, thin, weak , scattered or aggressive persons. Less needed for those persons with damp or mucous signs. Fruits: apple, apricot, cherry, date, fig, grape, grapefruit, olive, papaya, peach, pear, strawberry, tomatoVegetables: beet, mushroom, cabbage, carrot, celery, chard, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potato, spearmint, squash, sweet potato, yamNuts/seeds: almond, chestnut, coconut, sesame seed, sunflower seed, walnut

Sweeteners: amasake, barley malt, honey, molasses, rice syrup, whole sugar (unrefined)

 

Nutrition derived from 40 grams of shishito peppers has been listed below:

Calories 20 % Daily Value
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Sugars 2g
Protein1 g 2%
Sodium 10 mg 0%
Vitamin A 80%
Vitamin C 170%

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Roasting Shishito Peppers by Emma Christensen

Serves 4 to 6

What You Need

 

Ingredients
2 dry pints shishito (bright green & firm)
1 tablespoon cooking oil (see Recipe Notes)
Coarse kosher salt or sea salt

 

Equipment
Mixing bowl
10-inch or larger cast iron or stainless steel skillet (do not use nonstick; cast iron is best)
Heatproof spatula or tongs

 

 

Instructions

  1. Heat the skillet: Place a large skillet under the broiler or on the stovetop over high heat to warm.
  2. Oil the peppers: Place the peppers in a mixing bowl. Drizzle them with cooking oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt. Use your hands or a spatula to toss the peppers until evenly coated.
  3. Transfer the peppers to the skillet: When the skillet is hot enough that a flick of water evaporates instantly, pour the peppers into the skillet. Be careful — the pan is very hot! The peppers should start to sizzle immediately.
  4. Cook the peppers until blistered: Transfer the skillet with peppers back beneath the broiler, or continue cooking over medium-high heat on the stovetop. (If cooking on the stovetop, turn on a vent fan.) Cook the peppers without moving them for a few minutes so they char on the bottom, then stir with a spatula. Continue cooking and stirring every minute or two until the peppers are blistered and darkened all over, 5 to 6 minutes total.
  5. Transfer the peppers to a plate and sprinkle with extra salt: The peppers are best when eaten within minutes of coming off the heat. Have a bowl of dipping sauce ready!

Recipe Notes

  • Cooking oil: I prefer to use olive oil for this dish, though technically olive oil isn’t ideal for this kind of high-heat cooking. I just love its rich, savory flavor with the salty peppers. If you’d prefer to use something else, I’d go for grapeseed oil or even peanut oil.
  • Dipping sauce: Make a simple dipping sauce for these peppers by mixing mayonnaise, sour cream, or yogurt with some lime or lemon juice and some hot sauce, like our Magic Summer Sauce.

 

 

 

References:

http://www.onlyfoods.net/shishito-peppers.html

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-roast-shishito-peppers-recipe-221033

http://eats.coolmompicks.com/2015/09/08/amazing-shishito-pepper-recipes/

http://www.asianfoodchannel.com/shows/real-girls-kitchen/recipes/shishito-peppers-with-soy-ginger-sauce

Energetics of Brussel Sprouts: Small Vegetable, Big Nutrients

Brussel sprouts originate in northern Europe and were named after Belgium’s capital city, where they remain today as an important crop.  In the 19th century England and France were introduced to them, and then French settlers in Louisiana brought them to America.

Varieties

Brussel sprouts are part of the cruciferous family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and mustard greens. Their name comes from the Latin word cruciferae, meaning cross-bearing, due to the shape of their leaves, which from an aerial view look like a polysymmetric cross. The most popular and widely available variety of Brussel sprouts are sage green in color.  You can also find some varieties with a red hue.  While most commonly Brussel sprouts are removed from the stem and sold individually, in some markets you can buy an intact stem.

Brussel sprouts are available all year round, but their flavor is at a peak in the cold months.   The frost actually helps them develop a sweet taste.

Brussel sprouts grown in hotter months tend to be less tender and require about a minute extra of cooking.

Brussel SproutsBest Way To Choose and Store

To select the best tasting Brussel sprouts look for ones that are firm and compact with a vibrant, bright green color.  Try to select Brussel sprouts that are of equal size, as they will cook in a similar amount of time.

Avoid Brussel sprouts that are yellow or have wilted leaves, and they are not puffy or soft in texture.

Storing Brussel sprouts correctly is key, as they can turn yellow and bitter easily.  Store Brussel sprouts in the fridge and make sure to place them in an airtight plastic bag, making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible. Do not wash your Brussel sprouts before refrigeration as it will cause the Brussel sprouts to spoil faster. If stored correctly they will remain fresh up to 10 days.

brussel-sprouts-nutrition-label-facts1Nutrition

The phytonutrients found in Brussel sprouts enhance the activity of the body’s natural defenses against disease. Especially the potent compound sulforaphane, which is created from the phytonutrient glucoraphanin, which has been shown to boost the body’s detoxification enzymes and thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances quickly. Other healthy sulfur compounds are indoles and isothiocyanates.  Brussel sprouts are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports immune function, antioxidant activity, and the manufacturing of collagen. They also contain vitamin A, which helps defend against infection and promotes healthy skin, and other skin enhancing minerals, including omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid.  As with most vegetables, Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Other nutrients found in Brussel sprouts are bone-building calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, copper, and manganese; heart-healthy folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin E; energy-producing iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and phosphorous; muscle-building protein; and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

by Chocolate & Carrots (http://chocolateandcarrots.com/2012/01/lemon-roasted-brussel-sprouts)

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 cups whole, fresh brussel sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper and salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

How-To

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the brussel sprouts in half, longwise, and place in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the pine nuts, to the bowl.
  4. Stir the bowl and pour onto a baking sheet that has been covered with a silpat mat or non-stick foil.
  5. Sprinkle the pine nuts around the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or when they start to look golden and delicious!

Servings: 4-5

Energetics Of Winter Squash: Go Beyond Pumpkins

It’s that time of the year again, supermarkets and farmer’s markets are teeing with squashes of all varieties. These squashes are more than just for decorating your porch in October or your table at Thanksgiving, they are super yummy to eat as well!

The squashes that we know today originated from a wild squash that grew in an area between Guatemala and Mexico.  This wild squash was held in high regard by many Native Americans, so much that it was buried alongside their dead to provide nourishment on the final journey.

Varieties

Winter squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, a relative of both the melon and cucumber. Winter squashes come in array of sizes and flavor, but they share a hard protective skin, sweet flesh, and a hollow inner cavity that contains seeds.  Not only the flesh great to eat, but you can save the seeds and roast them for a delicious and nutritious snack.

Hubbard Squash

Hubbard Squash

Butternut Squash is shaped like a large pear, has cream-colored skin, deep orange flesh, and has a sweet flavor.

Acorn Squash has dark green skin speckled with orange patches, pale yellow flesh, and has a unique flavor combination of sweet, nutty, and peppery.

Hubbard Squash is a large squash that can be dark green, grey-blue or orange-red in color, and this squash is not as sweet as other winter squashes.

Turban or Buttercap Squash is green in color with speckles or stripes, orange-yellow flesh, and has taste like hazelnuts.

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha is the generic name used for a variety of Japanese winter squashes that are becoming popular in markets around the states.  Their taste are similar to sweet potatoes and are richer and creamier than other winter squashes.  Unlike the other winter squashes, you do not need to remove the skin of kabochas, the skin gets soft and tastes great.

Spaghetti Squash is a large rounder squash that is yellow in color with a thin but surprisingly hard outer shell.  The flesh is also yellow in color, but after cooking it has a texture similar to strands of spaghetti. The flavor is lightly sweet, so it makes a great low carb substitute for pasta.

Pumpkin is an underappreciated squash, as 99% of pumpkins purchased in the states end up rotting on people porches as jack-o-lanterns.  Although, the variety of pumpkin sold to be used to carve these Halloween decorations tend to be too stringy to eat.  The best pumpkins for cooking are sugar pumpkins, as they are sweet and the flesh is not as stringy.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Winter squashes is available starting in August through March, but the peak season for them is October and November.

How to Choose and Store

To find the best tasting winter squashes, look for ones that are firm, heavy for their size, and have dull rinds.

Avoid any squashes that have a soft or glossy rind, as that may be an indicator that the squash may be watery and lacking in flavor, and those that have water-soaked or moldy areas.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

Winter Squash is a hearty vegetable and stores easily.  If stored properly they will remain fresh for 3-4 weeks.  Always store uncut winter squashes in cool, dark places away from heat or bright lights.  They should never be put I the fridge or other areas with extreme cold.  If the squash is already cut store in an airtight container or plastic storage bag with the excess air removed, then put it the crisper area of your fridge.  To get the most vitamin C out of your squash you should eat any cut squash within a few days.

Nutrition

Sugar Pumpkin

Sugar Pumpkin

Winter squash has the most concentrated source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) of all vegetables. ALA is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is very good for heart health.  The deep yellow and orange colors of the winter squashes are a reflection of its carotenoid phytonutrients—alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin—content. In addition to the phytonutrients, winter squash also is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, antioxidants that benefit overall health, including heart health.  The vitamin A in winter squash is not just an antioxidant, it is an important nutrient for lung health, as it is essential for the growth and development of the tissues that line the lungs.

winter-squash-nutrition-facts-copyWinter squash is also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, B1 and B5, niacin, manganese, copper, and tryptophan.

Energetics

Winter squash is warming in nature.  It influences the spleen-pancreas and stomach, reduces inflammation and burns (fresh squash juice is applied to relive burns), improves qi-energy circulation, and alleviates pain.  Squash and its seeds can be used to destroy worms, though seeds are the most effective. For parasitic worms, eat a small handful of the seeds of a winter squash once or twice daily for 3 weeks. Compared to summer squash, winter squash has higher amounts of natural sugars, carbohydrates, and vitamin A.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Tacos

Pumpkin TacosIngredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin (or any squash)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning (see below)
  • 12 flour or corn tortillas, warmed
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh tomato
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced ripe avocado
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the pumpkin in the heated oil 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the vegetable stock, spices and garlic.
  3. Cook until the pumpkin cubes are easily pierced through with a fork, 5 to 7 minutes.  Adjust spices to taste.
  4. Fill warm tortillas with pumpkin; top with tomato, onion, avocado, and cilantro as desired.

 

Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne, oregano, basil, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

(Recipes courtesy of AllRecipes.com)

 

 

Energetics of Kale

I delight in eating a colorful diet as well as exploring new recipes, so when a friend brought by an armload of curly leafed kale fresh from her garden I immediately changed that evening’s menu to feature kale.

Kale comes in several varieties; red, green, curled, savoy, and fringed.  There’s one that turns red and purple in the cold, called ‘Redabor’.  Or a sage’y blue-gray type called Lacinato (this is also known as dinosaur kale).  And miniature Scottish varieties for tiny gardens.

In the line-up of dark green and leafy, this one is a stand-out.  Kale lowers the risk of bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate cancer with glucosinolates.  A rich source of vitamin K – nearly two times the amount of any other cruciferous veggie.  Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits too.  To preserve the cholesterol lowering benefits of this extremely healthy green, prepare by steaming.  Did you know kale’s glucosinolates can detox all the way to the genetic level?  Wow!  Kale is a broad spectrum antioxidant that fights cancer and other stress related issues.   A mere 200 calories worth of kale contains 15 grams of fiber, plus the pre-cursor to Omega-3’s (Alpha-Linolenic Acid or ALA).

 

Nutrient % Daily Value Kale 1 cup cooked

  • Vitamin K 1327.6% (seriously amazing)
  • Vitamin A 354.1%
  • Vitamin C 88.8%
  • Manganese 27%
  • Fiber 10.4%
  • Copper 10%
  • Tryptophan 9.3%
  • Calcium 9.3%
  • Vitamin B6 9%
  • Potassium 8.4%
  • Iron 6.5%
  • Magnesium 5.8%
  • Vitamin E 5.5%
  • Omega-3 fats 5.4%
  • Vitamin B2 5.2%
  • Protein 4.9%
  • Vitamin B1 4.6%
  • Folate 4.2%
  • Phosphorus 3.6%
  • Vitamin B3 3.2%
  • Calories (36)2%

 

Energetics: Warming thermal nature; sweet and slightly bitter-pungent flavor; eases lung congestion; benefits the stomach.  An ancient member of the cabbage family, it also has abundant sulfur.  Kale juice can treat stomach and duodenal ulcers.  A hardy cold-weather green whose flavor becomes sweeter with a touch of frost.  An exceptional source of chlorophyll, calcium, iron, and Vitamin A.

Growing season; fall, winter into early spring.

Select firm, dark colored leaves (smaller ones are tender) and moist stems.  Kale should be kept cool.  Store in a plastic bag and squeeze out as much air as possible.  Eat promptly, as it becomes bitter as it ages – and wash just before eating (moisture encourages rapid spoilage).

 

Kale is so good and good for you that we have 2 recipes to suggest.

 

Steamed Kale

  • Fill steamer pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil.
  • Chop kale in 1/2″ wide slices, and stems into 1/4″ pieces.
  • Toss kale into steamer basket (above water level) and steam for 5 minutes.
  • Toss with:
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional add-in’s:
  • Sun dried tomatoes, olives (kalamata, black, green) cheese (feta, goat, blue), dash of soy sauce or balsamic vinegar.  I sometimesadd black sesame seeds, yummy!

 

Baked Kale ‘Chips’

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 pinch sea salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Cut away inner ribs from each kale leaf and discard; tear the leaves into uniform size pieces. Wash torn kale pieces and spin dry in a salad spinner or dry with paper towels until they’re very dry.
  3. Put the kale pieces into a large re-sealable bag (or use a bowl if you don’t mind getting your hands oily). Add about half the olive oil; seal and squeeze the bag so the oil gets distributed evenly on the kale pieces. Add the remaining oil and squeeze the bag more, until all kale pieces are evenly coated with oil and slightly ‘massaged.’ Sprinkle the vinegar over the kale leaves, reseal the bag, and shake to spread the vinegar evenly over the leaves. Spread leaves evenly on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until mostly crisp, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and serve immediately.

 

Energetics of Spinach: Popeye’s Secret Powerhouse

As a kid I delighted in watching Popeye (cartoon) ‘pop’ his can of spinach and magically become strong enough to save the day.  Skip the can and enjoy fresh, in season spinach from March to May, and September to October.

I’m not a fan of munching dirt or sand, so I fill my (scrubbed) sink with cold water and vigorously swish my spinach (flat or curly savoy) for a thorough cleaning.  A mere half cup (raw) is considered a serving size, but with steaming, 4 cups shrinks to a bit over 1 cup. Less chewing and more nutrients.  Sneaky, no?  Add a splash of lemon juice and a pat of butter, sprinkle a bit of salt on top, and I scarf so much my teeth feel chalky, but I can’t stop.

Popeye knows what he is doing when he grabs the spinach.  That innocent little leaf is a powerhouse.   The lemon juice I drizzle on adds extra vitamin C and breaks down oxalic acid to help my body absorb spinach’s calcium and iron.  I like to credit my lack of reading glasses (at 50) to the high levels of zeaxanthin and lutein found in spinach, along with Vitamin A and potassium.  Plus, folate, magnesium, phosporus, and even a bit of fiber.  Everything the body needs to fight free radicals (aka, nasty villans!), grow strong bones, prevent  birth defects, aid red blood cell production and keep the heart healthy is found in the dark green leafy; spinach.  Popeye, you’re my hero.

Popeye is probably a heart and prostate healthy hero, too.  Thanks to glycoglycerolipids – little molecules in plant membranes used in the photosynthesis process.  These clever molecules protect our digestive tract from damage caused by inflammation.  Popeye’s health is further enhanced by the anti-cancer carotenoids labeled epoxyxanthophylls, specifically, neoxanthin and violaxanthin.

Energetics: Spinach is cooling and moistening.  Builds and cleanses blood, a diuretic and a laxative.  Useful in treating diabetic dryness.  Good for night blindness.  Caution: Those with kidney stones or gout should eat spinach sparingly.

I’m fixing spinach for the other hero in my life tonight but he won’t know it – he loves pasta, so I hide fresh spinach in the pesto sauce.  To keep his waist line trim, I leave out the final tablespoon of olive oil.

Popeye Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or pistachios
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 T plus 1 T extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Blend the spinach, basil, nuts, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle remaining optional olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.  Recipe courtesy of www.AllRecipes.com 
© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness

Energetics of Asparagus: Harbinger of Spring

        The best harbinger of Spring are those crisp stalks of fresh, local asparagus appearing in the grocers case.  Have you noticed that the stalks are sometimes pencil thin and others are fat cigars?  Asparagus flaunts it’s age with thicker stalks.  Not only do those green clusters herald the coming of warm showers and pretty flowers, they also herald good health.

Nutrition:

Asparagus is a dieters friend, being low in calories with hardly any salt and an excellent source of fiber (3g in 5 ounces), protein (3g) and folic acid.  Interestingly, studies have found people with Alzheimer’s Disease have very little, to no folate levels – 5 ounces of asparagus packs about 60% of the RDA of folacin.

In addition to helping dissolve uric acid (gout and arthritis sufferers, take note), asparagus has the highest glutathione (GSH) levels of several tested foods – GSH is a potent anti-carcinogen and antioxidant.

But wait, there’s more:  Vitamin A, B, C, E and K, calcium, chromium, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium and zinc.  Plus, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin (strengthens capillary walls), niacin, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium and selenium.

Asparagus even has an amino acid named after it; asparagine (which it obviously has in abundance).

Helpful hint: instead of cutting, snap off the lower inch or so of the stalk, it will snap where the tender part meets the tougher part.

Energetics:

Slightly warming thermal nature; bitter and mildly pungent flavor contains the diuretic asparagine.  Treats many types of kidney problems but should not be used with inflammation.  Cleanses the arteries of cholesterol and is useful in vascular problems such as hypertension and arteriosclerosis.  Caution:  too much asparagus can irritate the kidneys.

Asparagus tubers (or root) used in Chinese herbology tonify the yin fluids of the kidneys and moisten the lungs; a cooling remedy used to treat lung congestion, spitting or coughing up blood, chronic bronchitis, and wasting stage of diseases such as diabetes and tuberculosis. Also improves feminine principle, especially aggression and eases menstrual difficulties, promotes fertility, increases one’s receptive and compassionate nature.  Caution:  Avoid in cold-type diarrhea and lung congestion when chills predominate.

Grilled Asparagus:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thin asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat grill or oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Place asparagus on tin foil or a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer. Spread Parmesan cheese over asparagus, and season with freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Grill or bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and asparagus is tender but crisp. Serve immediately on warm plates, sprinkling with balsamic vinegar to taste.

Courtesy of AllRecipes.com