Shopping for Produce A – Z: BEETS & BEET GREENS

Shopping for Produce A – Z: BEETS & BEET GREENS

Beets Are Good Medicine

And their colors are beautiful; red and yellow beets are packed with antioxidants. Don’t throw away the tops! They’re sweet with a spinach-like flavor and have even more antioxidants than the roots. They contain anthocyanins  giving them the red color and they also have strong anti-cancer properties. Beets also contain betaine, a natural anti-inflammatory agent that supports heart health. They supply important minerals and vitamins including the vitamins B1, B2, B12 and C, iron, copper, magnesium, iodine, phosphorus, and potassium. PHEW! Beets boost the blood flow, regulate cholesterol levels, and support healthy liver function.

 

 

Beets fight anemia and detoxify the body, decelerate the aging process and protect the blood vessels. They’re high in cellulose, antioxidants, and pectin (a special type of fiber that boosts digestion). And…beets boost the stamina, endurance, and performance during a workout, so they are really beneficial for athletes.

You can eat beets raw, juiced, roasted, and cooked. 

 

Selection:

 Choose beets that still have all their greens attached; they’ll be fresher. The leaves should be brightly colored and not limp. If you’re looking for a quick beet fix there are a ton of ready to eat options. Many produce departments sell cooked and ready-to-eat beets and spiralized beets. Check the snack section for yummy dehydrated beets and beet chips. If you’re in a natural foods store or health food store, you’ll find beet shots to give you a boost of the antioxidants and some quick energy.

Storage:

If you purchase the beets with their greens still attached, store them separately. Chop off the stems about an inch above the root. Greens should be stored in a microperforated bag; they’ll only last a couple days so use them up quickly. Roots go into the crisper unwrapped and they’ll last one to two weeks.

Shopping for Produce A – Z: BANANAS

Shopping for Produce A – Z: BANANAS

Bananas Are Radioactive.

Most of us know bananas are a great source of potassium. But, did you know a small proportion of that potassium is the unstable radioactive isotope potassium-40? Want superpowers?? Sorry, you won’t get them from the radiation by eating bananas.Using calculations based upon the so-called “Banana Equivalent Dose,” you would need 10 million bananas in a single sitting, in order to give yourself a lethal (or superpower-inducing) dose of radiation.

Selection:

 Bananas should be yellow, not green. Green bananas don’t always ripen correctly at home and can take up to a week to be ripe enough to enjoy. Avoid brown spots, soft spots, and bruises. Ideally, choose organic, they tend to taste better. Conventional bananas are sprayed with synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides.

Monkeys will choose organic over conventional; they’ll peel a conventional banana but eat an organic banana peel and all.

 

Storage:

Keep bananas on the countertop. They develop brown spots as they ripen and also become sweeter.  If you went overboard and can’t eat them before they get too ripe, freeze them for  desserts and smoothies. Peel them, split them in half, put them in a zip top plastic bag, and put them in the freezer. But you knew that didn’t you? 

But…Did you know that if you go overboard on salty junk food and feel gross and bloated, potassium-rich foods like bananas, avocados, beans, dark leafy greens, and sweet potatoes can help reduce water retention? Now you do!

Shopping for Produce A – Z: AVOCADOS

Shopping for Produce A – Z: AVOCADOS

Avocados: Good Fiber & Good Fat

One medium avocado provides 40% of the recommended daily allowance of fiber and 39% of vitamin K (bone health and proper blood clotting), and 20% of vitamins E and C to support beautiful skin. The healthy fats in avocados help your body absorb the fat-soluable vitamins in other foods.

Selection:

Choose Haas avocados when possible. They’re the ones that turn blackish when ripe and have a rough skin. They’re also the most nutrient-dense and best tasting. The avocados with smooth, shiny skin can be a number of different varieties. Choose ones with deep dark green, almost blackish skin; they’re the ripest. Avoid any with soft spots, air pockets, or a pit that seems to be rolling around inside. Remove the center stem num on the top. If green flesh is revealed, you have a fresh one. If it’s brown or moldy it’s bad.

 

Most nutritious varieties: Haas and green avocados.

 

Least nutritious varieties: Florida avocados.

Storage:

Store avocados on the countertop and eat them within a day or two when ripe. You can put them in the refrigerator to slow decay, but that will only get you a couple more days at most. Once an avocado is cut in half, it’ll brown quickly. Leave the pit in the other half if you aren’t going to eat it all right away; that’ll keep it from browning. Or, store the cut avocado in a small glass container with coarsely chopped onion in the bottom (the skin of the avocado, not the flesh should be in contact with the onion), seal it with a tight-fitting lid, and keep it in the fridge. The onion’s oils are powerful antioxidants that prevent browning.

 

Shopping for Produce A – Z: ASPARAGUS

Shopping for Produce A – Z: ASPARAGUS

Asparagus: Another Nutrition Powerhouse

Fresh asparagus tastes better and retains more nutritional value. Asparagus is a great source of vitamin K, folate, inulin, and glutathione. What are the benefits of these nutrients? Here are ten ways asparagus can improve your health and wellness:

 

 

  1. Helps relieve symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
  2. Helps relieve symptoms of PMS.
  3. Prevents progression of cataracts.
  4. Helps control blood sugar.
  5. A great source of folic acid in pregnancy.
  6. Reduces acidity in blood.
  7. Helps prevent and dissolve kidney stones.
  8. Strengthens the heart.
  9. Cancer prevention.

Selection:

Since aparagus’ nutrients deteriorate quickly, it’s best to purchase what you need and consume it within a day or two.

Look for thin, tender spears that are dark green, shiny and straight, not bent. The tips should be tightly closed and green or purplish. The cut end of the stalk should be smooth and moist.

Skip white asparagus. It’s just green asparagus that’s been buried in soil so it never sees daylight. It’s tougher in texture and only has 1/7 the antioxidants as the green.

The best asparagus will come from your local Farmer’s Markets. Look for farmers who display their asparagus on ice; they’ll be the most tender because not chilling them makes the toughen.

Storage:

As mentioned above, asparagus is best when eaten on the day you purchase it so that the nutrients aren’t lost and flavor hasn’t deteriorated. If you plan to keep it for a day or two store is in a microperforated bag. It’ll last only a few days at the most.

 

Preparation:

Asparagus is best steamed; it only takes five minutes and increases its antioxidant value by 30%

But Why Does My Pee Smell So Bad After I Eat Asparagus?

Studies show 40 percent of people said they could smell the odor in their urine after eating asparagus, and 60 percent said they could not; more women than men.

The odor is due to your body’s reaction to some of the natural chemicals found in the green stalks. Scientists aren’t exactly sure which chemical or chemicals are responsible for creating the odor, but it’s probably due to some of the sulfur-containing compounds found in asparagus

Shopping For Produce A – Z: ARTICHOKES

Shopping For Produce A – Z: ARTICHOKES

Artichokes Are a Nutritional Powerhouse

Artichokes are a lot of work; no two ways about it. But, are they worth it? You bet. They’re surprisingly high in antioxidants and fiber giving them excellent cardiac benefits. They’re high in inulin, a prebiotic that support a healthy gut, and folate, an important nutrient that prevents birth defects, blood disease, and possible cancer.

 

“After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps.”  -Miss Piggy

 

Selection:

Choose large artichokes that have densely packed leaves. They’ll have larger hearts than the slim, pointy ones. Artichokes with a thorn at the end of each leaf have a nuttier flavor; and varieties without thorns have softer flesh.

 

Artichokes take almost an hour to cook. So, if you’re looking for a faster but equally nutritious option go with packaged hearts; they’re still high in antioxidants and low in calories. Ideally, purchase them in glass packed in water, olive oil, or a spice mixture.

 

If you see purple artichokes, get them! They’re rich in cancer-fighting compounds anthocyanins which makes them even more nutritious.

Storage:

Keep artichokes refrigerated in the crisper drawer and eat them within three days. They spoil quickly. Artichoke hearts have a longer shelf life

Shopping For Produce A – Z: APPLES

Shopping For Produce A – Z: APPLES

FLF Blog

Demystifying the Grocery Aisles

An Apple A Day...

Apples are loaded with antioxidants and support cardiovascular and respiratory health and help keep blood sugar balanced. Also, they’ve been linked to a reduction to the risk of asthma and lung cancer.

Sadly, apples are also on the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen List. A conventional apple contains up to 45 different pesticides!

Selection:

Always choose ORGANIC. Select apples with firm skin, no bruises, don’t feel spongy, or give at all when you press them gently.

Most Nutritious Varieties:

There are 7,500 varieties of apples around the world. Mildly sweet varieties like, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith (the most nutritious apple; 13x more phytonutrientsthan Ginger Gold. High in fiber and polyphenols and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon), Honeycrisp (my favorite other than the Gravensteins that grow at my home),  McIntosh, Melrose, Red Delicious (the dark red skin is full of healthy antioxidants).

Least Nutritious Varieties:

Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Empire, Ginger Gold, and Elstar.

Storage:

Apples can last up to ten times longer when stored in the refrigerator. Put them in your crisper drawer and set the humidity to high.