Category: Featured Produce
Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach provide more nutrients than any other food. Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia. Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables. It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as “the Spanish vegetable” in England. (more…)
Easy to grow and store, high-yielding, supernutritious and crunchy like an apple, yacon root (pronounced ya-kon) is one of the many “new” vegetables coming to us from South America. In reality, this fruitlike vegetable has been cultivated throughout the Andes for more than a millennium. South Americans eat it as a fruit; they also use the huge leaves to wrap foods during cooking, in the same way cabbage leaves are used in Germany, grape leaves in the Mideast and banana leaves in the tropics. Only recently – thanks to some adventurous green thumbs – have North Americans begun to see yacon in produce markets.
In addition to its distinctive flavor – a satisfyingly sweet cross between celery and Granny Smith apples – yacon is noted for its high fiber and low calorie content. The tubers and leaves contain high levels of inulin, a form of sugar humans cannot easily break down, making it low in calories. Inulin also aids digestion and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, while inhibiting toxic bacteria. Recent research also has found that yacon tubers and leaves are a good source of antioxidants. Yacon is an ideal food for diabetics and weight watchers, but it will make a delicious addition to anyone’s diet. Plus, the tubers only get sweeter in storage.
In South America, yacon tubers can have yellow, orange, red, pink and even purple flesh, all with distinct flavors. Unfortunately, only one or two varieties of yacon are available in the United States, and they are white-flesh varieties. All varieties have a crunchy texture, and the water content is high enough that the tubers can be crushed to make juice.
Yacon is delicious eaten fresh with a little sugar or honey and a bit of lemon juice sprinkled over it. (Yacon recipes often contain citrus, because acidity prevents the discoloration that results once the pared tubers are exposed to air.) Many South Americans put yacon in a fruit salad called salpicón, because the tubers add a crunchy texture to the mix. Yacon also can be stir-fried, roasted, baked or made into pies and healthy chips. Teas made from the leaves can reduce blood sugar by increasing the amount of insulin circulating in the blood stream. Yacon syrups or powders also can be used as low-calorie sweeteners, and are increasingly available at natural food stores.
When you need a smaller alternative to a big winter squash, sweet dumpling squash is the answer. About the size of an extra large apple, this single-serving squash usually weighs under one pound apiece and is shaped like a miniature pumpkin due to the scalloped lobes that form the rind. The skin is often white with mottled yellow, orange, and/or green markings. Inside, the flesh is smooth, tender, and sweet, with a bright orange color. Like all winter squash, it’s a great source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and fiber. (more…)
Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America and are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They have been consumed since prehistoric times as evidenced by sweet potato relics dating back 10,000 years that have been discovered in Peruvian caves.
Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. By the 16th century, they were brought to the Philippines by Spanish explorers and to Africa, India, Indonesia, and southern Asia by the Portuguese. Around this same time, sweet potatoes began to be cultivated in the southern United States, where they still remain a staple food in the traditional cuisine. (more…)
Beets are filled with good things. High in fiber, vitamins A and C, and surprisingly, more iron than most other vegetables, including spinach! They also contain calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and folic acid. The pigments that give beets their signature coloring are strong antioxidants. (more…)
Did you know that carrots are not originally orange? That’s right. The original carrot, which dates back more than 4.000 years to Afghanistan, was purple. The orange carrot didn’t come into being until about 400 years ago, when Dutch farmers bred the carrot to be orange – their country’s color. Today, carrots have been bred in a rainbow of colors, which makes them much more fun to eat, not to mention, more nutritious. (more…)
Butternut squash is a winter squash belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family of field pumpkins. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the bottom. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. (more…)
You may have noticed that the potatoes we get have had different hues of flesh. Potatoes actually come in a rainbow of colors, from yellow “Yukon Gold” to “Purple Peruvian”.
Potatoes technically are not roots. They are the swollen stems of rhizomes that we call tubers. The “eyes” of the potato are actually growth points. While potatoes have gotten a bad rap as carbohydrates, they are actually quite good for you. A single medium sized potato contains about 3.6 grams of protein, 3.6 grams of dietary fiber, 36 grams of carbohydrates, and between 33-50% of RDA of Vitamin C. (more…)