October 23rd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
It’s unfortunate that the recent E. coli outbreak may have prompted Americans to cut back on their vegetable consumption, particularly salads. A recent study conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health reveals less than 50% of the U.S. population meets daily dietary recommendations for fresh produce.
Eating just one salad a day provides even greater health benefits than previously thought, note UCLA’s experts, whose research was published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
According to the study:
- Those who eat salads and raw vegetables with salad dressing benefit from considerably higher levels of vitamins C, E, B6 and folic acid—key nutrients in promoting a healthy immune system and reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
- High fruit and vegetable consumption has also been associated with lower rates of premenopausal bone loss in women.
- Eating a salad a day is a convenient way to boost your overall health.
- Frequent salad consumption reflects a healthier lifestyle in general.
Some Organic Authority recipes to get you started:
Read More:Eat Your Organic Veggies!
August 22nd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
My closest farmer’s market runs during the summer, from 5 to 9 p.m. outside a Macy’s department store in a large suburban shopping mall parking lot. While there are numerous year-round farmer’s markets in the L.A. area, this one has a particularly festive feel, and I love traveling from booth to booth in search of ding-free produce that has just the right amount of fresh dirt clinging to it.
Last week, I bought some gorgeous summer squash—bright yellow, freshly picked that morning and not a blemish to be found. In supermarkets, and even at my local natural and organic food store, I often have trouble finding squash with such clear skin and fresh-from-the-ground flavor.
As Deb Barshafsky wrote in her 1998 Augusta essay, “Stand Buy Your Yam: The Lure of the Southern Produce Stand,” nothing beats a roadside vegetable stand or farmer’s market: “Grocery stores are clean, well-lit, well-stocked shrines to all things edible, but you don’t get somebody’s grandmother putting a piece of peach in your mouth. You do get somebody’s teenager who needs a photo album at the cash register to tell the difference between a butternut squash and a daikon radish.”
As Barshafsky points out, vegetables grow in dirt, and “handling a basket of soil-smudged crooknecks with my Keds firmly planted in Georgia red clay feels just right.” She doesn’t miss grocery barcode scanners, membership discount cards or automatic sprayers that douse supermarket veggies with water at scheduled times.
If you haven’t visited your local farmer’s market this summer, it’s time to take the family on a tasty field trip. To locate a farmer’s market in your area, click here.
Photo by Bill Tarpenning/USDA
Read More:Farmer’s Market Finds
June 26th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Just a few years ago, supermarket produce departments offered only one variety of eggplant: the large Black Beauty, with its familiar dark purple skin. Many tasters found it to be mealy and unappetizing, adding eggplant to their list of “hate it” foods.
Culinary times have changed. Walk into your local natural and organic food store and you’ll find a new breed of eggplants that are pleasing to the palate. Especially popular is the narrow Japanese (Oriental) eggplant, known for its sweetness and thinner skin. Italian (baby) eggplants resemble their larger purple cousins, but they’re smaller, with delicate flesh and skin. Thai eggplants are round and green (golf-ball size), often used in curry dishes and Asian soups. White eggplants are oval, with a bright green stem and heavy skin—ideal for steaming, broiling and baking.
One cup of cubed raw eggplant has:
- Only 25 calories
- No sodium, cholesterol or fat
- 2 grams of fiber
When shopping, look for:
- Firm, smooth, glossy skin (pass on those with dull skin)
- No scars, wrinkles, bruises, brown spots or soft spots
- Heavy for its size, which means it has a high moisture content
- Bright green stem (“calyx”)
- Store eggplants in a cool, dry place.
- Use within one to two days to avoid bitterness. Refrigerating them in a plastic bag may buy you a few extra days.
- Cut eggplants just before using, as their flesh discolors quickly. Use a stainless steel knife to prevent darkening.
- Don’t cook eggplant in aluminum pots or pans, which causes discoloration.
- You can bake, fry or broil eggplant. (Note: They will soak up oil, so be advised. Coating slices with crumbs can minimize fat absorption.)
- The skin is edible in young eggplants, and it’s high in fiber. Older ones should be peeled.
Sources: American Institute for Cancer Research, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc.
Read More:Organic Eggplant