September 28th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
I can’t go anywhere without seeing signs for flu shots—a reminder that it’s time to start boosting our immunity.
“Filling your grocery cart with nutritious foods and beverages from all the food groups will provide your body with essential vitamins and nutrients to help support a healthy immune system,” says registered dietitian Kim Galeaz, coauthor of 4 Weeks to Maximum Immunity.
Galeaz offers the following tips for maximizing nutrients when visiting your local natural and organic food store:
Read More:4 Ways to Boost Your Immunity Before Cold & Flu Season
September 19th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and the easiest way to learn the culture is to immerse yourself in its cusine.
Fortunately for North Americans, Latin fruits and veggies have become quite accessible, and just about anyone can prepare an authentic meal.
You’ll also need to keep seven important herbs and spices on hand.
Read More:7 Must-Have Hispanic Herbs and Spices
July 29th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Whether raw, grilled or roasted, red bell peppers are an incredible low-calorie source of vitamin C.
One medium bell pepper has only 25 calories, while providing:
- 190% of your daily vitamin C requirement
- 2 g fiber
- 4% of your daily vitamin A requirement
- 4% of your daily iron requirement
But does nutritional content change when peppers hit the grill or roasting pan?
Peppers shrink as they cook, and vitamin C is heat-sensitive. Grilled peppers will therefore contain less vitamin C, but you’ll make up for it by consuming a larger, more concentrated portion of the veggie, explains registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Ultimately, regardless of preparation, a half-cup serving of red bell peppers provides a full day’s vitamin C requirement.
Conversely, vitamin A levels are higher when red peppers are roasted, Collins says. That’s because the cooking process leads to better absorption of beta-carotene.
But watch out for hidden calories and sodium in jarred roasted red peppers (or similar varieties found in supermarket or restaurant antipasto bars).
“When they are marinated in oil, of course, calorie content increases,” Collins says. “Sodium content also changes with preparation. Jarred roasted red peppers usually contain added salt, which increases sodium content markedly.
“However, you can broil or bake fresh red peppers in a hot oven (about 450°F) for 7 to 10 minutes; then put them in a bag to cool for about 15 minutes. You’ll have roasted red peppers with the near-zero sodium content of raw red peppers.”
How to Choose an Organic Bell Pepper
- Look for firm, brightly colored peppers with tight skins.
- Peppers should be heavy for their size.
- Avoid dull, shriveled or pitted peppers.
5 Roasted Red Pepper Recipes
- Tomato and Roasted Sweet Pepper Soup
- Grilled Fennel, Corn and Red Pepper Salad
- Skewered Grilled Organic Veggies
- Roasted Vegetable Medley
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Read More:Grill Organic Red Bell Peppers for a Vitamin Boost
April 20th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Jim and Kristen Mitchell, a Scottsdale, AZ-based husband-and-wife team, have just launched Humble Seed, a company that offers premium organic seed kits that produce an array of edible plants.
Four themed garden kits are available:
- Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles (including Yankee bell, habanero, cayenne, Caribbean red and Anaheim chile peppers)
- Uncle Herb’s Favorites (including bouquet dill, common sage, Greek oregano, cumin and German winter thyme)
- Veggin’ Out (including Washington cherry tomatoes, Bull’s Blood beets, De Cicco broccoli, Marketmore cucumbers and black seeded Simpson leaf lettuce)
- The Producer, a bulk fruit and vegetable kit for community gardens and organizations
Each kit contains at least 10 premium heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid and organic seed packets for environmentally conscious growers.
“My whole life, I’ve been trying to find one calling—one passion that would help people,” Jim says. “I really connected to growing my own food. There are so many health, financial and environmental benefits, and creating a stable, healthy food supply reduces our reliance on other economies.”
“We are extremely excited that we’re helping empower people in a down economy,” adds Kristen. “Families can now get fresh food at a fraction of the cost found at your local produce section.”
Kits start at $21.95. The website also features books, recipes and seed-growing tips.
Humble Seed’s launch party is Thursday (Earth Day), with proceeds benefiting Waste Not, a local nonprofit organization that delivers food to more than 80 agencies that feed the hungry.
Read More:Organic Heirloom Seeds Produce Themed Gardens
April 11th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
To maximize your organic garden’s yield, plant vegetables and herbs that are easy to grow and versatile in a variety of dishes.
Here are the six top springtime picks from the experts at Bonnie Plants, a green-garden wholesaler in Union Springs, AL:
- Tomatoes. The most popular fruit in U.S. home gardens, tomatoes are hard to beat in terms of taste, health benefits and versatility.
- Yellow squash and zucchini. While their growing season is shorter than the tomato’s, squash are very productive. You’ll pick them every day once the season starts.
- Lettuce. As long as weather is mild, leaf lettuce will continue to produce. If you regularly enjoy salads, growing your own lettuce can offer substantial savings.
- Cucumbers. Grown in a cage or on a trellis, a single cucumber plant can produce five to 10 cukes. You can place two or three plants in a cage just 18 inches in diameter and 4 feet high. Your yield: 15 to 30 cucumbers from a slice of ground no bigger than an end table.
- Specialty peppers. Price jalapeños and other specialty peppers in the supermarket, and you’ll realize the benefit of growing your own. These peppers produce especially high yields in areas with a long, hot summer.
- Herbs. Also pricey in supermarkets, fresh herbs are easy and economical to grow. Consider planting sage, rosemary, mint, thyme and chives (one plant each), plus at least three basil plants. Try different basil varieties: sweet, cinnamon, Thai and/or boxwood.
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants/ARA
Read More:6 High-Yield Organic Vegetables & Herbs
March 11th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Rising grocery costs and concerns over toxic pesticides have led many organic consumers to start home vegetable gardens.
The task is easier than you may think, and you don’t need an expansive plot of land to enjoy nature’s bounty. Many popular veggies can grow in containers or compact spaces.
Here are three ideal choices for newbies and seasoned gardeners alike.
Commonly considered vegetables, tomatoes are actually fruits. They can, however, be an integral part of a vegetable garden.
Tomatoes are high in cancer-fighting lycopene and other antioxidants. There are also myriad varieties to tempt your palate.
Tomatoes can be planted after soil has thawed and there’s no other chance for frost. They’ll require plenty of sunlight. Fruit will be available to harvest toward the latter part of summer.
Pick up some heirloom and exotic seedlings from the Tomatomania collection.
Peas grow inside the pods of legumes. These plants like moist soil that drains well.
Water frequently, but make sure soil doesn’t become flooded if you want peas to flourish.
Consider growing Chinese pea pods so you can whip up Garlic Snow Peas with Cilantro straight from the garden.
Peppers come in so many varieties that it’s easy to find ones that appeal to your personal culinary tastes.
They generally thrive in soil that’s high in magnesium. Adding compost and Epsom salt to soil can help achieve the environment peppers desire.
FYI: Red bell peppers have significantly more beta-carotene and vitamin C than green bell peppers.
Read More:3 Spring Gardening Favorites