Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Broccoli…The What

Another vegetable with high antioxidant properties is broccoli.

Broccoli is the most common member of the family tree called cruciferous vegetables, a family that includes Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage., collards, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. You may hear this family referred to as either the “mustard family” or the “cabbage family.”

Broccoli firsts started out as a type of wild cabbage way back during the Roman times, when it was enjoyed immensely by the Romans.

Broccoli did not gain popularity until the 1920’s, even though it had been ntroduced to the United States during colonial times,

The word “broccoli” is derived from an Italian word meaning “branch” or “arm,” which is a perfect description of its blossom-bearing, cross-shaped stems that resemble mini trees

There are several different types of broccoli, including…

  • Broccoflower,…a pale green hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower..
  • Broccolini ,,,baby broccoli that is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale
  • Broccoli raab… this vegetable does not have the tree-like “heads” we’re used to, but instead has the same florets but on longer and thinner stems. I
  • Broccoli rapini,…this vegetable has fewer florets and a mustard-like flavor Chinese

Most broccoli grown in the United States comes from either California

China is the country that produces the most broccoli per year, over 8 million tons per year.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Blackberry Smoothie

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Refrigerator Jam

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The Ingredients

  • Fruit of choice…such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, peach,
  • 1Tbsp lemon juice
  • large pinch salt
  • 2-1/4C sugar
  • 1 box (1-3/4oz SURE-JELL
  • 3/4C water

 

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Preparing the Fruit

When buying your fruit, make sure to buy only firm, perfectly ripe fruit. Only the best fruit will give you the best flavor and consistency.

First wash the fruit and remove any stems or peels.

Pick through berries, discarding any soft or rotten ones.

Chop the fruit into large chunks if you feel like you need to…obviously raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can all remain whole.

Mash the fruit, using a potato masher or fork. How much you smoosh the fruit will depend on just how chunky you want your jam to be.

Add sugar to the crushed fruit.

Let sit for at least ten minutes, while you are making the topping…stirring occasionally.

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Making Your Base

 

First place a couple metal spoons in the freezer…(you’ll see why a little later)…

Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Let boil for 1min.

Let the jam cook for about twenty minutes.

Use a candy thermometer to see if your jam has cooked long enough or not. Cook until the thermometer reads 220ºF.

If adding any fresh herbs—such as basil, mint, or thyme—to your jam, add them during the last few minutes of the cooking process so that they retain their bright flavor.

Remove saucepan from heat.

Don’t expect your finished jam to be as firm as traditionally processed jam…this will actually make the jam easier to spread onto your toast, biscuits, or whatever.

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Sterilizing the Jars

While you are waiting for your jam to finish cooking, take the time to sterilize your jars.

To do this, thoroughly wash these jars, their lids and their screw bands….then put them into a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 15min.

Turn off the heat. Leave the jars, lids, and bands in the hot water until ready to use.

 

 

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Filling Your Jars

 

Use tongs to lift the jars, lids, and screw bands from the water, Dry them thoroughly.

Ladle the hot jam carefully into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ space between the jam and the top of the jar.

Screw the lids on the tops of the jars tightly.

Wipe any jam from the rims of the jars with a wet paper towel.

Let the jars set out on the counter at room temperature overnight.

The jam will stay good in the fridge for up to three weeks….or in the freezer for up to one year. If you freeze it, let it thaw out in your refrigerator before using.f

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Cobbler

Other Ingredients

  • 3/4C sugar
  • 1-1/2C flour
  • 1-1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2C heavy cream
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2C butter, melted
  • 2Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt

 

 

 

 

 

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Making the Fruit Filling

Preheat oven to 350…(isn’t that what almost recipes tell you to preheat your oven to…just lately noticed this)…

Place a stick of butter into a 9×13 pan in the oven while the oven preheats….just make sure that you take the pan out so that the butter doesn’t burn.

Do whatever you need to do to get the fruit ready—such as wash, peel, stem, seed, slice, and so on.

You may need to cook some of the firmer foods—such as apples or peaches—before using them in your cobbler in order to bring out more of their juices. To do this, just stir together the fruit and a little bit of sugar in a pan. Cook on medium heat for just a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves.

Once you finish prepping the fruit, taste it to see if you need to add some sugar, spices (choose whatever you gut instinct tells you), or lemon juice.

If your fruit is juicy or you want your cobbler to be more firmly set, you may want to add some cornstarch.

Spread the fruit filling evenly into prepared pan. It should fill the dish three-quarters full…(almost like when Making the Perfect Muffins, right?!)

 

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Making the Topping

Mix together your dry ingredients—the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until pea-sized crumbs form.

Add the cream to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined; the dough will be quite wet.

At this point, your topping should look like cookie dough.

Scoop the topping over the fruit mixture, using either a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon.

Spread the topping out with a spoon or your fingers if you need to.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar or use an egg wash to give your cobber more sparkle and extra crunch.

 

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Baking the Cobbler

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until golden brown….(Just like with everything else that you  bake, stick a toothpick into the topping…if it comes out clean– it’s done.)

Once you have finished baking the cobber, set your oven on broil. Broil long enough to make it golden brown and slightly crunchy on top.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream…(duh)…

Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Baked cobbler can be kept frozen for up to three months. To serve, thaw overnight in the fridge. Warm in the oven before serving.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries…The How

Shopping for Blackberries

When shopping for blackberries, remember that the blacker the color, the riper and sweeter the blackberry will be.

The perfect blackberry has a “deep”-flavored and is very juicy.

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Storing Blackberries

Blackberries are highly perishable and delicate. They can turn soft, mushy, and moldy within 24 hours after bringing them home from the store, so you will want to either use them that same day or freeze them.

Once you do bring them home, check for any soft, overripe berries…as well as any squished or moldy berries. Gently blot the berries that you’re keeping with a paper towel and place them in a covered container in your fridge.

Do not wash the berries until you’re fixing to…_(yeah, I am from the Deep South)…to either eat them or cook with them.

To freeze blackberries…which is honestly the best way to use them to make smoothies…flash freeze them by first arranging the blackberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put the cookie sheet with the berries into the freezer. Freeze them until they are solidly frozen. Then put them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag, label, and date…..yeah, I do know that you can also buy prepackaged frozen berries, but we’re trying to avoid processed foods, remember?)

 

 

 

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Recipes

Blackberries have been used to make wines and cordials as far back as 1696..so they must taste pretty darn good, right?.

And of  course you could eat the blackberries that you have bought all by themselves, but why stop there, when you could use your blackberries to make great desserts such as cobbler, jelly, and smoothies. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries—The Why

Blackberries have been used by many different ethnic groups of people for many different purposes….at least since the time of the ancient Greeks.

Blackberry tea made from the leaves, roots, and bark was used to treat oral problems, such as bleeding gums, canker sores, sore throats, anf mouth ulcers.

The roots have astringent properties that have been used to treat digestivce problems—such as diarrhea and stomach ulcers.

Blackberries have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.

So let’s first look at the nutritional value in half a cup of blackberries.

 

 

 

 

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Nutritional Value

A half cup serving of blackberries roughly contains about 430 calories.

This same half cup also contains about half of a gram of fat, zero cholesterol, a miligram of sodium, about ten grams of carbohydrates.

Blackberries contain significant amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiberactually five grams of dietary fiber, or 25% RDV. Blackberries are also a good source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.

As far as vitamins, this same half cup of blueberries contains…

  • Vitamin A…214 IU
  • Vitamin B1…thiamine…2%…0.020 mg
  • Vitamin B2…riboflavin…2%…0.026 mg
  • Vitamin B3…niacin…4%…0.646 mg
  • Vitamin B6…2%…0.030 mg
  • Vitamin B9…folate…6%…25 μg
  • Vitamin C…25%…21.0 mg…It has been documented that as far back as 1771 to treat scurvy.
  • Vitamin E…8%…1.17 mg
  • Vitamin K…19%…19.8 μg

In addition to these vitamins, blackberries also contain many minerals that we need, such as…

  • Calcium…3%…29 mg
  • Iron…5%…0.62 mg
  • Magnesium…6%…20 mg
  • Phosphorus…3%…22 mg
  • Potassium…3%…162 mg
  • Sodium…0%…1 mg
  • Zinc…6%…0.53 mg

 

 

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Antioxidants

But out main concern right now is antioxidants…and how we can get the most antioxidants into our daily diet…

And before you start adding antioxidants to your diet, you must first know what antioxidants are…


The word “sntioxidant” doesn’t actually refer to one particular chemical, but instead refers to a process that your cells perform called oxidation.

A few examples of antioxidants are vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the minerals selenium and manganese.

 

Each of the antioxidants is its own individual and does a different job than all the other antioxidants, but together they form a team that fights free radicals, those chemicals that can damage your cells and the genetic material inside them.

Although there are hundreds and possibly thousands of substances that can act as antioxidants, each with its own role in the cooperation of other antioxidants to help the body work effectively, let’s take a look at a few of the more “popular” ones…

 

 

1.Beta-carotene…Beta-carotene is a pigment—which can be yellow, orange, or red—is found in many vegetables and fruits…including carrots, squash, and spinach. Beta-carotene is important for your vision.

2. Flavonoids. There are more than 4,000 of different flavonoids found in fruits and veggies. Every plant contains a different flavonoid combination. Flavonoids are important in protecting you from heart disease, cancer, arthritis, aging, cataracts, memory loss, stroke, inflammation, and infection. Flavonoids can be found in green tea, grapes, red wine, apples, chocolate, and berries.

3. Lycopene...Lycopene help protect your body from cancer—specificaxlly prostate, lung, and breast cancer. Good sources of lycopene include cooked and processed tomatoes, such as the pasta sauce you used last night of your spaghetti.

 

4. Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids help protect against heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cataracts, and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in salmon, tuna, sardines, and walnuts…

5. Omega-6 Fatty Acids...Omega-6 fatty acids help improve eczema, psoriasis, and osteoporosis. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and poultty.

6. Selenium,,,Selemium helps your thyroid work and also can help protect against cancer—especially lung, colon, and prostate cancer. Sources of selenium include onions, garlic, and soybeans.

7. Vitamin C.…Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is another essential antioxidant that possibly helps prevent cancer—epecially stomach cancer, lung cancer, and cancer within the digestive system. You can get more vitamin C into your diet by eating green vegetables, tomatoes, and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits.

8. Vitamin EVitamin E fights off free radicals that attack fats in your cell walls….and also keeps LDL cholesterol from hardening your arteries. Good sources of vitamin # include whole grains, vegetable oils (olive, sunflower, canola), nuts, and green leafy vegetables

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries…The What

Another good option when targetting your smoothie to be most effective for its antioxidant purposes is the blackberry.

This soft, plump, sweet, and juicy fruit is commonly found in Europe from June until November, but are now also grown commercially in the United States.

They also grow wild  in forests and hedgerows across most of North America…where they can be found as thorny bushes or trailing vines, known as brambles. These brambles have many very sharp prickles or thorns that can easily tear through your clothes, even through denim, with ease and make the plant very difficult to navigate around. These sharp, thick thorns help protect wild blackberries from large animals.

 

Blackberries are considered an “aggregate fruit” because each single blackberry, as we usually think of as blackberries, is not an actual fruit in itself. Instead what we think of whenever we think about blackberries is actually a cluster of about twenty-five tiny fruits called druplets. each having its own seed.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

And the Beet Goes On…(Making the Perfect Beet Smoothie)

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Can’t Beat the Beet

A bunch of beets with beet greens on a wooden cutting board on a marble countertop.

 

 

 

 

 

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THE WHAT?!

One of my goals while writing this blog has been to slowly crawl up the Raw Foods Pyramid, looking at one option at a time…seeing how each ingredient can be added to the diet of my newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic.

So, since we are now on the topic of fruits and vegetables…leafy greens…smoothies…smoothie purposes…antioxidants…(progression of my outline if that makes sense to anyone else out there)…

Today we are going to talk about beets.

Beets—in the same “family” as sweet potatoes and carrots, are a root vegetable used in many cuisines around the world.

 

 

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THE WHY?!

Beets are a superfood that is packed with nutrition—including vitamins, minerals

Let’s take a look at some of its medicinal properties.

  • Calories: 44,,,Beets are low in calories
  • Protein: 1.7 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams…Beets are low in fat.
  • Fiber: 2 grams…Fiber has many health benefits—such as improving digestion, keeping you “regular,” and prevent digestive conditions—such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis
  • Now let’s take a look at what beets have to offer as far as vitamins and minerals,
  • Folate: 20% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 16% of the RDI
  • Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI

In addition, beets also offer many nitrates and pigments that are beneficial.

Betalains, a pigment found i beets, have may anti-inflammatory properties and can refuce pain and discomfort caused by this.

Nitrates dilate blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop.

 

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THE WHY ELSE?!

Some of the benefits that beets offer as far as health include…

1. Anti-inflammatory...As mentioned earlier, beets contain the pigment called betalains which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent inclulding obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer.

2. Cancer…Beets contain the antioxidants that are needed to help  reduce the division and growth of cancer cells.

3. Enhanced athletic performance…The nitrates found in beets improve the efficiency of the mitochondria found within each and every cell that are responsible for producing energy in your cells.

4. Heart...Beets contain nitrates—which have been shown to help reduce your risk of heart problems—such as heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.

5. High blood pressure...Eating beets can lower your blood pressure anywhere from  4 to 10 mmHg over a period of only a few hours.

6.Mental.cognitive decline associated with aging.…The nitrates found in beets help maintain the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain…which in turn helps you maintain the health of the brain associated with decision making and memory.

7. Weight Loss…Because beets are a low-calorie food with a high water and a high protein content, beets may help you lose weight by reducing your appetite and making you feet full longer. Beets also contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber, both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Best Smoothies for Antioxidants…Alfalfa Sprout Smoothies

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Alfalfa Sprouts

The What...alfalfa is a legume, actually a member of the pea family.

The Why...rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E

Other Reasons Why...great source of many vitamins and minerals—such as calcium, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, and many vitamins.

The Ingredients…

  • 2 cups fresh alfalfa sprouts
  • 3 cups kales leaves, packed
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup water
  • organic celery stalks
  • 1 small apple, cut into large chunks
    1 small frozen banana, broken into chunks
  • 2 teaspoons hemp, chia, or flax seeds
  • stevia to taste