Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Broccoli Smoothie

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Broccoli…The How

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Broccoli…The Why Else

Let’s look at some more reasons adding broccoli to your diet is beneficial…

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1. Bones and Joints

Broccoli contains many nutrients that have been shown to keep your bones and fjoints healthy and to help prevent bone-related disorders….

  • calcium …broccoli contains almost as much calcium as whole milk.
  • phosphorus…6% DRV per cup
  • vitamin A…11% RDV, in the form of carotenoids
  • vitamin C…Broccoli is an excellent source of  vitamin C.  In fact, only one-half of a cup of cooked broccoli provides a whopping 84% RDV of vitamin C— more than that foundf in half of an orange.
  • vitamin K…broccoli contains 116% RDI of vitamin K.

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2. Brain Function

Broccoli contains many nutrients and bioactive compounds that can keep your brain and nervous system functioning correctly. In fact, eating only one serving of dark green vegetables , such as broccoli, per day may help resist mental decline.

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3. Cancer

Broccoli contains nutrients that may help fight and even prevent certain types of cancer—including breast, prostate, stomach, and intestinal. Eating two cups of broccoli twice a week is the amount most nutritionists consider adequate to reap the full cancer-fighting benefits of broccoli.

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4. Dental and Oral Health

Broccoli contains many nutrients—such as vitamin C , flavanoids, and calcium,—that have been shown to support oral health and prevent dental diseases—such as periodontitis, oral cancers

Many people also claim that eating raw broccoli helps remove plaque and whiten your teeth

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5. Diabetes

Broccoli may be worth adding to your weekly menu because there has been research showing that broccoli can be beneficial to diabetics…definitely adding it to my own weekly menu, know that my husband has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I don’t want to be a fifty year old widow with a five year old, right?

Anyway, why/how is broccoli helpful for diabetics?

First of all, broccoli has been shown to significantly decrease insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes….perhaps because of broccoli’s high antioxidant content.

Broccoli has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve diabetic control because of its high content of soluble fiber.

 

 

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6. Digestion

Broccoli may support bowel regularity and healthy gut bacteria because it is rich in both fiber and antioxidants, two nutrients that are important for “bowel regularity” and healthy gut bacteria.

Fiber affects several aspects of our digestive system—the speed that food travels through our digestive system, the consistency of food as it moves through our intestine, bacterial populations in our intestine, the health of your stomach lining.

And for those readers out there who still give a crap…broccoli even makes it easier to take a crap.

 

 

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7. Eye Health

Broccoli contains lutein and eaxanthin, the same antioxidant that have been shown to make carrots so very good for your eyes;.

These antioxidants both help your eyes from eye diseases and problems—such as macular degeneration and cataracts

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8. Heart Health

Broccoli has also been shown to play a role maintaining the health of your heart,  maintaining your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and keeping your blood vessels strong

First of all, broccoli contains sulforaphane, an anti-inflammatory that has been shown to prevent and reverse damage to blood vessel lining caused by chronic blood sugar problems.

.The fiber found in broccoli may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Finally, B-complex vitamins helps regulate or reduce excessive levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that increases your risk of coronary artery disease.

 

 

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9, Immune System

Broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, possibly one of the most important nutrients for keeping your immune system effectively doing its job of preventing and treating  various illnesses.

The RDV for vitamin C is 100–200 mg….and broccoli contains 78 grams …84% RDI of vitamin C per half-cup serving. of cooked broccoli

 

 

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10. Pregnancy

Broccoli contains many of the vitamins, minerals and protein needed by expectant mothers…especially the B vitamins…and even more specifically the vitamin B9, also known as folate…that are important for the development of the fetal brain and spinal cord.

Eating broccoli and other fiber-rich foods while pregnant can can help ensure healthy pregnancy outcomes and support healthier cognitive development of the newborn.

 

 

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11. Skin

Broccoli, mainly in the form of broccoli extract, contauns nutrients that have been studied as far as protecting you from getting skin cancer and other skin damage that result from exposure to a damaged ozone layer and increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Broccoli…The Why

So now that we know what broccoli is, let’s take a look at why you should be eating broccoli.

What nutrients does broccoli contain…What health benefits does it offer…

 

 

 

 

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1.Anti-inflammatory

Whenever our bodies are threatened with dangerous levels of potential toxins or overly-reactive, oxygen-containing molecules, it sends signals to our inflammatory system….telling our brain to “kick in” and help protect from any possible  damage….(more on this later)…

Certain nutrients help slow down the damage to joints, such as arthritis,..such as kaempferol, a flavonoid that especially works within our digestive tracta by  (by lowering your immune system’s production of allergy-related substances…and omega-3, another nutritent that prevents the inflammatory system from going bonkers.

Two cups of broccoli contain about 400 milligrams of omega-3…actually in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA—as much as one soft gel capsule of flax oil

 

 

 

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2.  Antioxidant

Btoccoli also contains vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can act as an antioxidant—such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and beta-carotene.

This means that broccoli can help your body fight against the many toxins that pose a risk to our cells.

 

 

 

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3. Aging Process.

No, broccoli can’t keep us from getting older…even though that would be nice.

But it can help prevent age-related diseases because of these same antioxidant functions.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and just like any other neighborhood…and just like any other neighborhood, the produce bin neighborhood has several families.

Although these families are primarily designed for crop rotation, these families will be a great asset as we start discussing the fruits and vegetables segment of the Raw Foods Pyramid…

…and since we talked about broccoli as being a crucifer…(no, George Bush, not Lucifer….I thought that this might be a good time to go ahead and introduce you to the rest of crucifer’s tribe.

 

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 THE ASTERCEAS FAMILY

This, at least to me, seems to be the miscellaneous category where those vegetables do not belong to any other family all hang out…If you’re a farmer, and know differently, then tell me…but for the purpose of making vegetables in the Raw Foods Pyramid easier to categorize, I’m using this family for my “junk pile.”

Members of this family include…

  • artichokes
  • lettuce
  • tarragon

 

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CHENOPODIACEAE FAMILY

The chenopodiaceae family are typically plants without petals, such as…

  • beets
  • spinach
  • Swiss chard

 

 

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CRUCIFER FAMILY

The crucifer family consists of those vegetables with four petals arranged in a cross shape …with six stamens, including two smaller ones, such as…

  • arugula
  • Asian greens
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radishes
  • turnips
  • watercress

 

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CUCURBITACEAE FAMILY

The cucurbitaceae family, also known as the gourd family, includes those plants that typically run rampant, climb, or have spiral tendrils. Each of these plant produces their fruits on a long vine with seeds running through the center, usually protected by a hard rind.

This family not only has vegetables as members, but has also welcomed melons and some other large to join their gang…and includes…

  • cantaloupes
  • cucumbers
  • gourds
  • melons
  • pumpkins
  • squash
  • watermelon
  • zucchini

 

 

 

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FABACEAE FAMILY

The fabaceae family, also commonly known as legumes of pulses, includes…

  • beans—all beans…including fava beans, lentils, soybeans
  • peas
  • peanuts

 

 

 

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LAMIACEAE FAMILY

The lamiaceae family are those highly fragrant plants that are often used to make essential oils and herbal teas, such as…

  • lavender
  • lemon balm
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • oregano
  • sage
  • thyme

 

 

 

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LILIACEAE FAMILY

The liliaceae family includes plants with leaves that usually have vertical and very long leaves and flowers with six colorful petals, including…

  • asparagus
  • chives
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • onions
  • shallots
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    NIGHTSHADE FAMILY

The nightshade family includes…

  • eggplant
  • peppers, both sweet and hot peppers
  • potatoes,  but not sweet potatoes
  • tomatoes

 

 

 

 

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POACEAE FAMILY

This family consists of nearly 12,000 species of  “grasses” or grains that are so very important to our every diets, including…

    • barley
    • corn
    • rice
    • rye
    • wheat
    • A few examples: corn, rice, wheat, barley, oats, rye, and millet.

 

 

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ROSACEAE FAMILY

The Rosaceae family consists of herbaceous, woody plants with alternating leaves and pink flowers, such as…

  • apples
  • blackberries
  • cherries
  • pears
  • plums
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

 

 

 

 

 

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UMBELLIFERAE FAMILY

The umbelliferae family consists of those vegetables that produce the vcegetable part that we eat under the ground. Members of this family include…

  • carrots
  • parsley
  • dill
  • cilantro
  • fennel
  • celery
  • parsnips
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.