Jackfruit…The Which — April 15, 2021

Jackfruit…The Which

Jackfruit can be found fresh, canned, or frozen in many specialty supermarkets and Asian food stores.







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Fresh Jackfruit

Fresh jackfruit can be purchased at Asian food markets and specialty stores…where it’s typically sold by the pound, The typical jackfruit will weigh somewhere between ten and twenty-five pounds.

The smell of a jackfruit indicates its ripeness: The stronger the jackfruit smells, the riper the jackfruit is.

Fresh jackfruit can often be hard to find when it is not in season, but can be useful at any stage of ripeness.







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Unripe Jackfruit..

Unripe jackfruit is green and will become yellow as it ripens. This unripe, green jackfruit is what most of us will find the most interesting and useful because it has a texture very similar to chicken or pulled pork, making it an excellent meat substitute—in such savory dishes as curries, pies, tacos, soups, stir-fries, chili, stews, wraps, and burritos.

Honestly, I’m not sure that I’d ever go to the trouble of buying a whole jackfruit and processing it myself…it seems like a big pain in the butt.

But…

If you’re willing to try it and let me know just how easy or difficult it is, go for it. I just had surgery on my hand and will be content to buy either the pre-packaged and pre-seasoned jackfruit chunks that are found in the freezer or the canned stuff…both already packaged to have that look and texture of meat that makes it such a great meat substitute.

If you do go all out and buy the real deal, first you have to cut through the thick, green coral reef-like skin with a sharp serrated knife. Chilling the jackfruit in the fridge for a while before breaking into it will make this easier to do.

Once you’ve dug your way into the jackfruit, you will find a creamy white interior filled with large, pale yellow seed-containing bulbs that are connected to the fruit’s core.

Keep slicing until you have large chunks of fruit (leaving the skin on).

Before you can use the fresh jackfruit in recipes, you will need to boil the jackfruit chunks for about 45 minutes…until the inner flesh is soft and a bit stringy, like chicken. You could also do this in your pressure cooker.



If you are working with a fresh, unripe jackfruit, first cut the fruit in half. Next remove the yellow fruit pods and seeds from the skin and core with either a knife or your hands. The white, fibrous parts inside of the jackfruit will be very sticky, so you probably should wear gloves while doing this.

You will need to boil the jackfruit chunks for at least thirty minutes…until the flesh becomes soft and stringy…the same texture as pulled pork or chicken….before you can use the jackfruit in any of the recipes that I will sharing in the next few posts..(more on this later)…



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Ripe Jackfruit

Ripe jackfruit has a rather neutral flavor that will absorb the flavor of whatever other foods it is cooked with, much like a potato. Fresh, ripe jackfruit can be eaten on its own, added to yogurt or oatmeal. or used to make a wide range of recipes—including desserts.

Often stores will sell packages of precut jackfruit because the entire jackfruit itself can be so big. Always choose this instead of buying a whole one and going to the trouble of cutting it yourself…will save you time, money, and effort in the long run.

Regardless what form of jackfruit you buy, always avoid fruit with black or dark spots.

If you buy green jackfruit, you need to go ahead and use it while it still is green…or process and freeze it as soon as possible.

Cut, ripened jackfruit can be stored in plastic in the fridge for up to a one week or in the freezer for up to a month.



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Jackfruit Seeds

You can also roast or boil the jackfruit seeds and then combine with seasonings to be eaten whole…or can be used to make hummus, top a salad, make a smoothie, or grind into flour.









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Canned Jackfruit

Canned jackfruit will be packed in either a brine or a syrup. Always choose jackfruit packed in brine because this will be better for making savory dishes.

Also check to make sure that the labels includes the words “green,” “young,” or “tender” if you plan on using the jackfruit as a meat substitute..



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Jackfruit Products

These days it seems like more and more foods containing jackfruit are sprouting up at your local Whole Foods, Sprouts, and the health-food section of just about any traditional grocery store. Try them. You might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was as to how great these products can be.

Making Perfectly Deliciously and Perfectly Healthy Coconut Cookies — March 7, 2021

Making Perfectly Deliciously and Perfectly Healthy Coconut Cookies

The perfect coconut oatmeal breakfast cookies are perfectly delicious, perfectly healthy, and the perfect way to start a perfect day.

Did I use the words “healthy” and “cookies” in the same sentence?

Actually, yes I did.

Why?

Because these coconut breakfast cookies are vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly.

Perfectly delicious because they are perfectly moist and che`wy on the outside…perfectly crisp on the outside with perfectly crisp edges…and bursting with the perfect amount of coconut f1lavor.

 

Dry Ingredients

  • ¼C + 2Tbsp rolled oats
  • ¼C flour—coconut flour, almond flour, regular flour, almond flour
  • ½tsp cinnamon
  • ¼tsp baking powder
  • ¼tsp baking soda
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 2Tbsp coconut sugar, maple syrup, organic cane sugar or organic brown sugar…or 2Tbsp granulated stevia…or ½C pure maple syrup

 

Wet Ingredients

  • 8oz coconut oil or vegan butter
  • 1 flax egg or four medium eggs….
  • 1tsp. vanilla

 

The Coconut…½C unsweetened coconut flakes

Make sure to use large coconut chips or flakes…Using large coconut flakes or chips will ensure that your cookies spread out and flatten like regular cookies…instead of ending up looking like macaroons.

 

Add-in Ingredient

Feel free to customize these cookies to your liking ny adding whatever else you want—such as finely-chopped nuts, seeds, raisins, dried fruit. sugar-free chocolate chips, and so on and so forth.

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil. Set aside. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk all of the wet ingredients in a second bowl until smooth. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture. Cream together until light and fluffy. Fold in coconut and any other add-in Ingredients.

Scoop 2Tbsp-sized firmly-packed dough balls onto prepared cookie sheet. Press down with your palm into a cookie shape.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and slightly golden on top.

Making the Perfect Club Sandwich — March 2, 2021

Making the Perfect Club Sandwich

Now that we know how to make the perfect BLT, let’s “kick it up a notch” by making the perfect club sandwich—an expected item on the menu of every diner, sandwich shop, restaurant, country club, school, resort, hospitals, and so on and so forth.

The perfect club sandwich is a delicious triple-decker tower that consists of toasted bread, tangy mayo, crisp lettuce, bacon. fresh juicy tomatoes, high-quality deli meat—such as ham, chicken or turkey breast…and perhaps cheddar cheese…cut into fourths and secured with toothpicks…served with the perfect pickle spear and perhaps some fries.

So let’s take a look at the steps required for create a basic club sandwich…

 

 

 

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The Ingredients

The club sandwich has been around for generations because it is chock-full of the things we all love best….and can be as simple or elaborate as you want.

As with anything else you ever concoct in your kitchen, in order to get perfect results, you must start out with the perfect and best-quality ingredients that you can find….the perfect mayo…the perfect deli meat—whether it be turkey, ham., or chicken…the perfect cheddar cheese…perfectly cooked bacon…the perfect sliced tomato…perfectly crispy lettuce…the perfect bread—wheter it be white or wheat or sourdough or rye.

Additional ingredients to consider include avocado slices, pickles, fancy microgreens, stone ground mustard, or anything else that you can imagine.

 

 

 

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Instructions

Toast…Toast three slices of bread. The bread should be lightly toasted, crisp, slightly golden brown and warm. Now spread mayo on one side of the lightly toasted bread.

Cook the bacon…Fry two or three slices of bacon. Drain the bacon on paper towels.

First Layer…Add meat, tomato and cheese, placing tomatoes in the middle so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

Second Layer:…Spread mayo on both sides of the second slice of bread. Layer ham, bacon, lettuce, and any of your own favorites—such as slices of avocado, hard boiled eggs, a smear of mustard…

Final Layer…Spread mayo on the final slice of bread. Place on top. Secure with toothpicks or cute sandwich picks. Cut into quarterx, using a chef’s knife. Serve with pickles. 

Developing a Passion for Banana Passion Fruit — January 11, 2021

Developing a Passion for Banana Passion Fruit

Before starting this series on tropical fruits, I had honestly never even heard of banana passion fruit…and I still honestly haven’t figured out where the closest place to buy it is…but since it is a tropical fruit, I’m gonna go ahead and include here in this chapter…(think once I finish crawling up the Raw Foods Pyramid, I may try to put it all together into a book…probably too lofty of a goal, but hey we are all making New Year’s resolutions right now anyway)…

 

 

 

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Banana Passion Fruit…The What

Banana passion fruit are native to many areas of South America—particularly Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.

Banana passion fruit grows on vines that can be as tall…or long, not sure which word would be correct here…as twenty-two feet….and that have attractive, deep pink blossoms. The vines are commonly used in landscaping to cover trellises.

plant is known to live for up to twenty years. A mature banana passion fruit vine can produce up to three hundred banana passion fruits. 

The fruit itself is oblong and about four inches long. The orange-scented fruit has a  thick, leathery skin that changes from green to bright yellow as the fruit ripens…and juicy, sweet pulp that is studded with black seeds.

The pulp is juicy and sweet, with a tart bite and hints of banana. Although the seeds are edible, they can be somewhat bitter…

Banana passion fruit is available year-round in the tropics, with a peak season in the spring and fall months.

However…interestingly enough…it is illegal to sell and distribute the plant in New Zealand and Hawaii because it is considered to be an invasive species that can quickly take over and deprive other native plants from the sun.

 

 

 

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Banana Passion Fruit…The Why

Banana passionfruit are a good source of the following nutrients…

  • antioxidants
  • calcium
  • carbohydrates
  • fiber
  • iron
  • phosphorus
  • protein
  • vitamins A and C

 

 

 

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Banana Passion Fruit…The Why

As long as you store ripe banana passion fruit in an open paper bag in the fridge, they will last for around a week.

Although banana passion fruit is best eaten as it is instead of trying to cook or make something else out of it, here are some more ideas as far as using banana passion fruit…

  • desserts such as cakes, cheesecake and pies
  • fruit salads
  • ice cream
  • juices
  • parfaits
  • relishes, jams and other preserves
  • smoothies
  • yogurt 

So let’s take a look in the following posts at a few of these ideas…shall we?!

Don’t Be a Dumbo About Making Gumbo — November 23, 2020

Don’t Be a Dumbo About Making Gumbo

If I were to talk about both choosing the perfect ingredients for your gumbo and using the perfect method, this would be an extremely long post.

Instead we’re gonna talk about the perfect ingredientsw…and talk about method in the next.

Making the perfect gumbo is about like decorating a Christmas tree. There are an umpteen thousand different ways to do it, and every one has their own opinion of what your finished project should look/taste like.

But regardless your personal preference, there are some tips about choosing ingredients that remain the same regardless what type of gumbo you may be making.

 

 

 

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Mear

A few things to keep in mind as far as the meat are…

1. If you are making chicken gumbo, use the legs becacuse they will give the best flavor.

2. Buy bone-in chicken, and then cook your chicken on the bone, but take off the skin if there’s any on it.. This will add extra richness to your gumbo. Just make sure that you carefully remove all bones from your gumbo before serving…especially if you are serving it to your Cajun grandmother.

3. Brown your meat over high heat before sticking in into the pot. This will add more flavor to your gumbo.

4. If using a sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, wait and add them at the end of your cooking time…otherwise they get get rubbery.

 

 

Now for a few recipes as to which meat can be used and some recipes to try…

 

 

 

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Vegetables

In a  previous post we learned that The Cajun Holy Trinity consists of onions, celery, and bell peppers—not carrots, as in the classic French mirepoix which consists  of onions, celery, and carrots,

As in most cooking, it is always best to use fresh ingredients instead of the frozen stuff…even though the frozen stuff is so much more convenient…

Tomatoes…Tomatoes are typically found in Creole gumbo recipes,..not Cajun…(so not going to get into the specifics of this, just trust me on this one)…versions of the dish

Okra…Okra is often used as a thickener. Okra is often used as a thickener and While there are many gumbo recipes that do not call for okra…and many people do not like adding the okra because they claim that it makes their gumbo slimy…,the word “gumbo” is actually derived from the West African word for okra.

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Liquid

You can use either water or stock/broth to create the base of your gumbo., but using water will mean that your gumbo will end up having much less flavor…so I wouldn’t recommend it.

And of course you can buy stock/broth from the grocery store, but it’s also easy to make your own…and perhaps cheaper.

So how you make your own stock?

The stock or broth that you use depends on the type of gumbo you are making, but here are three basic recipes…

All About Avocado Oil — November 20, 2020

All About Avocado Oil

Salad made with avocado oil

 

 

 

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Nutrition

  • Calories: 124
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Avocado oil is a good source of:

  • HDL Cholesterol
  • Lutein…a type of vitamin found as the yellow, orange, and red pigments in certain plants which gives these fruits and vegetables their colors…
  • Oleic Acid
  • Vitamin E…1Tbsp avocado oil contains about 23% of the DV of vitamin E.

 

 

 

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Health  Benefits

Antioxidant…If you’ve been following my blog at all…or if you have any interest in nutrition in the first place…you should know by now that antioxidants are important for fighting off free radicals. Antioxidants are important for preventing diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Arthritis…Arthritis, painful inflammation of the joints, is very common… and in fact affects millions of people worldwide. Studies have shown that avocado oil may reduce the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis…especially arthritis in the hips and knees.

Heart…Avocado oil may be helpful to the health of your heart because of the oleic acid that it contains. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that can help lower blood triglycerides, LDL cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

Skin…Avocados and avocado oil both contain fatty acids, vitamin E, and lutein contained in avocado oil can provide the following benefits…

  • helping soothe dry, chapped, or damaged skin if used topically 
  • improving symptoms of psoriasis
  • increasing collagen production 
  • decreasing inflammation
  • promoting skin health
  • helping wounds heal faster

In the next post we will look at how avocados can be used to make “bathroom beauty recipes” that might come in handy if there is another coronavirus shutdown.

 

 

 

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Uses

Making the Perfect Avocado Salad — November 17, 2020

Making the Perfect Avocado Salad

  •   Bowl of avocado salad The perfect avocado salad is simple—fresh avocado, thinly sliced red onion…different from standard guacamole in that it has way more depth of flavor and creamy chunks of avocado.

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Ingredients for Salad

  • 3 large avocados…peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2C English cucumbers…chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2C cherry tomatoes or 1 large ripe tomato, chopped
  • ½C radish, halved, cut into ⅛-inch thick slices
  • ½C red onion, cut into thin slices
  • 2tsp minced jalapeno pepper
  • 1/3C corn
  • 2Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1/8tsp pepper

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Ingredients for Salad Dressing

  • 2Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4C olive oil
  • ¼C lime juice
  • 1Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2Tbsp honey

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Instructions

  • Make the Dressing…Stir all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil. Now very slowly drizzle in the avocado or olive oil, constantly whisking to break the fat into small droplets. This will help create a thicker salad dressing.
  • Combine salad ingredients…Stir your salad ingredients together in a second bowl.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the avocado salad.
Making the Perfectly Rockin’ Guac — November 16, 2020

Making the Perfectly Rockin’ Guac

The perfect guacamole is simple to make and like anything else that you make requires using only the freshest, highest quality ingredients—the perfect avocado…the perfect onion…the perfect tomatoes…and the perfect seasonings—such as cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, garlic and salt.

The perfect guacamole should be plain and simple….the perfect blend of high quality ingredients melded together beautifully.

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The Avocados

The perfect avocados for making guacamole should be ripe, but firm….not soft and mushy avocados.

You can know that you are picking the best avocados by only choosing those that still have the stem attached. Avocados with the stem still attached are less likely to have brown spots on the inside.

If you gently press one end of the avocado, it should be firm, yet have a slight give to it.

Here is a tried and true guacamole recipe that’s easy to make, uses fresh ingredients and is loaded with flavor. 

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The Ingredients

3 avocados, ripe

1/2 small onion, finely diced

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

3Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2tsp salt

1 lime, juiced…(Note that using fresh limes instead of bottled lime juice will make a huge difference)…

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Instructions

Slice your avocados in half. Remove the pit and skins. Put the flesh of the avocado in a mixing bowl.

Mash the avocados gently with a fork until you get them as chunky or smooth as you’d like.

Add the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, garlic, lime juice and salt.

Place any leftover guacamole in a storage container…(yeah, right…as my house there is never any leftover guacamole)…Pat down firmly with a spoon so it’s nice and flat on top. Add about 1/2″ cold water on top. Place the lid on the storage container. Stick the container in the fridge.

The water will help keep the guacamole from oxidizing  and turning brown as quickly.

Once you’re ready to devour the rest of the guacamole, drain the water off the top and stir.

Brisk Breakfasts to Brag About — October 6, 2020

Brisk Breakfasts to Brag About

I feel like I have gone on so many tangents while writing this blog that they couldn’t possibly be counted.

 

I have gone all the way from learning to live a cruelty-free lifestyle and clean eating…to making scones with lots and lots of sugar and butter.

This latest tangent has been a result of “the resident five year old” going back to school.

Realizing that he never eats his lunch at school, I have learned the importance of making him a good breakfast instead.

So I have wanted to build myself an arsenal of breakfast recipes to keep him well fed…and hopefully well behaved at school.

 

So before we go on, let’s give our “breakfast cookbook” a Table of Contents…

 

 

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Table of Contents

Making the Perfect Apple Jam — August 13, 2020

Making the Perfect Apple Jam