Breadfruit…The What and the Why — January 17, 2021

Breadfruit…The What and the Why

sliced fruits on tray
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com
Honestly before starting our quest to switch from the typical Southern meal regimen—chicken fried steak, fried chicken, fried whatever…after all, isn’t the Texas State Fair notorious for frying anything and everything… I had never heard of many of the fruits and veggies that I am including in this blog about raw foods and clean eating. But recently I joined a food co-op that delivered breadfruit. At first I was kinda scared of the interesting little green things in my basket, but I am not one to waste ingredients and also someone who dares to try new recipes, so I started figuring out what to do with the darn thing….what recipes I could use it in and what nutritional goodness it had to offer.

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The Where

Breadfruit are another tropical fruit…native to the South Pacific and very popular throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

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The Breadfruit Tree

As far as how it’s grown, the breadfruit grows on trees that can grow as tall as eighty-five feet high. The breadfruit tree is a member of the fig family and one tree alone can produce a massive 450 pounds of breadfruit each year for decades. One single breadfruit tree is capable of yielding up to two hundred breadfruits per season. The leaves of the breadfruit tree are large ovals that are long and skinny, and glossy green.

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The Fruit

One breadfruit can weigh up to twelve pounds in weight and have a diameter of twelve inches. The breadfruit is typically round, oval or oblong The skin of the breadfruit is a green and prickly. The flesh is hard and green. The flesh of a fully ripe breadfruit will be creamy yellow with oval seeds or a cylindrical core, depending on which particular variety of breadfruit you have purchased. A single breadfruit can weigh as much as twelve pounds and is capable of feeding a family of four.

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Nutritional Value

Breadfruit is an excellent source of the following nutrients…
  • antioxidants
  • calcium
  • carbohydrates
  • carotenoids
  • copper
  • fiber…½C provides 25%RDA
  • iron
  • magnesium…1/2C contains up to 10%RDA
  • niacin
  • omega 3
  • omega 6
  • phosphorus
  • potassium…1/2C contains up to 10%RDA
  • protein…1/2C contains up to 10%RDA
  • thiamin…10%DV
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B
  • vitamin C…35%DV

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Health Benefits

Breadfruit can be beneficial to your health in many ways, especially for fighting or preventing…
  • asthma
  • blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • heart diseases and heart attacks
  • risk of developing colon cancer
So now that we’ve gotten the facts about breadfruit and its nutritional/health benefits, let’s get to the fun part—what to do with it the next time the local co-op or one of those imperfect food subscription boxes sends it your way…(because if you’re like me, you probably wouldn’t have ever put it into your grocery cart or instacart order yourself)…
Develop a Passion for Banana Passion Fruit — January 11, 2021

Develop 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?!

Let’s Go Ape Over Bananas — November 23, 2020

Let’s Go Ape Over Bananas

Bananas chopped up in a bowl

Of course we all know what a banana is…

In fact, we all seem to go apes over bananas…so much so that in the United States, each person eats about eleven pounds of bananas per year…making it Americans’ favorite fresh fruit.

Bananas in fact are a favorite fruit worldwide…having first been grown in Southeast Asia, they are now grown in many warm parts of the world.

The perfect banana is wonderfully sweet with firm and creamy flesh.

Contrary to your grocery store produce aisle may have you to believe, there are actually several different types of bananas—varying in color, size and shape.

The most common type is the Cavendish, a type of dessert banana. These bananas are green when unripe…and then yellow as they mature.

Banana plants vary in height…anywhere from ten to twenty-six feet. The leaves are arranged spirally and may grow to be about nine feet long and two feet wide. The leaves of the banana tree are easily torn by the wind, resulting in the familiar frond look.

Bananas can also vary in taste from starchy to sweet, and texture from firm to mushy…depending on what variety you choose and how ripe the bananas are.

Greener, less ripe bananas are more starchy…whereas yellow bananas taste sweeter because they contain more sugar.

The actual bananas are gathered into bunches…made up of anywhere from three to twenty tiers. The bunch itself can weigh anywhere from sixty-five to one hundred pounds.

Some of the edible varieties, ranging in color from yellow to red, pink, purple and black…varying in both flavor and texture…include… 

  • Blue Java Banana…Blue Java bananas are also known as the ice cream banana due to their sweet vanilla flavor and extreme creaminess. They feature a beautiful blue peel and a white flesh. They’re actually pretty hardy and can grow in colder regions….
  • Blue Java. Also called “ice cream” bananas because they’re said to taste like vanilla ice cream, these have a bluish-silvery peel that turns pale yellow when ripe.
  • Cavendish. The most widely exported banana in the world, the Cavendish has a sturdy peel that travels well. Almost all bananas sold in the United States and Europe are this variety.
  • Goldfinger. This newer variety from Honduras has a sweet and slightly apple-like flavor.
  • Gros Michel. Also known as Big Mike, this was the top-exported banana until much of the crop was wiped out by a fungus in the 1950s. It’s similar in taste and size to Cavendish and still available in some places.
  • Lady Finger Banana…Lady Finger bananas, also known as baby bananas, are sweeter and smaller than Cavendish bananas. They’re usually around three inches in length and feature a creamy texture and sweet flavor with notes of honey.
  • Manzano. Also called “apple bananas,” these short, chubby fruits have a hint of apple and strawberry. They’re fully ripe and taste best when the skin turns black. Manzano is the most popular dessert variety in the tropics.
  • Mysore. This small fruit is the most important banana crop in India. It has a thin skin and a hint of tartness.
  • Praying Hands. You’ll recognize this variety by the two adjacent “hands” that grow fused together, giving the fruit its name. It’s less sweet than other types and has a subtle vanilla flavor.
  • Red. The thick skin of red bananas starts red or maroon but turns yellow-orange when ripe. The flesh is sweet and tinged with pink or orange.      
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

Mastering Ministrone — November 19, 2020

Mastering Ministrone

So now that we’ve bought the perfect pot, found the perfect recie, bought the best veggies, sliced and diced, and so forth…

Now what?

1.Constantly keep an eye on your soup while it is cooking. This will allow you to  adjust the spices and cooking temperature as needed.

2. Cook on low heat. Don’t think that cooking your soup at a higher temperature will ensure that everything will actually get cooked instead of being raw or hard when you are ready to serve the soup.

Doing this will instead turn your meat into tough, hard-to-chew pieces…not to mention possibly ruining the bottom of that expensive soup pot that we all went out and bought after reading a previous article, right?

Instead bring your soup slowly to a boil and then allow the soup to simmer for the rest of the cooking time.

This will allow the ingredients to maintain their structure and integrity, while at the same time combining all of the ingredients into a flavorful soup.

3. Cover or not?…Depending on the finished product that you want,  leaving the soup uncovered or covering the soup with the lid is a matter of personal  reference. Leaving the lid off will make the soup base evaporate faster, creating a thicker and more flavorful soup.

4, Dig in Deep…There are many soup recipes out there that  require taking some of the soup as it is cooking and blending it and then adding it back into the soup in order to thicken the soup. Using an immersion blender will reduce the risk of your getting burned and make this job easier and neater.

Here is a list from Good Housekeeping of some of the most highly recommended immersion blenders available…

5. Use your brain when using grains…Pasta and grains that are called for as ingredients will often overcook. Avoid this by cooking them separately and then adding them into the soup just before serving.

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 Perfect Avocado Toast — November 14, 2020

Making the Perfect Avocado Toast

Of course guacamole is the most common food that uses avocados, but another food commonly made with avocado toast.

When I first heard of avocado toast, I thought to myself…this is a food trend that will not last more than a year…and there is no way in Hades that I am ever going to even try it.

But I have found myself eating this reguarly.

It seems almost like common sense to be able to master the skill of avocado toast—toast your bread, smoosh up some avocados, smear onto your toast…how hard can that be?

Kinda like if you’re making cheese toast you toast your bread with cheese on it…and if you’re making cinnamon toast, you put cinnamon on it.

But there is one great difference between these two types of toast and avocado toast.

There is a plethora of avocado toast recipes out there—some simple, others more complex

Why?!

Because avocado toast is a great jumping off point for your endless possibilities…a blank canvas for a plethora of flavorful seasonal toppings.

Healthy 5 Minute Avocado Toast

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The Bread

Sure…you could use any kind of bread you just happen to have on hand…

But our goal is not to just make avocado toast…Our goal is to make the PERFECT avocado toast.

So as you can probably figure out, ordinary bread makes ordinary avocado toast…great bread makes great avocado toast.

The best type of bread to use for avocado toast will provide a sturdy base and a crisp texture to contrast with the creamy texture of the avocado.

Look for a crusty, sturdy, thick-sliced, whole grain or sourdough bread that will offer the  best flavor and substance to hold all of your avocado and whatever other toppings that you choose.

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The Avocados

Just like the bread, the perfect avocado toast requires the perfect  avocados…ripe but not over-ripe Hass avocados that yield a bit to a gentle squeeze, but are not mushy or stringy on the inside.**************Classic Avocado Toast 2 slices of bread ½ large ripe avocado Salt and pepper to taste 2tsp lemon juice Optional ingredients

  • Toast the bread until browned and crisp. For an extra pop of flavor, lightly rub each slice of bread with the cut side of a halved garlic clove as soon as it comes out of the toaster. Lightly brush the toast with oil.
  • Mash the avocado directly on the toast…Mashing up your avocado will make it creamier and more luxurious.
  • Mash your avocado in a bowl before spreading it onto your toast, instead of trying to do on the surface of the bread. If you try to mash the avocado on top of the bread instead of a bowl, you could poke holes in your toast.
  • Cut the avocado in half. Remove the pit. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh into a bowl. Use a fork to  mash it up until mostly smooth with a few chunks. If the avocado is too chunky, the avocado will fall off of the toast. Top toasted bread with mashed  avocado mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle desired toppings on top.

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Options

Bacon and Eggs…1 egg, scrambled…1-2 pieces crispy bacon

Everything Bagel…carrot, peeled into ribbons…Everything seasoning…diced red onion…capers…chives

Goat Cheese and Chives…2Tbsp goat cheese, crumbled…1tsp chives

Roasted Chickpea & Harissa…roasted chickpeas…harissa…feta… microgreens

Smoked Salmon and Red Onions…2 thin sliced smoked salmon… 2Tbsp thinly sliced red onions

Sushi…cucumber, peeled into ribbons…pickled ginger…sesame seeds… scallions…sliced nori, optional

Tex-Mex…pico de gallo…Cotija cheese…pepitas…pickled red onions…cilantro

Tomato Basil…1/4C halved cherry tomatoes…2Tbsp basil vinaigrette

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Other Toppings to Consider

  • Bacon
  • Beans
  • Eggsfried, poached, or scrambled
  • Fresh greens…baby spinach, baby kale, arugula, mixed greens, sprouts, microgreens
  • Fresh herbs…basil, cilantro, parsley, dill
  • Fried egg or tofu
  • Hot sauce
  • Hummus
  • Jalapeno
  • Leftover roasted veggies
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Pesto
  • Pickled red onion
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Sliced veggies…cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, radish
  • Smoked salmon…(lox)
  • Spices…pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika
  • Tahini  

Let’s take a look at some fun options…

Avoid the Average Avocado — November 7, 2020

Avoid the Average Avocado

storing avocadosIf you are going to make above average food, you must first buy above average ingredients.

So let’s see what it takes to avoid your average avocado.

What should you look for when shopping for an avocado?

The avocados that you find in your typical grocery store are green and hard as rocks.

The characteristics that you should look for when you are shopping for above average avocados include…

  • An even, unblemished texture
  • Flesh that yields when pressed gently
  • Heavy for their size
  • No dents, blemishes, bruises or soft spots
  • Those with some space between the flesh and skin
  • Uniformly hard or soft over its entire surface

Two more points before moving on…plan on buying your avocados a few days before you use them and letting them ripen at home…(more on this later)…

And remember that it’s always better to choose a bright-green avocado that aren’t soft than an overripe one.

Soup’s On — November 2, 2020

Soup’s On

Having these nightly meals requires planning and thinking ahead…more so when you find our that your significant other has type 2 diabetes…the main thing I have learned this last year.

Fortunately this is also the time of year for one of my favorite things…

SOUP…

Soup is definitely the ultimate comfort food—both nourishing and warming to the body as well as the soul.

And soup can be made so many different ways—such as chicken noodle soup, vegetable beef stew, clam chowder—to name a few.

Regardless the type of being made, there are certain things to keep in mind as you add soup to your menu plan this winter…certain things that will always remain the same regardless the type of soup being made.

Soup is great this time of year also because as a chef, or at least as a cook, you can easily transform practically any ingredient into a delicious, satisfying meal that will allow to use  whatever ingredients you already have on hand and not have to get back in the cold now that the holidays are over.

In this next series of posts, we’ll look at the ingredients and method used to make a great pot of soup…much better soup than anything you could ever get out of a can or a box…

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere…You Can Even Use Them on Your Hair — October 31, 2020

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere…You Can Even Use Them on Your Hair

  • Hard to believe, but Halloween has already come and gone….and Thanksgiving and Christmas are just lurking around the corner. My, how this year has so quickly flown by.
    And for those of us who totally love SL, pumpkin Oreos, and anything else that has pumpkin flavoring in it, one of the most wonderful times of the year is drawing to a close as everything shifts from pumpkin to peppermint.
    But there are ways to enjoy that pumpkin vibe all year long.
    No, I’m not talking about the processed, packaged stuff that comes in a can and will probably be still sitting in your pantry this time next year, at least in time for holiday canned food drives.
    What I’m talking about is using pumpkin-scented health and beauty products and walking around smelling like you just carved, cooked, and ate The Great Pumpkin…smelling like pumpkin from head and shoulders…knees and toes.
    As far as the “beauty benefits” of pumpkins, pumpkins are packed with vitamins and minerals—such as the ones mentioned in the previous post Pumpkins…The
    Why?!
    Let’s take another look at a few of the nutrients contained in pumpkin, but this time from the view of what pumpkin can do for your skin and hair.

     

     

    Carotenoids…Carotenoids—such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene—are the antioxidants responsible for giving pumpkins their bright orange color. Pumpkins can help reverse UV damage and improve skin texture.

     

    Minerals…Minerals—such as potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and iron-that are found in pumpkin. Two of the important minerals as far as hair and skin are…

     

    Potassium…Potassium helps promote healthy hair and regrowth.

     

    Vitamin A…encourages hair growth

     

    Vitamin B…Pumpkin is a good source of most of the B vitamins—including niacin, riboflavin, B6 and folate. This makes pumpkin great for treating acne, improving circulation, and increasing cell turn over and renewal.

     

    Vitamin C…Vitamin C helps prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, promotes collagen production, and improves skin tone and elasticity….also strengthens hair follicles.

     

    Vitamin E…stimulates blood circulation in the scalp, which then promotes hair growth)

     

    Zinc,,,prevents and treats flaking, irritation, and itching scalp

Shampoo...Many companies have started adding pumpkin shampoo to their product lists claiming that the shampoo will help your hair grow, moisturize, and kill frizz. A few options to try that actually smell like pumpkin and might help with PSL withdrawals include…
  • Acure Organics Mega Moisture Shampoo
  • EcoLove Shampoo Orange Collection
  • Ecosevi Pumpkin Seed Shampoo
  • Good Earth Beauty Pumpkin Chai Restorative Shampoo.

 

 

 

Conditioner

As far as conditioner, one of your best options is to make your own. To make your own conditioner, combine the following ingredients…

  • 1/2C pumpkin puree
  • 1/4C yogurt
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil

A great store-bought option would be this conditioner by Sexy Hair Concepts.

 

Pumpkin Hair Serum…This hair serum helps you deal with dead ends and fly-away’ away hair.  The apricot seed oil is a lighter oil than the pumpkin oil and keeps the pumpkin oil from making your hair feel so “weighty.”

Here’s how…Combine one part pumpkin seed oil with two parts apricot seed oil. Lightly spritz water in your hair. Comb the pumpkin serum through your hair.

Pumpkin Hot Oil Treatment…Combine equal amounts of coconut oil and pumpkin puree. Heat on top of your oven over low heat. Let cool slightly. Apply to soaking wet hair, working from the ends to the roots. Wrap hair in a heot towel, Wait twenty minutes. Rinse well.

Pumpkin Oil Hair Vitamin Mist…Fill a spray bottle with two ounces of pumpkin seed oil and 1Tbsp coconut oil. Fill the bottle with distilled water. Shake before each use.

Pumpkin Puree Hair Mask…Believe it or not, the cinnamon that this hair mask contains is there not only because it makes the hair mask small awesome, cinnamon also helps with circulation and promotes better hair and scalp.

Mix together…

  • 1tsp argan oil
  • ½C pumpkin puree
    2tsp coconut or olive oil (unrefined)
    1tsp cinnamon
    1 Vitamin E capsule

Apply the concoction on your hair, making sure to cover your strands from tip to roots. Put on a shower cap to keep the goop from dripping all over while you wait. Wait at least 25 minutes before shampooing your hair. Use this mask once or twice a week to help make your hair soft, shiny and silky.

Pumpkin Seed Oil Hair Mask

1 Tbsp. pumpkin seed oil
1/2 apple puree
1 tbsp. shea butter
1 egg

Process half of the apple in your blender. Add shea butter and pumpkin seed oil. Whisk egg by itself. Stir the egg into the mixture. Apply to freshly washed hair. Leave in for twenty minutes. Rinse out.