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

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

How to Be a Smooth Operator

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Green Smoothie

So now that we know the health benefits of green smoothies, how do I make the perfect one…and what should I expect in the perfect one.

The perfect green smoothie is the perfect blended of your favorite fresh fruits and dark leafy greens…blended with the perfect textures and with no bitter flavors….giving you not only great flavor, but also optimal nutrients every time.

And making the perfect green smoothie is more of a method instead of an actual recipe….but let’s first talk about the ingredients….or perhaps a ratio—60% fruits to 40% leafy greens.

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THE GREENS

There are hundreds of types of greens out there–try any of them and mix things up to find flavor combinations you like. , any kind of green will work…All greens have nutrients and anti-nutrients…rotate your greens regularly….be cognizant of flavor when choosing your greens. Spinach will have a milder flavor, so you can get away with using quite a lot without running into taste issues; arugula, on the other hand, is quite spicy, so you might want to add in some other stronger flavors to balance that out…

  • arugula
  • collard greens
  • fresh herbs—such as cilantro, basil, parsley and mint
  • green cabbage
  • kale
  • mâche
  • microgreens
  • pea shoots
  • romaine
  • spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • mixture of any of the above

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THE FRUIT

Fruit gives your green smoothies extra nutrition, texture and flavor…not to mention the fact that adding fruit keeps your green smoothie from tasting like a smooshed-up blended salad.

Adding fruit to your your smoothie also means that you won’t need to add any artificial sweeteners, honey, agave nectar, or processed sugars…because fruit is naturally sweet.

Bananas or avocados are the secret to making perfectly sweet and creamy weapon smoothies….they also help bind together the rest of the ingredients…bananas are also sweeter than  most other fruit. Bananas are especially good if you have peeled and frozen them first.

Ice can be hard on your blender and will dilute your smoothie’s flavor.

You can either chop and freeze your own ripe fruit or berries, or buy the the packaged stuff…and by the way I just discovered that you can freeze your wilting package of greens by simply sticking it in your freezer…learn something new every day, right?

Use about 1C fruit per servingabout twice as much fruit as you have in liquid or greenspreferably frozen fruit because you never want to add ice to your smoothie.

Fruits that you might consider include…

  • apples
  • berries
  • lemons
  • limes
  • mango
  • oranges
  • peaches
  • pears
  • pineapple
  • pitted dates

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THE LIQUID

Obviously if you’re gonna make a green smoothie, or any smoothie, you will need some sort of liquid. You can try whatever liquid you like, but you might want to avoid sweetened liquids because the fruit will add enough sweetness on its own.

Use anywhere from 1/2C to 1C per serving.

A few options include…

buttermilk—not so sure about this, but great for making pancakes or biscuits…might have to try it

  • coconut water
  • cold brew coffee
  • cold brewed tea—especially mint tea or green tea
  • milk

  • nondairy milks—such as unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
  • “plain old water”

 

 

 

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THE EXTRAS

Now that we’ve talked about the three basic ingredients of a perfect smoothie—the greens, the fruit, and the liquid—let’s explore other optional ingredients and a few recipes for the different health benefits that green smoothies are helpful for.

Many of these ingredients will be for helping the smoothies taste better…others will be for getting additional health benefits…while some will do both.

Let’s brainstorm…

  • Bee pollen
  • Coconut oil
  • Cucumbers…cucumber have a high nutrition content, as well as a high water content…and the green peel is excellent for you
  • Fresh herbs—such as basil, cilantro, and thyme
  • Gelatin powder
  • Himalayan salt
  • Honey
  • Maca powder
  • Nuts—such as raw almonds or raw walnuts
  • Oats that have been soaked in water overnight, or at least for ten minutes
  • Oils—such as flax oil
  • Seeds—such as flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
  • Superfood powders—such as cacao, maca, and acai powder
  • Spices—such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne, chili powder, or some combination of these
  • Unsweetened protein powder
  • Vitamin C powder

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Conclusion

So by now, you have probably realized the countless ways to make green smoothies, not to mention smoothies in general…I sure have, especially after studying probabilities in order to take my GMAT in three weeks…

But don’t worry…in the next post we will be talking about how to make your green smoothie…and then looking at various smoothies that you might want to try, based on the specific health benefit you are considering at the given moment.

Beginning with Breakfast

Green Smoothies…The Why’s from A to Z