I know onions and I know garlic but I really don’t know leeks.
How about you? What do you know about leeks?
“Leeks look like flowers or shrubs but are actually vegetables. Leeks are related to chives, shallots, and onions. Unlike its cousin onion, leeks have stalks instead of bulbs. Leeks are quite easy to grow and are resilient. These vegetables can withstand harsh weather conditions. Leeks are indigenous to the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Leeks are hard and crunchy. The only edible part of the vegetable is its stalk, which is just above the roots and stem base.”
DO YOU KNOW? Leeks are part of a group of vegetables called Allium.
“There is nary a cuisine that doesn’t include allium vegetables. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and scallions are all members of the Alliumgenus, and are fundamental to so many dishes that cooking without them would be challenging. Although rich in flavor, they seem to disappear in many sauces, stews, and soups, and it can be easy to forget their presence, unless you were the one tearing up while chopping them. Yet these humble flowering plants pack a nutrient punch.
A wide array of sulfur compounds gives onions, garlic, and other alliums their characteristic taste, smell, and tear-inducing pungency as well as their many health benefits, including cardiovascular protection, anti-cancer activity, lowering blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, and providing anti-clotting benefits. Alliums also contain polyphenols, including the flavonoid quercetin, which along with many of the sulfur compounds have important anti-inflammatory effects.
To maximize the concentration of beneficial sulfur compounds, allow chopped onions, crushed or minced garlic, sliced leeks, or other alliums to sit for a few minutes before cooking or adding to an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. This allows the enzymes released when the alliums’ cells are broken to more completely react with sulfur-containing molecules and convert them to beneficial forms.”
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks are a good source of dietary fiber.
Leeks provide 4% to 5% of our daily fiber needs. Fiber is important to our gut health.
DID YOU KNOW? Carbohydrates are one of the most abundant macronutrients in leeks.
“A medium-sized leek provides about 10-12 gms of carbohydrates. Out of these, 3 gms are sugars and the rest is complex, slow-digesting carbohydrate. Leeks are also a good source of fiber which is a non-digestible form of carbohydrate. This fiber aids in digestion and helps prevent certain cancers and heart diseases.”
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks are good for your skin.
They detoxify and protect against the sun.
“Detoxifies Your Skin:
Leeks are a natural diuretic and detoxify your skin by trapping harmful substances and flushing them out of your body. They perfectly cleanse your body, making your skin look radiant.
The green leaves of leek contain 100 times more beta-carotene and twice as much vitamin C as in the white parts. This combination of vitamins A, C and E as well as other powerful antioxidants in leeks protects your skin against damage by free radicals and harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.”
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were especially revered for their beneficial effect upon the throat.
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks are very high in vitamin K and are high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C, and they have many other vitamins and minerals.
I don’t know about you, but I was surprised to learn what I just did but also to read that eating leeks are good for my skin and throat. I’ve never thought of eating leeks but now I am intrigued and up for the challenge to learn more and to cook with them. I am also looking forward to sharing with you my leek journey.
Broccoli has always been a go-to staple for me. Why? I am not really sure, except I always remember it as a vegetable on my plate as a child, as one of the main sides in many frozen meals, as a main player on the vegetable tray, and as a holiday staple.
I love to cook with broccoli. I also love it in my salads, as a snack, warm side, or part of soup or chili.
Do you eat broccoli? When you eat broccoli is it raw, cooked, covered in dressing/dip, or part of soup? Do you like broccoli? Do you know if broccoli is good for you? Do you know why it is good for you?
DID YOU KNOW? Broccoli is green and purple.
“Purple sprouting broccoli has been cultivated since Roman times. As the name suggests, purple sprouting gets its name from the purple color of the head of the plant. Part of the reason it has become popular is due to the mild flavor.”
“Purple broccoli is also called broccoli of Sicily, and is very similar to common broccoli, except that the trusses have a purple color and are smaller, but its flavor is the same as that for traditional broccoli.”
DID YOU KNOW? Broccoli has fiber.
“A cup of raw broccoli has 2.4 grams of fiber. That translates to about 9 percent of the 28 grams of fiber women under the age of 30 need each day and almost 10 percent of the 25 grams women over the age of 30 require each day. It’s 7 percent of the 34 grams of fiber men under the age of 30 should have each day and about 6 percent of the 31 grams men older than 30 need daily.”
“One cup of cooked broccoli contains about 5 grams of dietary fiber. In fact, lightly steaming broccoli helps preserve its nutritional content, the Bastyr Center for Natural Health notes.”
Broccoli is a good source of both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber that our bodies need.
DID YOU KNOW? Calabrese is the most common variety of broccoli.
“Calabrese broccoli is the most common type you’ll see in the United States – both in grocery stores and gardens. This is the broccoli you think of when you hear the word “broccoli”, with bushy florets and a bluish-green hue. Calabrese is of Italian origin, named for its place of origin, Calabria, and has been one of the most commonly-grown vegetables since.”
DID YOU KNOW? Broccoli is also a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A.
“Want something high in Vitamin C but don’t feel like eating fruit? Broccoli is very high in Vitamin C, making 1 cup of chopped broccoli the Vitamin C equivalent of an orange. One cup of raw chopped broccoli will give you your entire daily needed intake.
Broccoli is also very high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps fight cancer within your cells, as well as keep your eyes healthy and stave off glaucoma and other eye degenerative diseases. It also helps to promote healthy skin, break down urinary stones (a big issue with the summer heat and dehydration) and maintain healthy bones and teeth.”
DID YOU KNOW? Thomas Jefferson was a fan of broccoli.
“Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was a fan of broccoli, importing the seeds from Italy to plant at Monticello. He recorded planting the vegetable there as early as May of 1767. However, it did not become popular in the US until the 1920s.
Broccoli originated in Italy off of the Mediterranean. It has been eaten there since the time of the ancient Romans in the 6th Century BC.”
DID YOU KNOW? Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family.
“Broccoli’s name is derived from the Italian word broccolo, meaning the flowering top of a cabbage, and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning “small nail” or “sprout.”
DID YOU KNOW?
“There is no sign for broccoli in American Sign Language (you just have to spell it out).
California is responsible for 90 percent of the broccoli grown in the United States.
China is the world’s largest broccoli producer, producing more than 8 million tons of the vegetable every year.
Broccoli was once known as Italian asparagus before finding its current name, which root lies in the Latin for “arm.”
The little florets of broccoli are buds ready to bloom: when left unharvested, broccoli will burst into a bunch of yellow flowers.”
DID YOU KNOW? Broccoli is a nutrient powerhouse, helps with digestion, great for your heart, great for your bones, and a cancer-fighter.
“Broccoli is packed full of phytochemicals and antioxidants, including more vitamin C than an orange, more than 200 mg of potassium in just a half-cup serving, an unusually strong combination of vitamin A and vitamin K, and even a decent amount of protein (about 4 grams!).
If you’re facing digestive issues, broccoli’s fiber content may help. Just a cup of cooked broccoli contains 21 percent of your daily value of fiber. And the mere process of digesting broccoli sprouts has been proven to support the defensive system against oxidative stress in the colon.
Several different studies on flavonoid-rich foods have shown that while there is no across-the-board benefit of flavonoids when it comes to cardiovascular disease, several studies have shown that broccoli is an outlier: one study found that broccoli, along with tea and apples, had an inverse association with risk for cardiovascular disease in women, and another 1999 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that while flavonoid intake did not lower risk of cardiovascular disease in menopausal women, broccoli consumption did.
Not only does broccoli contain calcium, it also contains all-important vitamin K, which improves the absorption of calcium, making it a double-hitter against bone diseases. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends that those at risk for osteoporosis up their intake of broccoli to prevent or even reverse the damage.
The negative link between broccoli and cancer has been studied extensively, due in large part to the presence of sulforaphane. Aside from its DNA protection, sulforaphane fights cancer at all stages.
“Sulforaphane can attack cancer cells before they even begin to metastasize,” says Goldstein, who also notes that the compound can inhibit the enzyme deacetylase, which is involved in the progression of cancer cells.
To take even better advantage of this, you may want to seek out a specially engineered broccoli, a “super broccoli” that Justice says contains two to three times more glucoraphanin than regular broccoli. But don’t worry — it’s not a GMO.
A 2013 study also looked into the ways in which this compound could be used to target cancer stem cells with staggering results. Suffice to say, broccoli should be a big part of any anti-carcinogenic diet.”
DID YOU KNOW? There are many yummy recipes for broccoli.
Broccoli is more than a veggie side; it can be a whole meal or a flavorful way to dress up any meal, even a Thanksgiving or Holiday meal. For some fun recipes, check out Cooking with Grams.
How do you take something bland tasting, and turn it into something yummy?
The key is to incorporate salt, acid and heat in a balanced way.
This lemon broccoli recipe will show you how to do just that.
Grams + Hoki
1 broccoli crown (serves 2-3 people)
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt + pepper
1. Wash the broccoli
2. Cut up the stems
3. Add into a bowl
4. Top with minced garlic
5. Mix in olive oil, salt & pepper
6. Bake the oven to 400F
7. Place the broccoli on the baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes
8. When ready, drizzle with lemon juice
Carrots are something I’ve always associated with good eye health. I love them as a crunch snack but admit they get a little boring. To spice it up, I will eat them with hummus. Yet, I love them in my salads and winter soups.
What do you associate with carrots? Is it a food you eat? Is it a go to food?
DID YOU KNOW? Carrots come in a rainbow of colors.
Until last year, I had never eaten a carrot that wasn’t orange. When I saw purple carrots, I was intrigued because purple is one of my favorite colors. Even though I started eating the colorful carrots, I didn’t really think about what each carrot offered.
DID YOU KNOW? Each carrot color offers something different for our bodies.
“Orange: contain beta carotene, with some alpha-carotene, both of which are orange pigments. The body converts the high content beta carotene into Vitamin A, essential to the immune system for general well-being and healthy eyes.
Purple: (are usually orange inside) get their pigment from an entirely different class, the anthocyanins. These pigments act as very powerful antioxidants, grabbing and holding onto harmful free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting.
Red: contain lycopene (another form of carotene), a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon; lycopene helps in the fight against heart disease and some cancers, including prostate cancer.
Yellow: contain xanthophylls, pigments similar to orange beta carotene, which help develop healthy eyes and aid in the fight against macular degeneration. They may also be useful in preventing tumors associated with lung and other cancers.
White: The nutrients don’t come from the pigment but from the fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.”
DID YOU KNOW? Carrots originated in Europe, the Middle and Far East, Turkey, China, India, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
“Orange carrots originate from Europe and the Middle East. Yellow carrots came from the Middle East.
Red carrots were originally from India and China.
Purple carrots originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.
White carrots originate from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.”
DID YOU KNOW? Carrots have fiber.
“The carrot (Daucus carota) is a root vegetable that is often claimed to be the perfect health food.
It is crunchy, tasty and highly nutritious. Carrots are a particularly good source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.”
DID YOU KNOW? Fiber leads to good gut health.
“Pectin is the main form of soluble fiber in carrots.
Soluble fibers can lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of sugar and starch.
They can also feed the friendly bacteria in the gut, which may lead to improved health and decreased risk of disease.
Certain soluble fibers can also impair the absorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract, lowering blood cholesterol.
The main insoluble fibers in carrots are in the form of cellulose, but also hemicellulose and lignin.
Insoluble fibers reduce the risk of constipation and promote regular and healthy bowel movements.”
DID YOU KNOW? Carrots are a weight loss friendly food and have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved eye health.
DID YOU KNOW? You can leave them in the ground all winter.
While so many wimpy vegetables need to be plucked and dug up, the mighty carrot can freeze itself happily in the ground. “After the carrots have had a light frost you cover them with about a foot of leaf mulch, which acts like insulation to prevent the ground and the carrots from freezing solid,” says farmer Toby Fischer of Ro-Jo Farms in Bethany, Connecticut. “You can either over-winter carrots and harvest them in the spring, or continuously harvest them throughout the winter months.” And when you do this, the carrot’s sugars get more concentrated and the result is a super tasty, sweet vegetable that anybody who loves dessert will be excited to eat.
DID YOU KNOW? Carrots are made up of 88 percent water. DID YOU KNOW? Cooking carrots is better for you than eating raw carrots.
“As the most popular and widely grown member of the apiaceae family, you want to respect the vegetable. This is why you should get the most out of each bite by cooking them. This releases the hidden pockets of good-for-you beta-carotene. In fact, eating carrots raw only gives you three percent of this substance, but when you heat them up they release closer to 40 percent.”
DID YOU KNOW? There are several varieties of carrots.
“In some instances, the varieties of carrots are divided into categories based on their shape. There are four different carrot types that include Danvers, Nantes, Imperator, Chantenay and Ball (or Mini).”
“And according to William Weaver there are nine that include:
‘Golden Ball’ Carrot
‘Oxheart’ or ‘Guérande’ Carrot
Carrots are in season.
But they can be quite boring on their own.
So here is a zesty and delicious recipe for an easy carrot salad.
You will love its flavors, and the fact that it takes only minutes to make.
Grams + Hoki
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of mayo
salt & pepper
1. Chop ends off the carrots.
2. Half the apple, and take out the seeds.
3. Chop ends off the garlic clove and take off the skin.
4. Grate the carrots, apple and garlic.
5. Mix all three in a bowl.
6. Squeeze the lime and add the juice to the mix.
7. Scoop in two tablespoons of mayo.
8. Add salt & pepper to taste.
How often when you eat, do you look at your food and connect it with vitamins, minerals or health? How often do you think about where your food comes from – how far it has traveled?
Did you know that brussels sprouts have vitamin C?
Did you know that Brussels sprouts provide 74.8 mg of vitamin C?
Did you know we need 65 to 90 mg of vitamin C a day?
That means that brussels sprouts provide almost all the Vitamin C we need and they are yummy, so much better than swallowing a vitamin with no taste.
I am amazed daily at the nutrients nature provides, not only seasonally, but locally and monthly through fruits and vegetables (grains and nuts and herbs). Every month nature provides us with what our bodies need to stay healthy, have energy, stay hydrated, and have good gut health, just to name a few. Vitamin C is a vitamin that helps our immune system and keeps our tissues repaired and growing.
In today’s world we are inundated with messages on these vitamins to take or this pill to take or this diet to eat because it is healthy, or not to eat because it isn’t healthy, and arguably all are focused on making our bodies run properly and us feeling good.
We hear “if you are constipated take x but then we hear – look out for all y side effects ….” and we have come to accept as normal that side effects are just part of life if we want to be thin, look and feel healthy, have energy or be hydrated. But, why have we accepted this? Do you know? Do you find it strange that instead of us getting healthier, following all the advice in the world given to us by companies through marketing/feel good commercials, that we are becoming less healthy?
Why are we becoming less healthy? Why are we hurting more, tired all the time, heavier, angrier? Is it all politics? Or is some of it lifestyle? Or is it a lack of nutrients? Or is it a lack of exercise?
I became more aware of how my body and food interacted when I took 6 weeks to try something I had never tried before – buying, preparing and eating food – not processed food – but raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and herbs. Before I did this, I started at a young age looking for the quick fixes to being thin (p.s. I was thin but I thought I wasn’t) and because of that my focus morphed to quick fixes for all day energy, still being thin, having good skin, being hydrated and through all my trials and tribulations of this diet or this fad, it wasn’t until I ate organic raw food (either in raw form or in the meals I made) that I noticed side effects that included energy, no more body aches, no more headaches, hydrated skin, and gut health (normal poop and digestion).
I use to have these horrible headaches that started in my shoulders. I did everything to find a solution, moved my computer, got a better chair, bought glasses so I wouldn’t see the computer glare, exercised, stretched, paid attention to my posture, walked flat on my feet, but nothing.
Every few days I would take Aleve but I hated taking it because I’d become dehydrated and because I simply hated putting something foreign in my body. Yet I had never thought of how foreign processed food was and yet I was putting that in my body all of the time.
In 2013, I decided I wanted to cook. I took 6 weeks and ate only foods that were raw or raw foods made into meals. The first two weeks I ate so many avocados and so much food I was convinced my scale would show I gained weight. But I never gained a pound and what I came to learn is that I had starved my body for so long of the vitamins and nutrients it needed that when I finally fed it, my body was starving.
Today, usually around the holidays, I will eat candy or processed foods but it is rare because my body immediately reacts to it, usually through constipation or heartburn or I feel the need to burp a lot or I have terrible headaches and body aches or a knot in my muscle. This doesn’t mean I don’t eat chocolate or cookies, it just means that when I do, it is organic.
Food is important and so is exercise. Exercise has never been a problem for me. I have always exercised and you need both for your body. Today I do more biking, swimming and yoga and less tennis, soccer and running. Food and exercise lets me connect to my body.
I love food. And I love cooking. I no longer see cooking as a task that I do not have time for. And as I continue on this journey, I am discovering a treasure trove of information and am learning about fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, grains that I never knew before. And I hope that as you share this journey with us, that you too are finding a love for food. And I also hope you will share your journey in the comments or through questions or sharing a story. I’d love to hear from you.
DID YOU KNOW?
“Brussels sprouts are named after Brussels, the capital of Belgium where they were a popular 16th century crop.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Brussels sprout was introduced to North America by 18th century French settlers in Louisiana.
DID YOU KNOW?
The U.S. produces 70 million pounds of sprouts each year.
DID YOU KNOW?
The sulforaphane that gives Brussels sprouts their unique flavor also helps lower cancer risks.
DID YOU KNOW?
Brussels sprouts contain zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that’s considered important to eye health.
DID YOU KNOW?
A little less than one ounce of these vegetables provides 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.
DID YOU KNOW?
Brussels sprouts are only 26 calories per cup.
DID YOU KNOW?
One 80-gram serving of Brussels sprouts delivers four times more vitamin C than an orange.
DID YOU KNOW?
Steam-cooking fresh Brussels sprouts actually enhances their cholesterol-lowering powers.”
Today is all about peppers!
See how many you can answer without looking at the answer key!
DO YOU KNOW:
How many varieties/types/species of peppers there are?
f. b and e
g. a and c
h. all of the above
DO YOU KNOW:
What family the bell pepper is in?
a. Capsicum Chinense
b. Capsicum Pubescens
c. Capsicum Annuum
d. Capsicum Frutescens
e. Capsicum Baccatum DO YOU KNOW:
Where the bell pepper is native to?
DO YOU KNOW:
True or False – the green bell pepper is ripe?
DO YOU KNOW:
True or False – peppers are a good source of Vitamin C?
DO YOU KNOW:
True or False – red peppers are fruits, are sweeter than green peppers and have more vitamin C than a green pepper?
So much interesting information. I can spend hours researching and actually lose time because I find this information fascinating and educational. Corny and nerdy but I love food and especially learning about fruits and vegetables, something I’ve not given a lot of thought to before.
DID YOU KNOW:
As bell peppers mature, their sugar and nutritional content also increase. Although green peppers might be crunchier, you can make your dishes sweeter and healthier with the brighter-colored red bell pepper. In addition to providing more Vitamins A and C, it contains the antioxidant lycopene, a nutrient not found in the green bell pepper.
DID YOU KNOW:
The bell pepper tops the list of foods with the highest levels of Vitamin C. A large red pepper provides more than 300% of your daily requirement of the nutrient; and has three times more Vitamin C than an orange.
How many of the quiz questions were you able to answer without researching or looking at the key? How many of the facts did you know before this article?
Until I researched for this article, I didn’t know the answers to the above. Bell peppers are another fruit (vegetable because that is how I have always thought of them) that I had an inkling were good for me but I didn’t know why. Now that I do, eating them will be even more enjoyable. I plan on stuffing as many as I can.
As we are following seasonal vegetables, the type of dishes and recipes we make keep expanding. This time we tried something out of the ordinary.
This is not a typical Azerbaijani dish what so ever, in fact, I found this idea online.
Giving yourself the freedom to try new things and enjoying the results (even if they are not perfect), is an essential part of living a life that is curious and fun!
In the process we get sparks of new ideas, expediting the wins. For me that idea was: “Why not ask the readers to share their favorite recipes?”, so that’s what we’ll do.
If you have any delicious seasonal dishes, tell us about them and share their recipe.
Enjoy this dish and tell us what you thought.
Maybe you have ideas for improvements?
Grams + Hoki
– 1/2 cup of quinoa
– one cup of shredded cheese (your preference)
– two peppers
– cook mushrooms with onion
– pesto (prepared, your choice)
– salt & pepper
– cooking oil (your choice)
1. boil water in a pot
2. add quinoa when boiling
3. add salt and mix until water is absorbed
4. place ready quinoa in a bowl
5. mix in prepared mushrooms and onions
6. top with pesto
7. chop and add the tomato
8. half the peppers and place on baking sheet
9. spoon in the ingredient and sprinkle the cheese
10. place in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes