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In Season for February
Matters of the heart are always important, but especially so during the month of February. Not only is there Valentine's Day to think about, February is also American Heart Month. This is a good time to evaluate your food choices and the impact they may have on your heart. Fresh, in season fruits and vegetables are among the best choices you can make for your heart health.
To keep asparagus fresh, cut 1/2 inch off of the base of the stalk and stand the asparagus upright in an inch of warm water (do not let the tips soak in water!). This will also revive asparagus that looks wilted and limp. For an elegant appetizer or spring salad, steam asparagus, sprinkle with red wine or Balsamic vinegar and refrigerate. When ready to serve, top with chopped toasted almonds.
Trivia:Today's asparagus has been bred from wild plants that were native to western and central Asia and central Europe. Asparagus has always been considered a luxury vegetable, highly prized in ancient Rome, Egypt and Greece. In Europe, its popularity flourished under the reign of Louis XIV of France, a devotee who encouraged its production.
Tips:To keep asparagus fresh, cut 1/2 inch off of the base of the stalk and stand the asparagus upright in an inch of warm water (do not let the tips soak in water!). This will also revive asparagus that looks wilted and limp.|For an elegant appetizer or spring salad, steam asparagus, sprinkle with red wine or Balsamic vinegar and refrigerate. When ready to serve, top with chopped toasted almonds.
Broccoli is one of the most healthful foods you can eat. It is packed with a rich supply of important vitamins and nutrients and it contains the phytochemical sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of cancer. Fresh, in season broccoli should have a crisp texture and clean, refreshing flavor. It is delicious lightly steamed and sprinkled with lemon pepper.
- • Grilled Whitefish with Dijon Mustard Crust
- • Chicken and Broccoli with Noodles
- • Mini Broccoli Cheddar Quiche
Trivia:Broccoli, a member of the mustard family, was known to early colonists who brought it from Europe where it originated in the wild form around the Mediterranean.
Tips:Don't make the mistake of discarding the broccoli stalk. Even the thickest stalk can be used and is quite delicious. Simply peel the outside skin from the stalk and cook as you would the rest of the broccoli. Cutting the stalks into thin slices and adding to stir-fry makes a great star-shaped addition to the appearance and texture of your meal.
Brussels sprouts pack plenty of nutritional value into a small package. They contain the cancer-fighting qualities of other cruciferous vegetables, along with good amounts of folate (folic acid), potassium, vitamin K, and a small amount of beta-carotene. Brussels sprouts are a delicious addition to stews and pot roasts.
Trivia:Brussels sprouts, a member of the mustard family, are native to Europe.| Brussels sprouts were cultivated and developed primarily by the French and the Belgians who provided the name.
Collards are one of the milder greens with a pleasantly bitter flavor thatis somewhere between cabbage and kale. They are rich in beta-carotene and supply a good amount of folate (folic acid)--a disease-fighting B vitamin--and a substantial amount of calcium.
Super nutritious, with a clean flavor that is tart, yet sweet, pink grapefruits make a great snack. They are also excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.The three major types of grapefruit include white, pink/red and Star Ruby/Rio Red. Each variety has it's own unique flavor nuances, but they all have a clean refreshing, sweet-tart flavor. Grapefruits are traditionally halved, then eaten with a spoon, but they can also be peeled or sliced and eaten like an orange. Grapefruits are excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.
Trivia:The principal ancestor of this subtropical evergreen was called pomelo, brought by a captain Shaddock to Barbados from the Malay Archipelago. The pomelo fruit, borne in clusters that gave rise to the name grapefruit, was also called shaddock, and is quite different from the grapefruit we know today. | In the mid-1700's, grapefruit was called, "Forbidden Fruit." |The West Indies were the point of origin for grapefruit, probably as a cross between the pomelo and an orange. It came to Florida in 1840 where a seedless fruit was found fifty years later and propagated to give us the Marsh Seedless variety.
Tips:Grapefruit keeps at room temperature for at least a week. For longer storage, refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the covered vegetable crisper.
Leeks have a milder and sweeter flavor than onions and a crunchy texture when cooked, making them a delicious side dish served on their own. Leeks are surprisingly nutritious, supplying more vitamins and minerals than an equal-sized serving of onions or scallions.
- • Mexican Stuffed Tomatoes
- • Nutty Sweet Blue Cheese & Date Spread
- • Lemon-Pepper Ribeye Steaks with Roasted Tomatoes
Trivia:The word lemon is believed to have been derived from Asian language words meaning, "sour" or "sour fruit."| By the year 1299, the Mongolians had invented lemonade. The Crusades transplanted lemons to Europe, and Columbus is credited with bringing them to the Western Hemisphere on his second voyage. Wild lemon groves became commonplace in Florida until wiped out by a heavy freeze in 1894-95, after which there was very little replanting. California fruit growers then adopted the crop, with great impetus from the Gold Rush. Miners were willing to pay $1 (almost $20, in today's dollars) each for lemons and oranges as a preventative for scurvy (due to their high vitamin C content).
Tips:To get the most juice from a lemon, first bring the fruit to room temperature and roll on a hard surface while pressing down on the lemon - or - Microwave for 30 seconds to increase juice content. |Use lemon juice on apples and avocados to prevent browning after they are sliced.|Lemon juice can remove odors from hands, pots and pans by rubbing with a cut lemon just before washing. Also, run used lemon peels through your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh.
While tangerines and mandarins have different names, they are both actually mandarins There are several varieties, the most popular being Dancy Tangerines, Fairchild Tangerines, Honey Mandarins, Satsuma Mandarins, Royal Mandarins and Clementines. Each variety has its own special characteristics, but all are small to medium in size, with few seeds and thin skin that is loose and easy to peel, making them a perfect snack for adults and kids alike.
The Moro Orange, also known as the Blood Orange, has an unassuming orange exterior, with pale to deep red flesh inside. With an earthy papaya fragrance and a rich, tart plum flavor, these unique fruits taste as exotic as they look. Their striking jewel-like red color makes them a great choice for garnish and in recipes where presentation is key.
The pummelo is the largest citrus fruit, ranging from the size of a small cantaloupe, to the size of a basketball. The skin is generally green, with an exceptionally thick pith, and the flesh is pale yellow to pink in color. The pummelo is part of the grapefruit family, but the flesh is drier, more mildly flavored, and more aromatic than a grapefruit.
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The yellow or orange flesh of winter squashes is darker than that of summer varieties, and it is more nutritious, richer in complex carbohydrates and, in many cases, beta-carotene. Winter squashes come in a rainbow of earthy colors, and more shapes, sizes, tastes, and textures than you can count. Winter squash is nearing the end of the season, so enjoy it while you can.
- • Chunky Three-Bean Chili
- • Pork and Pasta Skillet Supper
- • Maple-Glazed Rib Roast with Roasted Acorn Squash
Trivia:The Massachusett Indian word for "eaten raw" is "Askutasquash." An important Indian food, few white men shared the desire to eat squash raw, until the past few years when raw summer squash types began to appear in salads.| Squash was unknown in Europe until early explorers returned from America with squash seeds.
Tangelo The tangelo is a tangerine-grapefruit hybrid that looks quite similar in size and color to an orange! Like a tangerine, they have a loose, easy to peel skin with few seeds, and very juicy flesh. The flavor is fresh and tangy like a grapefruit, but features some of the sweetness of thetangerine.
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This is the perfect time of the year to enjoy fresh turnips. Turnips are from the same family of vegetables as broccoli, cabbage, andsprouts, and they offer many of the same health benefits as thesevegetables. Add them to pot roast or stew, or try them roasted in the oven.
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