Fruits and Vegetables
Acorn squash is a type of winter squash that was named for its acorn-like shape. Acorn squash come in a variety of colors including: yellow, dark green, tan, and orange.
Apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and potassium.
Apricots are often crossed with plums to provide pluots (mostly plum), plumcots (equal plum and apricot) and apriums (mostly apricot).
Asparagus contains nutrients that help with eye, immune, skin and bone health. Asparagus contains more folic acid than any other vegetable! Just one 1/2 cup serving provides more than half of the daily recommended amount.
Avocados are best used raw, not cooked. Although it's technically a fruit, the mild-flavoured avocado is used as a vegetable. They're creamy texture is a great heallthy alternative to mayo on sandwiches.
Bananas may have been the world's first cultivated fruit. Archaeologists have found evidence of banana cultivation in New Guinea as far back as 8000 B.C.! Nearly all the bananas sold in stores are cloned from just one variety, the Cavendish banana plant, originally native to Southeast Asia.
Nothing beats the smell of fresh basil. Try this wonderful herb to add flavor to your dishes rather than added salt!
Beets are deep red, or white in color. Sugar is produced from one variety (Sugar Beets) and the red color is used in food coloring.
Bell peppers can be green, yellow, red or orange. They have more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice so snack on a pepper next time you're sick!
A purply black-coloured berry comprising many individual seed-containing fruits surrounding a cone-shaped core. Wonderfully juicy, they're good raw or cooked and are bursting with vitamin C. Wild, they're often called brambles.
It’s a classic in summer treat & favorite year-round yogurt and oatmeal toppers. Blueberries are well known for its antioxidant prowess and low calorie count.
Bok choy is also called Chinese cabbage and pak-choi and has been grown in China for more than 6,000 years! It can be eaten raw or cooked
Broccoli was first brought to the United States by Italian immigrants and became popular in the 1920s.
Broccoli rabe isn't actually related to broccoli. Instead, it's closely related to the turnip. And the best way to approach it is just as you would with bitter leafy greens, like mustard greens or turnip greens.
These little cabbages used to be the butt of jokes but today they are all the rage! Try them roasted or sauteed and you'll become a believer!
Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetables in existence and continues to be a dietary staple throughout the world.
Carrots can also be found in purple, white, red or yellow. Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.
Cauliflowers come aren't just white, they are also orange, green, and purple! Delicious raw, roasted, or sauted!
The unsung hero of the vegetable world, knobbly, odd-shaped celeriac has a subtle, celery-like flavour, with nutty overtones. Great mashed or roasted!
Did you know celery was used as ancient “bouquet of flowers”, to reward winners of athletic games in the Ancient Greece? Pretty, healthy, and delicious!
The title "cherry tomato" is generally conferred on any very small tomato—usually smaller than an inch across. Within the family of "cherry tomatoes" you will find pear tomatoes (small and pear-shaped), grape tomatoes (oval-shaped and 1/2-inch across or smaller), and the super tiny currant tomatoes no bigger than a pinkie nail.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Hummus is a popular item in store but there are many more uses to them than that!
There are almost 1000 different plants that have edible leaves or greens; such as: Spinach, collard greens, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, dandelion, and mustard collards are the oldest known green leafy vegetable, dating back to the ancient Greeks
The average ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in 16 rows. There is one piece of silk for each kernel. The United States is one of the leading corn producers inthe world.
A tart, ruby-red coloured berry which grows wild on shrubs throughout northern Europe and North America. High in vitamins C and D, potassium and iron they are believed to be a natural remedy for a host of health conditions. Cranberries come into their own around Christmas but are good for much more than accompanying the turkey. Their sour flavour lends itself well to both sweet and savoury dishes, as well as drinks.
These greens are PACKED with nutrients. Vitamin K, A, C, Calcium, Iron, & Omega 3's and 6's...They even help to boost digestion and can reduce swelling and inflammation! Pretty good for something we think of as a weed!
Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits - it's thought that they were a staple part of the Babylonian diet 8,000 years ago. Available fresh or dried, they're very sweet and a great alternative to processed sugar.They have a rich, deep flavour and a lush, slightly chewy texture. The mahogany brown Medjool variety is the sweetest, and tastes a little like toffee.
Easier to cut up than butternut squash, Delicata's delicious yellow meat can be roasted, baked, or steamed. It's good source of vitamins A and C.
Dino kale - also known as Tuscan kale, lacinato kale, black kale, or cavolo nero - is an incredibly hearty cooking green with dark almost blue-green or even black-green leaves and lots of earthy, nutty flavor. The leaves are so hearty that even when well-cooked they retain a wonderful firm texture, meaning they're great for braising or adding to stews.
This vegetable is called “eggplant” in three countries, the US, Australia, and Canada, because the first varieties of eggplants in those countries were smaller and were a white or yellow color and shaped like an egg!
Don't be intimidated by the fancy name! Escarole is high in vitamin A which studies have shown can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and cancer. It is also high in vitamin K which aids the body in blood clotting. In addition it contains significant amounts of folate, vitamin C, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, iron and antioxidants such as flavonoids and lutein.
Scent remind you of something? Fennel has a sweet taste that resembles anise and licorice! It's a rich source of dietary fibers, vitamins C, B9 and B6 and minerals such as potassium, manganese and phosphorus.
Figs have an oval or squat pear shape, and thin skin that encloses hundreds of seeds (actually miniature fruits themselves) held in a succulent, softly fibrous red or purple flesh. Figs are very delicate and need gentle handling. Great raw, in salads, poached or grilled. You can also buy them dried.
Fingerling potatoes can be used in many recipes that call for conventional potatoes. Their petite size and shape, however, makes them ideal for being halved and roasted, steamed, or baked.
Garlic: believed to ward off heart disease, cancer, colds, flu, and pesky vampires but is also just plain delicious and a great way to add flavor to dishes.
Green beans, also know as string beans, are one of the few varieties of beans eaten fresh.
Heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation. Colors can range from deep purple to bright red and even lime green with stripes. Shapes and sizes vary and they usually aren’t perfectly round. Because of their special traits, heirlooms are generally grown by smaller farms rather than large producers so look for them at your local farmers market!
A large winter squash, Hubbard Squash can be found in a variety of colors ranging from dark green to bright orange. Unlike summer squash (which are picked when immature and skins are tender), Hubbard Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten.
Jalapeño chillies range from moderately to very hot. Originating from South America, they are about 4cm long, dark green when young and scarlet when ripe, and are sold both fresh and tinned.
Kale has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable, and until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe.
Both dried and canned kidney beans are available throughout the year. Dried beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as in bulk bins. True to their name, these popular beans are kidney shaped and are especially good in simmered dishes where they absorb the flavors of seasonings and the other foods with which they are cooked.
The brown and hairy exterior of this egg-shaped fruit doesn't look promising, but inside it's a different story - sweet, yielding, bright green flesh, prettily dotted with black seeds. The flavor is distinctive but hard to pin down - some say it's like strawberry, others say pineapple.
Kohlrabi or cabbage turnip, tastes like a mixture of cucumber and mild broccoli. Baby kohlrabi can be as crisp and juicy as an apple. Bulbs can be purple or green, with white flesh. They can be eaten raw (like jicama) or cooked. Leaves can be cooked like collard greens.
Leeks have a sweet, mild, onion-like taste. It is rich source of dietary fibers, vitamins of the B-group, vitamins A, C and K and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium.
The lentil plant originates from Asia and North Africa and is one of our oldest sources of food. A cousin to the pea and a rich provider of protein and carbohydrates the lentil is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron and B vitamins – making it an important diet staple the world over.
Mizuna has a mild and tangy flavor. You will find the flavor of mizuna peppery-fresh but not overpowering. Mizuna is a spring to early summer green from the mustard family. Its leaves are finely dissected and glossy green on long, slender stems. The leaves look something like a dandelion green.
Mushrooms are used in many cuisines throughout the world and they are known as the "meat" of the vegetable world.
Mustard greens can be eaten raw or cooked–steamed, sautéed, or simmered. Prepare mustard greens like spinach, but expect a stronger flavor.
Napa cabbage is an Asian variety of cabbage that is barrel-shaped or elongated. Its delicate, puckered leaves are perfect for slaws, salads, stir-fries, and soups.
Like a peach without the fuzz, nectarines are available May-September, but their peak months are July and August!
Ridged along its length, the green, slightly fuzzy pod contains rows of edible seeds that release a thick, sticky liquid when chopped and cooked, which has led to it being used to thicken soup and stew recipes, such as Cajun gumbo, but it's also served whole as a side dish. Its flavour is quite subtle, so it benefits from being cooked with strong, spicy ingredients.
Wipe away those tears! One way to avoid tearing up is to cut them under running water, or while submerged in a basin of water. Onions not only provide flavor; they also provide health-promoting phytochemicals as well as nutrients!
Native to tropical America, papayas are a large fruit also known as paw-paws. They have vibrant pinky-orange flesh and a sweet, juicy flavour similar to peach. Though their grey shiny seeds are edible, they tend to be discarded.
It looks like large, white-colored carrot, but it has sweeter taste. Parsnips are a rich source of dietary fibers, vitamin C, B1, B6, B9, K and E and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium and copper
Patty Pan Squash
Pattypan squash are round, disc-like summer squash. They're also called scallop squash because of their scalloped edges. Pattypans can be as small as an inch in diameter (often sold as "baby" pattypan) and up to a few inches across. They can be bright yellow, white, dark green, or light green. Pattypans have a beguiling shape and buttery, mellow flavor.
Once fully ripened, persimmons' flesh softens to a satiny jelly. It is wonderfully textured and both taste and scent are delightfully rich and aromatic without being overpowering.
Plums are available May-September, but their peak months are July and August. The juiciest fruit in the stone fruit family, plums come in many different varieties, some sweet, some slightly more tart. All plums however have certain characteristics in common, with smooth, richly coloured skins and a hard central stone. Plums vary in hue from deep purple to red, yellow and green. The cloudy bloom on their skin is natural and isn't an indication of poor quality. All sweet dessert plums can be used for cooking, too.
Pumpkins are the most famous of all the winter squashes, and are most associated with Halloween lanterns. Inside the hard orange or yellow skin, the bright orange flesh is sweet and honied. They are a particularly good source of fibre, as well as a range of vitamins and minerals.
Radicchio looks like red cabbage. It's mainly used in salads, and its bitter flavour contrasts well with milder leaves such as rocket. The leaves themselves are tender but the heads are sturdy enough to be cut and grilled.
Half a cup of sliced radishes is only 10 calories. They are a good source of vitamin C and contain small amounts of other nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin B6, folic acid, potassium and calcium as well.
Raspberries come in all sorts of colours, they can be red, purple, gold or black in color.
Because of their waxy texture, the flesh of red potatoes stays firm throughout the cooking process, whether they are being roasted or cooked in a stew. Their thin yet vibrant red skin adds appealing color and texture to side dishes and salads.Reds are frequently used to make tender yet firm potato salad or add pizazz to soups and stews, as well as being served baked or mashed. Round reds are often referred to as “new potatoes.”
Red Russian Kale
This kale is a very popular. While the leaves are delicious, Russian kale has incredibly tough, woody stems, so be sure to remove as much of them as possible before cooking.
Botanically, rhubarb is a vegetable (it's related to sorrel and dock) but its thick, fleshy stalks are treated as a fruit, despite their tart flavour.
Romaine lettuce is the most upright growing of all lettuce types. Its heavily ridged leaves grow erectly and tightly to form an elongated head. Its outer leaves, rich in chlorophyl have lime colors while its inner leaves are yellow to creamy. Its blanched heart becomes translucent white at its core. Its leaves are substantial, crunchy and succulent with a mild flavor that allows Romaine lettuce to be a very versatile culinary green and multipurpose ingredient in the kitchen.
The average American eats approximately 126 pounds of potatoes each year...don't let this vegetable just be french fries!
Rutabagas, known as swedes in much of the world, are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, and a good source of fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
The flavour of a shallot is much milder and sweeter than that of an onion, so if a recipe specifies shallots, substituting onions won't give the same results. Their lower water content means they need to be cooked more gently than onions.
Popeye wasn't kidding--a half cup of cooked spinach contains 10% of your daily recommended value of iron. Iron facilitates the transport of iron to working muscles. This means increased energy and physical endurance– a necessity for athletes!
Peas are at their height of sweetness right after they are harvested. As soon as the pods are picked from the plants, the sugars in the peas start to transform into starch. To preserve flavor, peas are frozen within 3 hours from the time of harvest.
One of the rock stars of the root crops. Sweet Potatoes are highly nutritious and a good source of Vitamins A, C and the B-complex vitamins, as well as antioxidants.
The nutritional profile of Swiss chard is stunning and rivals its much-heralded cousin, kale. One serving contains more than 600% of your daily requirement for vitamin K, 60% of your vitamin A, 38% of your magnesium, 10% of your calcium and much more!
The Aztecs are credited with domesticating the tomatillo. To this day, this peculiar fruit is a constant component of the Mexican and Guatemalan diet. Traditionally tomatillos are combined with chili peppers to make sauces, with the coolness of the tomatillo balancing out the hot flavor of the pepper.
Turnips are a good source of vitamin C. Before the arrival of the potato, turnips were one of the main sources of food for the English peasantry!
Yellow (summer) Squash
The summer squash originates from Mexico and Central America. Scientists have found summer squash seeds preserved in Mexican caves that are over 10,000 years old! Summer squash is a versatile vegetable that can be grilled, boiled, sautéed, steamed, or used in a stir-fry.
This winter, a dynamic group of seniors at the Magnarelli Center in McChesney Park participated in the “Eat Smart Live Strong” program. Each Tuesday, for six weeks, seniors learned about healthy eating and active living and worked together to prepare a healthy meal at the Magnarelli Center.
Anita Bono & Amie Chambers