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Archive for February, 2009

pears4Hands down, the healthiest thing about pears is their high fiber content.  A medium-size Bartlett pear has about 4 grams of fiber.  Better yet, pears pack a 50-50 blend of the two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.  The soluble fiber in pears, called pectin, may help lower cholesterol levels by removing cholesterol out of your blood.  It also helps block the fat and cholesterol in your foods from getting to the inside wall of the intestine where it would be absorbed into the blood stream.  Lignin, the insoluble fiber in pears helps bulk up the stools and makes them pass through the intestines faster, possibly reducing the risk of colon cancer. 

 

And please don’t peel your pear!  Almost all of the important antioxidants that pears have to offer are in the skin. 

 

Here are the five most common pears:

  • Anjou – Egg-shaped and green when ripe.
  • Yellow Bartlett – Sweet and aromatic, turns from green to yellow when ripe.
  • Red Bartlett – Dark red to bright red when ripe and very sweet.
  • Bosc – Ideal for cooking and baking, it is an earthy brown color
  • Seckel – Maroon and olive green – it is about half the size of an Anjou.

 

A pear is ripe when you can press your thumb into the pear and it yields slightly to the pressure.  Most supermarket pears are about 1 to 3 days from being ripe. 

 

Try these ways to include pears into your diet!

  • Add sliced pears to your salad.  Drizzling pears with lemon juice will keep them from browning.
  • Add slices of pears to your vegetable tray.
  • Top a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and pear slices.
  • Bake pear halves with ham or pork during the last 15 minutes of cooking, basting them with juices from the meat.  Serve as a side dish. 

 

Taken from:  The Giant Book of Kitchen Counter Cures;  Karen Cicero and Colleen Pierre, M.S., R.D.

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Eat A RainbowVegetables and fruits contain special disease-fighting compounds called phytochemicals and antioxidants that help fight cell damage in the body which can lead to diseases like cancer and heart disease.  They also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals which are important to keep our bodies functioning properly.  For the biggest protective punch, serve yourself and your kids a variety of different colored vegetables and fruits every day, because each color has its own unique phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals! 

 

Red – Tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, grapes, cherries, red onions, apples, radishes, cranberries, red potatoes.

These fruits and vegetables are good sources of the antioxidants vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the phytochemical lycopene. Lycopene is thought to lower the risk of developing some cancers, including stomach and prostate, and protect against heart disease.

 

Orange – Bell peppers, carrots, pumpkin, rutabaga, oranges, clementines, tangerines, mandarins, melon, nectarines, peaches, squash, mango, papaya, apricots, guava.

Providing the orange pigment in citrus fruit are flavanoids. These are antioxidants that help your body use vitamin C.  Beta-carotene is a phytochemical found in orange food. Beta-carotene may boost your immune system and protect against breast cancer. 

 

Yellow – Bananas, bell peppers, yellow zucchini, pineapple, melon, yellow squash, corn, grapefruit, yellow tomatoes.

The phytochemical carotenoid is the one found in yellow fruits and vegetables. The carotenoids found in yellow food works with the carotenoids found in red and orange foods to help protect against cancer and heart disease.

 

Green – Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, peas, zucchini, apples, pears, kiwi, avocado, spinach, green leafy lettuce, grapes, asparagus, green beans, celery, cucumbers.

The phytochemical lutein is present in dark green vegetables. Lutein works to maintain the health of skin and eyes; the only organs exposed to the outside environment. Lutein may help fight cancers and also helps to prevent age-related blindness. 

 

Purple/Blue – Blueberries, blackberries, currants, eggplant, figs, beets, red cabbage, plums, grapes, purple peppers.

The phytochemical anthocyanin is believed to fight off certain cancers and diseases like coronary heart disease and strokes. Anthocyanins can also be found in red foods. Purple grapes contain antiviral and antibacterial qualities that protect your immune system.

 

A good way of getting a child interested in what they eat is to make mealtimes fun.  A great way to do this is by charting the colors they eat! Simply create a chart with the following five colors from the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, purple/blue across the top of the chart and each day of the week down the left side of the chart. Then place a check mark in the correct color box for every fruit and vegetable that your child eats each day.  Count up the check marks at the end of the day to see if your child achieved the goal of eating 5-a-day!  It is okay if your child eats more than one fruit or vegetable from the same color group – the goal is 5-a-day.

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blueberry-muffinsAnthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant that is responsible for the blue color of blueberries.  Research studies show that blueberries have the ability to fight signs of aging, increase mental clarity, and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.  Increase your consumption of blueberries by adding a handful to your yogurt or cereal, or throw some in with your next batch of pancakes!  Try this blueberry muffin recipe that also includes whole wheat flour.

 

Blueberry Muffins

 

The secret to good muffins is to not overmix the batter.  Lumps are fine.

 

Makes 16

1 stick butter, melted

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup fresh or dried blueberries

 

Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Grease a 12 hole muffin pan or line with paper liners.  Mix together both types of flour with the sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Beat the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter together in a separate bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin pan and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden.

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