Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Spotlight on Asparagus

Spotlight on Asparagus

Asparagus is a perennial garden plant belonging to the Lily family. It is harvested in the spring when it is 6 to 8 inches tall. The most common variety of asparagus is green in color. There are two other edible varieties available. White asparagus is grown underground to inhibit its development of chlorophyll content, therefore creating its distinctive white coloring. It is generally found canned, although you may find it fresh in some select markets, and it is generally more expensive than the green variety since its production is more labor-intensive. The other edible variety of asparagus is purple in color. It is smaller than the green or white variety (usually just 2 to 3 inches tall) and features a fruitier flavor. It also provides benefits from phytonutrients called anthocyanins that give it its purple color.

Nutrition Information
Low in calories, only 20 per 3.5 oz. serving
Contains no fat or cholesterol
Very low in sodium
A good source of potassium. (1)
A source of fiber (2 grams per 3.5 serving)
An excellent source of folic acid
A significant source of thiamin and vitamin B6

Asparagus stalks should be rounded, and neither fat nor twisted. Look for firm, thin stems with deep green or purplish closed tips. The cut ends should not be too woody, although a little woodiness at the base prevents the stalk from drying out. Once trimmed and cooked, asparagus loses about half its total weight. Use asparagus within a day or two after purchasing for the best flavor and texture. Store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel.

Preparation and Cooking
Thin asparagus does not require peeling. Asparagus with thick stems should be peeled because the stems are usually tough and stringy. Remove the tough outer skin of the bottom portion of the stem (not the tips) with a vegetable peeler. Wash asparagus under cold water to remove any sand or soil residues. It is best to cook asparagus whole. If you want to cut asparagus into small pieces, it is best to cut them after they are cooked. Asparagus can be served hot or cold.

Serving Ideas
•  Add cold asparagus to your favorite salad.
•  Toss cooked pasta with asparagus, olive oil, and your favorite pasta spices. 
•  Chopped asparagus make a flavorful and colorful addition to omelets.
•  Sauté asparagus with garlic, mushrooms, and tofu or chicken for a complete meal.

Asparagus Recipes & Tips from The Produce Lady

How To Make Perfectly Roasted Asparagus

EatingWell, Asparagus 

Food Network, Asparagus recipes

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

National Salad Month - How to Build a Healthy Salad

Salads are a great way to add Nutrition and Color to your day. Choose the right ingredients and keep them handy to create a healthy meal.

Salads can easily become unhealthy if you are not careful with the toppings. Be mindful about what you add and the portions. Measure more caloric items, such as cheese, nuts, and salad dressing.

Your options are endless. Load your plate up with colorful vegetables. Raw vegetables are great and add a pleasant crunch. To add variety, choose some cooked vegetables, such as grilled, roasted, or streamed.
List of Ingredients to Create Endless Salad Possibilities

Start with Leafy Greens (1 1/2 – 2 cups)
·        Arugula
·        Beet Greens
·        Bok choy
·        Boston lettuce
·        Collard Greens
·        Endive
·        Escarole
·        Green leaf lettuce
·        Red leaf lettuce
·        Iceberg lettuce
·        Kale
·        Microgreens
·        Mixed greens
·        Napa cabbage
·        Radicchio
·        Romaine lettuce
·        Spinach
·        Swiss Chard
·        Turnip Greens
·        Watercress

Add Vegetables (Fresh, Canned or Cooked)
Vegetables (2 tablespoons)
·        Avocado
·        Asparagus, chopped
·        Artichoke hearts
·        Bean sprouts
·        Beets
·        Bell Pepper
·        Broccoli florets
·        Carrots, shredded
·        Celery, chopped
·        Corn
·        Cucumber slices
·        Green beans
·        Mushroom slices
·        Onion
·        Peas, boiled
·        1 Roasted Red Pepper, julienned
·        Radishes, slices
·        Squash, sliced or diced
·        Tomato slices

Add Meat, Meat Alternatives and/or Dairy for a Main Dish Salad
·        1 boiled Egg, sliced
·        2-3 oz Chicken: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2-3 oz Turkey: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2-3 oz Salmon: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2-3 oz Shrimp: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2 tablespoons crumbled Blue cheese
·        ¼ cup Cottage cheese
·        2 teaspoons crumbled Feta cheese
·        1 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
·        2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
·        2-3 oz Sardines in water
·        2-3 oz Tuna, canned in water
·        ½ cup Tofu
·        2-3 oz Tempeh

Add Beans and/or Grains
Beans (1 tablespoon)
·        Black beans
·        Cannellini beans
·        Chickpeas
·        Kidney beans
·        Lentils
·        Pinto Beans

Grains (1/4 cup)
·        Couscous
·        Barley
·        Bulgur
·        Farro
·        Quinoa
·        Wild rice

Nuts and Seeds (1 tablespoon)
·        Almonds, raw
·        Cashews, raw
·        Pecans, raw
·        Walnuts
·        Poppy seeds
·        Pumpkin seeds
·        Sesame seeds
·        Sunflower seeds

Fruits (optional)
·        1/2 Apple, sliced
·        1/3 cup Blueberries
·        Cranberries, 1 Tablespoon
·        2-3 Dates or Figs
·        10 Grapes
·        6 Mandarin wedges
·        1/2 Pear, sliced
·        1/3 cup Pineapple, slices or diced
·        2 Tablespoons Raisins or Dried Cranberries·        2-3 Strawberries, sliced

Other (optional)
·        1 Anchovy
·        5 Olives, Black, Green or Kalamata
·        2 Tablespoons Whole Grain Croutons

The Finale and Salad Dressing
·        Dash of fresh Oregano, Parsley or Coriander
·        Choose from a variety of Spices and Herbs
·        2 Tablespoons Homemade Salad Dressing:
       Use Olive Oil, Vinegar, Citrus Juice, Salsa,
       Low-fat Yogurt and/or Mustard

A salad can be delicious, healthy, and inexpensive.

1. Fat-free vinaigrette Recipes are easy to prepare and can be used as a marinade, salad dressing, or sauce.  
21 Lunch and Dinner Salads That Are Seriously Filling, Cooking Light
Great Summer Salads, Cooking Light
How to Mason Jar Salads, The Country Chic Cottage

International Day for Biological Diversity

 2024 Theme 

"Be part of the Plan"

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is pleased to announce the Biodiversity Day 2024: 

Be part of the Plan

Although every Biodiversity Day has its own special significance, this year’s global celebrations bring a renewed sense of hope.

Around the world, governments and people are showing what they are doing to Build Back Biodiversity.

Biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better.

“From individual species through entire ecosystems, biological diversity is vital for human health and well-being. The quality of the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe all depend on keeping the natural world in good health.”

- António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

Part of the International Day for Biological Diversity focuses on biodiversity as the foundation for our food and health and as a key catalyst for transforming food systems and improving human well-being. Join the conversation, take action, and be a catalyst for change! Below is a list of things that you can do to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity for your well-being:

*Reduce your meat consumption

*Eat and purchase seasonal foods

*Buy local foods

*Reduce your food waste

*Compost your food scraps

*Reduce food packaging by using reusable bags or reusing

  glass jars or containers

*Avoid single-use plastics like plastic straws, coffee cups, 
  plastic cutlery, take out containers or plastic water bottles

*Promote local and indigenous biodiversity for food and 

1. International Day for Biological Diversity - 2024 Theme

Classic Vanilla Pudding, Light

 Classic Vanilla Pudding, Light

Yields: 6 servings


⅓ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


  • In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  • Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.
  • Add vanilla and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour into individual molds; chill until firm and unmold.
Nutrition Information.

Calories 138; Fat 5.1g; Sat fat 2.7g; Protein 4.4g; Carbohydrate 19g; Cholesterol 85mg; Sodium 126mg; Calcium 132mg

World Day for Cultural Diversity
Exploring Food Diversity

Today is a beautiful day to celebrate the many cultural foods that make up American Cuisine. The diversity can be seen as we travel across the country. There are regional differences and the influences of immigrants from all over the world.

New England is known for seafood, particularly lobster and creamy clam chowder. The Southern states are known for collard greens (leafy greens), chicken and dumplings, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. Grits is a popular breakfast dish in the South. The Midwest has traditionally been a beef and grain-producing area, so meats, potatoes, and bread are foods found there. Fresh salmon is a specialty in the Pacific Northwest, and the Mexican influence can be seen in the Southwest. California and Hawaii are known for growing many different fruits, and Alaska is known for its fish and King Crab.

As a nation of immigrants, our foods have expanded to include worldwide cuisines, traditions, and religious influences. Many ethnic dishes are joining the American food culture and are seeing an incredible boost in familiarity, approval, and consumption.

Foods from All Over the World

Healthy Choices
Table of Cuisines (from Menu Solutions)

Healthier Choices
Delicatessen Selections
Extra-lean corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, beef brisket, and turkey breast are best. Whole wheat or multi-grain bread; chicken or tuna salad; chopped herring; chef salad; fresh fruit plate with cottage cheese; dry bagel; borscht or broth soup; tossed salad, sliced tomatoes, beet salad, or carrot raisin salad.
High-fat meats (regular corn beef, hot pastrami, beef bologna, hot dogs, knockwurst, liverwurst, and salami); potato salad; mayonnaise-based salads; combo sandwiches (Reuben); smoked fish (lox); creamy coleslaw; chopped liver; excess cream cheese and cheese spreads; sauerkraut (high in sodium).
Pizza Parlor Selections
You cannot go wrong by ordering extra toppings such as onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomato slices, broccoli, and spinach. Other possibilities include chicken, crab meat, or shrimp.  
Fat starts with the basic cheese, so avoid extra cheese, particularly mozzarella. Other culprits include bacon, meatballs, pepperoni, sausage, prosciutto, and anchovies.
Sandwich Shop Selections
Both 100% whole wheat and pita bread are great choices. Good sandwich fillers are grilled chicken breast, ham, roast beef, and turkey breast. Instruct the server not to add butter, margarine, or mayonnaise to the bread and substitute with ketchup, mustard, or horseradish. Good salad choices include chef, garden, or Greek salads, but remember to ask for low-calorie dressings on the side and to omit egg or cheese. Broth-type soups such as barley, beef, chicken, lentils, split peas, and vegetable noodles are tasty.
Avoid croissants, cheese, excess mayonnaise, egg, and creamy soups. Beware of "diet plates" with big burgers and scoops of cottage cheese, which have loads of saturated fat. Omit cheeseburgers, cheese sandwiches, or grilled cheese "melts" over chicken and seafood salads and cold cuts. Combo sandwiches with meat and cheese and club sandwiches are best avoided due to the large portion size. Remember that salad combos such as tuna, chicken, and crab meat have lots of mayonnaise. Avoid creamy soups such as chowders or cream of "anything."
Submarine Shop Selections
Order the smaller size roll or pita bread. Turkey, smoked turkey, ham, and roast beef are acceptable. Ask the server to go light on the meats, omit the mayonnaise or oil, and generously load up on the shredded lettuce, onion, peppers, pickles, and sliced tomatoes. Choose salads as alternatives, such as chef or tossed salads with perhaps a scoop of tuna, chicken, or seafood served with Italian or pita bread. 
Omit meats like bologna, Italian cold cuts, salami (hard or Genoa), and sausages. Stay away from cheeses and steak and cheese. Other items to omit include antipasto salads, fried eggplant, and chicken cutlets.
Chinese Selections
Order plain steamed rice, boiled, steamed, or stir-fried vegetables (ask for little oil), moderate fish and shellfish, non-fried tofu, skinless poultry, or egg rolls (insides only).
Anything fried (rice or crispy noodles), or with sweet and sour sauce; egg dishes or soups; salty soups; avoid duck and limit beef, pork, and pickled foods; excess soy sauce; ask the chef to leave out MSG and cut down the use of commonly used corn starch, sugar, and salt.
Indian Selections
Order chutney (except mango); curry sauce (yogurt-based); fish (omit butter basting); yogurt with shredded vegetables; basmati rice. Biryani (vegetable dish); chapatti or papadum bread; tandoori chicken; lentil or mulligatawny soups
Creamy or high-salt soups; clarified butter (ghee); deep-fried meats; poori or paratha bread; fried samosa or pakora; ask to prepare dishes without excess salt and to omit coconut milk, if possible; omit garnishes with nuts or dried fruit.
Italian Selections
Order antipasto (no oil or excess meats); crusty bread (no oil or butter); broiled or grilled fish, seafood, chicken, and meats; garlic; plain or vegetable pasta; fresh unsalted mozzarella cheese; steamed leafy vegetables (kale and broccoli); salads; fresh tomatoes; zucchini; ices.
Garlic bread, stuffed pasta (ravioli and lasagna), fried eggplant, meatballs or sausage, sauces with butter, cream, oil, and wine base, pesto sauce, cheese-filled or parmesan-style dishes, spumoni or tortoni ice cream. Beware of risotto rice, polenta, high-fat, high-sodium prosciutto ham and pancetta, veal cutlets, and Caesar salads.
Japanese Selections
Order rice; steamed fish; sushi; sashimi; miso soup; raw vegetables; tofu; sukiyaki (stir-fried); yakimono (broiled fish).
Tempura and other deep-fried food; excess peanut and teriyaki sauce; pickled foods; excess salt and sugar in sauces; excess salt in soy marinades and sauces.
Mediterranean (Middle East) Selections
You can order couscous, bulgar, pita bread, and legumes such as chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, hummus, grape leaves, and yogurt.
Phyllo dough dishes are used for sweet desserts such as baklava, feta, and kasseri cheese, excess anchovies, and olives, high-sodium foods, feta, olives, and sausage, appetizers in general, except salads, and excess fat from butter, olive oil, omelets, and tahini.
Mexican Selections
Order soft-shell tacos; burritos; fajitas; salsa; chicken enchilada; black beans or Mexican rice; grilled fish or chicken; salads without chips or shells; moderate corn or flour tortilla, using minimal oil; ceviche (marinated fish); gazpacho; chile con carne soup, with no cheese. Acceptable items include shredded lettuce, spicy meats, diced tomatoes, salsa verde, picante or tomato sauce, and Mexican salads as appetizers, with salsa as the dressing.
Chips, nachos, super nachos, chili con queso, fried taco or tortilla shells, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, refried beans, beef and pork dishes, olives, and items such as chilies rellenos, chimichangas, chorizo (sausage), and flautas.
Thai Selections
You can order steamed rice, broth-based soups (tom yum koang and pok taek), non-fried proteins such as chicken, seafood, and tofu, vegetables, satay or steamed mussels, or salads with light dressings made with Thai spices.
Excess sodium; soy sauce and sugar; MSG; coconut milk; coconut oil; cream dishes, high milk, and sodium soups; many fried appetizers; curry or curry sauce; fried eggplant; cashew and peanut toppings.


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