UCHD, Protecting Your Health.

 

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

 Vegetable of the week: Turnips

This root vegetable has been found all over Europe and Asia for centuries. A turnip looks larger than a radish and is a well known food source for both the root and greens. Turnips come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Availability, Selection, Storage, and Preparation

Turnips are available year round with a peak in the fall and winter months. Select smooth surfaced roots that are firm and heavy with some root hairs at the bottom. In general, the smaller the turnip, the sweeter the taste. Turnips keep well; cut the greens and bag them separately from the root placing them in the crisper section of the refrigerator for up to a week. Turnips can be peeled before cooking, eaten raw, or sliced, diced, or julienned. When cooking this delicate root, cook only to the just tender point; avoid overcooking as sweetness will diminish.

From www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov

 

 harvest Vegetable_Salad_2012_pub

 

 

 

 

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Published in Partnerships
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 20:35

Recipe of the Week: Tomatoes

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable of the Week: Tomatoes tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants may lower the risk of certain diseases, including heart disease, some cancers, and macular degenerative disease.  Tomatoes also contain Vitamin C and A. Tomatoes that are vine-ripened are higher in vitamin C than greenhouse tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes contain more vitamin C than those that are processed or cooked. Though technically a fruit, the tomato is treated as a vegetable. Originally tomatoes were yellow, but today most of those produced in the United States are red. In addition to the standard-sized round tomatoes, there are other varieties, such as plum, pear-shaped, grape and cherry tomatoes.

Selection

Select firm, fragrant fruit with full red color. Avoid bruised, blemished, soft or hard fruit. A tomato’s skin should yield to gentle pressure.

Storage

Keep ripe tomatoes at room temperature; above 55 degrees is recommended. Do not refrigerate under-ripe fruit. Tomatoes will ripen better out of sunlight. Once tomatoes are red and slightly soft, they will keep a day or two at room temperature. Refrigerate only if you want to keep them longer.

Preparation

Wash tomatoes carefully. Peel if you desire. To peel, remove stem core and dip tomatoes in a large quantity of boiling water for 1/2 minute, and then dip in cold water. The skins are easily removed. When using tomato pulp in a recipe, it is a good idea to remove the skin and seeds first, as they toughen when cooked.

    • Raw: The best way to enjoy a tomato is when it is freshly picked! You can even make an uncooked tomato sauce. Peel and seed a tomato, mash it to a pulp, and add minced onions, a little red wine vinegar, and chopped herbs.
    • Broil: Halve large tomatoes, sprinkle with pepper and a little olive oil. Cook four to five minutes, until heated through. Broiled tomatoes make an excellent side dish.
    • Bake: Bake tomato halves (plain, stuffed or with toppings) in a 400 degree F oven for eight to 15 minutes.
    • Microwave: Cook in a covered dish. One pound will take three to four minutes. Use in stews, soups

 2016 Recipe

2016 Tomato Recipe Card

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2015 Recipe

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2014 Recipe

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2013 Recipe

tomato-pepper pasta

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2012 Recipe

Chicken Stew_2012_pub

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Vegetable of the week: Squash
summer squash

Squash are fleshy vegetables protected by a hard rind. They belong to the plant family that includes melons and cucumbers. The skin and rind of summer squash are rich in the nutrient beta-carotene, but the fleshy portion of this vegetable is not. To gain the full nutritional benefits of this vegetable, the skins or rinds must be eaten.

History

Squash has been a staple for the Native Americans for more than 5000 years, and was a mainstay for early European who settled in America. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were enthusiastic squash growers. In the nineteenth century, merchant seamen returned from other parts of the Americas with many new varieties. This resulted in the various colors, shapes, and sizes that are available today.

Varieties

Even though some varieties grow on vines while others grow on bushes, squash are commonly divided into the two groups, summer and winter. There are several types of summer squash, but zucchini is the most popular summer squash purchased in the United States. Summer squash come in many different colors and shapes. The different varieties of squash can be used interchangeable in most recipes, because most squash are similar in texture and flavor.

How to Select

Choose squash that are firm and fairly heavy for their size, otherwise they may be dry and cottony inside. Look for squash that have bright, glossy exteriors. Avoid buying squash that have nicks or bruises on their skins or ones that have soft spots.

Storage

Place summer squash in plastic bags and store in the refrigerator. Fresh summer squash should keep for up to a week. Thicker-shinned varieties such as chayote will stay fresh for two weeks or longer.

From www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov

Freezing

Preparation – Choose young squash with tender skin. Wash and cut in 1/2-inch slices. Blanch squash by placing in boiling water for 3 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.

Grated Zucchini (for Baking) – Choose young tender zucchini. Wash and grate. Steam blanch in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in cold water. Seal and freeze.

If watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using the zucchini.

Information provided by the National Center for Home Preservation http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/squash_summer.html 

2016 Recipe (Zucchini)

2016 Zucchini Recipe Card

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2016 Recipe (Squash)

2016 Squash Recipe Card

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2014 Recipe 

 

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2013 Recipe

zesty skillet zucchini

 

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2012 Recipe

Orange Honeyed_Acorn_Squash_pub

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012 20:07

Recipe of the Week: Peppers

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable of the week: Pepperspeppers

Bell pepper or sweet pepper is the most popular of the chili peppers in the Capsicum annum family. It is a fruit pod of small perennial shrub in the nightshade or solanaceae family, of the genus, capsicum. Scientific name: Capsicum annum.

Unlike their fellow members, sweet peppers have characteristic bell shape with crunchy, thick fleshy skin. On comparison to other capsicum members, bell (sweet) peppers have very mild or zero hotness. The other important difference is that they are used worldwide as vegetables instead of spices.

Peppers are native to Mexico and other Central American region from where they spread to the rest of the world by Spanish and Portuguese explorers during 16th and 17th centuries and now grown widely in many parts of the world as an important commercial crop. As in other chili pepper varieties, bell peppers too have several cultivar types. However, the plant type and fruit pod (with 3-5 lobes) are common features in almost all cultivars.

In structure, sweet pepper features blocky, cube like cover with numerous tiny, white, or cream colored, circular and flat seeds. The seeds are actually clinging to central placed white core (placenta). Usually, peppers are picked up by hand during different stages of maturity. Unripe sweet pepper can be picked up while it is green. As the fruit mature, it acquires its genetic color such as orange, red, purple, yellow etc.

The hotness of peppers is measured in “Scoville heat units” (SHU). On the Scoville scale, a sweet bell pepper scores 0, while a jalapeño pepper around 2,500-4,000 and a Mexican habañeros 200,000 to 500,000 units.

Health benefits of bell pepper

  • Bell pepper contains impressive list of plant nutrients that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Unlike other chili peppers, it is very low in calories and fats. 100 g provide just 31 calories.

  • Sweet (bell) pepper contains small levels of health benefiting an alkaloid compound capsaicin. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. When used judiciously it also found to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals.

  • Fresh bell peppers, red or green, are rich source of vitamin-C. This vitamin is especially concentrated in red peppers in highest levels. 100 g fresh red pepper provide about 127.7 mcg or about 213% of RDA. Vitamin-C is a potent water soluble antioxidant. It is required for the collagen synthesis in the body. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

  • It also contain good levels of vitamin-A. 100 g of sweet pepper has 3131 IU or 101% of vitamin A. In addition, it contains anti-oxidant flavonoids such as α and ß carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. Together, these antioxidant substances in capsicum helps to protect body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress and diseases conditions.

  • Bell pepper has adequate levels of essential minerals. Some of main minerals in it are iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Selenium is anti-oxidant micro-mineral that acts as co-factor for enzyme superoxide dismutase.

  • Capsicum is also good in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. B-complex vitamins facilitate cellular metabolism through various enzymatic functions.

Selection and Storage

Fresh sweet peppers are readily available year around in the markets. Unlike other chili peppers, you may find them amidst vegetables in the stores. Buy fresh, firm, uniform sized, bright peppers with firm green calyx attached. They should feature smooth surface with 3-5 lobes, compact, wholesome and feel heavy in hand.

Avoid excessively soft, lusterless, pale green color peppers. Also avoid those with surface cuts/punctures, bruise, spots and shriveled stems.

Once at home, should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag where they will stay fresh for about a 4days. If stored for prolonged periods they may sustain chill injury.

Preparation and serving methods

In general, fresh bell peppers are treated like any other vegetables in the kitchen. Their firm, crunchy consistency together with delicate sweet flavor makes them one of the most sought after vegetable item in cooking.

To prepare, wash bell peppers in cold running water. Cut the stem end and discard it. This way you can see its inside structure. Remove central core with seeds. Now you have a hollow "cup like" pepper. Chop it using paring knife into rings or strips as in onions.

Although sweet peppers have least capsaicin unlike other chili peppers, still they may inflict burning sensation to hands and may cause irritation to mouth/nasal passages, eyes and throat. Therefore, it may be advised in some sensitive individuals to use thin hand gloves and face masks while handling.

Adapted from www.nutrition-and-you.com

2016 Recipe

2016 Pepper Recipe Card

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2015 Recipe

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2013 Recipe

chicken cacciatore- green bell peppers

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2012 Recipe
Broccoli Quiche_in_Colorful_Peppers_pub

 

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Published in Partnerships
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 19:55

Recipe of the Week: Peas

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

 Vegetable of the week: Peas

All peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, folate, iron and phosphorus. Green peas are second only to lima beans as a fresh vegetable source of protein. Only about five percent of all green peas grown come to the market fresh. Frozen peas retain their color, flavor and nutrients better than canned and are lower in sodium. Snow peas are lower in protein since their seeds are very small, however they provide twice the calcium and slightly more iron than green-shelled peas.

Selection: At the market, choose peas that have been stored at a cool temperature, with pods that are firm. Avoid overlarge pods. Large peas will have a starchy taste. Choose snow peas that have pods that are shiny and flat without a twisted appearance. Sugar snap peas should be bright green and firm to be the sweetest. Plan on buying about a pound of peas for every cup of peas you want. Since snow and sugar snap peas are eaten in the shell, buy 1/4 pound for each serving.

Storage:  For the sweetest flavor, serve peas as soon after picking or buying as possible. As peas age, the sugar content turns to starch, making the peas less sweet. Store all peas in the shell in the crisper section of your refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag. Use within two days.

All peas, green, sugar snap and snow, can be cooked by using a small amount of water. The less liquid that is used, the smaller amount of vitamin C is lost.

Preparation:  Shell the peas just before cooking or serving. To prepare shell peas, break off the stem end and strip the string along the edge. Pop the pod open and, with your thumb, scrape the peas out. Wash and cook.

For snow peas and sugar-snap peas, rinse well before use. Prepare snow peas by snipping off both ends with a knife or kitchen shears. Strings will not be noticeable. Sugar-snap peas are prepared by snipping the ends and removing the strings from both sides of the pod. Eat raw or cooked.

Boiling or Steaming: All peas, green, sugar snap and snow, can be cooked by using a small amount of water. The less liquid that is used, the smaller amount of vitamin C is lost. Cooking time for shell peas is five to 10 minutes. Peas can be steamed over boiling water to retain nutrients, as well. For snow and sugar peas, cook for one to two minutes. Snow or sugar pea pods can be cooked in a steamer over boiling water for two to three minutes.

Stir-frying: Use pod peas in stir-fry dishes. Use a small amount of either oil or broth and cook quickly. Cook only one to two minutes to retain the color and crispness when stir-frying whole or cut in slices.


 

2016 Recipe

2016 Snow Peas Recipe Card 1

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2015 Recipe

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 sweet potato_salad_pub_2012

 

 

 

 

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Published in Partnerships
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 19:39

Recipe of the Week: Potatoes

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable of the Week: Potatoespotatoes

History

Potatoes were introduced to North America in the 18th century via Irish immigrants, however their native home is South America. Potatoes were first cultivated in the Andes Mountains over 7,000 years ago. Many kinds of potatoes are seen in restaurants, grocery stores, and even homes today, but the most common of these are the russet, round white, and the red potato. Potatoes are tough and durable, store well, and have an impressive nutritional content including being a rich source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Like other fruits and vegetables, potatoes are a low calorie food and are free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Keep in mind, however, that the leaves and stems of a potato plant are poisonous and may cause illness when ingested.

Potatoes have been a staple in the diets of Americans for over 300 years, but they have been sustaining populations worldwide for much longer. Read on for more potato information and tasty potato recipes!

Availability, Selection, and Storage

Potatoes are grown across the United States and are available year round. Store potatoes in a cool, dry place. Sunlight can cause the skin to turn green; if this occurs the skin must then be peeled off before consuming. Most of the nutrients are contained right below the skin, so avoid peeling when possible. Besides fresh potatoes, other forms are often available as well, including refrigerated pre-cut fresh potatoes, frozen potatoes, canned potatoes, and dehydrated potatoes.

When choosing potatoes, be sure they are firm, smooth, and the color they are supposed to be. Softness, a green tinge, or wrinkly skin may indicate a potato that is past its prime.

Preparation

Potatoes should be thoroughly washed with clean tap water and scrubbed lightly before preparation. Any sprouts or eyes growing from the potato should be cut out. The skin can be removed or left on depending on use. Common methods of preparation include boiling, baking, microwaving, mashing, frying and grilling. Consuming baked and grilled potatoes with the skin left on provides the most nutrients.

Potato Varieties: 

  • Russet Round White
  • Long White Fingerling
  • Red skinned New
  • Blue/Purple skinned Yellow flesh

 2016 Recipe

2016 Potato Recipe Card

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 2014 Recipes

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2014 Recipe Card - Cheesy Corn Potatoes - Potatoes

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2013 Recipe

herb potato salad 2013 2

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2012 Recipe

 One Pan_Potatoes__Chicken_2012

 

 

 

 

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Vegetable  OF THE WEEK: Leeks

Leeks look like a giant scallion and are related to both garlic and the onion. Native to the Mediterranean region, this vegetable dates back to around 4000 BC. Although its flavor and fragrance are similar to its relatives, they are slightly sweet tasting and often served as a side dish.

Selection Leeks are found in markets year round with a peak during fall to early spring. Select leeks with clean white bottoms making sure that the ends are straight and not larger than 1 ½ inches in diameter, otherwise they will have a tough texture. The tops should be green, crisp and fresh-looking. Small to medium leeks (less than 1½ inches in diameter) are the tenderest.

Storage Refrigerate leeks, unwashed, in a loosely fitting plastic bag for up to one week. Storing leeks in plastic helps them hold onto moisture and keep the odor from spreading to other foods.

Preparation Leeks carry some dirt especially in between the layer of overlapping leaves. Begin cleaning by removing discolored leaves and trimming off green tops and root tips. Cut the leek lengthwise by inserting a knife from the base. Spread the leaves and rinse thoroughly. Placing the fanned out leaves in a bowl of water and gently moving the leaves will loosen any remaining dirt.

Leeks make excellent side dishes and appetizers but can also be added to many entrees including soups, stews, quiches, and salads.

This delicate vegetable cooks quickly and overcooking them will result in a slimy and soft product. In addition, they store heat well and will continue to cook even after the heat source is removed.

From http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/month/leeks.html

 

 

mashed potatoes_with_Leeks_2012

 

 

 

 

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Published in Partnerships
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 19:04

Recipe of the Week: Carrots

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable of the Week: Carrotcarrots

A native of Afghanistan, carrots are now grown extensively throughout the United States and are available year-round. A versatile vegetable, the carrot ranges from globular to long-pointed, and the color, though most often orange, varies from white to yellow to purple-fleshed. Carrots are available from July through September.  Information on carrot varieties is available through your county Extension office.

The best carrots are those that are well-formed, smooth and firm, and blemish-free.  Smaller types are more tender than the large varieties, and a deep color indicates more vitamin A. Avoid carrots that are wilted, flabby, or cracked.  Also avoid those with large green “sun-burned” areas at the top and roots that are flabby from wilting or those that show soft decay. Excessive masses of leaf stems at the neck often indicate carrots with undesirably large cores. However, the condition of the tops does not indicate the quality of the root.

Storage  

Remove the green tops before storing because they increase the respiration rate and draw moisture from the carrots, causing shriveling.  Place carrots in a plastic bag before storing in a refrigerator crisper at 32 to 45 degrees F.  Carrots taste best when used within 2 weeks, but the nutritional value will keep for several weeks.  Prevent bitterness in carrots by storing them away from apples and other fruits that give off volatile gases (ethylene) when they are ripening.

Yield:  Due to variables including moisture content, size, and variety, it is impossible to recommend specific quantities to buy. The following recommendations are approximations.

4 servings = 1 to 1¼ pounds

1 bushel carrots (without tops) = 50 pounds

1 bushel carrots = 16 to 20 quarts, canned

1 quart = 2½ to 3 pounds

Nutrition  

The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recommend that adults need 2–2½ cups of a variety of vegetables daily. Carrots are an excellent choice to help meet that requirement. Carrots have antioxidants that help prevent cancer and fight heart disease. A 1 cup serving of cooked carrots provides more than 330% of the recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin A for adults. Carrots provide a variety of other nutrients including fiber. One cup of cooked carrots has only 45 calories.

Preparation   

Clean surfaces, utensils, and hands after touching raw meat and poultry and before you use them on fresh produce. To remove dirt, wash carrots thoroughly in cold water. Wash just before using. Scrub well with a brush if you want to eat the fiber and nutrient-rich skin. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach as they can be absorbed by the carrots. Lift carrots from the water to prevent redepositing of dirt and residues.

Carrots may be scraped, pared, or cooked with the skins on. Skins can then be slipped off cooked car­rots when held under running water. Carrots can be boiled, steamed, baked, or sautéed. Overcooking results in loss of nutrients and flavor. Raw carrots cut into match-like sticks are a popular and nutritious addition to a relish tray or salad. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 1 cup raw carrots to enliven the flavor of less than garden-fresh carrots.

Carrots can be used as garnishes or snacks, in salads, and even in desserts.

Serve buttered with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with snipped parsley, mint, chives, or cut  green onions.

Top with lemon butter.

Season with basil, chervil, ginger, rosemary, savory,  or thyme.

Cream or mash.

Information adapted from http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5514.pdf

Written by Barbara A. Brahm, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences. Reviewed by Lydia Medeiros, Ph.D., R.D., Extension Specialist, Ohio State University Extension. Keith L. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, Ohio State University Extension TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868

2016 Recipe

2016 Carrot Recipe Card

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2014 Recipe

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2013 Recipe

spicy carrots and squash

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2012 Recipe

carrot cookies_2012

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Published in Partnerships
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 18:27

Recipe of the Week: Eggplant

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable of the Week: Eggplanteggplant-harvest1

Eggplant is a versatile vegetable.  This attractive, deep rich purple vegetable capped with gray-green leaves is available year-round in local markets.   In Ohio, this crop can be purchased at farmers’ markets from July to early October. The bulbous part, the fruit, can vary in shape from round to finger-shaped. The fruit is the edible part. Eggplant is popular in Asian and Middle Eastern cookery, as well as in many Mediterranean dishes.

Nutritional Value

Eggplants are naturally low in calories and provide a moderate amount of fiber, folate, and potassium.

Nutrition Facts (1 cup cooked, cubed )

  • Calories 27.7
  • Protein .82 gram
  • Carbohydrates 6.57 grams
  • Dietary Fiber 2.48 grams
  • Phosphorus 21.78 mg
  • Potassium 245.52 mg
  • Folate 14.26 mg

Selection 

Choose eggplant with a bright, purple color. If you select a newer variety, you may find eggplants that are pink, striped or even white. For best quality, look for eggplants that are firm, heavy for size, and free of scars. The skin will be glossy, and the flesh will be firm. Smaller, slender selections usually have smaller seeds and are more tender. Avoid eggplant with brown or blue streaks, or that are shriveled and flabby. Some people like to use larger eggplant in dishes calling for sliced or peeled eggplant.

Storage

The ideal storage temperature is between 46-55 degrees F. Storing below 46 degrees will damage them. Store, unwashed, in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. Don’t force or jam eggplants into the crisper drawer, as excess pressure on the delicate skin will cause bruises and decay. Premium quality fresh eggplant will last for about a week in the refrigerator. They can be stored for a short time at room temperature.

Preparation 

Eggplant can be cooked by baking it in its skin, boiling in water, frying, sautéing, steaming or stewing. The vegetable can be served stuffed, and used as a meat extender. The varieties of ways in which it can be prepared make it a favorite choice of people who limit meat in their diet. It is said that eggplant absorbs fat faster than other vegetables, so limit the amount of fat you add to recipes.

Bake eggplant whole in a 400-degree F oven. Pierce the skin, as you would a potato, before putting it in the oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes, and then use mashed or pureed to combine with other ingredients or use as an ingredient in spreads or dips.

Bake eggplant halves by slicing the vegetable in half lengthwise. Brush the cut side with oil, season and bake, or scoop some of the pulp and stuff with meat or vegetable stuffing. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees F. Or try broiling or grilling halves that have been sliced lengthwise, lightly oiled and seasoned.

Info by: University of Maine Cooperative Extension, University of Illinois Extension

2014 Recipe

2014 Recipe Card - Galloping Good Eggplant - Eggplant

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2013 Recipe

Eggplant and tomato sandwiches

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2012 Recipe

Eggplant-Cheddar Bake

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Published in Partnerships
Tuesday, 22 May 2012 19:26

Recipe of the Week: Cucumber

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

 Vegetable of the Week: Cucumber

History

Cucumber plants naturally thrive in both temperate and tropical environments, and generally require temperatures between 60-90°F/15-33°C. For this reason, they are native to many regions of the world. In evolutionary terms, the first cucumbers were likely to have originated in Western Asia (and perhaps more specifically in India) or parts of the Middle East. Cucumbers are mentioned in the legend of Gilgamesh—a Uruk king who lived around 2500 BC in what is now Iraq and Kuwait. It was approximately 3,300 years later when cucumber cultivation spread to parts of Europe, including France. And it was not until the time of the European colonists that cucumbers finally appeared in North America in the 1500's.

Today, the states of Florida and California are able to provide U.S. consumers with fresh cucumbers for most of the year (from March through November). Imported cucumbers from Mexico are commonly found in groceries during the winter months of December, January, and February. In California alone, about 6,600 acres are planted with slicing cucumber varieties and 4,400 with pickling cucumbers. Worldwide, China is by far the largest producer of cucumbers, and provides about two-thirds of the global supply. Iran, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Spain, Mexico, the Ukraine, Japan, Indonesia, and the U.S. all participate in the world cucumber market, with an especially high number of exports coming from Iran, Mexico, and Spain. Annual production of cucumbers worldwide is approximately 84 billion pounds.

Selection and Storage

Since cucumbers can be very sensitive to heat, you'll be on safer grounds if you choose those that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market. They should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips.

During the selection process, you may find it helpful to know that thin-skinned cucumbers will generally have fewer seeds than those that are thick-skinned.

Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days. If you do not use the entire cucumber during one meal, place it in a tightly sealed container so that it does not become dried out. For maximum quality, cucumber should be used within one or two days. Cucumbers should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.

Preparation

Two common questions about cucumbers involve consumption of their skin and their seeds. There are several facts you need to know before making your decision about consumption of cucumber skins and seeds. First, it is important to remember that the skins and seeds of cucumbers are both rich in nutrients. In fact, the nutrient richness of both plant parts is significantly higher than the flesh. For this reason, consumption of both skins and seeds is desirable from a nutritional standpoint. 

Growing

Some suggested varieties for Ohio gardens are Sweet Slice Burpless, Straight 8, Poinsett, Dasher II and Marketmore 80 for slicing. Boston Pickling are good for pickles and Bushmaster and Spacemaster are good for container gardening. Unusual varieties include Lemon, a small yellow type, and Armenian, a long, slender, sweet variety. There are many new and excellent hybrid varieties available as well. Refer to the end of tthis fact sheet for varieties and their characteristics.

Cucumbers are ready for harvest 50 to 70 days from planting. Depending on their use, harvest on the basis of size. Cucumbers should not be allowed to reach the yellowish stage as they become bitter with size. Harvest by cutting the stem 1/4 inch above the fruit. Don't trample the vines any more than necessary to harvest the crop.

Frequent picking of cucumbers is essential as they grow and reach optimum quality. Delayed harvest results in reduced quality products and less productive plants because fruiting is an exhaustive process for the plant.

  • Straight Eight - Heavy yield of smooth, 8-inch long straight and smooth cucumber, dark skin and pure white flesh.
  • Spacemaster - Excellent for baskets on containers, 7-1/2 inch dark green fruits, mosaic and scab tolerant.
  • Seman - Sunny yellow skin, lemon shaped and lemon sized cucumbers, crisp and mild.
  • Sweet Slice Burpless - mild 10 to 12-inch fruits, never bitter, resists several diseases.
  • Bush Pickle Hybrid - 2-1/2 to 3-inch plants, early crop of white-spined 5-inch fruits.

Information was adapted from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42 and http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1608.html.

2016 Recipe

2016 Cucumber Recipe Card 1

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2015 Recipe

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2014 Recipe

2014 Recipe Card - Cucumber Canoes - Cucumbers

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2013 Recipe

cucumber yogurt dip

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2012 Recipe

Cucumber Salad_2012

 

 

 

 

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