Weekly Fig

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Category: Education (page 1 of 4)

Vegucation: Turnips

Turnips are part of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli to name a few. The turnip greens are probably more commonly used than the root of the vegetable, but both offer plenty of health benefits and flavor!

Why are they beneficial?

Cruciferous veggies have been known to decrease the risk of cancer because of their antioxidants and phytochemicals. Turnips also have a lot of vitamin K which supports a healthy heart and healthy blood. They are also high in folate, which is important for development and the cardiovascular system. Overall, turnips are a very heart-healthy vegetable.

When are they in season?

Turnips’ peak season is in the fall. Although they are a root vegetable, their leaves can still be sprayed with pesticides, so always try to buy organic when possible. 

How long will they keep?turnips in ground

Once you get your turnips, cut the greens off the root and store them separately. The unwashed greens will last a few days in the refrigerator, while the roots will last a couple weeks in the refrigerator. 

How can I prepare them?

You can use turnips just like any other root vegetable. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Chop the roots up and boil them. Then mash them and season them for an alternative to mashed potatoes.
  • Roughly chop the greens and add them to soups or stews. 
  • Roast the roots with other fall veggies like carrots or butternut squash.
  • Add the diced root to a beef stew. 
  • Make classic southern turnip greens.

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

Vegucation: Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is almost the definition of fall. It’s sweetness comes out when cooked which goes well with seasonal savory dishes. This veggie is technically a fruit and is a member of the gourd family, along with pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers. 

Why is it beneficial?

Butternut is high in fiber which makes it a heart healthy choice for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. It is high in folate which is essential for a healthy pregnancy and contains the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C. These nutrients protect your immune system which is perfect during cold and flu season. 

When is it in season?

Butternut squash can be found throughout the fall. Look for a squash that is matte on the outside. A glossy exterior can mean it was picked too early and won’t have a developed flavor. 

How long will it keep?

Whole butternut squash will keep for a couple weeks if kept in a cool, dark place with ventilation (not in the refrigerator). Peeled and cut squash will last a few days in the refrigerator. 

How can I prepare it?butternut squash soup

Butternut squash is a pretty versatile veggie to cook with. It goes with many flavors and moods. The only downside is it can take a while to cook since it is so dense. If you want a quick dinner, cook your squash when you have time and eat it with various meals throughout the week. You can:

  • halve it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, roast it, then stuff it.
  • peel it and cut into cubes. Season and roast it, then eat as a side dish or puree for an easy soup.
  • or boil the cubes for a veggie boost in your smoothies.
  • boil the cubed squash, mash it, and stuff large pasta shells or ravioli with it. 

 

No matter how you fix it, you’ll enjoy this yummy taste of fall!

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods 

Vegucation: Roselle Hibiscus

Roselle is a type of hibiscus flower bud that has a beautiful hot pink color. However, this flower has more to offer then just its beauty.

Why is it Beneficial?

Roselle has many nutrients including vitamins A, B2, B3, and C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Because of these nutrients, roselle can help lower blood pressure to protect your heart. The calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Vitamin C protects your immune system and fights cancer-causing free radicals. Roselle is safe to consume for adults and children. 

How long will it keep?

Fresh roselle buds only lasts a few days, but dried buds will last weeks to months if stored in an air tight container. Learn how to dry your buds here

How can I prepare it?roselle tea

You can use dried roselle hibiscus in many ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Steep it for a few minutes in boiling water to make your own hibiscus tea. Add lemon juice and honey for a health tonic. 
  • Add it to lemonade.
  • Turn your tea into popsicles with freezer molds or paper cups and popsicle sticks. 
  • Chop the dried buds and add them to muffins or cakes. 

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

Bison Meat: Better Than Beef?

Bison used to freely roam the United States until they were over hunted. After many years, the bison population has sprung back and is now a popular grocery item. Many people believe it’s healthier than beef, but is that true?

Benefits of Bison

Bison is generally lower in saturated fat than beef, which has led many to decide that it’s overall healthier. Because of the low amounts of fat, bison meat is generally very lean in all cuts. Bison also has a large amount of vitamin B12 which is important for brain health and red blood cell formation. The B vitamins also work together to convert carbs into usable energy. Other nutrients bison has include iron, zinc, and selenium. Bison is more commonly found grass-fed than beef, simply because it is not as industrialized as the beef industry. 

It It Better?

Although bison has gained popularity, it is not a “better” version of beef. They both have important nutrients that should not be overlooked. A well balanced diet that includes both of these sources of protein is best. 

You can get your bison meat from Weekly Fig, thanks to Boundary Line Bison Ranch

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

Vegucation: Muscadine Grapes

Also known as the grape of the south, muscadines have been gathered for centuries for jams, preserves, and homemade wine. They can either be beige or dark purple colored. The beige variety is usually referred to as Scuppernongs.  Besides their history, muscadine grapes have gained popularity for their health benefits, too. 

Why are they beneficial?

Because of their richly colored skin, muscadines have the highest amount of antioxidants in the entire grape family. These antioxidants protect against heart disease and some types of cancer. They also have plenty of fiber and vitamin C which support your digestive and immune systems. 

When are they in season?

Muscadines thrive in hot and humid climates of the southeast, so they are usually in season during late summer. They normally aren’t hard to find locally since they are a popular crop to grow in this region. 

How long will they keep?muscadines

If stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, muscadines will last up to one week. Only wash them before you eat them. Use within a few days for the best nutrition and taste. 

How can I prepare them?

Muscadine grapes have a thick skin and seeds in the middle, so usually just the pulp is eaten raw. If you prefer to cook them, here are a few ideas:

  • Make an easy muscadine jam. (You can make it without pectin. Your jam will just be a little runnier.)
  • Make muscadine sorbet for a healthy, cool dessert. 
  • Make muscadine honey syrup for pancakes or waffles.

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

Vegucation: Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms got their name from their appearance. They grow in layers and look just like oyster shells. These mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine as an immune booster, and for good reason!

Why are they beneficial?

Mushrooms in general have a good amount of antioxidants. The antioxidant that is only found in fungi  is called ergothioneine. Oyster mushrooms also contain iron, potassium, calcium, vitamins B1 and B2, and vitamin C. 

When are they in season?

Oyster mushrooms can be grown year round, but there aren’t many mushroom growers in Tennessee. Thankfully, we have 2 Angels Mushroom Farm right here in Chattanooga! Always buy organic mushrooms since they are so porous. 

How long will they keep?oyster mushroom

Once harvested, mushrooms will last about a week in the refrigerator, but they will have a better flavor and texture when fresh. 

How can I prepare them?

Mushrooms are a great addition to any dish. Here are a few ideas:

  • Saute them with shopped green onions and garlic, then use them to top steak or chicken.
  • Add them to stir fries.
  • Grill them on kebabs.
  • Add them to pasta (especially Alfredo)
  • Top toasted baguette slices with sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese for an appetizer. 

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

Vegucation: Lavender

Lavender is known for its strong floral aroma and beautiful color. The scent can help alleviate stress and headaches, but this herb can be used for more than aromatherapy. This herb has been around for centuries and was even used during the Black Plague to “ward off” the disease. Honeybees are very attracted to the smell of lavender, and so are humans!

Why is it beneficial?

Lavender surprisingly has many important nutrients. It contains calcium and iron, which are important for blood and bone health. It also has some vitamin A which improves eye and skin health. Luckily, you don’t need to consume a lot a lavender to get the benefits. A two ounce serving is more than enough. 

When is it in season?

You can usually find local lavender from April/May through August if a farmer near you grows it. You can also grow a relatively small lavender plant yourself! Find the seeds at any garden center. 

How long will it keep?dried lavender

Fresh picked lavender won’t last very long. To preserve your herbs, you can dry them fairly easily with this tutorial. Dried lavender will last months if stored in a cool, dry place. 

How can I use it?

There are seemingly endless uses for lavender from home goods to baked goods. Here are a few ideas listed below.

  • The flavor of lavender goes best with sweet or decadent. Use it in cookies, scones, or cakes.
  • You can also use it in drinks. Try this lavender lemonade!
  • Make a calming exfoliating scrub. Mix dried or fresh lavender with granulated sugar and melted coconut oil until you reach your desired consistency. Store in an airtight container.
  • Make homemade chamomile lavender latte.

 

The ideas are endless, so get creative! Share with us how you used your lavender on our Facebook page, Weekly Fig, or our members only page, Weekly Fig Think Tank.

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods.

Vegucation: Okra

Okra is a southern food staple. Although it’s usually breaded and fried, there are healthier ways to get its benefits. 

Why is it beneficial?

Okra has a large amount of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. The vitamins give you healthy eyes and skin and keep your immune system healthy. Okra also has a ton of fiber which improves digestion. However, if you’re prone to kidney stones, beware of how much okra you eat. It contains oxalates which cause the formation of kidney stones. For the average person, eating okra is safe. 

How long will it keep?

Okra will last for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. For longer storage, you can always freeze it. 

When is it in season?roasted okra

You can usually find okra between July and October in Tennessee. Always try to buy local and organic whenever possible.

How can I prepare it?

Okra can be delicious even when it’s not fried. Here are a few ideas:

  • Roast it sliced or whole at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. 
  • Sauté it and add it to your stir fries, curries, gumbos, and soups.
  • You can grill it alongside your meat.
  • If you have the time, pickle your okra to make it last longer. 

 

Share with us how you like your okra on our Facebook page, Weekly Fig.

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

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Vegucation: Sage

Sage is technically an herb, but its benefits were too important to not include in this series. It’s actually closely related to rosemary, so the two share many properties. Sage was used thousands of years ago as medicine, but now is used to season dishes across the world. 

Why is it beneficial?

Research has shown that eating sage can boost memory, decrease inflammation (like arthritis), and protect against free radicals. It also helps maintain bone density because of its high amount of vitamin K. 

When is it in season?

Sage can be grown year round in Tennessee depending on weather and if farmers choose to grow it. Always buy organic sage whenever possible to avoid consuming extra chemicals and toxins. 

How long will it keep?sage plant

Fresh sage won’t last but a few days. Keep in the refrigerator in loose packaging if you plan to use soon. If you want to make it last longer, you can dry or freeze your herbs. (See below)

How can I prepare it?

You can eat sage fresh or cooked. Usually savory foods go best with sage’s peppery flavor, but feel free to get creative. Check out the ideas listed below:

  • Add it as a garnish before serving.
  • Add it to vegetables before roasting for a deeper flavor. 
  • Learn how to dry your herbs here.
  • Learn how to freeze them here with a simple ice cube tray.
  • Add it to marinades for grilling meat. 
  • If you are vegetarian, sage also goes great with lentils or chickpeas. 

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

Is Fat Good for Us?

Fat is possibly the most controversial nutrient out there. Years ago we believed too much fat directly caused heart disease, but now studies are showing that it can be good for us. So, what’s the deal? Here are the basics:

What does fat do?

Fat helps absorb vitamins, clot blood, balance hormone production, maintain healthy skin and hair, and supports a working brain (especially those omega-3s). Extremely low-fat diets are missing out on these important functions. Adding healthy fats to your meals also helps you feel more satisfied and can reduce snacking which might help some lose weight. 

So, which fats are healthy?

The “good” fats–the unsaturated fats–are found in fish, avocados, olive oil, canola oil, and nuts and seeds like walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. These help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Your daily fat intake should consist of mostly unsaturated fats. A handful of walnuts, two tablespoons of chia seeds, or one tablespoon of olive oil are great portions of healthy fats. healthy fats, nuts and seeds

Saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol, but are fine in moderation along with unsaturated fats. Butter, cheese, yogurt, and most animal derived fat is saturated fat. Coconut oil actually contains both unsaturated and saturated fats, but is still best in moderation. These should not be your primary source of fat. It is important to note that grass-fed meat and dairy contain more beneficial omega-3s  than grain-fed, so this is a healthier option. 

Try to avoid trans fats at all costs. Trans fats are hydrogenated (hardened) vegetable oils, and are usually used to preserve processed food. These hardened oils are more likely to clog arteries than the other two kinds of fats which leads to a higher risk of heart disease. Using whole, real ingredients ensures you won’t be consuming these fats. 

 

Take-Away

There is no single amount of fat intake for everyone. Some people need more fat in their diet, like nursing or pregnant women. Some people need less, like those with a high risk of heart attack. Always talk to your doctor for a more personalized amount. Generally, a well balanced diet with plenty of protein, “good” fat, and fresh vegetables ensures a healthy mind and body. 

 

Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods. 

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