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Tag: vegucation

Vegucation: Tomatoes

About Tomatoes

The title says “Vegucation”, but tomatoes are really a fruit although they are commonly put in the vegetable category. In fact, Arkansas considers the tomato both its state vegetable and its state fruit. Tomatoes are thought to have originated in Peru, where their name literally means “plump thing with a navel.” They are the most common vegetable/fruit to be grown in a home garden. Heirloom tomatoes are grown true from seed unlike many modern hybrid tomatoes we see today making them a very desirable variety. 

tomato on vineWhy are they beneficial?

Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which is a red pigment. This antioxidant has been shown to decrease the risk for heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes also contain the antioxidant vitamin C which protects your immune system and can also decrease cancer risk. Another nutrient found in tomatoes is vitamin A, which gives you healthy skin and hair. Tomatoes are also 95% water which helps keep you hydrated longer. 

When are they in season?

Non-greenhouse tomatoes are usually found in Tennessee from June to October, but you can find greenhouse grown tomatoes in the spring.

How long will they keep?

Ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature and used as soon as possible. Unripe tomatoes can be kept at room temperature until ripe.

heirloom tomatoesHow can I use tomatoes?

Tomatoes are extremely versatile from putting a slice on a sandwich to making homemade tomato sauce. Here’s some new ideas to rethink how you eat tomatoes:

  • Make a mango or peach salsa for taco night.
  • Make a tomato tart for your next brunch. I like this recipe from Food Network. You can make the homemade dough or just buy one pre-made.
  • Make your own “sun dried” tomatoes in the oven. Just sprinkle sliced tomatoes with salt and roast in the oven at 250 degrees for about four hours. These will last a day in the refrigerator, but be sure to bring to room temperature before serving.

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

Vegucation: Avocados

Avocados may be one of the current trendiest foods, but there’s a good reason for its popularity. Read on to find out why.

About Avocados

Many people consider avocados a vegetable, but they are actually a fruit.  Avocados are low in sugar and are the fruit with the highest amount of protein with 4 grams per avocado. Their ripening process is also unique. Usually we want produce that is not picked before maturity, but avocados only ripen once picked. 

Why are they beneficial?avocado sliced

Avocados are often called a superfood because they have so many benefits. They are most known for being a source of “good” fat. This fat is beneficial for the heart because of its omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados are also known for their beauty benefits because of its vitamin C and E levels. These vitamins promote healthy skin and hair. Avocados also have plenty of fiber which helps keep you full longer, making them the perfect addition to any meal. They are 73% water, so they are great at keeping your body hydrated too!

When are they in season?

Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America where the weather is hot and dry, which means it is difficult to find local avocados in Tennessee. When you do find them, it will be during the peak of summer and the season will most likely be very short. 

avocado in bowlHow long will they keep?

An unripe avocado will take a few days to ripen if left out on the counter. Put in a paper bag to speed up the ripening process or refrigerate to slow it down. Once ripe, avocados only last a day or two. Use the whole avocado at one time for best results. You’ll know your avocado is ripe when it feels heavy and it gives a little when you press on the skin lightly. You can also peel the stem off and if the color underneath is light green, it’s ripe!

How can I use avocados?

Besides your traditional guacamole recipe, there are endless ways to use avocados. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Eat them for breakfast. I love southwestern toast with whole grain bread, a fried egg, mashed avocado, and salsa or hot sauce on top. Or bake the egg inside the avocado where the pit used to be.
  • Add them to smoothies. The texture makes it creamier and the flavor goes great with your favorite green smoothie recipe.
  • Add them to your dessert. Avocados and chocolate don’t sound like the go together, but trust me they do. I like this healthy chocolate pudding recipe. It’s quick and simple and made with real ingredients.

You can add avocado to anything you want. That’s the beauty of it. And it’s versatility is probably what makes the avocado so popular. 

 

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

Vegucation: Broccoli

About Broccolibroccolini

Broccoli is part of the cruciferous family along with kale, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and many more. These veggies offer a lot of nutrients for few calories, so if you’re trying to eat healthier try to include more of them in your diet. 

Why is it beneficial?

Consuming broccoli regularly can decrease the risks of many diseases like heart disease, obesity, and cancer, especially colon cancer. It has plenty of vitamin K that supports bone health in people of all ages, but especially children and older adults. The antioxidant vitamin C and vitamin A support healthy skin and help prevent signs of aging from the inside out.

When is it in season?

Local broccoli can be found in the spring and fall in Tennessee. 

broccoli close upHow long will it keep?

You should eat your broccoli as soon as possible for the freshest taste, but you can store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Just mist the heads with water and keep in the crisper drawer. Do not keep in a sealed container or wrapped tightly in plastic. 

 

How can I prepare broccoli?

Besides the traditional way of steaming or boiling broccoli, there are other delicious ways to prepare it. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Roast it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (more or less depending on your oven) or until crispy. Season with parmesan and sliced almonds or red pepper flakes or any of your favorite seasonings. 
  • Grate it and form broccoli tots. Combine the broccoli with egg and breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for a healthier version of tater tots.
  • Make a broccoli apple salad. I like this recipe from Cooking Classy.
  • Add cooked broccoli to your favorite protein like chicken or quinoa to create a classic well balanced meal.

You can always find new ways to put a twist on an old favorite. 

 

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

Vegucation: Zucchini

Learn more about this versatile summer squash!

About Zucchinizucchini vegucation 

Although we don’t usually call zucchini a squash, it’s part of the same family. These summer squashes most likely originated in Central America, and you can find them growing there year-round. People began growing them in North America and Europe during the warmer months, giving them the name “summer squash”. In Tennessee, we can have some pretty hot summer days. Fortunately, foods like zucchini and squash have such a high water content that it helps keep your body hydrated longer, making those hot summer days more bearable. The name “summer squash” really is appropriate. 

Why is it beneficial?

Zucchini is a very low calorie vegetable with only 17 calories per 100 grams. Many people that are trying to lose weight often utilize this veggie. Its peel has a lot of fiber, so it’s low calorie and keeps you full. The antioxidants in zucchini, vitamins A and C,  protect our bodies from damaging free radicals which can cause certain diseases. Eating zucchini and other summer squashes is often recommended to pregnant women because of their high amounts of folate. Folate is important for growth and development. It also contains the essential mineral potassium which is important for heart health. There are seemingly endless health benefits of zucchini.

When is it in season?

Since it is a summer squash, local Tennessee zucchini can be found whenever the weather stays warm both during the day and night. This is usually from June until October

zucchini vegucationHow long will it keep?

If you buy the freshest zucchini, they will have a smooth, shiny skin and will feel pretty firm. Avoid floppy or wrinkled zucchini. You can store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Larger and wider zucchini will usually have more seeds in the middle. 

How do I prepare zucchini?

Make sure you wash the zucchini before preparing to rid of any dirt or debris. If your zucchini is not organic, consider soaking it in a vegetable wash (store-bought or homemade). Here’s a few different ways to eat it:

  • Slice the zucchini into rounds, cover in olive oil, and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes. (It will be more or less depending on the size of your slices.) Season with spices of your choice.
  • Make zucchini noodles with a spiralizer. Be sure to press out some of the moisture in the zoodles with a paper towel. Sauté them in a pan until soft and top with anything you normally put on pasta. (Pro tip: these do cook down, so a good rule is one small zucchini per person)
  • You can even bake with zucchini. Grate it and add it to batter to make zucchini bread. Add chocolate chips for a healthy dessert. This is a good way to get an extra dose of vegetables! I like this recipe. It can be easily adjusted for any dietary restrictions. 

Zucchini just might be one of the most versatile vegetables in existence. It has the perfect balance of fresh and savory, which complements any meal. 

 

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

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