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Get To Know Your Fruits And Veggies From C To D

Table of Contents

Ca

ntaloupe Offers More Than Sweet Juicy Refreshment

................................................................................... . . . . .3

Cha

rd Packs A Nutritious Punch In A Colorful Package

........................................................................ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Che

rries Brighten The Table And Gladden The Heart

.................................................................................... . . . . . . . . .9

Coc

onut Cracks The Code For A Tasty Tropical Fruit

................................................................................... . . . . . . . .1 1

Col

lard Greens Are The Quintessential Southern Cuisine

............................................................................... . . . . . .14

Corn O

ffers More Than A Summer Vegetable Staple

................................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . .16

Cra

nberries Corner The Market On Creative Nutrition

............................................................................ . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

Cuc

umbers Are The Coolest In So Many Ways

.................................................................................................... .22

D

amson Plums Are A Delightful Discovery

......................................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

D

urian Fruit Demands Attention On Many Levels

......................................................................................... . . . . . . .27

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Cantaloupe Offers More Than Sweet Juicy Refreshment

Some say cantaloupe and some say muskmelon. Whatever you call this pungent, juicy fruit, the fact is this is

one healthy food! Cantaloupe is the perfect snack for adults and kids, and adding this fruit to your diet has

definite benefits, besides just being tasty.

What is it?

Cantaloupe is part of the melon family which includes squash, cucumber, gourds, and pumpkin. In America, we

know cantaloupe by its rib-textured outer skin. When you slice a cantaloupe in half, you'll find a pocket of seeds and soft threads. Scoop this out and you'll be ready to enjoy the sweet, juicy orange color flesh with its

distinctive flavor and aroma.

Grown on vines, this fruit is ripe when the stem begins to separate easily from the cantaloupe itself. Because

the aroma of the cantaloupe is so distinctive, many people say it is quite simple to tell if the fruit is ripe. If it smells ripe, it is ripe.

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Get To Know Your Fruits And Veggies From C To D

History

Christopher Columbus is credited with introducing cantaloupes to America during his second voyage to the

continent in the late 15th Century. This North American cantaloupe with its familiar orange flesh is the variety we are most familiar with in America. This differs from the European cantaloupe, which has an outer rind of a

gray-green color and is smooth instead of ribbed.

Long before North America was introduced to cantaloupe, Africans, Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks grew the

fruit in their native lands. The varieties differed just as much as the regions, but it was all cantaloupe.

Health Benefits

Like many healthy fruits, cantaloupes are rich in vitamin C and contain antioxidants that help promote good

cardiovascular health and better immunity. Cantaloupe also contains beta-carotene, a rich source of vitamin A

which reduces the risk of cataracts and promotes eye health.

These vitamins also help limit the damage caused by free-radicals. We can't forget about the cantaloupe's

healthy dose of B-complex vitamins which are known to help regulate blood sugar levels by processing carbs

slowly, over a longer period of time.

Fun Facts

The name “cantaloupe” is derived from an Italian village called Cantalup, which was among the first places

where the fruit was cultivated around the year 1700. However, this is known by a few other names in different

parts of the world.

Persians and Armenians know this fruit as part of a group of muskmelons that include honeydew, casaba, and

crenshaw varieties. South Africans refer to them as spanspeks. Australians call cantaloupe rockmelons.

How to Eat

Most people enjoy fresh cantaloupe raw, on its own, savoring the juicy, rich texture and flavor as a snack or

dessert. However, because cantaloupe is so flavorful and appealing, many find it a fun food to experiment with

in order to serve in new ways. One interesting serving suggestion is to wrap cantaloupe chunks in thinly cut

prosciutto slices for a tasty and eye-pleasing appetizer.

Cantaloupe also goes well with yogurt and mixed with other fruits in sweet salads. You can even make a cold

soup by blending other fruits like apples, peaches, and strawberries with cantaloupe together in a cold puree.

Cantaloupe also makes a great sweet bread with just the right spices, nuts, and spices like ginger and cinnamon.

Slushies and smoothies are another popular way to serve this tantalizing fruit.

Something to keep in mind is that cantaloupes have a short lifespan. Since the surface of the outer rind is so

rough, it can harbor bacteria, particularly Salmonella. For this reason, it is important to wash cantaloupes well before cutting them open. Try to eat your cantaloupe within three days of purchase to reduce this bacterial risk.

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The unmistakably sweet taste of ripe cantaloupe make this one fruit that is easy to enjoy. For those of us with a sense of culinary adventure, there's a world of interesting recipes waiting for you to explore with this popular seasonal fruit.

Chard Packs A Nutritious Punch In A Colorful Package

You may know chard by a number of different names, like swiss chard, spinach beet, mangold, or silverbeet.

But no matter what you call it, chard is a delicious and very nutritious green. It has a wealth of nutrients and over a dozen antioxidants, making it one of the best leafy vegetables for healthy diets.

What is it?

Chard is a cousin of the beet. However, only the stalks and leaves of chard are edible, even though, like beets, they have a bulb that grows beneath the surface of the ground.

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Get To Know Your Fruits And Veggies From C To D

The green leaves are saturated with a deep red and white tint. The stalks of the chard plant can range in color

between orange, white, red, and yellow. A variety of chard can sometimes be found packaged together as

rainbow chard.

History

Ancient Greeks and Romans used chard for medicinal purposes as early as the fourth century B.C. It is native

to the Mediterranean region, found mostly in Italy, France, and Spain, but is now also grown in America.

The word Swiss was added to the word chard by 19th century seed catalogs to help distinguish this vegetable

from the French spinach varieties.

Health Benefits

Chard is considered one of the world's healthiest vegetables for several reasons. It has at least thirteen known antioxidants, including syringic acid, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, and kaempferol, known for its

ability to benefit cardiovascular health. The stems and veins of the plant also have nutrients called betalains that help reduce inflammation and detoxify the body.

As if that's not enough, chard is an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as a long list of nutrients that includes, calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. Chard is also low in fat and cholesterol, and contains protein and dietary fiber. This very common green leafy vegetable is actually quite unique for its arsenal of healthy

benefits.

Fun Facts

The word “chard” actually comes from the Latin word carduus which means thistle. As this “carduus” was

being heavily cultivated in France, the word evolved into the French word “carde” which in English evolved

into “chard.”

Another source indicates that the word "chard" was adopted by the French in order to distinguish it from a similar celery-like vegetable called cardoon. No matter what you call it, chard certainly has developed

somewhat of an identity crisis.

How to Eat

Like many other leafy greens like kale and spinach, chard can be sautéed, grilled, roasted, or steamed as a side dish of its own or as an ingredient in casseroles mixed with rice, quinoa, or pasta. You can eat the younger

plants raw, but it has somewhat of a bitter taste that may be too harsh-tasting for most people.

Lots of Mediterranean dishes feature chard as part of the recipe. If stored properly in the refrigerator, chard can last up to two weeks. One of the best ways to cook chard is to boil it in a similar way you would other greens,

making a traditional Southern dish that has a long history in America. Another simple recipe is to saute quickly in a skillet and toss it with some lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic.

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Vegetarians frequently use chard in recipes, and one healthy idea is to create a spicy vegetable tart pie using

tofu, egg whites, mushrooms, and a crust made from various seeds and walnuts.

During the peak season for chard, stock up and try adding this green to soups, pasta, quiche and other baked

vegetable and cheese dishes. The nutritional benefits are incredible and you'll be enjoying a time-honored

member of the family of greens!

Cherries Brighten The Table And Gladden The Heart

The song says “life is just a bowl of cherries.” If that's true, you can count me in! Cherries are one of the

tastiest fruits you'll ever find, and one of the prettiest when placed in a bowl on a table. So, fill a bowl and check out what cherries have in store for your life.

What is it?

Cherries are part of the agricultural family that includes plums, apricots, and peaches. Like their cousins,

cherries have a stone pit in the center, but because of their smaller size, these pits cause a bit more

consternation. This has inspired many inventors to design mechanical cherry pitting tools.

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You'll find cherries in the stores year-round, pitted and unpitted, canned and frozen, so you can enjoy eating

them just about anytime in a number of savory and sweet recipes. Not only are cherries delicious and very

snack-worthy, many people enjoy them for their health benefits as well. This little dynamo contains powerful

antioxidants and healthy benefits for cardiovascular wellness.

History

Cherries have been cultivated since prehistoric times, making it one of the oldest known fruits in existence.

Cherry trees are native to parts of Asia and Europe. However, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations knew

the fruit, as well.

At least one species of cherry trees was well established in America by the time the colonists arrived. Today,

four states contribute 90% of the world's cherry crop. Of the more than 1,000 varieties of cherry trees, only 10

are commercially produced for consumers.

Health Benefits

Cherries are a great source of potassium and vitamin C, but their biggest benefit is from a specific antioxidant called anthocyanins, which also gives the fruit its rich red pigment. These anthocyanins have been shown to

reduce pain and inflammation in scientific studies, which in turn reduces the risk for high cholesterol, heart

disease, and excess belly fat.

Other research suggests that cherries ease painful symptoms of conditions such as gout and arthritis. One

particular study by an Oregon university pointed to less muscle pain in runners who participated in a long-

distance relay after consuming cherry juice for the week before the race. This is a tasty trial that I know many runners wouldn't object to participating in.

Fun Facts

One of the more expensive varieties of cherry is the Rainer cherry. The reason for this is because, in general,

cherries are a favorite of birds. In the case of the Rainer cherry, the birds consume most of the season's harvest before they have a chance to be picked for commercial sale, thus creating a shortage which creates a higher

price tag. Cherry trees also provide food for several species of caterpillars, so you can see that when a bowl of cherries graces our table, it's dodged a lot of obstacles to get there.

Cherry trees are classified as part of the rose family. As such, cherry leaves are poisonous, unlike the fruit itself.

It takes about five years before a cherry tree matures enough for the first harvest. It's estimated that the average American household consumes about five pounds of cherries each year, and each cherry tree produces enough

cherries to bake almost thirty pies.

How to Eat

Fresh cherries have a short shelf life of just four days in a refrigerator, so they must be consumed quickly or

frozen as soon as possible. Freezing them quickly if not consumed fresh also retains the full benefit of the

antioxidants and nutrients in the fruit. Like other highly-perishable fruit such as blueberries, cherries should not be washed until you're ready to eat them.

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The moisture that inevitably stays trapped in the packaging and on the fruit is bacteria's best friend.

Cherries can be snacked on as is or used in any number of recipes for a tart, fresh flavor from nature. They

make great additions to breakfast foods like cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, and yogurt. You can also find dried

cherries, perfect for including in meat or green salads, or with a number of pasta and rice dishes.

If you buy concentrated cherry juice, you can create some exciting smoothies and spritzers for a mid-day treat

or evening cooler. Of course the dessert possibilities for cherries are well known. You'll want to give cherries a try in pies, muffins, cakes, cookies, compotes, and much more. And who hasn't indulged in a chocolate covered

cherry at some point in their life?

Cherries are another of the super-foods highly recommended by nutritionists for healthy benefits. A quick

search for recipes will quickly introduce you to new ways to enjoy these old time favorites which have gained

in popularity again. Life is just a bowl of cherries when you include these tart morsels in your meal plan.

Coconut Cracks The Code For A Tasty Tropical Fruit

Perhaps you have enjoyed shredded coconut through the years in cookies or other desserts. But, did you know

this sweet treat can be enjoyed in so many other ways? Coconut is nutritious as well as delicious. Take a look at some of the delightful surprises this fruit, or nut if you wish, has for you.

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What is it?

Coconuts are a member of the palm tree family, and grow in tropical climates closer to the equator, in both

hemispheres of the world. They are cultivated in over 80 countries within these regions. Coconuts have several

layers, and the exterior shell is a hard, fiber-like membrane that requires a sharp knife and a little work to crack.

This fruit is officially classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe. Now, most people (unless you're a botanist)

have never heard of a “drupe.” A drupe is a fruit that has what we would call a “pit” which is nothing more than a hard cover that encloses the seed, like a peach or an olive. Drupes, including coconuts, have three layers

which we must navigate through to enjoy what the coconut has to offer.

History

The origin of the coconut seems to be debated a bit. One palm specialist has suggested that the coconut most

likely came from the Indian Archipelago or Polynesia, using one argument that there are more varieties of

coconut palms in the Eastern hemisphere than in the Americas. Other scientists argue that the coconut origins

can be traced to the Americas and migrated westward across the Pacific.

Portugal and Spain are the two countries that first documented seeing coconuts during the mid 16th century,

describing them as resembling the faces of monkeys. Although most often associated with the Pacific islands

and southern Asia in movies, art, and historical depictions, coconuts do grow in extreme southern areas of

Florida, California, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

Health Benefits

Coconut has been credited with everything from improving hair and skin quality to easing symptoms of

menopause, diarrhea, and even helping wounds heal faster. Coconut's most significant quality is to aid digestion and maintain a healthy pH balance in the intestines and lessen the amount of toxin build-up.

One of the healthiest oils you can consume is coconut oil, having much less trans fat, resulting in better benefits from the Omega-3 fatty acids the oil contains. Even though the plant is high in saturated fat, it is said to help lower cholesterol and the risk for heart disease, as well as provide a natural energy boost and help people

maintain a healthy body weight.

It is also believed that coconut contains lauric acid, which helps the immune system by fighting off viral, fungal, and bacterial agents in the body. Coconut milk is another way to enjoy the health benefits of this tropical treat.

Many people have found the benefits of switching from other milks to coconut milk for their own particular

health needs.

Fun Facts

Some countries, Malaysia and Thailand for example, train macaque monkeys to harvest coconuts much faster

than humans can. In India, this plant is sacred, and is used in ceremonies as a sign of great respect for its healing qualities and its ability to reduce stress and eliminate toxins from the body.

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Coconuts are referred to as the “tree of life” because every bit of the fruit is used to produce a wealth of

products such as drink, food, fiber, fuel, utensils, musical instruments, and much more. As a matter of fact,

coconut water was used successfully during World War II and Vietnam as a substitute intravenous solution due

to wartime shortages.

How to Eat

If you are lucky enough to get a real whole coconut, you may think it's a “touch nut to crack” but it's a lot easier than you might think once you know how. Look for the three dots resembling a face. Take a sharp object, like a

meat thermometer or screwdriver, and poke the holes until you find the soft one, then push it all the way in and drain the water into a glass; taste to make sure it's sweet (not oily or sour, which then you would throw the

whole thing out.)

If the liquid is sweet, proceed to crack the nut by first putting in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. When you remove it, you'll see the hard shell has cracked. Get out a hammer and smack the coconut until it splits open.

Remove the shell and peel away the brown skin attached to the white meat with a vegetable peeler. You're

ready to enjoy!

The coconut meat can be shredded, shaved, or diced and is most often thought of in desserts like macaroons,

cookies, pies, and cupcakes. But, don't stop there! Coconut is a wonderful addition to many main dishes and

sides, as well. Add shredded coconut to breading to coat shrimp, for instance. Shred, shave, or grate fresh

coconut to dress up many types of salads, including green salads, rice, and quinoa. The bulk of recipes for this tropical plant are the many delicious baked desserts and sweet breads, but use your imagination to expand your

use of coconut.

The uses for coconut milk are growing in popularity every day. Combine the milk with ingredients like raisins,

cranberries, brown sugar, and cinnamon to create a tasty basmati rice or brown rice pudding recipe. For meat,

chicken, or other main dishes, make a spicy curry with coconut cream or milk. Turn to any Thai recipe for ways

to use up your coconut milk, whether poured right from the coconut itself or purchased as processed milk.

Whether you purchase a fresh coconut or processed products made from this tropical plant, you can add a bit of

healthy sweetness to your diet by exploring the many recipes for this unique fruit, nut, or whatever you call it.

With a little creativity, you'll find lots of new ways to use this “tough nut” and be happy you finally cracked the coconut code!

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Collard Greens Are The Quintessential Southern Cuisine

When you think Southern cooking, you can't think too long before considering collard greens. This staple of the Southern diet has a long history and many fans who have perfected cooking their “collards” for generations.

Let's take a little closer look at what makes these leafy greens so special.

What is it?

Collards belong to the cabbage family of leafy vegetables which, depending on the climate, can be a perennial

or biennial plant. The edible leaves have a slightly bitter taste, and are best when picked small and before they are fully mature.

Even though collard greens are available all year long, they are actually at their peak in the colder months.

These greens have taken a strong hold on the Southern culture of the United States, and found their way into

homes for generations, much like other greens such as mustard, chard, turnip, and kale. And, collards are

actually found in many other regions around the world.

History

Ancient Romans and Greeks grew and ate collard greens as early as the 4th century B.C. The American use of

collards began when African slaves brought their knowledge of creating meals from the green tops of vegetables

to the colonies. Often forced to use whatever leftovers they could find after the meal was made for the “big

house,” these slaves learned to boil up the tossed-aside green tops of the vegetables they prepared.

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Slow cooking with a mixture of greens, pig's feet, or ham hocks yielded a much needed meal. The juice left

from cooking greens, sometimes called pot likker, or pot liquor depending on your region, was also consumed.

As these recipes started to make their way out of the slave quarters and into the plantation kitchens, the recipes were expanded and shared in what now has become a solid Southern tradition of “soul food.” But this leafy

green is just as well known in Brazil, Portugal, and the Kashmir region and is so nourishing that it is considered a mainstay in these areas just as it is in America's South.

Health Benefits

Collards are known for having the best ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract for easy consumption,

thereby reducing cholesterol levels in the entire body. Cooking or steaming the greens is a much better way to

produce this benefit than eating raw greens. And the taste is also improved in the cooking by most people's

standards.

Whenever we talk about collard greens, we have to mention the four compounds called glucosinolates. These

compounds offer protection against cancer by helping detoxify and reduce inflammation in the body. Like other

cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and bok choy, these benefits make collards a

highly-recommended part of healthy diets.

Fun Facts

The state of South Carolina, the second largest producer of collards, attempted to pass a bill to make collards the official Leafy Green of the state. Many people who enjoy “soul food” along with the heritage that comes along

with this African-American tradition, appreciate the idea of levitating this common green to higher status. The word “collards” is derived from the word “colewort” or “cabbage plant.”

In the Southern states, when a family cooks up a big pot of greens of any variety, it is lovingly referred to as a

“mess of greens.” The actual distinction between a pot of greens and a mess of greens all depends on the size

and tradition of the family. A New Year's tradition calls for the consumption of collards and black-eyed peas to bring good luck and a prosperous year. You might also use collard greens to do everything from curing

headaches to warding off evil spirits.

How to Eat

Traditionally, collards are boiled or simmered with ham, pork, or bacon, or any salty or cured meat, and often

served with cornbread to complete a true Southern-style dish. Often you'll find a jar of hot sauce or pepper

sauce alongside for those who feel adventurous.

The greens make a great addition to brown rice, white rice, potatoes, pasta and quinoa. Using a flavored stock

with these combinations will add a richness to the dish. Collards can also be sautéed with onions and oil or

bacon grease. You may like to add a bit of brown sugar or even apple cider vinegar to kick up the flavor.

In Portugal, a popular soup called Caldo Verde (green broth) is served made with collards or kale along with

potatoes and onions. This soup is often served during weddings and other celebrations.

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Collards are an important part of American heritage, but also around the world, and the ancient civilizations that enjoyed them are a testament to their longevity in our culinary history. These simple greens have dressed-up

tables and warmed-up bellies for generations of families who learned that cooking sometimes meant inventing

delicious filling dishes from what we gathered, foraged, and cultivated.

Corn Offers More Than A Summer Vegetable Staple

No other vegetable brings up the memory of summer and warm weather fun like corn. An ear of corn buttered

and seasoned to your liking is just the right thing to get you in the mood for a picnic. But, there is more to corn than that summer favorite. Let's take a closer look at some of corn's better qualities and characteristics.

What is it?

Corn is the well-recognized product of stalks growing tall in vast fields that reach the horizon. The layers of broad leaves are the germinating environment for the ears themselves, and as the corn grows inside this cocoon,

male and female flowers mature and release pollen as the entire plant matures.

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In the United States, corn is the leading field crop by a two-to-one margin. We know what corn on the cob

looks like. But, this summer picnic staple has a bigger audience than that. Corn is used to produce everything

from fuel alcohol for a cleaner burning gasoline, to butters, cereals, soft drinks, and snack foods. It is also

grown as feed for livestock.

History

Corn or “maize” has been grown since prehistoric times by some of the earliest civilizations in our world's

history. Mayan and Olmec cultures were among the first to cultivate corn in the southern part of Mexico, and

the crop began to spread through the Americas by the year 1700 B.C.

When Europeans began to travel to and settle in the Americas, they traded corn with their mother country, and

corn began to be a well-known staple of diets around the world. Today, corn is produced on every continent in

the world except Antarctica.

Health Benefits

Corn's most significant contributions for our health is as a source of vitamins B1, B5, and C, as well as folate, manganese, phosphorus, and dietary fiber. Folate helps reduce the risk of birth defects, heart attack and colon

cancer. The B vitamins support memory function which can reduce the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.

A diet rich in whole grains, such as the grain processed from dried corn, (cornmeal and cereals, for instance) is also generally assumed to have phytonutrients to ward off disease to our organs and vital tissues. Research has

also shown that eating sweet corn can support the growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine which can

help lower the risk of colon cancer. Eating corn has been long believed to add much needed fiber to our diet.

That fiber can come from eating sweet corn or cornmeal.

Fun Facts

You can get creative with corn. Of course, dried cornstalks are often bundled and used to decorate homes and

businesses during the fall. Also, a corncob can be treated and hollowed out to make pipes for smoking. Some

farmers plant varieties of corn that grow very tall in order to create mazes for the sake of entertainment.

Scientifically speaking, the name for corn is “zea mays” which leads us to the word “maize,” the traditional

name by which the Native Americans called this crop. However, many cultures throughout the world have

cultivated corn and called it by a variation of the word. The colors of corn may surprise you. We normally see

sweet corn on the table in shades of yellow, but corn is grown in a variety of colors which include red, purple, blue, and even pink. Some of this corn is strictly ornamental, but some is edible, too.

How to Eat

Choosing a fresh ear of corn means choosing ears that have green husks that are not dried out. You can check

the freshness of individual kernels by pressing on them with a fingernail. The freshest corn will emit a milky,

white fluid that indicates the corn is at its peak of sweetness and flavor. The husks protect the corn, so they

should only be removed when you're ready to eat the ears you've purchased. I know many stores husk the corn,

trim it, and wrap it in plastic.

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If that's your only option, that's fine, but look for corn that is still in the husk for optimum freshness and

sweetness.

The most common variety of corn is either the yellow sweet corn or the white and yellow combination colored

sweet corn. You may find a variety of colors in your region, including black, blue, and violet. These darker

varieties generally contain more antioxidants and protein levels and less starch than lighter color specimens. If you can't find fresh ears of dark colored corn, check out the blue corn chips. These are increasingly popular and make a beautiful, and nutritious, snack.

Frozen whole kernel sweet corn is your next best choice after corn on the cob. The corn is picked ripe, then

quickly removed from the cob, blanched and flash frozen. The quality may often surpass fresh corn toward the

end of the season.

There are a number of delicious cold salads you can make with corn. You'll also find corn adds a wonderful

filling taste and texture to many soups, chili, and casseroles. And don't forget the corn products, like cornmeal, cornflour, cereals, and other dried corn ingredients we can cook with.

If you are a grilling fanatic, be sure to add corn to your menu. Just remove the silk, keep the husks wrapped

tightly and soak in cold water. Remove and place on low grill on indirect heat until you can smell the sweet

corn aroma. Remove and baste with seasoned butter for even more savory goodness.

It's no wonder corn is such a mainstay in our diet. With so much versatility, nutrition, and deliciousness, corn is going to be around for a long time.

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Cranberries Corner The Market On Creative Nutrition

Many of us recognize cranberries around Thanksgiving time as that sweet-tart relish we enjoy alongside our

turkey. Or maybe we slide prepared cranberry sauce out of a can or stir them into a quick bread for a tasty treat.

This versatile fruit, or berry, has many healthy advantages as well as delicious options for serving. Let's take a look at what cranberries have to offer us.

What is it?

Cranberries grow on creeping shrubs or bushes in the Northern Hemisphere, particular in cooler climates. You'll

see this abundant crop often grown in bog conditions in areas of Canada and the Northern United States. The

berries are most often cultivated for sauces, juice, and dried fruit for consumers, as well as fresh. Cranberries are currently enjoying super-food status due to awareness of the healthy qualities they possess.

Growing cranberries in bogs, and flooding those bogs for harvest, has several advantages. At first, it was

believed only that the harvesting was easier when the cranberries floated on the water, but more research has

shown that cranberries floating in bogs receive more sunlight than in other methods, and the antioxidants in the berries are boosted by the additional sunshine.

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History

Early American settlers made reference to natives using the berries as food and medicine as early as the mid16th century. Settlers soon adopted a taste for cranberries and used them in recipes at the time, including the

traditional Autumn harvest meal or Thanksgiving. Cool weather berries were a blessing, and a life saver,

offering much needed nutrition for the early settlers, and cranberries fit the bill perfectly.

Cranberries have been so important in the development of an agricultural base in the northern states that

Wisconsin, which leads the nation in the production of cranberries, has named the cranberry the official state

fruit.

Health Benefits

The most widely published health benefits of cranberries is the treatment for urinary tract infections in women.

Specifically, the proanthocyanidins appear to provide a barrier against bacteria that causes the infection. Other studies are applying this concept to see whether the berries can also destroy bacteria that cause stomach ulcers.

Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that give the berries their deep red color. These antioxidants help

reduce inflammation in the body as well as preventing damage from free-radicals. Cranberries are also being

studied for cancer-preventing qualities.

Additionally, cranberries supply manganese, fiber, vitamin C, as well as other essential nutrients. One

cautionary note is that both cranberries and blueberries contain oxalate, which is a chemical that can add to the risk for kidney stones for those with a proclivity or history.

Fun Facts

Cranberries were named by Early American settlers who held that the blossoms appeared to resemble the

sandhill crane. Hence, they initially called them “crane berries.” In New England, residents sometimes referred

to them a “bear berries” since they often saw bears enjoying the fruit.

Originally stored and shipped in wooden barrels weighing 100 pounds each, the “barrel” standard is still used

today, although the wooden barrel has been replaced with lighter freight containers. Regarding growing them in

bogs, cranberries do not grow in the water, they float on the water, making them easier to harvest as well as

exposing them to more sunlight as they ripen.

Cranberries are ingredients in more than a thousand food and beverage products, with only 5% of Wisconsin's

crop actually sold as fresh berries, although those bags of fresh cranberries serve as a reminder every fall to

enjoy this nutritional powerhouse.

How to Eat

Fresh cranberries store well frozen whole for as long as two years. When ready to use, it works best to chop up

the berries while still frozen, then added directly to recipes.

Most people get their fill of cranberries from juice or sauce, particularly during the holidays. As a healthy fruit, however, the usual line-up of cookies, bread, scones, and muffins are certainly good ways to enjoy them.

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Cranberry chutney and relish is also delicious, as well as jam and sweet salads with other fruits like pineapple, apples, and orange juice. Keeping a bag of frozen cranberries ready and waiting will give you all sorts of

incentive to experiment.

Wine made from cranberries is a very popular treat. Cranberry juice is another beverage many people enjoy.

However, it's important to look for brands that add the least amount of sugar possible when including cranberry

juice in your healthy diet. 100% cranberry juice is available but can be very tart and often bitter.

That's why you will normally find blends of cranberry-apple juice and similar blends. Another very popular

option for enjoying cranberries in your diet is the dried cranberry snack. Add a sprinkling to salads or just grab a handful right out of the bag, much like you would raisins.

Cranberries have definitely earned the super-food label, just like other colorful berries. It's easy to find ways to enjoy the health benefits with a cool crisp glass of juice or as a sweet addition to a meal or snack. Cranberries are such a versatile fruit, you won't have any trouble finding ways to incorporate them into your diet – far

beyond the Thanksgiving table.

Cucumbers Are The Coolest In So Many Ways

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Often considered the “Green Goddess” of the home garden, this cooling vegetable is a long time favorite for

many reasons. Not only is a cucumber a refreshing snack on a hot day, it is also very versatile. You'll find

cucumbers in a soothing facial masque and a jar of pickles. You can't get much more versatile than that! Let's take a look at a few facts about this humble garden favorite.

What is it?

Cucumbers are oblong, green, vine-growing members of the gourd family, belonging to the same biological

group as the cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, and zucchini. There are several different varieties of cucumbers,

including dwarf, standard, and pickling cucumbers that are used in different recipes and as side dishes or salad ingredients. Along with these uses, you'll find cucumber as an ingredient in an increasing number of skin care

products.

History

This vegetable is said to be native to India, and has been cultivated for as much as 3,000 years in Western Asia.

Cucumber cultivation later spread to Greece and Italy, and believed to be embraced especially by the Romans.

Later, cucumbers were introduced to China, and spread throughout Europe most likely by the Romans. There

are records of cucumbers being grown in France in the 9th century and England in the 14th century. The first

recorded appearance in North America seems to be around the mid 16th century.

Cucumbers have had their ups and downs. During the 1600s, there grew a concern that eating raw fruit and

vegetables caused a variety of illnesses sometimes referred to simply as the “summer diseases.” Many so called

experts on health claimed these uncooked garden produce unsafe, especially for children.

Although a strong revolution took hold around the same time to eat simple healthy foods (credit sometimes

given to the Quakers), the poor cucumber still suffered from the raw vegetable prejudice. Thus the name

“cowcumber” stemming from the notion that raw cucumbers were “fit only for consumption by cows.” Now, of

course, the cucumber is revered in even the poshest of spas!

Health Benefits

Cucumbers contain silica, which is a vital component of our body's connective tissues (cartilage, bones,

ligaments, tendons, etc). Cucumber slices and juice are also used to treat various types of swelling of the skin and eyes. They also contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C, which are important ingredients indicated in

regulating blood pressure.

Cucumbers also contain fluid that increases the ability to absorb fiber. The high water content of the vegetable is said to benefit healthy skin and complexion overall. It is also one of the best-known diuretics, promoting the

secretion of urine and helping with a number of diseases of the liver, kidney, pancreas, and bladder. Even

though some say because of their high water content they don't offer much nutrition, this would definitely

contradict that assumption.

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Fun Facts

One of the cucumber varieties is called Burpless, a commercially-grown, seedless alternative to other varieties

that are reported to cause gas in some people. Another variety is the pickling cucumber, which are also

commercially grown to produce uniform-sized cucumbers used specifically for pickles.

If you think someone sitting around with cucumber slices on their eyes is a bit strange, think again. Cucumbers

really do reduce swelling of eye tissue. And cucumbers are not just mentioned in fancy spas or in your favorite salad. Even the Bible has information regarding this widely available food in ancient Egypt (Numbers 11:5).

How to Eat

Cucumbers are easy to prepare and enjoy. Most of the time they are included raw in recipes, but they can be

cooked as well. You can remove the seeds if you slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out with a

spoon. Store-bought cucumbers are often waxed, so be sure to peel them before eating them.

There are, of course, a number of cucumber salads that use vinegar, yogurt, or other creamy dressings. You can

puree cucumbers and other vegetables into a hearty cold soup (gazpacho). You can also stuff them with a

combination of cream cheese and horseradish for a delicious summer treat. Some people even create

sandwiches using cucumbers with cream cheese, mayo, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.

Don't forget about the relish, salsa, and pickle recipes available as condiments or side dishes. Many people

enjoy pickling their own cucumbers at home, for more organic, true flavor and less preservatives. You can even

make jelly from cucumbers, bake them in the oven with herbs and butter, saute them with a light panko crust, or

create a delicious, rich tapenade with anchovies, capers, olives, and snack crackers. The best way to utilize

cucumbers is to experiment with recipes that call for vegetables that add crunch, but don’t dominate the dish.

When they say “cool as a cucumber” they aren't kidding. This is one vegetable that refreshes in so many ways.

Whether you're laying a slice on your eyelids and relaxing, or nibbling on a yummy salad, cucumbers are a very

cool customer!

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Damson Plums Are A Delightful Discovery

Just when you thought you knew every fruit there is, along comes a new one. Well, it's not really new, but this plum is a lesser known variety than others, so it may be new to you. Let's see if we can acquaint you with this fun fruit.

What is it?

The damson is actually one of many varieties of plum. The fruit is produced from deciduous trees that blossom

with little white flowers in early spring in the northern hemisphere, then the fruit is harvested in late summer to early fall.

There are several varieties of damson, each of which has a slightly different color and taste. The Shropshire

damson, for instance, has a mildly acidic taste while the Merryweather damson has a sweeter flavor, more

closely resembling the plums most often found in the produce aisle. It's hard to pinpoint one particular flavor of damson because they vary so much. Damsons have a soft yellow flesh and a rich indigo blue, red, or purple

skin. It can be either sweet or tart, depending on which variety of the fruit you choose. Damsons all tend to be oval shaped, slightly pointy at one end.

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History

Plums generally are documented as long as 2,000 years ago. Early documentation places the damson cultivation

in the region surrounding Damascus, thus the name Damson, and were most likely introduced into England by

the Romans. It is not known when damson plums were introduced into North America, but some site colonists

most likely brought them during the first settlements.

Evidence of damsons have been found in Roman archaeological digs across England and there is even evidence

of damson skins being used to produce purple dye during those ancient times.

Health Benefits

All plums are a rich source of vitamin C, and riboflavin, as well as minerals like phosphorus, copper,

manganese, magnesium and potassium, They are a good source of dietary fibers which can help lower bad

cholesterol and keep the digestive tract functioning well.

It is believed that just a few plums a week can help battle fatigue. The reason appears to be because plums are

loaded with essential minerals which act to calm nerves and support natural sleep patterns.

Plums also possess phytonutrients which have shown to help reduce or stop the growth of breast cancer cells.

Plums also may help the body absorb iron. All this while being extremely low in calories.

Fun Facts

Damson plums can be made into gin, much like sloe gin is made from a relative of the plum, the sloe berries.

Sloe gin requires more sugar because damsons are sweeter than sloe berries. Another spirit made with damson

plums is Slivovitz, which is a distilled drink made in Slavic countries. Some people also make a simple damson

wine. Because many varieties of damson are quite tart and acidic, people found other uses than eating them

right off the tree. That's why you'll find all sorts of recipes for damson fruit liqueurs, vodka, gin, and wine.

How to Eat

As mentioned, the damson eaten right from the tree can be a bit unpalatable as the skins can be quite tart.

Because of this, most damsons are grown to make into jelly or jam. There are, however, at least a few varieties

of damson cultivated for eating off the tree. The Merryweather and President Plum are two such damsons. A

variety called Farleigh is best known as a cooking plum.

Some damson fans have developed wonderful recipes for pickling and canning. For canning purposes, the

damson fruit is boiled until tender. Then, sugar and allspice can be added when the water in the fruit has been reduced. As you continue to boil the fruit, it becomes very thick and can then be poured into jars and processed.

If you choose the sweeter variety of damson fruit, you can also make a very good pie as well as a delicious

compote for tarts, or mixed with cream cheese for a delightfully sweet spread for crackers. Damsons are also

used to make things like chutney, cobbler, and a variation of Eve's Pudding, which is traditionally made with

apples. The intense flavor of the fruit also can be taken advantage of successfully in sauces and stuffings for

roast duck and other wild game who's flavor can stand up against the damson.

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If you can find damson plums in your local store, it's worth giving this fruit a try. Its acidic qualities and strong flavors may perk up your next entrée or dessert quite nicely. And when your dinner guests ask what that

delightfully fresh flavor is, go ahead and throw out the name Damson and see what happens. Perhaps it will

spark a lively conversation and a few puzzled, but pleased, looks!

Durian Fruit Demands Attention On Many Levels

In our quest to learn about different fruits and vegetables, we have discovered an unusual fruit from the area of Southeast Asia. The fruit, known as the “king of fruits” has some very distinct qualities. Many who have

become familiar with this exotic Asian fruit admit it is definitely an acquired taste, and smell. Let's take a look and see what you think.

What is it?

The durian fruit grows on trees, which begin to bear fruit after four or five years of cultivation. These trees grow anywhere between about 85 feet to 130 feet. The fruit has a tough, thorny outer husk or shell. It is is about as large as a pineapple, sometimes growing up to a foot long, with an oblong shape consisting of several “pods.”

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The flesh, pulp, and seeds are edible at various stages of the fruit's maturity.

The edible flesh of this fruit is a pale yellow color, and has been described as having a creamy, custard texture with a mild almond type flavor. One of its most distinctive features is the odor of the fruit itself, inside the husk.

It is a strong smell that many have described as offensive or overpowering, like sulfur.

History

Durian are native to Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Borneo and Sumatra and are found growing wild or

semi-wild in Lower Burma (Myanmar) and the Malaysian peninsula. This fruit tree is commonly cultivated in

Southeastern India, Ceylon, and New Guinea. The coastal inhabitants of Malaysia, Brunei, and neighboring

countries have long considered durian a delicacy that is used in many recipes.

The Western world has known this fruit for only about the last 600 years. This fruit is either loved or loathed, there seems to no middle ground. Because of that, the importation to the United States has not been aggressively pursued. When you do find durian in the States, it is often expensive.

Health Benefits

There are some important health benefits we can enjoy by eating durian fruit. It is a good source of fiber and is actually used successfully as a colon cleanser. Durian provides a wealth of minerals and vitamins, and the

simple sugars in durian produce a powerful natural energy boost. Although high in fat, durian does not contain

cholesterol.

Durian is rich in vitamin C as well as the B-complex vitamins. Important minerals found in durian include

copper, iron, potassium, and magnesium. The iron and copper found in durian are utilized in the body to

produce red blood cells, and potassium helps regulate blood pressure and promotes heart health.

Another healthy component found in durian is tryptophan. This is used by the body to create melatonin and

serotonin, which you might recognize from drug commercials as relaxing agents or as natural sleeping aids, but

these are found naturally in durian.

Fun Facts

The odor of a freshly opened durian fruit has been compared to the smell of natural gas. This is probably due to the high sulfur content in the fruit. This is one of those cases where the fruit tastes nothing like it smells. Be aware that people have been known to be asked to leave areas when eating durian because of the odor. This is

one fruit that's best eaten at home, and probably alone.

In Singapore, the mass transit line prohibits, by law, passengers boarding with a durian in their possession. But, Singapore has also paid homage to this “King of All Fruits” by constructing a building in its honor. Don't even

attempt to eat durian on an airplane.

The older the durian tree is, the higher the quality of durian it will produce. But watch out while you stand and admire those old trees. Standing underneath a durian tree can be dangerous, as falling durian fruit have been

known to be fatal upon impact with the unsuspecting gawker.

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How to Eat

Cutting open a durian fruit requires considerable care and attention to avoid puncturing yourself on the pointy

outer layer. Look for a line, slit, or seam running lengthwise down the fruit. This is a natural opening. Take a knife, or your hands if you dare, and gently pull the fruit open at this seam.

You will be separating the durian into “pods” each of which contains little pockets of a creamy substance which

you can eat (but is not very sweet) and little solid fleshy, creamy fruit pieces.

Asian cultures make good use of the durian flesh in their diets, using the natural sweetness in milkshakes, ice

cream, juice, and sauces. The seeds can be boiled, fried, or roasted for a healthy snack. Even the leaves and

flowers are occasionally cooked and eaten in Indonesia. Durian is also sold in neighborhood shops in the form

of delicious pudding, cakes, and crepes in Singapore.

Durian should be stored well sealed and away from other foods as the odor will permeate anything in the same

container, such as the refrigerator. Durian and carbonated drinks do not mix well in the stomach and has been

known to cause serious complications. In the United States you are most likely to find frozen durian that has

been thawed. This is fine (and cheaper than fresh) just as long as the thorny spines are not dried and brittle.

If you're looking for a truly different culinary adventure, durian would definitely be something to try. Do an

online search for sources and check to see if you have an Asian marketplace in your community. Yes, the

popular saying about durian is it “smells like Hell and tastes like Heaven” but that's just one more reason to be inspired to try this exotic fruit... if you dare!

The #1 WORST food for your skin, joints and blood sugar

This article is a MUST-READ if you want to protect your skin, organs, muscles, and joints from aging...

We're going to show you the #1 worst food (marketed as "healthy") that harms your blood sugar levels, and how this also ages your body faster. You might even be eating this food every day, so it's important to know the

problems and how to minimize this.

Click here to discover 101 superfoods, herbs, and spices that SLOW aging

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