Vegetarians: Facts vs. Myths | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog

Vegetarians: Myths vs. Facts by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Tips, July 9, 2013

Vegetarians are often seriously misunderstood. It’s time to debunk some of the most common vegetarian myths!

Myth: Vegetarians don’t get enough protein
Fact: It’s actually pretty easy for vegetarians to meet their needs for protein, even if they choose not to eat eggs and dairy products. Thanks to plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, lentils and what’s found in whole-grains breads and cereals, getting enough protein can be deliciously simple.

Myth: All vegetarians eat the same foods
Fact: Many folks who follow a vegetarian diet still choose to incorporate dairy and eggs (or even fish or chicken) into their meal routine. There’s really no right or wrong when it comes to these choices, and whichever foods they do choose to eat will expose them to important vitamins and minerals. For example, calcium can be found in dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese, but it’s also in tofu, leafy greens and calcium-fortified orange juice. (Learn more about the types of vegetarian diets.)

Myth: Vegetarian diets are always low in fat
Fact: A well-rounded vegetarian diet includes healthy fats from foods like olive oil, peanut butter, nuts and seeds. But less than healthy foods like french fries and doughnuts fall into the vegetarian category as well. So even vegetarians needs to watch which fats they take in.

Myth: Meat substitutes are better for you than the real thing
Fact: From bacon to ground meat to hot dogs, there’s a veggie imposter for just about every type of meat. While these options may lack animal protein and be low in cholesterol, they’re often made from highly processed ingredients and contain large amounts of sodium and fat (that doesn’t sound so healthy, now does it?).

Myth: Vegetarians are iron-deficient
Fact: It’s possible for both vegetarians and meat-eaters to become iron-deficient, but there are plenty of ways to get iron from plant-based foods like beans, tofu and spinach. Eating these plant foods along with vitamin C-rich foods will enhance iron absorption. (Learn more about getting enough iron in your daily diet.)

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »


keep on truckin’: fall vegetables, with seed library – A Way to Garden

keep on truckin’: fall vegetables, with seed library

Broccoli seedlings in flats

KEEP ON TRUCKIN’! As a seed farmer, Hudson Valley Seed Library co-founder Ken Greene knows a thing or two about when to sow crops, and that’s his best advice right now: Keep on truckin’—er, sowing. Though spring is long gone, many vegetables and herbs are still being sown and transplanted, and will right into fall at the Library’s farm in Accord, New York—where I will be participating in events on July 20 and August 24 (details below). Tips, in print or my latest radio podcast, for extending the vegetable garden well into fall.

Even in the week of July 7, Ken says, he notes 15 or 16 options on his sowing calendar, and that’s in our shared USDA Zone 5B, where frost can arrive around the start of October. Gardeners in zones with longer frost-free seasons have even more time, and opportunities. Admittedly Ken starts fewer things each week now, but even through September, he’s starting multiple new plantings—and he makes November sowings of spinach and mache for extra-early spring harvest.

“Sow now what?” as Ken asks (tee hee). The list is long, including peas, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, mibuna and mizuna, tatsoi, kale, collards, cauliflower, kohlrabi, swiss chard, scallions and more. You can even sow more bush zucchini (especially if your early crop is looking tattered or mildewed from tough weather); ditto with cucumbers. Bush beans are high on Ken’s list. It’s a great moment for bush types for dry beans, he says, which benefit from generally drier fall weather at their harvest time, since they prefer to mature right on the plant (about six weeks after fresh-eating stage).

prefer the podcast?

KEN GREENE was the guest for the latest edition of my weekly public-radio program. Listen anywhere, anytime: Locally, in my Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) region, “A Way to Garden” airs on Robin Hood Radio’s three stations on Monday at 8:30 AM Eastern, with a rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. It is available free on iTunes, the Stitcher app, or streaming from or via its RSS feed. The July 8, 2013 show can be streamed here now. Robin Hood is the smallest NPR station in the nation; our garden show marked the start of its fourth year in March, and is syndicated via PRX.

think: 3 kinds of ‘succession sowing’

Empty spots in the vegetable garden to make use of

KEN GREENE says he thinks of “succession sowing” in three ways, appropriate for different moments in the season, and different varieties of vegetables.

  • Crops that grow fast and come to harvest quickly, such as salad greens, arugula, or baby bok choy that take about three weeks, are sown over and again all season long. Each time you harvest a row, clean up the spot and sow again right there. (No wonder there are typically more seeds in a packet of one of these than in a packet of, say, tomatoes or peppers. Use them!)
  • Another style of succession: staggered plantings of the same crop. Longer-maturing plants, such as a heading lettuce that takes six to eight weeks, or basil, are re-sown every two weeks for a continual harvest. But this must be done in different beds (because the previous crop isn’t ready to pull yet).
  • Version 3 is seasonal succession, with things you might do only two sowings of a season—in spring (for summer harvest) and in summer (harvest in fall). This tactic suits even longer-to-harvest peas, or broccoli, for instance. A tip on peas, from Ken: If you’ve had limited results with fall sowings, try snow peas instead of shelling or edible pods; they’re a bit easier.

more continuing-harvest tips from ken

Broccoli seedling just up in seed flat under lights.

  • Some things are easier to get going in flats than direct-sown, and sometimes you just don’t have space to sow in the garden—but will in a few weeks. Either way, plan to have transplants coming along. Ken is sowing brassicas (cauliflower, collards, broccoli–we both favor ‘Piracicaba’–kale, quicker varieties of cabbages) and basil, for instance, in flats now.
  • Asian greens are a favorite at Seed Library—and also especially good for fall, since many are cold-tolerant. Try mizuna, mibuna, tatsoi and komatsuna, in particular (the Library’s whole assortment is here). Flavors range from horseradish-ey mustards such as the gorgeous ‘Red Giant,’ to extra-mild-tasting komatsuna.
  • With row covers and hoops, you can add about 5 degrees of cold protection around a row of greens (or anything else), says Ken, and thereby extend your harvest by two or even up to four weeks, “depending on what the season gives us.”
  • Switch varieties for switching weather—to faster-maturing ones, with things like squash or cucumbers, or to those that can take more cold (like an extra-tolerant spinach to overwinter). Also: Choose plants that can be enjoyed young, in case the weather turns on you and it gets cold an you have to harvest in a hurry.
  • Get the Seed Library’s six key strategies for succession sowing.
  • How Seed Library makes a garden plan with succession sowings in mind.
  • Seed Library has a chart of their latest summer sowings of all–the August ones.

'Rhubarb' chard seedlings int he garden

join me at the seed library july 20, august 24

I’M JOINING IN the how-to demos and general festivities with Hudson Valley Seed Library in Accord, New York, for two upcoming events: July 20, “Fall Seedling Sale and Extending the Harvest,” with demos and tastings from 11-1 and seedling sale from 11-3. Learn to use hoops and row covers (all gear will be available for sale, too); how to time late sowings; and get expert advice on vegetable growing in general—plus shop for seedlings of many good-to-grow-now open-pollinated varieties. On August 24, “Annual Day to Be Seedy Farm Tour” is a festive open house with lots going on. Information on the Seed Library events page.


How to Buy, Store, and Cook with Cucumbers, In Season in July: BA Daily: Bon Appétit

Summertime, and the growing is easy. This week, we’ll be taking you through the seasonal ingredients you should be cooking with in July. Today: cucumbers.

cucumbers-646.jpg(Credit: Zach DeSart)
Fun fact: Cucumbers are actually fruits. But like tomatoes, they’re prepared and eaten as vegetables. Their juicy, almost thirst-quenching texture is a staple in summery Mediterranean-leaning salads, but you’d be surprised how good they are when they’re roasted or sauteed. And of course, there’s almost nothing more refreshing than a cucumber cocktail on a hot summer day. Check out our tips for storing and buying these cool fruits, and read on for recipe suggestions.

Although cucumbers are available year-round, summer is when you’ll see the best choice of varieties at the market. Look for cucumbers that are firm, not shriveled, with bright-looking skin. Pass on any with soft spots or cuts in the flesh. Because they lose moisture quickly, cucumbers are often bred with thick skins and sealed with wax to extend their shelf life. Special, thin-skinned varieties are worth seeking out because they’re more slender and flavorful, and have smaller seeds. To protect the skins, these types of cucumbers are often sealed in plastic.

Stash cucumbers unwashed in a sealed plastic bag in the warmest part of the fridge. Use them within a few days.



Garlicky Grilled Romaine | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog

Garlicky Grilled Romaine by Amie Valpone in Healthy Recipes, July 4, 2013

Grilling for Fourth of July? Add grilled romaine to your BBQ menu; it’s a quick and easy recipe that takes only a few minutes to prepare and can be jazzed up with a variety of flavors. I added garlic powder and balsamic vinegar to this recipe but you can also add fresh lemon juice and chili powder for a bit of extra flavor. Kids and adults love to enjoy this recipe because it’s fun to eat and doesn’t look like your ordinary soggy green salad. It’s a winner for a weeknight family side dish or your annual Fourth of July cookout, so toss a few heads of fresh romaine onto your grill and get your party started!

Garlic Grilled Romaine

Serves 4

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise

Heat a grill to medium heat.

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper; whisk to combine, then drizzle on top of romaine hearts on a large plate.

Spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray and lay lettuce down on the hot grill using tongs. Cook for 3 minutes when you see grill marks appear, then flip the romaine using a spatula.

Remove from the grill; serve warm or at room temperature.


Garden turning brown from the heat? Here’s how you can save it | MNN – Mother Nature Network

It seems like summer is finally here. Finally! I don’t know about you, but I am ready, and this year, it feels like the weather isn’t waiting. Much of the country is already experiencing extreme heat. It’s a nice respite from the dark and the damp of winter, at least if you’re a human.

watering garden in summer

But if you’re a plant? Maybe not so much.

Like the good gardener that I am, I had my seedlings going way back in the earliest days of spring. Starts were in the ground as soon as the final frost had come and gone. My precious little plants, nurtured by my own hands, have been slowly and steadily soaking up sun and rain ever since. And through spring they thrived. You should see the height on my sunflowers!

But then, summer set in. We had a couple of scorcher days, and my poor plants begin to wilt. And we DIY home improvers in San Diego haven’t even had it as bad as other parts of the country. I was chatting with a friend from Baton Rouge the other day, who sadly laughed as she told the story of her poor arugula, which fought so hard for three weeks in record temperatures before, as she said “The arugula was finally just like ‘nope, I’m over it’ and collapsed in a little pile of surrender.”

If you’re battling this same sunny demon in your own garden, I’ve got a few tips that just may help you keep your plants from withering away into lifeless straw. Don’t give up before you give these a shot!

2. Water not only often, but deeply. For garden beds and in-ground plants, it’s important that the water penetrate deep into the earth to encourage the roots to continue to extend down. It’s cooler down there and the deeper the roots, the more likely your plant will survive extreme heat. So water often but more importantly, water for extended periods, to fully saturate the soil.

3. Don’t fertilize! In extreme heat, water is taken up very quickly by plants. This is great for thirsty plants, but it can be dangerous if you try to fertilize — which you may be tempted to do if your plants seem to be dying. Remember that fertilizer is also taken in very fast when it’s hot, so plants are easily burned in this weather. Focus on water; save the fertilizer for after the heat wave passes.

mulch summer garden

4. Mulch is your BFF. Mulch will have your back, for reals. A thick layer (a few inches at least) of organic mulch over your garden will greatly reduce moisture loss, as well as help to regulate soil temperature. It’s also an awesome stand-in for the fertilizer you’ll be forgoing, and will help return some much-needed nutrients to the plants. So don’t skip it — mulch is a life saver!

5. Try a little shade. You can build little tents or umbrellas (or better yet have a carpenter build a garden structure) to shade your tender greens and lettuces, which will help to delay bolting. They will bolt no matter what in extreme heat, but shade may give you a little more time to maximize your yield.

If you can implement all these tips, then you can probably save your garden from certain death in the summer sun. Now get out there and enjoy the heat!


Best 5 Zucchini Recipes | FN Dish

Best 5 Zucchini Recipes by Maria Russo in Recipes, June 12th, 2013

Grilled Zucchini Salad With Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette and Shaved Romano and Toasted Pine NutsWhether you grow it in your backyard garden, shop for it at the farmers’ market or just pick it up in the produce aisle, zucchini is a can’t-miss vegetable this time of year, as this mild, versatile squash is at its peak of freshness during the warm summer months. Simply sauteed zucchini with olive oil and seasoning is a go-to standby, but when you want to dress it up or feature it in creative ways, think beyond everyday preparations and check out Food Network’s best-five zucchini recipes below. Some of your favorite chefs, including Ina and Bobby, showcase this seasonal pick in their top-rated dishes for comforting gratin, quick salads and more can-do plates that are elegant enough to serve to company but easy enough to prepare on a weeknight.

5. Zucchini Gratin — Ina uses just a handful of ingredients to make her big-batch casserole, laced with a buttery sauce and finished with cheesy breadcrumbs for a textured topping.

4. Zucchini Corn Fritters — The secret to making Food Network Magazine‘s quick side dish is salting the zucchini after you shred it and letting it rest before combining it with sauteed corn and onions; this process will draw out much of its moisture, so when you fry the zucchini, it becomes deliciously crisp and golden brown.

3. Grilled Zucchini Rolls With Herbs and Cheese — Grill strips of zucchini for a few minutes until they become supple, then roll them around a mixture of goat cheese, lemon and parsley to create two-bite finger food that kids and grownups alike will appreciate.

2. Pasta With Zucchini and Ham — Boasting fresh tomatoes, grated zucchini and creamy goat cheese, Food Network Magazine‘s quick-cooking dinner boasts a simple, smooth sauce made with garlic, red pepper flakes and a cup of reserved pasta water.

1. Grilled Zucchini Salad With Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette and Shaved Romano and Toasted Pine Nuts (pictured above) — Instead of simply adding zucchini to a traditional greens salad, Bobby makes the vegetable the centerpiece of the recipe, quickly grilling it, then marinating the squash in a mustard-lemon vinaigrette before finishing it with crunchy pine nuts. Click the play button on the video below to watch him make it.


Warehouse Farm

From enormous rooftop farms to out-the-way greenhouses using up vacant land, urban farms have been appearing all over the place in the last few years. The idea of bringing production closer to market makes sense economically, environmentally, and for urban management. Better to make use of unused space than have it overrun by something less useful.

The latest addition to the crop is this 90,000-square-foot green-growing factory, about 15 miles from downtown Chicago. Making use of an abandoned warehouse, it is a vertical indoor farm for producing arugula, four types basil, and a whole bevy-ful of fish. Most ingeniously, the water from the tilapia tanks is used in the aquaponic (when plants grow in water) and aeroponic (sprayed) systems, so that very little water is ever wasted.

“We use about 3% of the water of traditional agriculture and it’s all recyclable,” says Jolanta Hardej, CEO of FarmedHere, the company behind the facility. In addition, like other indoor farms, the facility cuts energy usage, by eliminating the need for heavy farm equipment and long-distance shipping.

Hardej says the Bedford Park building is the largest indoor aquaponic farm in the country, and the first to receive organic certification from the USDA. The plants grow on six shelves from floor to ceiling, covering 150,000 square feet, and are tended by workers using lifts. The plan is to supply up to a million pounds of greens annually, mostly to stores like Whole Foods, but also to local restaurants.


Asparagus Helps Lower Blood Pressure (At Least In Rats)

In a recent study, rats that munched on asparagus saw their blood pressure drop.Enlarge image

In a recent study, rats that munched on asparagus saw their blood pressure drop.

Here’s another reason to eat asparagus, in case you were looking for one.

Researchers at the Kagawa Nutrition University in Japan fed a diet consisting of 5 percent asparagus to rats with high blood pressure. As they report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, published online on May 30, after 10 weeks, the rats on the asparagus diet had lower blood pressure than the ones fed a standard rat diet without asparagus.

The rats on the asparagus diet also had less protein in their urine, a sign of a healthier kidney. And they had less activity of ACE, or angiotensin-converting enzyme. Drugs that reduce the activity of ACE are used to treat hypertension in humans.

The Japanese researchers think a compound found in asparagus called 2″-hydroxynicotianamine is responsible for inhibiting ACE activity in the rats. There’s not a lot of literature on hydroxynicotianamine. It seems to be found in buckwheat sprouts, buckwheat leaves and buckwheat, where it also seems to be an ACE inhibitor.

Of course, it’s far too soon to known whether 2″-hydroxynicotianamine has a similar effect on humans. But if it does, perhaps this could open new vistas in the treatment of hypertension. In fact, for the treatment of high blood pressure, this could be the dawning of the age of asparagus.