Having been in India for over a week now, I can assuredly say that I have developed a habit for afternoon chai. There is something respectable about this common daily ritual that is enjoyed by all demographics....a sophistication in simplicity.
From a practical sense, it helps to bridge the hunger gap between lunch and the late dinners that are typical here. Cookies or sweet crackers may be an accompaniment. It is also a social time to share a cup and a chat.
Fresh spice aromas and the warm, slightly caffeinated pick-me-up are especially comforting on days like today, which we spent tromping around in the heavy snowfall in Shimla.
Chai literally translates as "tea", so saying "chai tea" (like we do in the States) is redundant. The recipes for chai vary by region, by household and by cook. Here is Lalu's version that he kindly prepares for us every afternoon:
Since chai is boiled, it is a safe way to hydrate for Americans with sensitive GI tracts. We have enjoyed chai in rural villages, at the Golden Temple, at road-side dhabas and in the coziness of our Shimla home. It has been an enjoyable experience every single cup. Namaste.
The past few months I’ve been writing about various cruciferous vegetables, such as kohlrabi and rutabaga. The next logical vegetable to write about is turnips. I have always avoided them, saying to myself that I didn’t like them. When, in reality, I had never had a turnip. Have you? How often do we dismiss vegetables because of their reputation or because of their unfamiliarity, saying we don’t like them, when we have never actually eaten them?
Turnips, like rutabagas, are root vegetables in the cruciferous vegetable category (Brassica rapa genus). Turnips in the U.S. have purple “shoulders” and a white “body” (rutabagas are creamy colored and have a different color of purple “shoulders”). In other parts of the world, turnips and rutabagas are considered similar (rutabagas are also called yellow turnips or wax turnips).
Similar to other root vegetables (like beets and rutabagas), they have a skin that needs peeling to remove a possible wax coating. And, like most root vegetables, their peek season is from late fall through the end of winter.
What does a turnip taste like?
Similar to other cruciferous vegetables, most turnips have a substance that makes them taste bitter when raw, but mellows when cooked (like Brussels sprouts). Some say that turnips taste like a cross between cabbage and a radish; others say they taste more like a cross between a carrot and a potato. When cooked, they have a smooth texture. Give them a try and leave a comment below to let us know what you think!
As a side note, turnip greens are related to mustard greens, so they have a similar flavor. Wikipedia states that rapini (broccoli rabe), bok choy, and Chinese cabbage are all varieties of turnip developed specifically for their leaves instead of the root underneath.
How do you eat a turnip?
How nutritious are turnips?
Turnip roots are high in vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fiber, folate, copper, potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6.
Turnip greens are an excellent source of folate and vitamins A, K and C and are a good source of calcium, Vitamin E, vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, and manganese.
There are many different turnip varieties available to grow in your own garden, including heirloom varieties. These come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Let us know in the comment box below if you have ever tried any non-supermarket varieties!
I hope you enjoy the recipe below as much as my family has. In the recipe, I used a mix of cauliflower and turnip as an introduction to this powerhouse of a vegetable. I look forward to cooking with it more in the future.
White Bean and Bacon with Greens and Turnips
Recipe adapted from Naturally Ella
What’s great about this recipe is that the amounts don’t have to be exact. And you can use canned beans and tomatoes for a quick weeknight dinner.
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
In the spirit of giving, I thought I would share a new lightened-up version of one of my favorite comfort food dishes, Nacho Salad. This recipe flips the standard nacho dish on its head. Instead of tortilla chips and cheese acting in starring roles, vegetables and beans get their moment in the spotlight. This recipe is colorful and nutrient dense. What makes the recipe even more attractive, is the amount of time it takes to create the dish from start to finish and the cost to prepare it. You can be ready to eat in no more than 10-minutes if you have all the ingredients on hand and the dish is extremely low-cost by utilizing store-brand and canned products. Follow the steps below and you will have a deliciously simple, quick, nutritious, cost-conscious, "go-to" recipe for lunch or dinner!
The ingredients in this salad can be purchased at any grocery store. Though, I think it is always nice to provide you with the ingredients I used to make the recipe so you can easily find what you need at the grocery store. I bought all my ingredients at Trader Joe’s.
~Sara Mussa, RDN, CD
What does a rutabaga taste like?
Some folks may find rutabagas slightly bitter, however their sweetness comes out when roasted, particularly when combined with other vegetables, such as in the dish below. The sweetness is not overpowering, but more like a delicious, less-starchy potato.
How do you eat rutabaga?
Rutabagas are most delicious roasted or puréed, where their sweetness comes out. However, they can also be enjoyed raw, like jicama or celeriac.
Ideas for using a rutabaga:
How nutritious are rutabagas?
Raw rutabagas are rich in vitamin C (58% DV) and are a good source of fiber (14% DV), manganese (12%), and potassium (13%). One cup of sliced raw rutabagas contain almost two grams of protein. (2)
The dish below is a colorful addition to your holiday celebrations. My extended family enjoyed it immensely this past weekend. And if you want to “geek out” over more information about this delicious vegetable, click here.
Roasted Mixed Vegetables with Sour Cherries
~Nancy Miller, MA, MS, RDN
Since we are well into the holiday season, we've rounded up 12 healthier holiday recipes that are perfect to bring to a party or simply to enjoy at home! All recipes are Dietitian created!
What does a sunchoke taste like?
Choose sunchokes that are very firm and smooth. Some say they taste like artichoke hearts. Others say they are rather sweet and nutty. They have a texture like a potato and are creamy when cooked.
How do you eat sunchokes?
Keep in mind, the flesh of the sunchoke turns brown, like apples or pears, when exposed to air. Mix with chopped raw vegetables and a tiny bit of lemon juice, should you plan on them sitting out for awhile. Like kohlrabi and jicama, you can eat this vegetable either raw or cooked.
Ideas for using these include:
How nutritious are sunchokes?
Sunchokes are rich in iron, potassium and thiamine. One cup of sliced sunchokes contains three grams of protein. They are also a good source of copper, niacin and vitamin C. (1) This vegetable is high in inulin, a “prebiotic” soluble fiber, which may help control your blood sugar. (2) This inulin can also cause gas. To avoid this, some say to use sunchokes that have been through a frost and others say to be sure to use lemon juice when you cook them. (3) Try each method and let me know what works for you!
Since we have eaten them, in the dish highlighted below, we are now discussing where to plant them in our garden in the spring.
The recipe below may seem lengthy, but it’s fairly straightforward and full of flavor. See notes after recipe.
Lentil Stew with Steamed Rock Fish and Sunchokes
Recipe adapted from Cancer Lifeline Cookbook by Kimberly Mathai, MS, RD
~Nancy Miller, MA, MS, RDN
Turkey day is right around the corner. Just saying that makes most of us salivate. We can’t help but think of the nostalgic comfort foods unique to our family table. For myself, it would be melt-in-your-mouth turkey, buttery mash potatoes, sweet and savory stuffing, green bean casserole, Brussel sprouts, soft rolls with butter, and pumpkin or apple pie with a scoop of ice cream (because you must have both options, right?). If you weren’t salivating before, you have to be now.
All this delicious food usually takes front and center stage on Thanksgiving. However, we shouldn’t forget to practice an essential skill, mindfulness. The very mission of Thanksgiving (in the 21st century) is to acknowledge all that we are thankful for. Our family and friends, the roof over our heads, the success we’ve experienced professionally, and the list goes on. By doing this, we are, in a way, practicing mindfulness. So this year, let’s try to be thankful for our meal by being mindful about how we consume it.
How do we practice mindful eating? Though there are no universal standards, we should try implementing practices during our eating times that allow us to appreciate the food we eat. For myself, that means turning on smooth jazz, sitting down at a table, slowing down my eating speed, and enjoying all the sensory perceptions I have during a meal (sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel). It is also important to acknowledge and embrace the environment around us, whether alone or around a crowded table.
There are many different ways to practice mindful eating. Here are a few tips for you to try this Thanksgiving:
3. Balance your plate. Use your eyes to create a well-rounded meal that is nutrient-dense. Instead of filling up your entire plate with mash potatoes and stuffing, have, for example, turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing, and Brussel sprouts each take up ¼ of your plate. Ensuring you get enough carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber will help you feel more satisfied with your meal.
4. Slow down and eat with all your senses. Once you have balanced your plate, make sure to slow down and take time to be thankful for the meal in front of you. Look at the food, smell the lovely aromas mixing together, take a bite and pay attention to how it feels in your mouth. Try to remember the ingredients that went into making each recipe as you taste it.
One of the reasons to try new vegetables you may or may not have noticed at the grocery story is to get out of the rut that mealtimes can bring over time. There’s an tan-colored, oval, root vegetable you maybe have seen at the store and not known what it is or how to pronounce its name. It’s called jicama (pronounced “hee-kah-mah”). Some may call it a yam bean or a Mexican water chestnut. It is part of the legume (bean) family. This is a tuber like a potato, but it is less starchy. However, the tough skin on a jicama needs to be peeled with a knife (not a vegetable peeler – the skin is too tough) because it contains a toxin (that is NOT found in the fleshy part of the tuber).
What does a jicama taste like?
A jicama is sweet like a pear or apple, but it is starchier. When eaten raw, it is quite crunchy, making it ideal for nut butters, hummus and other dips.
How do you chose a jicama?
Choose smaller jicamas because they are less fibrous. Choose ones with smooth skins because shriveled skin is a sign of an older tuber. They do not need to be refrigerated until they are cut open. If you find a jicama that is too large, ask the produce worker to cut into half or fourths.
How do you eat a jicama?
You can eat a jicama either raw or cooked, as you would eat an apple, pear, or kohlrabi. Some ideas for using it are:
How nutritious is jicama?
Jicama is low in calories (46 calories for one cup of sliced, raw jicama) and high in soluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower your blood LDL levels and can normalize blood glucose levels. Jicama is also very high in vitamin C (40% of your daily needs). Vitamin C supports your immune system and provides powerful antioxidants to aid your body’s cells.
Mealtimes don’t need to be boring if you add new vegetables into the rotation. Drop us a comment and tell us about your adventures with vegetables you haven’t tried before, such as jicama, celeriac, or kohlrabi.
For a quick tutorial in how to prepare a jicama, click here.
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
Fall is here! What comes to mind with the turn of the season? What about big pots of soup, large batches of slow cooker recipes, seasonal produce, or even homemade jam and apple butter?
Wouldn’t it be great if some of our fall favorites could last year-round? With the usage of proper food preservation techniques, they totally can!
Canning is a commonly used preservation technique, especially in Autumn and during the holiday season. Done correctly using the water bath technique, canning seals the food away from microorganisms that cause it to spoil. This greatly prolongs the shelf life. In fact, canned goods can be stored at room temperature for a minimum of 12-18 months. As long as the seal is still intact, canned goods may survive on your shelves for years! Canning is not limited to just jams and jellies – homemade pickles, compotes, seasonal fruit in syrup, salsa, sauces, and more are also easily canned. Not to mention, canned goods make great homemade gifts for the holidays!
At our food preservation class at Verdant on Monday, October 15th, we went with a common canned good – homemade jam. Our jam was very seasonal, containing fresh pears, figs, orange juice and zest, and cinnamon. Smells and tastes like the holidays!
Nutrition per 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce): 72 Calories; <1g Fat; <1g Protein; 19g Carbohydrates; 1g Fiber; <1mg Sodium
Dehydrating is a less common food preservation technique, although it is a useful one. Did you know that dehydrated foods are shelf-stable for up to 5 years?! For best results, using a food dehydrator is ideal. However, using a normal oven at 200 degrees for a few hours will also get the job done. Dehydrators can be used to make dried pasta, dried herbs, snack foods out of fruits and veggies, beef jerky, you name it! The time it takes to dehydrate will vary depending on the food and thickness of pieces. Typically, foods with a higher water content will take longer than those with a lower water content.
For the food preservation class, we chose to make dehydrated pears. We also chose a unique recipe to demonstrate – zucchini chips! Fall season also means football season, and what’s football season without salty snack food? Zucchini chips are a great swap for potato chips at your next tailgating event or viewing party. You can even make them salt and vinegar style!
Makes 8 servings
Recipe adapted from www.SugarFreeMom.com
Nutrition per serving: 45 Calories; 4g Fat; 1g Protein; 3g Carbohydrates; 1g Fiber; 42mg Sodium
Last but not least, freezing is another great (and perhaps, the simplest) strategy to prolong the storage of foods. When you prepare a dish and freeze it, that dish will last 2-3 months in the freezer. This is a great way to meal prep for the week, or even the month. It’s also a useful strategy to pre-portion foods and aid in managing your overall intake. You can freeze almost anything you’d like – pasta dishes, soups, meats, stir fry, and more! Try wrapping portions of whatever dish you made in foil and then place that in a ziplock freezer bag. Remember to label your bag with the date! Please note: there is a difference between a regular ziplock bag and a freezer bag. Freezer bags are thicker, sometimes have texture, and will prevent food from freezer burn. Whenever you’re ready to enjoy your dish again, just unwrap the foil, put the food on a plate, and microwave as if it were a frozen TV dinner (minus the preservatives and high sodium content).
Already prepared dishes are not the only things that freeze beautifully. Fresh produce is another freezable option. In fact, freezing produce when ripe will prolong the life of the nutrients within the fruit or vegetable. Freezing produce is a great practice because it will last 8-12 months in the freezer, while produce only lasts 1-2 weeks in the fridge! Plus, what’s a better snack than frozen berries? Throw your frozen berries into a blender for your morning smoothie or toss some frozen veggies into a soup or stew. Talk about zero-effort cooking!
Blanching produce before freezing is an great way to preserve the color and texture. To prevent pieces from sticking together, such as broccoli florets or diced fruits and veggies, try freezing them on a baking sheet first. Make sure the pieces are evenly dispersed and not stacked on each other. Once those are frozen, you can then place them into your foil packets, Tupperware, or ziplock freezer bags. The only produce items that may not freeze the best are your leafy greens and lettuce. Other than that, get creative with what items from the produce section you can freeze. Don’t forget to consider your favorite seasonal produce!
~Waverly, Dietetic Intern
I’d like to introduce you to one of my family’s favorite vegetables. It’s called kohlrabi (“coal-rah-bee”). You may have seen this vegetable at your local grocery store, looking like a misshapen UFO. You have likely overlooked it, not knowing what it was or what to do with it.
Kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable, just like broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. Like these other vegetables, it grows above ground where part of the stem of the plant swells into a ball close to the soil. Leaves sprout from this ball. Kohlrabi comes in three different colors: white, light green, and purple. The inner flesh is white in all varieties.
What does a kohlrabi taste like?
Smaller kohlrabi globes are sweet and juicy like apples. The larger ones are more fibrous and must be peeled before you can enjoy them. While a kohlrabi globe can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks (in a container), you need to use the greens and stems (yes, they are edible) as soon as possible. Note: not all kohlrabi is sold with their greens.
How do you eat kohlrabi?
How nutritious is kohlrabi?
Kohlrabi is a nutrient-packed vegetable that has only 48 calories in one cup (sliced and cooked). It is low in sodium and is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, manganese, and is an excellent source of vitamin C (1). Studies show that cruciferous vegetables play a key role in cancer-fighting (2), among other health claims.
Even though kohlrabi can usually be found year-round, you might not find it in your local grocery store. Request it in the produce section of your grocery store to see if they will order it for you. You can often find it in a natural food market or at an Asian grocery store. It is also more likely to be found in the winter and spring. It is very easy to grow and can be grown even during the winter months in the Pacific NW.
I encourage you to try this delicious vegetable - it may become a new family favorite!
Shredded Kohlrabi with Greens and Peppers
Note: If the kohlrabi does not have greens, buy about five ounces of greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, etc.) This dish freezes well.
Nutrition per serving (1/6th of recipe - no salt added): 74 Calories; 5g Fat; 2g Protein; 7g Carbohydrates; 3g Fiber; 32mg Sodium
~Guest Post by Bastyr University Masters of Nutrition Student Nancy Miller
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!