Fruit and Vegetables Provide A Level of Nutrients Well Beyond Our Expectations

Janet L. Matthews asked:

Vegetables should always be a vital part of our healthy eating regime. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals as well as being an excellent source of natural fiber.

Vegetables can be classified in many different ways, but Professor Heber, the director of the University of California Los Angeles Center for Human Nutrition, divides foods into 7 colour groups: red, red/purple, orange, orange/yellow, yellow/green, green, white/green. Each color group describes the properties of that group and the affect it can have on the health of the individual

•    The red group eg tomatoes, provide lycopene;  believed to have anti cancer properties

•    the red/purple group eg grapes, provide anthocyanins; believed to have antioxidant and protective effects on the brain and heart functioning

•    the orange group eg carrots, provide alpha and beta-carotenes; believed to help against lung cancer and support the immune system

•    the orange/yellow group eg tangerines provide cryptoxanthins; believed to help with the maintenance of healthy vision, reproduction and body tissues

•    the yellow/green group eg avocado provide lutein and zeaxanthin; believed to reduce the risk of macular degeneration

•    the green group eg broccoli provide isothiocyanates and indoles; believed they may have anti cancer properties

•    the white/green group eg celery provide allicin; believed to act as an antibiotic in the body and have anti cholesterol benefits

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can provide the body with all these phytonutrients provided they are consumed on a daily basis.

So as you can see fruit and vegetables are a major part our healthy lifestyle and offer not only vitamins ,minerals and phytonutrients, but also add color and variety to your meal. They offer so much in the way of variety to the look and the taste of the meal and should be eaten regularly both lightly steamed and also raw.

Essential Oils – Mandarin – An Imperial Chinese Fruit Produces a Quality Essential Oil

Linda Lee Smith asked:

Mandarin (Citrus riticulata) is in the citrus family of botanical plants. The essential oil comes from cold expression of the peel and is produced primarily in Madagascar and Italy. This is yet another citrus fruit. It is a small fruit, orange in color with a taste somewhere between a tangerine and an orange. This fruit was named for the Imperial Chinese Mandarins. It was traditionally used for digestive problems. Often you will find that aromatherapists will interchange tangerine and mandarin essential oils. Both these fruits have the same latin name and the chemistry is almost identical.

How Can Mandarin Essential Oil Be of Benefit to Us Today?

Mandarin has many wonderful healing properties. It is antispasmodic, good for the digestion, is antifungal and stimulates the gallbladder. It can be used for fluid retention, insomnia, anxiety, intestinal problems, skin problems, scars, acne, and stretch marks (if blended with other oils like jasmine, lavender, sandalwood or frankincense). Mandarin can be diluted 50-50 and applied on location, applied to the chakras/vita flex points on the feet, directly inhaled, diffused or taken internally. As for safety, mandarin is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. However, this is another phototoxic oil and therefore should not be applied to the skin that is then exposed to UV rays of the sun or a tanning bed.

Want to learn more about the healing properties of mandarin and other essential oils? Consider becoming a certified aromatherapist. Educational courses in healing energy and aromatherapy can help you understand how essential oils heal the body/mind/spirit. The institute of Spiritual Healing & Aromatherapy teaches courses across the United States on aromatherapy and energy healing.

Fattening Foods – Fruit Juices Can Make You Fat

Jerry Graham asked:

There are several foods that actually cause belly fat that might surprise you — almost all folks incorrectly think that these foods are good for you. Every time we suggest to a client that they should consider eliminating these foods from their diet, they’re shocked.

All of our regular readers have heard Sharon or I say how bad trans fats and high fructose corn syrup are for you, so rather than play that same old tune again, I’d like to mention a one of the foods that will likely amaze you that it is responsible for packing on the fat.

One of the foods that causes fat which amazes a lot people, is one that is thought to be “healthy” — fruit juice. Don’t misunderstand me, this is not on a campaign for anti-carb — we truly believe that most fruits are extremely healthy for us. You see, our bodies just weren’t designed to separate the pulp and fiber from the juice, and then only drink the extremely high calorie sweet mixture that’s left, and not consume the fiber and other healthful portions of the fruit.

When you just drink the juice of fruits (apple and orange juice representing two of the greatest offenders in the SAD or Standard American Diet), you’re not getting the appetite gratification impact of the fiber naturally found in the fruit, and you’re left wanting to consume even more carbs. Plus, the fiber in whole fruit slows the blood glucose response which comes from eating whole fruit, in contrast to drinking just the fruit juice alone.

In a nutshell, drinking significant quantities of fruit juices actually causes you to store fat. But, eating whole fruits, including all of the fiber, actually assists you in maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet containing a high density of nutrients (assuming the rest of your diet is made up of whole unprocessed foods as well).

Fruit Trees

Richard Romando asked:

Fruit trees serve us in many ways. They are providers of the vitamins and minerals in our diet. They give us shade. They add to the beauty to any landscaping, and are often used for this purpose. They should grow to full size where there is no space constraint. However, there are dwarf versions available that can be grown in more restricted spaces.

A wide variety of fruit trees can be grown according to the region you live in. These include apple, mango cherry, plum, apricot, peach and orange trees, to name a few. They can form a part of your home garden, but for commercial purposes, they are planted extensively in large orchard plots.

The growth of the trees and the quality of their output depends on various factors. The weather and soil conditions play an important role in their growth. The amount of care you give a fruit tree also determines the quality of the fruit they produce. Late autumn is an ideal time to plant fruit trees, and a good nursery will give you good quality saplings to plant, as well as advice regarding nurturing.

Different fruit trees need certain climatic conditions to grow and will only bear fruit if the conditions are right. Most fruit trees need lots of sunlight to bear good quality fruit.

While buying a sapling, various things have to be kept in mind. The sapling has to be healthy. The roots should not be slimy. Only a healthy sapling can grow into a healthy tree. Doing some research about fruit trees in general and the tree you like, in particular, is good to do before purchasing any fruit bearing tree.

Hungarian Food

Sunil Tanna asked:

Hungary is a well-known for its distinctive culture, unique language and interesting cuisine. It is perhaps for these reasons, as well as the beauty of the country’s capital, Budapest, that Hungary has in recent years become one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. Of course, when people visit a country they often want to take a bit of that experience home with them, and one way that they can do that is by preparing Hungarian dishes at home.

Hungarian cuisine shares some features with the cuisine of the country’s neighbors, but also includes some distinctive features. Perhaps the best known of these is the use paprika to enliven the taste of many dishes. It is not entirely certain when this innovation was introduced – some people say it was a native innovation, whereas other attribute it to the influence of the Ottoman Turks who occupied much of the country from 1526 to 1699.

The most famous of Hungarian dishes is undoubtedly Goulash, which is known within Hungary as “Gulyás” or “Gulyásleves”. The dish is a stew, or very soup, prepared by cooking chunks of beef on the bone (shank, shin or shoulder) in a pot with onions, peppers, herbs, garlic and of course paprika – some versions of the dish also add potatoes.

Other popular Hungarian main courses include a fish soup made using freshwater fish, onions and paprika with tomatoes and white wine, goose liver (usually pan-fried), meat stew (“Pörkölt”), and a dish made from mashed vegetables known as “Fozelék”. Additionally, there are also many interesting Hungarian desserts, the most famous of which is Dobos Cake (“Dobosh Torte” or “Dobos Torte”) which is five layered sponge cake that was invented by the famous Hungarian confectioner, József C. Dobos.

Don’t Think Twice, Make Fruit Smoothies

Liana Sims asked:

Fruit Smoothies can be a delectable anytime healthy treat. Fruit smoothies are usually packed with nutritious natural ingredients that usually include frozen or fresh fruit, frozen or fresh yogurt and can have other sweet things to add flavor and zest such as honey, chocolate syrup or a bit of sugar.

Fruit smoothies are also a very healthy way to lose weight. Now I am not suggesting you go on an all liquid diet and have a smoothie for every meal, but they sure can help you achieve a fast meal replacement. Smoothies are great for people short on time. You can just blend a delicious fruit smoothie for breakfast and enjoy it while you commute to work. I tried an orange creamsicle smoothie recipe that I found in The Biggest Loser’s family Recipes book that was amazing. It really tastes like my favorite childhood treat, Humor’s orange creamsicles but it was very low in calories and fat. That is now my absolute favorite orange flavored smoothie!

If you have kids that hate eating vegetables, fruit smoothies are an easy way to hide them. You can quickly add some fresh spinach; prune juice or carrot juice right into the mixture. As long as you have some berries like blueberries or strawberries to hide the colors from the veggies, you can really pull it off. Your kids won’t even taste the veggies after you have cleverly added their favorite fruits and a bit of honey or sugar for a sweet taste.

Jamba Juice has been the leader in fruit smoothies on the west coast for many years and started taking on the west coast starting with NYC in 2005. Jamba Juice has some really tasty secret fruit smoothie recipes. They won’t let the cat out of the bag on them but there are plenty of copycat treats that taste spot on to them available online.

Although Jamba Juice has the best tasting fruit smoothies on the planet they can be expensive. An average fruit smoothie drink purchased in a smoothie shop can run you about $5.00. Yes, it’s cheaper than buying a lunch nowadays but when you want to get a smoother for your entire family that can add up pretty fast. It’s better to make your fruit smoothies at home. All you need is a good blender and some tried and true fruit smoothie recipes. Making your own smoothies at home will save you time, money and its convenient!

Give Them a Delicious Fruit Basket

Greg Scott asked:

For many years, the most popular gift to give to a loved one, friend or associate was a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The flowers would be admired on a desk top or counter for a few days and then the petals begin to wither. Eventually the flowers are thrown away. A gift that will give more pleasure and will serve a greater purpose is a fruit basket.

Another really great option for giving a gift is the fruit gift basket. These baskets are a unique way to show someone that you care. They are easily personalized with fruits that are favorites for the recipient of the basket as well as their family members and friends. If you are aware that the person really likes a particular type of fruit, the basket can be made of those things with ease.

Not only will putting their favorite fruits in the basket make it person, you could also add splashes of their favorite colors. This can be accomplished easily with ribbons or strips of fabric in their favorite colors. Or even adding a bow that says congratulations or happy birthday can make it that much more personal.

The recipients of a fruit gift basket are usually very thrilled and excited about their gift. They are eager to show it off to friends and coworkers. Unlike a flower bouquet, a fruit basket can be shared by the whole office or household. Each person in the office could take and eat an orange or apple from the fruit basket.

Have you ever spent hours wandering around stores looking for the perfect gift for someone that you just really don’t know that well? Do you get them a nice bottle of wine? Do you get them an article of clothing? Well the best answer would be to get them a fruit basket.

When you get assigned as the person to pick out the gift, the others are relying on you to get something that the person will enjoy. If you make a mistake and purchase wine or clothing that is not in the taste of the person that you are purchasing for, the others could be upset with you.

Giving a beautiful fruit basket is an unexpected surprise. If you are looking to surprise someone and want to give them a gift to remember, a fruit basket will be a great choice. In most cases a fruit basket will be less expensive than a flower arrangement and can be made much more personal as well. Give them a great fruit basket. They will love it!

Grow Your Own Fresh Fruit With An Indoor Fruit Tree

Jim Hofman asked:

Specialty gardeners and gardeners with limited space are jumping on board one of the most popular new gardening niches – growing fruit indoors. Indoor fruit trees are a perfect option for anyone who enjoys fresh fruit and gardening. Even if you live in a small apartment, you’ll have room for one of these fragrant, fun-to-grow trees, which are now readily available from online outlets.

What Types Are Available?

Indoor fruit trees are, as their name implies, specially developed to thrive indoors. Unlike standard trees one might see at an orchard, these trees are quite small, usually topping out at 10 feet maximum. These hardy trees are available for just about any citrus fruit you desire – orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, and more.

How Are Indoor Fruit Trees Shipped?

When you purchase one of these trees, expect it to arrive in a standard planting container, usually a 5 gallon size container. There is no specific season for shipping these trees – they can be bought and shipped at any time of year, no matter the climate where you live.

How To Care For Your Tree

Since indoor fruit trees are hardy, they are relatively easy care and suitable for even beginning gardeners. While growers always include specific growing and care instructions along with how-to tips, in general there are just a few things to keep in mind. Give your tree plenty of sun exposure, and don’t over water. Also, follow specific instructions for whatever type of indoor citrus tree you’ve purchased, because there are some subtle care differences from species to species.

What Is The Fruit Yield?

Most of these trees will yield fruit at a pace of several pounds annually. Yield will vary depending on what type of tree you own, and how well you follow the care instructions. Sometimes, if proper care isn’t given to the tree, it’s possible the fruit yield is smaller, both in fruit size and actual numbers of fruit.

Other Indoor Fruit Tree Tips

While it isn’t completely necessary, your fruit tree may benefit from spending warmer months outdoors on a patio or balcony. When the temperature drops consistently into the low 40’s, bring the tree inside. In terms of watering, usually every 10-14 days is sufficient. You may also want to consider a time release citrus fertilizer for your tree, which are available online or at garden centers.

Lemons Add Zest to Life

Kit Heathcock asked:

Lemon trees laden with their winter crop, boughs drooping under the weight of many hued lemons: dark green, lighter green becoming suffused with yellow, vibrant yellow bursting with life, then as they go unpicked and overripe a flush of orange seeps into the knobbly fruit. Until I came to South Africa lemons came from a shop: smooth, uniform yellow skins all year round. Now I have learned to appreciate their seasonal bounty, struggling to use up all the fruit in winter, hoarding away the squeezed juice of the excess lemons in the freezer for summer, when the lemons must come from the shop again and are more expensive and less juicy.

This is the time to think up a hundred and one ways to use a lemon, to dig out all the recipes requiring a lot of lemons: Lemon Curd, Lemon Cake, Three Fruit Marmalade with grapefruit and lemons to balance the sweetness of the oranges. Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book has a wonderful sounding Lemon Tart recipe, that I can’t wait to try, it sounds like the sort of marvel you’d get from a good French patisserie.

Roast chicken can be kept moist and succulent as it roasts, with a lemon stuffed into its cavity. Pierce the lemon’s skin a few times to let the juice seep through, but put it in whole. A spritz of lemon juice on green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, lifts the flavour and replaces some of the vitamin C lost in cooking too. I use up lots of lemons making jam in the strawberry season in spring and early summer. Lemon juice is an essential addition to the soft fruit, to add the pectin that makes it set. Most of my freezer stock of juice will go on that.

On hot summer’s days the lemon comes into its own. Refreshing, iced, home-made Lemonade garnished with mint to slake your thirst – much healthier than commercial fizzy drinks, despite the sugar. It is additive-free, with loads of Vitamin C and far more delicious than anything that comes in a can.

Recipe for Lemonade

3 large lemons


soda water to serve

Remove the peel very thinly from the lemons, taking just the yellow zest and leaving all the white pith. A potato peeler works well for this. Put it all into a heavy bottomed pan and cover with 2cm/1” water. Cover with a lid and warm over a very low heat. Do not let the water quite boil or it will bring out the bitterness of the peel. Once the water is strongly flavoured, take off the heat and allow to cool. Strain it into a jug. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and add to the jug, then stir in sugar to taste. It should be sweet and strong flavoured, as you will dilute it to serve. Serve with soda water added, if you like a fizz, or plain iced water and garnish with some slices of lemon and sprigs of mint. The undiluted lemonade keeps for several days in the fridge.

Lemons are a great health boost in winter, adding essential Vitamin C to the diet, to help fight off colds and flu. They also help expel mucus, so are excellent for chesty colds and coughs. My son, who has a tendency to asthma, has a cup of hot honey and lemon every morning, which he luckily likes – 1 teaspoon of good raw honey and a tablespoon of lemon juice with hot water poured over – which helps keep his chest clear in winter.

I recently learned a housekeeping tip from Morocco: use a lemon to clean copper and brass. Just rub the cut edge over brass bedknobs or those wonderful Moroccan door plates to bring up a shine, then buff with a soft cloth. The kids thought that was a great idea and now keep running off with half squeezed lemons to polish the spare room bedknobs!

Copyright 2006 Kit Heathcock

Glycemic Index Fruit – To Squeeze Or Not to Squeeze?

Darryl S asked:

Glycemic Index Fruit – The Squeezing Dilemma

Thank goodness mother nature provided us the great side dish feast that fruit provides us; they are tasty, in a plethora of varieties, rich in nutrients, full of fiber, a good source of antioxidants – and darn good for us too! Who says anything that tastes good is bad for you. Fruit puts that old axiom to rest.

Glycemic index fruit choices, no matter which ones you choose, are pretty much a divine-like treat. Fruits in all varieties taste great, they appease the sweet tooth we often get without the more harmful effects sucrose (table sugar) has on our bodies. Fruit is literally a kind of natural sugar. So, this begs the question, why do people add sugars to apple pies or any other fruit recipes for that matter? Even jams and jellies have far too much sugar types added to them. Those added sugars actually spoil the natural sugar tastes completely – and these unnecessary additives are especially not good for us too!

Just as vegetables are primarily low within the index and highly recommended within all your primary meals and snacks, so are all fruits almost as equally. And ‘almost’ is the key word here, as there are more fruits that have crept up the index and wandered into the moderate territory than there are vegetables. Fruits such as raisins, and fresh apricots (dried are much lower though) are quite rigidly set in the moderate zone; and then there is watermelon sitting very high at 72 on the list, strangely enough. But overall, you simply cannot go wrong with any glycemic index fruit choices you make.

In the Raw versus in the Squeeze

Some people scratch their heads when they learn that an orange ranks in around the 40 mark, and yet the orange in juice form ranks in the low to mid 50’s. What’s with that? Isn’t an orange, an orange, no matter how you slice it? …or ‘juice it’ in this case.

It turns out that how a food is processed and in what way the food is presented, this will affect the fruit glycemic index score. In the case of the orange, once it goes directly into juice form, without the pulp and fiber following it, this makes quite a difference. It is the pulp and fiber within the orange that makes the orange break down more gradually in your system. Therefore if you take the fiber away, it speeds up quicker. The same goes for all glycemic index fruit and vegetable choices you make.

This is not to discourage you from drinking those healthy fruit or vegetable juices, only to emphasize how important sticking with the ‘raw’ really is, whenever you can.

Just remember, when fiber is gone, food digestion speeds up, when fiber stays, food digestion is gradual. Pretty straight forward, yet important to keep in mind nonetheless.

Some Low Hanging Glycemic Index Fruit Choices

For the remainder of this article the focus turns to some of the lowest scoring glycemic index fruit selections you need to consider implementing into your daily diet. Both as part of your meal, and also during snacking times. In a previous article, vegetables (the sister food group) were hinted to as being a part of an effective strategy to direct your temptations to grab a vegetable source before any sugar coated ‘junk stuff’ you habitually would turn to at ‘cravings’ time. Glycemic index fruit choices will get the same treatment here.

But in the case of fruit versus vegetables, you really do not need to prepare your vegetables for consumption in the same way as was described in the article on vegetables. So the best advice is to get yourself a fruit basket – literally go out and buy one. Put it on your kitchen table and perhaps even buy a second one to put on your counter space in your cooking area or cooking island. Just simply keep fresh fruit in arms reach. Put the sugar cookies and junk foods way out of reach and at the back of your cupboards – way back! Why put that temptation in your field of vision when you could put low glycemic index fruit choices in front of you everywhere.

I would even go so far as to say buy some nice pictures of fruit or vegetable themed art work and hang them in your kitchen as a kind of everyday reminder. So, the next time you pass through a craft and arts show, look for some (and you’ll help out a starving artist at the same time) – seriously!

So the foods you need to include in your basket or two would be some of the following as examples: Apples, pears, plums, dried apricots, peaches, and sweet cherries to name a few. Believe it or not, sweet cherries are amongst the lowest scoring glycemic index fruit choices you could make, despite ‘sweet’ in its name.

So, to sum it up…stick with raw over juiced, and perhaps buy some art work!