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Archive | Home and Garden

Fresh Market: Beets

AWE-Beets

By Vicky Babcock

 

Favored by Aphrodite, these miniature powerhouses deserve a second look. Beets are older than dirt, a pre-historic root vegetable that grew wild along the African coastline and the coastlines of Europe and Asia as well, although at this time only the beet greens were consumed. It is commonly believed that ancient Romans began the practice of eating the root. What we refer to as beets are actually beetroot and both parts of the plant are edible.  The goddess was said to have consumed beetroots to retain her beauty and women used beetroot to color their cheeks. Beetroot was considered an aphrodisiac and was a popular offering to Apollo, god of the sun. The Oracle of Delphi proclaimed beets to be worth their weight in silver and second only to horseradish in mystic potency. Folklore holds that if a man and woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.

The natural components of beetroot offer a multitude of health benefits. Beets can help improve blood flow, increasing oxygen (and thus, stamina) and lowering blood pressure. Components provide anti-inflammatory properties and studies show a likely use to help ward off cancers. Beets are high in vitamin C, an immune booster, and fiber, potassium (heart, nerve and muscle) and manganese (bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas).  Beets contain the B vitamin folate, which can help reduce the risk of birth defects.  They have been used in detoxification programs and to help purify the blood and liver.

It has been used to color foods such as tomato paste and sauces as well as ice cream, jams, jellies and cereals; as fodder for animals; as a substitute for cane sugar (sugar beets); and to enhance the effectiveness of road salt. Both the greens and the root have medicinal value and were used as such by the ancients and by holistic practitioners today.

Beet greens are excellent sources of vitamins A, K and C, 220%, 821% and 60% RDA per 1 cup serving respectively. They are a very good source of potassium and manganese and a good source of magnesium and calcium. Per volume, beet greens are as high—if not higher—in iron than spinach and can be used in cooking much the same way.

Yet, like Rodney (Dangerfield) beets get no respect. Aside from the Russians, who love their borsht (beet soup) few people have a liking for the flavor of beets. Some describe it as earthy. Most red beets find their way into jars and cans as pickled beets.

Beet sugar from the sugar beet became popular after sugar cane was restricted by the British during the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon decreed the beet be used as the primary source of sugar.  It was around this time that the beets were first introduced to the New World. By 1837, France had become the largest sugar beet producer in the world, a position it held until 2011 when it was eclipsed by Russia.  he U.S. ranks third in the world in sugar beet production.

Michigan’s beet sugar production centers around the Bay City thumb area. Michigan Sugar Company is the third leading producer of beet sugar in the United States, selling under the names Pioneer Sugar® and Big Chief®.

Beets can be baked, steamed or boiled—or they can be shredded and consumed raw in salads. Cooking greatly diminishes the nutritional value of beetroots so cook lightly—15 minutes or less to sauté and less than an hour of baking. Cooking times can be reduced by cutting beets into quarters. Wash gently before cooking and leave the “tail” and  a bit of the green end.  Remove the skin after the cooking process by rubbing with a paper towel. Gloves can be worn to prevent stained hands or use a little lemon juice to remove stains from hands. Salt will dull a beet’s color so only add salt at the end of the cooking process.

A few more interesting facts you may not know about beets:

•In England, mangel-wurzel (a beetroot used for animal fodder) hurling has become a team sport.

•Beetroot can be used as a measure of acidity.  When added to an acidic solution it will turn pink, whereas if it is added to an alkali solution, it will turn yellow.

•Beetroot contains “betaine” which is used in other forms to help treat depression and “tryptophan,” the feel-good chemical in chocolate.

•Beet juice is being used today to replace brine in loading tractor tires. It does not corrode like brine and does not freeze. However, if you get a flat tire, you will have to fight the wasps for control of the tractor.

 

Mama (In-Law)’s Harvard Beets

¾ cup sugar

4 cups cooked beets*

2 tsp. cornstarch

3 T. butter

1/3 cup vinegar

¼ tsp. salt

1/3 cup water

1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Add vinegar and water; bring to boil and cook 5 minutes. Add cooked beets and simmer ½ hour.  Add butter, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

*Remember—the less cooking the better to retain nutritional value.  For this reason we recommend steaming the beets prior to making the Harvard Beets

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Tree Pruning with a Purpose

 

Fall is a great time to be outside in our landscapes and gardens. We take stock of which plants are looking good and which plants seem to need a little help. It is natural to want to “do” something to help a tree – prune it, fertilize it, polish it – we can’t help wanting to touch it in some way.

Pruning is an oft needed maintenance treatment for good tree health, and to keep your tree and yard safe and looking good, but pruning without a good reason is not good tree care practice. Pruning just because your neighbor is doing it may not be beneficial for the tree, and could result in too much live tree tissue being removed. This can cause the tree to become stressed, and perhaps decline.

In fact, industry tree pruning standards (ANSI A300) say no more than 25 percent of a tree’s foliage should be removed in a single season, and if the tree cannot tolerate a lot of pruning, even less should be removed. When determining how much pruning your tree can tolerate, an arborist may consider if the tree:

• is healthy

• is still growing rapidly or has matured and slowed its growth

• had its roots severed or damaged recently or in the past

• suffers from disease

• is a species tolerant of heavy pruning

“All that said, fall is a good time to prune to meet certain tree growth goals,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. A good arborist will work with you to set an objective for the pruning job (i.e., what you want accomplished when the work is done). Pruning objectives usually include one or more of the following:

• reduce risk of damage to people or property

• manage tree health and direction of growth

• provide clearance for vehicles or roadways

• improve tree structure

• increase or improve aesthetics

• restore shape

“Once tree pruning objectives are established, the arborist can provide specific details on how your trees could be pruned to get the desired result,” says Andersen.

The pruning process can be overwhelming to those not familiar with shade and ornamental tree pruning. A qualified tree care expert trained in tree and woody plant health care can answer your questions, as well as help you with your tree pruning goals. Make sure to ask for tree pruning to be done according to ANSI A300 standards, the generally accepted industry standards for tree care practices.

Find a professional

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees and shrubs to plant for your existing landscape. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. It has more than 2,200 member companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance.

TCIA has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies” program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.

 

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Fresh Market: Plums

Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

By Vicky Babcock

Plums may have been one of the first fruits cultivated by humans. It appears to have several origins and varieties. Prunus domestica has been traced to East European and Caucasian mountains, while Prunus salicina and Prunus simonii originated in Asia. The remnants of plums were discovered in archaeological digs dating to the Neolihic age (Wikipedia).

A relative to peaches, nectarines and almonds, the plum is a member of the rose family. It is considered a drupe—a fruit with a stone pit surrounding their seeds. Plum trees blossom in the spring and a healthy tree will produce an abundant crop in late summer to early fall. Asian varieties can be harvested much earlier, sometimes as early as May.  China is the leading producer of plums, with the U.S. lagging a distant sixth. Of the 50 states, California leads in plum production.

The plum tree is featured significantly in Chinese mythology. It is associated with wisdom and longevity, and blossoms from the plum tree are frequently carved in jade to symbolize resurrection. It is often represented in Asian art and is included among “the three friends of winter” and “the four gentlemen,” traditional groupings of plants which often appear in artworks. The three friends—pine, bamboo and plum—are associated with strength and endurance during the cold winter months, while the four gentlemen—plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum—represent the seasons, as well as noble virtues.

Plum varieties range from sweet to tart and the skin can be somewhat tart. They are featured heavily in much Asian cuisine, while Americans are more likely to consume them in their natural state. Plums are a good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, copper, fiber and potassium. With about 30 calories per fruit, plums are an excellent choice to round out your diet.

On a cautionary note, plums contain measurable amounts of oxalates. In heavy concentrations, these can crystallize and create health problems. Individuals with kidney or gallbladder conditions probably should avoid eating plums. If you have any concerns, please speak with your doctor.

Nana’s Plum Bread

1 to 1 ½ cups pitted, chopped plums

1 T. flour1 ½ cups flour

½ cup butter, softened½ tsp. salt

¾ cup sugar½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla extract¼ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. orange extract2 T. sour cream

2 large eggs2 T. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and dust with about 1 tablespoon of white sugar. In a small bowl, sprinkle plums with 1 tablespoon flour. Toss lightly to coat; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, ¾ cup sugar and extracts. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining dry ingredients except for brown sugar. Add to egg mixture, stirring until mixture is smooth and dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in sour cream. Fold plums into batter, then pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 50-55 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Baking times are approximate.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

 

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Extend the harvest this season


By gardening expert Melinda Myers

 

AWE-Extend-the-harvest-seasonDidn’t get enough gardening in this season? Don’t worry there is still time to grow garden-fresh vegetables and herbs this fall and winter.

Purchase transplants and seeds that will grow and flourish in the cooler fall and winter temperatures. Lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, root vegetables, edible pansies and calendula as well as cole crops, like broccoli, are a few to consider.

Those gardening in colder regions need to select short season crops like lettuce, spinach and radishes that will mature before extremely cold winter temperatures set in. Extend the fall garden season into winter with the help of floating row covers, coldframes and portable greenhouses. Many of the elevated garden systems now have built in cold frames or row cover attachments to make extending the season much easier.

Try container and elevated gardens like the VegTrug™ (www.gardeners.com) to extend the growing season and increase your enjoyment. These contained gardens allow you to plant herbs, vegetables and flowers anywhere. Place a few right outside the front door or on the balcony for fun and convenience. Plus, contained gardens can easily be moved to a sheltered location or covered and protected from frost.

Or move your garden indoors. Select vegetables and herbs that can tolerate the less-than-ideal indoor growing conditions. Greens, onions and root crops, like radishes and short carrots, will grow in a sunny window. Expand your selection with the help of artificial lights.

Basil, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley, chives and of course mint are a few favorite herbs to grow on your kitchen or other sunny windowsill. Increase your harvest with the help of artificial lights or try an indoor tiered grow light stand to save on space.

Take cuttings from healthy herbs growing in the garden, purchase new transplants or start herb and vegetable plants from seeds.

Take four inch cuttings from healthy herbs. Remove the lowest set of leaves and place the cut end in a well-drained potting mix. Once rooted, plant the herbs in individual containers or mixed with other herbs in a windowsill planter.

Start the seeds in a flat, in individual pots or directly in a planter. Keep the rooting mix warm and moist until the seeds sprout. Move to a sunny location or under artificial lights as soon as the seedlings break through the soil. Wait until the seedlings develop two sets of leaves and then transplant them into their permanent planter if needed.

So get busy planting and soon you will be enjoying the tasty benefits of fall and winter gardening.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips. 

 

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Fresh Market

AWE-Fresh-market-winter-squash

Winter squash, one of the Three Sisters 

(part three of a three part series)

by Vicky Babcock

 

Long before the Earth was populated by people, there were the Sky People. This particular tale, of the Three Sisters, speaks of Sky Woman, who, because of her curiosity, fell through a hole in the sky while peering through to the world below, a world of endless sea. The creatures of this world saw her fall and swiftly scooping soil from the sea bottom, they placed it onto the back of a giant turtle, that she would have a safe place to land. This “turtle island” remains today and is what we now refer to as North America.

Now Sky Woman was pregnant at the time of her fall and, when her time came, she gave birth to a daughter, who grew up and in turn gave birth to twin boys by the West Wind. She died in childbirth and Sky Woman (or the woman’s children by some accounts) buried her in the new earth. Three sacred plants sprang up from where she laid—a gift from the Creator. These gifts were corn, beans and squash, the sustainers of life. They became known as the three sisters and were the three major crops raised and held sacred by Native Americans. They were grown together as three sisters, each sustaining the others.

The third sister, squash, provides ground cover for her siblings, crowding out weeds and helping to retain moisture in the soil. It was an important ingredient to a balanced diet, providing nutrition and fiber as well as caloric content. Native Americans consumed the seeds as well as the flesh of this prized fruit.

Winter squash is harvested and eaten when it is mature, as opposed to summer squash, which is eaten in the immature stage. In its mature stage, winter squash can be stored for longer periods. Winter squashes are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and provide significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 as well as dietary fiber.  While about 90 percent of winter squash’s total calories come from carbohydrates, a number of studies suggest that certain starch related components in squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.  A cup of winter squash, cooked, provides about 80 calories, comparable to a single medium apple.

Winter squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years. However, one of the most popular winter squashes, the butternut, is a relative newcomer to the plate. Charles Leggett has been credited with the development of this squash in the mid 1940’s. With its buttery flavor, its relatively thin skin and plentiful flesh, the butternut has quickly won the hearts of most squash lovers. Other varieties include, acorn, buttercup, hubbard, Lakota, pumpkin and spaghetti. There are over 40 varieties of squash available in the United States and countless subspecies.

Look for winter squashes in mid to late September and in early to late October. These tasty treats are a great way to round out your diet!

Butternut Scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup butternut squash, cooked and pureed*

3 tablespoons milk

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze 

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons milk

For the spiced glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or cut a clean brown bag to fit and butter lightly.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add cold butter, working into mixture using a pastry cutter or two knifes until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In another bowl, whisk together squash puree, milk, egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough forms.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Roll the dough out into a 10- by 7-inch rectangle. Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut into 4 even pieces crosswise, making eight rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two triangles, making 16 scones.

Place scones onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk as needed; set aside. For spiced glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and milk. Whisk until smooth; set aside.

Cool  baked scones for 10 minutes and spoon on glaze before drizzling with spiced glaze.

Allow glazes to set before serving.

*Butternut squash can be washed and baked whole in a 400ºF oven. Remove the skin while still warm and scoop out the seeds. Leftover squash from this recipe can be mashed and served with a little salt and butter or frozen for later use. Yum!

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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How tall is your corn?

AWE-Corn-heightTracy Skelonc, of Solon Township, sent us this photo of her husband, Martin, and their son, Dalton, in the corn on their family’s farm. She said their corn measures 11 feet 6 inches.

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Join the Arbor Day Foundation in September 

 

AWE-Arbor-Day-Red-mapleReceive 10 Free Trees for Planting in Michigan

 

Everyone from Michigan who joins the Arbor Day Foundation in September will receive 10 free trees as part of the Foundation’s Trees for America program.

Through Trees for America, everyone is encouraged to plant trees that will benefit the environment and improve the quality-of-life. With one million members, the Arbor Day Foundation is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees.

Everyone joining this month will receive an eastern redbud, white pine, sugar maple, white flowering dogwood, pin oak, red maple, river birch, silver maple, northern red oak and Colorado blue spruce.

“This group of trees was carefully selected to yield year-round benefits in Michigan, including beautiful spring flowers, cool summer shade, spectacular autumn colors and winter berries and nesting sites for songbirds,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

“These trees will also add to the proud heritage of Michigan’s 125 Tree City USA communities,” Harris continued. “For the last 38 years, Tree City USA has supported effective urban forest management across Michigan, and planting these trees will enhance the state’s tree-planting tradition.”

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting between October 15 and December 10. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge. Easy-to-follow planting instructions are enclosed with each shipment of trees.

New members of the Arbor Day Foundation will also receive The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care.

To receive the 10 free trees, send a $10 membership contribution to Ten Trees, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by September 30, 2014, or join online at arborday.org/september.

 

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Build a lasting memory with your backyard project

 

Color-treated lumber keeps your backyard project from becoming a faded memory.

Color-treated lumber keeps your backyard project from becoming a faded memory.

(BPT) – There are regular backyard projects and then there are those special backyard projects that bring families closer together, both during the construction and while enjoying the finished piece.
If you want to improve your backyard with a special project for your family this year but you’re not sure what to build, here are a few fun ideas.
* Wood raised-garden planter. If anyone in your home has a green thumb, this is a great idea. A raised planter bed keeps the soil warmer longer, which will extend the gardening season. Your plants will also enjoy better soil conditions because the soil won’t be walked on. Finally, raised beds make it easier to protect your plants from hungry woodland animals.
* Wood treehouse. One of the iconic mainstays of childhood: If you have young children at home, they will love it. Incorporate extra elements into your tree house (ladders, slides, climbing wall, etc.) for prolonged enjoyment and consider putting walls on the structure. This will allow your children to play inside longer into the year.
* Wood swing set. Build it as an attachment to the treehouse or as a standalone project. In either case, a swing set is sure to be popular. Basing the posts into the ground and building your set from quality treated lumber means it will be ready for your children – and for any full-grown kid who wants to swing away nostalgically.

The preservative used in ProWood pressure-treated lumber is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

The preservative used in ProWood pressure-treated lumber is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

* Wood sandbox. Another iconic childhood toy. Building a sandbox with higher side walls will reduce the amount of sand that spills over the side, and adding a base means this section of your yard won’t be filled with sand forever. You may also consider building a wooden cover for your child’s sandbox to hide toys from sight and from the elements.
* Picnic table. Not every project has to be designed just for the kids. A picnic table provides that at-the-park feeling right in your own backyard. Before you start your picnic table project, however, determine what style table you want (square, rectangle, hexagon, etc.) as well as the size of the table. If you have a large family or frequent guests, you may want to build a bigger table (but remember that this table will be harder to move around). If your table will only be used by a couple of people, a small, portable table is probably the better option.
When it’s time to choose a building material for your backyard project, consider pressure-treated lumber, which is both affordable and easy to use. Additionally, some brands of treated lumber give your backyard project a professional-grade look. When using treated lumber, be sure to check the end tag as it identifies the treatment type. Look for the ProWood end tag, because it’s an indicator that tells you it’s building code approved and treated for your intended use. ProWood MCA (Micronized copper azole) treated lumber has a lighter, fresher appearance compared to other current or previous treatments. MCA pressure-treated wood is the logical, safe choice – it’s completely safe for people and pets.
To learn more about ProWood MCA treated lumber and to find inspiration for your next project, visit www.ProWoodLumber.com.

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Fresh Market

BLOOM-BeansBeans, one of the Three Sisters

(part two of a three part series)
by Vicki Babcock

Native Americans speak of the “Three Sisters,” referring to corn, beans, and squash that were grown together.  The following is another legend about the sisters.
Long ago there were three sisters who lived together in a field. Each sister was very different from the others, both in looks and temperament. Each had their own interests. They were bound by love for each other and they always stayed together. But a crow came one day and talked to the horses and the other animals. The sisters watched this behavior and, shortly after, the youngest sister disappeared. This left the two remaining sisters very sad. The crow returned to gather reeds at the water’s edge and the sisters watched. That night, the second sister disappeared. This left the eldest sister all alone to grieve. When the crow saw her sadness, he brought the sisters together again and they continue to be together to this day. The eldest stands tall as she always did watching out for the crow. They find strength together and each sustains the other. These three spirit sisters are represented in the crops themselves.
Native Americans used this form of “companion planting” for their three major crops, which they believe were gifts from the Creator. The corn provided a pole for the beans, which, in turn, nourished the soil. The squash provided cover to keep the soil moist and to deter weeds. Eaten together, the three crops provided a balanced diet.
Beans are one of the oldest known cultivated plants, dating back thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians left the beans with their dead to sustain them through their journey and mention was made of beans and chickpeas cast on the threshing floor in the Iliad, written in the late 8th century BCE.  According to Wikipedia, the oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.
Beans from the New World include lima beans and common beans such as Navy or Pea Bean, Red Kidney, Pinto, Great Northern, Marrow, and Yellow Eye. Also included are our string beans (now stringless) and snap beans. Varieties you might find at farmers markets today include such interesting names as Dragon’s Tongue and Trail of Tears.*
Beans were an important source of protein for Native Americans. They are comparable to meat when it comes to calories. Unlike meat, however, they have a high fiber and water content which helps you to feel fuller faster. Adding beans to your diet will help you cut calories without feeling deprived. One cup of cooked beans provides about 12 grams of fiber, nearly half of the RDA recommended for women and about one-third for men. Fiber means that beans are digested slower, helping stave off hunger longer. In addition, beans are low in sugar, which prevents insulin in the bloodstream from spiking and causing hunger (Beans, Protein-rich Superfoods By Jenny Stamos Kovacs WebMD, the Magazine).
Beans are high in antioxidants, which help to control cell damaging free radicals in the body. According to Kovacs, free radicals have been implicated in everything from cancer and aging to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
In a study by the U.S Department of Agriculture of the antioxidant content of over one-hundred common foods, three types of beans made the top four: small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans.
Nuff said? If you haven’t done so already, do your body a favor and add these powerhouses to your diet. You’ll be glad you did.
*Dragon’s tongue and Trail of Tears can be found at Solon Market when in season.  Please check for availability.

O-Beans! Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Beans in cookies? You bet! Try these for a healthy choice!
Makes 3 dozen
Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
½  tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup Great Northern beans, drained, liquid reserved
3 tbsp. butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. pkg. semi sweet chocolate  chips
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Process beans and 2 tbsp reserved liquid in a blender until smooth. Combine bean puree, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl and beat well. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets. Bake 15 to 17 minutes until centers are firm and edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Unlike most cookies which are best fresh from the oven, these are better the second day.  Best served at room temperature.
Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

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Preserve the Harvest for Winter Meals and Holiday Gifts


by Melinda Myers

Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique making a comeback. Photo from Gardener’s Supply Company.

Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique making a comeback. Photo from Gardener’s Supply Company.

The cucumbers have filled the vegetable drawer, you’ve run out of cabbage recipes and your family is refusing to eat one more BLT. Or maybe you just couldn’t resist that special deal on a bushel of tomatoes, potatoes or apples at the farmer’s market. So what is a gardener or shopper to do with all that produce?

Since properly stored vegetables will hold their flavor and nutritional value longer than those left in a plastic bag or set on the sunny kitchen counter, consider preserving some for the long winter ahead using one of several methods.

Storage orchard racks and slatted crates placed in a cool dark location have long been used to store squash, onions and potatoes. The stackable nature or drawers provide ample storage space, so fruits and vegetables do not touch. Keeping stored fruit separated prevents rot from spreading from one fruit to the next. Plus, the slatted sides allow airflow to extend storage longevity.

Those in colder climates can store their carrots and parsnips right in the garden. Once the soil gets a bit crunchy, cover them with straw or evergreen boughs for easier digging in winter. Then dig as needed or harvest during the first winter thaw. If this isn’t possible or not your style, try out a root vegetable storage bin. The root crops are layered in sand or sawdust and placed in a cool dark location. Just remove and use as needed. No snow shoveling needed.

Drying is one of the oldest food preservation techniques. Most of us have grabbed a few bundles of herbs to hang and dry. Expand your drying endeavors to include fruits and vegetables. The goal is to quickly remove moisture without cooking the food. You can make your own dehydrator or purchase one. Research has shown that blanching vegetables and fruit before drying helps destroy harmful bacteria. Blanching involves a steam or boiling water bath followed by a cold-water bath. Timing varies with the fruit or vegetable you are preparing.

Another ancient food preservation technique, fermentation, is experiencing a comeback. Cultures around the world have fermented fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. Unique flavors, storage options and health benefits have many gardeners revisiting this tradition. Fermenting cucumbers into pickles, cabbage into sauerkraut, and berries into preserves are just a few options. The ingredients can be as simple as water, salt, and spices. All you need is a vessel, vegetables and fermenting culture. You can jump-start your efforts with a fermentation crock kit (gardeners.com) that includes the crock, cover and weights to make sure your veggies stay safely submerged in water.

Or quickly lock in the flavor and nutrition of your fruits and vegetables with freezing. You’ll need airtight containers or bags that are durable, don’t leak and won’t become brittle in cold temperatures. Some produce does not freeze well and others may need to be blanched before they are packed in the freezer bag or container. But frozen items can easily be retrieved from the freezer and included in your winter meals.

Canning is a bit more involved, but can be lots of fun. This process preserves the food and keeps it safe by preventing the growth of undesirable bacteria, yeast and mold. The sealed jars keep the flavor in and bad microorganisms out. So gather your produce, jars, pressure cooker, canner and friends to create tomato sauce, salsa, jams and jellies to enjoy or give as gifts.

Whatever method you choose, do a bit of research before you start. You’ll have greater success and a lot more fun. The National Center for Home Food Preservation website, http://nchfp.uga.edu, provides all the basic information for storage and food preservation.
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

 

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