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Vegetable Spotlight

Vegetable Spotlight...Artichokes!

Vegetable Spotlight...Artichokes!

artichoke section yourfoodstory.com

Springtime is upon us and so are these delicious vegetables, artichokes! With their nutty, yet mild earthy taste, (similar to beets, but much milder), getting sweeter as you get closer to the heart, and a multitude of options in which they can be used in makes them a fabulous vegetable!

The word “artichoke” is derived from the arabic word al-qarshuf. Through the course of time its spelling and pronunciation has varied, but once it came to the English language, primarily from the French language where it was called artichaut, came the current spelling and pronunciation.

Artichoke season runs mainly from March to June, and then again for a period of time in the fall months. Most of the U.S. grown artichokes come from California, so it might be a bit challenging to find these at your local farmers market.

Artichokes vary in color from dark green to purple, and common varieties include Green Globe and Big Heart. These peculiar looking vegetables are a great source of fiber, with one medium artichoke offering 10 grams. They also are rich in vitamin C, folate and potassium, and are high in antioxidants too!

When it comes to buying artichokes, you want to find ones that are heavy for their size. Look for tightly closed, olive green leaves, and moist, healthy stems. A few purple streaks on the leaves are acceptable, but limp, brownish globes should be passed by. 

Keep artichokes loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Fresh artichokes will last up to a week, but like all veggies are best the sooner after harvest they are used. For refrigerated storage, slice a dime width off of the artichoke stem, sprinkle the raw artichoke stems with water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Cooked artichokes should be cooled completely and covered before you put them in the refrigerator, where they can keep for up to a week.

Cleaning and cooking artichokes is considerably easily once you know what you are doing. Check out these great visually aided steps on how to clean and cook an artichoke.

zucchini artichoke bites yourfoodstory.com

Artichokes are one the most versatile vegetables, lending their tasty and mild flavor to any dish possible. A fun way to serve artichokes is as a healthy alternative to chips! Their leaves are a great and healthy vessel for salsa, guacamole, and any other favorite dip. As we all already know, artichokes make a tasty dip with spinach, but they also make a flavorful addition to soups, flat breads, and just plain as a snack.

To introduce the flavor of artichokes to our little ones, this fabulous lemon-artichoke hummus would do the trick. Pair it with some celery stalks, carrot pieces, or whole wheat crackers and they’ll be sold! Toddlers would also enjoy these Grilled Artichoke Pesto Zucchini Bites. Simply swap out the parmigiano reggiano cheese for any vegan cheese of your choice and as always using prepared artichokes from scratch is best if you can do it!

child eating artichokes yourfoodstory.com

The whole artichoke itself can be used as a serving bowl, too! You simply take out the center portion of a cooked artichoke (this part is the small tender leaves and the choke) and fill it with whatever you like. This would be fun for toddlers, they can eat their bowl! A vegetable chili or even this vegetable paella with artichokes looks absolutely delicious and perfect to fill an artichoke bowl with!

Since the weather is getting nice and warm, adding artichoke sections to your grilled vegetable variety is a great way to take advantage of good food and great weather!

What is the most creative way you’ve cooked artichokes? Let us know!

 

 

Written by: Anna Cayot

References:

Angelo, D. (2011). Spring Fling: All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2011/05/18/in-season-artichokes/

Ocean Mist Farms. (2014). All about artichokes.  Retrieved from: http://www.oceanmist.com/products/artichokes-2/

Watson, M. (). All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://localfoods.about.com/od/artichokes/tp/aboutartichokes.htm

Williams- Sonoma Kitchen. (2000). All about artichokes.  Retrieved from: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/tip/all-about-artichokes.html

Photo credits:

cover photo-http://artichokes.org/top photo- http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/01/arti-anatomy.png; bottom photo- http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/artichokes-how-to-serve-the-green-flower-veggie-to-your-kids/

 

Vegetable Spotlight...Collard Greens!

Vegetable Spotlight...Collard Greens!

collard greens growing http://www.yourfoodstory.com/blog/2015/3/6/vegetable-spotlightcollard-greens #yourfoodstory

Collard greens are one of the delicious and hearty vegetables that are in season in late winter. They’re packed with vitamins K and A, making them a great choice for you and your family. Collard greens are traditional in many Southern style dishes.

It is recommended that children do not eat collard greens until about six months of age. Before this time, nitrates in the vegetable can be dangerous to your baby. After six months, however, they are perfectly safe as long as they are pureed well to avoid excess stringiness that could be hard for babies to chew.

Although collard greens are typically cooked with ham hocks or other animal-based products, there are tons of ways to cook them vegetarian style as well! Here are some great healthy recipes for your baby:

Purple Potatoes and Collard Greens

  • 1 purple potato
  • 2 cups chopped baby collards

Peel potato and chop into half-inch cubes. Place on the bottom of a steamer basket over a saucepan with 1 inch of water. Put the two cups washed and chopped collards on top of the potatoes. Steam for about 8 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend using the cooking liquid. Adding water or olive oil may be necessary to keep the mixture from becoming stiff and starchy.

Beans, Collards, and Rice

  • 1 cup collard greens, cooked
  • 1 cup green beans, cooked
  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup water

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Have you tried Collard Greens with your little one yet? We would love to hear about your experience! 

 

Written by: Chloe Cerino

Sources:

http://www.gloryfoods.com/collard-greens/

http://www.marthastewart.com/286291/collard-greens-recipes/@center/1009854/winter-produce

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=138

http://www.recipe.com/beans-collards-and-rice-baby-food/

http://patch.com/california/millvalley/homemade-baby-food-is-easier-than-you-think

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-baby-eat-collard-mustard-greens-4947.html

kenrockwell.com (cover image)

http://www.realtimefarms.com/pic/ahNzfnJlYWx0aW1lZmFybXMtaHJkcgwLEgNQaWMY3JOQAww

Vegetable Spotlight...Brussels Sprouts!

Vegetable Spotlight...Brussels Sprouts!

Brussels sprouts are a vegetable in the same family as cabbage, that happen to look like mini cabbages.  These little sprouts are in season throughout the winter and are believed to have originated in Brussels, Belgium sometime in the 13th century.  

Brussels sprouts are easy to grow in the winter and are thought to taste sweeter after a frost. The sprouts grow best in temperatures between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit.  

These little vegetables may be small, but they pack a high level of vitamin C and vitamin K, making it a great food to share with the family.  Brussels sprouts can cause gas in children as well as adults, so it is best to begin introducing Brussels sprouts to little ones after about 8 or 9 months of age to avoid any discomfort.  

Try these recipes below to begin, or continue, incorporating Brussels sprouts into your family’s meals!

Brussels Sprout Puree Soup

brussel sprout pureed soup

A recipe that is great for the whole family, this soup is best served warm and can be easily created in large batches to save for later.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 large shallot or small leek
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth/stock
  • Tbsp. Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Trim off and discard the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts. Roughly chop the sprouts and set them aside.
  2. Trim and roughly chop the celery; peel and chop the shallot or leek.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Once warm, add the celery and shallot. Sprinkle with the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts turn a brighter shade of green, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer, cover partially, and cook until the Brussels sprouts are completely and utterly tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Use a hand-held immersion blender to completely purée the soup. You can also do this in a blender, just be sure to let the soup cool a bit first, work in batches, and put a kitchen towel over the top of the blender in case the heat of the soup makes it splatter out. Be sure to purée the soup a bit longer than you may think is necessary; you want the final product to be as smooth as possible.
  6. Serve the soup hot, with a garnish of freshly ground black pepper, if you like.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

roasted brussel sprouts

For older children and adults, these roasted sprouts are a delicious, easy to make side dish or snack.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat your oven to 350 F. Cut off end and any loose leaves and then cut in half. Place Brussels sprouts in a rimmed baking sheet and add a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix up with your hands and roast until fork tender - about 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Written by Katie Tessier

 

Sources

Header image: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/12/03/article-2517327-19CDC97B00000578-924_634x675.jpg

Title Image: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-k3c-AcZC7eM/Tqfjbj-kmdI/AAAAAAAABJA/Y8RUZEcXyXQ/s1600/Brussels+Sprouts.JPG

Brussels sprout soup image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zA67i9_nhEs/VHv9WSA6WOI/AAAAAAAAbS8/5TDKmHgl0xc/s1600/CreamofBrusselsSproutsSoup3.jpg

Brussels sprout soup recipe: http://localfoods.about.com/od/brusselssprouts/r/Cream-of-Brussels-Sprouts-Soup.htm

Roasted Brussels sprout image: http://www.steamykitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/roasted-brussels-sprouts-with-sweet-chili-sauce-recipe-9562.jpg

Roasted Brussels sprout recipe: http://www.babyfood101.com/brussels_sprouts_baby_food_recipes/