Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cooking vegetables properly to get the maximum nutritive value on your table!

Cooking vegetables properly to get the maximum nutritive value on your table!

We've all heard so much about eating those 5-9 servings of produce each day. Smart physicians have been promoting this for decades, but it's only been in the last few years that the government has made this healthy recommendation official. Many of us gasped at the idea, wondering if it were even possible to consume so much produce and have any room left over for anything else!

Now, we're getting used to increasing the amounts we serve and have become more aware of the many health benefits. With the rise in the incidence of cancer and heart disease, it only makes sense. Much of the fruit and fruit products we eat are eaten fresh, or as juice. In the case of vegetables, the reverse is true. Most of our vegetables are cooked before serving. The method used for cooking vegetables makes a world of difference in the nutrition derived from that serving of broccoli, carrots or potatoes – or any vegetable you cook.

The dark green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and kale contain significant amounts of B and C vitamins, as well as many other valuable nutrients. The brightly colored veggies, such as yellow, orange and red bell peppers, yield those cancer fighting antioxidants in copious amounts. However, there's a caveat when it comes to cooking vegetables – those valuable nutrients are largely water soluble. This means that cooking vegetables in large amounts of boiling water leaves the nutrients in the water, leaving as little as 10% of that contained in the raw produce! You can see where this leads: improperly cooking vegetables is little more than an exercise in futility. Your body obtains little more than the dietary fiber and minimal quantities of the nutritive value.

Remember, too, that heat destroys vitamins A and C rather quickly, so it's important to minimize exposure to heat.

Even when serving raw vegetables, as in a salad or crudites, you don't want to soak the vegetables in water to clean them. A thorough, but brief run under the water helps prevent leaching of vitamins, delivering the maximum nutrition when eaten.

Have you ever noticed the difference in appearance between, say, an artichoke or broccoli that's been steamed versus one that's been boiled? The boiled version is certainly less attractive, having lost most of its color, turning an olive-gray green, whereas the same veggie, steamed, retains an appetizing, bright green hue. Boiled vegetables also tend to be limp and overly soft – one reason kids are so often turned off by that plate of veggies – the texture is not pleasurable to the palate. Steamed vegetables retain just the right amount of crunch. When you're cooking vegetables, steaming is definitely the preferred method for nutrition as well as visual and sensate appeal.

Cooking vegetables in the microwave is the next best alternative, as it requires little water and cooks quickly, minimizing the loss of valuable vitamins. The less water touching the vegetables, the better.

When cooking stews and soups, most recipes direct you to cook the veggies far longer than necessary, which usually causes a loss in texture, appearance and color. This also results in the destruction of the A and C vitamins. It's best to steam or nuke the veggies separately, adding to the soup or stew at the last minute.

Hey, this makes me wonder if the official number of servings doesn't factor in improperly cooking vegetables. If so, cooking them right and eating those 5-9 servings could make you a very healthy individual indeed!

Chicken spaghetti? Why not?

Chicken spaghetti? Why not? A terrifically healthy, new take on our Italian favorite!

Traditional spaghetti, with beef or sausage in a tomato-based sauce is a favorite on American menus. Nonetheless, any dish, served too often can lose its appeal with the family. Spaghetti has become a staple of the American diet, as a hearty and filling meal, easy to prepare and a perfect partner for a side of salad and a chunk of garlic bread. If your family no longer looks with favor on this economical dish, it's time to think outside the box and throw them for a loop, with a most unlikely variation – chicken spaghetti!

Our chicken spaghetti recipe uses the same culinary concepts as traditional spaghetti: meat, veggies, seasonings and sauce, lavished in generous proportions over a plate of noodles. Let's see just how different this spaghetti recipe is and how you can create this dish and have everyone wondering where in the world you came up with this new concoction, as yet unnamed, but heavenly on the palate, right down to this last bite. This chicken spaghetti still comes with the garden salad and garlic bread sides.

Our chicken based spaghetti is prepared in almost an identical way to traditional spaghetti – the ingredients and seasonings are different, but the finished dish has a similar consistency, but an entirely different flavor. Take a look.

Chicken Spaghetti

For maximum economy, begin with a whole roasted chicken. For a quicker version, use a frozen 2-lb package of chicken breast strips. In either case, cut the cooked chicken into bite sized chunks and set aside in a stock pot, off the stove.

Clean and slice a pound of mushrooms, one large diced sweet onion and 2 large sweet red bell peppers, julienned. In a large frying pan, saute the onions in a tablespoon of olive oil, scraping the pan with a spatula frequently, until the onions are caramelized. Remove the onions to the stock pot. Scrape the pan to distribute the browned bits remaining in the pan, then toss in the bell peppers, giving them a light toasting for just 2-3 minutes. Add the peppers to the stock pot. If the pan is dry, add a little olive oil, cooking the mushrooms in small batches, adding to your stock pot until all of the mushrooms are cooked. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup of dry white wine and pour the broth over the contents of the stock pot.

Pour two 26-ounce jars of commercially prepared Alfredo sauce into the stock pot and stir well.

Prepare 8 ounces of dry linguine noodles according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, set the stockpot over a burner set to low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. With scissors, snip a half cup of fresh, washed Italian flat leaf parsley and set aside. When the noodles are done, drain well.

Portion the noodles on individual serving plates, ladle a generous amount of the chicken spaghetti sauce over the noodles and garnish with a sprinkling of the parsley.

Serve with toasted garlic bread and a dinner salad. Ooh-la-la! This is a meal that won't soon be forgotten! You have my permission to claim this culinary delight as your own!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Strawberry AeroGarden Hydroponics Garden

My New Strawberry AeroGarden Hydroponics Garden!
Hey everyone! I am very happy and excited to say that I have started my newest hydroponics garden and that its being produced with the famous Aerogrow AeroGarden hydroponics growing system!

What am I growing?
My new garden is going to be completely full of strawberry plants, I have never attempted to grow strawberries by myself or much less hydroponically. I hear that hydroponically grown strawberries are extremely delicious and are considered to be a whole lot better than strawberries that have been grown by traditional methods of gardening.

The AeroGarden
Yes, I finally made the plung and purchased my own AeroGarden system about two weeks ago. I recieved it in the mail just three days ago and today I had an opportunity to go and pick up my seeds. This machine is supposed to be one of the most revolutionary gardening method and growing system ever. My plans are to find out just how great the machine actually is and I will be reporting on it by very advanced criteria.

The test will be based upon a number of factors during the growing process and there will most likely be a few unknown variables to pop up along the way.

Criteria #1: Convenience & Ease Of Use
Criteria #2: Ending Produce Appearance
Criteria #3: Ending Produce Taste
Criteria #4: Time It Took To Grow Maturely Produce
Criteria #5: Did The Machine Do What It Was Supposed To?

Other factors will most likely include the durability of the machine, did anything break? If so then how much did I have to spend to get replacement parts or the machine fixed.

Have you ever used the Aerogarden? Anyone you know used it?
I would love to know what everyones opinions are about this machine so that I can formulate a high quality, honest, and straight forward customer review of this popular product. Please, let me know if you have any recommendations about how I should do the experiment, opinions, comments, ideas, or anything else.

The experiment is official in progress!
Today is Saturday the 15th of August 2008, I want it to be known for documentation of experiment. I will be taking videos and pictures of the progress every single day, be sure to check back to view them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Basics Of Hydroponics Gardening

The Basics Of Hydroponics Gardening

Hydroponics comes from the Greek word hydro, which means water, and ponos, which means labor. Hydroponics gardening has managed to take gardening to the next level where we can grow plants without using soil. The art of hydroponics allows us to grow any type of plant or crops in nutrient solution without the aid of soil.

Although it may sound complicated, soil-less gardening is as simple traditional gardening. You need to have sufficient light, proper temperature, water and humidity for a plant to flourish and reach maturity. Instead of soil, one uses rockwool or perlite to anchor the roots and the water solution enriched with plant nutrients is fed to the roots. This method of gardening is ideally suited for indoor plants, which tend to respond to it well.

You have to take care that the water and nutrient solution has the proper pH for the plant after the plant nutrients are added to it. Most plants thrive under slightly acidic conditions (pH 6.0 to 6.5). If there is a big shift in the pH, you can use pH solutions to balance the shift.

You can develop a hydroponics garden anywhere; even in a dark hallway. However, you have to ensure that the temperature is maintained between 71 and 76 degree Fahrenheit. Of course, the temperature will change depending on the types of plants you are growing. In addition, make sure that the plants get plenty of sunlight. If you are using your hallway, then make provision for artificial lights.

Nowadays, you can get entire hydroponics systems along with nutrients and seeds. Some of these systems are automated and you do not have to do anything other than stand and admire your green thumb!

About Author:
Pauline Go is a professional writer for many gardening and home decoration websites. She also writes other great articles like Methods To Start A Hydroponics Garden, Ultimate Hydroponic Garden Systems and How Do Pesticides Kill Bugs?

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Garden Master 101 (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Gardening Fun group favorite links are here.

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