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2011 is the Year of the Vegetable!

March 7th, 2011

2011 has been named Year of the Vegetable by Mr. George Ball, president of the W. Atlee Burpee Company.  (The cynic in me thinks, well isn’t that convenient…you sell vegetable seeds, so why not make every year “Year of the Vegetable,” right?)  But I read on to become inspired!  Here is a quote from the newsletter:

Eighteen years ago as president of the American Horticultural Society, [Mr. George Ball] initiated a successful children’s gardening program. He now wants to inspire all of America to at least develop a starter garden. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that only 26 percent of Americans eat at least three servings of vegetable a day. With child obesity at an all-time high, Mr. Ball advocates a nutritional diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. It has been found that kids who grow vegetables alongside their parents eat them regularly and with gusto.

Not too shabby, eh?  My nephew is five and I don’t believe he has ever willingly eaten a vegetable.  My sister sneaks vegetable nutrients into his ‘milkshakes’ in the morning.  This has kept him incredibly healthy, active, fit, and smart as a whip, but I wonder if he would be more into eating his veggies if he grew some on his own.  I’m going to get him started on this project when I go down to SoCal for a visit in April.

Do you have kids who grow their own fruits and vegetables?  Do you agree with Mr. Ball’s assessment?  Tell us your stories!


Eggplants — The “Mad Apple”

January 10th, 2011

 by Felix Munoz-Teng, Vice President of the student-run, UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).
When Europeans first encountered the eggplant, they gave this delectable food a rather dark nickname – mala insane or “mad apple/egg” – because it comes from a family of poisonous plants. Although this dreary name stuck, people quickly realized the eggplant’s tremendous health benefits, and it became a staple crop of the Mediterranean.
Nutritional Value 
Although eggplants have an unflattering reputation, they deliver a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including Thiamine, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Potassium. Wow! They are also a good source of fiber, which is found in the skin, and are low in sodium and overall calories.
Health & Disease
Eggplants contain bioflavonoids, which may be helpful in preventing strokes and hemorrhages. They also contain an antioxidant known as phytochemical monoterpene, which may be beneficial in preventing heart disease and cancer. The National Cancer Institute is currently conducting research to determine whether they may help with the inhibition of steroidal hormones that stimulate tumor development.
However, the fruit contains some negative toxins like solanine, which may be harmful to some individuals. Solanine is an alkaloid that can result in heart failure, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting if ingested. Be sure to check with your doctor to see if you are sensitive to this toxin before consuming large quantities of eggplants.
And remember! Eggplants can be found at the UC Davis Good Life Garden!
Try This Recipe for…Baba Ganouj – A Delicious Dip (brought to you by Eating Well Magazine)
  • 2 medium eggplants, (1 pound each)
  • 4 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (garnish)
  • Ground sumac or chopped pistachios (garnish)
Prick eggplants all over with a fork. Thread garlic cloves onto a skewer. Grill the eggplants, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Grill the garlic, turning once, until charred and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the eggplants and garlic to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, peel both. Transfer to a food processor. Add lemon juice, tahini and salt; process until almost smooth. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sumac, if desired. Enjoy!
This blog was brought to you by the Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group (DAAG)

Beet Harvest!

March 31st, 2010

Here’s a photo of a beet that Arlene pulled from the garden just over a week ago! Since it is difficult to get the scale, she included a pencil next to it! Isn’t she the best?

What a meal this beet is going to make! I’d bake like a potato, then add some rice wine vinegar and goat cheese. I’d also saute all those greens with some olive oil and garlic. Yum! What would you do?

Check out these fabulous recipes from Food and Style for Spicy Beet-Green Crostini and Endive Boats with Fresh Ricotta and Roasted Beets. Don’t they both sound incredible?

Beets owe their bright red color to betacyanin, which also acts as a potent cancer fighter. Beet greens are loaded with folate for heart health along with carotenes known to protect eyesight. Raw or steamed beet greens are high in Vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus.

For more information on beet nutrition as well as how to grow this nutrient rich vegetables, visit our website.


Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Celery

January 8th, 2010

Did you know?
Celery was a thin-stalked and aromatic herb called smallage before gardeners developed the milder more thick-stalked version that we know today.

About the veggie: Celery is a native of damp European habitats near the ocean. Its distinctive flavor comes from chemical compounds called pthalides which are also found in walnuts and an herb called lovage.

In history: The type of celery with which we are familiar today was bred in fifteenth century Italy, and was considered a delicacy until the nineteenth century.

In the kitchen: Celery is often mixed with carrots and onions to form the base of many different types of dishes such as the French mirepoix, Italian soffrito, Spanish sofregit, and the Cajun “trinity” of aromatics in Louisiana.

Preparation: The main function of stems and stalks is to support the above-ground portion of the plants and also to conduct nutrients—thus they are often stiff or woody. For this reason, celery needs to be de-veined before cooking to keep the tough fibers from adding what some find to be an unpleasant texture to their dishes.

How to store: The moment a vegetable is cut off from its nutrients, it begins to consume itself and create waste products which affect taste and texture. For example, upon harvest, celery begins to absorb its own water which causes its cells to lose pressure, thus making the vegetable limp and chewy. For this reason celery should not be stored for long periods of time.

Learn more by visiting our website.

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis,