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You can’t fail with KALE!

March 23rd, 2011

by Felix Munoz-Teng, Vice President of the student-run UC Davis Diabetes Advocacy and Awareness Group (DAAG).

This leafy-green vegetable has been grown for over 2000 years and continues to be grown today. In Europe, it was the most widely-eaten green plant until its bulky brother, cabbage, came along. Surprisingly, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts all belong to the same species of plant: Brassica oleracea. Despite their large differences in appearance, selective propagation by humans has led to the wide variety of the species that we see today!

Kale - it's not just a garnish! Image from


If there is any green vegetable you can count on, it’s kale with its unmatched nutrient richness. One cup of this green-leaf vegetable provides a daily value of 1327% vitamin K, 192% vitamin A, 88.8% vitamin C, 25% manganese, 10% dietary fiber, 10% copper and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Most importantly, this nutrient-abundant vegetable delivers no more than 36 calories per cup.

Healthy Living

There has been a great deal of research conducted on kale and its benefits related to health. It has been shown to reduce the risk of “oxidative stress” and “chronic inflammation”, which is linked to a low intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients respectively. As a result of these benefits, research has further been able to show definite advantages in terms of cancer prevention and, in some circumstances, treatment.

In other areas, kale contains remarkable cholesterol-lowering abilities. Researchers have shown that fiber-related contents in kale prevent the fat in cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine. Instead, the fat passes through the intestine and leaves the body. Secondly, kale plays an important role in the regulation of detox activities within the body, which is an important process for our cells.
Try this recipe for kale chips – you will never believe that kale could taste so good!

Kale chips are a healthy and tasty snack! image from


  • -Preheat oven to about 375*.
  • -Use about 1 salad spinner’s worth of kale (about enough to fill a grocery store veggie bag). Tear the leaves off  the thick stems into bite size pieces. Spread out on cookie sheets.
  • -Drizzle with about 2 tsp of olive oil.
  • -Sprinkle with Parmesan, Asiago or your seasonings of choice, plus a sprinkle of kosher salt.
  • -Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges are brown and kale is crispy when moved in pan.

SWEET BAY LEAVES–Deceptive Name, Delicious Addition

January 24th, 2011

Image source:

The Bay Leaf, found on Bay Laurel evergreens and shrubs throughout Europe, North America, and India, has become a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and serves as a healthy and delicious supplement to any diet.
Contrary to its deceptive nickname – “Sweet Bay” – the Bay Leaf is actually intensely bitter and may even be harmful if ingested whole due to its razor-sharp edges. However, it has become quite a popular food additive due to its exotic flavoring, olfactory appeal, and long shelf-life (one year!). Most often, it is ground up and used in spicy dishes, such as biryani (see recipe below), or boiled in soups, sauces and stews. Many are also attracted to its distinctive scent, which can brighten any meal!
Bay Leaves are an excellent choice for type 2 diabetics, because they help the body process insulin more efficiently, therefore lowering blood sugar, and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels (diabetics are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease). Additionally, they have been used throughout history to cure migraines, bacterial and fungal infections, indigestion, and much more!
Try this Recipe for… Biryani
A spicy Persian/South Asian Dish
Image source:
-2 lbs. Chicken with bones (cut into small pieces)
-2 cups Basmati Rice (washed)
-1 packet Shan Special Bombay Biryani Mix
-2 tablespoons crushed garlic
-2 tablespoons cup plain yogurt
-2 tablespoons grated ginger
-1/2 onion (finely sliced)
-1 tomato (cut into small pieces)
-5 tablespoons oil
-3 medium potatoes (peeled & halved)
-Crushed bay leaves
1. Fry the onion in hot oil until golden. Add tomatoes and fry until the oil separates.
2. Add meat, garlic, ginger, potatoes, yogurt, bay leaves, and Shan Bombay Biryani Mix. Fry for 15 minutes.
3. Add 1-2 cups of water and cook on low heat until the meat is tender. Then increase the heat and stir fry until oil separates from the gravy.
4. SEPARATELY, boil the washed rice in 12 glasses of hot water. Boil until the rice is more than half cooked. Remove from heat and thoroughly drain the water.
5. Spread the cooked meat and curry over the rice in TWO layers. Cover the pot and cook on low heat until the rice is fully cooked and tender. (Approximately 30 minutes) Mix before serving.
*This recipe serves 6-8 people
by Zuhayr Mallam, Founder of the UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).  

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)

Pomegranates – A Healthy Winter Snack

December 14th, 2010

by Zuhayr Mallam, Founder of the UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).  For more information about this group, visit their website.
Pomegranates make for a delicious snack, and these plump red fruits are also one of the healthiest foods around.

Image taken from

On the Table
Pomegranates are chalk-full of nutrients including Vitamins B and C, fiber, and potassium, while being low in fat, sodium, and calories. Recent medical research suggests potential health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, lowered risk for heart disease (especially in diabetics), and prevention of tooth decay. Although it is high in sugars, these are natural sugars that are attached to special, disease-fighting antioxidants. And remember – the seeds are the edible part of a pomegranate and contain the bulk of the nutrients! The juice is very nutritious as well, but stray away from brands that are packed with refined sugar.
In the Garden
Pomegranates are the perfect winter fruit; they are in season from November to March! Although native to Persia and the Himalayas of Northern India, pomegranates were brought to California in the late 18th century and have been able to thrive in the interior valleys (like Davis!) due to the cool winters and dry summers. This versatile fruit tree grows in a variety of soils (although deep soil is preferred) and is relatively easy to care for. All that it requires is nutritious, well-drained soil, sufficient sunlight, and sparse watering. And even when the fruit dries up, it provides beautiful ornamentation for your garden!
For more information about the varieties of pomegranates grown in the UC Davis Good Life Garden click here!
Try this Recipe for… Pomegranate Salad
Image taken from
Toss yourself a tasty salad including:
·      lettuce
·      pomegranate seeds
·      pomegranate juice
·      lemon juice
="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-indent: -0.25in;">·      apples, pecans, and/or pears
·      ground black pepper
·      vegetable oil
·      dijon mustard
Brought to you by the Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group (DAAG)

Chive Harvesting

September 14th, 2010

Let me start off this entry by saying that I am one of those people whose anthropomorphic skill set extends beyond projecting human characteristics onto animals and inanimate objects.  I do the same with plants, and I believe that our proud chives need some attention!  They were mistakenly overlooked in favor of  the ever-popular basil, lavender and mint plantings at last week’s free herb harvest.  I think it may be because people don’t know how awesome they are!  They are hearty (hard to kill), perennial, beautiful (their flowers are gorgeous), and can be a delicious part of every meal!

At our next harvest (date TBA) check out our chives!  Harvest the stems that are not yet flowers like the one below.  Do you see how it is about to grow a flower yet, but hasn’t?  This is a good choice.  Snip it at its base so we avoid that unattractive chive stubble!

There are a variety of ways you can enjoy this wonderful herb; it’s not just for topping your potatoes!  With a milder flavor than onion, chives are usually snipped raw as a finishing touch for salads, soups, sauces, vegetable and fish dishes. Chives also work well in egg dishes such as quiche and omelets.  Here are the top 20 chive recipes according to

Is there an edible that you love, that seems to get overlooked by more popular (common) fruits, vegetables, or herbs?  Why do you think it has an image problem?  Let us know!


Eggplant eggstravaganza!

September 2nd, 2010
imperial black beauty eggplant variety

Eggplant is definitely one of our favorite vegetables here at the garden.  Not only are they pretty, coming in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, but they are also incredibly delicious!  This season we are not only growing the familiar chunky purple variety (imperial black beauty), but also the Rosa Bianca and white “snowy” eggplant.

Hearty and scrumptious in so many different types of food – stir fries, lasagna, baba ganoush… I could eat it every day!  At only 27 calories per cup cooked and packed with pigments like nasunin which may help protect brain cell membranes from oxidative damage, eggplants seem almost too good to be true!  They are also high in fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6. 

Want to learn more about eggplant history and health benefits?  Visit our website or

Check out the bounty from the garden this week!  Pictured here are the imperial black beauty and snowy eggplants, as well as maglia rosa tomatoes in front, black and brown boar, pink Berkeley tie dye and green zebra tomatoes, dark star zucchini, lemon cucumber and reve scallopini in back.

This is one of my favorite recipes for eggplant: sausage and eggplant stuffed pasta shells in tomato basil cream sauce.  It’s decadent and time-consuming to make, but a crowd-pleaser every time!  And now is the perfect time as  eggplant, tomatoes and basil all ripe right now!  (Recipe tip:  I leave the cream out of the sauce as the dish is rich enough with the sausage, eggplant and variety of cheeses.)

Eggplant can be a tough nut to crack in the kitchen though.  Grilled?  Sauteed?  Roasted?  Last night I sliced an imperial black beauty roasted it in the oven with some olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  I ate it on toasted wheat bread with melted mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and arugula, and it was delicious!  But the roasting took a very long time!  It is hard to wait when you know how yummy it will be!

In the past I’ve sauteed them, but they seem to soak up too much oil.  Do you peel them? Do you eat the skins?  The skins apparently hold much of the nutrients, but are often tough and, if grown non-organically, sometimes covered with wax which traps in pesticides–in this case peeling seems necessary.

Food experts out there: we need your help!  How do you prep and cook your eggplant?  What are some of your favorite recipes?  We need some more ideas for this appetizing edible!


BEETS: Our Harvest and a Pickled Spiced Beet Recipe

May 5th, 2010

Today we are harvesting beets!

So what to do with all these beets? Here is a recommendation from Professor Kevin Scott, UC Davis Viticulture & Enology. He loves the spiced beet recipe he first discovered in a vintage UC Davis Extension Cookbook from about 30 years ago!

Canning is a fairly easy process once you get used to it, but you want to make sure, sure, sure everything has been sterilized and safely sealed. For more information on canning resources and how-t0s see the links below.


4 c. vinegar
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
3 quarts cooked small beets, peeled

1. Cook beets until tender. Plunge into cold water and slip skins — or use canned beats.
2. Mix vinegar, sugar, and cloves. Simmer 10 minutes.
3. Add beets and simmer 10 minutes more.
4. Pack beets into hot, sterilized jars and fill with liquid. Seal.
5. Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes as directed on page 3*. (We don’t have page 3, but the idea is to process the jars for their final seal and sterilization. Don’t know what that means? Here are a couple resources to help out.)


Did you know that cold weather makes bull’s blood beets leaves turn red? If you grow this variety in milder weather the leaves stay green! The leaves that Arlene are holding below are both from the same plant. The red leaf grew in the winter whereas the green leaf grew recently. Nature is so amazing don’t you think??