Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - September 2007
A Nut By Any Other Name ...
|Indian nut, piñon, pignoli, and pignolia. They're all names for the pine nut, the tiny, cream-colored gem that is actually the seed of certain species of pine trees. Pine nuts - sold shelled, raw, or roasted - have a rich, buttery flavor and add a delightful crunch to many foods, including baked goods, pastas, and more.
A ¼-cup serving is a good source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It also provides 48 milligrams of phytosterols, plant compounds that can help block cholesterol absorption and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It's smart to enjoy pine nuts sensibly, however, since that same ¼-cup serving packs 227 calories and 23 grams of total fat. Even though most of that fat is of the healthy mono- and polyunsaturated varieties, all fats contain calories. Try these ways to enjoy pine nuts:
LEARN MORE: Visit the International Tree Nut Council at www.nuthealth.org
- Toss a few toasted onto green salads.
- Add a small handful to pasta dishes.
- Sprinkle onto soups for added flavor and crunch.
- Include in pancake and waffle batters.
- Top stir-fries and casseroles with a smattering.
- Place a handful on a veggie-laden pizza.
The Goodness of Garlic
Have you had your garlic today? A review of several European studies in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
(November 2006) found that regularly adding fresh garlic and onions to foods may help ward off several types of cancer. For example, people who ate the most garlic and onions were 10–25% less likely to develop breast cancer and 26–56% less likely to develop colorectal cancer. Although the exact reason for this finding is unclear, garlic and onions do contain organosulfur compounds, thought to have anticancer properties, and flavonoids, which are disease-fighting antioxidants.
"It's the synergy of the overall diet, physical activity, and reduction of stress that contributes to the lowered risk of cancer," says Dee Sandquist, R.D., and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "The bottom line is to include garlic and onions regularly in food preparation and to follow an overall balanced lifestyle."
One easy way to include garlic in your diet is to use it as a condiment. Garlic butter keeps well in the freezer and provides a quick, rich burst of flavor on grilled meats, fresh breads, or hot pastas. Just a dab will punch up the taste without adding too many calories.
Mix up your own garlic butter: Mash a few cloves of raw garlic into ½ cup of butter, along with some chopped chives or parsley. Form into one or two logs, wrap in plastic, and freeze. For a taste twist, toss in some chopped shallots or splash in some lemon juice or wine.
|Let Off A Little Steam|
Although loaded with nutrition, vegetables can be a hard sell at the dinner table, especially if they're limp and overcooked. Steaming is a smart and easy way to keep the snap in your beans and body in your broccoli. Steam circulating around the food provides a moist heat for quick, even cooking. Done correctly, steaming also helps retain important vitamins and minerals. The secrets to perfect steaming?
- Cut vegetables into equal-size pieces so they'll cook evenly.
- Bring 1 to 3 inches of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. For added flavor, use chicken stock instead of water or add white wine or herbs and spices to the water. You can also try citrus juice, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, or mushrooms.
- Place a single layer of veggies into a steamer pot or bamboo steamer basket; cover with a lid.
- Steam just until tender. Most cut vegetables need just 1 to 3 minutes. Dense vegetables, such as potatoes, may need as long as 15 to 30 minutes.
- Season and serve immediately after cooking. If left sitting, steamed foods will continue to cook and may turn mushy.
Planting Food for Thought
Cholesterol-lowering plant sterols and stanols are finding their way into an increasing number of foods, from margarines, vegetable oils, and salad dressings to granola bars, breakfast cereals, bread, orange juice, and cheese.
These essential components of plant cell membranes are generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. The current recommendations are 1.3 grams per day for plant sterols and 3.4 grams per day for plant stanol esters, eaten over two separate meals.
"Pay attention to serving size and the amount of sterols or stanols you get," advises Bethany Thayer, R.D. "There is no benefit to over-consuming and there is some concern it may lead to decreased absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, and D, as well as contributing extra calories." Plant sterols and stanols are found naturally in plant foods, Thayer points out, so a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is naturally effective in lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.