Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Are Today's Fruits and Vegetables Less Nutritious?

Are today's broccoli, carrots and peppers the same as the broccoli, carrots and peppers people ate 50 years ago?  Quite simply the answer is no.  Most of the vegetables you see in the market today have significantly lower amounts of nutrients than produce grown 30 to 40 years ago.  The average amount of nutrients in some fruits and vegetables have been reduced by 50% or more.

Some studies have suggested that the reduction in nutrients has been caused by the farming industry trying to grow larger produce at faster rates.  The increased use of selective breeding to produce larger, hardier breeds of plants along with the use of synthetic fertilizers has reduced the plants abilities to synthesize nutrients or absorb them from the soil.  While they have succeeded in making large beautiful produce they unfortunately have also made less nutritious produce.

Get More Nutrients For Your Dollar

There are ways that you can fight this trend and get produce that has more nutritional value. 

Go for Organic.  By avoiding synthetic fertilizers organic farmers put more stress on their plants causing them to protect themselves by producing larger amounts of phytochemicals which render them more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts. 

Look for bold color.  A vegetable that has a richly colored skin is an indication of a higher level of phytochemicals.  For example, a dark orange color in a carrot will indicate higher amounts of beta carotene than in lighter, paler carrots. 

Less can be more.  When shopping don't go for the biggest vegetable in the bin.  It may look healthy but could have fewer nutrients per bite than its smaller counterparts.  Plants have a limited amount of nutrients that they are able to pass on to their produce so the nutrients in a larger piece of produce may be more diluted.  The nutrients in a smaller piece of produce will tend to be more concentrated so you will get more nutrients per bite.

Eat within a week.  Fruits and vegetables start to lose nutrients the second they are separated from the plant so the sooner fresh produce is consumed the better.  Always try to consume fresh fruits and vegetable within a week of buying them. 

Buy from Old McDonald.  Since produce starts losing nutrients immediately after harvest, get your fruits and vegetables from a farmers market whenever possible.  They will be much fresher and more nutritious.

Keep it whole.  Pre-cut and chopped produce is a huge time savor but peeling and chopping causes produce to lose nutrients quickly.  Buy fresh produce and prepare immediately before cooking or eating. 

Eat the ones Grandma ate.  Look for heirloom varieties.  Plants bred prior to WWII, before the development of synthetic fertilizers, will be naturally hardier and more nutritious.

Cook it right.  Pay attention to how you are cooking your vegetables.  The best way to cook vegetables to maintain nutrients is to steam them.  Also cooked vegetables may be more nutritious than raw vegetables.  The gentle heat of steaming softens cell walls to make the nutrients more accessible.

While this trend in growing less nutritious produce is distressing, you can still get healthy fruits and vegetables if you just pay attention and look for the signs of nutrients.  See you at the farmers market.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Grilled Pork Chops With Two Melon Salsa

Here's a quick and simple summer recipe that you can make in the winter when you need that little reminder of summer to get you through those cold dreary days.  From the July 2010 issue of Cooking Light I bring you Grilled Pork Chops with Two Melon Salsa.

Melon Salsa

1  cup chopped watermelon
1  cup chopped honeydew melon
3  Tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
1  Tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1  Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1  Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Pork Chops

2  teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4  4-ounce boneless center cut pork chops


1. Combine all salsa ingredients and set aside.
2. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray.
3. combine canola oil, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper in a small bowl.
4. Rub oil mixture on both sides of pork chops.
5. Cook pork chops in grill pan for 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
6. Serve each pork chop with 1/2 cup of melon salsa.

To keep it interesting you can also substitute your favorite soft fruit such as peaches or mangos.

Nutrition Information

Calories 256
Fat 13.5g
Protein 25g
carb 8.7g
Fiber 0.9g
Sodium 458 mg

Recommended Cookware

Calphalon 13-in. Nonstick CS Nonstick Grill Pan

Calphalon 13-in. Nonstick CS Nonstick Grill Pan

Emerilware from All-Clad 10x10-in. Square Cast Iron Grill Pan

Emerilware from All-Clad 10x10-in. Square Cast Iron Grill Pan

Architec 12x19 Restaurant Gripper

Architec 12x19 Restaurant Gripper "The Gripper" Professional Cutting Board, Red

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Island Mango Chiller Smoothie

Fall is a great season to spend time out doors. While you are kicking back on the patio reading a your favorite magazine enjoy a healthy refreshing smoothie. This one comes from Shape magazine.


1 cup ice cubes
3/4 cup chopped mango
1/2 cup canned pineapple chuncks
2 tablespoons canned pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
Dash cayenne pepper


Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed. Blend on high speed until smooth. Serve immediately. If using frozen fruit instead of fresh reduce ice to 3/4 cup.


155 calories
1 g fat
4 g fiber

Recommended Cookware

Cuisinart 40-oz. Duet Blender/Food Processor, Chrome

Cuisinart 40-oz. Duet Blender/Food Processor, Chrome