Category: Nutritional Facts

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel Bulb, photo by PH Morton

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel is related to the carrot family and indigenous to the Mediterranean but they are now grown in many parts of the world.

It is a perennial herb with yellow flowers. It is very aromatic.

Fennel is very versatile.  The bulbs, see above, foliage (leaves) and seeds are widely used in culinary around the world.

The bulb is delicious drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then baked in the oven.  It is sweet tasting, perfect starter or as a side dish with roast meat or even baked fish dishes.

Click here for the baked fennel bulb.

Persimmon (Sharon Fruit)

Persimmon, photo by PH Morton

Persimmon (Sharon Fruit)

Fruit Bowl, photo by PH Morton

Our fruit bowl is getting more adventures.  Early this new year, we have custard apple, passion fruit, mangoes, kiwi, several types of citrus fruits such as lemon, lime orange, grapefruit and nectarine.

We also have persimmon, which is apparently also called Sharon fruit.  Its scientific name is Diospyros Kaki.  This fruit is often seedless and sweet.  It can be eaten as a whole fruit; there is no need to peel it (but you can of course, if you wanted to.)

Sharon fruit can be eaten fresh, or cooked (in a pie) and even preserved.

Its orange colouring shouts richness in beta carotene and it is actually is a good source.

Pioppi Diet, Secret to Living Longer?

Olive Oil

Pioppi Diet, Secret to Living Longer?

 

What is a Pioppi Diet?

Apparently there is a small village in Italy called Pioppi, where the average life span of a man is 89 and some lived to a hundred.  In this village, the ails of old age like dementia and diabetes are practically unheard of.

It is also interesting to note that American physiologist, Ancel Keys, who first authored the Mediterranean Diet, which by the way is now protected by UNESCO under the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, stayed in Pioppi for 28 years.  He left this beloved village at age 100 and died soon after at age 101.

It is being claimed that adhering to the Pioppi Diet can regulate the insulin and help to lose excess fat, thus lowering the risk of contracting many types of diseases and illnesses.

 

Guidelines for the Pioppi Diets in a nutshell:

 

These are the Dos:
  • Eat plenty of fibrous vegetables and whole fruits.
  • Keep eating red meat.  (I like)
  • Eat a handful of tree nuts everyday.  (like coconut?!!!, probably not, perhaps like almonds, walnuts, chestnuts but not peanut as it is legume)
  • Walk for at least half an hour a day.
  • Fast for 24 hours each week.  (Nooooooooo)
  • Eat three meals a day. Sup until you are full.
  • Enjoy a glass of red wine.
  • Do breathing exercises four times a day.
  • Sleep seven hours a night.
  • Have at least 2 tablespoonful of extra-virgin olive oil a day.
These are the Don’ts:
  • Do not eat added sugars, including fruit juice, honey and syrup.
  • Do not use seed oils, such as rapeseed, sunflower and soya bean oil.
  • Do not eat refined carbs such as in bread, pasta, noodles, cakes and biscuits (kill me now!)
  • Do not sit still for more than 45 minutes at a time.  Get moving!

Bamboo Shoots


Bamboo Shoots

Photo by Haragayato of Tokyo, Japan

If you are rather partial to Chinese food, you are probably familiar with bamboo shoots.

And if you have been to the Philippines, it is possible that you have come across bamboo shoots in menus.  Probably they would have been called labong in the Tagalog regions or rabong in the Ilocos region.  They are also often called ubod.

Outside of Asia, bamboo shoots would most probably come in cans/tins or jars.

Bamboo shoots are usually harvested during the rainy season when they shoots grow profusely.  As per above photo, the shoots are like cones covered in papery, a la papyrus, brownish and greenish leaves.  The outer shell of leaves are then trimmed off leaving a yellowish tuber.

They can be cooked in variety of ways and can then be also made into a delicious if rather spicy and piquant salad.

 

Kangkong (Water Spinach)

Kangkong, photo by JMorton

Kangkong (Water Spinach)

I love kangkong, or  called water spinach English.

Kangkong is a green leafy aquatic vegetable which is rich in vitamins and nutrients.

They have long slender leaves attached to a hollow tubular stem which is crunchy or there is a bite to it. Yummy

They usually grow in anything watery plot, in fields, swamp, lakes, river or even in bogs.

I remember that they grew near a dike in the middle of our rice field when we were still living in Marag.

Kangkong can grow rather vigorously and needed a good trim to prevent them from overpowering the water surface.  Good thing they are so edible and delicious.

I remember going into the waist-high water in our field to gather the kangkong sprouts.  I almost had a near panic attack after a carabao leech decided to attach itself to my stomach. It took ages to remove it and it seems the more you pull at it the longer its body gets, truly elastic.  That still gives me the nightmare to date.

My father did smoke whenever he plowed the field.  He would use the burning ember of the cigarette to unhook any pesky leech.

Oops, back to kangkong, they are delicious in sinigang recipes as well as blanched and made into a salad with lots of chopped tomatoes and shallots with a good dash of fish sauce.

Skin A Tomato

Tomatoes, Photo by PH Morton for Globalgranary.org

Skin A Tomato

There are some recipes that require skinless tomatoes.  Below is a process of how to remove the skin off tomatoes.

By the way, did you know that a cooked tomato is better than a raw tomato?  Apparently tomatoes are a good source of lycopene which is an antioxidant.  The lycopene in tomatoes increases as they are heated/cooked.

How to Skin a Tomato:

Put the tomatoes in a large heatproof bowl or basin.

Pour in boiling water over the tomatoes.  They should be completely covered with water.

Leave to soak for 3-4 minutes.

Pour out the hot water.  Now pour in cold water and leave for 30 seconds to a minute.

Drain.

Using a sharp knife, break the skin and  then start peeling using your hands.

Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )

Gabi, photo by JMORTON

TARO, PHOTO BY JMORTON

Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )

At the back of our house in Marag, plenty of gabi or taro used to grow.  They grew next to our well (bubon) where the vicinity always has water.

Gabi growing profusely in our backyard was a Godsend.  It was a ready source for a vegetarian viand.  Thank goodness we also had a constant supply of coconuts which goes deliciously with taro.

As children, we were told to treat gabi with respect.  Eaten raw the leaves and stalks can be poisonous as they contain oxalic acid.  The sap that comes out when the stalks and leaves are torn can cause itch.

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