Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Colors And Odors Are Brought To You By Phytochemicals

Posted by terrepruitt on April 5, 2012

Phytochemical are the reasons that fruits and veggies have color and smell.  There are 1000 known phytochemicals, with an estimate of over 10,000 different ones potentially able to affect diseases.  These chemical compounds are thought to have a big affect on health but are not considered as essential nutrients.

Some phytochemicals are antioxidants or have antioxidant activity and they have shown that they may reduce the risk of cancer.  They have been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects.  And now many doctors and scientists are starting to acknowledge the link between chronic inflammation in the body and disease.  So — to me — anything that can safely help with inflammation in the body is a good food to eat. 

The Linus Pauling Institute at the Oregon State University has a list of phytochemicals.  Under each type listed there is a further breakdown of names of the specific phytochemical, here are just a few highlights

Carotenoids are found in red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits.  As with a lot of nutrients, fat helps with absorption.  So using a little bit of healthy oil can help with availability of the nutrient to the body.
Chlorophyll & Chlorophyllin are responsible for the green in veggies.

Curcumin is what gives turmeric its deep yellow color.  Turmeric is considered an anti-inflammatory.

Fiber is a group of different compounds.   Different kinds of dietary fiber include: Lignin, Cellulose, Beta-Glucans, Hemicelluloses, Pectins, Gums, Inulin, and Resistant starch. Research is showing that people with diets high in fiber have less risk of disease.  Fiber helps keeps the body’s digestive system moving things out.

Flavonoids in the case of the phytochemicals are thought to be better helpers in cell-signalling then in antioxidants.  While flavonoids have shown to help with curbing the free radicals, they really seem to shine when it comes to the cell signaling pathways.  They’ve shown themselves to be great at regulating the flow of information in the communication pathways of the cells.  There are different classes of flavanoids, they can be found in red wine, green, white, and black tea, berries, apples, chocolate, citrus fruits, yellow onions, soybeans, legumes, scallions, kale, and broccoli.

Garlic is thought to have antioxidant properties.  Garlic and its Organosulfur Compounds are thought to help fight cardiovascular disease and inflammation in the body.  (And some are now saying that it is inflammation that causes cardiovascular disease.)

Indole-3-Carbinol is found in coniferous vegetables.  These types of veggies are thought to help prevent certain types of cancer.  Some of the veggies that this phytochemical can be found in is cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Isothiocyanates is also found in coniferous veggies.  This one can be found in cabbage, broccoli, and kale.

Lignans (phytoestrogens) are found in plants while Lignan precursors are found in plant-based foods.  Eating a variety of seeds, whole grains, and legume along with broccoli, curly kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, green and red sweet peppers, apricots, strawberries, peaches, pears, and nectaries will net you both.  (according to Livestrong)

Phytosterols can be found in unrefined vegetable oils, whole grains, nuts, and legumes and inhibit the intestinal absorption of cholesterol.

Resveratrol was found to increase the lifespan of some living organisms.  It can be found in grapes, red wine, purple grape juice, peanuts, and some berries.

Soy Isoflavones (phytoestrogens) is one of those things that is good for you, but some evidence says that too much is not.  But they are not clear on that or how much “too much” is. 

As with much of our food supply harvesting and processing diminishes the nutrients available to us.  The amount of phytochemicals actually in our fruits and vegetables after commercial harvesting, processing, and cooking is significantly reduced.  Since the nutrients that we actually get from the food we eat seems less than was intended by nature it is a good thing that most fruits and veggies can be eaten in high quantities without adding much fat or many calories to the diet. 

Additional information from wiki states that phytochemicals have been used as drugs for millennia.  The willow tree leaves were used to reduce fevers and later used as aspirin.

There is much research to be done on phytochemicals.  But it is interesting to know that the color and odor causing compound in our fruit and veggies might also protect us or help us combat disease.  Seems like if we eat a large variety in addition to large quantities of fruits and vegetables daily will be get a good amount of phytochemicals.  One thing I like to think about and try to do is “eat the rainbow”.  Sounds silly, but it really is eating all the COLORS in the rainbow.

Do you eat a variety of fruits and veggies?  Do you eat the colors of the rainbow?

Posted in Food, Fruit, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The USDA Makes the Elderberry and Elderflower Sound Miraculous

Posted by terrepruitt on March 1, 2012

In a post about an article I read about boosting your immune system I mentioned elderberries.  I think it is funny how things get brought to your conscious.  Last year I went to a Yelp Event where one of the vendors serving was St Germain.  St. Germain is a French liqueur made from elderflowers.  I had never heard of it, but when first hearing of the event my friend had told me it was her favorite.  After tasting it in their signature cocktail I understood why.  That was my first conscious memory of hearing about elderberries.  Then I read the article and it mentioned elderberries.  So I decided to do a few searches on Elderberries and as is the case with most things Wiki has a wealth of information.  First off the Elderberry is kind of the category of 5 to 30 shrubs or trees.

It seems as if most countries and peoples use the elderflowers to make syrups.  The syrups can be added to pancakes or diluted with water and used as a drink.  Or what the french had done and made a liqueur.  Seems as if the berries are used in the tradition of many berries, in wines, james, jellies, marmaldes, and fruit pies.  Every site I have seen says that the flowers are often dipped in batter and fried.  Elderberries.com states that they believe it is best not to eat them raw. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture:  “Only the blue or purple berries of elderberry are edible. Edible berries and flower are used for medicine, dyes for basketry, arrow shafts, flute, whistles, clapper sticks, and folk medicine. The active alkaloids in elderberry plants are hydrocyanic acid and sambucine. Both alkaloids will cause nausea so care should be observed with this plant. Elderberries are high in Vitamin C. The red berries of other species are toxic and should not be gathered.”

The USDA site also states that folk medicine considered the elderberry a very valuable healing plant.  And it sounds like it could do almost anything.  The flowers have flavonoids which some say are thought to help prevent cancer and improve immune function.  The tannins are a help with reduction of bleeding, diarrhea, and congestions.

The flowers can also be made into a tea to aid in breaking “dry fevers and stimulate perspiration, aid headache, indigestion, twitching eyes, dropsy, rheumatism, appendix inflammation, bladder or kidney infections, colds, influenza, consumption (bleeding in lungs), and is helpful to newborn babies (Hutchens 1991). Used as a wash, the flowers or leaves are good for wounds, sprains, and bruises, as well as for sores on domestic animals. The leaves, which are stronger, have a slightly laxative property. Applied externally, leaves, flowers, bark and twigs are excellent as a poultice, mixed equally with chamomile, for soreness, inflammations, joint stiffness, and to reduce the swelling of bee stings. The flowers and berries, employed as a diuretic, can aid arthritis and rheumatism. Steeped in water, the flowers are used externally to aid in complexion beauty, tone and soften the skin, and lighten freckles or spots. The berry juice made into salve aids burns and scalds. The juice taken internally will act as a purgative.’

Wow, huh?  Sounds like the entire plant can pretty much do anything.  But I haven’t seen the berries sold anywhere, have you?  I have to admit I have not LOOKED for them, but since they sound like they can take care of some many things I would think they would be more popular.

Since the actual genus name is Sambucus, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that the Italian liqueur Sambucca is comprised of oil from the elderflower.  Aside from the liqueur versions and the jam versions, it really sounds as if the flowers and the berries are very good for you.  They have a lot of vitamin C and a good amount of vitamin A.  And according to folk medicine they do a heck of a lot.  I am going to look for them in September.  That seems to be the season for Elderberries. 

After reading they can help boost your immune system AND all the other stuff listed here, do they interest you?  Do elderberries sound like something you would like to add to your diet?  Do you want to try some elderflowers?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by terrepruitt on August 7, 2010

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cherries.  How about you?  My husband came home recently (can you tell he does the grocery shopping?  Awesome, huh?) with a 3 pound container of cherries.  Oh my!  I love cherries.  I think they are beautiful.

I had a difficult time photographing them though because they kept disappearing.  Okay, I admit, they disappeared into my mouth.  YUM!

I was curious about cherries so I went looking around and I found out that tart cherries help relieve gout pain.  They have compounds that help with the inflammation, the vitamin C and potassium help with lowering the uric acid levels.

Each place I looked had slightly different numbers on a cup of cherries, so here is what I ended up with

  • Calories:  Between 75 and 100
  • Fat:  Between 0 and 1.5 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrates: Between 18.73 and 23.2 grams
  • Fiber: Between 2 and 3 grams
  • Sugars: Between 15 and 18.6 grams
  • Protein: Between 1.24 and 1.5 grams

I would think it depends on the sweetness.  The sweeter they are the higher the calories, carbs, and sugar.  These numbers are based on raw cherries, not ones cooked into a pie or a cobbler.  While I LOVE cherries, I do not like them cooked or dried.  Do you?

Some places list cherries on the same list as blueberries and cranberries, you know, the “Superfruits”, but some do not.  I guess we will see as more research is done.

How do you feel about cherries?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Lemon Tomato

Posted by terrepruitt on August 3, 2010

Beautiful and sweet. I could have sworn the tag said lemon tomato. I don’t think we saved the tag. As you may know I just started eating tomatoes within the past couple of years. My mother-in-law grew Zebra Tomatoes and I started my tomato journey with them.

I have come to realize that I do not care for mushy tomatoes. I like them firm, maybe even on the just-before-ripe side. Also, I like them raw not cooked. So I was watching the tomatoes my Wonder-Hubby planted very carefully. Now, you also may know that I don’t know the first thing about gardening and ripe or not so I rely on my hubby to tell me. He is a fantastic gardener when he has time. He can make on-the-brink-of-death plants come back to life. I was watching the one tomato that was yellow very closely. But obviously not close enough. One afternoon while I was doing Nia in my living room I glanced outside and I noticed the tomato looked odd. I went to investigate, something had tasted our tomato. I was very sad.

I was wondering if taking it and cutting off the “tasted” portion was too gross. I hadn’t examined it to see how much damage had been done. I posted my sadness (either on FaceBook or Twitter) and other people said that they would eat it as long as you were able to cut off all the evidence of “tasting”. Once I assessed the damage and I concluded that whatever tasted it just peeled and poked a little so I cut the fruit in half making sure there was nothing on the half I was planning on eating. Then I cut it up and shared it with my hubby. It was sweet. I was surprised.

I looked online to see if I could find some information about them to post, but there are a lot more than I realized and now I am not sure which ones we have. They kind of look like Lemon Boy but I am not sure because they are much smaller. What do they look like to you? Do you know tomatoes? Whatever they are, they are very tasty. They are somewhat sweet and really taste more like fruit to me.

We wanted to grow Zebras but couldn’t find them. Which is somewhat good because now we have tried a new (to us) tomato. So many people grow tomatoes. Do you? What kind?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

No Virginia, There Aren’t Really Nectarines

Posted by terrepruitt on July 3, 2010

Is San Jose a good place to grow nectarines?  I love nectarines.  I just decided I want a nectarine tree.  My hubby knows I love nectarines so he came home with a container of them.  YES!  For three days I would walk into the kitchen and touch every one to see if they were ripe yet.  Let me rephrase that: for three days EVERY TIME I walked into the kitchen I would touch every one to see if one was ripe.  I stood there at one point wanting to eat one, but knowing that if it wasn’t ready it would ruin the joy of it.  So I waited.

Now, they are ripe.  Yesterday I ate two because if you don’t eat them fast they will go bad.  These ones are the eat-it-over-the-sink-because-it-is-really-juicy type of fruit.  Confession:  I stopped at this point in my writing because thinking about them made me want one.  LOVE THEM.  So good.

I was going to post about the nutrition value of nectarines, but I learned something new as I researched how to grow nectarines.  I thought I would share.

I had always thought of peaches and nectarines as being similar but not the same fruit, but the information I am seeing is that a nectarine IS a peach, but with smooth, non-fuzzy skin.  But I don’t think they taste the same.  Do you?  But alas, according to what I am reading, there aren’t really nectarine trees, they are only peach trees that produce a mutated variety of peach.  Dang, I learn a lot writing a blog.  Did YOU know that, Dear Reader?  Did you know that a nectarine is a peach? That explains why people always have peach trees and not nectarine trees.  But that actually makes me laugh because if it is a peach tree with a mutation, it is a nectarine tree.  Odd.  It must be the way “they” classify things.  Everything I look up for nectarine comes up peach.

A nectarine is in the group of peaches, but it is two peach trees with the recessive “fuzzy” gene that produce a nectarine tree.

I am sure there are plenty of you who knew that a nectarine was a peach.  Quite honestly,  I don’t need to know, but I am kind of surprised by it.  I thought a peach was a peach and a nectarine was a nectarine, and it is, but it isn’t.  And no, I am not going to compare this to anything and get all philosophical on you because, well, I am just stuck on the nectarine being a peach.  I just find it fascinating.  I love when I am looking for something and I discover something entirely new to me.

Did you know that nectarines were peaches?  Do you like nectarines?  Do you like peaches?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Mango and Chicken Kabob

Posted by terrepruitt on July 1, 2010

I had a lunch date after teaching my Nia class on Wednesday.  I had mentioned, in a previous post that I wanted to cook more with fruit since we had a large amount of plums.  So, I was happy to try the mango and chicken kabob.  Obviously, I can’t take credit for cooking and/or preparing this.  I did not cook this kabob.  Worse, I took the picture with my iPhone so it is — well, the quality of an iPhone picture (it was actually so blurry I had to “sharpen” it with Photoshop).  As the waiter was setting the plate down, I thought, “Oh, I need to take a picture.”  But I forgot when the waiter brought another plate of kabobs that we did not order.  I think he just didn’t want her to feel left out.  I remember after I ate one!

Anyway . . . .GREAT way to cook with fruit.  I don’t think I would have thought to put mango on a skewer with chicken, but it actually works perfect because it cooks great.  I have determined a long time ago that it is too difficult to cook meat and veggies on the same skewer because in order to get the meat cooked properly the veggies get too done.  Or vice-versa, depending on the meat and the veggies.  So it is best–for us–to do them separate.  Plus separate allows for different seasonings and it keeps the meat separate from the vegetables in case there are persons who are not eating meat.

The mangos were cooked with the skin on and for the most part that made the skin very edible.  I didn’t even notice the skin until I got to a particularly tough one that was green.

So, yay!  A way to cook with fruit AND another way to use mangos.  I normally only use them in the cucumber mango salad.  I would have thought to make a salsa, but not to put them on a skewer especially WITH the chicken.  You might have noticed that this kabob has onions, red peppers, and tomatoes too.  I even ate the tomatoes (big deal for loath-tomatoes-girl), even though they were cooked.

Do you cook with mangos?  Do you make kabobs?  Kabobs are a nice way to serve food for a cook out, huh?  Have you managed to perfect cooking vegetables AND meat on the same skewer?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Apricots and Plums – Peaking

Posted by terrepruitt on June 22, 2010

Someone pointed me in the direction of this great map that indicates what fruits and vegetables are at the peak of the season in a particular state in a particular month.  I need assistance with that because I have never learned that.

This month it is June.  I’m in California.  Not only am I in California, I am in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay Area.  In the South Bay.  I have said before that we are very fortunate here in the San Jose Area because we have great weather.  The map does not give specific locations as to what grows where, but I was able to get some plums and apricots off of a friend’s tree(s) (They didn’t come off of the same tree).

I ate only one apricot.  I will save the rest for my hubby because he likes them more than I do.  It was very good.  Very sweet and rich.  The plums are in varying stages of ripeness.  But so far all of the ones I have had are sweet and delicious.  I had a couple for breakfast before my Nia class this morning.

I am thinking of different ways we can eat the plums.  Besides just popping the entire thing in our mouths.  Since even the ones that aren’t that ripe are sweet I was thinking I could cut some up and throw them in a green salad.  No matter the ripeness I could put them in an aluminum foil package of chicken or pork and cook that.  Mmmm.  I think that I am going to do a lot more cooking with fruit this summer, just to try new things.

Do you cook with fruit?  What fruits and vegetables are in peak season right now in your state?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Fruit Not Fat

Posted by terrepruitt on June 19, 2010

Fruit not fat promotes swapping fruit for fat, like applesauce in place of butter or oil.  Well, they have organized a swap.  They will swap your food that is unhealthy for healthier options. Cool. That is definitely one way to eat better, yes? For 90 days Saturday, June 19, 2010 Fruit Not Fat will trade you better-for-you-food for your greasy chips, sodas, oil. Whatever weight you bring in, they will give you that amount back —- in other products! Send it to them or bring it to them.**

Here are some examples:

Bring:  Cooking Oil               leave with: applesauce

Bring:  greasy potato chips or other greasy snack items      leave with: Popchips

Bring: any granola with oil in the ingredient list (like Bear Naked granola)      leave with: Galaxy Granola (which is cooked with applesauce)

Bring:   soft drinks      leave with: 100% juice

Bring:   sugar snacks      leave with: fruit mashups

Bring:  candy bars, snack mix and cheese puff bags      leave with: fresh, tasty fruit

They are also giving away three gift certificates for $250 (each) to Whole Foods. One on Saturday 06/19/10) to the person who BRINGS the biggest net weight of fat products to swap, one to the person who mails in the biggest net weight of fat products within the 90 days, and one to the person who swaps the most fat from their diet. (see their website for details)

Yes, it is somewhat of a marketing project. I think that the people that started Fruit Not Fat are out to help people swap fruit for fat and they had this great idea and they got sponsored. That is a great thing. So the sponsors want you to try their products. But so what . . . . it seems pretty win-win to me. You get to eat healthy and try new things. Sounds like a good project to me.

**San Francisco Bay Area: They will be swapping Saturday, June 19, 2010, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Whole Foods in Palo Alto.

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Tomatoes As A Snack

Posted by terrepruitt on March 9, 2010

I don’t really like tomatoes. I have never liked tomatoes. I used to NOT eat pizza because of the tomato sauce. Spaghetti and tomato sauce? Forget about it. BUT . . . . tomatoes are really good for you. And so I try to eat them and I try them every once in a while.

Since they are good for you I think they make a healthy snack. This is what I had as a snack prior to doing a Nia workout.

I don’t really like them so I add a little special seasoning (pre-made garlic and salt mix).

Tomatoes contain antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and iron. They are even touted as having cancer fighting properties. Amazing for a fruit with so little calories.  Do you like tomatoes?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »