Know Your Ingredients – Oranges

Oranges

Citrus can add such wonderful flavor to desserts, and savory dishes alike. Living in Florida most my life I am fond to the Orange in particular. Oranges have a long history, and have been a sought after fruit the world over for many centuries.

They are assumed to have originated somewhere in Southern China, or Southeast Asia, and were first cultivated by the Chinese around 2500 BC. They later found popularity in Europe through introduction and exploration with Asian cultures. Throughout Europe they were considered a luxury, and even praised for their medical value.

They eventually found their way to North and South America through Spanish expeditions to the new world.

 

Nutritional Information

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 197 kJ (47 kcal)
Carbohydrates
11.75 g
Sugars 9.35 g
Dietary fiber 2.4 g
Fat
0.12 g
Protein
0.94 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.
(1%)

11 μg

Thiamine (B1)
(8%)

0.087 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
(3%)

0.04 mg

Niacin (B3)
(2%)

0.282 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)
(5%)

0.25 mg

Vitamin B6
(5%)

0.06 mg

Folate (B9)
(8%)

30 μg

Choline
(2%)

8.4 mg

Vitamin C
(64%)

53.2 mg

Vitamin E
(1%)

0.18 mg

Minerals
Calcium
(4%)

40 mg

Iron
(1%)

0.1 mg

Magnesium
(3%)

10 mg

Manganese
(1%)

0.025 mg

Phosphorus
(2%)

14 mg

Potassium
(4%)

181 mg

Zinc
(1%)

0.07 mg

Other constituents
Water 86.75 g

Where do they come from nowadays?

Most of the oranges we see in the produce section of grocery stores come from either California, or Florida. Worldwide Brazil is also a very large exporter of the fruit.

When I say ‘orange’ it’s rather broad. There are many different types grown throughout the world. Several popular types include.

Valencia – California grown. Primarily for processing and orange juice production.

Hamlin – The most widely grown early sweet orange in Florida, and the tree among the most cold tolerant.

Navel – Visually the oranges appear to have a knub at the apex. They are very popular, and consumed the world over.

Blood oranges – Grown primarily in Spain and Italy. A higher than normal concentrations of anthocyanin  gives the fruit a dark red color.

Oranges in Cooking

More traditionally oranges are eaten raw, or as part of a dessert.

They are also commonly used in more savory dishes to spruce up the flavor. One of my favorite uses is in rice. Add to a pilaf with oranges, carrots, and pistachios for a unique texture.

Oranges are often used in jarring to make marmalade, jams, and other products.

Non Cooking Uses

Oranges are very popular in cleaning products. The citric acid , and scent is used in a number of different natural cleaning brands.

Another non traditional use of Oranges peels as a slug repellent in gardens.

 

 

Know Your Ingredients – Snow Peas

The Snow Pea is a legume, but it’s a bit unique in that it is able to be eaten whole, pod and all. This is because it lacks the inedible fibers found in the standard English Pea, and as a result has become a popular alternative for many. It is quite a versatile element to many vegan dishes, and is commonly enjoyed as a raw snack.

The Snow Pea originated in the Mediterranean. Eventually they became popular throughout Europe and England where they were grown. Through this western popularity the Chinese adopted it into their cooking.  Ironically today it is commonly thought of as a Chinese ingredient, while the Chinese refer to them as Holland Peas

Snow Pea on Plant
Snow Pea on Plant” by JS – JS. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

The Snow Pea is a very hardy vegetable that can grow even in a lower air temperature. They are often planted soon after the snow melts in early spring.  The average time from seed to table is about 50-60 days. They can be grown almost year round in some warmer climates.

Once the Snow Pea plant starts to yield, it’s important to be consistent about picking as to ensure a high quantity.

The plant will continue to produce after your first harvest.

 

Nutritional Information

Nutritional value per 100g
Energy 176 kJ (42 kcal)
Carbohydrates
7.55
Sugars 4.00
Dietary fiber 2.6
Fat
0.2
Protein
2.8
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.

beta-carotene
lutein zeaxanthin
(6%)

630 μg

740 μg
Vitamin A 1087 IU
Thiamine (B1)
(13%)

0.150 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
(7%)

0.08 mg

Niacin (B3)
(4%)

0.6 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)
(15%)

0.75 mg

Vitamin B6
(12%)

0.16 mg

Folate (B9)
(11%)

42 μg

Vitamin B12
(0%)

0 μg

Choline
(4%)

17.4 mg

Vitamin C
(72%)

60 mg

Vitamin D
(0%)

0 μg

Vitamin E
(3%)

0.39 mg

Vitamin K
(24%)

25 μg

Minerals
Calcium
(4%)

43 mg

Iron
(16%)

2.08 mg

Magnesium
(7%)

24 mg

Manganese
(12%)

0.244 mg

Phosphorus
(8%)

53 mg

Potassium
(4%)

200 mg

Sodium
(0%)

4 mg

Zinc
(3%)

0.27 mg

Source

As An Ingredient

Many people love snow peas as a raw snack, and they can be eaten right from the plant this way. Others will dry them as a crispy and healthy snack. Another popular way to use them fresh would be as a salad topping, those little guys add nice texture and flavor to your green salad.

Snow Peas also steam very well. Lightly seasoned to taste make a delicious side to your entree.

You’ve also probably seen them in your Chinese or Indian take-out, as they’re commonly used in stir fry and vegetarian recipes. The ingredient is very universal, and used by cultures all over the world.

The tender shoots of the Snow Pea known as the Dow Miu, as well as the leaf buds are considered a delicacy in China.

 

An Introduction to Veganism

Vegan (noun)

1. a vegetarian who omits all animal products from the diet.

2. a person who does not use any animal products, as leather or wool.

Veganism is the act of abstaining from the consumption and personal use of any animal products.

orangesIt’s a very simple definition, but many people find living the lifestyle this philosophy entails very challenging. To those who have never tried it , the idea might seem downright impossible. This is mostly because of misconceptions surrounding what sacrifices need to be made to be able to call yourself a vegan.

“I’ll have to give up too much!”

Many don’t know it , but a lot of comfort foods and staples most people eat are already considered vegan friendly. These include deserts such as Oreo cookies, plain pop tarts, cherry snack pies and more. In fact vegan desserts are some of the most popular and best tasting recipes you will find. Many vegan deserts have won awards over their dairy based counterparts and on average are much more nutritious due to the creative substitutions that sometimes need to be made.

One of the strongest arguments for adopting a vegan lifestyle is the obvious health benefits such a diet can bring. One of the most common misconceptions about eating vegan is that without meat and dairy you will not be able to get all the vitamins and protein your body needs to stay healthy. This of course is based on the assumption that meat is the only place in nature to get protein and essential vitamins. In fact, there are much healthier kinds of protein from sources that don’t include the killing of living animals.

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Peas, nuts, beans such as chickpeas and soy, as well as seeds such as sesame and sunflower are all amazing sources of protein that you can incorporate into meals and snacks. This ensures you always have the balance of nutrition your body needs to stay healthy.

The most important thing to remember about going vegan is that there is no rush to dive right in and get overwhelmed. Start slow by cutting meat out of your life one day of the week. Dedicate this day to learning a new vegan recipe and discovering new ingredients to cook with. Demystify the idea of what a vegan dish can be and you’ll soon start to get excited about all the possibilities.

Take a look around at the different recipes and videos I’ve found to help get you started on your journey. If you’ve been a vegan for a while please share some thoughts and recipes to help those just starting.

I Am Vegan

Know Your Ingredients – The Mung Bean

The Mung Bean, or sometimes referred to as the Moong Bean is an unassuming little ingredient. It is very popular in India and many parts of Asia.

Sanjay Acharya -  GDFL
Sanjay Acharya – GDFL

The mung beans cultivation goes back about 4500 years, and has been an incredibly important crop in the development of civilization in the region.

More recently it has started to see an amount of notoriety and increase use  in the rest of the world.

Preparation of the Mung Bean

The taste of the mung bean is slightly sweet. The mung bean is often prepared like most beans , dried and boil until soft. From there they are used in a wide variety of recipes. Mashing the mung bean into a paste is one common technique.

Another common  use for the bean is in sweet and savory soups, and is used whole.

There are several Indian dishes that are prepared with the Mung bean as a main source of protein. In Mung Dal for example the outer coats of the bean are used, and prepared with various spices. 

In many different Indian states the mung beans are cooked and eaten as pancakes. The bean is soaked , ground to a paste and seasoned with salt and ginger before cooking. They offer a great protein packed breakfast for many families daily.

In China the mung bean is sometimes used to create a desert named Tong Sui which literally translates to “sugar water”.  Serving with seaweed is a common practice for this type of Tong Sui.

Photo by Edukeralam, Navaneeth Krishnan S
Photo by Edukeralam, Navaneeth Krishnan S

Mung bean paste is a common filling in many different pastries. A popular one known as hopia can be found in Indonesia, the Philippines and even in Guyana where it is called a black eye cake.

 Mung Bean Sprouts are another popular way this versitile bean is consumed. After being soaked for several hours small sprouts begin to form.  The bean is then used in a number of different recipes or as a garnish to salad.

So next time you’re looking for an ingredient to add some variety to your dish, think of the mung bean!

Sources of Protein for a Vegan Diet

There are many different sources in nature where we can get the essential proteins our muscles need to stay healthy.  It’s something of a myth that our bodies need meat in order to survive, or our muscles to grow. Here are a few key ingredients you can use that are rich in protein and other nutrients.

According to WebMD  adult males need about 56 grams a protein daily, and adult females  about 46 grams. This can be easily attainable with a little knowledge and planning.

Eat Your Veggies

One of the main sources of protein you’ll consume as a vegan is through vegetables themselves. There are tons of different options available to you at your local store.

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One source of protein that ranks among the highest is with green peas. One cup of cooked green peas will net you about 8 grams of protein. That’s actually as much as you would get in a cup of milk.

More vegetables that are rich in protein include leafy spinach and collard greens. Also greens such as broccoli, asparagus, and Snow Peas are easy to use in a number of dishes.

Beans are good for the heart

Ok, but seriously they are really great for you. Just two cups of the popular and tasty kidney beans contain almost half your daily requirement (26 grams of protein). The best thing about beans is there is so much variety of textures and flavors that you’ll never get bored with the possibilities.

Chickpeas are delicious on their own as a snack throughout the day or can me mashed and combined with different herbs to make an amazing hummus dip.

Another great source of protein is in the seed Quinoa which contains 8 grams per cup. This may be the first time you’ve heard of this superfood but it is surprisingly versatile and can be used in a number of different recipes.

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In facts nuts and seeds are natures perfect snack as well as a great source of protein for vegans. I personally prefer lightly salted or unsalted since I tend to snack on them quite often. Sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts , cashews .. All delicious.

 Can I tempt you with some Tofu?

To the uninitiated the thought of tofu is usually synonymous with bland , tasteless mush. Well of course this could not be further than the truth.  There is a large range of textures available from soft to firm. In fact tofu is very good at taking on the flavors it is good with. Often times it is used as a meat substitute in vegan dishes.

The best part of tofu is it is very rich in protein! Around 40 grams per cup is a substantial amount of your daily requirements.

 What about for a glass of milk?

Well I’m so glad you asked. Soy milk and Almond milk are amazing substitutes by the glass or in your recipes. I prefer vanilla soy milk in my cereal , but it comes in a variety of flavors. Soy is another one of those wonder foods that is so versatile in its usage.

Hopefully I’ve been able to shed some light on easy protein rich ingredients for vegans that you can use to help you make the transition. Please share some more of your favorites in the comments for everyone to see.