This is where I will give my opinion, on gardening, life, health or whatever else strikes my fancy. For better or worse! Need help? Got a question? Contact us we would love to help with your gardening success!
Carrots really have a funny and fascinating history. The original wild carrots that our ancient ancestors ate was a thin little brownish purple root found in Persia. For centuries, almost all carrots were that purplish color with mutated versions occasionally popping up including yellow and white carrots. These were rarely cultivated though and lacked the purple pigment anthocyanin. But in the 17th century, most of those colorful crunchy carrots turned orange. Why? We can blame the Dutch!
Many think that the reason the orange carrot became so popular in the Netherlands was in tribute to the emblem of the House of Orange. You see, a very long time ago a town in Southern France, Arausio, which was founded by the Romans in 35 BC, was classically pronounced "Aurenja." Predictably, that became "orange" once the French commingled naranj with or. When a man named William the Silent from Nassau inherited the rule in Orange in 1544, he became William of Orange, founder of the ruling dynasty the House of Orange. He led the Dutch in a revolt against the Spanish in the late 1500s, and they eventually won their independence in the form of the Dutch Republic.
At this time, the Dutch were primarily known as carrot farmers. And they grew carrots in the traditional hues of purple, yellow, and white. In the 17th century, a strain of carrot was developed that contained higher amounts of beta carotene -- the first orange carrot. Dutch carrot farmers were being heavily taxed at the time and the appearance of the orange carrot gave them an idea; grow the orange carrot and present it in tribute to the House of Orange hoping that in gratitude their taxes would be reduced. It worked! The new orange carrots where a huge hit and the farmers’ taxes were not just reduced but a tax on orange carrots was actually forbidden! The orange carrots became all the rage and the traditional, more colorful and more phytonutrient rich carrots, were tossed aside for these newly fashionable carrots.
So you see Dutch politics, greed and good old human vanity are to blame. A thousand years of yellow, white and purple carrot history was nearly wiped out in a single generation of man. Oh, what a wonder is man!
Come on, is that really true?
Although some sources think this explanation is not 100% true most seem to believe in its accuracy. I tend to believe that this could be, but it also might just be that the orange carrots that the Dutch developed were sweeter tasting and fleshier than their purple counterparts, thus providing more calories per plant and being better tasting they were propagated more frequently generation after generation. Not to mention the not being taxed thing.
Whatever the reason, orange carrots are now found in every mega-mart and convenience store in the Free World and it is nearly impossible to find the colorful varieties that once ruled the carrot world. This is a real shame because many of the more colorful varieties offer far more phytonutrients and a richer carrot flavor than the typical orange variety. But you can always grow your own in your Phytonutrient Garden!
Today I am going to make a whole bunch of you out there very happy! The number one most requested item is now going to be available, and best off all it is free! More than anything else I am asked for a list of recommended varieties to plant in order to get the most phytonutritious plants in your Phytonutrient Garden. The list is ready and you can get it by hitting the button below! The list is free and you can find many of the varieties plus other phytonutrient-rich and antioxident-dense choices for sale over at Phytonutrientfarms.com
(Boy, as much as my silly mug shows up on here you must think I really love myself! Or at least you have to wonder if I own anything other than a green plaid shirt!)
The kiwifruit, or kiwi, is fourth in the list of top ten foods that contain the highest levels of Vitamin C, the other three being pepper, guava and kale. By eating a single kiwi, you can already fulfill your daily requirement of Vitamin C, not to mention get some 30,000 phytonutrients too. The fruit is very distinct in appearance and taste. Its size is comparable to that of a large egg that has a brown fuzzy skin. The pulp is bright green in color with a ring of edible black seeds at the center. The taste of kiwis, which can be sweet or a little tart, has been described as a refreshing combination of strawberries, bananas and melons. Uniqueness and nutritional benefits are not the only good qualities that the kiwifruit can boast of, as the following 11 fun Kiwi facts reveal:
People often associate the kiwi with New Zealand but it actually originated from China and was first known as the “Chinese Gooseberry.” New Zealand was the first country to cultivate the fruit outside of China and named the fruit “kiwi” due to its resemblance to the brown, fuzzy kiwi bird.
A gold-fleshed variety of kiwi was developed in New Zealand in the 1980’s. The newer breed of the fruit is similar in size to the more common type but has no fuzz on the outer cover. The taste is also different, as the gold kiwi has a taste reminiscent of the mango fruit. It remains rich in Vitamin C and Phytonutrients.
The fuzzy skin of the kiwifruit is edible and is actually very phytonutrient-rich!
Kiwifruits can be used as natural meat tenderizers owing to the presence of an enzyme that can break down protein.
A natural facial mask made of pureed or mashed kiwifruit can keep the skin looking young and supple.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, it might be a good idea to eat a couple of kiwifruits one hour before bedtime. The antioxidants and serotonin present in the fruit is believed to not only help you sleep more quickly but more soundly as well.
Every 100 grams of kiwifruits hold only 61 calories with only 2% of the daily-recommended allowance of fat and zero cholesterol. A healthy choice for those who are trying to lose some pounds, kiwi contains 8% DRA of dietary fiber. It has 14.66 grams of carbohydrates and a gram of protein for every 100 grams as provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Kiwi is also packed with 10% DRA of vitamin E that helps protect cell membrane as well as 3% DRA of vitamin A that improves vision. B-complex vitamins are also found in kiwi, including folates at 6% DRA. Vitamin B-complex, in general, help in the production of red blood cells and in making use of energy from food.
This fruit is also high in potassium with 7% DRA per 100 grams. Potassium assists in the entry and exit of nutrients and waste products into and out our cells. This electrolyte helps regulate the harmful effects of sodium in the body.
Moreover, kiwi fruit is also an excellent source of copper, which is an essential mineral used in the metabolism of iron, development of tissues, and in energy production. Aside from copper, this fruit also supplies the body with minerals like iron, magnesium and manganese at 4% DRA for each, and calcium at 3.5% DRA. Both magnesium and calcium are necessary to strengthen the bones.
Kiwi is also high in omega-3 fatty acids. According to studies involving omega-3 fatty acids, they reduce the risk of certain diseases like the coronary heart disease and stroke.
Consumption of Kiwi is growing as time goes by and this is not only because of its unique and tasty flavor but also because of its surprising advantages to health. This fruit is rich in so many phytonutrients that are highly beneficial to the overall health of the body. It cleanses and removes body toxins and it reflects from the inside out. Intake of Kiwi on a regular basis will help you achieve an optimal health condition. It offers more than enough vitamins and nutrients to our system. Discover how eating Kiwis can aid general human health with these 9 additional fun Kiwi facts:
Aids Digestion - This “superfruit” is enzyme concentrated that assures digestion regulated. It contains enzymes called actinidain that properly dissolved food intake and clear digestive tracts for regular digestion and bowel movement. Aside from actinidain, Kiwis also have fiber that is a popular digestion booster.
Prevents and Treats Constipation - Because Kiwi is rich in fiber and actinidain, consumption has prevention and treating effects when it comes to digestive issues like constipation. It has been proven through years of research that eating Kiwi results to frequency in production of stool.
Stabilizes Blood Pressure - Because Kiwi is high in Potassium, it keeps the electrolyte count of the body normal. Electrolytes are very important in keeping the blood pressure normal. It guarantees that blood flow is managed and that blood is pumped from and to the heart accordingly. Sufficient body electrolytes also control normal heart rate. This property has the ability to battle effects of sodium that is the main trigger of high blood pressure.
Prevents Asthma and other Respiratory Disease - Vitamin C is sumptuous in Kiwis. Vitamin C is a very consequential nutrient the body needs in order to be optimally healthy. Getting enough of this vitamin daily will stabilize the body and puts it in a sound condition. Vitamin C is crucial to prevent respiratory diseases such as asthma. Research is consistently conducted to prove this assertion and it was already guaranteed that regular consumption of Kiwi is an effective way to avoid catching respiratory diseases.
Heightens the Immune System - As mentioned above, Vitamin C plays a very important role in the entirety of our body. It is a significant antioxidant that boosts the body’s resistance against disease and illnesses. Eating sources of Vitamin C every day is of great significance. Eating Kiwi regularly prevents various infections. Your body will be able to block off the irregularities that can lead to sickness.
Promotes Weight Loss - If you are trying to lose some weight, adding Kiwi on your diet plan will greatly help. This fruit is an excellent source of fiber that is a common mineral that leads to weight loss. This is because it aids proper digestion and bowel movement. Eating plenty of fiber fruits will help in lowering body’s overall cholesterol and blood sugar level thus avoiding development of fats. Fiber foods prevent obesity that can cause many more body complications especially in the heart.
Protects the Heart - Kiwi is rich in Vitamin C and it has polyphenols plus potassium that are very important in strengthening the blood vessels as well as the heart. Because this fruit has weight management properties, it is able to regulate normal body fat and cholesterol content. Too much cholesterol heightens fat production that compromises the normal condition of the heart. Kiwi is also able to reduce blood clotting through building stronger blood vessel walls. Blood clotting further leads to heart attack.
Contains Anti-Cancer Properties - Cancer is one of the most common causes of death nowadays. There is no cure to cancer which highlights the importance of prevention. Preventing cancer is a very vague idea and the best to do so is to exercise and make sure your body gets sufficient vitamins and nutrients it needs. Eating Kiwi is vital in cancer prevention because this fruit contains flavanoids and carotenoids that are effective antioxidants. These antioxidants eliminate development of free radicals that primarily leads to cancer. It removes harmful toxins from the body and repairs damaged cells. It is able to nourish your DNA protecting them from oxygen-related irregularity that also triggers cancer.
Nourishes the Skin - Because Kiwi is rich in Vitamin C, it is able to promote growth and development of collagen. If the body produces high amounts of collagen, it reflects primarily to the skin. Eating Kiwi on a regular basis will help you achieve a healthier, younger looking, flawless skin free from skin problems such as visible pores, pimples, blemishes, and others more. Eating Kiwi also protects your skin from harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.
Do your family a favor an include kiwi as a regular part of everyone’s diet. Start today and you could all live a longer, happier healthier life!
We are truly blessed when we are able to spend our days doing something we are truly passionate about, fascinated by, and engaged in. When all of this comes together to allow us to help ourselves and benefit others at the same time, then I believe we are doubly blessed. That is where I find myself! I am passionate about nutrition and especially the importance played phytonutrients play in our diet, I am fascinated by the subject and cannot get the newest information fast enough, and I am engaged every single day in working on my books, websites, talks and lectures on the subject – I feel mightily blessed! With the feedback people constantly give me about this website, and now with all of the wonderful comments I am getting from people all over the world who have read and enjoyed my latest book, Phytonutrient Gardening Book 1: Vegetables (Yes. That is shameless self-promotion there!) I now feel doubly blessed. I am so thrilled that so many people are benefiting from what I have studied and learned and put to work in my own life. Thank you all for all of the praise and observations. In keeping with the spirit of trying to help others benefit along with me, I have wanted, for some time now to be able to offer people a place where they could go to purchase the highest quality, non-GMO seeds for the varieties of fruits and vegetables we all need to grow in our own Phytonutrient Gardens. I searched far and wide and could never find just the right place. I met a number of seed growers who offered some what I wanted but I could find no single source for all of what I wanted. One day I voiced my frustration to my wife Holly and she said, “You can not be the only person looking for that, so if you cannot find a good seed seller, then make one yourself.” That is exactly what I did! It took well over a year to get it up and going but I am so pleased that I have finally been able to launch my new venture, in partnership with five other seed growers from all over the nation! Farms is no long a dream it is a reality!
At Phytonutrient Farms Quality Seed Sellers we off only the best seeds we can. All of our seeds are from super healthy, organically grown plants that are 100% GMO Free (we have had our seeds tested by an independent source to ensure this), hand harvested and hand inspected while being hand packaged for each and every sale – one seed at a time! This sounds crazy right? Well, it just may be but is still true. Our staff has been trained to inspect every seed that goes into every package for every order every time we fill an order! Yes, that is time consuming and yes it could all probably be automated but that is not the point. The point is that we want to have enough confidence in our products that we can sleep well at night knowing that we have done everything we can, taken every possible step, to ensure that the highest possible quality product arrives at your door the first time you order seeds from us and every time after that! The other thing we do is offer our seeds at the best possible prices we can – most seeds from Phytonutrient Farms will cost you $1.00 for about a dozen seeds – compare that with other organic seeds sellers and you will see just how great a deal that actually is. By the way we also try to save you on the shipping and handling fees too. I have seen $10.00 and $20.00 shipping and handling fees charged by quite a few other companies out there. We simply will not do that – I WILL NOT ALLOW IT. Our shipping and handling charge is $3.00. Just $3.00 no matter what. Order one hand prepped pack of seeds of one thousand and your shipping and handling fee stays the same, $3.00. One final word here. I am so confident in these seeds and the quality plants that will grow from them that these are now the only seeds I use in the numerous Phytonutrient Gardens I grow! These are the only seeds I use to grow the fruit and vegetables I eat myself, and that I give to my wife, my children and my grandchildren!
Please visit us at www.phytonutrientfarms.com today and order seeds for your garden, for your health! Thank you and Happy Gardening
When I speak to groups about Phytonutrients I always stress eating members of the Onion family because they are just so dang healthy. In most cases folks are family with onions and garlic but not some up on the rest of the onion family so I thought that in today's post for Phytonutrient Friday I would clue you in on what you need to know about chives, leeks, green onions, and shallots.
Perhaps the first thing to understand regarding these delicious members of the onion family is that they have changed very little since our ancient hunter/gather ancestors first ate them. It seems that for no other reason than the fact that they taste great and are wonderful just as they are, man has never really tinkered with these veggies. That’s a really good thing too, it means that these aromatics are nearly as packed full of phytonutrients as they have ever been! So you can grow any variety you want and still be sure you are getting plenty of health benefits!
The real key to getting the best out of these four is to know how best to prepare them. Chives – This one is really simple. Just cut them raw and add them to finished foods, do not cook them as getting them too hot destroys many of their best benefits. Chives come in two types, onion and garlic. Onion chives are most family to us and are sold in most grocery stores. Garlic chives however, are nearly 10 times better for you so grow your own either in the garden or a kitchen window sill!
Green Onions - Also known as Salad Onions or Scallions these are among the most phytonutrient rich foods on an ounce for ounce basis. They are not really ‘baby onions’ as many people think but are rather a unique species all to themselves. Nearly identical to fossil records over 20,000 years old these antioxidant powerhouses (nearly 150 times more phytonutrient rich than an average white onion) have changed very little over the ages. Eat the green parts too as they contain the most nutrition! In a study released in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2002), it was shown that adult men who ate just 10 grams of these per day had a 50% lower risk of developing prostate cancer. These can be grilled, s teamed, stir fried or boiled in soup stock in place of onions to add a super nutritional punch to any meal! Added at the end of a dish as a final touch is an old chef’s trick – it adds a pleasant taste, aroma and crunch.
Leeks – Perhaps the most under used member of the onion family the leek, which looks like a green onion on steroids, having a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of superimposed layers that flows into green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves, is full and flavor and nutrition. Farm or garden grown leeks are usually about 12 inches in length and one to two inches in diameter and feature a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of shallots but sweeter and more subtle. Wild leeks, known as ramps, are much smaller in size, but have a stronger, more intense flavor. They are available for a short period of time each year and are often widely sought out at farmers markets when they are in season. With a more delicate and sweeter flavor than onions, leeks add a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering the other flavors that are present. Although leeks are available throughout the year they are in season from the fall through the early part of spring when they are at their best. The flavonoids in leeks are most concentrated in their lower leaf and bulb portion, so unlike green onions you do not need to eat the green parts. Leeks rank ahead of white onions in terms of their phytonutrient content and may be substituted in many recipes to kick up the nutritional value of a meal. When preparing Leeks try to use leeks that are of similar size so as to ensure more consistent cooking if you are planning on cooking the leeks whole. Leeks are available throughout the year, although they are in greater supply from the fall through the early part of spring. Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for between one and two weeks. Wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag will help them to retain moisture. Cooked leeks are highly perishable, and even when kept in the refrigerator, will only stay fresh for about two days. Leeks may be frozen after being blanched for two to three minutes, although they will lose some of their desirable taste and texture qualities the phytonutrients will remain. Leeks will keep in the freezer for about three months. Shallots – Another under used member of the onion family (at least in most American cooking), Shallots are favored for their mild onion flavor, and can be used in the same manner as onions. A shallot looks like a small, elongated onion with a copper, reddish, or gray skin. When peeled, shallots separate into cloves like garlic. There are two main types of shallots: Jersey or "false" shallots (larger) and "true" shallots (more subtle flavor). Fresh green shallots are available in the spring and dry shallots (dry skin/moist flesh) are available year-round. Shallots come in three sizes – small, medium and jumbo (the least tasty). The younger (smaller) the shallot, the milder the taste. Shallots have been found to be second only to garlic in their ability to destroy cancer cells. Like other members of the onion family it is best to cut shallots and allow them to rest for five to ten minuets before you heat them. This ensures you get the most out of your shallots.
That's it for this weeks edition of Phytonutrient Friday, be sure to click on the link below and reserve your FREE seat for this years online Home Grown Food Summit. You can also follow the link to learn more about this amazing FREE event! Happy Gardening!!
In response to your many requests I will be concentrating on putting out more phytonutrient information on different produce each week. Every Friday for the rest of the year we will have “Phytonutrient Fridays,” each week I will write about a different fruit or vegetable or drink, as in today’s post about Hot Chocolate.
Sweet news, chocolate lovers. Thick creamy hot cocoa not only tastes better than those sugary packaged mixes, it’s also incredibly good for you. Today hot chocolate is widely thought of as a winter treat, a vice, but it’s more than that. Drinkable chocolate is a healthy elixir for the mind and body. Sometimes we search so hard for ways to improve our health we overlook the healing powers of the soothing wonder drink right in our hands. Drinkable chocolate was used as a medicinal drink by Mesoamerican civilizations far back in 600 B.C. According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health, the beneficial uses of cacao and chocolate are a recent rediscovery and one we should not ignore.
So Hot Cocoa is Good For You! Indeed, it is, especially if your drink is made from dark chocolate or cocoa powder! Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help keep the brain healthy and prevent memory decline in older people. The researchers said that hot chocolate can help preserve blood flow in working areas of the brain.
The lead author, Farzaneh A. Sorond, said: "As different areas of the brain need more energy to their tasks, they alsoneed greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer's."
Another note about eating dark chocolate is that some studies have suggested that the best time to eat your chocolate is in the evening or as a dessert item with your late meal. This is because the effects of the phytonutrients in dark chocolate can help all of us with our long-term memory retention. Basically everything we experience throughout our day is stored in our short-term memory. When we sleep our brains somehow transfers (down loads) all that short-term memory into our long-term memory storage. The effects of the dark chocolate eaten (or in a liquid) in the evening is that it somehow assists in the transfer of the information into long-term storage. One study had participants spend an hour looking at various photographs. A week later they were asked to recount what was in the photos they were shown. The group had some people eat no chocolate at all, some eat it in the morning and some eat it in the evening.
Researchers found that everyone eating the dark chocolate gained some benefit in memory retention but those eating their “memory pills” in the evening retained information much more accurately then all others. Many participants did over 50% better!
Here are more benefits of enjoying chocolate:
1. Mood lifting - here’s a reason the French used drinkable chocolate to boost foul moods and fend off bouts of rage. It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant and triggers the production of endorphins that make people feel pleasure. Plus the high concentration of antioxidants calms rising stress hormones. These effects are compounded when dark chocolate is melted into a drink because heat releases significantly more antioxidants.
2. Cancer preventative - A Cornell study found a cup of cocoa offers twice as many cancer-fighting antioxidants as a glass of red wine and as much as three times more than a cup of green tea. Researchers attribute this abundance to higher levels of flavonoids. Researchers also advise we drink a cup in the morning, saving tea and wine for later. Can you think of a better way to start the day?
3. Kind to diabetics - Enjoy a small indulgence without worrying about glucose levels. To make, use dark chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder and a small amount of honey, about a teaspoon per cup, as your sweetener. Melt in milk and the resulting drink will taste like joy. It contains about 600 milligrams of an antioxidant called gallic acid, which is used to treat diabetes. Healthy fats in dark cocoa help blood absorb sugar slowly, which prevents insulin spikes.
4. Improves blood flow - Cocoa’s flavonoids aid the body in processing nitric oxide. This prevents blood clots by making platelets less sticky and improves blood flow, which in turn lowers blood pressure and helps the heart stay healthy. That’s a lot of wins. Not to mention these anti-clotting, blood-thinning capabilities significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke.
5. Stimulates the mind - Increased blood flow throughout the body means an increase of oxygen to the brain. Drink a cup of hot chocolate and your mind will be sharper. According to the American Association of Advancement of Science, researchers believe drinking cocoa helps stave off dementia and helps treat those who already have it.
6. Reduces risk of heart disease - The CDC reports heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. 1 out of every 4 deaths is due to heart disease. One way to lower your risk is consume about 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day. It reduces inflammation and floods your body with flavonoids and antioxidants that protect from free radicals linked to heart disease and certain cancers. In winter, get your daily dose of protection in a mug.
7. Weight loss - Will Clower, PH.D. neuroscientist and author of the book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight says having chocolate five minutes after a meal or 20 minutes prior reduces your appetite by as much as 50 percent. The key here is moderation. Consuming a small quantity of dark cocoa satiates the appetite and, since it prevents insulin spikes, keeps the body’s fat-burning ability going strong.
8. Strengthens Teeth - You read that right. Finally a dessert that’s good for your teeth in multiple ways. The tannins in cocoa contain oxalic acid, which lowers acid production and reduces plaque growth. This prevents tooth decay as long you practice good dental hygiene every day. In addition, dark hot cocoa contains theobromine, known to harden enamel and help prevent discoloration.
9. Protects skin - Your morning mug of dark chocolate is loaded with flavonoids, much loved for increasing the skin’s hydration and improving complexion. They also absorb harmful UV light, protecting you from skin cancer (but don’t forget to wear sunscreen).
10. High in Vitamins and Minerals - Dark cocoa is rich in potassium, copper, magnesium, iron and other important vitamins and minerals. These support good health and protect you from anemia, type 2 diabetes and dangerous heart problems.
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The Phytonutrient Blog
Written by Joe Urbach, the author of the popular Phytonutrient Gardening series, lecturer and international speaker on a wide range of gardening topics.
Joe Urbach, originally known as the Kitchen Garden Farmer because of his goal of putting a kitchen garden into as many Austin, Texas yards as possible, is known more now as the Phytonutrient Gardener because of the success of his popular books and blog. Joe is a life long gardener and has no plans of seeing that change! He lives in Kyle, Texas with his wife, Holly and his garden buddy and Grandson Liam.