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Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. Based on their nutrient content, vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups: dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas (legumes), and other vegetables.
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CORN: Corn grows in "ears," each of which is covered in rows of kernels that are then protected by the silk-like threads called "corn silk" and encased in a husk. Corn is known scientifically as Zea mays. This moniker reflects its traditional name, maize, by which it was known to the Native Americans as well as many other cultures throughout the world. Cornmeal is made from ground corn, and is used to make cornbread, muffins and other baked and fried foods that include some wheat flour and leavening.
You can get health-supportive antioxidant benefits from all varieties of corn, including white, yellow, blue, purple and red corn. But recent research has shown the antioxidant benefits from different varieties of corn actually come from different combinations of phytonutrients. In the case of yellow corn, it's the antioxidant carotenoids leading the way, with especially high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin. In the case of blue corn, it's the anthocyanins. There's one particular hydroxybenzoic acid in purple corn - protocatechuic acid - that's also been recently linked to the strong antioxidant activity in this corn variety. (from wholefoods)
GREEN BEANS AKA STRING BEANS OR SNAP BEANS Green beans, commonly referred to as string beans, the string that once ran lengthwise down the seam of the pod, are now bred out. The "string" can seldom be found in modern varieties, that has them are often referred to as "snap beans." You may also see them referred to as "haricot vert", a French term that simply means "green bean." They are in season from summer through early fall, but you can find them year round.
Green beans belong to the same family as shell beans, such as pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans. In fact, all of these beans have the exact same genus/species name in science—Phaseolus vulgaris—and all can be referred to simply as "common beans."
LEGUMES: Beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes. They include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas and lentils. They are available in dry, canned, and frozen forms. These foods are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc. They are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients. Therefore, they are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Many people consider beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat. However, they are also considered part of the Vegetable Group because they are excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and potassium. These nutrients, which are often low in the diet of many Americans, are also found in other vegetables.
POTATOES: There are two general cooking categories of potatoes - mealy and starchy. Mealy ones, such as russets, blue and purple
varieties, Russian and banana fingerlings, concentrate starch in their cells, making them perfect for fluffy mashed potatoes, as well as baked and fried. Waxy types, such as new potatoes, work well for gratins, potato cakes and salads.
The best potatoes to use when making mashed potatoes are those that contain medium to high amounts of starch, such as Yukon Golds. When cooked, they break up easily and readily absorb other ingredients, such as milk, cream and butter. See The Best Ever Mashed Potatoes Recipe
QUESTION: My recipe for mashed potatoes instructs to "boil until tender and peeled". It doesn't say to peel and then boil until tender. What do I do?
SARAH SAYS: Potatoes can be boiled with the skins and then peeled when tender. A potato ricer will rice the insides and leave the peels. (Make sure you clean out the peels with a fork after every potato pressing). Or, simply cut the potato in half, then scoop the pulp from the skin with a serving spoon.
Russet: This is the most popular all-purpose baking potato. It's high in starch and has brown skin with a white interior. Russets produce light and fluffy mashed potatoes.
Yukon Gold: This European yellow-fleshed potato is available from mid-summer into fall. It's very creamy when cooked.
Yellow-fleshed potatoes are common in Europe and South America. Yukon Golds are a cross between a North American white potato (Norgleam) with a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety done by a Canadian team. Since 1980, it has been marketed in the US. It is a good keeper and lends itself well to any type pf potato preparation - Its slightly lower starch content than the Idaho or russet gives it a combination of mealy and waxy textures. So, for mashed potatoes, it has to be prepared the way I specify above for the best results! Do not use an electric mixer.
Yukon Golds are slightly flat and oval in shape with light gold, thin skin and light yellow flesh. They can be identified by the rosy pink coloration of the shallow eyes. Anthoxanthins are the compound which gives the gold potato its beautiful yellow color. These flavenoids are also found in onions, apples, and cauliflower. Yukon Gold retains the yellow flesh color when baked, boiled or french-fried. They have a wonderful flavor and natural buttery texture, too. As a result, I find you won't need as much seasoning, butter or cream in your recipe.
Round White: This is another all-purpose potato. It has white to off-white flesh and tan skin. It holds its shape when cooked but also has a creamy texture, making it a good choice for a variety of dishes. One variety to look for is Katahdin.
Long White: These large potatoes have smooth, off-white skins with white insides. They're available in spring and summer. When cooked, they are creamy.
Sweet Potatoes and Yams:
QUESTION: Is it a Sweet Potato and or a Yam?
SARAH SAYS: Sweet potatoes: are the root of a vine in the morning glory family. Popular in the American South, they come in either paler-skinned yellow or dark-skinned orange tubers. Both varieties are elongated with ends that taper to a point. The darker-skinned variety, often called a "yam" in error, has a thick, dark orange skin. The insides have an orange, sweet flesh with a moist texture. Sweet potatoes (yams) are readily found in the grocery store.
The true yam is the tuber of a tropical vine and is not related to the sweet potato. It is rarely found in US markets, but is a popular vegetable in Latin American and Caribbean markets. There are 150 varieties available worldwide.
PUMPKIN: A pumpkin is not a vegetable; it's a fruit! In fact, it's a berry, but for purposes of discussion, we place it here. All pumpkins are winter squash: mature fruit of certain species in the genus Cucurbita. Characteristics commonly used to define "pumpkin" include smooth and slightly ribbed skin, and typically deep yellow to orange color. For baking, solid pack pumpkin (Libby's brand) is the best to use because it has the right water content. Sometimes homemade has too much water, throwing off your recipe. When making your own homemade pumpkin puree, use what are called sugar, sweet or cheese pumpkins (have smooth and lightly colored pumpkin skins, not the jack-o-lantern variety) because they have firm, delicious flesh. Hubbard Squash (vegetable) can also be used; believe it or not, it tastes similar.
RHUBARB: The rhubarb plant is actually an herbaceous perennial, which is botanically a vegetable, but it used primarily as a fruit in recipes. For baking, choose the stalks that are medium-sized (like celery stalks), deeply colored, firm, crisp, and tender. They are especially available during spring and early summer.
SQUASH: Squash come in two main types: summer squash and winter squash. Winter squash has the most variety. Summer squash includes both green and yellow zucchini, most yellow crookneck and straightneck squash, and scallop (or pattypan) squash. Winter squash is a broad category that includes butternut, acorn, delicious, hubbard, banana, buttercup (or turban), and spaghetti squash. Pumpkins are also in this group, but it is considered a fruit.
Winter squash has long been recognized as an important food source of carotenoids. Only recently have research studies found that winter squash contributes key antioxidants; it turns out to be a primary food source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. For lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin (three other health-supportive carotenoids) winter squash also comes out among the top three food sources in several studies.
TOMATOES: Botanically speaking the tomato is a fruit, but horticulturally and legally, it is considered a vegetable. Tomatoes come in all shapes and colors, from white to mahogany.They should be stored at room temperature
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