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Food for Health

Fibrous, mushy zucchini makes tasty chips. Really.

I always avoided zucchini as a child. It was that mushy, ambiguous cooked vegetable on top of my pasta, those weird chunks in a loaf of bread. Why my mother had to torment me with this strange squash was beyond me.
And then one day at a family picnic, I was approached by a relative insisting I try zucchini chips. At first I was startled, then scared, because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to back out of trying it. So, with great apprehension, I picked up one of the little circles and bit into it. I was taken aback by the pleasant crunchiness and flavor. It actually tasted good!

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I had to eat a plum – and I liked it!

 

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A heartbreaking tale of cherries

To me, cherries have always meant one thing: medicine. Whether it was a sore throat, a fever, a cough or the common cold, my medicine never failed to be some form of sickly sweet cherry syrup that would cure all, but with a taste that made me almost want to continue being sick.
After drinking cup after cup of accurately measured doses of cherry goo, I had decided by the time that I was 5 that I absolutely hated cherries.
Then, they started to haunt me.

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You can’t beat beets or greens

cynthiah@lakevillejournal.com

Sometimes nutrition information is just silly. There’s no other way to describe a piece of writing, designed to be read by normal people, that includes the words betanin and vulgaxanthin and glutathione all in the first three sentences.

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The shock of the new: persimmons

I’ve been a vegetarian nearly all my life, but a pretty bad one until a few years ago. White foods with a sprinkling of off-white foods use to be the basis for my diet, until, like all kids, I outgrew a lot of my pickiness and discovered vegetables.
During the past year I went regularly to the farmers market on my school campus to pick out vegetables that I absolutely did not know how to cook. I would grab a bundle of beets, or a head of cauliflower, or an eggplant, then head back to my apartment and whip out my computer.

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Sprigs in spring have sprung

I was making dinner at a friend’s house recently, and while we were waiting for our mushroom pizza to finish up in the oven, her mom came in from the garden with a bunch of fresh-cut asparagus. My friend grabbed a stalk and started munching, and I just stared.
While asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, I never knew it could be eaten raw. This is the same friend who introduced me to eating raw corn, and since that experiment went well, I figured I would give the asparagus a shot. It was quite crunchy and a bit like a green bean, and it made an excellent side for our pizza.

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There’s an app-ricot for that!

Some plants signify the start of a season. For spring we have tulips, daffodils, lilacs and more edible flora such as berries and of course apricots.
Apricots were first eaten in China in about 3000 B.C. and were brought to Europe via the “silk road.” They are believed to have come to the Americas as seeds brought by French explorers in the 1700s.
Apricots are in season from May through August. As bright, fresh apricots stand out in produce bins this spring, you may be wondering how the juicy yellow-orange fruit compares to its dried counterpart.

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Ramps and garlic mustard, mmm

cynthiah@lakevillejournal.com

A very wise man of my acquaintance (who is also an active gardener) was discussing with me last week the ideas of change and acceptance, and the importance of sometimes accepting that things can’t be forced to change or go away.
In this spirit, I present to you the garlic mustard plant, a scourge of all gardeners and property owners. This plant is hideously invasive and obnoxious, and it spreads so vigorously, and does so much damage to native plants that state governments in the Midwest, East and South are issuing warnings about the need to eradicate it.

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In praise of pepper

We talk about salt all the time in this health column so someone suggested we try talking about black pepper for a change.
Salt is a seasoning I like because I can definitely taste it. I like the way it looks, I like the way it feels when I crush it in my fingers as I sprinkle it on a dish. I have low blood pressure so I get a nice little boost when I add some sodium to my diet.
Pepper is a spice I add to everything (savory) that I cook, but I’m not as clear on why I use it or what there is to like about it, or whether there is a difference between pepper brands.

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All about oranges

 
As I struggled to remove the peel from a tangerine over the weekend, I found myself wondering: Why would anyone work this hard to eat a tangerine when clementines are just as tasty and so much easier to peel?
When I was a kid, I mainly remember eating tangerines from cans, floating in syrup. I think they were sometimes called  mandarins. 

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