Food and Drink A-Z

A

Apples ripen ten times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated.  There is a national apple day on the 21st October.  You’ve possibly heard the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, and there is potentially some truth to that as apples provide key vitamins and minerals.  It is low in calories, contains zero fat, has 5.4 grams of fibre, 239mg potassium, plus Vitamins A and C.  It is also available all year round.  The most nutritional part is the skin especially in red apples.  By eating the skin you are also taking in Vitamin K.  There are 7,500 varieties of apple grown in the world.

Absinthe – A formally banned unsweetened yet highly alcoholic green liqueur derived from botanicals including the flowers and leaves of green anise and sweet fenel. Absinthe that is bright green may be artifically coloured.  Quality absinthe may also be clear, orange or red.  Vintage absinthe may have an amber colour as the chlorophyll will have faded over time. The best tasting is that which falls within the 45-68% alcohol by volume.  Abinthe should be diluted with water before drinking and be sipped slowly over time.

Ackee (or Akee) – A red pear-shaped fruit of a tropical tree, related to the lychee.  It is cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates. The fruit of the akee is not edible.  It is only the fleshy arils around the seeds that are edible.  The remainder of the fruit including the seeds are poisonous.  Immature and overripe akee are also poisonous.

Adzuki bean – A tiny reddish-brown bean with a cream coloured seam and sweet, nutty flavour. It is particularly popular in Asian cooking. Rich in protein, fibre and folic acid.

Asparagus – This wonderful green and vitamin rich vegetable is one of the most labour intensive vegetables to grow.   However it’s worth it.  It contains no fat or cholesterol and is just 4 calories per spear.  Preliminary research also shows the high level of antioxidants in asparagus may help slow down the ageing process.  Due to its richness of Riboflavin it can also help reduce the frequency of migraine headaches.  It is also high in fibre, folate and potassium.  The best ways to eat it: a) Risotto – and use a flavoursome rice such as carnaroli or vialone nano; b) Soup – and finish off with a poached egg on toast on top; c) Tempura – and serve with a contrasting fresh tomato dip; d) Bread – a vegetarian loaf and mix the asparagus with olives and cheese; and e) Plain and simple – just add some butter and a squeeze of lemon.

B

Bananas are naturally radioactive and contain relatively high amounts of potassium.  Specifically they contain Potassium – 40, a radioactive isotope of potassium.  They are also the only fruit to contain amino acid, tryptophan plus Vitamin B6, which together help produce serotonin, a natural chemical which alleviates mental depression.  Bananas are the fourth largest agricultural product in the world. There are almost 1,000 varieties of bananas in the world, subdivided into 50 groups.  The word banana comes from the Arabic word ‘banan’, meaning finger.  The banana plant is not a tree, it is the world’s largest herb.

Blueberries – According to USDA studies blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity per serving, compared with more than 20 other fruits.  Research also suggests blueberries may help prevent or slow memory loss, improve motor skills and reduce inflammation.

C

Carrot – Carrots are a member of the parsley family and is related to the parsnip, celery and fennel.  Carrots can be eaten raw or briefly cooked and are an excellent source of Vitamin A, providing more than 200% of your daily requirement in one carrot.  Carrots are the second most popular type of vegetable after potatoes.  Carrots that have become limp can be soaked in ice water to make them crisp again.  It is one of the most versatile root vegetables around; hence why you can eat it with your roast dinner and equally in a cake.  The old wives tale ‘carrots help you to see in the dark’ does have an element of truth to it as they are very high in betacarotene, which is an important nutrient in maintaining healthy eyes.

Chia seeds – Chia is a great way to get your daily quota of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Chips – More than 1.6 million tonnes of potatoes are made in to chips every year in the UK alone.

D

Date palms cover 3% of the earth’s cultivated surface with four million tonnes of dates being grown annually.  Dates are highly nutritional and considered by many to be one of natures most perfect food.  They are rich in dietary fibre, include calcium, manganese, copper, have moderate sources of Vitamin A and contain antioxidants known as tannins.  They are also an excellent source of iron and potassium. The fruits grow on the palm tree belonging to the family of Arecaceae.  The date palm is the national symbol for Isreal and Saudi Arabia, representing vitality and growth.

E

Around 1.2 trillion eggs are produced for eating every year.  Eggs are highly nutritious containing proteins, vitamins and minerals with the yolk also containing cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.  The egg white contains more than half of the eggs protein along with Vitamin B2 and lower amounts of fat and cholesterol than the yolk.  There has been much controversy surrounding the production of eggs for consumption.  Some methods include:
Cage Free – These hens are not confined to a cage but that doesn’t mean they are frolicking in an open field.  Mostly it means they are free to roam in a barn or warehouse and living conditions can vary;
Natural – Anyone can use this term.  It means nothing.
Free range – This means hens are free to roam outdoors at some point but there is no way to know how long the hens are outside because there is no regulation stating how long they should be outside.
Certified organic – Hens have had some outdoors and are fed an organic vegetarian diet that excludes any pesticides, animal by-products, or genetically modified foods.

F

Feta – Protected by EU regulations, to be called ‘Feta’ a cheese must be produced in Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Central Mainland Greece, the Peloponnese or Lesvos.  Feta occupies around 70% stake in Greek cheese consumption.   Feta is a pickled curd cheese that has a salty and tangy taste.  The cheese is created by curdling the milk with rennet. The curds are then removed, drained and placed and then pressed in perforated moulds to create a solid cheese. The chunks of feta are cut into giant slices. The slices are then covered in brine and the feta is allowed to cure anything from a several weeks to a few months.  After the process, the cheese takes on a pleasing, almost pickled flavour, feels firm to some what firm depending on the fat content of the milk and how long it was brined, and features that “fall apart in your fingers” crumbly texture feta is famous for.  It includes key vitamins and minerals yet it can be high in saturated fat and sodium. Because it has a strong flavour only a small amount is needed.

Fennel is one of Absinthes three main ingredients.  It is a member of the parsley family.

G

There are over 8,000 grape varieties worldwide.  Grapes help minimise the risk of heart attacks because they increase the levels of nitric acid in the blood which prevents blood clots.  Grapes are 80% water.  They are used to help cure asthma, indigestion, migraines, kidney disease and fatigue.

H

Hazelnuts are very high in energy and are free from gluten.  Hazelnut trees can produce nuts until over 80 years of age.  Over 95% of the US commercial production of the nut is in Oregon’s Willamette valley.

I

Ice cream is a frozen food and around 15 billion of it is consumed every year.  Although it is high in saturated fats it is low in sodium.  New Zealand as at 2015 consumes the most amount of ice cream per capita gallons per year.  The tallest ice cream cone was over nine foot tall and was scooped in Italy.  It takes three gallons of milk to make one gallon of ice cream.  Vanilla continues to be the most popular flavour.

J

Jasmine tea – In a Chinese study, people who drank three or more cups of green tea daily were biologically five years younger than those who drank less than one cup per day.

Jicama, or otherwise known as Yambean, Pachyrhizus erosus, or Mexican turnip is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant’s edible tuberous root. The root is round and bulbus and is part of the legumes family.   Very similar in texture to a turnip with a taste closer to an apple.  It is extremely versatile and can be chopped, cubed, sliced into fine sticks, raw or cooked.  It’s great in stir-fries, salads, coleslaw and soup.  Although it is low in calories it doesn’t have too many vital nutrients yet it does have an excellent source of Vitamin C providing 44% of the daily value per serving.

K

Kale has 133% of a persons daily Vitamin A requirement and is a great source of cats that are essential for brain health, reduces type 2 diabetes and boosts heart health as well.   Cooking kale can free some nutrients like magnesium and decreases others like heat sensitive plate.  But consuming kale in any form delivers fibre, protein, omega 3s and a bevy of vitamins and minerals.  Gram for gram, kale has more than twice the Vitamin C of an orange.

L

Liquorice – more than 30,000 tons of Red Vines are made each year; more than 400,000 miles of liquorice … enough to wrap around the earth more than 16 times.  Black liquorice is 50 times sweeter than sugar.  In 2011 , US liquorice sales topped $359 million, a 6.56% increase from the year before.

M

The term Monkfish is used to describe a several distinct species of fish.  Brown with warty skin, they have flat bodies and large heads with thick meaty tails.   They eat pretty much anything that comes their way including soda cans and other trash.  The common name for monkfish is Goosefish.  They are mildly sweet in flavour and provide a good range of nutrients including minerals, proteins and vitamins.  They do contain a high level of mercury so if eaten in large amounts can pose a health risk.

Mackerel is a slim torpedo shaped fish which, rich in essential oils, vitamins and minerals, is suggested to include it within a healthy diet.  It also includes: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and selenium. Trace minerals include zinc and copper. The fish also contains protein and the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10. Mackerel can live for over 25 years.  It takes a mackerel around seven years to reach one pound in weight.   This is certainly a super fish for a healthy diet.

N

Nectarines are closely related to the peach.  The name ‘nectarine’ comes from the sweet food the gods ate ‘nectar’.  The colour can range from pale white to vibrant orange.  It is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Niacin and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin C.  However a large portion of the 63 calories per fruit comes from sugars.

O

Olive trees are evergreen and can live up to 2,000 years.  There are over 800 million olive trees planted worldwide.  The flower is white and only flowers after four years.  An olive is a fruit, not a vegetable and can be green, purple, dark brown, black and even pink in colour.  The largest type is called a ‘Donkey’ olive and the smallest is called a ‘bullet’.  It takes seven litres of olives to make one litre of olive oil.  Olives are rich in Vitamin E and ‘good fat’ and sixteen of them can count as one of your five portions a day.

P

Popcorn is not just for eating at the cinema.  Plain popcorn has a low calorie content and contains antioxidants and may be the perfect snack food.  Popcorn is actually a whole grain and provides more than 70% of the daily whole grain intake.  Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories whilst microwave popcorn has twice as many calories.  It is certainly a favoured snack.  So much so that National Popcorn day is celebrated on January 19.

Q

Quince, a pome fruit similar in appearance to a pear yet larger, is available September through January.  It is bright golden-yellow in appearance and with a wonderful perfume.  It has lumpy yellow skin and hard flesh that is quite bitter so shouldn’t be eaten raw.   Its health benefits include its ability to help prevent cancer, aid in weight loss and improve digestive health.

R

Rocket is an edible annual plant commonly known as rucola.  It has a combination of nutty crunchy flavour and bitterness.  It is low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol.  It is also a good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and a number of other vitamins.  It also contains a massive amount of water as 90% of the leaf is composed of water, making it a hydrating leafy green. It is easy to grow as it needs little water, grows in dry disturbed soil and shoots up to form a mature plant in a short period.

S

Saffron – It takes about 75,000 crocus flowers to make one pound of saffron spice.  In order to cure hang-overs, Romans would sleep with expensive pillows that were stuffed with saffron.

Sage – Sage can develop white, purple, pink and lavender coloured flowers.  Fresh leaves or juices squeezed from leaves can be used to soothe insect bites.

Salmon – 5 to 6 million years ago salmon had fangs, weighed over 500lbs and were ten feet long.  You can determine the age of a salmon by counting the rings on one of their fish scales.  Fish can get sunburn.

Sausages – The British spend around half a billion pounds on sausages in a year, eating more than a quarter of a million tonnes.  The British Sausage Appreciation Society has more than 5,000 members in the UK.  Every day, 5 million Britons will eat sausages.

T

Tomatoes – Tomatoes aren’t always red. They can be yellow, pink, purple, black and even white.  There are around 10,000 varieties of tomatoes worldwide.  Their leaves are actually toxic.

Thyme – There are around 350 species of thyme native to Europe, Asia and Africa.  Thyme was used for the process of mummification in the ancient Egypt.  Bravest knights were wearing scarves embroidered with thyme as a symbol of courage during the medieval times.

Tuna – Americans eat about 1 billion pounds of canned and pouched tuna a year.  Tuna can reach speeds between 44 and 62 miles per hour.  During the spawning, one female tuna can release 30 million eggs.

Turkey – Wild turkeys can fly short flights at up to a speed of 55 miles per hour.  A turkeys gender can be determined from their droppings.  Turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

U

V

Veal – There are four categories of veal: “Bob” veal calves are new borns, up to three weeks of age; “Milk fed” veal calves are often anaemic. The calves are fed a low iron diet often to produce the most desired white meat. They are often killed between the ages of 18 – 20 weeks; “Red” veal calves are fed milk replacer plus grain and hay. They have a healthier diet and are able to freely move; and “Free raised” veal calves stay with their mothers in the pasture. They get their mother’s milk and grass. They are healthy because they get colostrum from the dams over a longer period of time, which gives them a stronger immune system. They get the food they need for optimum health. They are killed at 24 weeks.

W

Walnuts  – Walnuts date back to 10,000 BC.  ¾ of the world trade of walnuts now come from California.  Walnuts may help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well.

Wasabi – Wasabi can help drop inflammation in your body.  Wasabi can supress platelet accumulation, which can prevent blood clotting which may cause stroke and heart attack.  Wasabi is well known for having the isothiocyanates. This set of chemical can help your liver to activate enzymes that can help your liver to activate enzymes capable of neutralizing toxic substances that induce cells mutation which sometimes lead to cancer development.

Watercress – Officially the most nutritious vegetable due to its nutrient content.  Rich in Vitamin C and Lutein.

Wine – Women get drunk faster from wine due to their water to fat ratio.  There are people in the world who hate wine, this is called “oenophobia”  Wine was discovered about 6,000 years ago in the Middle East.

X

X-mas cake – The English Christmas cake was a tradition that began as plum porridge.  Coins used to be added to the cakes as good luck touch pieces.

Y

Yeast – There are more than 500 species of yeast.  Yeast can transform sugar into alcohol and CO2.  It is a rich source of vitamin B.

Yoghurt – People have been making and eating yoghurt for at least 5,500 years.  It is rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 and contains high levels of lactic acid, which promotes healthy skin.

Z

Zucchini – The flower of the zucchini plant is also edible.  According to the Worlds Healthiest Foods Nutrition info, the nutrient and mineral in a zucchini can help prevent cancer and heart disease.  There is a three day annual zucchini fest in Obetz , Ohio.