Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vegan Veggies: Choosing the Best

Vegan's and Vegetarians eat more vegetables over all and so I've been doing my research on how to get the best bang for  my buck. I think if I'm going with this vegetable lifestyle I need to be better versed in types of veggies and what I can do with them to make them tastier. The first step would be to pick the best of the crop.  (I'm still not locked into this lifestyle but I'm ready to give it a go. I just don't know if I'm going pure Vegan or Vegetarian. Anyone else make this decision? How did you decide?)  I'm not even sure if this is the optimum diet for a Celiac and because of this I'm thinking of keeping a food diary and documenting how I feel along with any changes.

Since there are so many veggies in the world, this is only round one in veggie research. 

Choosing fruits and vegetables at their freshest can be a challenge for even the best cook. The entire meal tastes better when the green beans are crisp, the asparagus firm and that apple pie is cooked to perfection. Here’s some quick pointers I found for bringing the best of nature’s bounty to our table.
 Sweet potatoes: The sweet potato should be firm with smooth skin. Chose the ones with as few eyes as possible. The outer jacket can range from tan to rosy-orange. Avoid bruised, split or ones with soft spots.
 Peas: Pea pods should be well filled, not bulging. They should be firm to the touch. Avoid soft, yellowed, spotted or dried pods.
 Carrots: Choose carrots with a deep, orange color for higher beta-carotene. They should be firm and not bend easily. The skin should be smooth and blemish free. I avoid baby carrots as they are treated with chemicals which can cause digestive upsets. Buy the regular ones and skin them yourself for a healthier snack.
Cucumbers: Pick the long, slender cucumber with dark to medium green coloring. Be sure the skin is smooth and without soft spots.Cucumbers turn yellow when over ripe.
 Ice Berg Lettuce: Head should be heavy and solid. Leaves should be green without any brown spots.
Romaine Lettuce: Tightly packed heads with bright green leaves are your best choice. Avoid brown or wilting leaves.
 Green Beans: The perfect bean is crisp and smooth without imperfections. Avoid beans with brown spots or dried out edges.
 Asparagus: The Asparagus stalk should be tender yet firm. The tips should be close and compact. For the more tender asparagus, pick the ones with very little white.
 Strawberries: A summer favorite, these berries should be plump and solid with bright red coloring. Strawberries without the green cap may be too ripe.
 Blueberries: Full of antioxidants, the blueberry is best chosen when it’s firm with a uniform blue hue. Shake the container. If they stick together they may be old. When they move freely they are probably fresher and free of moisture and mold. I always keep berries in the refrigerator drawer.
 Apples: No matter what kind of apple you choose it should be firm with rich coloring. Yellow or green apples with a slight blush are the best. Avoid apples that are bruised or dented. Apples stay fresher in the refrigerator but if your family eat them fairly quickly you can leave the on the counter.
 Bananas: Check to be sure the bananas are firm, but not too hard. Stems and tips should be intact. Avoid bananas with bruises or splits. Green bananas will need a day or two on the counter to ripen.On an experiment I put half my bunch in the refrigerator and left half on the counter. Although the skin of the bananas in the refrigerator turned dark, the fruit inside didn't seem to age much at all. It was still firm. Much firmer than the ones left on the counter that were getting softer with each day. Try this experiment yourself and maybe your bananas will last longer.
 Oranges: Uniform coloring is not as important as a smooth textured skin. The fruit should be firm and heavy. Smaller oranges and those that have thinner skin tend to be juicier than others.
 Cantaloupe: First tap the cantaloupe with your palm and listen for a hollow sound. The fruit should be heavy and the rind under the netting should be changed from green to yellow-cream. Take a sniff, the cantaloupe should have a pleasant, sweet aroma. 
 Well, that's it for today! Tomorrow I'm going to start researching easy recipes for a lazy Vegan cook.  
Happy gluten free eating!

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