Written by Melanie Maldonado - Dietetic Intern at University of Minnesota School Public Health
Wild Harvest Beans are your Dietitian's Choice, 2 - 15 oz cans for $3.00
You may have noticed that more and more new plant-based products are showing up on grocery store shelves and even fast food restaurants like Burger King’s Impossible Whopper. These popular products are usually made with a legume as their main ingredient. Impossible burger, for example, is made with soy proteins from soybeans. Of course, far before new-generation meat alternatives were on the market, people have been eating beans and lentils for a tasty source of protein.
The legume (also called pulse) plant family includes beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. There are over 16,000 types of legumes grown all over the world. Peanuts are actually classified as legumes! Don’t worry if you are allergic to peanuts; however, most people with a peanut allergy have no problem eating other legumes like black beans and chickpeas.
Beans are an excellent source of protein and minerals such as magnesium and zinc. They are also high in folic acid and fiber. Folic acid is important for cell growth and function, especially red blood cells.
Beans also have high iron content, as one half cup of white beans contains 22% of the daily value of iron. Iron is a mineral that aids in bringing oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The type of iron found in plant sources is harder to absorb than that found in animal sources. However, Vitamin C has been shown to enhance iron absorption. In one study, taking 100 mg of vitamin C with a meal increased iron absorption by 67%. In order to absorb as much iron as possible from beans, eat beans along with foods high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits and bell peppers. For example, next time you eat tacos with black beans, squeeze a little lime juice over them!
Legumes and specifically beans are often known for causing bloating and gas. This is because they contain high amounts of fiber and FODMAPs (short-chain carbohydrates that the small intestine absorbs poorly and may cause digestive distress in certain people). Many people experience bloating and gas if they are not used to eating a high-fiber diet, but the body usually adjusts to a high-fiber diet eventually. Soaking and draining the beans before cooking may also help with bloating and gas, as it removes excess sugar starch called raffinose. If the bloating and gas really bothers you, soak the beans for up to 12 hours and drain and rinse every three hours as desired. Kombu is a type of seaweed that contains enzymes that break down raffinose sugars in beans. When cooking beans, add a four inch strip to the beans and it may reduce bloating and gas as well.
Canned vs Dry
Beans are a great, healthy addition to your diet. If you want to save money and control the sodium and flavor of your beans, cook with dry beans. Of course, dried beans require more time to make, so many people like to used canned beans for the convenience.
How to cook dried beans
Beans are dried seeds and have evolved over time to have thick shells to protect them to the next growing season. Because of this, cooking beans requires a long time in hot water to allow the beans to absorb enough water to become tender. It is important to fully cook beans, as raw beans contain a toxin called phytohemagglutinin, which has a toxic effect when consumed in high levels. Red kidney beans have the highest levels of this toxin. Cooking destroys this toxin.
When cooking dried beans, it is best to choose beans that are not too old. Dried beans rarely “go bad”, but the older the beans are, the longer it will take to cook them. It is also important to rinse the beans before cooking to remove any dirt. This can easily be done in a strainer.
Soaking beans gives them a headstart at absorbing water and often decreases the cooking time. However, don’t worry if you forgot to soak your beans ahead of time. They will still cook just fine, they will just need more time on the stove. Lentils and split peas cook quickly and do not need to be soaked. Keep in mind that one cup of dried beans will make about three cups cooked. You do not need to drain the water you soak your beans in, but again many people find that draining the soaking water and replacing it with fresh water reduces the bloating the beans can cause.
To cook beans, make sure water is covering the beans by at least two inches. In order to fully cook, the beans need to be fully covered in water. Add salt and any seasonings you desire, like bay leaves, pepper, or even use broth to cook your beans. On the stove top, cook your beans on a low simmer - a strong boil can cause their skins to burst and make for mushy beans. This cooking method takes from 15 minutes (red lentils) or up to 4 hours (unsoaked chickpeas). Add water as needed. You can also use a slow-cooker or pressure-cooker. Just don’t cook red kidney beans in a slow cooker, as the temperature may not get high enough to destroy the harmful toxins in it. Another hint - if you cook your beans in an uncovered pot, they will end up more firm and intact - perfect for salads and pasta dishes. If you cook your beans with the lid on but slightly ajar, you will end up with soft, mushy beans - perfect for dips, hummus, refried beans, and certain soups. If you have cooked your beans for a few hours and they are still hard you may be dealing with very old or improperly stored beans, cooking with too hard of water, or acidic conditions.
Save the water you boil the dried beans in and use to flavor and thicken soups and stews. Beans freeze very well. Keep cooked beans in your freezer to pull out and use whenever you need them!
Good ways to use beans:
5-minute bean salad
Recipe adapted from Super Natural Simple
In a blender or food processor, pulse marjoram or oregano, parsley, garlic, salt, and oil. Toss with the beans and almonds or croutons. Top the salad with black pepper and parmesan.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Super Natural Simple by Heidi Swanson
*written by Melanie Reese, Dietetic Intern University of MN - School of Public Health
Even though dates are sold next to and look similar to dried fruits such as prunes and raisins, dates are actually fresh fruits! Originally from the Middle East, dates grow on date palm trees and grow in dry climates. These fruits have an extremely long shelf life due to being adapted to grow in the desert.
Dates are naturally very sweet yet contain no added sugar and have a low glycemic index. They are also a good source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Dates are also high in antioxidants, which may protect the body and reduce risk of several diseases.
The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes blood sugar levels to rise. Foods that have a high glycemic index cause blood sugar spikes which causes the body to produce more insulin. This can lead to drops in energy and mood. Over time, this cycle can lead to diabetes and other diseases. Examples of foods that have a high glycemic index are white sugar and sugary foods like pop.
Mackenthun’s is selling Joolies™ California Superfruit Medjool Dates for $6.49. These organic dates are sold whole and pit free. They are wonderful to snack on plain. Another simple way to enjoy dates is to remove the seed and stuff the date with a nut butter. Almond butter pairs especially well with the flavor of the dates.
The two types of dates commonly sold in the US are Medjool dates and Noor Deglet Dates. Medjool dates are sweeter, larger, and chewier than Noor Deglet Dates. Medjool dates are very sweet, so they are a great substitute for sugar when baking and cooking. There are many recipes online that use dates as a natural sweetener. You also may be able to replace date paste with white sugar in your favorite recipes. Choose soft dates and blend them with water in a blender to make a paste that blends easily into baked goods. Just make sure to remove the pit first! If your dates are hard you can soak them in warm water for a few hours first. This date paste can be used to replace sugar in a 1:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for a ½ cup sugar, use ½ cup date paste.
By Ricardo Cuisine
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered & Licensed Dietitian; Adapted from Cat Daoheuang
Your Dietitian's Choice this week is personal watermelon for $4.99 each from July 22nd thru July 28th.
Everyone knows watermelon – green and striped on the outside, pink and red on the inside. A summer staple, watermelon is a delicious and juicy snack to enjoy while they are still available this season. Did you know that watermelon originated from South Africa five millenniums ago? Watermelon has much evolved from how they were 5,000 years ago, but there is still debate whether it is a fruit or vegetable. Read more to learn about watermelon.
The Origin of Watermelon
The first watermelons can be traced back to the deserts of southern Africa, where it still grows wild today. Watermelons used to be tough, drought-tolerant, and used for its ability to store water for tribes crossing the Kalahari Desert.
The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred about 5,000 years ago in Egypt. Egyptian hieroglyphics have depictions of watermelon on the walls of ancient buildings. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. Watermelons were then brought to countries along the Mediterranean Sea by merchant ships. By the 10th century, watermelon made it to China, now the world’s top producer of watermelons.
Watermelons were spreading through the rest of Europe through the Moors by the 13th century. The Greeks and Romans considered watermelon to have medicinal properties and healing properties. Watermelon was also used as a diuretic and treatment for children who suffered a heatstroke. By the 17th century, watermelon was widely planted throughout Europe and had become a familiar garden crop in the warmer areas.
European colonists and the African slave trade are thought to have introduced watermelon to the Americas. It was found growing in Florida as early as 1576 and in Massachusetts by 1629. Thomas Jefferson grew watermelon at Monticello and the Native Americans from the Mississippi Valley south to Florida grew them as well.
Watermelon selection (saving the seeds of superior melons) began almost as soon as the crop was cultivated. However, during the 20th century, the USDA funded a watermelon breeding project at its Charleston, SC facility. One product of this research was a large, oblong light green melon that became known as "the grey melon from Charleston." Nearly 70 years later, Charleston Grey watermelons are still widely planted variety known for its high yields, disease resistance and table quality.
Did you know there is also yellow watermelon? Yellow watermelon was cultivated around 5,000 years ago in Africa before the well-known pink and red watermelon varieties. The yellow varieties usually taste a bit sweeter and have a more honey-like flavor in comparison to the pink ones. However, yellow watermelon lacks lycopene, the antioxidant that makes tomatoes red. Instead of lycopene, yellow watermelon has beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cancer.
The Fruit or Vegetable Debate
Watermelon, also known as Citrullus lanatus, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family. This plant family is composed of similar garden vegetables such as cucumber, squash, pumpkin and musk melon and are planted from seeds or seedlings. Members of this family are monecious, meaning they bear separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The edible part is known as a pepo, which is a ripened fruit with watery flesh and a hard rind. Since watermelon is grown using vegetable production systems, watermelon is considered a vegetable.
In places like China, the outer rind of the watermelon is used as a vegetable. They stir-fry, stew or pickle the rind. Pickled watermelon rind also is common Russia and in the southern United States.
Even though watermelon is considered a vegetable, it is popularly used as a fruit. As a sweet enhancer or fun accompaniment to everyday meals, it is commonly cubed, balled, sliced and enjoyed fresh. Botanically, like peppers, tomatoes, and pumpkins, watermelon is a fruit. Loosely considered a type of melon, watermelon has a smooth exterior rind and a juicy, sweet interior flesh. Whether you consider watermelon a vegetable or fruit, it is all up to perspective
Watermelon Panzanella Salad
- 4 cups stale or fresh rustic sourdough bread or peasant bread, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 lbs watermelon, sliced or cut into bite sized chunks
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, seeds removed, quartered and sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch basil, cut chiffonade
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Pinch of salt and black pepper
1. If using fresh bread: Preheat oven to 300˚F. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake for 15 minutes, until dried out and crunchy. Remove and set aside to cool. (If using stale bread, skip this step).
2. In a large mixing bowl, toss watermelon, tomatoes, onion, and cucumber together. Set aside to rest while making the vinaigrette.
3. Make the vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
4. Add the stale (or previously dried out) bread cubes and vinaigrette to the watermelon mixture. Toss until thoroughly combined.
5. Let the salad sit for about 20 to 30 minutes, to let dried bread infuse with the salad juices. Stir occasionally if desired to keep vinaigrette thoroughly mixed.
6. Add basil chiffonade just before serving.
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Add a splash of Bragg® Apple Cider Vinegar into your beverage; your Dietitian's Choice this week for $4.09 each on 16 oz.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar
Like all vinegars, apple cider vinegar (ACV) comes from a long fermentation process.
There are also some differences between apple cider vinegar and its white vinegar counterpart.
Digging into ACV Claims
Fact: Apple cider vinegar has been researched to show it may reduce cholesterol levels.
In a peer-reviewed meta-analysis, it was found from 8 studies that persons with diabetes who consumed 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a full serving of water and doing a 2000-calorie diet were able to see a reduction their total cholesterol by an average of 21 milligrams in 8 weeks; however, persons studied who do not have diabetes did not see any improvements in total cholesterol using the same interventions.
Myth: Apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss.
There are little scientific studies at this time that supports the claim that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss.
One particular study in 2009 examined 175 people who either drank water with no vinegar, one tablespoon of vinegar with water, or two tablespoons of vinegar with water. Those who drank vinegar with water regardless of the dose lost on average 2 to 4 pounds in 12-weeks. The problem with this study though, is no where did the researchers specify if vinegar used was apple cider vinegar; thus, it is hard to determine whether this study supports the claim that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss.
Another study in 2018 examined 39 people in which half did a calorie deficit diet and the remainder did both a calorie deficit diet with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water for 12 weeks. The study found those who had both interventions lost on average 2 pounds within 12-weeks while a calorie deficit diet alone only lost on average 1 pound.
mMyth: Apple cider vinegar supports blood sugar control
There are limited studies at this time that supports the claim that apple cider vinegar may help support blood sugar control for those with diabetes.
A study in 2009 investigated 5 participants at for 4 weeks. The subjects were given 60 mL of water and a meal of mashed potatoes; blood drawn for insulin response and blood sugar levels. At another time, the participants again had 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 40 mL of water followed by a meal of mashed potatoes; blood drawn for insulin response and blood sugar levels. The study concluded that apple cider vinegar did not slow down insulin response and blood sugar levels continue to be high.
The problem with this study is that it did not specify if the participants had diabetes and, that it was only 5 people being investigated.
Why Take ACV?
For individuals with heart health concerns, especially when it comes to cholesterol level, it is safe to say that 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a full serving of water daily may help reduce total cholesterol levels without any adverse concerns.
In addition, apple cider vinegar has been found to positively have impacts outside of health including acting as a natural hair conditioner, cleaning, and as a skin moisturizer.
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered and Licensed Dietitian
Love ciabatta? The easy part is done for you -
Take and bake with New French Bakery® Ciabatta, your Dietitian's Choice this week from July 8th to July 14th for $3.49 ea on 14 oz portions.
What is Ciabatta?
The word "ciabatta" is Italian for slipper due to its shape resembling like one when it is sliced. Thought to be a traditional bread from the old world, ciabatta was in fact invented in the 1980's by a small baker in Rovigo, Veneto, Italy, as an affinity towards the French baguette.
Ciabatta is simply made with water, a high-gluten yielding flour, and dry yeast. Unlike the French baguette, ciabatta it is made with a higher hydration volume which helps develop ciabatta its iconic holes in its interior. Ciabatta is also similar to that of sourdough (which uses active yeast) as ciabatta is a fermented bread; however, it is not fermented long enough to get that sour, lactic acid flavor that sourdough has.
Although ciabatta is not known for its nutritional benefits, you may have noticed how many times its been featured as a bread item on many menus at your favorite dining establishments.
With a crusty exterior and a soft interior, ciabatta is quite a popular choice as the bread for sandwiches. Given its high-gluten content and hydration volume to create its interior and strength, it is not as much prone to getting soggy from condiments and other sandwich stuffing compared to other breads.
Cubano Ciabatta Sandwich
By Liz Berg of That Skinny Chick Can Bake, February 1, 2018
Cuban Roast Pork:
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Lactose intolerant? Do not fret - Simply® Almond gives you an option to enjoy your "dairy" without the side effects from lactose. This is the Dietitian's Choice on 2 for $6.00 - 46 oz containers from July 1st thru July 7th.
What is Almondmilk?
According to the FDA Code of Federal Regulations 21, Section 133.3 states
There is a lot of debate weather to call non-dairy alternatives milk or milk products given the definition of milk by the FDA. Thus, many producers of non-dairy alternatives may refer to their products as simply plant-based alternative beverage, or, combine the word milk with the ingredient of what it is.
How is Almondmilk Made?
Unlike dairy milk beverages, almondmilk, along with other plant-based alternatives made from nuts, are made quite differently.
The process of almondmilk as shown above involves...
Though one may find many recipes for homemade almondmilk, it is still important to know homemade almondmilk is not as nutrient-dense as store-bought almondmilk or dairy milk itself.
The reason being is store-bought almondmilk and dairy milk is always fortified with nutrients like Vitamin D (and calcium for almondmilk) to ensure young children are getting what they need to develop and grow. In addition to, they often contain more calories from added sugars (in almondmilk) or fat (in dairy milk) to prevent risk for unplanned weight loss.
According to a study in 2018 published in Nutrients by Kim, Keogh, and Clifton, drinking 1 cup of almondmilk daily contains a rich source of oleic acid. It may help reduce cholesterol by 6% and triglycerides by 14%, improving heart health.
Store-bought almondmilk is lower in calories, especially if you purchase unsweetened. Although almonds are high in fat, it is important to remember most of those fats are healthy fats to reduce cholesterol levels. Store-bought almondmilk is also diluted with more water to make it equivalent to a a dairy milk beverage at skim or 1% fat category.
Unlike dairy milk, almond milk is a naturally high source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is important healthy skin, eyes, and red blood cells.
Written by: Melanie Reese, Dietetic Intern
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Ready to give your summer goals a little more boost? Your Dietitian's Choice is zucchini for $1.69 each from June 17th thru June 23rd.
What is Zucchini?
Zucchini, also known as courgette or baby marrow, is a summer squash whose a member of the Cucurbita family. The name, zucchini, comes from the Italian word, "zucca" which means pumpkin or squash.
Within the Cucurbita family, the zucchini is also related to cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, and the majority of the winter squash family.
Most laypersons would classify zucchini as a vegetable; however, it is actually a fruit of the plant as it develops from its flowers (see image below).
Zucchini is mildly sweet with fruity and vegetable notes. It is picked young from the plant when the seeds and flesh are soft and underdeveloped while the skin thin. Mature zucchini can be eaten when prepared properly as the skin is tough and thick, it is bitter in flavor, its seeds fully developed with its shell covering, and meaty flesh.
Zucchini can be spiralized, shredded, sliced, stuffed, grilled, sauteed, fried. The posibilities are endless!
Zucchini is often used a substitute for low-carbohydrate dietary patterns such as a noodle substitute for pasta dishes. One cup of cooked zucchini provides approximately 17 calories while one cup of cooked pasta provides approximately 200 calories! For someone who is looking to cut down on their weight or incorporate more nutrients, zucchini is perfect! The downside of zucchini using it as a substitute for things like pasta is their water content - it cooks down a lot. It is recommended to plan to prepare more zucchini for uses like this, or, do a quick blanche in boiling water to soften it up a little bit but hold its shape.
Zucchini contains three types of Vitamin A - lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. All of these nutrients are vital for eye health, especially for the reduction in risks of age-related visual disorders. In addition, these types of Vitamin A also acts as antioxidants inflammation and risks of certain cancers.
Zucchini contains two fibers - soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber acts as a food source for your gut bacteria to create short-chain fatty acids which are important for skin health and absorbing certain nutrients. In addition, short-chain fatty acids help reduce inflammation and risks or certain gut disorders. Insoluble fiber provides bulk and supports gut regularity.
Baked Parmesan Zucchini
By Chunga of Damn Delicious
- 4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
4. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.