I switched to plant-based living in 2019 after many decades of meals planned around meat. I immediately felt positive effects and found it surprisingly easy, even fun, to change my habits and explore new ways of enjoying food. I started Fruit and Stuff as a place to collect, sort, and interpret the overwhelming and conflicting things that I was learning. If you are looking for healthier food choices, I hope you will find it helpful too.
The tabs at the top of every page help locate specific information. The Glossary links to facts about plant-based foods, the Recipe tab will direct you to the recipe index, and the Resources consist of news and opinions about plant-based living.
Quinoa (/ˈkiːnwɑː/ from Quechua kinwa or kinuwa) Chenopodium quinoa is a pseudocereal, a flowering plant related to spinach and amaranth. The gluten-free seeds are rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins, and minerals in amounts greater than in many grains. It originated in the Andean region of northwestern South America and was first eaten by human beings in the regions known today as Peru and Bolivia around three thousand years ago. The United Nations declared 2013 The International Year of Quinoa because of its nutrient value and potential to contribute to food security worldwide. Quinoa can be sprinkled on salads, added to soups and stir fries, eaten alone or combined with oatmeal and other grains as a cereal.
The Brussels Sprout is a member of the Gemmifera Group of cabbages (Brassica oleracea), grown for its edible buds. The leaf vegetables are typically half and inch to one-and-a-half inches in diameter and look like miniature cabbages. They have long been popular in Brussels, Belgium, and may have gained their name there. Brussels sprouts are low in calories but high in many nutrients, especially fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C. They contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that may reduce cancer growth, decrease inflammation and promote heart health. Because of their high fiber content, they promote regularity, support digestive health and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. They are very high in Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and bone metabolism. The fiber and antioxidants in Brussels sprouts may help keep your blood sugar levels stable. They are a good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation, insulin resistance, cognitive decline and blood triglycerides. Brussels sprouts can be roasted, boiled, sautéed or baked. They are a good addition to pasta or stir-fries.
Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is a South American tree in the familyLecythidaceae. Brazil nuts are rich in healthy fats, selenium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, thiamine, and vitamin E. Among the claims for Brazil nuts are that they may support thyroid, heart, and brain function, and reduce inflammation.
WARNING: Individual intake should be limited to one to three a day because excessive amounts of selenium have been linked to increased risk of diabetes and prostate cancer.
The black-eyed pea (Vigna unguiculata), also called black-eyed bean, cowpea or southern pea, is an annual plant from the pea family (Fabaceae) and is grown for its edible legumes. Black-eyed peas get their name from their appearance. They’re cream-colored with a little black spec that resembles an eye. Although their name would make you think they’re a type of pea, black-eyed peas are actually beans. Black-eyed peas are rich in fiber, iron, folate, potassium and Vitamin A. Black-eyed peas have high levels of dietary fiber, which helps to promote regular bowel movements and improve digestive health. They are high in iron and in folate, a B vitamin needed to make normal red blood cells. Low levels of folate can cause anemia. Black-eyed peas are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps keep your blood pressure levels at healthy numbers and lowers your risk of heart disease. They are surprisingly high in vitamin A, with more than one-fourth of your daily vitamin A needs in one cup. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin and mucus membranes, and it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye. They are a great addition to stews, soups, curries and salads. They can also be a perfect side dish, or they can be mashed into a dip.
The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), also known as jack tree, is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family. Its origin is in the region between the WesternGhats of southern India and the rainforests of Malaysia. Jackfruit is a common ingredient in South and SoutheastAsian cuisines. It is available internationally canned or frozen and in chilled meals as are various products derived from the fruit such as noodles and chips. Claims for jackfruit are that it may help regulate blood sugar, protect against disease with antioxidants, prevent skin problems, and promote heart health.
“We’ve got sunlight on the sand We’ve got moonlight on the sea We’ve got mangoes and bananas we can pick right off a tree” (Rogers and Hammerstein, “There is Nothing Like a Dame” from the musical South Pacific.
It’s always nice to sit down to a complete meal, but the truth is that most of us often need something quick and easy. Fortunately, plants provide a wealth of foods that require little or no preparation and are really at their best and most nutritious when eaten fresh from the tree, bush, or vine. Just wash and enjoy. Some, you can eat with the peeling. Some, like bananas and oranges, come in an easy-to-remove biodegradable wrapper. If you have just a bit of time, you can combine them in salads or fabulous dessert plates.
It’s a good idea to clean the surfaces carefully to eliminate bacteria that they might have picked up in the process of bringing it from the farm or orchard to your pantry. Here’s a quick guide to getting these natural fast foods ready to eat.
How to clean them
1. If you will eat the peeling, it’s a good idea to scrub it with a vegetable brush.
2. If you’re going to peel it, a good rinse, clean hands, and maybe a clean knife are all you need.
3. For porous foods like lettuce or strawberries, soak briefly (3 minutes or less) in a solution of water and vinegar (plain old cheap vinegar will do the trick)–about 1 part of vinegar to 3 parts of water.
Guava is a tropical fruit cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions. Psidium guajava is a small tree in the myrtle family, native to Mexico, Central America. Guavas are typical Myrtoideae, with tough dark leaves and white flowers with five petals and numerous stamens. The fruits are many-seeded berries. I was a newlywed and had just moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, when I tasted my first guayaba. I was hooked. When ripe, the guayaba, or guava, is very sweet and delicious, peeling, seeds and all. Just wash and eat it like an apple. They are also made into a popular candy called ate. (pronounced ah-tay). Guayabate is one of my favorite sweets. Among the claims for guavas are that they improve heart health; help lower blood sugar levels; relieve painful symptoms of menstruation; benefit the digestive system; are good for your skin; may aid weight loss; may have an anticancer effect; help boost immunity.