Beetroot — Super Food

Beetroot, also known as beet, has been gaining in popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure, and increase blood flow.

Benefits

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Beetroot has been gaining in popularity as a new super food.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.

Many studies indicate that eating more plant foods, like beetroot, decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

Dementia: Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain, slowing the progression of dementia in older adults.

Studies on alpha-lipoic acid have also shown a decrease in symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy in people with diabetes.

Diabetes: Beets contain an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which may help lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Digestion and regularity: Because of its high fiber content, beetroot helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in beetroot that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.

BeetsBeets, boiled

Amount Per 1 beet (2″ dia) (82 g)100 grams1 cup (136 g)1 cup (136 g)
Calories 59
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.2 g0%
Saturated fat 0 g0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0%
Sodium 106 mg4%
Potassium 442 mg12%
Total Carbohydrate 13 g4%
Dietary fiber 3.8 g15%
Sugar 9 g
Protein 2.2 g4%
Vitamin A0%Vitamin C11%
Calcium2%Iron6%
Vitamin D0%Vitamin B-65%
Cobalamin0%Magnesium7%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

OKRA – Interesting Facts about the plant

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Okra is a member of the Mallow family, related to cotton, hibiscus and hollyhock. It is a tall (6 ft) annual tropical herb cultivated for its edible green seed pod (there is also a red pod variety, which turns green when cooked). It has heart shaped leaves (one species is cultivated for its edible leaves), and large, yellow, hibiscus-like flowers. The seed pods are 3 – 10 inches long, tapering, usually with ribs down its length. These tender, unripe seed pods are used as a vegetable, and have a unique texture and sweet flavor. The pods, when cut, exude a mucilaginous juice that is used to thicken stews (see Gumbo), and have a flavor somewhat like a cross between asparagus and eggplant.

Lady’s fingers. Just one of the many names given to okra pods in English-speaking countries (Great Britain first and foremost). In fact, the slender, delicately tapered pods recall the shape of a woman’s fingers.

Nutrition. Largely made up of water (90%), with a fair content of carbohydrates (7%) and proteins (2%), okra befriends the figure-conscious because it is low in calories (100 g add up to just 33 kcal) and fats, but at the same time it is rich in fibre, vitamins A, C and K; it is also an excellent source of folic acid, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Quality. When buying okra, choose medium-small pods because they are more tender and less stringy. Okra is generally green – make sure it is a nice bright even shade, with no blemishes or colour alterations – but on some markets it is also possible to find the red and burgundy coloured varieties. Top quality okra must be firm and springy when you handle it. Only the pods are sold on our markets but in the countries where it is grown and picked, the leaves are also consumed: they are excellent for eating raw in salads and may also be boiled or pan tossed, in the same way as spinach leaves.

Seeds. The dried seeds may be roasted and ground for use as a coffee substitute. In fact, when coffee imports were impeded by the American Civil War (1861), the Austin State Gazette reported that “one hectare of okra plants is able to produce sufficient seeds to replace those of fifty coffee plants, with a product that is identical to the coffee imported from Rio”.

Emeril Lagasse. Stewed and spiced, but also marinated in buttermilk before being fried and served with a Creole sauce, the famous bayou blast; or alternatively, okra is fried and served with shrimps or crabmeat, as in gumbo with shrimps, or with chicken and smoked sausage. These are just some of the recipes containing okra presented by Emeril Lagasse, a celebrity US chef who, in recent years, has become the number one authority on Creole and Cajun cuisine.

Gumbo. In this unchallenged icon of Louisiana’s Cajun cuisine, okra appears as one of the most widely used thickeners, on a par with filé powder (sassafras) or roux (flour and butter). It is the opinion of food archaeologists that this tasty recipe dates back to the XVIII century as a variation on a stew common among the Cochtaw Indians (from the territories of what is now Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana), who used to thicken it with “kombo”, today’s filé powder obtained from dried and ground sassafras leaves.

Vocabulary. Okra, gombo, lady’s fingers, bhindi, bāmiyā; but also krajiab kheaw (Thailand); okura or kiku kimo (Japan); gambô, quibombô or quiabo in Portuguese; oh k’u ra (Korea), grønsakhibisk (Norway); bomiyon in Uzbek… It would be a massive job to list all the names for okra used throughout the world: a full list can be found here.

Why we should eat local

Did you know that when you buy locally grown produce, you’re making a choice to do something that’s better for you and your family, but that also benefits your community and the environment? Well it’s true. Not only do you prevent the negative consequences that come from shipping, trucking and flying produce long distances, but you also boost the health and economic and cultural vitality of your community in ways you might not have thought about. Here are ten ways, both direct and indirect, that buying locally grown produce like Plenty’s benefits everyone.

Local means more genetic diversity. 
Modern large-scale farming favors plant varieties that produce high yields, can withstand packing, shipping and storage, and ripen uniformly for efficient harvesting. Over time, this has narrowed the options available to both consumers and farmers, which is why you see the same type of broccoli, the same three varieties of lettuce, and the same two varieties of nectarines (“white” and “yellow”) wherever you go. Local farmers do just the opposite; they seek out heirloom and other specialty varieties in a rainbow of hues and distinct flavors, extending their growing season with varying times to harvest.

Local is supporting your community.

Local leads to less waste.

Local is more nutritious.

Local contributes to cleaner air.

Local is safer.

The longer food is stored, the greater the risk it will rot or become contaminated. That’s why so many fruits and vegetables are treated with fungicides, disinfectants, gas, fumigants, coatings, and other chemicals. Buy local and you won’t have to worry about what’s been done to your food in the name of preservation.

Local brings people together.

Red Russian Kale

Kale

Its sweet flavor is particularly pronounced as a baby leaf, but that sweetness remains even at full maturity. Its long stems are reddish-purple with flat, toothed, dark green leaves, and is surprisingly tender.

RED RUSSIAN KALE WITH GARLIC AND LEMON 

PREP TIME 10 mins – COOK TIME 15 mins – TOTAL TIME 25 mins 

Serves: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large bunch of red Russian kale, washed, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup water
  • Juice of half a lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute or until it turns just golden.
  2. Add kale and stir until kale is fully coated with oil. Add salt, pepper and water. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until kale is soft and tender. Adjust seasonings and drizzle with lemon juice.
  3. Serve with your favorite meat.

You can order Red Russian Kale at the Arkansas Local Food Network from Arkansas Natural Produce.

Edible Flowers are the New Rage

After falling out of favor for many years, cooking and garnishing with flowers is back in vogue once again.  Flower cookery has been traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian cultures.  Edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era during Queen Victoria’s reign.

You can find edible flowers right here in Arkansas!!!

Arkansas Natural Produce: Malvern, AR

We have a year-round greenhouse facility that specializes in salad greens, with other vegetables in season. We use natural farming practices and have been in business since 1988. No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or preservatives are used in the growing or packaging of our products.


This is our blend of edible flowers. They will include nasturtiums (which actually taste good) and other flowers to garnish your salads, entrees and desserts for those special occasions when an extra splash of color would be perfect for your dinner party.


Arkansas Dessert: Peaches, Pecans, & Honey

0EDB4F20-5A1A-43B6-B345-AD055F0D38EFWhat’s better than Arkansas peaches, spiced Arkansas pecans, and Arkansas honey? Well…nothing really! Grab them from our online market before they’re gone, and try out this delicious recipe from Woman & Home:

Ingredients:
4 peaches, halves and stones removed
4 TBS butter
2 TBS honey
A handful of spiced pecans

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the peaches cut side up on a baking sheet, and place half a tablespoon of better in the center of each peach
  • Drizzle honey over peaches
  • Crush pecans and scatter over peaches
  • Roast for 10-15 minutes. Try serving with creme fraiche or ice cream!

Deciphering Labels: Certified Naturally Grown vs. Certified Organic

In today’s world, figuring out what a food label actually means is no easy task. Marketers are savvy to our desire to be as healthy and environmentally conscious as possible, and their packaging has a way to skirting around the truth in order to sell that message.

Shopping at a Farmers Markets can reduce the mental aerobics that happen at the supermarket. Growers from the farm are right there to answer your questions, and their labeling isn’t crowded with hyperbole and a grab-bag of health claims. Two common labels that you will see at a farmers market are the USDA’s “Certified Naturally Grown” and “Certified Organic”. What exactly do these labels mean?

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Let’s begin with what came first: Certified Organic. The National Organic Program is the federal agency that administers the USDA organic certification, and was created in 2000.  To become Certified Organic, a farmer cannot grow using anything from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (mandated by the Secretary of Agriculture). Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and when a synthetic substance is used for a specific purpose, it must be approved on criteria that examines its effect on human health and the environment. Getting a Certified Organic seal can take several years of advance preparation – standards state that organic crops must be grown on land that has been free from prohibited pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers for three years proceeding growth. After a farm has completed the requirements and a National Organic Program agent has made a site visit and filed a favorable report, maintaining the certification is an ongoing process that requires daily record keeping and data collection. The cost to becoming certified organic varies substantially by which certifying agent you choose (dependent on location), and can be as much as $1,500 per farm.

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For many small farmers, the cost and paperwork required to received a certified organic label is prohibitive and cost-ineffective. That’s why a group of farmers created the the Certified Naturally Grown certification organization, the “grassroots alternative to certified organic”. The CNG label is no less strict in it’s requirements than Certified organic – all produce must still be grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified organisms. Certified Naturally Grown farmers are required to submit to an annual inspection and pay an annual fee. In contrast with the NOP, where inspections are conducted by a USDA-accredited certifying agency and third-party inspectors, CNG farms may be inspected by other CNG farmers, non-CNG farmers, extension agents, master gardeners and customers, with CNG farmers being ideal.

So next time you’re shopping for produce online or at the farmers market and see a lack of “certified organic” growers, don’t be discouraged! Ask instead if a vendor is certified naturally grown. These practices still produce food that is safe and delicious to eat. Stay tuned for the launch of our new website – you will be able to sort vendors by their certification!