Now is the time to enjoy the beautiful sweet flavour of nectarines!

Nectarines are closely related to the peach but while they have the juicy peach-coloured flesh they do not have the furry skin of peaches. Their skin is a smooth red colour with a yellow to pale yellow background. The flesh can vary from almost white, yellow to almost red. In the middle they have a pointed egg-shaped seed which can either be easily removed (freestone variety) or be a little more difficult to remove (clingstone variety). Some people are of the opinion that the nectarine is more flavoursome than the peach.

Lets take a look at some of the benefits of eating certified organic nectarines -

  • Nectarines are low in calories and are naturally fat free - any fruit that has less than 0.5 grams of fat is considered to be "naturally fat free".
  • Nectarines are also naturally cholesterol free - any fruit that has then than 2 milligrams of cholesterol are considred to be "naturally cholesterol free".
  • Nectarines are a great source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to maintain a healthy immune system.
  • Nectarines are also a great source of antioxidants which can help protect the skin from damaging UV rays by counteracting free radical activity.
  • They are a good source of Vitamin A, beta carotene and potassium.
How to Select and Store Nectarines
  • Select fruit that is fragrant, brightly coloured with smooth, glossy skin and gives slightly when touched. Nectarines have yellow skin with a red blush. This red blush relates to the variety and is not indicative of it's ripeness. Do not select fruit that has bruises, blemishes or that is hard or green.
  • Unripe nectarines should be stored in a paper bag in a cool place for up to two days. Ripe nectarines are best stored in the refrigerator crisper/drawer away from vegetables - store for between 3-5 days.
  • Nectarines can be eaten raw, cooked, dried, candied or jellied. They are delicious with icecream or yoghurt as well as in cakes or pies.
  • An interesting fact about Nectarines is that they found there way to the western world from China and, even more interesting, they are symbolic of long life!
A Simple but Delicious:

Nectarine Dessert

Nectarines - white or yellow fleshed, whichever you prefer
brown sugar
cinnamon

Cut nectarines in half, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and grill until they are warm and the sugar has caramalised. Serve with icecream.

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Benefits of Certified Organic Beetroot

Posted on September 26, 2006 by Sarmaad

Did you know that beetroot tastes wonderful and is extremely good for your health?

Well, beetroot contains no fat, not many calories and is a great source of fibre, antioxidants and group B vitamins. Below are some facts that you may not know about beetroot:

  • Beetroot also contains a significant amount of vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and iron.
  • The leafy green part of beetroot is an excellent source of folate, iron, calcium, beta carotene, iron and potassium, all of which are great for women who are planning a pregnancy.
  • Beetroot contains more sugar than sweet corn, making it one of the sweetest vegetables around.
  • As beetroot contains a lot of sugar, it does have a higher GI (Glycaemic Index) than many other vegetables, falling into the medium category (Range 56 to 69).
  • Beetroot is a good source of anthocyanadins, a natural antioxidant that contributes to violet red colour.
  • The minerals and photochemicals in beetroot help to resist infection, boost cellular intake of oxygen and treat blood, liver and immune system disorders.
  • Beetroot stimulates the immune system by improving cell respiration and tissue oxygenation, by encouraging the production of new blood cells. This keeps the heart, muscles and nerves in good condition.
  • Beetroot juice alleviates anaemia, constipation, disorders of the bladder and kidneys.
  • Beetroot also has spleen and gall bladder cleansing properties.
  • Beetroot improves the functions of the liver by stimulating the regeneration of liver tissue and by stimulating the metabolism of dietary fats within the liver.
  • Beetroot is used in the treatment of cancer, skin problems, chronic infections, inflammatory bowel disease and both in the treatment and prevention of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Beetroot contains a high amount nitrogeneous compound betaine. In the diet, betaine rich foods are pharmacologically active and promote the synthesis of the mood enhancing chemical serotonin, which relaxes the mind. Betaine also helps in the cleansing of the stomach and the intestine.
  • Be careful to avoid excess beetroot consumption as this may cause you to feel nauseous or have instant diarrhea.
The nutritional benefits of beetroot are extensive, and include; dietary fibre, important for digestive health, cancer-fighting antioxidants, a powerful nutritional tonic and blood builder rich in vitamins and minerals, and folate, which helps make red blood cells, and iron which is crucial for providing energy and oxygen to all the cells in the body.

Now that we know a little bit more about beetroot lets take a look at the best ways to store them, what to look out for when choosing beetroot and how they can be prepared:
  • By removing the leafy tops from a beetroot (leaving approx. 5cm of stem) and storing them in an unsealed plastic bag, their storage life can be extended to weeks or even several months in the refrigerator.
  • The leaves should be crisp, fresh looking and not too long or thick (a bit limp is ok as the leaf deteriorate quickly) and should be used within a day or two.
  • When buying beetroot they should be firm with a smooth, undamaged surface, deep purple in colour, with firm stems.
  • To preserve the beetroots colour and nutrients, gently wash to remove soil particles. Heavy scrubbing may damage the skin and cause bleeding. Do not remove the skin or root until ready to prepare.
  • When cooking beetroot make sure that you leave some stalk in tack, this will help stop the beetroot from losing its colour and hold in the nutrients.
  • Beetroot can be peeled, steamed, cooked, pickled, shredded raw, boiled or roasted. Eaten hot or cold. It can be prepared whole, cubed or grated. It can be eaten in soups, main courses and desserts.
  • Beetroot leaves can be steamed, boiled, put in stir fries and cooked.
Beetroot is a very versatile vegetable and overall it is fantastic for your health. Below is a very healthy recipe for a BEETROOT HUMMUS

Beetroot Hummus

4 medium beetroot
1 ½ cups cooked chick peas
3 tablesoons tahini
½ cups olive oil
¼ cup water
½ teas ground cumin
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 teas lemon juice

Boil beetroot in a large saucepan over a gentle heat until tender aprox. 25 to 30 mins. Allow to cool. Peel. Place in a food processor or blender with the rest of the ingredients and process or blend until smooth. Serve on dried biscuits or with sticks of celery, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower etc.

This recipe is taken from the ALLERGY CONNECTION COOKBOOK, compiled by Sue Litchfield. Copies of this book are available to purchase from our website. theorganicgrocer.com.au

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