#GoodFoodSeries – Tomatoes

“Tomatoes,” watercolor.

Tomati. Tomatl. Tumatle. Tomatas. ToMAYto. ToMAHto. In prehistoric times, the Indigenous peoples of the Andes (Peru, Bolivia area) were the first to discover this fruit and therefore name it. The present-day names for it in English and Spanish remain similar to the original.

Interestingly enough, people didn’t start consuming it until the 1800s because it was originally thought to be poisonous. Evidently, the aroma from the leaves and stems of tomatoes caused people to believe they were not suitable for consumption [1].

Now, people across the globe enjoy over 15,000 varieties of tomatoes. Tomatoes have are now used in countless ways. Sliced and consumed raw on burgers and sandwiches; diced and consumed in salads; diced and/or blended for salsas and pico de gallo; blanched and converted into purees, sauces, and pastes; etc. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Tomato Nutrition Label. Created by Keanna.

Tomatoes are a good source of Potassium and Vitamin C, however as with many things be wary of the amount you consume at one time. The acidity levels can cause heartburn or acid reflux as it counteracts with the acidity levels in the stomach.

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Pearl Jones. Epicurious.

Chef Kwame Onwuachi of Washington, D.C. shares a savory recipe for Market Suya (Nigerian Skewers) that uses a tomato soubise. Check it out here.

[1] “The Tomato Had to Go Abroad to Make Good,” Texas A&M Horticulture

#GoodFoodSeries – Onion

“Onion,” watercolor.

“Banish (the onion) from the kitchen and the pleasure flies with it. Its presence lends color and enchantment to the most modest dish; its absence reduces the rarest delicacy to hopeless insipidity, and the dinner to despair.” – Elizabeth Robbins Pennell, columnist

The onion is a staple in many dishes of many cultures and offers tremendous flavor to whatever it comes into contact with. From sweet onions to white, red, yellow, green, leek and shallot ones, the flavor possibilities are virtually endless.

Onion Nutrition Label. Created by Keanna.

There is conflicting research regarding where this tear-inducing vegetable originated. Some say central Asia, others say the Middle East (Iran/western Pakistan). Regardless, onions have been used medicinally and even for mummification practices over 5000 years ago. Onions were found in the body cavities of mummies and seen as a representation of eternal life due to the seemingly infinite nesting of circles in its anatomy [1].

Onions, also referred to as “Nature’s Ninja,” contains many nutrients essential to building immunity, warding off diseases and cancers. It is also a source of prebiotics–essential for a healthy gut.

Today’s meal is courtesy of award-winning Chef Jernard Wells, also known as the The Chef of Love,  who will show you how to prepare Shallow Fried Catfish with Vidalia Onions and Hot Water Cornbread. He hosts New Soul Kitchen on CleoTV. Check out a clip from the show on how to prepare the meal below:

 

[1] “Onion History,” National Onion Association.

#GoodFoodSeries – Watermelon

“Watermelon,” watercolor.

“I’ve been drankin… watermelon!” When you’re in the grocery store and can’t keep your eyes off that phatty… >. Nothing like a perfectly sweet watermelon. It’s a refreshing summer delight that will satiate both hunger and thirst simultaneously! The watermelon originated in Africa and has made its way to farms and gardens all across the globe in the form of over 1,200 varieties [1].

Watermelon Nutrition Label. Created by Keanna.

Did you know watermelon can technically be considered a fruit and a vegetable? When consumed as a fruit, its flesh is often “cubed, balled, sliced and enjoyed fresh.” When consumed as a vegetable, the rind can be “stir-fried, stewed and often pickled [1].” What an elite food!

Even with all of that in mind, there are minimal carbs, vitamins and minerals in watermelon. It is comprised of over 90% water though, so eat your water! 🙂

Rather than share a recipe here, I wanted to highlight social work done through culinary experience at Indigo in Houston, TX. Chef and owner Jonathan Rhodes created a multi-course meal entitled “Descendants of Igbo.” Per an article on the experience as featured in the Houston Chronicle, watermelon was on the menu. “…a bracing watermelon soup course called Affirmation of a Stereotype… serves as an indictment against the notion that all [B]lack people like watermelon [2].” All Black people definitely don’t.

Historically, racist images of Black people in America with a watermelon slice in-hand perpetuated that stereotype. A comedian even joked about not eating watermelon in front of white people because of the weight of that stereotype. An article in the Atlantic explains this in great detail. Here’s a excerpt:

Free [B]lack people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by [B]lacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of [B]lack people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence. This racist trope then exploded in American popular culture, becoming so pervasive that its historical origin became obscure.” [3]

Remember the symbol. Remember the origins. I’d like to challenge you to find a new way to use watermelon if you like it. I hope you enjoy!

[1] Watermelon Facts,” The National Watermelon Promotion Board.

[2] “Restaurant Indigo serves up neo-soul food with a side of history,” Morago, G. Houston Chronicle. 2019.

[3] “How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope,” Black, W. The Atlantic. 2014.

#GoodFoodSeries – Bell Pepper

“Bell Pepper,” watercolor.

The bell pepper originated in the Americas (specifically in what is currently known as Mexico, Central America, and South America). Colonialist and terrorist to Indigenous people Christopher Columbus–along with his counterparts–named them ‘bell peppers’ while searching for peppercorn plants to produce black pepper (strong side eye)[1].

Bell Pepper (Green) Nutrition Label. Created by Keanna.

The bell pepper appears in 4 colors: green, yellow, orange, and red. Apparently the yellow, orange, and red varieties are merely ripe versions of the green one. Hereby certifying the green one as the OBP (original bell pepper).  You down with OBP? Yeah, you know me! -wink-

Peep the numbers in the Nutrition Facts Label to the left! That’s for our OBP, which is jam packed with Vitamin C and K. Vitamin K supports good blood and bones and when coupled with all of that Vitamin C (immune system support) your insides will rejoice. And oddly enough, even with the OBP serving up those good vitamins, the red pepper is the one that has double the amount of Vitamin C.

 

“Shrimp and Lobster Pasta,” BSM.

Today’s recipe is from Chef Tobias Dorzon of Washington, D.C., a former NFL and CFL player turned chef who is the Executive Chef of Victory Restaurant and Lounge (one in Miami and one coming very soon in Maryland). Grab an OBP (and a red bell pepper too) to prepare a Shrimp and Lobster Pasta. Check out the recipe here.

[1] “Bell Pepper Fact Sheet,” Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

#GoodFoodSeries – Mango

 

“Mango,” watercolor.

Mango Nutrition Label. Created by Keanna.

The mango: sweet; nutritious; versatile. What’s not to love? As a native of southern Asia, it thrives in tropical climates and is enjoyed by humans, birds, insects, rodents, and primates alike. There are hundreds of varieties that have skin color differences and subtle taste differences. The painting above features the Haden variety. Its cousin, the Alphonso, is considered the “king of mangoes” with a yellow-orange skin color.

Regardless of the variety, mangoes are a great source of Vitamin C and Copper! Great for supporting your immune system and blood heath.

Saint Lucian Chef Nina Compton helms Compère Lapin, a restaurant in New Orleans (although I didn’t eat here when I visited New Orleans last year, I walked past and it was pretty packed). Chef Compton has a recipe where you can enjoy mangoes as a fancy treat! Passion Fruit Granita with Chocolate Dipped-Mango. Check out the recipe below.

via the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s Pinterest Board.

#GoodFoodSeries – Cucumber

“Cucumber,” watercolor.

The cucumber is a fruit that originates from ancient India with properties that make it great for usage on you body as well as in it. There are over 30 variations to the varieties of cucumbers that exist today. Three are considered the main varieties: slicing, pickling, and burpless (burpless cucumbers contain low or no cucurbitacin, the compound that causes bitterness and increases one’s susceptibility to ‘burping’ after eating the fruits [1]).

Cucumber Nutrition Label. Created by Keanna.

Check out some amazing facts below from PA Eats [2]:

  1. The term “cool as a cucumber” is actually derived from the cucumber’s ability to cool the temperature of the blood. Also, when applied topically, cucumber really does cool the blood and ease facial swelling, which is why cucumbers are so popular in facial regimens.

  2. Out on a date and realize that you forgot gum or breath mints? Relax! Ask your waiter for some sliced cucumber with your meal. Take a slice and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath. The phytochemicals will kill the bacteria that are responsible for causing bad breath.

  3. Cucumbers contain Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, folic acid, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Who needs a multivitamin?

  4. Stressed? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water. The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma. How’s that for a quick and easy stress-reliever?

  5. Do you have a problem with your bathroom mirror fogging up after your morning shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror. It will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

  6. Do you have a hard time drinking your eight glasses of water per day? Try munching on some cucumbers. They are made up of 95% water! Snacking on cucumbers can also help curb hunger.

  7. Using a pen and made a mistake? Move over, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser! Take the outside waxy coating of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing.

  8. Want to brighten up your bathroom without harsh chemicals and still have all of your surfaces streak free? Look no further: Take a slice of cucumber and wipe it on any surface that needs a little TLC — your faucets, sinks, stainless steel, etc. — and it will remove tarnish and built-up residue and leave it looking beautifully clean and shiny.

  9. Had a few too many? We’ve been there. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in balance. Eat a couple slices before bed and wake up headache-free!

  10. Need a burst of energy in the afternoon but no time for a nap? Stay away from sugar-loaded energy drinks! Cucumbers are a great source of B vitamins and carbohydrates that can provide that afternoon pick-me-up that can be just the jolt that you need.

Keto Chipotle Chicken Salad. D. Williams

Chef Darius Williams pairs English cucumbers with a Keto Chipotle Chicken salad. Check out the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

[1] Burpless Cucumbers,” W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

[2] 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cucumbers,” K. Hullen

#GoodFoodSeries – Strawberry

“Strawberry,” watercolor and acrylic.

Ahh, the strawberry. Did you know that it’s a member of the Rose family? It’s as sweet as it smells and a versatile “fruit” (technically not a fruit but instead an enlarged receptacle of the flower from which it grows [1]) that is native to North America and used in many dishes.

There are 3 main varieties of strawberries: June-bearing, everbearing, and day neutral. These classifications give farmers and gardeners alike insight on when to expect the fruit to flourish. Rumor has it June-bearing strawberries have the best flavor.

Strawberry Nutrition Label. Created by Keanna.

The strawberry is loaded with Vitamin C & K and can support bone and cardiovascular health, regulate blood pressure, and reduce inflammation [2]. All the more reasons to enjoy it.

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

“Strawberry Lemonade Cake,” J. D. Adams.

And if you’re interested in indulging in the strawberry as a dessert, check out the recipe for a Strawberry Lemonade Cake from award-winning Baker Jocelyn Delk Adams of Grandbaby Cakes. It sounds absolutely delicious and I am going to test this one out.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] “Strawberry: A Brief History” Integrated Pest Management: University of Missouri

[2] “Promising Health Benefits of the Strawberry: A Focus on Clinical Studies” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

#GoodFoodSeries – Arugula

“Arugula,” watercolor and acrylic.

Happy National Culinary Arts Month! As someone who appreciates good food and the way it’s artfully prepared, I would like to present to you the #GoodFoodSeries. Every day this month will feature a painting I’ve done of a food item, its nutritional benefits, and a way to prepare it artfully. When possible, Black chefs and their restaurants will be highlighted as it relates to the food item of the day.

Arugula Nutrition Fact Label. Created by Keanna.

First up: Arugula! It is a peppery flavored leafy green (one of my favorites). Because arugula is loaded with antioxidants that ward off contaminants which could affect your libido and reproductive health, it is  historically considered an aphrodisiac. Arugula originates from the Mediterranean and is now commonly found on plates and in gardens and farms across the globe.

Haitian chef Sylva Senat is the executive chef of the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia, PA. Check out a recipe for a salad, Arugula, Spinach & Frisée, that includes baby arugula (and edible orchids!) here.