Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tomatoes, Raspberries and Sunshine

I began my morning with a fresh tomato sandwich and beautiful just picked Utah raspberries. I honestly never knew how much I loved raspberries until I moved to Utah last year.  Oh My Gosh! There is nothing quite like these delicate, delectable little jewels.  I love the fact that they are chock full of so many good things!
Here is a sampling of those facts:
  • Delicious raspberries are low in calories and saturated fats but are rich source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. 100 g berries contain just 52 calories but provide 6.5 g of fiber (16% of daily recommended intake).
  • Raspberries have significantly high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid (tannin), quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid.Scientific studies show that these antioxidant compounds in these berries have potential health benefits against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neuro-degenerative diseases.
  • Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar substitute extracted from raspberries. A teaspoonful of xylitol contains just 9.6 calories as compared to that of sugar, which has 15 calories. Xylitol absorbs more slowly in the intestines than sugar and does not contribute to high glycemic index, and thus, can be helpful in diabetics.
  • Fresh raspberries are an excellent source of vitamin-C, which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. 100 g berries provide 26.2 mg or about 47% of DRI of vitamin C. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation, and scavenge harmful free radicals.
  • Raspberry contains anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin A, and vitamin E. In addition to the above-mentioned antioxidants, is also rich in several other health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such aslutein, zea-xanthin, and β-carotene in small amounts. Altogether, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
  • Raspberry has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 4900 per 100 grams, crediting it among the top-ranked ORAC fruits.
  • Raspberries contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.
  • They are rich in B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin K. The berries contain very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. These vitamins are function as co-factors and help body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

    I KNOW. WOW! Raspberries are amazing, and they taste good too!  Burn those calories little babies...I love it!

    My tomato sandwich wasn't lacking in antioxidants and vitamins either, but the funny thing about the sandwich was all the memories that came back with it.  The other day a dear old friend of mine, noted on FB that he had just made his FIRST freshly picked garden tomato sandwich of the year and remarked how delicious it was.  Boy, do I remember those days.  Picking the tomatoes off the vine and eating them while they are still warm from the sun...aaaaahhh. Nothing quite like it.

    Another Summer memory though was the year my father decided to plant cherry tomatoes for the first time.  We always had a really nice, large garden with rows about 25 feet long.  There were always tomatoes, corn, green beans and squash.  But the cherry tomatoes were a new introduction.  So, not having planted them before, my father planted a 25 foot long row of those little things too.  Well, if you have had ANY experience with cherry tomatoes at all, you know just how prolific those plants can be, and these were no exception!  I'm not kidding you when I say that my sister and I picked huge WASHTUBS of those things every couple of days.  My mother made ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce and everything you can possible do with a cherry tomato!  Needless to say, the next year there were a lot less cherry tomato plants!

    Summer always brings back a lot of memories.  Garden memories, memories of water skiing with friends on the Potomac River, family Fourth of July picnics and fireworks.  So today, while I was in this nostalgic mood, I decided to walk to the Ogden Botanical Gardens, which is right behind my home now.  Utah has been an amazing place, and though people here say it is a desert environment, there is an amazing amount of flora and fauna here.  So I though I would share a few of the lovely pictures with you!

    The Botanical Gardens here is operated by the University of Utah, and it is amazing the variety of plants and trees contained there.  Today there were dozens of volunteers working in the garden.  Volunteerism here is really astounding!  The Gardens are located right beside a lovely stretch of the Ogden River Walk, a nine mile paved biking/hiking trail which winds from downtown Ogden up into the mountains.  Today as I stood on one of the concrete overpasses, I looked down on a large brown trout lazily swimming upstream... If you look closely, you can see him center left...just cruising along over the grassy bottom! Where is my fly rod?

    The gardens here are amazing and set against the backdrop of the Wasatch Mountain range.  The garden has a patch of "food" items like apple trees espalier installed on one side, raspberries, squash, tomatoes...well you get the picture.

    There is a lovely huge rose garden with so many lovely colors and fragrances to tease your senses.

    It certainly makes for a lovely walk and a lovely way to start a day.

    Do you remember gardening when you were a child?

    Once I remember receiving (I can't remember from where) a packet of Nashturshium Flowers.  I cleared a place at a rocky end of the yard and planted those tiny seeds...I couldn't have been ten years old!  I was so tickled when they came up and produced bright orangey yellow flowers all summer.  I loved just going and checking on them every day to see how many more were blooming.

    Gardening is such a body and mind healthy thing to do.  When I managed a small retirement community for a while in Georgia, one of the residents (Mr. Jay Bickley, has since gone home to the Lord) joined me in creating a Community Garden.  It was so exciting to watch the people come out and plant their favorite garden vegetables.  Jay and I planted the cornfield, which supplied enough corn that summer for the entire community to enjoy!
    We always had an abundance and it was a great social activity for everyone as well.  That Fall Jay and I planted Beets and Turnips!  I had no idea there were so many varieties of turnips until I went to buy the seeds! Yikes!  We planted the ENTIRE garden area with them and the residents had greens and root veggies all winter!  What fun!

    I hope you have a garden, but I you don't the next best thing is going to a local Farmer's Market and enjoying the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season.  Try something new for a change...something you have to ask someone what it is! You might discover your new favorite fruit or vegetable, and I guarantee you will find some you haven't seen before.

    Well, I hope I've gotten you in a "Summer Mood".  Have a wonderful FOURTH!



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