Bananas are grown in the corners of most countries, worldwide. The banana plant is not a tree, it is the world’s largest herb. While the trunk of the banana may seem like it is made out of wood, it is in fact made out of tightly overlapping leaves. They are fast growing herbaceous perennials arising from underground rhizomes.
Choose: an intact banana that is not too hard.
Avoid: a very green banana, a split or very soft banana, unless using it for cooking.
Storing: Bananas are fragile
At room temperature: to speed up their ripening, place in a paper bag or in newspaper.
In the fridge: very ripe, a few days. Their skin will blacken but not their flesh.
In the freezer: 2 months, puréed. Mix in a little lemon juice to prevent the bananas from discoloring and developing an unpleasant taste.
Excellent source: vitamin B6 and potassium.
Property: slightly laxative when overripe.
Beans are filled with nutrients and protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, potassium and are low in fats. They can lower cholesterol levels and they come in different forms and names: the white kidney bean, which is rather common and it is kidney-shaped with large blunt ends. The red kidney bean is the 2nd most cooked type of beans: featuring a mild texture and flavor and black beans, which are mostly used in salads or mixed with dishes.
Choose: firm, crisp fresh beans with a good green or golden yellow color, without bruises or brown spots.
Avoid: beans that are overripe or too old, as they will be hard and mealy.
In the fridge: place fresh unwashed beans 2-3 days in a loosely closed plastic bag.
In the freezer: 12 months. Blanch cut fresh beans 3 min and whole fresh beans 4 min.
Beetroot is a plant composed of a freshly root instilled with many benefits including the lowering of the blood pressure, boosting one’s stamina, fighting inflammation and is rich in the most fundamental nutrients. There are three main varieties of beets: the garden beet being the most common one here, and it is a fleshly beet with a thin, smooth skin and usually a bright red flesh with large colorful wavy leaves.
Choose: firm, smooth beets with no spots or bruises and a good deep red color, and avoid very large beets or ones with long roots, as they can be woody.
At room temperature: 2-4 weeks. Store leaves or roots with 5-8 cm of stem in a cool and humid environment.
In the fridge: fresh beets, 2-4 weeks. Unwashed leaves, 3-5 days, in a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag.
In the freezer: cook prior.
Excellent source: potassium and Vitamin A.
Good source: vitamin C, riboflavin, folic acid and magnesium.
Properties: Easily digested. Beets relieve headaches and are useful against flu and anemia.
Bell peppers have a unique pungent taste and crunchy texture, they posses an array of vivid colors: green, red, yellow, purple, brown to black. Green and purple peppers have a slightly bitter flavor, while the red, orange, and yellows are sweeter and almost fruity.
Choose: A firm, shiny, brightly colored bell pepper, smooth and fleshly, with no spots or soft parts. The flesh should yield to slight pressure.
In the fridge: 1 week, unwashed, in a loosely closed or perforated plastic bag.
In the freezer: whole and washed. Bell peppers are easy to dehydrate and keep for at least a year when dried. They can also be marinated.
Excellent source: vitamin A and C (especially red peppers).
Good source: potassium.
Properties: stomachic, diuretic, stimulant, digestive and antiseptic.
Blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, and low in calories. The dark color ensures that blackberries have high antioxidant levels of most fruits.
Choose: firm and shiny blackberries.
Avoid: soft, dull blackberries or ones that are packed too tightly.
Storing: blackberries are fragile and highly perishable. Avoid exposing them to sunlight or keeping them at room temperature.
In the fridge: a few days, unwashed and loosely packed; remove any damaged berries.
In the freezer: blackberries can be frozen individually. Blackberries are better if they are defrosted before using.
Good source: vitamin C and potassium.
Properties: astringent, depurative and laxative.
The fruit has very high nutrient values with its vitamin and mineral content and antioxidant capacity. The smaller the size of the blueberry, the sweeter and tastier it is. Blueberries promote regularity for healthy digestive tract.
Choose: well-colored blueberries that are not wrinkled and have no mold.
In the fridge: a few days, unwashed, remove any damaged berries.
In the freezer: as is, washed and dried. Freezing affects the flavor and texture.
Good source: vitamin C, potassium and sodium.
Properties: astringent, antibacterial and antidiarrheal. Blueberries contain several acids that are said to be effective for treating urinary infections.
The broad bean is also called the “fava” beans range from 10-25 cm of leaflets that cover edible white-green colored beans. They grow in most soils and climates. They are packed with protein and carbohydrates as well as vitamin A, B1 and B2.
Excellent source: folic acid.
Good source: potassium and magnesium.
Broccoli comes from the Italian word Broccolo that translates to “the flowering crest of a cabbage”. In most cases, broccoli is boiled or steamed but it may be eaten raw. Steamed broccoli can provide you with cholesterol- lowering benefits. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins K and C, a good source of folic acid and it is a giver of potassium and fiber.
Choose: a firm, well-colored broccoli with compact florets. The outer leaves should be green with firm stems.
Avoid: broccoli that has flowered, yellowed, or witted, that has spots or is losing its buds.
In the fridge: 2-5 days.
In the freezer: 1 year at – 18°C. Blanch before freezing.
Excellent source (cooked): vitamin C and potassium.
Good source (cooked): folic acid.
Contains (cooked): vitamin A, magnesium, pantothenic acid, iron and phosphorous.