Mung Bean

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Let’s travel to uncommon land and visit the exotic mung bean! I’ve had the blessed opportunity to live abroad in Taiwan and I often encountered a string-like vegetable on my plate there. Turns out it was sprouted mung beans. Let me tell you, they were tasty! So, for my own personal curiosity and to introduce you to a possible foreign food, let’s look into the mung bean.

Micronutrient Loot

  • Packs a prominent protein punch for plant! They are an excellent source for vegans, vegetarians or any explorer needing their daily protein
  • Get this, one cup of mung beans delivers 100% of our daily folate needs! Otherwise known as vitamin B9, this nutrient is key for a variety of functions, such as DNA synthesis, cognitive ability, cell and tissue growth, regulating hormones, and reproduction. It sure is a team player!
  • That same one-cup serving gives 36% of our daily magnesium needs, which aids in repairing muscles, controlling stress, digestion, heart function, and neurotransmitter release.
  • Apart from vitamin B9 (folate), mung beans have vitamin B6 that both control PMS hormonal symptoms. They ram down cramps, headaches and fatigue.
  • Contains high levels of oligosaccharides and polyphenols (aka amino acids) that fight cancer progression. Even the flavonoids of vitexin and isovitexin engage in battle against cancer development by lowering oxidative stress
  • The antioxidants help regulate cholesterol levels by acting like free radical hunters and therefore help reduce heart disease risk, including lowering high blood pressure
  • The all-mighty fiber strikes again! Mung bean’s high fiber level satiates hunger and buffs up our digestion.
  • Hauls phytonutrients that fortifies the immune system. Ye bacteria and virus scallywags beware!

Cooking for the Messdeck

Though mung beans are one of the beans that is easiest to digest, sprouting makes them even easier to digest (objectionable will walk the plank!). So sprout them if you can but it’s by no means a requirement. Sprouting also enhances the nutritional qualities of the mung bean. And personally, I think sprouted mung beans have a delightful crunch to them!

I have seen packaged sprouted mung beans in some stores, such as Sprouts. A coincidence that the market Sprouts has sprouts? I think not! But if you don’t have access to the buying already sprouted mung beans or feel like DIY-ing it, here’s a wiki link for an instructional map: http://www.wikihow.com/Sprout-Mung-Beans

Heck, you don’t even have to sprout them. Just cook dried mung beans until tender as another option. Here’s a link for cooking dried mung beans: http://www.livestrong.com/article/544969-how-to-cook-mung-bean/

And, of course, here are some recipe inspirations featuring these exotic lovelies! Don’t forget that you can add them to a wide array of dishes, such as soups, salads, stews and stir-fires. The possibilities are endless, delicious and nutritious!

Mung Bean Hummus

Saucy Stir-fry Bean Sprouts

Happy exploring!

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References:
http://draxe.com/mung-beans-nutrition/
http://www.sproutnet.com/sprouts-for-optimum-nutrition

Cabbage

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Does anyone else have a family tradition of eating cabbage and black-eyed peas at the start of the New Year? Ideas on the origin range from the Romans to the Egyptians to Civil War soldiers. Cabbage is ultimately a symbol of economic fortune because the green leaves take on the appearance of money. However, it comes with its own array of micronutrients correlated with the color. Let’s dive right in!

Micronutrient Loot

  • The antioxidant of vitamin C to fortify our immune systems and contributes to collagen development. Red cabbage so happens to be one of the chief vitamin C foods, carrying a whopping 85% of our daily needs in one cup. That’s more vitamin C than an orange! Green cabbage is still a valuable member at having 47% of our daily needs
  • Vitamin K is another valuable crewmember aboard this leafy ship. Red cabbage hauls a rich source of this bone friendly vitamin, both preserving bone calcium and decreasing osteoporosis risk. However, green cabbage sails ahead by containing twice as much vitamin K cargo than red cabbage
  • Red cabbage comes swinging back with twice as much iron as green cabbage. This micronutrient shuttles oxygen to our cells for daily functioning in life. Without iron, we could experience fatigue and anemia.
  • The phytonutrients of red cabbage fight off inflammation scallywags, such as arthritis
  • Vitamin A supports healthy skin, immune system, teeth, skeletal tissue, eyes, and mucous membranes. There’s ten times more vitamin A in red than green cabbage.
  • Get your digestion in ship-shape with fermenting cabbage. Be it kimchi or sauerkraut, these fermented cabbages contain probiotics to provide smooth passageway through the gut
  • Red cabbage’s anthocyanins have antioxidants that help reduce risk or reverse chronic, degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Green cabbage does not hold this.
  • Steamed cabbage has fiber components that bind bile acids for easier excretion and lower cholesterol levels.

Extra Plunder

Curious why red and green cabbage have differing colors? The darker leaves of red cabbage originates from soil pH levels and those anthocyanin antioxidants mentioned above. So yes, there are different nutrition levels for each cabbage variety, though they have a similar taste. And again, it’s a great food to buy when watching our doubloons!

Cooking for the Messdeck

Cabbage is commonly consumed steamed, braised or stir-frying or raw. Eating it raw will keep many of the beneficial nutrients. The more cabbage is cooked, the more it loses nutrients. However, as far as cooking methods go, steaming cabbage will help retain the greatest amount of micronutrients.

Both red and green cabbage will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about two weeks. Just store the cabbage head in a plastic bag and place in the crisper.

I must say, braised cabbage is a personal favorite cooking method of mine. Sliced cabbage + sliced onion + broth + heat = deliciousness! A whole head of cabbage hardly lasts 24 hours in my messdeck because it’s just that yummy! Have a try for yourself or branch off onto different ways of cooking cabbage.

Here’s a few recipe maps to start your culinary journey off for delectable treasure!

Braised Cabbage

Sautéed Red Cabbage

Ground Turkey Cabbage and Caraway Soup

Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Happy Exploring!

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References:
http://draxe.com/red-cabbage/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=19

Banana

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Ah, yes, the humble banana. True, it’s a common fruit widely known and consumed. We’ve been told it’s healthy to eat and has lots of good stuff for our bodies, right? Well, can you tell me why? Let’s embark on a nutritional excursion to find out!

Micronutrient Loot

  • A commander of potassium! When people think of potassium, bananas nearly always come to mind, and for a good reason! It’s one of the top foods in terms of potassium concentration. This essential nutrient promotes circulatory health, regulates water and sodium retention, helps prevent exercise muscle cramps and heals/builds those same muscles.
    • Riding the same fiber ship, bananas have a unique type of fiber called pectin. The water-soluble pectins and higher concentration of fructose produced from the banana ripening both help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Loaded with antioxidants
  • 10% of daily fiber in each banana, which promotes digestion. Benefits like supporting regular bowel movements, longer satiation, lowering heart disease risk, and reducing inflammation are all thanks to our fiber friend!
  • Its manganese will aid in skin health, bone strength, cognitive function and reducing free radical damage.
  • Vitamin C and vitamin B6 aboard this banana boat!
  • Hoist the sails and let’s be off because bananas are a wonderful energy source! It’s a great get-up-and-go refreshment anytime of the day
  • Tryptophan treasure! Yep, it’s not just in turkey meat. This amino acid promotes serotonin release, known as a “happy hormone.” Therefore, tryptophan will boost the crew’s morale and have us all singing merry shanties!
  • It even significantly increases Bifidobacteria, which correlated with decreased gastrointestinal problems and increased bowel function regulation

Cooking for the Messdeck

Good news mates! You don’t have to cook bananas. These yellow vessels come naturally prepackaged, convenient, portable and sweet. They are abundant throughout the year and very cheap. Bananas are a wonderful addition to the doubloon-crunched diet.

You can opt for the old-fashioned way of peeling a banana and chomping down without engaging in any cooking. Though, if you so chose, bananas can be fried, blended, boiled, baked or turned into dehydrated chips. Feel like pairing it with almond butter? Follow wherever the wind takes you in the culinary journey! Whatever you venture on the banana boat, it’ll be sure to bring satiety whether hungry or desiring sweetness.

Happy exploring!

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References:
http://draxe.com/banana-nutrition/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=7

Eggplant

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Eggplants are more than just a modern emoji, they’re an absolutely splendid crew member to add in the kitchen! I get surprised at how little people use or even know how to cook eggplant. Well mateys, I’m here to spread the good, purple word!

Micronutrient Loot

  • Jam-packed with phytonutrients and phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants, which protect cell membranes from free radical damage, oxidative stress and infection.
  • Fiber ahoy! Since the eggplant is mostly water and fiber, it assists in that ship-shape digestion we all want
  • Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B6 are aboard as well. Both of these vitamins support energy and aid in metabolism
  • Loads other important of vitamins and minerals cargo, including vitamin K, potassium, folate, and copper
  • A single cup of eggplant gives 5% of daily manganese, a mineral that helps to build bones, act as an antioxidant and regulates hormone levels

Extra Plunder

Markets now carry eggplants throughout the year so you don’t have to go on an extensive excursion to find some. However, it’s best to pillage them from August through October since they’ll be in season then.

Did you know that eggplants grow by hanging from vines of a tall plant? Yep, just like tomatoes!

Cooking for the Messdeck

Are you sold on this gem of a vegetable? Ok! Let’s get to cooking and then, even better, eating!

When raiding the produce aisle for the best eggplants, look for ones that are firm, heavy, smooth and shiny in color.

Take heed my fellows at storing this loot. Eggplants are quite perishable and should be stored at ~50°F. Be sure to refrain from using your cutlass on the eggplant before storing. It will perish rapidly after it’s been cut.

Whether you desire to eat the skin or not is up to you, my friend. Personally, I like it skin-and-all. There’s less prep work with eating the skin too! It should be noted that tougher skins of eggplants that take on a white color are not as appetizing. But hey, you’re a free sailor and can do whatever you want. The main point is that the skin is edible.

Here’s a few recipe maps to start your culinary journey off for delectable treasure!

Roasted Eggplant Cubes

Baingan Ka Charta (Indian Eggplant)

Easy Spiced Eggplant

Happy Exploring!

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References:
http://draxe.com/eggplant-nutrition/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=22&tname=foodspice

Sweet Potatoes

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The orange treasure trove of goodness! This beauty of a vegetable is delicious and nutritious all in one package. Let’s explore the numerous benefits aboard the sweet potato!

Micronutrient Loot

  • The captain of vitamin A! This food has the highest amount of vitamin A than any other food on Earth
  • Also packed with potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 crewmates, all of which support energy
  • Has a large cargo of beta-carotene, which helps convert vitamin A to trigger DNA producing new skin cells. Just eating it will enhance your skin health, but you can also make a facial scrub out of it
  • High in fiber for ship-shape digestion
  • Low on the glycemic index (meaning it won’t spike blood sugar levels)
  • The color of the sweet potato directly links to its nutritious content. The more yellow/orange color, the more beta-carotene it has. Relatedly, purple varieties of sweet potatoes have more antioxidant properties with deeper colored flesh.

Another bonus of the sweet potato is that it’s very cheap and stores for a significant amount of time (about one month in a cool, dark area). They also are available year-round in many countries. The sweet potato is a great anchor for those watching their dubloons!

Cooking for the Messdeck

There are so many ways to cook sweet potatoes! Boiling, stir-frying, steaming, baking, this spud has so many uses. They definitely encourage exploration in the kitchen!

Tip: Pairing some fat with your sweet potato will help increase the beta-carotene uptake. It only takes a minimal amount of fat to get this bountiful booty of nutrition, plus it makes it even tastier!

Here’s a few recipe maps to start your culinary journey off for delectable treasure!

Loaded Turkey Stuffed Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

Sweet Potato Smoothie That Tastes Like Ice Cream

Happy exploring!

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References:
http://draxe.com/sweet-potato-nutrition-facts-benefits/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64