Archive for August 31, 2014

Pesticides on Fruits and Veggies

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Handle All Produce Properly Before Consumption

Fruit and Veggie Safe Handling

Pesticides on fruits and veggies are harmful to our health! When was the last time you came home from the produce market and put the melon on the kitchen counter along with the other produce items that you take out of your bags? Well this is what you and a million others do on the regular.

Have you given any thought to the germs and pesticides that came home with you? Just in case you’ve never entertained this thought, now is a good time to start thinking about this and don’t stop there act on it. I call it wake up time! Be accountable to yourself and your loved ones.

One of the first things I do when I get in from grocery shopping and put my bags down is wash my hands. A good rule of thumb is to use hot soapy water and sing happy birthday before rinsing. Yeah, I know this may sound pretty juvenile but guess what, some nursing schools have taught this to their first year nursing students.

Make sure you wash down your counter tops as well.

Do you think about where your fruit and vegetables are grown? Be it your local farms, Mexico or other countries. Have you wondered about the content of the soil? Maybe you’ve wondered what types of pesticides are on your non organic fruits and vegetables.

These are all reasons to show concern. We need to all become diligent seekers, educating ourselves and asking our legislators to step in and propose bills that will ensure better health and safety codes for pesticides used for agriculture.graphic for pesticides 2

Let’s take a look at pesticides for a moment, here is a list I am sure you will find a bit alarming. Based on information and studies by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Consumer Reports, and the Environmental Working Group, the fruits and vegetables in this list have been found to contain the most amounts of pesticides.

  • Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
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Clean properly for your safety

Here is a list of fruits and veggies with the least amount of pesticides. Also notice that many of these have thick inedible skins which protect the fruit.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn (almost all corn is genetically modified or GMO)
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Peas
  • Any of the large or medium melons


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Wash Properly

Safety Tips
Here are some helpful hints to assure better safety for you and your loved ones:

  1. Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after preparing food.
  2. Clean your counter top, cutting boards and utensils after peeling produce and before cutting or chopping. Bacteria from the outside of raw produce can be transferred to the inside when it cut or peeled. Wash kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  3. For produce with thick skin, use a vegetable brush to help wash away hard-to-remove chemicals.
  4. Produce with a lot of nooks and crannies like cauliflower, broccoli or greens, cabbage and lettuce needs to soaked for 1 to 2 minutes in cold distilled water.
  5. I would not recommend soaking raspberries, blackberries or strawberries in water because they are just too fragile.
  6. Place these delicate fruits in a colander and spray them with distilled water.
  7. After washing, I lay them out on a dry clean paper towel.
  8. There are many times I will pick up a small apple or tangerine while on the go and it has become a practice for me to fill a biodegradable spray bottle with distilled water and keep in my car, avoid the temptation of sampling produce in the store without properly washing before eating.
  9. Do not re-wash packaged products labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed” or “triple washed.”
  10. Once you cut or peel any produce refrigerate as soon as possible at 40º F or below.
  11. It is not a safe practice to buy cut produce that is not refrigerated.

More options to consider:
Use of distilled water, white vinegar, fresh squeezed lemon and baking soda are also effective ways to reduce the amount of chemicals found on our produce.

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Wash thick hard skin also

Wash even thick hard skinned produce.
Veggie Wash is a product I tend to use most often it is safe and effective in removing wax, soil and chemicals from produce. Keep in mind to thoroughly spray firmer produce and rub with a vegetable brush for 20-30 seconds, and then rinse thoroughly with water before eating. Softer or less manageable produce can be dipped, agitated and rinsed in a diluted mixture and water (about 1/4 cup wash to 1 gallon of water).

Bear in mind produce such as apples and colorful peppers have the heaviest wax coatings. This increases the likelihood of pesticide residues residing beneath that wax coating which need use of a brush or some type of cleansing agent that will remove the wax and ultimately the residue. Mushrooms are highly porous and will absorb and keep the taste of Veggie Wash so for this reason it is not recommended.

Please note that most non-organic produce contain residual pesticides even after washing. One practice I continually follow, is blessing my food before consuming.

Originally posted on TheCaregivershcs used by permission.


Veggie Stir Fry Delight

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Today I give you veggie stir fry. This wonderful dish presents itself with an array of fresh vegetables, baby Bok choy, Yu choy, Shitake mushrooms and more. This delicious veggies stir fry dish has the perfect amount of herbs and spices that give it the distinctive flavors of Asian cuisine. The inspiration for this dish comes from my deep desire to stay healthy.

  • 1 bunch of Baby Bok Choy
  • 1 bunch of Yu Choy (like Chinese mustard greens)
  • 2 cups of Bean Sprouts (fresh or bag)
  • 2 cups of Broccoli chopped small
  • 3 small Indian Eggplant chopped slightly thin
  • 6 ounces of Snow Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 ounces of Shitake mushrooms
  • 4 ounces of Bamboo Shoots (fresh or caned) make sure to drain.
  • 4 ounces of water chestnuts sliced and(drain)
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped small
  • 3 tablespoons of crushed Garlic
  • 2 tablespoon of Ginger (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon of Rice Wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of Soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of Toasted Sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of Sriracha hot chili sauce

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Wash vegetables and fruit very well and make sure they are nice and dry before you begin your veggie stir fry.

♦ Chef Ann’s Notes:

I prefer to use all fresh ingredients for this dish, but you may use frozen or canned if you are unable to find some of the items at a local market. Be sure to pick snow peas that are rich in color, smooth surface, crisp and not wilted or shriveled up. I clean them just as I do my greens and bean sprouts. I also like to drain and rinse both bamboo shoots and water chestnuts in cold water.

Preparation before cooking

A Wok is preferred, but a Large non stick skillet or pan will also work.

  •  Starting with fresh snow peas, you will need to take some time and remove the string along both sides of this little veggie. This will take a moment to master, but you can do it trust me. {Prepare snow peas for cooking |}
  • Place Bok choy and Yu choy in a large bowl of water and add several capfuls of white vinegar.
  • Let your greens set for about 10 minutes, then rinse in cold water several times until the water is clear of any dirt particles. Discard any leaves that are not green.
  • Place in a colander or on a wire rack to drain excess water and set aside until you are ready to cook. Please follow the same procedure for the Bean sprouts.
  • Remove the tops on each eggplant and the tip at the bottom. Slice each eggplant slightly thin, so that it will cook quickly.
  • You may leave mushrooms whole or slice in half.
  • Cut your onion and scallion in medium-small pieces, then set aside until you are ready to cook.
  • Combine soy sauce and water in a small dish. Set aside for the last stir and toss.
Preparation while cooking
  • Place wok on high heat for about 2 minutes before you add Sesame oil.
  • Hold the handle of the wok and make sure that the oil is covering the entire wok before you add veggies.
  • Start by quickly adding eggplant allowing it to sear nicely; stir for about 1 minute.
  • Now add bok choy, yu choy, snow peas, mushrooms, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. Stir until veggies are nice and tender.
  • Now add onion, soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, ginger, pepper and chili sauce;
  • continue to stir quickly making sure that the last ingredients are coating all of your veggies.Now Garnish with scallion and chives.

Mang-mang sik / Bon Appetite

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes Total time:  30 minutes Servings: 2 – 4

♥ Chef Ann’s ‘Veggie Stir Fry’ Tip: 
  • You want to always start your veggie stir fry with the vegetable/vegetables that takes the longest to cook; like carrots or broccoli.
  • You also want to make sure that you chop/cut or slice your veggies so that they cook quickly. So the thinner you make them the less time you will need to cook them.
  • For those of you that like a bit of a kick/more spice; you can add more chili sauce just before the last stir and toss.
  • Many years ago before I purchased a wok, I attempted to stir fry in my large cast iron skillet. I must tell you, that it worked out very well for me.
  • So for those of you that don’t care to buy one and do not own a non stick skillet or pan, don’t worry Stir Fry and be happy!
Helpful information:

Wok on

It is best to remove food from wok quickly after cooking.

Wash your wok immediately after use, dry and add a few drops of cooking oil and wipe  with a paper towel and put away.

I know that you will enjoy this veggie stir fry, try it on your family and friends and let me know the outcome.