Quick Tip: Fruit/Veggie Swap

>> Thursday, July 30, 2009

A few months ago, I picked up a used copy of Fresh Choices: More than 100 Easy Recipes for Pure Food When You Can't Buy 100% Organic by David Joachim and Rochelle Davis. I'm still testing it out as a cookbook. Sadly, it doesn't contain any glossy pictures of delectable dishes, one of my main qualifications of a good cookbook. But so far, the recipes we've tried have turned out very yummy.

But as a resource guide, I have returned to this book again and again. Besides the recipes, each chapter is packed with information about why you should buy organic foods and what to do if you can't.

The premise behind Fresh Choices is that the positive effects of eating a nutritious and diverse diet, especially large quantities of fruits and vegetables, far outweigh the negative effects of consuming conventionally grown foods. So if you can't afford to buy 100% organic, or if organic foods just aren't available where you live, you should focus on avoiding foods with the highest pesticide residues and instead consume more of the "cleaner" foods.

For example, the author describes a situation where he was developing a recipe for strawberry-stuffed french toast. But strawberries are on the EWG's Dirty Dozen. The solution was simple: use blueberries instead. Blueberries test much lower for pesticide residue but are comparable nutritionally.

All of the recipes in Fresh Choices use produce with lower pesticide residues and specify when you need to buy the organic version of the product. But you can accomplish the same thing in your own recipes using a couple of handy tables included in the book. When a recipe calls for an ingredient that you know is high in pesticides, swap it out for something that is nutritionally comparable. For example:

Fruit Swap

Swap peaches for canned peaches, grapefruit, tangerines, U.S. cantaloupe, or watermelon to get Vitamins A and C

Swap apples for bananas, grapefruit, kiwi, tangerines, or watermelon to get Vitamin C

Swap strawberries for blackberries, blueberries, grapefruit, kiwi, tangerines, or U.S. cantaloupe to get Vitamin C

Swap U.S. cherries for blackberries, blueberries, grapefruit, kiwi, tangerines, or U.S. cantaloupe to get Vitamin C

Swap Chilean grapes for U.S. grapes (in season from May to December) to get Vitamin C

Swap pears for bananas, grapefruit, kiwi, tangerines, or watermelon to get Vitamin C


Vegetable Swap

Swap peppers (sweet and hot) for asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, romaine lettuce, or tomatoes to get Vitamins A and C

Swap celery for broccoli, carrots, radishes or romaine lettuce to get carotenoids

Swap spinach for asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, or romaine lettuce to get Vitamins A and C and folic acid


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