How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in a Nutshell

store

Our markets and supermarkets are overflowing with delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables. This little guide below brings together basics of storing fruits and vegetables to maintain their quality, colour, freshness, flavour and nutrient value.

Green leafy vegetables and salad vegetables (salad greens) are incredibly perishable and therefore should be consumed as soon as possible. They should be stored in the crisper or vented plastic bags in the fridge (plastic bags with holes). Too much moisture is the enemy when it comes to green leafy vegetables and salad greens. So, you shouldn’t wash them at all before you store them as it can cause spoilage.

Apples and pears are best stored in the fridge.

Tomatoes should not be refrigerated. Keeping them at room temperature until needed is the most convenient. Keep in mind that under-ripe tomatoes will ripen best at room temperature. Take tomatoes out of plastic bags to avoid the growth of bacteria. Keep them away from sunlight as it destroys vitamin C. Store in a single layer unless you want the tomatoes to ripen quickly, as heat causes ripening, not light.

Berries, stone-fruit, melons, grapes, kiwi fruit
Berries, stone-fruit, melons, grapes and kiwi fruit should be stored unwashed in the fridge. Just keep in mind that these fruits tend to bruise very easily.

Bananas
Store at moderate room temperature. If hot, keep in a cool place but do not refrigerate.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator, but should be wiped clean and placed in a brown paper bag. This way they will keep in good condition for three to four days. Do not store them in plastic because they will begin to decay quickly.

Root vegetables – carrots, turnips, beetroot, parsnips
Store these root vegetables in sealed plastic bags or the crisper compartment of the fridge.

Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onions and Garlic

Potatoes should not be refrigerated. To store potatoes, remove from plastic bags and place in a hessian or paper bag. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry place with good ventilation. Sweet potatoes, onions (except for spring onions) and garlic should be stored in the same manner. For garlic, you can buy terracotta containers with holes that are designed specifically for garlic.

Food Groups: Water, Part 1

Food Groups: Water
Water is the main constituent of the body: it makes up approximately 50-80% of the body weight, depending on lean body mass. Water is so essential to life as humans can survive only a few days without it.

water

In the body, water becomes the fluid in which all life processes occur. Functions of water can be summarised as:
• Carries nutrients and waste products throughout the body.
• Maintains the structure of large molecules such as proteins and glycogen.
• Participates in metabolic reactions.
• Serves as the solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and many other small molecules.
• Acts as a lubricant and cushion around joints and inside the eyes, the spinal cord and in pregnancy, the amniotic sac surrounding the foetus in the womb.
• Aids in the regulation of body temperature.
• Maintains blood volume.

Dehydration
To support vital functions of our bodies, we need to create water balance: balance between water intake and output. Dehydration occurs when water output exceeds water input.

There are three levels of dehydration: mild dehydration, chronic mild dehydration and acute dehydration. The symptoms of mild dehydration include:
• Thirst
• dry skin and membranes
• rapid heartbeat
• low blood pressure
• weakness

The reported health effects of chronic mild dehydration include increased risk of kidney stones, urinary tract cancers, colon cancer, childhood obesity, mitral valve prolapse and diminished physical and mental performance and salivary gland function. In addition to these health effects, mild chronic dehydration and poor fluid intake may have detrimental effects on proper elimination. There are certain processes in the body –such as intestines, kidneys, skin and lungs—require adequate water to function properly.

Acute dehydration manifests even more serious symptoms such as dizziness, spastic muscles, loss of balance, delirium, exhaustion and collapse.

Water Losses
The body must excrete a minimum of about 500 millilitres of water each day as urine. In addition to urine, water is lost from the lungs as vapour and from the skin as sweat and some is also lost in faeces.

How Much Water
According to Australian Guidelines, to be properly hydrated in a temperate climate like ours in Australia, adults require some 2500-3000 millilitres of fluid a day, depending on body size. Every day, solid foods we consume contribute approximately 1000 millilitres (1 litre) of water and 250 millilitres of water is produced by the body’s metabolism. However, the remainder needs to come from free water or other fluids or both.

There are circumstances, however, where there is an increased need for water such as exposure to hot weather or high temperatures, physical activity, exercise, strenuous work, exposure to air-conditioning, exposure to heating more than short periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.

To be continued…

References:
1. Robinson J. 2002 Water, electrolytes and acid-base balance in Essentials in Human Nutrition edited by Mann J. & Truswell A. Oxford University Press. U. S. A. pages 113-128.
2. Baghurst K. 2003 Drink Plenty of Water in Food for Health: Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults. Commonwealth of Australia. pages 95-105.
3. Whitney E. N., Cataldo C. B., Rolfes S. R. 2002 Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition Wadsworth /Thompson Learning U. S. A. pages 387-388.

Ingredient Profile: Tomatoes

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Vegetable Profile: Tomatoes Origin of Tomatoes Tomatoes are native to Central America and had been brought to Europe by the Spaniards. However, Europeans initially thought that they were poisonous so they did not gain popularity for quite some time. They … Continue reading

What is Nutrition?

What is Nutrition?
As a term, nutrition is derived from Latin ‘nutrire’ which means ‘to nourish’. According to Mosby’s Medical, Nursing & Allied Health Dictionary, the definition of nutrition is:

• Nourishment
• The sum of the processes involved in the taking in of nutrients, and in their assimilation and use for proper body functioning and maintenance of health. The successive stages include ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation and excretion.
• The study of food and drink as related to the growth and maintenance of living organisms.

In broad terms, nutrition is the science of foods and the nutrients and other substances they contain and of their actions within the body. These actions include ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, metabolism, and excretion. The term also covers social, economic, cultural, and psychological implications of food and eating.

In this section of VegFusion, I will be sharing my knowledge and experience around the subject of nutrition, making right choices and eating well.

nutrition

Photo: Local grocery store in Little India, Singapore.
© A. Gulden

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

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I must admit, the title put me off all this time. I thought it was incredibly common, classless and inappropriate. However, at the end of the day, I’m a clinical nutritionist and I should be reading pretty much anything that is ever written on the subject of eating right. So I decided to read it regardless and here’s what I think:

The book has some solid information –an eye-opener for a lot people especially if they are new to the subject –and nutritional information is presented in an easy, digestible form that anyone can understand. Everything is well referenced which is very important especially if you want to be taken seriously within the field. However, the execution of it, the language the authors use is just foul. On the back cover they say they are your “smart-mothed girlfriends” I think what they should’ve said “foul-mouthed girlfriends” instead. Here’s an example from the book:

“Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that our government keeps food safe. News of the avian influenza epidemic came and went, but the disease is very real and can run rampant in poultry flocks. And according to a survey by the National Research Council, one chicken processing plant had 90 percent of its poultry contaminated with salmonellosis. Ninety fucking percent! Nasty.”

See what I mean?