Produce Review: Cherimoya

After waiting a week for it to ripen, I was ready to try another new exotic fruit: the Cherimoya!  I found a few at a local supermarket, and I was told by the produce manager that they only get in a few dozen within only a 14 day window.   My initial reaction was wow, what makes these so tough to acquire?

It turns out the Cherimoya are actually quite a difficult fruit to grow and maintain.  They’re found natively in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.  They only grow at specific altitude ranges (about 2,300-2,700 ft), require excellent drainage, and don’t tolerate hot/cold very well at all.  Perhaps their most interesting issue is that they require hand-pollination, so Cherimoya farmers will hand brush pollen onto the 30 ft Cherimoya tree’s flowers in order to produce Cherimoya fruit using paint brushes!  Whew, what work!

The fruit itself seems somewhat like a Cactus in color and texture but much like an Avocado you must wait until the fruit is soft to the touch to know if the fruit is ready to eat.  My Cherimoya’s green outer skin had turned mostly brown by the time the fruit was soft to the touch.

I noticed my Cherimoya didn’t have any fragrance as the whole fruit or when I cut it open.  The Cherimoya has many larger seeds inside of it.  Eating it reminded me of a seeded Watermelon, but as an added caution, unlike a Watermelon, the seeds (and skin) of a Cherimoya are poisonous and should not be consumed.

The taste was very faint, and there were no discernible prominent flavors.  Others describe the taste as a mix of various other flavors like pineapple and banana.  I would agree with the Cherimoya’s nickname “Custard Apple”, as the texture is very custardy.  However, I’m going to say that I wasn’t impressed with the flavor.  I’ve tried the northern cousin of the Cherimoya: the Paw Paw & had a similar review on it’s flavor… Perhaps my Cherimoya (& Paw Paw) still wasn’t ripe enough.

So if you’re able to acquire a Cherimoya, be sure to consult with a produce expert to ensure that you’re consuming your Cherimoya at its pique flavor and ripeness.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to get the most out of your Cherimoya, please feel free to let others know!

Below is a recipe that I found for a raw Cherimoya custard from Unconventional Baker:

Raw Cherimoya Custard Pudding

References:

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cherimoya.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherimoya

Recipe: Mulligatawny Soup – An Everything Soup for an Everyday Occasion

Mulligatawny Soup is an English soup with Indian roots, and it translates loosely to pepper-water.  Mulligatawny Soup can literally be anything & any ingredients, but most often curry/curry paste, chicken, legumes, coconut, carrots, and apples are used.  The consistency (at least in the kinds I’ve had) has been puréed.  This soup can also easily be adopted for other diets, simply swap ingredients that don’t work for you with others that do.  Mulligatawny soup is meant to be a soup you can make differently each time you make it!

So here’s a version of Mulligatawny soup from Pioneer Woman’s Site:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, Cut Into Bite-Sized Pieces (could be easily swapped for faux Chik’in strips or another hearty veggie, like portabello mushrooms)
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter (ghee could be used if you have that on hand…if you don’t know, ghee is a shelf-stable butter from India)
  • 1 whole Medium Onion (try a different color or variety of onion to jazz things up!)
  • 3 whole carrots (did you know that carrots have many different colors?)From: http://www.prouditaliancook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/raw-carrots.jpg
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced Finely
  • 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour (this is used as a thickening agent, agar agar or guar gum serve the same purpose without the gluten)
  • 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder (or curry paste if you love curry!)
  • 32 ounces, fluid Chicken Broth (or veggie broth)
  • 2 cups Half-and-half (or full fat coconut milk from a can would work well)
  • 1 whole Granny Smith Apple, Peeled And Diced (this adds a surprising depth of flavor to the Mulligatawny soup…I’ve never had a variety without it)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar (white Or Brown) More Or Less To Taste (or omit this entirely if you want)
  • 2 teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper (or a spice of choice or none)

 

To make the soup, you want to first cook your protein of choice thoroughly in a little bit of oil/butter (with chicken until the internal temperature is 165° F/ 75° C).  Remove the cooked chicken, and add your garlic and onion into the same pan as the chicken.  Cook until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add the flour and the curry and thoroughly stir in to incorporate.  Add the broth to de-glaze the pan (careful of the steam!).  At this point, add the harder veggies like carrots (or any other veggies that you want to add) to provide them a longer cooking time.  After 10 min or so (test the veggies to see if they are semi-soft/soft to the fork) add the cooked chicken, the other spices, half and half, and the apples.  Cook for another 5-10 min or until all veggies/fruit are tender.  Be sure to taste to see if you like how it tastes.

As an optional texture related final step, you can take out half of the soup, place into the blender, and blend until smooth.  Add the blended soup back into the other half.

Voilà!  You’re done!  Enjoy!

Revamp a Super Bowl Classic: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

The Super Bowl is fast approaching, and I thought it would be fun to share a veggie version of a Super Bowl snack staple: Buffalo Wings.  Cauliflower takes the place of the chicken in this variation.  Perhaps you can give this recipe a try this weekend and see what you think!

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”/Bites:

1 cup water, dairy milk, or soy milk
1 cup flour (any kind will work—even gluten-free!)
2 tsp. garlic powder (if you want a big garlic flavor substitute with garlic granules if you have them on hand)
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into pieces that are loosely “wing” sized
1 cup buffalo or hot sauce (personally I like Frank’s Original or Buffalo)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, melted butter, or melted vegan butter

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Combine the water or soy milk, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  • Core the cauliflower to remove the green stalk base & green leafy sides.
  • Chop the cauliflower into loosely “wing” sized pieces.
  • Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture (this is a good step for kids to help with too!) and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes.
  • While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo/hot sauce of choice and oil/butter in a small bowl.
  • Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.

You can serve your Spicy Cauliflower Bites alongside an assortment of veggie sticks (carrots and celery are popular) and your dressing of choice for dipping (ranch and blue cheese are popular).

And that’s it!  I hope you enjoy, and please let me know how yours turned out.  I’ll be updating soon with my review of the recipe & pictures of my addition.

Credits:

-Photo from: Natural Grocer’s Blog Post on Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

-Recipe adopted from: Peta’s Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower ‘Wings’ Recipe Page

 

Introducing: Onebreath.in – take a deep breath

Be reminded to take a deep breath at https://onebreath.in, a new, tiny service from Walker Tracker.

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onebreath.in

While walking is obviously our wheelhouse at Walker Tracker, we run a number of other types of wellness programs. Whether it’s a focus on nutrition, lowering your resting heart rate, or creating a points-based combination around many wellness factors, we’re always thinking about how to approach wellness in the workplace.

In a busy schedule, mindfulness & relaxation are sometimes moving targets. But the benefits of taking a deep breath are documented. Take one now. Feels good, right? onebreath.in is a simple tool that will help you remember to take ten seconds out of your day to reset, to alleviate a little stress, and to enjoy the pleasure of a deep breath (and let you reap all the benefits of doing so). Read more about it on the onebreath.in site.

Let us know what you think – and share it around if you like.

(Note: onebreath.in uses your web browser’s notification system, so personal information/sign-up is not necessary. On the down side, it only works in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox desktop web browsers – perfect for when you’re sitting at your desk).

Really great news for us all here at WT HQ (Coffee thought to protect against cancer)

Yesterday a panel of World Health Organization experts concluded that coffee protects against at least two types of cancer. Hooray!

This adds to the growing number of positive health benefits that coffee provides, such as lower risk for parkinsons, improved heart health, and lower risk of diabetes.

That said: Pesticides have been shown to cause cancer, and so make sure you’re buying organic coffee (or even better, Fair Trade Certified coffee to make sure farmers are paid properly)

If there is anything that coffee can’t do, I don’t want to know about it.

 

Walk With Purpose

There always seems to be a walk for something. Walk for Breast Cancer, Walk for Alzheimers, Walk for MS and so on. I do not think I know one person who hasn’t been affected by a disease somewhere in their lives. Personally, Alzheimers hit close to home for me with my grandma. These walks are usually short (5k or 3.1 miles) and help you to do a small part to support research and those suffering. Why not challenge yourself to find a walk to participate in for the end of the summer or fall? It’s true that often times these walks ask for a donation, but it is for a great cause and sometimes that money is just the extra bit of motivation needed to follow through. Get a few friends together, maybe find a cause that you and your co-workers would like to walk for. It’s great for families to do together also! Below I have listed some websites that you can click on and see if they have walks in your area.

Walk to End Alzheimers

Race for a Cure (Breast Cancer Awareness)

ZERO cancer (Prostate Cancer)

Relay for Life (American Cancer Society)

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes 

NAMIwalk (Mental Illness)

Light The Night (Leukemia & Lymphoma)

Those of course are just a few suggestions. I am sure that if you search for “insert cause+walk” in a search engine, you’ll more than likely find a walk or run to participate in. Now get out there, get inspired, get fit and make a difference!

Go Red for Women on February 7th

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Here at Walker Tracker we support the American Heart Association’s efforts to raise awareness in the fight against heart disease by participating in their Wear Red Day event. Join us on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 —wear red— it’s everyone’s color.

Wearing red is just one step towards raising awareness; here’s what else you can do:

1. Know Your Heart Score

Know your numbers. Think you are eating right and getting enough exercise? It takes five minutes to make sure. Take the My Life Check and find out where you stand.

2. Live Healthy

Learn new ways to prevent heart disease with heart-healthy recipes and exercises.

3. Know the Signs of a Heart Attack

Learn how to identify a heart attack. Watch “Just a Little Heart Attack” video, starring and directed by Elizabeth Banks. Learn more about the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke here.

4. Start Walking

Get moving and start walking by starting or joining a walking club with friends or coworkers  and keeping track of your progress.

Get more information on healthy living, medical advancements, preventative care and support for heart disease patients here.

 

 

New Study Shows: Walk faster, live longer

A new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that the intensity of the pace of our walk matters just as much as the amount of walking we do.

The study focused on longevity amongst 38,981 participants that walked daily. Walkers had varying paces, some were speedy, some ambled, some strolled. It turns out that those who walked at a brisk pace were healthier and although a bit ghoulish, outlived the slow walkers.

So how do we know if we’re walking fast enough? To measure your speed you can use your Pebble or Omron pedometers, an app like Moves or find a 400 meter track at a local school, then use a stopwatch to time your walk.

And then what? Healthy exercise guidelines want us to aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise. For walkers, this means we should aim for a pace of 15 to 16 minutes per mile.

Let’s pick up the pace Walkers and remember to stay happy and healthy – Read more about it at The New York Times

 

New Feature: Our Answer to the HRA

Our clients have asked for a tool to measure the attitudes and habits of their employee population without going through a full-blown Health-Risk Assessment,. We thought this was a great idea. We’ve just launched Questions. Questions gives wellness admins the ability to “see inside” their employees, to accurately map employee habits that effect health and wellness, and to craft a wellness strategy that works for each individual company. We call the Questions feature an “HRA lite” because it gives our clients the power of the HRA, without the cost or hassle.

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More about HRAs: Many companies launch their wellness program with an HRA, or a Health Risk Assessment. But let’s face it: HRAs are typically long questionnaires that are annoying to fill out, don’t provide any real wellness value, and, at up to $40 a pop, burn through wellness dollars faster than you can say “health.”

The true value of HRAs lie in their ability to accurately map a population. If your employee population tends toward obesity, which is a leading predictor of diabetes and heart disease, you need to know that. If your population, on the other hand, is young and active, you need to know that, too. The real value of the HRA is to help the wellness administrator craft a wellness strategy that works for her population.

How the Questions feature works: It’s easy. From the admin pane of your Walker Tracker account, just type the question you want to ask. You can make the question “required” before users continue to their account, or you can set the question as part of account registration. You can even assign points for answering it, if you use our points system. Questions and answers are logged into the account information download, so you can measure a baseline, progress, and program-end status.

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Questions is our answer to the HRA. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Which is better: Walking or Running?

These are the two most popular forms of exercise in the United States. Which one wins?

A couple of new studies show that it depends.

Controlling weight? Running wins

Heart disease? Walking wins this one.

“It bears repeating that either walking or running is healthier than not doing either,” Dr. Williams said, whatever your health goals.

Read the results of the various studies at the New York Times