Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pineapple is Healthy Eating

The Love Of My Life (LOML) and I try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.  But we are nowhere as good as our dear friend Sue who recently retired as a nutrition specialist advising daycare providers.  We spent most of my Spring Break with Sue and spouse, Steve, cross country skiing and snow shoeing in Sun Valley, Idaho.  We ate well – we brought fresh crab from the coast and had enough left over for crab tacos (see my earlier blog about fish tacos and substitute crab meat for the fish – YUM!).  We also scored pizza after a day of skiing and show shoeing (we earned it!) – I ordered a vegetarian, gluten free pizza that was really good and had enough left over for the next day’s lunch.  We also had lots of veggies, salads and fruit with all of our meals. 
Sue turned me on to fresh pineapple which I recently read is full of all sorts of good nutrients (see the notes following the recipe – unbelievable about how much this one fruit can do for you).  Upon arriving home I ran out and purchased a pineapple cutter.  Yes, it is a one-use tool but it makes preparing fresh pineapple soooo much easier so it’s worth it.  The only drawback with the tool is that you cannot adjust the thickness of the slices.  By the way, when choosing a pineapple don’t look at the color of the fruit, rub the bottom with your finger and sniff, if it smells like fresh, sweet pineapple it is ripe.  Pineapples do not ripen after they are picked; they just go bad with age.

Pineapple-Glazed Chicken Thighs

Serves 6
(from “The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook”, 1998, page 191) 

6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat (I de-boned my chicken thighs for easy eating)
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into very thin slices
2/3 cup pineapple juice (collect juice from pineapple slices and scrape the inside of the cut shell
2 TBSP reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 TBSP sesame seeds
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
3 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally, including green portions
Coat a large nonstick frying pan with nonstick cooking spray (I like to use olive oil) and place over medium heat.  Add the chicken and ginger and cook, turning the chicken every few minutes, until the chicken is well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the pineapple juice and soy sauce.  Pour into the frying pan and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes.  Uncover and add the sesame seeds and pineapple chunks.  Continue cooking, turning the chicken occasionally, until it is opaque throughout and the liquid remaining in the pan has reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes.
To serve, arrange the chicken and pineapple on a large platter.  Spoon an equal amount of glaze over each piece of chicken.  Garnish with the green onions.
My editor/sister wants to try this recipe as a stir-fry.

More information about Pineapple: (this is from an email that a friend sent, source unknown)
The pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family.  It is extremely rare that bromeliads produce edible fruit. The pineapple is the only available edible bromeliad today.  It is a multiple fruit. One pineapple is actually made up of dozens of individual floweret's that grow together to form the entire fruit.  Each scale on a pineapple is evidence of a separate flower. 
Pineapples stop ripening the minute they are picked.  No special way of storing them will help ripen them further.  Color is relatively unimportant in determining ripeness.  Choose your pineapple by smell.  If it smells fresh, tropical and sweet, it will be a good fruit.  The more scales on the pineapple, the sweeter and juicier the taste.  After you cut off the top, you can plant it.  It should grow much like a sweet potato will.
This delicious fruit is not only sweet and tropical; it also offers many benefits to our health. Pineapple is a remarkable fruit.  We find it enjoyable because of its lush, sweet and exotic flavor, but it may also be one of the most healthful foods available today.  If we take a more detailed look at it, we will find that pineapple is valuable for easing indigestion, arthritis or sinusitisThe juice has an anthelmintic effect; it helps get rid of intestinal worms. Let's look at how pineapple affects other conditions.
Pineapple is high in manganese, a mineral that is critical to development of strong bones and connective tissue. A cup of fresh pineapple will give you nearly 75% of the recommended daily amount.  It is particularly helpful to older adults, whose bones tend to become brittle with age.
Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme, is the key to pineapple's value.  Proteolytic means "breaks down protein", which is why pineapple is known to be a digestive aid. It helps the body digest proteins more efficiently. 
Bromelain is also considered an effective anti-inflammatory.  Regular ingestion of at least one half cup of fresh pineapple daily is purported to relieve painful joints common to osteoarthritis. It also produces mild pain relief.
In Germany, bromelain is approved as a post-injury medication because it is thought to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Orange juice is a popular liquid for those suffering from a cold because it is high in Vitamin C. Fresh pineapple is not only high in this vitamin, but because of the Bromelain, it has the ability to reduce mucous in the throat.  If you have a cold with a productive cough, add pineapple to your diet.
It is commonly used in Europe as a post-operative measure to cut mucous after certain sinus and throat operations.
Those individuals who eat fresh pineapple daily report fewer sinus problems related to allergies. In and of itself, pineapple has a very low risk for allergies.
Pineapple is also known to discourage blood clot development. This makes it a valuable dietary addition for frequent fliers and others who may be at risk for blood clots.
An old folk remedy for morning sickness is fresh pineapple juice. it really works! Fresh juice and some nuts first thing in the morning often make a difference.
It's also good for a healthier mouth. The fresh juice discourages plaque growth.

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