“This article is part of a series leading up to Eat a Rainbow Week 2015, September 20st-September 26th. Eat a Rainbow Week is a community wide campaign promoting the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. During Eat a Rainbow Week community organizations across Chatham County partner to bring you fruit and vegetable themed events throughout the week. Find out about Eat a Rainbow week events across Chatham County at www.chathamnc.org/eatarainbow.”
Tips from Angelina Koulizakis, founder and chef at Angelina’s Kitchen an Eat a Rainbow participating location.
Written by Sarah Weller Pegna, Health Promotion Coordinator at the Chatham County Public Health Department
Next week is Eat a Rainbow Week! From September 20th to September 26th, Chatham County will fill its plates with fruits and vegetables of every color. This week, in preparation, we spoke with Angelina Koulizakis, founder and chef at Angelina’s Kitchen, who shared with us some great fruit and vegetable preparation tips.
I met Angelina at the restaurant and we took a seat in the dining room. Our first question was, “What kinds of fruits and vegetables should we talk about?” There is such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (every color of the rainbow!), and just as many ways to prepare each one. We discussed four easy, versatile fruits and vegetables- collards, tomatoes, field peas and berries.
Collards: Collard greens are a southern classic. Collards are packed with vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamins A, K and C, as well as, calcium, and fiber. Fresh collard greens can be bulky, so Angelina’s first tip when preparing collard greens is to remove the stem, and then cut the leaves into ribbons. Wash the ribbons well in water and dry thoroughly. You can now store your less bulky collards in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. To store longer, you can freeze your collard ribbons in a ziplock bag. Use your frozen collards just like you would frozen collards from the store.
Angelina also shared one of her favorite, simple preparations for collards. All you need is some oil (she suggests olive oil), collard ribbons, diced carrots, diced tomatoes (fresh or frozen) and some water. Heat a little oil in a pan. Once hot, add your fresh or frozen collards ribbons, diced carrots and tomatoes. Add water to the pan to about one inch deep. Cook the collards until they’re done to your liking. Angelina says she is a big fan of this recipe because it’s flavorful, while also being vegan and diet friendly.
Tomatoes: Big, small, red, yellow, and even purple. Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes. Tomatoes have a number of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, which supports immune health, and lycopene, which has been linked to improved bone health. Angelina’s first thought for fresh, summer tomatoes is the classic tomato sandwich, and of course in salads. To prepare tomatoes, it really depends on what you’re making, but Angelina cautions to always use cut tomatoes right away. She says they can develop a mealy taste if cut too far in advance. If you have extra tomatoes on hand, Angelina has a great method for freezing them. Wash your tomatoes, cut an X into the bottom, place them on a cookie sheet, and freeze. Once the tomatoes are frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag to store. When you’re ready to use them, just put your frozen tomatoes in a bowl (otherwise you’ll have a big mess); the skin will come right off as they defrost. You are now ready to make pasta sauce, soup or stew. Angelina recommends a quick pasta sauce with tomatoes (either fresh or frozen), olive oil, garlic and basil.
Field peas: Field peas refer to a family of peas, including the black-eyed pea and purple hull pea. Common in the south, field peas are high in vitamin C, fiber and protein. The first thing you have to do with field peas is shell them, which means removing the small round peas from the pod. You can then prepare your fresh peas or put your shelled peas in a freezer bag and store them for later. Shelled peas are good in the fridge for about one week. One of Angelina’s favorite recipes includes peas, bacon, onions, garlic, oil, okra, salt and pepper. For an extra vegetable boost, you can add some grated carrot. To prepare, cook the bacon and remove from the pan. In the bacon fat, cook the onion and garlic. Add the field peas, okra, pierced several times with a fork, and optional grated carrot. Fill the pan to about one inch deep with water. Cook until tender, about half an hour. Remove from heat, crumble bacon over the top and enjoy!
Berries: The first thing Angelina said when we started discussing berries was to wash them and eat them as is! Berries make an incredible snack! They’re also packed with vitamins and nutrients. Fresh berries will last in the fridge for 4-5 days (unwashed). You can also freeze berries, which also make a great snack. Angelina recommends fresh or frozen berries in oatmeal, to decorate cakes and as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. One of her favorite berry dishes is simple- plain Greek yogurt, honey, and berries.
Now that you know how to prepare them, go stock up your fridge and prepare to eat a rainbow next week!
To learn about the Eat a Rainbow Week activities at Angelina’s Kitchen, and other organizations and restaurants across Chatham County, visit www.chathamnc.org/eatarainbow.