Food facts: Hazelnuts - Limes

Facts and quirky pieces of information about the food we eat always interest me, both from an historical and a nutritional point of view.

Did you know that people who eat a fair amount of fish have lower chances of depression? Or that Australians on average eat 8 - 9 times more salt per day than is required by our bodies.

Up until just over 100 years ago Americans didn't eat tomatoes - they thought they were poisonous! I'm including lots of these food facts on each of the recipe pages on this web site. More are listed here on this page:

 

Hazelnuts

The common hazel is a shrub which grows extensively in Europe. The fruit of the hazel tree is the nut. They are usually sold dried and can be purchased whole, shelled or ground. Hazelnuts are frequently used in desserts and cakes but can also be added to savoury dishes. they are often associated with confectionery, especially with chocolate. They are rich in protein and un-saturated fat.

Honey

Honey is one of the oldest sweeteners ever used. It is produced by honey bees from the nectar of flowers. The flavour and colour of the honey is very much dependent on the source of the nectar and the method of production. When bees make honey they store it with the intention of consuming it themselves during times when food is scarce. Humans have been hunting for honey for over 10,000 years. The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking and as a spread. Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead. Because of its properties honey preserves itself very well. Small residues of edible honey have even been found in the pharaoh's tombs

Horseradish

Horseradish root is a vegetable but is never eaten in the quantities we would normally serve as a vegetable. It is quite pungent and is used in small amounts, grated and mixed with cream or oil and vinegar. Horseradish is full of potassium and phosphorous. It is used as a herbal remedy for clearing out the sinuses and for respiratory complaints.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes are small knobbly tubers and are species of the sunflower plant. Despite its name the Jerusalem artichoke is not related to, or physically similar to the globe artichoke. It's taste is somewhat similar though, having a sweet, nutty flavour. It's texture is much like that of a potato. Jerusalem artichokes were first cultivated by native Americans. For cooking purposes they are usually scrubbed and trimmed because peeling them can be an arduous task. They tend to become mushy if boiled so steaming is a better cooking option. they contain vitamin C and fibre.

Kafir Lime Leaves

The kafir lime bush is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. It's a thorny shrub that produces small fruit with rough and bumpy skins. Kafir lime leaves are extremely popular in south East Asian cuisine, most particularly in Thai cooking. The leaves can be used fresh or in their dry form.

Kale

Kale is part of the cruciferous family. It has dark green and very curly, attractive leaves. It is fast becoming called one of our super-foods. Kale contains massive amounts of calcium and magnesium, not to mention folate, iron, potassium and carotene. It has 17 times more Vitamin C than carrots. Until the middle ages kale was a very common green vegetable in Europe. It's popularity seemed to decline for a while but it is now found in various cuisines, particularly in Denmark, Sweden and in Asian stir-fries. It is popular in soups, braised as a cooked vegetable and raw in salads.

Leeks

Leeks are members of the onion family but leeks are more slender than bulbous onions. The base of the leek needs to stay white and tender so farmers mound up the soil around the leeks to keep as much of the leek as possible "underground". By stopping sunlight reaching the base of the leek they remain white and tender. Leeks have all the medicinal qualities of onions without having such a strong smell or flavour. Consequently people who don't like onions may find leeks quite palatable. They are an important ingredient in soups, most notably the French Vichyssoise soup which is eaten cold. Leeks contain potassium, folate, iron and vitamins E and C.

Lemon Balm

The leaves of lemon balm have a delightful citrus smell. The leaves used, fresh and dried, in both sweet and savoury dishes and it makes a delicious tea. The fresh leaves can be used in both vegetable salads and fruit salads and they add a delicious flavour to ice creams and sorbets. The leaves are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and they are used as a mild sedative. The crushed leaves can be rubbed on the skin to ward off mosquitoes. It has a long history as a healing herb and was known to have powers of longevity. It is said to be an excellent tonic and may help those who suffer from insomnia and depression.

Lemon Grass

Lemon grass, as its name indicates, belongs to the grass family. It is widely used in Asian cuisine to impart a citrus flavour. It can be used fresh or can be dried and ground. The stalk itself is too hard to be eaten but the inner stalk is edible. Sometimes a chunk of stalk is simply bruised and added whole to soups. Lemon grass can be found in jars in the Asian section of supermarkets.

Lemons

Lemons originated in China. The Chinese emperors used to like lemonade. 1 medium lemon has 18 calories. Lemons contain phosphorous, potassium, calcium, beta carotene and fibre. The pectin in lemons has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. With a spoonful of honey added a hot lemon drink is soothing to those who have colds and sore throats.

Lentils

Lentils are one of our oldest foods. They originated in Asia and North Africa and are still grown there as well as in France and Italy. They are rich in B Vitamins which boost our immune systems. Lentils can help boost energy, they are rich in fibre and are full of anti-carcinogenic phyto chemicals. Their colours range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown or even black. Canada is the largest export producer of lentils in the world.

Lettuce

The lettuce is a member of the sunflower family. There is debate over where the lettuce originated from. Some say it came from the Mediterranean but others say it was cultivated by the Sumerians 6,000 years ago in the area we now know as Southern Iraq. Lettuce is exceptionally low in calories and contains 90% water. The darker outside leaves are more nutritious than the inner pale leaves. Ice burg lettuce is the one most commonly eaten but it is the lettuce with the least nutritional qualities. For nutritional reasons try Radicchio, Romaine (Cos) and Arugula (Rocket) and other colourful leaf varieties.

Limes

Limes originated from India and Malaysia and were brought back to Europe by returning crusaders in the 13th century. Limes are an excellent source of vitamin C.

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Read other interesting food facts (in alphabetical order):

Allspice - Avocados
Allspice, almonds,amaranth, apples, apricots, asparagus, aubergines, avocados

Bananas - Buckwheat
Bananas, barley, basil, bay leaves, beans, beetroot, black berries, black currants, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, buckwheat

Cabbage - Chestnuts
Cabbage, capsicum, caraway, cardamom, carrots, cashews, cauliflower, cayenne, celeriac, celery, cheese, cherries, chestnuts

Chicken - Cumin
Chicken, chickpeas, chicory, chilies, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, coriander, corn, couscous, cucumbers, cumin

Dates - Fish
Dates, dill, eggplant, eggs, fennel, fenugreek, figs, fish

Galangal - Green Beans
Galangal, garlic, ginger, globe artichokes, gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, green beans

Hazelnuts - Limes
Hazel nuts, honey, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kafir lime leaves, kale, leeks, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemons, lentils, lettuce, limes

Macadamia Nuts - Mustard
Macadamia nuts, mace, mandarins, mangoes, maple syrup, marjoram, mar ow, melons, milk, millet, mint, miso, molasses, mushrooms, mustard

Nectarines - Oregano
Nectarines, nutmeg, oats, olive oil, onions, oranges, oregano

Papayas - Pumpkin
Papayas, paprika, parsley, parsnips, peaches, peanuts, pears, peas, pecans, pineapples, pine nuts, plums, potatoes, pumpkin

Quince - Rye
Quinces, quinoa, radishes, raspberries, rice, rosemary, rye

Sage - Sweet Corn
Sage, sea vegetables, seeds, silver beet, soy sauce, sprouted seeds, squash, strawberries, swede, sweet corn

Tamari - Zucchini
Tamari, tarragon, tempeh, thyme, tofu, tomatoes, triticale, turkey, turmeric, turnips, vanilla, walnuts, wheat, zucchini