Food facts: Tamari - Zucchini

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:



Tamari is a form of soy sauce. Most tamari is made without wheat so it is gluten free.


Tarragon is a soft leaved herb popular in French cuisine. Tarragon is often used in combination with other herbs. By itself it is popular in cheese and egg dishes.


Tempeh is a fermented food made by fermenting cooked soya beans with a cultured starter. Tempeh is popular in Indonesia and is a great source of protein. It has been eaten there for centuries. Tempeh is now becoming popular with vegetarians and those who wish to increase their intake of soya beans. It has a firm texture and a nutty flavour. It can replace meat in pies and casseroles.


Thyme is a herb native to southern Europe. It can be used in many savoury dishes. Thyme is popular in French seafood dishes and in Italian tomato dishes.


Tofu is made from soya beans. The beans are boiled, mashed and sieved. The resultant milky soy liquid is coagulated into curds. Tofu curds can be purchased in varying degrees of firmness. The firmer tofu can be cubed and used in stir fries, kebabs and soups. Soft, silken tofu is more suited for use in sauces and dips. Tofu has virtually no flavour of its own so it is used in combination with other foods and is often marinated prior to use to give the dish flavour.


Tomatoes first grew as wild cherry sized fruits in the South American Andes but the tomato as we know it today, originates from Mexico. Tomato seeds were taken back to the Mediterranean countries where they quickly became popular. There are now more than 7,000 varieties of tomatoes. Eating tomatoes at least two times per week is now believed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and to be beneficial in fighting other forms of cancer. The key ingredient in tomatoes is Lycopene which is a carotenoid. Cooking tomatoes, most especially in oil, releases the lycopene making it more available to the body. Tomatoes are also said to be good for the eyes. Tomatoes that are ripened on the vine have far more vitamin C than those that are picked green.


Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye. It was originally bred in Scotland and Sweden. Triticale is eaten by humans but mostly it is used for animal feed. It can be found in health food stores.


The male turkey is called a tom. The female turkey is called a hen. A turkey under sixteen weeks of age is called a fryer, while a young roaster is five to seven months old. Israelis consume the highest amount of turkey meat per capita. Turkey meat is high in vitamins B3, B6 and B12 which are needed to ensure a healthy nervous system. It is also a good source of iron, selenium and zinc.


Turmeric is a spice sometimes used to replace the expensive saffron. It can replace saffron's yellow colour but its taste is different. Turmeric has an earthy, peppery flavour. It is a primary ingredient in curry powder and is used to colour rice and sauces. It is used in stews, soups and casseroles. Turmeric has an extensive history of usage in herbal remedies, particularly in India, China and Indonesia. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and has been used for centuries to heal wounds and treat so many other conditions. The root and rootstock of the plant contain the active ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric is now being tested as a potential cancer treatment/preventative, most particularly for environmental cancers. Laboratory tests and tests on animals are now showing curcumin is able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. There is also ongoing research to judge its effectiveness in regard to Alzheimer's disease, stomach ulcers and arthritis. It may also decrease "bad" cholesterol. Turmeric is available in powdered form in grocery shops. It can be made into a tea and can also be consumed in tablet form. Turmeric can interact with blood thinning medications, with non-steroid pain relievers and with some cancer treatments. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women or those who are breast feeding as it can cause uterine contractions.


Turnips are root vegetables that have a slightly peppery flavour. Small tender varieties are eaten by humans and the larger varieties are used for feed for livestock. Most of the turnip has a white skin but the part that grows above ground is a pink colour. The inside flesh is white. Small tender turnips can be eaten raw in salads but turnips are mostly used baked, steamed or in casseroles.


Vanilla is the genus name of a group of tropical vines. The seed pod of this plant is called the vanilla bean. Vanilla powder is made by grinding the entire pod after it has been dried. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron. It is used in the food industry as a flavouring, most particularly fin vanilla ice cream but it is also used to enhance the flavouring of other foods. It is also used in the cosmetics industry to make perfume.


Walnuts come from large trees. They are available whole or shelled. Walnuts are popular eaten with blue cheese or served in salads. They are used in stuffings and in middle Eastern cuisines they are popular served in raisin dishes. Some recent studies are indicating that eating walnuts may reduce the risk or delay the onset of Alzheimer's. In traditional Chinese medicine walnuts are used as a kidney tonic.


Wheat is one of the most important grain crop in the world. It is the most produced grain, followed by corn and then rice. Wheat originated in south west Asia. Wheat can be processed into flour, cracked wheat, malt, bulgur and semolina. China is the top producer of wheat in the world. China produce four times as much wheat as Australia.


Zucchinis are native to the Americas and their origins have been traced back to Mexico as far as 7,000 BC. Zucchinis were taken to Italy where they became known as zucchinos - which means sweetness. The French call them courgettes. They have a high water content and are very low in calories. Zucchinis are full of valuable anti oxidants, Vitamin A and C and potassium.


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