'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

PirateFoxy
Joined: 6 Jan 2011
User offline. Last seen 3 years 35 weeks ago.

I'm putting this here rather than in the general recipes section because I think it kind of applies to bento cooking in terms of increasing food safety, and so I'm hoping there might be lots of bento-intended recipes that will work quite well. :)

Basically, my mom has been told to be very careful about eating raw fruits and vegetables, due to being on chemotherapy and thus more susceptible to stuff that can be on raw produce. However, after several months of this, she's going insane not having anything that still has much of that crisp/crunch fresh texture and taste. (I mean, we've been blanching things like broccoli and carrots, but there are some items like cucumber that really do not do well cooked.)

I know that there are bunches of recipes out there for 'pickled' type preparations, and that sort of thing, where the salt or vinegar content seems like it would help with the bacteria issue quite effectively, so I was wondering if anyone has any particular favorites they'd suggest, or any ideas how to do something similar with fruit like apples or pears without turning them into mush.

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Folly
Bento-ing from: San Francisco
Joined: 5 Jul 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 27 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

Bronwyn, thanks for the link to the Mexican article.

For years I thought that the veggie washes in the supermarket were just high-priced hype. As a child i remember my mother soaking broccoli in salt water to get rid of bugs. But with modern farming I naively thought that old practice was unneccessary. I didn't think about all the things we can't see. Today we have to contend with unknown chemicals, imported produce, and who-knows-what kind of handling practices. I buy organically on select produce and grow lettuce, spinach and herbs on my tiny city patio. But as I read more about produce contamination, I've started washing things like melons with dish washing soap and peeling apples and cucumbers. I keep a bottle of vinegar-water solution next to the sink, but now realize that I need to start soaking fruits and vegetables.

Oh, for simpler times.

Folly

maki
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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
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Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

First of all (and I'm not trying to be mean or unhelpful)....but your mom has a serious medical condition, so I'd really strongly urge you to pose these questions to a qualified medical professional. I know sometimes doctors can be too busy to be helpful...so maybe a dietician or nutritionist who's familiar with the needs of chemotherapy patients.

That being said, a quick search pulled up this chart, which could be a starting point at least. It says that well washed raw fruit and vegetables are okay; there are non-toxic vegetable washing detergents out there, for anything that can't have its peel totally removed. But please do check with a medical professional first.

All the best to you, your mom and your family.

____________________________________

The Big Onigiri.

- Wherever you go, there you are. -

bronwyncarlisle
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Bento-ing from: Dunedin › New Zealand
Joined: 12 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 29 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

As far as apples and carrots and things go, why not just peel them? Any bacteria will be on the surface, and a good wash and peel should get rid of them.
Or, see under salads, fruit and vegetables here: http://www.milton-tm.com/top_tips.html. Sounds like a good idea to me. Then peel if you think it necessary.
I have made a number of quick pickles using vinegar, but I'd be hesitant about giving them to your Mum. Remember that things like sauerkraut are made sour by the action of bacteria in the presence of salt, so being acidic or salty is no guarantee of being sterile. Most pathogenic bugs won't actually grow, but I don't know that they'd be killed.

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Bronwyn

My blog is Food and Shoes

PirateFoxy
Joined: 6 Jan 2011
User offline. Last seen 3 years 35 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

Oh, yes, I should have clarified that I plan to get her to run any ideas past her 'team' first - but her nutritionist hasn't been terribly helpful so far, really, so I don't want to rely on just what the nutritionist is suggesting.

(In my experience - with my mom and also with my late husband, who was chronically underweight and so saw a nutritionist a lot - there's an understandable tendency for a lot of nutritionists to have a fairly limited selection of ideas that aren't very 'unique' in terms of flavors or textures, based on what the majority of their patients are likely to eat. Unfortunately, if you're more open-minded about food and more willing to consider food items that many people might consider "exotic", then their suggestions get boring pretty quickly. So you have to do some of your own research and then bring it back to them.) (By understandable, I mean just that a lot of people do have fairly limited diets just by habit. They're comfortable with a relatively small selection of food, and with so many types of foods out there, it makes sense for a nutritionist in any given region to focus on what's common regionally, rather than suggesting to people who might not be feeling all that much like eating anyway that they try something that sounds exotic and weird.)

PirateFoxy
Joined: 6 Jan 2011
User offline. Last seen 3 years 35 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

See, they didn't say anything to her about possible ways of cleaning stuff. I'll definitely get her to ask about that.

I should add that I am definitely going to get her to run anything past her care 'team' before making stuff for her. They just don't seem to have that much variety in the suggestions they hand out, so I'm trying to get some possibilities together. (My mom is very open-minded about food - Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, whatever seems interesting - so I think some of the issue is that they restrict their suggestions to things that the majority of their patients who don't necessarily have a lot of variety in their diet will consider - which is reasonable, I don't expect them to have an entire room of cookbooks - but for her it's getting very boring.)

Good point about the sauerkraut also; I think she is allowed to have that except when she basically has no immune system at all (like when they're doing a bone marrow harvest ) so I don't know if that's because it's okay to have stuff where pathogenic bugs aren't likely to be thriving, or if it's just because someone doesn't actually know how sauerkraut is made and so didn't think about it?

(Happily, next month the support group she's in for her particular type of cancer is having a q&a session with a more experienced nutritionist than the ones the local hospitals offer, so possibly if I get some recipes and questions together by then, I'll be able to actually figure out what's what.)

maki
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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
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Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

Just a thought, but what about fruit or veg that must be peeled anyway, such as citrus? About apples, I've read somewhere that the 'dirtiest' parts are the stem and opposite ends, where dirt and stuff tends to collect, and removing those parts is advised. In any case, I hope your mom gets to eat the food she enjoys as well as food that's 'good' for her! My mother had serious, invasive surgery last year, so I can reallaya emphasize.

Henni A
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

I don't have advice on your specific problem, but I just want to say I understand your problem with the limited ideas of nutritionists. I am trying to eliminate potential headache triggers, and there are many lists saying things like: "vegetables to avoid: Tomatoes, onions [...]; vegetables allowed: everything that is not in the avoid-list." Really? Everything? Can I be really sure that I can eat bamboo shoots, okra, nori, topinambur...?

PirateFoxy
Joined: 6 Jan 2011
User offline. Last seen 3 years 35 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

Exactly. Although I admit sometimes I feel like, with those headache avoidance lists, they should just put "foods to avoid: Anything that tastes good." That seems to be what it often boils down to anyway. (I get migraines, and have yet to successfully manage to completely avoid all possible triggers, because I end up with nothing to eat. Luckily, I've managed to figure out most of my primary ones anyway, like coffee and red wine.)

sharon
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

How about pickled pears?

Spiced Pickled Pears

3lbs cooking pears

Slightly salted cold water

1pint distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 lb granulated sugar

Peel of 1/2 a lemon

Peel, halve or quarter the pears and put into the water. Mix a little of the vinegar with the spices and put the remaining vinegar,sugar and lemon peel into a pan.Heat gently until sugar is fully dissolved then add the spice mixture and bring to the boil. Rinse the pears and add to pan. Simmer gently until the pears look clear and are tender. Remove pears using perforated spoon and put into warm,steralised jars. Discard the lemon peel and boil liquid until it has thickened to a syrup. Pour over the pears to cover them completely and seal immediately.

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 21 weeks 2 days ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

I can't offer any suggestions I'm afraid apart from cleaning veg as best you can as others have said. But I do emphasise with you about the nutritionist. When I was younger and in hospital I had to have a nutritionist and basically all I was allowed to eat in the end was boiled things. And most of it was over boiled. Soggy bland veg and chicken every day. Horrible. In fact it put me off courgettes and my mum had to call them zucchinis at home for me to eat them.

I know it may not be the same as having raw veg, but maybe steaming them? As that keeps a good crunch and the veg tastes awesome as well.

Oh and I have to say Sharon I read that as prickly pear for some reason and instantly got the bear necessities stuck in my head >.<

____________________________________

I'm not short, I'm fun sized ^_^

bronwyncarlisle
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Bento-ing from: Dunedin › New Zealand
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Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

And the other end of that stick was my poor old 88 year old aunt, who had to spend quite some time in hospital before she died. The nutritionists had decided that everyone needed their veges crunchy, so that's how the hospital kitchen cooked them. But the very elderly find that a) unappetising, ("the veges are raw" she used to say) and b) physically inedible, as their jaws are not very strong and false teeth don't cope well with crunchy things at the best of times.

PirateFoxy
Joined: 6 Jan 2011
User offline. Last seen 3 years 35 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

I'm definitely going to try steaming/blanching some things like carrots and broccoli, so they're cooked but not, you know, COOKED.

Unfortunately my favorite 'lightly cooked but still fresh tasting' vegetable is snap peas, which my mom hates.

I'm definitely going to have to ask more about how effective blanching is - I mean, when you blanch a tomato or a peach to peel it, the whole thing really doesn't end up cooked entirely through, but you actually remove the skin and I imagine the boiling water isn't kind to most of the things that might be hanging out ON the skin, so maybe that's a possibility. (Unless they're worried that there will be some kind of bacteria in the flesh?)

The guidelines really aren't very helpful when you actually have access to someone who knows how to cook, because they're too simplistic.

(Which I understand, better to be overly careful than have someone think they can eat something that isn't safe, but I'd much prefer some kind of simple guidelines which were then supported by more detailed information that was accessible if you wanted it.)

bronwyncarlisle
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Bento-ing from: Dunedin › New Zealand
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User offline. Last seen 1 year 29 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

Check this out.

I don't know how old your mother is, but I have noticed with my own elderly relatives that they are rather hesitant about asking the doctor anything at all - as if they think they will offend him/her by questioning anything. I found it very helpful with my aunt to go with her and ask the questions myself - that way at least I knew what she'd been told. She was quite old though, and deaf too, so she did tend to get things wrong. I don't imagine your mother is that bad.

I found this too, if you are in America you might be able to get access to the full text, I can't, not from home anyway.

Another thing you could do would be get in touch with a microbiologist at your local university. Academics are usually happy to help, and have access to the latest and best information. If they don't know the answer themselves they usually do know who to ask.

erisgrrrl
Bento-ing from: Bloomington › Indiana › USA
Joined: 28 May 2009
User offline. Last seen 2 years 23 weeks ago.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

The Momofuku cookbook has a HUGE section on various pickled fruits and veggies. They keep their crispness in most cases.

I also LOVE pickled raw beets. Most cooked beets I find pretty disgusting so when I found the recipe I treated it like gold! (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/raw-pickled-beets) They stay very crisp and keep quite a bit of beet-y flavor.

There are also lots of recipes for pickled red onion online (I couldn't find my fave one - which adds a tiny bit of rosemary to the brine) that might help when mixed with other veggies to boost the flavor that's been "boiled away."

Dunno if that helps! Good luck!!

anon.
Re: 'cooked' fresh vegetables and fruit

In college I volunteered with an organization that made and delivered meals to people with HIV/AIDS, Cancer, etc.. For fresh produce we always soaked everything in water and a product called Micro-cholr. It is related to bleach, but specifically made for food sterilization. You should be able to find it at a commercial kitchen supply company. Because it is a chemical wash, you will need to follow the directions very closely.

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