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Stalks, Inflorescents (flowers) And Legumes

What is a Stalk Vegetable?

Stalks are a category of vegetables whose stalks or stems are eaten. Stalks are best when they are young, small, and tender. The older and larger the get, the more fibrous and tough to chew they become. When purchasing stalk vegetables, look for those that are firm and smooth, without any discolored spots or bruising. Stalks tend to be very unique and intense in flavor and in most cases cooking mellows the intensity. Stalks are best stored wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a perforated bag in the refrigerator.

Common types of stalk vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Fennel Bulb
  • Cardoon
  • Celery
  • Chinese celery
  • Fern
  • Hearts of Palm
  • Rhubarb

Nutritional benefits of stalk vegetables

Stalk vegetables are chock-full of healthy properties including but not liitied to Vitamin C, fiber, calcium and iron.


What is an Inflorescent Vegetable?

Inflorescents are vegetables whose flowers or buds are eaten. When purchasing broccoli, cauliflower, and rapini, look for bunches with florets that have compact clusters and avoid any with open flowers or those that are yellow, bruised, or wilted. Artichokes should be compact and heavy for their size with leaves that are tightly packed together. Loosely spread leaves indicate older, overripe artichokes that are tough with a very large choke. Inflorescents are best when stored in a perforated bag in a refrigerator drawer.

Common types of inflorescent vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Rapini
  • Artichokes

Nutritional benefits of inflorescent vegetables

While there are many health benefits of eating inflorescent vegetables, some of the most beneficial nutritional properties of these veggies are Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Glucosinolates, which are compounds that are shown to reduce risks of cancer in the body.


What is a Legume?

Legumes, while not technically vegetables, are often categorized as such. Legumes are plants that produce edible seeds in pods that are often also edible. When purchasing fresh legumes, always look for pods that are bright green and smooth looking. Avoid any that appear to be bruised, wrinkled, yellow, or spotted. Most legumes do not store well because their sugars quickly convert to starch and they become bitter or tasteless.

Common types of legumes

  • Green beans
  • Wax beans
  • Sugar peas
  • Snap peas
  • English peas
  • Soybeans
  • Fava
  • Broad beans

Nutritional benefits of legumes

This is a really hearty and nutritionally beneficial group of vegetables. Most legumes contain high levels of iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, protein, fiber, B Vitamins.


How to Cook Stalks, Inflorescents and Legumes

Most stalks, inflorescents, and legumes can be eaten raw or cooked; with the exception of a few vegetables in this category like ferns, fava beans, rhubarb and cardoon which are much more pleasant enjoyed cooked instead of raw. You can cook these vegetables in any way that you like including:

  • Boiling
  • Simmering
  • Steaming
  • Stir-frying
  • Sautéing
  • Roasting
  • Grilling
  • Broiling
  • Stewing
  • Braising
  • Frying

Sources:

  • "The Health Benefits of Legumes", Healthy Eating, Meg Campbell, Demand Media, http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-legumes-7677.html

About the Author

Daniella Malfitano is a chef, entrepreneur, author of six digital cookbooks (available on and Amazon and iTunes), TV host and creator of the PBS television series "Delicious Discoveries with Daniella Malfitano" and educator for her traveling cooking and wellness company Delicious Discoveries. Daniella is always available for cooking demos, culinary workshops, public speaking engagements as well as culinary consulting, culinary business development, and brand ambassador partnerships with brands that are in alignment with her passion for local, healthy food. Daniella's passion and enthusiasm for food is contagious and it is evident in everything that she does! For more information visit www.daniellamalfitano.com or email info@daniellamalfitano.com.

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