Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eat Your Veggies! Errr, Ummm... Fruit??

Yesterday's celebration of National Zucchini Bread Day sparked a discussion between my husband and me about "so-called" vegetables. You have to understand something about me. I spent the last 8 years of my office career doing research on the internet about medical procedures and new technology. Half of my job was being a professional Googler... and now that I am self-employed, old habits die hard. Whenever something interesting or debatable comes up, or someone needs information quick, I am at the ready with my "staff of Google". We gave it that name after spending some time in a chat room where medieval times were discussed, and where I got a reputation for being able to find the answer to virtually any question in under 5 minutes. But, I digress...

While looking for a trivia question about zucchini, I ran across a website that talked about fruits and vegetables - or rather, what most of us as non-scientific common folk refer to as fruits and vegetables. Now, I have a pretty good knowledge base, because well, I'm curious - about anything and everything. But even I was surprised to find out that some of the foods that I thought were vegetables, weren't. And some foods that I thought were fruits, weren't! And then there were those that I thought didn't fall into either category, but actually did!

Quiz time... see if you know exactly what category the following items fall into - botanically speaking, that is - fruit, vegetable or neither! Be sure to read below for more information :)

1) Zucchini Fruit
2) Pecans Fruit
3) Cucumbers Fruit
4) Rhubarb Vegetable
5) Allspice Fruit
6) Eggplant Fruit
7) Peppercorns Fruit
8) Avocado Fruit
9) Mushroom Neither - it's a fungus
10) Coconut Fruit
11) Corn Fruit, although it's considered a grain as well
12) Coffee Beans Coffee beans are the seeds of a fruit

You can learn the answers by clicking your cursor next to the item and dragging your mouse over the area (the answers are simply in whited out text to hide them!)

What makes a fruit a fruit and a vegetable a vegetable? Basically, fruits are developed from flowers, vegetables aren't. The simplest clue is to ask - does it have seeds? If it has seeds, then it is a fruit. At a more technical level, fruits are defined as the fleshy reproductive organs of plants; the ripened ovaries containing one or many seeds. Which means that things like squash, cucumbers, and green peppers are really fruit! Scratching your head yet? Thinking that all plants have seeds? True in a sense, which means we have to go beyond the "seedy" part of the definition to determine what part of the plant we're eating.

Vegetables do not originate from flowers; instead, they are the plant's roots (carrots), stems (celery), leaves (cabbage) and other edible parts of a plant. Surprisingly, the science of botany has not defined "vegetable". Perhaps because, it appears, that all vegetables are, from a loose botanical standpoint, fruits - since they all have seeds.

Legally, the US government decided to take a stand and go with the more traditional culinary definitions. From a culinary point of view, it's much simpler. If it's sweet or typically served in a sweet dish, it's a fruit. If it's not, it's a vegetable. I knew there was a reason I liked culinary types! So, the next time your spouse or child says they hate vegetables, plop that medley of zucchini, peppers and tomatoes in front of them and tell them it's a fruit salad!

In honor of this article that was inspired by yesterday's National Zucchini Bread celebration, I'm including my favorite zucchini bread recipe for you to try and hopefully enjoy!

Mom's Zucchini Bread (makes 2 loaves - since it won't last long!)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup golden raisins

Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini, raisins and nuts until well combined. I like to chop the raisins in half and toss with a little bit of flour first to help them distribute better!

Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

A huge thanks to the following Etsy shops for the use of their items in my blog today!

Carrot - Medium - Browns Country Originals
Watermelon Scrubbies - Set of 2 - Craft Twins
Vintage mushroom candle - Moxie Mittens
Farm Fresh Tomatoes-MINI PONYTAIL HOLDERS - FlyingButtons
Got Nuts? T-shirt - Stoopher & Boots
Apple Cozy - HABby Creations!


jen said...

Very interesting. It's definitely hard to keep it all straight. Thanks for the insight!

Vanessa said...

Oooh I LOVE zucchini and zucchini bread!

And LOL I love that coffee beans just went under the "coffee" category. Great blog!

Debs Crochet said...

Oh, I can't wait to ry to make this!
Don't like zucchini, but love zucchini bread

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