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April Superfood of the Month: Radishes


Are you someone who loves the vibrant red crunch of a fresh radish, or does that distinct peppery radish flavor send you running the other direction?  Some people absolutely love radishes, and then there are others who only think of them as those thinly sliced veggies you find on a salad bar.

We hope this Superfood of the Month coaching tip will either give you new ideas how to enjoy radishes or pleadingly convince you to give them a try!

Radishes are the perfect Superfood of the Month for April because, although they are typically available year round, they are a great cool-season crop and are likely to show up at your farmers' markets this month!

 

 

What are radishes?

Radishes are an edible root vegetable and can be found in white, red, purple or even black.  They are typically round, but can also be long and cylinder shaped.  You may have also seen the popular Asian radish, known as a daikon, which tends to be sweeter and milder than other radishes and is frequently used in a wide variety of dishes.

 

 

There are several types of radishes, but here are some of the most common:

 

Cherry Belle - round red radish...this is the most common variety found in stores.

 

 

 

 

 

White Icicle - long white radish that can grow 5 to 8 inches in length.

 

 

 

 

 

French Breakfast - these oblong radishes are pink at the top and white at the bottom and are slightly sweet and more delicate.

 

 

 

 

Easter Egg - probably the most colorful variety of radish...you can find them in white, pink, red or purple!  These are often available early in the growing season.

 

 

 

 

Watermelon - these radishes can grow to be the size of baseballs!  They are larger, mild flavored radishes and have a thin greenish skin.  And, just under the skin is a layer of white, with a fuchsia color in the center...hence the watermelon name!

 

 

 

 

Daikon - these may look more like a white carrot than a radish, and they can grow up to 18 inches long and 3 inches wide.  They are white inside and out, and can also be called Japanese or Oriental radishes.

 

 

 

 

Why should we all be eating radishes?

Radishes are part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which means they are packed with antioxidants!  Remember from our coaching tip on antioxidants, this is a great way to prevent damage done by free radicals and reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, stroke and cancer.  Radishes are also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, helping protect our respiratory and immune systems and manage inflammation.  They also help with digestion, water retention and constipation, and are a great source of potassium, which helps reduce blood pressure.  Plus, there is only about 20 calories in 1 cup of radishes!

 

Why do some radishes have a "peppery kick?"

If you have ever noticed a "spicy" sensation when you eat a radish, much of this comes from compounds that metabolize when you chew them and produce the peppery kick.  This is similar to the compounds found in horseradish and wasabi.  For some, this is one of the attractions of radishes.  For others, this is what may turn them off from enjoying radishes...but, stay tuned for ideas to change this perception!

 

How do you pick radishes?

Look for radishes to be firm to the touch and smooth-skinned, not cracked or wrinkled.  The leaves should be crisp and fresh looking.

 

How do you store radishes?

First, it is best to cut the radishes away from the stems and leaves, because leaving them attached can cause moisture and nutrients to be drawn out of the radishes.  You can wash them now, or just before eating.  Store the radishes in an open plastic bag, and they will keep for up to 1 to 2 weeks (you can also place a moistened paper towel in the bag if desired).  Keep in mind, if radishes dry out, you can put them in a bowl of ice water for 5-10 minutes to help their crunch come back to life!

 

What do you do with the radish greens?

You can eat the greens!  They are edible, healthy and delicious -- they have the same slight peppery taste as the radishes.  After rinsing them well to remove any grit or dirt, they can be stored in an airtight container or bag and will keep for a few days.

You can eat the radish greens just like salad greens...like sturdy greens such as kale, spinach, or Swiss chard.  This makes them ideal to add to salads, soups, frittatas, or stir fry dishes...and they also work great in homemade pesto or smoothies.

 

How do you enjoy radishes?

Radishes are not just for salads!  Although they are excellent in salads such as the Corn and Radish Salad, Asparagus and Radishes with Mint, and the Mexican Pineapple Salad, they can also be substituted for turnips or other root vegetables.  They are also great cut into matchsticks and added to lettuce wraps, coleslaw, or tacos.

Radishes can also be braised in a little butter and red wine vinegar, sautéed with olive oil and fresh herbs, or added toward the end in stir fry dishes.  They are also awesome pickled!  Try some of these ideas:

 

 

And it doesn't stop there -- they are also great roasted or grilled...all it takes is a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and of course any of your other favorite spices such as smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder or dried rosemary.  You can even add a little bit of pure maple syrup!  Roasting and grilling can tone down radishes' peppery kick.

 

 

 

 

 

Zonya Says:

 

Last November I got to stay at the Sanderson's for 6 days while we worked together.  I had NEVER had a daikon radish, but they were "mainstays" of the salads Krista makes frequently.

I was so impressed that I took these two photos -- it such a great idea to help get our "daily" cruciferous vegetable.  (Experts are so convinced of the cancer fighting abilities of cabbage family vegetables that they want us to eat a serving every single day!)

 

 

 

 

And, yes, this is a snapshot of Krista's frig drawer, without beautifying, this is exactly how it was!

Let me just say, this dietitian/nutritionist was impressed!

 

Go ahead and take the Superfood Challenge and try radishes in different ways...you may discover something new and delicious you never knew you liked!

 

Do you have a favorite way to enjoy radishes?  Please tell us so we can share with others!

 

 

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