A la carte: Can a persimmon really predict the winter forecast? | TribLIVE.com
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Persimmons

Legend has it that persimmons might hold the power to predict the weather of the coming winter. If you split the seeds of this autumn fruit, a white marking in one of three shapes is revealed:

• A knife shape supposedly forecasts a cold “cutting” winter.

• A fork shape means a mild season.

• A spoon shape represents lots of snow shoveling.

More reliably, says Environmental Nutrition newsletter, the persimmon is known for delivering an intensely sweet flavor, along with an impressive bite of nutrients.

Rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A in the body, one persimmon delivers 55 percent of the daily value of this vision-protecting vitamin, as well as 30 percent daily value of bone-healthy manganese and 24 percent daily value of filling dietary fiber.

The fiber in young persimmons contains tannins, which contain agents that may lower blood cholesterol levels.

Available October through January, persimmons with the deepest color of the setting sun are best.

There are hundreds of varieties of persimmons. Hachiyas can be purchased a bit under-ripe and allowed to fully soften at home, but fuyus may be firm or give slightly to pressure. Ripen at room temperature, then refrigerate up to three days.

Enjoy Hachiyas in a seasonal persimmon pudding, baked into breads, cookies and pancakes or stirred into a warm bowl of whole-grain oats or Greek yogurt. Try sliced fuyus in salads, stir-fry, salsa, dipped into nut butter or yogurt, or eaten like an apple, out of your hand.

Reasons to love eggs, even at dinner

Protein makes up about 20 percent of a healthy body, including everything that has structure — such as our hair and skin, the enzymes that enable essential chemical reactions in the body and the neurotransmitters that transfer information in our brain. Protein also provides about 10 percent of the body’s energy.

One egg has 6 grams of protein, including all of the amino acids in the proper ratios so our bodies can make full use of these nutrients. (The recommended daily allowance is 46 grams for women, 56 for men.) Eggs also offer vitamins, minerals, healthful fats and antioxidants. They are free of sugar and carbohydrates. Also:

• The yolk and the white have protein.

• The United States produces 75 billion eggs a year.

• Eggs provide long-lasting energy because of the mix of protein and healthful fat.

• Fresh eggs will last in the fridge for six to eight weeks.

• Pastured eggs tend to be the most healthful, as the birds spend time outside in a pasture instead of being constantly caged in a barn. They have access to a varied and natural diet of seeds, grains, plants, insects and worms. Pastured eggs have been shown to be higher in vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and lower in cholesterol and saturated fat.

Taste of Home starts online cooking school

Taste of Home magazine editors have been helping home cooks with culinary education for years. Now, they bring the Taste of Home Cooking School to life with the launch of a new initiative, the Taste of Home Cooking School Online .

The personal culinary experience delivered by the Cooking School Online includes step-by-step instructions, tips on ingredients and techniques and guidance on how to prep, serve and store.

Subjects include Slow Cooker Favorites, Weeknight Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, Comfort Food Classics and Everyday Healthy Favorites.

Individual course start at $14.99. Details: tohcookingschool.com

— Staff and wire reports

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