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  • Dina Cohen

Cooking Up Antioxidants

In this post, dietetics student Sara Gutman dishes up some ways to enrich your cooking.

Shopping nowadays can be very confusing, as food labels boast many different benefits.

These range from bragging about being organic to being preservative-free. It is very

difficult to separate which of these slogans are beneficial and which are just

marketing gimmicks. Today, our focus is antioxidants. You may have heard

that foods containing antioxidants are “superfoods” and that they are the answer to

all your troubles. While that is exaggerated, there is no doubt that antioxidants

play many important roles in the body.

The main function of antioxidants is to neutralize unstable molecules. Because these unstable molecules, or free radicals, can cause problems in the body, neutralizing them is important to good health. Antioxidants protect the body from inflammation, reduce the buildup in the arteries that can lead to strokes, and protect the body from heart disease. It is important to mention that antioxidant supplements do not have much research backing their effectiveness. It is the combination of the whole food with all its vitamins and nutrients that are needed for antioxidants to be effective.

Following is a list of antioxidant-rich fods. While you may recognize many, others may come as a surprise:

1) Most fruits, including citrus, cranberries, and blueberries

2) Most vegetables

3) Green and black tea

4) Dark chocolate

5) Grapes

6) Tomatoes (especially cooked)

7) Garlic and onions

8) Walnuts

10) Leeks and chives

11) Chestnuts

12) Herbs 2

Here are some great winter recipes that include antioxidant-rich foods:


There is something so warm and homey about a plate of shakshuka. This recipe

calls for canned tomatoes and fresh garlic!

Do you already make

shakshuka and want to

change it up? Try this

delicious spaghetti

Cranberry Orange Muffins

The orange zest and tart cranberrie combination has got to be a party in your

mouth! Try this recipe from!


 1 egg

 1 cup milk or water

 1/4 cup oil

 1 cup cranberries

 2 cups flour

 1/4 cup sugar

 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

 2 teaspoons baking powder

 1 teaspoon salt

 1 tablespoon Vanilla Sugar


 Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin cups with paper liners,

or use baking liners, or spray with baking spray.

 Beat eggs; add milk and oil.

 Cut cranberries in half.

 Combine all ingredients, mixing until just combined.

 Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. (Optional: Sprinkle sugar onto muffins

before baking, to give them a crunchy crust.)

Bake for 20–25 minutes. Remove from pan immediately


Roasted Chestnuts

Growing up, I enjoyed having roasted chestnuts on the long winter Friday nights.

Try adding an herb like nutmeg for extra flavor. This method takes an

extra step of boiling the chestnuts, but the result is worth it. All it takes is one

batch of woodsy dry chestnuts and you will be preboiling yours :)

Recipe by Maria Vanelli, RD


16 ounces chestnuts, or as many as desired


 Preheat oven to 425°: Place oven rack in the middle.

 Make an incision by laying the chestnut flat on your cutting board. With a

serrated knife, make a lengthwise slit down the entire middle surface, on

the long side. Make sure you hold down the chestnut firmly on the cutting

board. (Be careful not to cut yourself as the outer shell is very slippery).

 Place the chestnuts in a pot of cold water. As soon as the water begins to

boil, remove the chestnuts with a slotted spoon and place on a shallow

baking pan.

 Place the chestnuts with the flat side down, the cut side up in a single layer

in your baking pan. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven for about 15-20


 Once you have obtained perfectly-roasted chestnuts, remove from the

oven and wrap them in a clean tea towel. Allow the wrapped chestnuts to

sit in the towel for about 10-15 minutes.

 If you are not eating the chestnuts immediately, remove from shells, so the

chestnuts do not stick.

I hope this cleared up some of your antioxidant confusion!




1. Erica M. Holt, Lyn M. Steffen, Antoinette Moran et al, J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 March ; 109(3): 414–421.


2. Monica H Carlsen, Bente L Halvorsen, Kari Holte et al, Nutrition Journal PMC, 2010 January;

doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-3 retrieved from

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