Capsicums may not by spicy but they certainly help spice up a meal.

  • A capsicum is a species of fruit that is popularly eaten as a vegetable, and is native to tropical areas of North and South America.
  • ‘Capsicums’ are also known  as ‘peppers’, ‘sweet peppers’, and ‘bell peppers’.
  • The scientific name of a common capsicum is Capsicum annum and it is from the family Solanaceae, the family of nightshades.
  • The colour of capsicums ranges greatly, though they are more commonly red, green or yellow in colour, but purple, brown, white and orange varieties are also available.
  • China was the largest producer of capsicums in 2007, with a total production of 14,033,000 tonnes (15,468,700 tons) out of the world total of 26,056,900 tonnes (28,722,800 tons).
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Image courtesy of Live4Soccer/Flickr
  • Red capsicums, compared to green, orange and yellow ones, are the sweetest, especially if they are not picked until ripe, while the green coloured fruit are the least sweet and are often just unripened red fruit.
  • It is thought that capsicums where first cultivated around 5000 BC, and the first European to discover the fruit was Christopher Columbus, when he visited the West Indies.
  • Capsicums, or sweet peppers, are unusual in that they do not contain capsaicin, which gives others in the genus of the same name, including chili peppers, a hot spicy flavour.
  • Capsicums are extremely high in vitamin C and high in vitamin A, and depending on the variety, they may also contain significant quantities of vitamins B6 and K, and folate, and they also contain many other vitamins and minerals.
  • Capsicums are eaten both raw and cooked, often as a side vegetable, especially due to the vegetable’s crispiness.
Bell Pepper, 2015, Wikipedia,
Capsicum, 2011, Fresh For Kids,
Capsicum, 2015, Wikipedia,



Funnelling your throat with fennel is probably not the safest idea.

  • Fennel is an edible perennial plant, which is used as a vegetable, herb and spice.
  • Fennel is believed to be native to the coastal areas of the Mediterranean region, and it has spread across much of Europe, and in some countries around the world, some varieties are considered a weed.
  • The scientific name of the fennel plant is Foeniculum vulgare, and it is from the family Apiaceae, the family of carrots, celery and parsley, and the bulbous variety of the plant is known as ‘Florence fennel’, ‘bulb fennel’, and ‘finocchio’, and has the scientific name Foeniculum vulgare azoricum.
  • The flowers, leaves, seeds, and bulbs of fennel can be eaten, and they are used mostly as a flavouring or spice, while the bulbous ends can be used raw, grilled, steamed, or cooked in other ways.
  • The bulbs of fennel are generally white in colour with a green stalk, while the flowers are coloured yellow, the leaves green, and the seeds brown to green.

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  • Fennel seeds can be used to spice up meat, especially fish, as well as egg, while the bulbs are popular in salads or as vegetable sides.
  • The bulb of fennel generally grows to be 8 to 12 centimetres (3 to 5 inches) in diameter, while the seeds reach 0.4 to 1 centimetre (0.15 to 0.4 inches) in length.
  • The smell and taste of fennel is notably similar to that of anise, and the bulb has a crisp texture and the leaves are feathery.
  • The Ancient Greeks considered fennel as a godly food, and it was believed that the vegetable distributed godly knowledge through charcoal in the vegetable’s stalks.
  • Fennel bulbs are very high in vitamin C, and are high in potassium, fibre and manganese, and contain many other vitamins and minerals.


Fennel, 2011, Fresh For Kids,
Fennel, 2015, Wikipedia,
Fennel, 2015, The World’s Healthiest Foods,



Artichokes are somewhat a misnomer, though they will certainly choke you if they are swallowed whole!

  • Artichokes are the edible flower buds of a perennial thistle plant, native to the Mediterranean region in Europe, and they are generally considered a vegetable, and eaten as such.
  • The artichoke plant, also known as ‘globe artichoke’, has the scientific name Cynara scolymus and it is from the family Asteraceae, the family of daisies and asters.
  • The rough spherical shape of artichokes is constructed with scales that somewhat resemble diamond shapes, each of which are generally armed with a thorn on the tip.
  • The diameter of artichokes varies between 6 to 14 centimetres (2.4 to 5.5 inches), while the vegetable grows on plants that can reach 1.4 to 2 metres (4.6 to 6.6 feet) in height.
  • The colour of artichokes ranges from green to purple to a mix of both, depending on the variety, and they need to be picked before they flower, because they will become inedible.

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  • Egypt was the largest producer of artichokes in 2012, with 387,704 tonnes (427,370 tons) of the world total of 1,634,219 tonnes (1.8 million tons), while Italy was not far behind with 364,871 tonnes (402,201 tons).
  • Artichokes are cooked generally by boiling or steaming, although they can also be baked, grilled and microwaved, and they are popularly eaten with other vegetables or meat, while the scales are often dipped in a sauce or butter.
  • The term ‘artichoke’ comes from the Northern Italian word ‘articiocco’, and originally from the Arabic ‘al-karšūfa’; and the vegetable has been cultivated for thousands of years.
  • Generally artichokes are prepared by snipping off the thorns, and after cooking, the flesh from the scales can be pulled off with one’s teeth, the internal ‘choke’ removed and discarded, and the stalk and internal heart can be readily eaten and are said to be the tastiest sections.
  • Artichokes are very high in fibre, antioxidants, folate and vitamin K, and they contain many other vitamins and minerals.
Artichoke, 2015, Wikipedia,
Artichoke Nutrition Facts, 2015, Nutrition-and-You,
Steele M, How To Use Artichoke, 2015, Jamie Oliver,



Try to hear past all the rhubarb.

  • Rhubarb is an edible stalk-based vegetable that grows as a perennial, native to Siberia and other parts of central and eastern Asia.
  • The scientific name of rhubarb is Rheum rhabarbarum and it is from the family Polygonaceae, the family of knotweed.
  • Although normally considered a vegetable, rhubarb is sometimes known as a fruit, even leading to a court in the United State’s New York to declare the food a fruit in 1947.
  • Rhubarb is grown both outdoors and indoors successfully, particularly in greenhouses where mild temperatures can be retained all year; and the produce varies in texture, taste and colour depending on where it was grown.
  • The stalks of rhubarb are stereotypically coloured red and they have leaves that are green, although stalks may also be pink, or partially or fully green.
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Image courtesy of H. Michael Milley/Flickr
  • Commonly rhubarb stalks are cooked by gently boiling them, and the vegetable is often made into sauces or other dishes, as well as added to desserts such as pies and tarts.
  • The texture of rhubarb is quite crisp, and it has a very tart flavour, causing it to often have the addition of sugar to sweeten it.
  • The leaves of a rhubarb plant are toxic due to chemicals they contain, like oxalic acid, which can negatively impact human health upon consumption.
  • For thousands of years, rhubarb has been used medicinally, especially in China, and it has been used for digestive issues, as a laxative, and for numerous other health complaints.
  • Rhubarb is very high in vitamin K, and is high in manganese, potassium, calcium, fibre and vitamin C.
Rhubarb, 2011, Fresh For Kids,
Rhubarb, 2015, Wikipedia,


Bok Choy

You can’t get a vegetable with a name much stranger than bok choy.

  • Bok choy is a leafy vegetable, dubbed as an ‘Asian green’, that generally has large leaves that clusters upwards from its base.
  • The scientific name of bok choy is Brassica rapa chinensis, previously known as Brassica chinensis, and it is from the family Brassicaceae, the family of cabbages and mustards.
  • ‘Bok choy’ is also known as ‘bok choi’, ‘buk choy’ ‘white cabbage’, ‘Chinese chard’, ‘Chinese cabbage’, ‘Chinese savoy’, ‘Chinese white cabbage’, ‘white Chinese cabbage’, ‘Chinese mustard’, ‘Chinese mustard cabbage’, ‘spoon cabbage’, ‘pak choy’ and ‘pak choi’.
  • The translation of the Cantonese words ‘bok choy’ is ‘white vegetable’ in English, and there is often great confusion over the vegetable’s numerous names, which can vary depending on country or location, while some refer to different varieties.
  • The leaves of bok choy are a green colour, and the stalks are coloured white to green, depending on the variety or type, while the term ‘pak choy’ will often refer to the green stemmed variety.
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  • Bok choy originated in China, in Asia, and have been grown there since 400 AD, and it wasn’t until the late 1700s that they were introduced to Europe.
  • Both the stems and leaves of bok choy are eaten, and they are often cooked through stir-frying, while other methods include steaming, boiling and microwaving.
  • To decrease the likelihood of leaves wilting, harvesting of bok choy is performed during cooler hours, such as morning, and they are best stored in the refrigerator.
  • The thick stalks of bok choy are firm and crunchy, while the leaves are relatively thin and pliable.
  • In addition to many other beneficial vitamins and minerals, bok choy is very high in vitamin A, C and K, and it is particularly useful in decreasing the likelihood of inflammation and cancer.
Bok Choy, 2011, Fresh For Kids,
Bok Choy, 2015, Wikipedia,
Bok Choy, 2015, The World’s Healthiest Foods,


Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts sprout on stalks that sprout from soil.

  • Brussels sprouts, also known as ‘brussel sprouts’, are a vegetable eaten primarily for its leaves and they grow as buds along the stalk of a plant.
  • The scientific name of the Brussels sprout plant is Brassica oleracea variety gemmifera, from the Brassica genus, which include species of cabbages and cruciferous vegetables, and it is from the Brassicaceae family, the family of mustards.
  • Generally Brussels sprouts are a rough oval shape, with an appearance of a tiny cabbage, and they grow to sizes of 2.5 to 5 centimetres (1 to 2 inches) in length.
  • The exact origin of Brussels sprouts is unknown, although it is thought Europe’s Belgium first cultivated the vegetable, possibly in the capital Brussels sometime around the 1200s, hence the vegetable’s name, although concrete evidence only exists from the late 1500s.
  • The United States of America saw the introduction of Brussels sprouts in the 1700s by some immigrants from France.
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Brussels Sprouts
Image courtesy of Jacqueline/Flickr
  • The typical lush green colour of Brussels sprouts can vary in shade, and they can become a yellow or other discoloured colour when of poor quality, however purple coloured varieties are available.
  • Brussels sprouts are popularly cooked through boiling, stir-frying, grilling or roasting techniques, and are commonly flavoured with spices or sauces, and they are also able to be eaten raw and are sometimes used in salads.
  • Brussels sprouts contain a sulphur compound, glucosinolate sinigrin, that can produce a displeasing smell and a bitter taste when overcooked.
  • The Netherlands in Europe is one of the largest producer of Brussels sprouts in the world with 82,000 tonnes (90,390 tons), while the United Kingdom has a fairly high consumption rate of the vegetable.
  • Brussels sprouts are very high in vitamin C and vitamin K, and are a good source of folate, and they also contain other vitamins and minerals.
Brussels Sprouts, 2011, Fresh For Kids,
Brussels Sprouts, 2015, Wikipedia,
Brussels Sprouts, 2015, The World’s Healthiest Foods,


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