I can hardly believe it’s New Year’s Eve already! At times it seemed like 2017 was just dragging on forever. But then all of a sudden we went, fast forward, through several months and several major holidays. Not to mention several milestones in our family – including a high school graduation, a new job, and birthdays celebrating 18, 20, and 50 years on earth. I think we hit some of the top 10 moments in my kids’ lives this year. It will be interesting to see what 2018 will bring their way.
Top 10 Accomplishments on the Blog
Tonight I’d like to talk about the blog, though. In particular, I’d like to share with you the top 10 posts on 24 Carrot Diet for the year 2017.
Looking back at my editorial calendar for the past few months, there is a lot of blog content that I wanted to publish but I just didn’t find the time for all of it. I did, however, manage to move to a self-hosted blog and to publish fairly consistently these past few months. I’ve also been growing my social media following for 24 Carrot Diet, slowly but surely.
I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made in 2017. And of course, much of it is only possible because of you, the readers. So I thought it would be fun to look back through some of the posts I’ve written this year, and to reveal which ones were the most visited.
I have to say that when I look at the top 10 list, there are a few posts there that I didn’t expect to see. And a few posts I thought would be among the most popular, but that didn’t quite make the cut.
Let’s take a look at what did…
A Tie for Last Place
These two posts had the same number of visits in 2017. It’s interesting that they were both in my top 10 posts, since one was originally published more than a year ago. The other was written fairly late in the year, in mid-November. One post looks at a vegetable many North Americans have never cooked or eaten. The other is a frugal post that looks at how we can repurpose food scraps instead of throwing them away. I just randomly assigned these to posts 9 and 10 of the top 10. But really, they’re a tied entry for number 9.
10) 5 Fantastic Ways to Liven Up the Humble Turnip
This is actually a post from 2016 that I updated a few months ago. Since then, it’s gotten a fair bit of attention. One of the things I learned as a result is that many North Americans aren’t familiar with turnips. This really surprised me because we grew up eating yellow turnip, and I’ve always seen it in the grocery stores year round. Most seed catalogues offer several types of turnips for sale, including the Japanese turnips my family discovered in 2017.
Turnips are brassicas, cousins to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. They are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, and they are really versatile to cook with. You can make everything from turnip greens to turnip salad and baked turnip “fries.” If you aren’t already cooking with turnips, check out this post to learn more about it and to get ideas for preparing it.
9) Orange Peels: The Free Ingredient You’ve Been Throwing Away
When you eat oranges, do you throw the peels in the garbage? If you do, you’re throwing away free food! Orange peels and orange zest are used in so many different recipes. Plus, you can use them to make skin care products like sugar scrubs. And they’re a very useful ingredient for DIY cleaning products. Orange peels have antimicrobial properties, but they’re non-toxic and safe for the environment. If you are tossing them out, it’s like throwing money out the window!
Healthy Living in 2017
The next several posts in my top 10 all emphasized making choices for healthy living. I wrote one specifically for the holiday season, because I know most of us worry about gaining weight when we go to Christmas parties and big family dinners. A related post looked at serving size and calories in oranges, because many of us tend to binge on citrus fruits in December.
The third of these posts is more about everyday healthy eating habits. And it might seem a bit old fashioned to you. But eating dark green vegetables every day is a habit with a purpose. There are some really delicious vegetables in this group, many of which supply antioxidants that can slow the signs of ageing and help keep us healthy longer. You’ll be amazed when you see the list!
8) How to Survive the Holidays Without Gaining Weight
Did you know that most people gain just under a pound over the Christmas holidays? That’s a lot less than the 5-10 pounds that many of us believe we’ll gain. But holiday weight gain is still an issue – precisely because it’s such a small amount. We tend to write it off because our clothes still fit and it’s easy to forgive a tiny weight gain. But this is how we fall prey to creeping obesity, which is a serious health concern. This post offered tips for how to treat yourself a little at Christmastime without abandoning your healthy eating habits.
7) Are You Eating Enough Dark Green and Orange Vegetables?
You probably have a vague childhood memory of being told to eat your greens. Or maybe you were told to eat one dark green vegetable and one orange vegetable every day. Do you ever think about that when you plan meals for yourself and your family? If you’re like most people, probably not! Most of us didn’t grow up eating this way, so it never became a habit. And since we were never told why these vegetables were important – or why some green vegetables count and others don’t – it just didn’t seem like a priority.
Well, it turns out the reason for eating these veggies is to ensure we get enough of important nutrients like vitamin A. Many North Americans actually don’t get enough vitamin A from our diets. And taking supplements is apparently not the best way of topping up. Want to learn more about why these particular veggies are so important to our health? Check out the post! There’s also a great listing of dark green vegetables and orange fruits and veggies.
6) How Many Calories are in an Orange?
I’ll bet you never asked yourself how many calories are in an orange. But with so many oranges around at Christmas, it can be easy to start eating several oranges a day. Fruit is healthy, but health experts sometimes tell us to limit our intake of fruits and fruit juices. They want us to emphasize vegetables instead. Could it be that there are too many calories in fruits like oranges? Or maybe too much sugar? Click through to the post to learn more about the nutrients and calories in oranges. Find out if you should limit your intake, or if it’s safe to eat more than one a day.
More on Vegetables
The next two posts in my top 10 both looked at specific vegetables: sweet potatoes and broccoli. But one of these most visited posts looked at the vegetable from a historic point of view. The other explored a micronutrient whose name you may not have heard. From food history to food science, you can be sure that 24 Carrot Diet will help you learn more about the vegetables that are important to our health!
5) Sweet Potato or Yam?
Do you make sweet potato casserole at the holidays, or maybe candied yams? Did you know that the vegetables sold as “sweet potato” and “yam” in most grocery stores are exactly the same tuber? And real yams are nothing like sweet potatoes. They actually taste more like plain old white potatoes!
Why is there so much confusion over the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? There is a reason for calling some sweet potatoes “yams.” It has a history that reaches back to the days of the slave trade, and then forward to the early 20th century. If you love reading about where our food comes from, you are going to be fascinated by the tale of the sweet potatoes that are sometimes called yams.
4) Why You Shouldn’t Cook Broccoli in Your Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are a huge help for any busy family. I know we use ours at least once a week, and sometimes almost daily. But there are a few things, like dried beans, that we probably shouldn’t cook in our crockpots. And broccoli is one of those foods. Despite the popularity of recipes like crockpot beef and broccoli, cooking broccoli in a slow cooker can produce some less than desirable results.
One really important thing you should know about cooking broccoli is that prolonged heating can prevent the formation of a potent cancer-fighting antioxidant named sulforaphane. Learn more about the benefits of this phytochemical, and how you can prepare broccoli to make sure you’ll get more of it.
A Little Comfort Food for Our Top 10
If you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know I’m all about comfort food! And when the weather turns cold, I love to make lots of warming soups and stews. Casseroles can be very comforting as well, and one of my favourite casseroles was in the top 10 this year.
3) The Best Shepherd’s Pie Recipe Ever
Shepherd’s pie is popular in North America and abroad. Sometimes you’ll find it under different names, like cottage pie or hachis Parmentier. But it’s usually some combination of meat, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. In Quebec, it’s called pâté chinois, and it’s so popular that the Québécois have chosen it for their national dish.
The version of shepherd’s pie people make in Quebec has three main ingredients: ground beef, corn, and mashed potato. My recipe kicks it up a notch. And I discuss some of the nutritional concerns people have about eating this calorie-rich food, as well as some of the healthier substitutions you can make.
Who Knew Food Storage was Controversial?
In the past few years, I’ve written about the best ways to store different vegetables in order to extend their shelf life. I’ve also written about how – and when – to wash vegetables, and sometimes how to prepare them too. When the tomatoes were starting to ripen, I wrote about the best way to store tomatoes. I knew it would be appreciated, but I didn’t expect it to end up being in the top 10 posts for 2017. I also didn’t expect the reactions to be as heated as they were!
2) Can You Store Tomatoes in the Fridge?
Growing up, my mother always kept tomatoes in the fridge. I never really questioned that until I had moved out on my own. Since then, I’ve learned that most food experts recommend storing tomatoes at room temperature.
There is actual science behind this, and there are also a few exceptions to the rule. With many grocery store tomatoes, the damage may already be done before you bring them home. Even with heirloom tomatoes from your own garden, if you’ve refrigerated them you can recondition them to restore their flavour.
Even so, there were a lot of folks who got very indignant at the mere suggestion that tomatoes might be stored in the fridge! I was really surprised at some of the reactions I got to this post, both on the blog and on social media. Regardless of where you stand on the question of proper tomato storage, it’s worth reading this post to learn more about what gives tomatoes their flavour and why the taste changes when tomatoes are chilled.
The Most Visited Post of 2017
I rarely write about sweets, so it’s ironic that the most popular post of the entire year is a recipe for something that’s almost pure sugar. Well, sugar and fat. Still, I had expected my top 10 for the year to be headed up by a post about crunchy, healthy vegetables. Or maybe a main dish recipe. The stats have spoken, though.
So, it’s time for the reveal. What was my most visited post for 2017? Drum roll please!
1) Traditional French Canadian Fudge
When you think fudge, is it kind of cakey and soft? Does it have chocolate in it? Or maybe peanut butter? When you eat it, does it stick to the roof of your mouth? If you’ve always eaten some version of foolproof fudge, made with icing sugar, marshmallow creme, or chocolate and condensed milk, you will be amazed at how different fudge can be! French Canadians call fudge sucre à la crème. The classic Québécois recipe is basically just brown sugar and heavy cream. But the important thing is how you make the fudge.
There are very few traditional French Canadian recipes for fudge that have been translated into English. And do not entrust the translation to Google! You’ll end up with a list of ingredients that sounds like it belongs at the mechanic shop instead of in your kitchen! Check out my post for a traditional sucre à la crème recipe in English – plus tips for how to ensure that the fudge turns out right. This fudge is light and sweet, and it will melt in your mouth. If you’ve never had brown sugar fudge, you absolutely must try it. There really is nothing else like it!
What Do You Think About Our Top 10?
So there you have it! These were the top 10 posts on 24 Carrot Diet for the year 2017. There are a handful of others that received a lot of attention later in the year, but just didn’t have quite enough traffic to make the list of most visited posts. I may do a bit of an honourable mention roundup as we move into January, because some of those posts raised topics that you were eager to discuss. And I do intend to follow up on those subjects – for example parenting and food – in 2018. There’s a lot to say on that topic, so watch for more in the new year.
What were your favourite posts for 2017? Are there things you learned on 24 Carrot Diet this year that you’d like to read more about? Are there topics I didn’t cover, but that you’d like to read about? I know one reader has recently asked about healthy ways to gain weight, and that is definitely on my list of topics for the year ahead. Drop me a comment to let me know what you’d like to read about. I’ll try to cover anything related to good food, healthy living, or growing your own food.
Happy New Year from 24 Carrot Diet!
It’s getting late in the day so I’m going to get this post uploaded and published before it’s time to bid goodbye to 2017. Thanks to all of you who have been stopping by to read, share, and comment on 24 Carrot Diet. Your support and kind words mean so much to me!
I wish you all the best of health, happiness, and prosperity for the year to come. And I hope you will all see the new year in safely. Take care of yourselves, and have a very Happy New Year!
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!