Organic Picks | December 22nd, 2014

BlackberriesNavel OrangesRomaine HeartsBroccoliPummelosKitchen Tip of the Week

Best if used by 01/07/15

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Organic Blackberries

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

While Organic Strawberries and Raspberries are all-but out of season and very expensive right now, Organic Blackberries from Mexico are in a period of big harvests which means reasonable prices and steady availability through the holidays and into January. Cool! Add them to your fruit salads, to your oatmeal or cereal, throw them in your yogurt and smoothies, or just enjoy them as a snack!

Blackberry Tips

  • Select Blackberries that are free from wet, leaking or moldy spots in the pack. Look for berries that are totally black in color (no light red or pink cells on the fruit).
  • Store them in the fridge and try to use them within a few days of purchase to get the most out of your purchase. Blackberries are delicate and the sweetest ripest soft berries don’t last long.
  • Always rinse your Blackberries just before use.
  • Recipes? Here are some Blackberry recipe ideas.
  • Nutrition? Learn more about Blackberry nutritional benefits here.

Recipe: Blackberry-Orange Smoothie

(makes two large servings or four snack-size servings)

  1. Layer the following ingredients in your high-powered blender
    • 1 stalk of Kale, washed and torn into pieces (or 1 large handful of Baby Spinach)
    • 6 oz fresh Blackberries, washed
    • 2 Navel Oranges, peeled
    • ½ cup plain Greek Yogurt
    • 1 ripe banana, peeled and frozen
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup ice
  2. Blend at full speed until consistent and you can no longer “hear the ice.”

Is the fruit eating good? Here in late-December the fresh Blackberries I’ve been sampling have been plump, lightly sweet with a mild flavor, less tangy than some times of the year.


Organic Navel Oranges

Peak Season    Best Flavor

A sweet and juicy, seedless Organic California Navel Orange is one of the great Simple Pleasures of Winter. Navels have bright orange skin that is not too difficult to peel or wedge, section and share. They’re healthy too, with immune-system-boosting Vitamin C and hunger-curbing fiber! It is an easy to love flavor during the cold months that whisks your taste buds away to the sunny citrus groves of the San Joaquin Valley in California. Yes, you’ll need a peeler or a knife – but sometimes it is good to slow down with your fruit.

Now that the season is going full tilt California grown Organic Navel Oranges are beginning to taste their juicy, flavorful best – a balance of sweetness and acidity. The flavor will get even sweeter as the season progresses – now through April.

Navel Orange Tips

  • Find the juiciest ones by selecting Navels that are heavy for their size.
  • Speaking of size, big to small, all Navels are tasting good right now so go with whatever type is best for your snacking preferences.
  • Select Navel Oranges that are free from soft spots, mold or sunken areas.
  • Store Navel Oranges at room temperature for up to a few days or in the fridge for up to two weeks.


Organic Romaine Hearts

Peak Season    Value Priced

Romaine Hearts rows are planted extra close together to help the Lettuce head grow tall and tight. The heads are cut at the base of the plant and outer leaves are trimmed off, they’re immediately packaged into the 3 pack sleeves or 6 count club packs out the field (there is no “romaine heart factory”), rushed to the cooler and shipped around the country. How fresh is that!

From Southern California, plus the irrigated fields of Yuma, Arizona and northern Mexico, Organic Romaine Hearts are in a period of bumper harvests this December. With all the extra supply, keep an eye out for advertised or in-store specials pricing where you shop. They are excellent for making crunchy salads or blending in with more tender bitter baby greens to add texture. Find creative ways to prepare Romaine Hearts here.

Here is a Romaine Heart preparation I would have never thought of, but after viewing the recipe I just have to give it a try over the holidays! Recipe: Mexican Christmas Eve Salad.

Organic Broccoli

Peak Season    Value Priced

Organic Broccoli is in peak season with reasonable prices too here in late December as California growers are harvesting more than current demand can full keep up with. Raw for veggie trays, dipping and snacking, steamed as a healthy side, sautéed for richness, stir-fried with other vegetables or roasted for great flavor – what’s your favorite use for fresh Organic Broccoli. Low calories, high fiber, tones of nutrients and phyto-nutrients; we should all be eating lots of Broccoli! The key is in preparation.

Broccoli Tips

  • Keep your Broccoli refrigerated right up until you’re ready to eat it.
  • Select Broccoli that has tight beads on the crown, is firm and has fresh, green cut ends.
  • Avoid Broccoli that has a strong odor or is flabby and limp.
  • Stems? You don’t need to throw those Broccoli stems in the trash or composter. You can julienne cut them for Broccoli Slaw or to add to a stir-fry or pasta.
  • Here’s a list of 10 Family-friendly Broccoli Recipes

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

  1. Wash, cut and prep the following veggies
    • 4 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
    • 2 Sweet Potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1” pieces
    • 2 heads of Broccoli, trimmed into 1-2” florets
  2. Toss vegetables with 2 tbsp Olive Oil in a large mixing bowl
  3. Season with ½ tsp Coarse Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, plus 1/3 tsp dried Rosemary, Thyme and Paprika, re-toss
  4. Roast at 450F for 15 minutes
  5. Flip, then roast for additional 15 minutes or until the Sweet Potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork

Roasted Organic Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli and Carrots

Organic Pummelos

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Ever see that huge greenish-yellow skinned Grapefruit-lookin’ thing in the organic produce section where you shop? Pummelos, also called Pomelo, are the biggest of all citrus fruits. Here in late December through March Organic Pummelos are in season from California. The prize inside the thick-skinned Pummelo is the mild, grapefruit-like cells that easily separate. They’re great for snacking, smoothies, adding to salads and citrus salsas. Go ahead… try one!

What’s it like? Pummelo tastes like Grapefruit – only a little less juicy and without the bitterness. The pink cells within the sections are sweet, mild and flavorful, plus they are easy to break apart from the membrane without smashing to use as a topping or as a refreshing snack. Oh, and there’s the skin… a lot of it too – it gives off a wonderful tropical citrus aroma and it extremely thick. Yes, they take a while to peel, but if you already paid a pretty penny for one – just take your time and enjoy the entire event.


Kitchen Tip of the Week

How to Open a Pummelo

  1. Slice off rind at the top of the Pummelo by the stem end.
  2. Score the skin with 4 cuts from the cut top to the base, but not all the way around.
  3. Pull the rest of the skin off the fruit using your fingers to separate the rind from the pith.
  4. Break the fruit into sections.
  5. Slice the tops off the segment and pull off the membranes.
  6. Eat the Pummelo sections whole or break apart the cells to use as a fruit topping for salads or an ingredient in a recipe.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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