Organic Picks of the Week 01/08/13

Best if Used By 01/15/13

Organic Picks of the week for January 8th, 2013 features
Grape Tomatoes, Hass Avocados, Beets, Sweet Mini Peppers and Clementine Mandarins

Organic Grape Tomatoes


Bite-sized Organic Grape Tomatoes are perfect for snacking and for topping salads – especially if you’re looking for affordable veggies (well, actually fruit) to keep at arm’s length here in the New Year. Early January’s bumper harvests in Florida and Mexico of Organic Grape Tomatoes are helping to keep prices low.  The sweeter and crunchier Organic Grape Tomatoes are coming from Florida right now, in my opinion.

Organic Grape Tomatoes for snacking and salads are plentiful right now from Florida and Mexico. Best flavor and texture has been in the Florida grown product.

Here are some tasty recipes to keep things fun when you have more Organic Grape Tomatoes than your snacking habits can take care of:

Grape Tomato Salsa

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Sautéed Chicken and Grape Tomatoes

Organic Hass Avocados


Rich and flavorful, doesn’t some fresh guacamole sound good for a snack or to top your favorite savory dish? Or how about cutting back on the mayo in your sandwich or wrap and dressing on or salads by replacing it with creamy, nutty Organic Hass Avocado slices.  Hass Avocados have monounsaturated fat that actually helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. Plus, Hass Avocados are loaded with fiber, plus some folate and potassium.  So, feel good about using them!  Recipe ideas are endless.

RECIPE IDEA: Avo-creamy Fettuccini. Smash ripe Hass Avocados with Sour Cream or Yogurt to top Fettuccini. Add diced Grape or Roma Tomatoes with Pecans, Walnuts or Pine Nuts for texture and flavor.

RECIPE IDEA: Avo-creamy Fettuccini.  Smash ripe Hass Avocados with Sour Cream or Yogurt to top Fettuccini. Add diced Grape or Roma Tomatoes with Pecans, Walnuts or Pine Nuts for texture and flavor.

Certified Organic Hass Avocados from Mexico are in season.  Expect reasonable pricing and steady availability at natural foods stores, coops and organic markets during January.

TIPS: Hass Avocados are ripe and ready to cut when they begin give to gentle thumb pressure. If the Hass Avocados you purchase are hard, then store them at room temperature until they ripen. Once an uncut Hass Avocado reaches its ripe stage and you’re not ready to eat it, put it in the fridge to keep it at that ripeness stage for another day or two.

Organic Beets


The winter crop of Organic Beets is in season from Florida and California.  Bunched Organic Red and Gold Beets are sold with the tops on them, while loose Beets are usually bigger but sold without the tops.  Loose Organic Chioggia Beets, with their gorgeous white and red marbling inside, are also in season now.  No matter what the type of Beet, this nutrient-packed root, said to help with respiration and detox, needs to be peeled first. What you do next is all a matter of preference –

Organic Beets are in season – raw, roasted, steamed, pickled – get your red recipes ready!

Beets are typically steamed, roasted or pickled.  They can stand alone as a side dish or be served over salad greens, paired with creamy or crumbly cheeses, or matched with other roasted root vegetables.  Raw Beets can be sliced thin to serve on salads or used to make Beet Juice and juice blends with Beet.  Oh, and those Beet greens (tops) can be braised or sautéed just like a tender version of Chard.  Recipe ideas can be found here.

Beets have a forward, earthy flavor that people tend to love or loathe.  The taste of Beets has been described as “sweet dirt” – that is about as polite as I can be when talking about then.  But for your sake, I hope you love Beets and can enjoy some this month!

Beet Juice for health, but only if you can handle the flavor. (Are you in the “love” or “loathe” camp? Guess which I’m in.)

Organic Sweet Mini Peppers


Have you discovered Sweet Mini Peppers? These lil’ babies are awesome! Sweet, crunchy, bite-sized and delicious… oh, oh, colorful and healthy too! 1-4 inches long, Organic Sweet Mini Peppers come packed in pint containers or bags and are in season from Mexico right now.  Organic Sweet Mini Peppers are easy to rinse and snack on whole. They’re also wonderful on the grill, roasted in the oven or stuffed as an appetizer. Yum!

Organic Sweet Mini Peppers are fantastic for a sweet, crunchy, antioxidant-rich snack!

Organic Clementine Mandarins


Snack on, my friends!  There is a short window here in winter when organically grown Clementine Mandarins are available from California.  They’re mostly sold as loose pieces of fruit and displays at natural foods stores, coops and organic markets will have a range of sizes to choose from.  The Clementine variety has a bright orange, smooth skin that peels fairly easily and has juicy, seedless flesh inside.  The Organic Clementines I’ve tasted have been sweet and fairly mild.

Organic Clementines are in season from CA during January.

If you don’t see Organic Clementines, you might still find another mandarin variety that is just as good (maybe better!) – Organic Satsuma Mandarins.  Satsumas have a pebbly skin that is often puffy, making the fruit extra easy to peel with your fingers.   Expect the Organic Satsuma Mandarins to be very sweet and a little tangy at the same time.  Fantastic!  January is prime time for these varieties and before you know it the Organic Clementine and Satsuma season will be over.

What is Organic Produce?

Certified Organic Produce meets a set of standards for growing, handling and labeling that is governed by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use synthetic chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. The terms “Natural” and “Local” are not the same as “Organic.” Learn more about Organic.

Buy Smart. Shop Healthy. Live Organic.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy