Organic Picks of the Week 02/26/13

Best if Used By 03/05/13

Organic Picks of the week for February 26th, 2013 features
Brussels Sprouts, Blueberries, Kent Mangos, Spring Mix and Portabella Mushrooms


Organic Brussels Sprouts

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Organic Brussels Sprouts are in season from California and Mexico with steady supply and great flavor. Brussels Sprouts look like mini cabbages that grow on long stalks. They taste nutty and rich, but if you over-boil or over-steam Brussels Sprouts you’ll actually bring out a sulfur nastiness that is the number one reason people don’t like them in the first place. A quick blanch and then sauté or roasting them in high heat are great ways to bring out the best smooth and sweet flavor.

Sautéed Balsamic Brussels Sprouts over Baby Arugula and shaved Onions

I’m all about Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts – sooo good! But sometimes you need to mix things up. So, how can you “mix things up” and get out of the roasted rut?  By going raw.

In the raw with Shaved Brussels Sprouts Slaw.

RECIPE: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Slaw

  • Rinse and clean 1lb of fresh Brussels Sprouts by removing loose outer leaves
  • Shave Brussels Sprouts into 1/8″ shreds using a mandolin, food processor or nifty knife skills
  • Shave 1/2 a Red Onion into 1/8″ shreds (soak slices in ice water for 10-20 min to soften the boldness, if desired)
  • Prepare Vinaigrette by whisking 3 tbsp Cider Vinegar, 1, tbsp Dijon Mustard, 6 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Season Vinaigrette with Coarse Salt, Cracked Pepper and 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic or Garlic Powder
  • Toss shreds with Vinaigrette and 1/2 cup Raisins

Select Organic Brussels Sprouts that are nice and green, and have tight, firm heads. Size, large or small, does not affect flavor, but it will impact the cooking time. For evenly cooked Brussels Sprouts, slice larger ones into halves or quarters, while leaving the smallest ones whole. Store Brussels Sprouts in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. To prepare them, you’ll peel off the outer leaf or two when you trim the end off the bottom.

More Brussels Sprouts recipe ideas here.

Organic Blueberries

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Summer harvests continue in Southern Chile for fresh Organic Blueberries. Many Natural Food Stores and Co-ops are promoting this berry during late February and early March in full pint or 6oz packs. The flavor has been outstanding lately on Organic Blueberries! They’re great for your topping your cereal or yogurt, for making smoothies, and a handful or two a day is a great brain-food snack.

An Anthocyanin-rich Brain Food, which is tasting excellent right now!

Select fresh Blueberries by inspecting the top and bottom of the package to avoid shriveled, smashed-together or wet berries. Seek out Blueberries with the silver, powdery “bloom” on them. Bloom is a naturally occurring wax that forms a protective layer on the fruit while it is growing and is a tell-tale sign of freshness! Keep the fruit cold in the fridge, try to use in within a few days of purchase and wait to wash them until just before using.

Organic Kent Mangos

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The Kent variety Organic Mango from Peru is now in season. Featuring a mostly green skin with patches of red blush, Kent Mangos have golden to orange flesh that is both sweet and rich, and is less fibrous and stringy than the Tommy Atkins variety whose season has just ended from South America. Recipes and cutting tips and more found here.

Mango-Blueberry Smoothies! …and she just wants the Mangos.

Recipe: Mango-Blueberry Smoothie

  • Add the following ingredients to your blender
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • 6oz washed Blueberries
  • 2 Mangos, peeled, seed removed
  • 1 cup Milk (soy, almond or dairy)
  • Pulse, then blend until smooth

TIP: The amount of redness on the skin is not an indicator of sweetness or ripeness with the Kent variety Mango. These Mangos do not give much in the way of visual clues to when they are ripe, so judge by the softness when you squeeze them. Hard means they’ll be kinda crunchy, while a little give indicates a ripe Mango for snacking, smoothies and salsas.

Organic Spring Mix

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Fresh, tender, bitter-sweet, colorful, flavorful! Organic Spring Mix salad greens, a mixture of baby lettuces are an outstanding build some tasty and healthy salads. That’s especially true now, since after a rough patch of growing challenges from winter freezes that limited production in California and Arizona, Organic Spring Mix growers are now back to consistent harvests. This is allowing Natural Food Stores, Co-ops and other organic-centric retailers to once again promote this nutritious salad blend.

Tender, flavorful, fresh – Organic Spring Mix is back in good supply!

Spring Mix, often called Mesclun or Baby Greens, is a blend of about 3 to 8 green and red Lettuce and Greens varieties. Each leaf variety is grown separately then washed and blended before it is packed. The blend is tender and highly perishable, so keep it cold and dry in the fridge. The slightly bitter flavor of Spring Mix pairs well with sweet fruit and savory nuts. The salad ideas are endless. It also lends itself to vinaigrette-style dressings that can be massaged into the greens in a large bowl prior to serving. This method lightly coats the Spring Mix without damage and helps you avoid pouring too much dressing (and calories) onto the plate.

Organic Portabella Mushrooms

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The steak of veggies, Organic Portabella Mushroom caps are big (3-5” in diameter)and have meaty flesh that features a rich, earthy yet accessible flavor. Grown inside, Mushrooms are always in season, still Pennsylvania growers are anxious to promote this variety here in late winter, ahead of grilling season demand. Organic Portabella (aka Portobello, Portabello) Mushrooms are ideal for sautéing, stuffing, use in casseroles and lasagna, and of course for on the grill…weather permitting!

Balsamic Sautéed Portabella Mushrooms

RECIPE: Sautéed Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms

  • Remove the stems and wipe the caps of 3 Portabella Mushrooms with a damp paper towel
  • Slice the Portabellas into ½” slices
  • Marinate the sliced mushrooms in ½ cup of Balsamic Salad Dressing for 10 minutes
  • Over medium heat, Sauté the Mushrooms and marinade, about 3-4 min on each side
  • Serve as a side dish, over meat, or on top of rice, quinoa or noodles

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