Organic Picks of the Week 01/02/14

Happy New Year! May your 2014 by filled with good health AND delicious, wholesome, seasonal fresh food. Our next post will be out on 1/13, back on the normal Monday schedule.
– Jon and Justin

Best if Used By 01/13/14

Organic Picks of the week for January 2nd, 2014 features Blackberries, Hass Avocados, Broccoli, Pummelos and Green Peppers. Plus! The 5 best kitchen tools to help you eat more fresh produce in 2014


Organic Blackberries

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Organic Blackberries from Mexico are in peak season this month. The berries are medium to large in size, plump, and have a sweet flavor with mild tanginess underneath. Yum!

Blackberry boost. In-season Organic Blackberries are great to lift your snacking, smoothies, cereal and yogurt.

Blackberries are awesome for snacking out of hand, or for making smoothies, baking, and for topping your cereal or yogurt. Blackberries are a delicious source of free-radical-fighting anthocyanin. Learn more about 10 Blackberry health benefits here. Store them in the fridge and try to use them within a few days of purchase to get the most out of your purchase. Always wash your Blackberries by rinsing them in running cold water just before use.

Organic Hass Avocados

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

A steady supply of Organic Hass Avocados is available from Mexico this month, making it a great time . 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!

Slice up some goodness. Creamy Organic Hass Avocados from Mexico are in season and prices are more affordable this month!

Get the day started with an energizing Avocado-Banana Smoothie. How about some fresh guacamole for a snack or to top your favorite savory dish?  Healthy and delicious Avocado Recipes abound HERE.

HOW-TO:
Hass Avocados are ripe
and ready to cut when they begin to 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.

Guacamole How-to Video.


Organic Broccoli

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Organic Broccoli from Arizona and southern California continues to be in peak season this January with reasonable prices too! 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?

Clean and green – Organic Broccoli is a versatile veggie for raw snacking or roasting and steaming.

TIPS:
Raw Broccoli rules, but here are some recipes to inspire you too.

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.


Organic Pummelos

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

Ever see that huge green to 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 January through March Organic Pummelos are in season from California. Go ahead… try one! This video will help you learn how to peel Pummelo.

The prize inside the thick-skinned Pummelo is the mild, grapefruit-like cells that easily separate. Great for snacking, smoothies, adding to salads and citrus salsas.

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 salad 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.

How to open a Pummelo: slice off top, score sides, pull off rind, break into segments, slice off tops of segment membranes, eat the delicious pink cells.

Recipe Ideas:
Pummelo, Tangelo, Banana Salad

Pummelo Green Smoothie


Organic Green Peppers

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Organic Green Bell Peppers are looking sharp right now, particularly from organic farms in Florida like Lady Moon Farms – dark green, thick walls and healthy shoulders. These are the kind of peppers you can do a lot with! Grill, sauté, slice, roast or stuff – most of January looks to be a great week to enjoy Organic Green Peppers in your cooking and salads.

Organic Green Bell Peppers are in season from Florida this January.

RECIPE IDEAS:
Philly Turkey Stuffed Green Peppers

Gluten Free Stuffed Green Peppers & Cheese

Green Pepper and Tomato Salad

Tropical Green Pepper. This juice is sweet and creamy and has tropical notes. You can taste all of the individual flavors – in a good way!

JUICER RECIPE: Tropical Green Pepper

  • 1 big handful of Baby Spinach, 1-3oz
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, cored
  • 4 stalks of Celery
  • 1 Mango, peeled and pitted
  • 1 Red Grapefruit, peeled
  • 1 sweet-tart Apple


BONUS

5 best kitchen tools to help you eat more fresh produce in 2014.

The right tools make any job easier. Gadgets are fun, but the basics like a good knife and a sturdy cutting surface make all the difference in your daily life. So, before you spend $200 on a new juicer, $500 on a Vitamix or even $20 on an as-seen-on-TV invention, make sure these five affordable essentials are already in your kitchen.

CUTTING BOARD – more specifically, a large and sturdy cutting board. Cutting fresh produce is so much easier when you have a big cutting surface that is heavy and won’t slide around when you apply knife pressure to oddly shaped things like hard squash, watermelon and potatoes. I find myself standing at our kitchen butcher-block wood cutting board every single day I’m home. It also is smart to keep some extra plastic cutting boards around for slicing meats.

CHEF KNIFE – cut more, cut more often and cut more safely with a proper knife. Flimsy knives that often come in cheap kitchen sets can be difficult to cut with. Old, dull knives are particularly dangerous because you’re a forced to press very hard to make a cut, causing slips and accidents that result in cut hands and fingers at worst or a big mess and frustration at best. Go out and buy an 8″ Santoku-style knife for $30-$50 and then kick yourself for not doing it sooner. Suddenly, chopping, dicing, slicing and cutting will be so much easier than you had imagined. Rinse your chef knife after every use and wipe it clean on a dry rag or paper towel to help keep the tool in good condition. Keep it OUT of the dishwasher. Search YouTube for some how-to videos on the basic of safe knife technique.

HAND PEELER with a swivel head. Remove the skins of fresh fruits and vegetables with a peeler for use in your favorite recipes. From apples to zucchini, from potatoes to parsnips – a peeler is perfect to make the job go quickly and safely.

CUTRUS JUICER with catch cup. Nothing beats the delicious taste of hand-squeezed Orange Juice. Slice a piece of citrus in half, press it down hard on the juicing cone and twist. And that’s it- you’ve got pure juice without having to peel anything! I love to juice seasonal citrus fruits like Tangelos, Tangerines, Cara Caras, Blood Oranges and Grapefruit too! Drink them straight-up or mix your fresh-squeezed citrus juice with seltzer water or soda for more zip. With a citrus juicer there is never an excuse to let any piece of citrus go to waste, even the ugly-looking fruit. Plus, they’ll help you juice lemons for homemade lemonade, salad dressings and more.

APPLE SLICER-CORER. Kids love sliced apples and so do adults, but the pre-sliced apples sold in stores often leave something to be desired in the flavor and texture department, plus they’re expensive. Save money, buy your favorite seasonal apple varieties and slice ‘em yourself.

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.

Eat in-season. Choose organic. Enjoy good, healthy food.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy