Organic Picks of the Week 01/13/14

Best if Used By 01/20/14

Organic Picks of the week for January 13th, 2014 features Spinach, Bosc Pears, Brussels Sprouts, Kent Mangos and Pink Lady Apples

Organic Spinach


Trying to stay on track with your health and wellness goals? Spinach is super healthy and easy to use, plus its accessible flavor makes it a must have for your fridge! The next couple of weeks look to be a good time to use both Organic Spinach and Organic Baby Spinach in your meals since growers in Southern California and Arizona are into steady winter harvests. Eat good. Feel good.

Bunched Organic Mature-leaf Spinach. Wash it in cold water, trim the roots off and cook or juice away.

Mature, flat-leaf Organic Spinach that is sold in bunches is ideal for hearty salads, sandwiches, wraps, braising, sautéing, steaming and juicing recipes. Select bunches that look green and vibrant, and that are free from decayed leaves. Place it in a plastic bag and store it in the crisper drawer of your fridge.

Tender and mild Organic Baby Spinach is ready to eat raw right out of the package.

Organic Baby Spinach, which is best for raw salads, is also convenient because it comes pre-washed and ready to use right away. Organic Spinach is not only flavorful (earthy yet mild), it’s versatile!

Some favorite uses for Baby Spinach:

  • It has a tender yet noticeable texture that stands up to the fork in raw salads
  • Cooks up quickly in the sauté pan
  • Wilts perfectly when combined with roasted vegetables right out of the oven
  • Blends nicely into green smoothies
  • Provides a nutrient dense dark green extract when used in juicing.
  • Plus, Baby Spinach is one of the mildest flavored greens for those just beginning their green juice or green smoothie journey.

Easy-Green Go-To!

This is a go-to green juice for me because it is mild, lightly sweet and has very little “earthiness.” The ingredients are easy to find and not too expensive. Drink up and feel good!

  • 2 fistfuls Baby Spinach
  • 1 Hothouse Seedless Cucumber (or two medium field cucumbers, partially peeled)
  • 1 medium Lime, mostly peeled
  • 3 medium sweet-tart Apples (or 2 if large apples)

Organic Bosc Pears


What’s a good organic pear for early winter? Organically-grown Bosc Pears from this fall’s harvests in orchards on the slopes of Oregon and Washington are in steady supply and taste great right now! Their honey-sweet flavor and delightful juicy-crisp texture make them perfect for snacking, salads and desserts.

Unlike many other Pears, Bosc do not need to ripen as much to taste sweet. So, even a little “give” near the stem will mean ripe flesh. Or you can eat a hard Bosc as a crunchy treat as soon as you buy them.

Pears and apples are excellent for sweeting your green juices and other veggie juices because the fruit contains lots of liquid and is low on the glycemic index. Did you know that when using pears in juicing recipes it is actually ideal to use a firm to hard pear?  Fully soft-ripe pears make your juices sludgy and grainy in texture and leave extra juice in the discarded pulp fiber.

The crunchy pear with classic flavor and rustic looks – Organic Bosc Pears. Great for snacking, desserts and juicing.

Organic Brussels Sprouts


Organic Brussels Sprouts are in season from Southern California with steady supply and great flavor. Prices have really fallen now that the Holiday cooking season demand has diminished. 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.

Easy to make, Roasted Brussels Sprouts will be a hit with more of your friends and family than you’d expect.

RECIPE: Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • Preheat oven to 450 F
  • Trim ends, remove loose leaves of about 10-16oz of fresh Brussels Sprouts
  • Slice biggest Sprouts in half to get an even size
  • Toss Sprouts in a mixing bowl to coat with 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Add 2-3 whole peeled Garlic Cloves
  • Season with about 1 tsp Coarse Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
  • Spread Brussels Sprouts evenly on a cookie sheet or baking pan
  • Roast for 15 min, remove to flip/shuffle, Roast for 10-15 min more until tender (Yes, they’ll get black on the outside, and Yes, it’ll taste good)

I’m all about Roasted or Sautéed Brussels Sprouts – sooo good! But sometimes you need to mix things up. So, how can you “mix things up” and get out of a one recipe-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

TIPS: 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 Kent Mangos


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 is coming to an end from Ecuador. 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

IS IT RIPE? 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.

Sweet and Rich Kent Mangos

Organic Pink Lady Apples


Not everyone likes a sweet apple. And even, sweet-apple-lovers need to mix things up every now and then. Typically, tart Apple fans have gravitated towards the green-skinned Granny Smith variety, but I also direct them to Pink Lady Apples. They’ve got a bright cheek-rosy skin, dense, crisp flesh and honey sweetness under the bold, sharp, tart flavor.

Tart-sweet with an unrelenting crunchy and firm texture, Organic Pink Lady Apples (aka Cripps Pink) are in high demand with those that expect a lot from their apples.

Organic Pink Lady Apples and their non-branded version, Organic Cripps Pink (yes, they are exactly the same as Pink Lady), harvested during late fall in the Pacific Northwest are in high demand right now. While Organic Pink Lady’s typically command a premium price, this in-season apple variety will not disappoint when it comes to intensity of tart-sweet taste and firm texture. They’re definitely worth a try for snacking and in these recipes! I find them fantastic for juicing because they add both sweetness and vibrancy to green vegetable juicing recipes.

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