Organic Picks of the Week 02/03/14

Best if Used By 02/10/14

Organic Picks of the week for February 3rd, 2014 features
Leeks, Hamlin Juice Oranges, Celery, Blackberries, and Watercress


Organic Leeks

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Ever use Leeks in your home-cooking? Somewhat chive-like and somewhat mild-onion-like in flavor, Leeks are sweeter than shallots, garlic and scallions. Leeks are used as the back-bone flavor in many recipes and can be braised, steamed, boiled or roasted to soften their texture. They can be used in soups, stews, mashed potatoes and casseroles, or can be served as a side. Flavorful Organic Leeks from California are now in peak season.

More mild than an onion, but sweeter and richer than a scallion – in-season Organic Leeks are ideal for roasting, braising and steaming for use in savory recipes.

Since Leeks tend to pick up lots of dirt and sand-grit between the leaves as they grow, here’s a helpful video on how to cut and clean Leeks in preparation for use in your recipes. Below are the essential steps and some pictures from my cutting board:

How to prep Leeks:

  • Trim roots off the base of the Leeks
  • Cut the tops off the Leeks where the leaves begin to turn dark green and fibrous
  • Slice the Leeks length-wise
  • Pull off any fibrous outer leaves
  • Wash Leeks in a bowl or deep baking dish (dirt and sand will sink, leeks will float)
  • Chop and use!

How to trim and wash fresh Leeks.

Check out this collection of 10 Vegan Leek Recipes. Or if you indulge in some meat from time to time: sear a salted/peppered London Broil or Flat-iron Steak in olive oil 2 min each side, add 2 leeks chopped + 3 minced garlic cloves + 1” fresh ginger (minced), braise it all in a bottle of beer in a Dutch Oven over low to medium-low heat for 2 hours.


Organic Hamlin Juice Oranges

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You won’t find these just anywhere, but if you do – you’re in for an old-fashioned treat. Organic Juice Oranges from south Texas, particularly the Hamlin variety, are tasting absolutely fantastic right now: bright, fully sweet yet mild. Hamlins don’t peel very easily, they have a few seeds and the skin is often scarred up make them less attractive than other oranges. But the flavor, the juice? Well, that’s what it’s all about! This is the best orange available right now for hand-squeezed, homemade orange juice. Or slice them into wedges to get that classic fresh orange juice flavor in every bite.

Organic Hamlin Juice Oranges are tasting fantastic! Make some hand-squeezed OJ!


Organic Celery

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Following a period of rather high pricing due to light harvests, Organic Celery from California and Mexico is back in full production. February looks like it will be a good month of nice quality Organic Celery at much more reasonable prices. That’s great news for juicing enthusiast who use celery as a primary ingredient. And of course, fresh Celery is an excellent option for preparing healthy snacks, vegetable trays, salads and even for cooking.

Did you know a stalk of Celery contains about 10 calories? That begs the question: Do those 10 calories per stalk get negated by chewing?

JUICER RECIPE: Klassic Kale

A no frills green blend, this is what juicing is all about for me: delivering lots of nutrients in a drink that is fresh, yet sweet enough to sip and tart enough to be refreshing. This is one of my go-to kale juices.

  • 3-4 full stalks of Leafy Green Kale
  • 4 stalks of Celery (or 1 Celery Heart)
  • 1 Lemon, mostly peeled
  • 2 sweet-tart Apples

Klassic Kale Juice.

JUICER RECIPE: Grapefruit Bathing Suit

Like Grapefruit or want to use up some extra ones that are laying around? Here’s a wonderful sweet green juice to feature peak season Grapefruit.

  • 2 fistfuls Baby Spinach (1.5-3oz)
  • 2-3 Mini Sweet Peppers (or 1 colored bell pepper)
  • 2 med. Red Grapefruit (or 1 x-large)
  • 3 stalks Celery
  • 2 sweet-tart Apples

Grapefruit Bathing Suit Juice


Organic Blackberries

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Organic Blackberries from Mexico continue in peak season harvests here in early February with some of the lower prices of the year. Quality has been nice and flavor has been tart-sweet.

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 Watercress

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

What’s the scoop with Organic Watercress? Well, first it can be difficult to successfully grow commercially, so historically there has not been much Organic Watercress in the marketplace. Second, it has become quite popular amongst healthy eaters for its antioxidant properties and high levels of phytonutrients. Lastly, this green is crisp, slightly crunchy and quite peppery in flavor – so yeah, it has plenty of culinary impact!

The exciting news is that Certified Organic Watercress is now in season from California where it is hydroponically in greenhouses. This controlled environment allows for year-round production and high quality. The Organic Watercress is harvested and packed with its roots in tact which keeps the greens healthy and fresh. Add it to salads, sandwiches, soups and juice blends to add nutrition and a spirited flavor zing! Here are some Watercress recipes to consider.

Spicy, crunchy, fresh Organic Watercress adds nutrients and a flavor zing to salads, sandwiches and juice blends. (Picture courtesy of GrowerPetes.com)

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