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Produce News: Kiwi, Strawberries and Grapefruit
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Food for Love: Aphrodisiacs
Producer Profile: Equal Exchange's New Chocolate Project
by Katie Powderly, Produce Staff
February is American Heart Month, and what better way to protect and nourish your heart than with organic produce from Willy Street Co-op? I admit that I often find myself very uninspired in the kitchen this time of year, with the local season done and many of my favorite items out of season. That is no excuse, however, to allow meals to become boring or unhealthy! A good place to look to spark creativity is with February’s specials.
This month we’ve got some fabulous heart-healthy items on sale, such as organic kiwi at 29¢ each, and organic Rio Star grapefruit at $1.39/lb. Organic sweet potatoes, garnets and jewel, are also on special at 89¢/lb. Not only are these products fun and delicious, they’re also nutritious and more versatile than we may realize!
Kiwi, named after a hairy, flightless bird from New Zealand, is an egg-shaped fruit easily recognizable by its brown fuzzy exterior, and has a flavor unlike any other fruit or vegetable. Its tart-sweet flesh hints at traces of citrus, strawberry, and melon.
When choosing a kiwi, choose firm fruit. Select a fruit that is similar in feel to a slightly underripe nectarine. Soft or puckered fruit will have a mealy texture and lack flavor.
Rich in vitamin C and a good source of potassium, why not add kiwi to your morning smoothie? Or cut it up in your breakfast yogurt. While delicious on its own, it also makes a great addition to fruit salads, as it adds startling colors and is sturdy. As an after dinner treat I like to use kiwi to top Sibby’s organic vanilla ice cream. Kiwi, like papaya, also contains an enzyme that tenderizes meat. Next time you eat a kiwi, try rubbing the inside of the skin on pork or chicken that has been pricked with a fork. Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes before cooking. Or chunk kiwi and use it in kebabs with pineapple and tofu or steak.
Grapefruits, so called because they grow in clusters like grapes, are a wonderful, if sometimes overlooked, member of the citrus family. Often found intimidating for their tartness, the brave who dare try this amazing fruit will be rewarded with 50 percent more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin C in one serving. In fact, prior to writing this article, I was convinced that I hated grapefruit. More of a Satsuma girl, I thought I could only love super sweet citrus. The Rio Star variety has proven me wrong. Without that bitter aftertaste that I thought always accompanied grapefruit, it is the sweetest, most delicious grapefruit I have ever tasted.
Juicy and flavorful grapefruits tend to be thin-skinned, round, and heavy for their size. To preserve juiciness, store grapefruits loosely covered at room temperature. For storage longer than two weeks, refrigerate in the crisper drawer.
Often mislabeled as yams, sweet potatoes include 50 varieties of tubers grown in the continental United States. (Yams are enormous tubers grown only in Central America and Africa.) An incredible source of vitamin A, a mere cup of mashed sweet potatoes provides eight times the Recommended Daily Allowance. This vitamin A comes in the form of carotene, and has an amazing potential to help prevent lung cancer.
Choose firm sweet potatoes without wrinkling in the skin, which indicates dehydration. Store in a cool, dry place. Try them baked, mashed, roasted with other root vegetables in some olive oil, or in soup. I like to add them to my home fries in the morning.
Why not try these foods in new combinations to get out of that winter rut?
Salad of kiwi, orange, grapefruit, and watercress
(adapted from Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables, A Commonsense Guide)
1 large navel orange, peel and pith
1 large Rio Star grapefruit, peel
and pith removed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Big pinch cayenne pepper, or to
2 teaspoons fragrant honey
3 tablespoons corn oil
3 large kiwifruit, peeled
1 bunch watercress, trimmed,
rinsed, dried (note: feel free to
substitute radicchio for water- cress)
1. Halve orange lengthwise, then cut across into very thin half-rounds. Do the same with the grapefruit. Place both in a dish.
2. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, salt, cayenne, and honey; mix to blend. Add oil. Drain juice from cut fruits into this.
3. Arrange watercress (or radicchio) around a serving dish. Arrange grapefruit and orange, overlapping, within this. Cut kiwifruit into thin rounds and arrange in center of salad. Cover and chill until serving time.
4. To serve, pour dressing over all. Serves 4.
Sweet potato soup with celery
(adapted from The Healing Foods, The Ultimate Authority on the Curative Power of Nutrition)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
2 cups chicken or vegetable
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
toasted croutons for garnish
In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until just golden, about 3 minutes. Add celery, sweet potatoes, stock, bay leaf, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer,
loosely covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf, then puree in batches in a food processor or blender. Serve
hot, garnish with croutons. Serves 4.