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A Colorful Salad for a Warm Autumn Day

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Posted November 2nd, 2012 in Healthy Eating, News in Produce, Posts

With a large swath of the country suffering through the mega storm Hurricane Sandy, I feel guilty enjoying the last warm days of autumn last weekend.  While biking along the river with the fall color changing I was struck with the fact that most people don’t even think about Sacramento, Ca when they think of fall.  And yet Sacramento is the tree capital of the world with more trees per capita than any city even Paris.  So next time you are looking for an autumn destination you should check us out because the fall color along the American River is amazing.  I had a little last brush with summer and decided to make a lovely Blackberry Salad for dinner.  Of course it ISN’T summer any longer so any blackberries still in the produce section are coming from another country.  So I just reached into my pantry for a can of Oregon Blackberries to make my vinaigrette. Oregon Fruit Blackberries are fantastic due to the fact that they stand up to the canning process so well. They look so close to fresh most people could not tell the difference.

 I found this recipe on a blog called 20somethingcupcakes.com a few months ago and who would have expected a healthy salad from a cupcake site?  But here it is and it was delicious. 

According to Jenna Telesca Fresh Market Editor at Supermarket News, “it’s a good time for produce. Michelle Obama has been telling the nation to eat its vegetables; half the plate has been officially reserved for fruit and veggies; and even fast food chains have been moving to add more produce to their menus.  On top of that, farmers are cool again!”

So here’s to fruits and veggies in every form the more colorful the better and that is what this salad is-fresh, colorful and delicious.

Oh My, Let’s Bake a Pie

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Posted October 13th, 2012 in Desserts, In the Kitchen, Posts, Recipe

 

Last year there was some talk in the food trends world that the cupcake craze had passed and the next big thing was going to be mini pies.  Pie has always been an American favorite so it just made sense.  The single serve indulgence appeals to our sense of individuality and even makes us feel like the portion control has been done for us. The latest research tells us that the cupcake is here to stay.  In fact, small indulgences are even more decadent with bold flavors and an international flare.  In some towns shops specializing in baby bundt cakes are cropping up and in grocery store bakeries you can even get an individual slice of pie.   Pies have made up 12% of the in-store bakery category for the last 5 years. 

So let’s hear it for American Pie!!  If it has been along time since you baked one or maybe you have never baked one it is high time you did it.  There is nothing like a homemade pie with the warm fruit filling oozing out through the vents, the scent of a flaky pastry crust  makes your whole house smell like grandma’s house at Thanksgiving. 

Check out the video for a quick how-to and then give it a whirl. The recipe for all our fruit pies are on our website.  The crust I like is found here just remember to double for a two crust pie. Let me know how it turns out. 

Quick Bread for a Quick Trip

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Posted October 6th, 2012 in In the Kitchen, Posts

Yesterday morning I got up at 5am to pack the car for a long weekend at the Southern California Beach to celebrate my mom’s 86th birthday. I realized immediately that I had forgotten to bake my weekly blog recipe, let alone post!  My plan all week had been to try a Blackberry Lemon Quick bread I saw on a blog I like called Italian Food Forever.  Her photos of the Umbrian countryside and fresh picked blackberries were truly inspiring.  Although the fresh berry season in California is over and they are no longer abundant in the local farmer’s markets and the can pack at our plant in Oregon was completed nearly a month ago, I still can’t get enough blackberries. Thankfully I had all the ingredients for this recipe in my fridge and pantry including a can of Oregon Fruit blackberries. 

I was about to find out just how quick a quick bread could be. I assembled the ingredients and this bread came together in 10 minutes flat. I popped it in the oven and proceeded to pack the car and get ready to leave. Just before 6am I pulled out a beautiful golden loaf, wrapped it in a dish towel and left for the beach! That’s quick.

Last night my parent’s and I sampled this delicious cake at sunset overlooking Laguna Beach and I was filled with gratitude along with cake.  My parent’s have 20 years of sunset pictures at this place. Just 6 months ago they were facing the harsh reality that their traveling days were over. My formerly spry dad was becoming increasingly debilitated from the pain of a degenerative back condition.  His long walks were over and he was lucky to just get around in his house.  A surgeon we all called “Dr. Happy” assured him that surgery would have him back on the golf course in under a year, pain free. That was funniest because my dad does not golf.  However, here we are 90 days later and my dad is back-all the way back. His mind and wit are sharp again and he is waiting for me to finish this so we can take a long walk on the beach.  I just hope I can keep up with this almost 88 year old with the constitution of someone much younger, sometimes much younger than ME!

A Gentle Confluence-Fall and Back-to-School

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Posted September 23rd, 2012 in In the Kitchen, Posts

The first signs of fall are in the air and the blogosphere is full of baking.  Home cooks and bakers can’t wait for the opportunity to fire up the ovens again.  At the same time, it is back to school and moms everywhere are bombarded with admonitions to give their kids a healthy breakfast.

These two simultaneous events inspired me to bake a nutrient dense version of a blueberry muffin that could serve as breakfast on the go for anyone-school kids, office workers, commuters and, well, ME!

The news is full of “economic downturn” and “belt-tightening” for most everyone.  Even worse we learned this week that 30% of us are obese (some of us were already quite aware, thank you very much) Gone are the days when we could just buy that $4 muffin at the local coffee establishment and call it breakfast with impunity. It impacts our pocket book and don’t even get me started on the fat and calories in that thing!

But food has to taste good. We are supposed to enjoy it. So I spent my Sunday working on a muffin that could relieve a mother’s guilt, make a child happy (maybe even smarter according to the latest research on breakfast), go great with a cup of coffee on the run and be made from items I found in my pantry and fridge (except for the sweet potato I bought for $1 at the Farmers Market this morning.)

I took my inspiration from a Sweet Potato Muffin I saw on Food Buzz last week. It was posted by a blogger named “Chew Out Loud”.  This was already a pretty healthy muffin but I made some additional nutritional tweaks and the Sweet Potato Blueberry Muffins are amazing!   Whip these up for your next boring morning meeting and you might even see a rise in productivity. If members of your family are anti-vegetable just don’t mention the sweet potatoes.

 

Frozen vs. Canned Food

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Posted September 15th, 2012 in Healthy Tips, Posts

Winco Stores Canned Fruit Section

Portland Tribune writer, Nate Ford,  tackled this issue  from a sustainability perspective in a recent issue of Sutainable Life (July 26, 2012).  As he stated, “we all know we should be eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but sometimes you just have to have produce that isn’t in season”.  Research indicates that consumers have a tendency to choose frozen foods.

Using a number of indicators, Mr. Ford evaluated frozen food versus canned food and in the end his verdict gave the nod to cans.

Here are the indicators and the winners:

Carbon Footprint-cans win because, although they use a bit more energy in the canning facility the distribution and storage of shelf stable products are far more earth friendly.

Waste:According to the EPA,  steel cans are the most reclycled containers on earth.

Health-According to some research, both frozen and canned may be nutritionally equivalent, even superior to fresh produce that has spent along time making it’s way through the supply chain.   Frozen gets the slight advantage here due to the loss of some nutrients that occurs during heat treating.  The BPA issue is still under discussion, however.  BPA is a substance used in the lining of some cans primarily the containers for high acid foods.  A BPA alternative is in the works but studies are underway to ensure that the replacement coatings are not, themselves harmful.  The very small amount of BPA that is found in canned food has been deemed to be safe. On the other hand, frozen food comes in plastic bags that while they do not contain BPA, can often release other chemicals that act similar to estrogen into the food.

Donation Friendly-A recent food drive held by the Oregon Food Bank collected 1.3 million pounds of non-perishable food for the area needy. Frozen foods are not allowed. Oregon Fruit has been a long time donor to the Marion-Polk Foodshare program that feeds the hungry in the community surrounding our plant. Through logistics efforts we also donate short coded cans to food banks all over the country.

Aesthetics- Heat treating in cans tends to dull the color of the contents while flash freezing maintains the vibrant color of produce. But if you want to make a pie, the delicious juice contained in our cans is a necessary ingredient bonus* the queen’s editorial comment.

Cost-The difference in price is variable but most of the time, cans will be the cheapest choice on a cost per ounce basis.

So next time you are shopping, veer off the perimeter and perishable track you usually follow and visit the center of the store again. You might like what you find there. Cans can be kept on the pantry shelf ready to use just when you need them, no worries about spoilage or freezer burn.  It’s just one more way to add more fruits and veggies into your diet.

 

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