Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Have you heard the good news about pork?- Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Things in the world of pork have changed considerably in the past twenty years, and as often happens, the changes have gone pretty much unnoticed. I did a little research on the subject and to be honest, I was a bit surprised by what I learned. As you have noticed when shopping our store, we made the decision years ago to select one producer to source all of our fresh pork. We wanted a packer that would consistently meet the highest standards of freshness and quality, so we chose the Prairie Fresh® All-Natural brand.

We have been very pleased with the consistent quality that they provide, and based on sales and the compliments we receive regularly, our customers feel the same. Well, let me share some interesting information I pulled from the American Pork Producers website.

Through changes in feeding and breeding techniques, pork producers have responded to consumer demand for leaner pork. Today’s pork has 16% less fat and 27% less saturated fat as compared to 1991. Many cuts of pork are now as lean as skinless chicken. Roast Pork tenderloin meets the USDA protein guidelines for “extra lean” (less than 5 g fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 mg cholesterol). The following five cuts of pork meet the protein guidelines for “lean” (less than 10 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat and 95 mg cholesterol); broiled boneless top loin chop, roasted top loin roast, broiled center loin chops, pork sirloin roast, and broiled rib chops.

I’ve told you about what pork doesn’t have (bad fats), but on the flip side it does have some very essential body building nutrients needed for good health. Pork is an “excellent” source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus and protein, and a “good” source of zinc. It’s also naturally low in sodium and a “good” source of potassium – two nutrients that, when coupled, can help regulate blood pressure.

Now, here is something that really surprised me: Pork can help you lose weight. According to a study published in the February journal on Obesity, Purdue University researchers found that including protein from lean pork in your diet can help you lose weight while maintaining more lean tissue, including muscle. The study was done on female dieters. The dieters who tested with pork as their sole source of lean protein rated themselves more positively in terms of overall mood and feelings of pleasure during dieting compared to those who ate less protein. The women in the study followed either a high-protein diet or a normal-protein diet, but with the same number of calories. The women who ate more protein, with pork as their only source of meat, felt fuller longer after meals. The high-protein diet included 6 ounces, or two servings, of pork every day. It’s easy to reach this goal by including lean cuts of pork like Canadian bacon with your eggs for breakfast, adding grilled or sautéed pork chop strips to your salad at lunch, or roasting pork tenderloin for dinner.

I hope that I‘ve piqued your interest in pork; if so, timing is great because for the next two weeks we’re having an all-out pork sale at Prisco’s. So come on in, load up on savings, and I’ll see you in the meat aisle.

 

Andy

So, Just What is a Nectarine?- Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A nectarine is a fuzz-less variety of peach. It is NOT a cross between a peach and a plum. Every once in a while, a peach tree mutates – the gene responsible for the fuzz is turned off, and out comes a smooth-skinned nectarine. Peach seeds may occasionally grow into trees that bear nectarines, and nectarine seeds may grow into trees that bear either nectarines or peaches. It is not possible to know which fruit will grow on trees grown from nectarine seeds, so nectarine branches are grafted onto peach trees to guarantee a crop of nectarines.

The word 'nectarine' means sweet as nectar, and this is very likely the origin of the name. Nectarines, like peaches, probably originated in China over 2,000 years ago and were cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. They were grown in Great Britain in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, and were introduced to America by the Spanish.

Nutritionally, a nectarine is a real dynamo. A medium nectarine is approximately 4-5 ounces in weight and will cost you only 60 calories. In return, you get a lusciously sweet snack with 2.5 tsp worth of sugar, evened out by 1.5 grams of fiber. Nectarines are a good source of vitamin C and also have good vitamin A and potassium values, and they are also contain an abundance of antioxidants.

If you love nectarines, now is the time to buy them as their season, as with other soft fruits such as peaches, plums, apricots, etc., is limited in the US.

Four Common Food Myths Debunked- Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Myth 1 - You can eat as much healthy fat as you like

The truth: While olive oil, packed with monounsaturated fat, is better for your heart than the artery-clogging saturated fat in butter, both have 100 to 120 calories per tablespoon. In fact, all fats have roughly the same number of calories, says Samantha Heller, RD. So go easy. One way is to try an oil mister—one spritz delivers a fraction of a teaspoon.

Myth 2- Dark bread is always better than white

The truth: A dark bread might just have caramel coloring but be no better than white bread, University of Scranton psychology professor Michael Oakes, PhD, says. Look for the words “whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat” on the package: that means the bread is made from unrefined wheat, which has more than double the fiber and is also higher in selenium, potassium, and magnesium.

Myth 3 - "Eggs are bad for your heart.”

The Truth: Eggs do contain a substantial amount of cholesterol in their yolks—about 211 milligrams (mg). But labeling eggs as “bad for your heart” is connecting the wrong dots, experts say. Studies show that most healthy people can eat an egg a day without problems,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University.

The cholesterol we eat in eggs doesn’t have a huge impact on raising our blood cholesterol; the body simply compensates by manufacturing less cholesterol itself. The chief heart disease culprits are “saturated and trans fats, which have much greater impact on raising blood cholesterol,” notes Kris-Etherton. Seen through that lens, eggs look more benign: a large egg contains 2 grams of saturated fat (10 percent of the Daily Value) and no trans fats.

As with any food, it’s not the eggs but the amount of eggs that you eat that can become unhealthy. According to the American Heart Association’s diet and lifestyle recommendations, which Kris-Etherton helped write: Limit your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg daily. Rule of thumb: it’s safe to eat a bit less than one egg per day, say two or three per week.

Myth 4 - High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is worse for you than sugar

Not true… The truth is neither one is good for you and both should be limited or eliminated for a truly healthy diet. “The debate about HFCS and sucrose [table sugar] is taking the focus off the more important question,” says Kimber Stanhope, Ph.D., R.D., a researcher at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the sweetener extensively. “What we should be asking is ‘What are the effects of all sugars (HFCS and sucrose) in the diet?”

Our bodies weren’t designed to handle a large amount of fructose at a time, Stanhope notes, because we wouldn’t have come across it in our food supply. “If you look at what nature provided for humans to eat, we only had fructose in whole fruit, in amounts that are relatively dilute.” Problems arose when we learned how to turn foods—which contain fiber, water and other nutrients—into pure sources of sugars (e.g., refining sugarcane into table sugar). Despite its name HFCS contains only a little more fructose than sucrose does, Stanhope emphasizes. It’s the sheer amount of the sweet stuff we consume that matters or, once again, it’s the dose that is the problem. Too much honey, agave syrup or dehydrated cane juice would likely cause the same health problems.

“The American Heart Association recently recommended that women consume no more than 100 calories a day in added sugars [6 teaspoons]; men, 150 calories [9 teaspoons],” Stanhope notes. Our current intake, however, hovers around 355 calories per day. “The U.S. population isn’t anywhere close to [the AHA’s] goal.”

Frozen versus Fresh – When it comes to seafood, what’s best?- Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Folks who shop with us regularly know that we most often carry a very limited assortment of fresh seafood. The reason is quite simple, it’s hard to keep seafood fresh for extended periods and we refuse to sell anything to our customers that we wouldn’t put on our own families' tables.

Being a smaller than average market, it really precludes us from offering a full line of fresh seafood of the kind that you would find in larger chain stores. That, however, is no reason to think that we can’t serve your seafood needs. In general, we are well trained to think that fresh is best; and to be honest, we make it a point of reminding our shoppers of that fact as well. In the case of seafood, however, I'd argue that this is not necessarily the case.

Allow me to explain: More than 85 percent of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Within that, the "vast majority" -- at least 70%, but likely even higher according to Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute -- has been frozen at some point.

"There really is no difference," said Gibbons. "The clock never moves backward when it comes to freshness. If a fish is caught, handled well and frozen immediately, you literally stop the clock. You freeze in the freshness." He adds that, nutritionally, nothing is lost when fish is frozen. These days, technology is such that fish are either frozen right at sea (most common with farmed fish, as freezers are incorporated into the farm sites) or immediately upon landing at port.

Also, the idea that fattier varieties such as salmon and tuna fare better, texturally speaking, than leaner fish when frozen doesn't hold true, either. Our experts say it comes down to proper freezing and handling on the front end, and proper thawing -- in the fridge, out of the package -- on the back end. "There is no downside to buying frozen fish," Gibbons said.

That being said, I’d encourage you to visit the frozen seafood section (directly across from our dairy case) in the last aisle and check out the extensive assortment of seafood. This week we are featuring Seabest Ahi Tuna Steaks in a one pound package for just $8.99.  They are great on the grill or cooked and served atop a cool green salad.


Enjoy,

Andy

If you love coffee, you need to try our Modest Coffee – It’s grand!- Tuesday, July 11, 2017

We’ve been carrying Modest coffee, which is roasted and packaged in West Chicago by Marcus and Jenni Contaldo, for about a year now. This coffee is amazing and it’s a credit to Marcus and Jenni that it’s growth has come from hard grass roots sampling work and the praises of folks who have tried it.

Unlike the big multi-national brands, they have no real budget for advertising. So today I’d like to give their coffee a free plug here in our newsletter -- because if you love good coffee, you’re gonna love Modest Coffee.

By way of introduction, I’d like to share some information that Marcus passed along to me when he first introduced his coffee to our staff.

“There is a lot of fluff out there in the coffee packaging world. Shiny bags, wordy (yet oddly vague) flavor descriptions, catchy buzz-words. How does one cut through the excess of marketing hype and identify a truly high quality coffee? I really enjoy trying other coffee roasters and when I am in the market for beans I want to make sure that I get the best bang for my buck. Whenever I pick up a bag I run down a mental checklist to whittle down my choices to the best two or three. By no means does this guarantee that the bag is going to make a great cup, but in my experience, the chances increase dramatically. If you start looking for quality coffee, you will find it!”

Here is a list of things that Marcus suggests that you consider when looking over a new coffee:

“Roasted on” date – Coffee tastes the best when it is fresh. Conventional coffee only has the expiration date on the bag so you really have no idea how long ago it was roasted. Try to get coffee as close to the “roasted on” date as possible and avoid anything 30 days post-roast.

Origin Information – Look for the name of the farm and details like elevation, processing method, or grade. This tells you two things: first, it gives you more information on the coffee you are buying and second, it tells you that the roaster cares about their sourcing. A bag with just the name of the country is a red flag because often it’s just commodity coffee with a country of origin.

Roast Level – Does the roast level say Light, Medium or Dark, or does it say City, City+, Full City, Full City+, or Light Vienna? The general public understands what to expect from a light, medium or dark roast, but the City/Full City/Vienna descriptions tell you exactly where the roast ended and what to expect from a flavor perspective.

Certifications – Certifications can be deceiving because they do not guarantee quality processing. In very general terms, if a producer goes through the extra effort to meet certification requirements you should expect a higher quality cup of coffee. On the flip side, there are many award winning small farmers that produce world class coffee but have not yet gone through the certification process. So again, take this in context with the rest of the bag.

Awards – These are great acknowledgements and the easiest way to find quality coffee. You won’t often find these on the shelf at a supermarket but you will see them from time to time at specialty coffee shops. Cup of Excellence, Best of Huila, Best of Cauca, and many other regional producer competitions have independent judges flown in internationally to do blind tastings. After many days of rigorous testing, they award the winners. If you can find it fresh, buy it!

I do hope that you will give Modest Coffee a try, and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. To help make the decision to try a bit easier, we are offering a sale of $1 off any 12-oz. bag of freshly roasted Modest coffee beans. You will be doing yourself a favor by tasting an excellent batch of coffee beans, and you will also be helping support another local, family operated business.

 

Enjoy

Andy

Tips for Grilling Peppers- Tuesday, July 11, 2017
  • You will want to seed and stem your peppers before grilling.

  • Next, toss them in a very light coat of olive oil. This helps protect the skin and even out the heat.

  • Set up your grill so you can roast the peppers directly on the heat source – if using charcoal, make sure you have an even layer of coals. Or you can use a rack directly over the heat source.

  • Peppers should be roasted on high heat – over 450 degrees F, or with bright orange charcoals.

  • Grilling the peppers for about 5 minutes on each side should produce a nice char – watch carefully and adjust for your level of char preference.

  • Decide whether you want to eat your peppers with skin on or off. If you want to remove the skin, let the peppers sit in a bowl under plastic wrap right off the grill for about 15-20 minutes. This loosens the skin and you can peel it easily.

Here is our recipe for Grilled Assorted Peppers

Serves 4

Preparation: 5 min. Cooking: 10 min. Total: 15 min.

Ingredients

      • 2 sweet peppers - red, yellow, orange, purple

      • 2 hot banana peppers

      • 2 Gypsy sweet peppers

      • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

      • 1 tsp kosher salt

Heat a grill to medium-hot. You can core and halve or quarter the peppers, and remove the seeds, or grill smaller peppers whole. Brush the skin side of each piece with olive oil, place the peppers on the grill skin-side down, cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove skin, if you like, or let diners do it themselves. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

 

What you may not know about almonds.- Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Just a handful of almonds per day may help you get more of the nutrients your body needs while helping maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol levels. A handful of almonds is a tasty way to help crush cravings and keep energy levels up throughout the day. Almonds are also easy to take on the go and pair well with lots of other foods.

Here are some other good-to-know facts about almonds:

  • When asked "What is an almond?", folks naturally reply "It's a nut." This is true, but only partially so. As a member of the peach family, the almond is technically the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree.

  • Almonds are among the lowest-calorie nut meats. A single serving of almonds (1 oz. – 23 whole almonds) provides just 160 calories. They also have more calcium than any other nut, plus nearly 9 grams of monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats, 6 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of fiber.

  • Almonds are healthiest for you raw or dry roasted. You will want to avoid "roasted" almonds as they may have been heated in unhealthy fats.

  • There are 98 published research papers to date (with 19 more in progress) on the health effects of almonds, in particular their positive effect on heart health, diabetes and weight management.

  • Almonds eaten as a mid-morning snack can help moderate your blood sugar levels throughout the day. They help to slow absorption of sugar and carbs

Don’t sell fresh fruit short.- Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Everyone knows we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but unfortunately it’s much easier to convince ourselves to get a hamburger, fries and a tall soft drink than it is to make an effort to include healthier foods in our diet.

Folks, this is the best time of year to get to know our produce department because the summer fresh fruit season is at its peak for the next several weeks. There is always a deep selection of fruits on our racks, many only offered in the summer months like sweet, tart bing cherries, sweet plums, and peaches. As a bit of incentive, here are a few astonishing fruit facts to help convince you to load up your shopping cart with less snacks, canned and processed foods, and more fresh fruits.

Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, what’s not to love? These convenient snack-worthy hand foods are packed with nutrients. Berries are one super food that can impact your health far more than the typical fruit. They are an excellent source of disease-fighting antioxidants and offer greater anti-cancer activity than most other fruits. They also have a nutritional profile that any expert will tell you is worth their weight in gold.

Trying to lose a few excess pounds? Who isn’t? Eat a cup of berries every day for a between meal snack. It’s only 50-90 calories per cup (depending on the type of berry), and you get 3-4 grams of fiber to boot. Want to mix it up a bit? Toss berries into a spinach salad topped with toasted pecans or add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to a bowl of mixed berries and a dash of cinnamon.

Mangoes – If you have a Central or South American heritage, chances are mangoes are a large part of your diet. If not, it’s a fruit well worth getting to know better. Mangoes are packed with vitamins A and C, plus a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which may help prevent cancer and promotes healthy skin. Bonus: an entire mango only has 135 calories, and it's packed with 3.5 grams of fiber.

Here’s a cooking tip you may not know: Mangoes are a great tenderizing agent, and thus, perfect for marinades. Next time you are serving tacos, fish or chicken consider topping then with delicious mango salsa. For something refreshing anytime the heat rises, puree and freeze mangoes for an icy cool treat.

Peaches – The fresh peach season is always too short for me. A good fresh peach is bursting with sweet juicy flavor and always seems to refresh my palate. And talk about low cal: a medium peach has only 38 calories. What a peach lacks in calories it makes up for in measurable amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamins C and K.

Here’s another food tip for less than usual uses of peaches: Try using fresh peaches as a topping for grilled meats like chicken and turkey, or mix them into savory foods like quesadillas, salads and salsas. You can even use peaches to make innovative barbecue sauces and marinades.

Watermelon – If you took all the water out of a watermelon you’d end up with a fruit about the size or a large lemon. That’s because 90% of what goes into a watermelon is water, making it by far the juiciest fruit around. It’s also loaded with disease-fighting lycopene (a powerful plant chemical linked to lower risks of some forms of cancer). They’re cool, sweet, hydrating, and they pair well with almost every food genre (salty, sweet, spicy, bitter -- you name it!).

Besides slurping on a cool, juicy slice, what else can you do with watermelon? Think salads (it's perfect with feta and mint), sorbets, icy beverages, and even soup (like gazpacho, but with watermelon instead of tomato).

I do hope that you take something away from this article and try adding a bit more fresh fruit to your daily diet this summer… You’ll be glad that you did.

 

See you in the produce aisle,

Dave Michaels – Store Manager

Looking for something different to serve at this year’s July 4th BBQ? Think Beef Brisket- Tuesday, June 27, 2017

When we think about grilling meats for a summer event most of us think of burgers, dogs, brats, chops and steaks. All great choices and it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. If, however, you want to step your BBQ grilling game up a notch and show the neighbors what a real grill master you are, why not consider a beef brisket, one of the BBQ staples of the lone star state, Texas?

The brisket is cut from the breast section of a side of the animal. As with any cut of beef, it’s flavor and juiciness will be directly related to the amount of marbling (fat) contained in the animal, so you will want to be certain to choose only a USDA Prime or Choice cut of brisket. It just so happens that we are featuring beef briskets this week -- so enjoy the savings.

The first thing that you will want to do is prep your brisket. There is going to be some amount of fat that you will want to remove because smoke and rub won't penetrate it. It will take more time and fuel to cook the brisket with all the fat intact. And in the end, you're not going to eat the fat -- you're going to cut it away and discard it.

So, select a very sharp knife and cut away some of the thickest areas of fat on the brisket and trim the fat cap over the flat to 1/8" to 1/4". This leaves enough fat to keep the brisket moist during cooking. Concerned that you don’t know how to do this correctly or don’t have the proper equipment? Don’t worry, our meat cutters can open the Cryovac and trim your brisket FREE of charge, you simply pay the price shown on the untrimmed package.

Next, you will need to season your brisket. I’ve checked and in Texas, the most popular seasoning is a simple 50/50 mix of sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper along with the smoke created while cooking. If you want to be more adventurous, we have a wide selection of rubs and marinades available for sale in aisle 4.

Okay, it’s time to start grilling. For a gas grill, soak 6 cups wood chips in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Leave in water throughout the cooking process. Have some additional dry chips in reserve. Light only 1 grill burner to medium (if using a 3-burner grill, light burner on either end). Make sure that your drip tray is empty because as it cooks a good deal of fat will be rendered. Place smoker box over the lit burner and add to it add ½ cup soaked wood chips, and close grill. Adjust heat as needed to keep the temperature at 225-250 degrees. The wood chips should begin to smolder and release a steady stream of smoke. How long this takes depends on how wet your chips are and the heat of your grill. To get more smoke without increasing grill heat, add a few dry chips to the soaked ones.

Place brisket, fatty side up, on grill grate as far away from the lit burner as possible. Resist the urge to open grill often, as this will cause the temperature to fluctuate. Adjust heat as needed to keep the temperature steady at 225-250 degrees. Check wood chips every 45 minutes or so, and add soaked chips by 1/2-cups as needed to keep smoke level constant. Keep smoking the brisket, rotating every 3 hours and flipping as needed if top or bottom is coloring faster than the other until meat is very tender but not falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of meat registers 195-205 degrees, 10-12 hours total.

As always, don’t forget to let your brisket rest at least 30 minutes. Slice brisket against the grain 1/2" thick. There you go, partner -- you are now a virtual member of the Lone Star BBQ Association.

 

Happy Independence Day weekend,

Andy

Something to think about – Water Footprints- Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It’s been argued by scientists for years that in addition to the need to control and reduce greenhouse gasses in order to stop the increase of holes in our Earth’s atmosphere, we also need to be concerned about our fresh water supply. It’s not infinite, and definitely not something we want to waste. It’s relatively easy to think about how we use and at times waste water. We drink it, bathe in it, wash our cars and clothes, water our lawns, etc. What we fail to take into account, however, is the amount of water that goes into providing for our every-day needs that are less than obvious.

For example, consider a number of beverages that we consume quite regularly. When you take into account the amount of water needed to grow, process, produce and package these beverages, it may come as a shock just how much water is consumed creating each.

 

Beverage

Water used

Explanation

Unsweetened Ice tea 12 oz.

10 gallons of water

Nearly all is used in the cultivation of the tea. After water, tea is the most consumed beverage worldwide.

Lemonade

12-ounce 

41 gallons of water

The water needed to grow and produce the 10 or so lemons and 1 cup of sugar.

Soda ½ liter

40 to 80 gallons of water

½ liter of soda requires approximately 40 to 80 gallons (150 to 300 liters) of water to produce. Type of sweetener determines the different amounts of water needed.

Beer 12 oz.

28 to 37 gl. of water

Some of this water is associated with the brewing process; however, much of the water used is related to growing beer’s ingredients, like hops and barley.

Wine 8 oz.

29 gl. of water

The water used for irrigation and in the wine making process.


Bottom line: No resource is infinite so we never want to waste what we have. Enjoy that refreshing beverage, or perhaps consider just having a glass of water. Just think of all the water that you will be saving.