Prisco’s Family Market

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

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SUPERFOODS- Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Salmon

Fortunately, Americans as a whole are becoming more and more health conscious; many of us are taking steps to improve our quality of life wherever possible, and this is especially true when it comes to the kinds of foods we eat.

The ability to be selective has made eating healthier easier for us. The modern grocery store or outdoor market offers at the very least dozens of types of fruits and vegetables, and a variety of protein sources -- more than enough for even the pickiest of palates to find something tasty. We've come so far in sheer variety, in fact, that we can take pickiness to a whole new level and start being selective about which of the already high-quality foods we want to consume...

This brings us to the idea of superfoods, a term used to describe any food with high nutrient or phytochemical content which may confer health benefits. By definition, superfoods are calorie sparse and nutrient dense, meaning they pack a lot of punch for their weight as far as goodness goes. They are superior sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients -- nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves.

Here is a list of common superfoods (and -fruits!), courtesy of superfoodsrx.com:

APPLES

Apples are a powerful source of antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and vitamin C, as well as good source of fiber, and potassium. There are only 47 calories in an average sized apple. The secret behind the super antioxidant capacity of the apple is its skin. The apple skin alone provides two to six times the antioxidant activity of the apple flesh alone. So it is important to eat the skin to obtain the full health benefits of apples.

AVOCADO

If avocados were only delicious and versatile, they would still be a treat worth serving frequently. Recent research has demonstrated that avocados also offer some surprising and powerful health benefits. One of the most nutrient-dense foods, avocados are high in fiber and, ounce for ounce, top the charts among all fruits for folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium.

GARLIC

It's hard to imagine Italian, French, or Asian cooking without garlic. The big news on garlic isn't its ability to flavor a dish, but rather its considerable role as a health promoter. Indeed, recent findings on the power of garlic to fight cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, give garlic the bona fides to elevate it to superfood status.

SPINACH

Spinach and its green, leafy sidekicks, are among the most nutritious foods on earth. Calorie for calorie, spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. Along with wild salmon and blueberries, spinach is an all-star superfood that packs an incredible nutritional wallop. Low in calories and jam-packed with nutrients, spinach should be a regular part of your daily menu.

TURKEY

Highly nutritious, low in fat, inexpensive, versatile, and always available, the turkey has finally come into its own. Skinless turkey breast is one of, if not the leanest meat protein sources on the planet. This alone could make it a superfood: but turkey also offers a rich array of nutrients, particularly niacin, selenium, vitamins B6 and B12, and zinc. These nutrients are heart-healthy and are also valuable in helping to lower the risk for cancer.

WILD SALMON

Salmon is one of the richest, tastiest, readily available sources of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for brain memory and performance, and behavioral function. By including wild salmon in your diet two to four times a week, you should achieve optimal protection against a multitude of diseases that have been associated with low intakes of these critical fats.

When cooking look for a good oil!- Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Some of our shoppers have recently asked a question that I’d like to address in this Shout Out, as it may be of help to other as well. Customers have asked, “What is the best oil to use for cooking?”

Because of our Italian heritage and the fact that our store has been considered an Italian specialty store for ninety years, we sell a disproportionally larger amount of olive oil and extra virgin olive oil as compared to more conventional grocery stores.  In general, however, we Americans consume very small amounts of this great oil when compared to many of our European & Mediterranean neighbors, and it’s something I’d like all of our customers to pay more attention to for their own health and good eating.  Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and research shows that monounsaturated fats help keep “bad” LDL cholesterol low and boost levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. In addition, extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants called polyphenols that have been linked to heart health. “Pure” olive oil (i.e., not virgin) doesn’t contain these “bonus” antioxidants.

True virgin olive oil has an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties. Because it is derived directly from the fruit of the plant, it also helps with digestion. The more processing the oil is subjected too, the less nutrients and benefits it offers. It is extracted from olives using a variety of processes, the most common being the cold-pressed process. Other extraction methods include using chemicals and solvents that remove the majority of oil but leave the olive itself intact.  For olive oil to be considered "virgin" or "extra-virgin," there can be no chemicals or alternative methods used in the extraction process. Virgin oils are achieved through the pressing process where the oil is literally pressed from the olive. In the United States, the labeling of olive oil is not strictly regulated, and chemically extracted oil has been sold as "virgin." When chemicals are used to remove the oil, many of the antioxidants and other powerful nutrients are destroyed.

For cooking, olive oil is known for adding flavor without making foods overly greasy. It breaks down easily and can actually improve the overall texture of pasta. Unlike other oils, extra-virgin oil that is used in cooking does not lose its beneficial properties the way other oils do when they are heated.  There is a myth spreading in some circles that cooking with olive oil can be bad for your health.  It said that it isn’t stable and oxidizes when heated, forming harmful by-products in the process. While this is true for other oils like canola and vegetable oil, this is not the case with olive oil. It has some unique qualities that make it stable under cooking conditions, and provided you’re buying high quality olive oil to begin with, you can sauté to your heart’s content.

One of the questions we are often asked is what happens when olive oil is heated and/or used for frying. The important thing about cooking with any oil (olive or otherwise) is not to heat the oil over its smoke point (also referred to as smoking point). The smoke point refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down. The substance smokes or burns, and gives food an unpleasant taste.  The smoke point of oil varies with its quality. High quality extra virgin olive oils (with low free fatty acids) have a high smoke point. They are an excellent choice, but can be considered an expensive choice.   When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoke point (410ºF) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (356ºF). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying.

Easter Traditions with a Twist- Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Easter is always a busy time at a food store because, as with many major holidays, it's traditionally a time when families gather together to share a meal. Not just any meal, either, but what most would consider a feast. It’s a time when foods that we have loved since childhood are planned, shopped for and prepared with great care and attention to detail. It’s a time when, in most cases, paper plates and plastic flatware are foregone in deference to Mom’s best china, crystal and silverware. Last week’s blog focused on our sweet tooth with suggested Easter desserts. This week, let’s concentrate on the main course.

Family holiday meal traditions are a key part of our heritage and something every family wants to preserve, but at the same time it’s always fun to add something new to the mix so we did a little research and have come up with a few ideas that you might like to try this year.

Brunch

If you are serving Easter brunch as opposed to a dinner, here is a real crowd pleaser that is nothing more than a knock-off of a popular quiche recipe.

Breakfast Strata Lorraine


 

Easter Dinner Suggestions

As guests arrive it’s nice to serve a light but tasty appetizer, and here is one that will help you use up all those hard boiled Easter eggs that your children would just as soon pass over on their way to the peeps and jelly beans.

Lemon-Dill Chicken Salad-Stuffed Eggs


 

Side dishes are always a good way to introduce new items to a holiday table. This way if a guest is a bit leery of trying, say, a new vegetable, it can easily be passed over with no commotion. Also keep in mind your guests with special dietary needs. This one should suit your vegetarian and vegan quests.

Spring Pea Orzo


 

Ideas to help make this Easter dinner memorable- Tuesday, March 22, 2016

As with other major holidays, every family seems to have certain traditional Easter dishes that they serve year after year. For the most part our customers favor ham to a large extent with Easter lamb following at a pretty close second. Many customers are even opting to have both and let guests serve themselves what they prefer.

The beauty of a ham or a half ham is that they are so easy to prepare. You can go for the traditional baked ham of course, but lots of customers prefer the easy to carve spiral hams. One word of caution, however, with the spiral ham: be careful not to leave it in the oven too long. Spiral hams tend to dry out much more easily than hams you carve the meat off the bone yourself. The best way to be assured of a delicious ham is to use a meat thermometer. As you insert the thermometer into the ham, be sure to have it touch the meat only and not the bone. Once you achieve an internal temperature of 145 degrees F., take your ham out of the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

This year we have added a new line of hams that we feel will be very popular. Everyone knows what a great line of cold cuts Boar’s Head offers, so we are bringing in their small half hams - specifically their Black Forest, Tavern, Sweet Slice and Maple Honey hams. You will find them all in the fresh meat case with our other ham offerings.

Speaking of family traditions again for a moment, here is one many families follow each year... Save the ham bone after all the slices have been removed. You can use it as the base for a flavorful split pea, bean or lentil soup. We know this is a popular meal by the amount of dry beans and split peas we sell the week after Easter each year.

The other Easter mainstay as mentioned earlier is lamb. Our store has been selling families their delicious USDA Choice Grade lamb for 90 years and we are proud to say that a number of our customers will shop nowhere else for their Easter lamb because they know we will never disappoint them.

As in the past, we try of offer our lamb in several variations in order to make certain we have covered all our bases. In recent years we have found that our most popular roast is the EZ carve semi-boneless leg of lamb. People find it easier to serve and with much less waste than the full bone-in version. For those with a flair for the more dramatic, we also offer the king of lamb roasts, a French cut rack of lamb. If that’s your choice, please call us ahead to order it so we have time to fully cut and dress it for you! Here’s another tip: If you are serving lamb this year, be certain to add a jar of mint jelly to the shopping list. Our family wouldn’t dream of lamb without a side of mint jelly.

Three other things you will want to consider adding to your shopping list are a pan of our homemade lasagna, our home-baked dinner rolls, and to top it all off a couple of our Farmers Market home-baked pies. This week we will have lots of different varieties to choose from, including strawberry rhubarb and pineapple upside-down pies.

One last suggestion... If you are having a crowd over for Easter you might want to consider ordering one of our pre-made appetizer or party trays. Check out details here.

For many families, a big tradition in addition to Easter dinner is Easter breakfast. If you want something easy to prepare, why not let us do the lion’s share of the work for you by serving a pair of our home made Easter quiches? This year we are making a vegetable and a spinach & bacon version.

In our meat case you will find our ever-popular Easter breakfast items, our homemade pork sausage patties or links, and our homemade Swedish potato sausage.

 

From all of our family to yours,

Have a very Happy Easter!

 

Beth

Simple Easter Crafts for Kids- Tuesday, March 15, 2016

One of the best parts of any holiday is creating a fun, festive atmosphere for friends and family to enjoy. For children, holidays are particularly special because not only are they a break from the usual routine, but they often give children free reign with their imaginations.

Easter is one of those holidays where this is especially true. From the more traditional activity of coloring hard-boiled eggs, to creating garlands from paper rings and paintings from pastels, there are so many fun projects for kids to do, and so many colors and materials to choose from!

So if you want to give your children something to do while you are occupied with preparing for your Easter get-together, or if you want a great opportunity to bond with your children with a fun project (and brighten up your house at the same time!), try some of these great crafts courtesy of...

activityvillage.co.uk

 

Bunny Mask

"Use a paper plate and some craft cupboard bits and pieces to make a cute bunny mask..."

You will need:

A paper plate
Pink paint *
Pink card *
White pipe cleaner (chenille stem)
Elastic thread
Glue
Black pen

Instructions

Paint the back of the paper plate pink and leave to dry.

Cut out two eye holes. Snip the pipe cleaner into 3 and twist together in the centre. Glue to the centre of the face.

Cut out a nose from pink card and glue to the centre of the pipe cleaners.

Cut out two ears from the card and glue to the top of the head. Draw on a mouth with black pen.

Make two small holes, one either side of the face. Tie through the elastic thread.


* Of course, the mask can be any color your child prefers!

 

Polystyrene Egg Bunny

"This Polystyrene Egg Bunny makes a great table decoration that the kids will be really proud of! "

You will need:

A large polystyrene egg
Pink paint
Pink craft foam
Googly eyes
White pipe cleaner (chenille stem)
White pompom
Glue

Instructions

Paint the egg pink and leave to dry.

Cut the chenille stem into 3 short lengths. Glue these to the front of the egg as whiskers.

From the pink foam, cut two feet, two ears and a nose and glue these to your rabbit.

Add two googly eyes and a pompom tail and leave the glue to dry.

 

Easter Chick Thumb Prints

"Why not have a go at making some of these gorgeous thumbprint chicks! All you need are some yellow poster paint, scraps of orange paper or felt (or an orange pen) and a black pen. Children love making thumbprints, and even the youngest children will enjoy trying this with your help!

You could use the chicks to decorate Easter cards and gift tags for friends and family, or go into production and make some wrapping paper!

Pour a little yellow paint onto a pad of folded newspaper or a paper plate and gently dip the child's thumb into it. We found that the second print was usually the best. Practice a few times until you get the hang of it.

When your thumbprints are dry, add details with a black and orange pen (or cut snips of orange paper or felt for the beaks). Older children may enjoy adding speech bubbles with 'cheep cheep' or other chick-like noises inside."

 

Tissue Paper Stained Glass Egg

You will need:

Black card
Glue
Tissue paper (various colors)

Instructions

Fold the black card in half and cut out an egg from the center of the card. Carefully cut out sections from the middle of the egg to make a pattern.

Glue on pieces of tissue paper to cover each of the holes.

Stick your egg up onto the window and let the sun shine through.

 

A few tips to help shake the winter blues.- Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This has certainly been an unusual winter. One of the mildest our area has on record, in fact. That being said, however, it doesn’t change the fact that most of us just want to get on with Spring. Virtually everyone is looking forward to the sunshine, flowers and warm, fresh air outside. Even those folks who love their winter sports like skating, skiing, and walks in a winter woods have been disappointed in this year’s poor showing, so don’t we all just want to see that first crocus bloom? After several gloomy days, I decided to do a little web research on the matter and learned some interesting things about the winter blues and what you might do to get past them. After all, I promised you at the beginning of the year that we were going to do our best to help educate our customers about the foods we sell.

Although nearly everyone is eager to see the end of winter, for a large chunk of the population the constant lack of sunshine and being confined indoors has a bigger impact than some of us experience, and these folks are affected by a psychological phenomena known, appropriately, as SAD (seasonal affective disorder). One theory for the cause of SAD is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways which regulate hunger and feelings of well-being.

There are things we can do to increase the amount of serotonin we produce, and as can be expected many have to do with the foods we eat. After all, what we eat has a great deal to do with how we function and how we feel. Mort important rule of thumb: Eat wisely. This means pushing away the leftover cake and eating sensible carbs to stimulate serotonin. Sweets and simple carbs, like white rice and white bread, quickly raise blood sugar, flood you with insulin, and then drop you in a hole. Eating wisely also means watching the caffeine, which suppresses serotonin.

Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist at the NYU Medical Center, writes it's best to substitute fruit for cookies and chocolate ice cream. In general, the good carbs of veggies, fruit, and beans help energy levels. "If weight gain in the winter months is your concern," Heller says, "you should get a healthy eating plan from a registered dietitian."

Another health expert, Julia Ross, MA, director of the Recovery Systems Clinic in San Francisco and author of The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure says that there are three ways to jump-start your serotonin:

  • Bright light: Ross says a 300 watt bulb within three feet for 20 minutes three times a day can help, although the boost in serotonin may be temporary.

  • Exercise: 15 to 20 minutes of dancing to the radio or fast walking can also reduce your sweet tooth.

  • Good eating habits: Protein, she says, should be eaten three times a day. Another good rule is to eat four cups of brightly colored veggies a day. Vegetables are carbs, but the kind that feed into your system slowly.

Samantha Heller urges people to try eliminating all white, starchy foods for two weeks -- bread, rice, potatoes. "You will be amazed at how good you feel," she says. "But you need to stick to it to see a difference." Even as a nutritionist, she admits to having experienced the opposite.

I found a blog written by Heather McClees, a 29-year-old writer from South Carolina, with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Nutrition Dietetics a minor in Journalism. In it, Heather listed loads of foods that are ideal for fighting winter’s blues. I was not surprised to find that there are lots of foods that can increase levels of serotonin, but I found it very interesting that most of these foods are very inexpensive and seasonally at their peak this time of year in our produce department. For example:

  • Sweet potatoes: They contain lots of Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and Vitamin B6, and they contain the amino acid tryptophan, which makes you feel happy and relaxed. They also contain magnesium which lowers stress and anxiety. Sweet potatoes prevent inflammation of the joints and gastrointestinal tract, and they help prevent a rise in your blood sugar, unlike white potatoes. To beat all, the Vitamin A content in sweet potatoes will even give your skin a peachy glow regardless of the lack of sun in winter.

  • Lentils: They are low in calories, and one of the most inexpensive sources of plant protein out there. As we said earlier, we need three servings of protein daily as it is essential to preventing depression, due to the way amino acids react in your body and trigger reactions like the release of serotonin and dopamine. Lentils have almost 18 grams of protein per serving, with no fat, and a good dose of potassium, B vitamins, and magnesium.

  • Leafy greens: Think kale, Swiss chard, romaine, arugula, spinach, and turnip greens. These powerful green foods should especially make an appearance in your diet during the winter. Leafy greens are packed with magnesium, iron, B vitamins, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Plus they are a natural source of omega 3 fats, which help prevent inflammation, disease, and depression.

  • Onions: They’re high in Vitamin C and Vitamin B6, both of which influence mood and prevent depression. Onions are also a high source of antioxidants, while also helping to lower stress and inflammation. As a bonus, onions are wonderful for natural detoxification as they help the liver remove harmful agents during digestion and assimilation.

  • Navel oranges: One navel orange contains 60% of your daily calcium requirements, a critical nutrient needed for preventing depression and stress. Oranges are especially high in Vitamin B6 and folate, two critical nutrients for preventing a low mood and depression.

  • Pumpkin seeds: A very healthy snack food, pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which lowers stress, prevents depression, and tames anxiety. Pumpkin seeds are also incredibly high in protein for such a small amount, with 13 grams of protein per serving. They are also one of the only seeds to promote alkalinity in the body, which fights inflammation due to stress and a poor diet.

  • Avocados: Yes, avocados are high in fat, but, your brain and your body wants you to eat the kind of fat found in avocados. Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, which means they fight hunger and weight gain while enhancing your metabolism. Fat aside, avocados also contain Vitamin B6 to prevent stress and low energy, and they contain more potassium than a banana! The potassium in avocados helps ease anxiety, bloating, constipation, headaches and joint pain. Plus, avocados have protein and fiber as a bonus.

  • Cacao: This raw form of chocolate is helpful at preventing depression, disease, and stress. Cacao is also a natural beauty food, helping to prevent wrinkles, acne and dull skin. It contains more antioxidants than any food in the world, and is especially high in magnesium, which helps prevent stress, depression, and anxiety. Magnesium can also help either give you energy when you need it, or help you relax.

  • Coconut: Raw, organic, extra virgin coconut oil is one of the best foods and fats you can put in your body. Depression aside, it helps fight viruses and illness, which peak in the winter months. Not only that, but coconut’s fats also help to prevent a low mood from stress, inflammation, dry skin, and even high cholesterol.

  • Broccoli: Just one cup of broccoli contains 5 grams of protein and 76% of your daily Vitamin C requirements. Sure, broccoli seems boring to many, but lightly steam it with some coconut oil and a crack of black pepper and lemon and it’s just amazing! Broccoli is also one of the best sources of Vitamin B6, which helps you relax and gives you steady energy at the same time.

  • Bananas: Yes, bananas are high in sugar, but they’re actually lower in sugar than other fruits like pineapples, red apples, dates, cherries, and raisins. Bananas are especially high in fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6, and tryptophan. The fiber helps slow down your blood sugar and provide a steady flow of carbohydrates through your body during digestion.

  • Almonds: Let’s start with their protein content, which is around 7 grams per 1/4 cup for only 160 calories. It is said that getting your protein from plant foods is best for you. They contain Vitamin E, which is a top antioxidant to help prevent inflammation and even wrinkles, along with promoting clear skin. Almonds' healthy fats are mostly monounsaturated, which also makes them a wonderful slimming and filling food, like avocados. They also have a good amount of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins.

  • Walnuts: They have more omega 3 fatty acids than any other tree nut, and they contain melatonin. Melatonin is the natural hormone your body produces to help you sleep and wake up at regular, optimal times each day. During winter months, our natural melatonin levels can become unbalanced due to a lack of sun. Over time, poor sleep, or a bad sleep schedule can actually cause depression, even if you get enough rest. Melatonin is also an important antioxidant to prevent aging and stress.

So there you have it, over a dozen reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables and stay healthier. I hope that you found this as interesting as I did. As a foot note, please be assured that I make no claims to being a food nutritionist, but all the nutritional facts in this blog were taken from the works of professionals in food science from websites such as WebMd.com and allwomenstalk.com.

 

Good Eating & Keep smiling.

Andy

The Little Plants that Pack a Punch- Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A few weeks back I introduced you to two local farms we have partnered with to gain better access to fresh, delicious, locally grown foods. Today I’d like to tell you more about Heritage Prairie Farms in Elburn, and in particular explain exactly what MicroGreens are and why you will want to make them part of your daily diet.

Husband and wife, Nate Sumner and Jessica Impson, own and manage Heritage Prairie Farm (HPF) located just off Roosevelt road a few miles west of Randel Road. In the winter of 2007, the very first crop of MicroGreens was planted. At first they sold them on the farm and at local farmers markets as well as a number of upscale Chicago restaurants such as Naha, Vie, North Pond, and Alinea. By 2010, Heritage Prairie Farm MicroGreens were one of the first Midwest farms to make MicroGreens commercially available to consumers at retail outlets like Prisco’s. So let start with the basics.

WHAT ARE MICROGREENS?

MicroGreens are the edible young seedlings of immature plants, harvested 7-14 days after germination. Typically ranging in size from 1-3 inches tall, MicroGreens are older than sprouts and much younger than petite or baby greens. MicroGreens are specifically selected for their unique color and flavor. MicroGreens have gained popularity as a new culinary trend in the past few years. MicroGreens first became popular in the middle of the 1990s in California and the first use of the word "microgreens" was documented in 1998. These tender greens have two fully developed cotyledon leaves, with or without the emergence of a few first true leaves. It is these young cotyledon leaves, often referred to as the seed leaves, that possess higher nutritional densities.

Packaged MicroGreens.

WHAT MAKES THEM SO NUTRITIOUS?

We all know that we need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and cut back on processed foods to attain better health. It’s recommended that half of what we eat should be foods rich in vitamins C, E, A, K and phytonutrients. Countless studies have shown that the consumption of fruits and vegetables is strongly associated with reduced risk in the development of chronic diseases and cancers.

MicroGreens ready to be harvested.

MicroGreens were found on average to contain 4 to 6 times more nutrients than the mature leaves of the same plants. Not only are HPF MicroGreens nutritiously great for you, they are all grown on a farm that has been certified Organic by the USDA. Heritage Prairie Farm does not use any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms in growing their MicroGreens.

Unlike sprouts, Heritage Prairie Farm MicroGreens obtain their nutrients from three places: the rich, organic soil, natural sunlight photosynthesized by the plant, and nutrients produced by the seed itself. In recent studies, when compared to sprouts, MicroGreens bear a relatively lower food safety risk. Heritage Prairie Farm Microgreens are always triple-washed for your convenience and safety.

Harvesting MicroGreens.

Here are health benefits and other information about the various MicroGreens grown at HPF:

  • Arugula MicroGreens- Are intensely peppery, a little spicy and have an incredible nutty after taste. High in vitamins A, K, and C, arugula helps cleanse and neutralize acidic waste from the body, especially from the lymphatic system. They make an excellent topping on pizza, pasta, or thrown in omelets.

  • Mustard MicroGreens- Contain powerful glucoinolates, antioxidants linked to decreased cancer risk, as well as enhancing the immune system. High in vitamins A, K, C, and E. HPF mustard greens are sold as part of the Healthy Mix package, a blend of broccoli, red mustard, pak choi, mizuna, kale & purple cabbage. A delicious addition to any salad mix.

  • Cabbage MicroGreens- Help control heart rate & blood pressure. High in vitamins A, K, and C. Contains anthocyanins, which has been proven to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Available as part of HPF Healthy Mix package.

  • Broccoli MicroGreens- Are earthy and super mild making them ideal for children. They are a rich source of vitamin A, C, K, and B-complex. Broccoli was recently discovered to contain sulforaphane, a compound that fights inflammation and helps skin damage from the sun.

  • Radish MicroGreens- Have the same heat as a typical adult radish. Radish MicroGreens are high in vitamin C, phosphorus, and zinc, making them a natural cleansing agent for the digestive system, while they also help fight colds & sore throats.

  • Pak Choi MicroGreens- Help destroy free radicals and protect cells from inflammation. High in vitamins A, K, and C. Available as part of HPF Healthy Mix package.

  • Kale MicroGreens- Kale is considered one of the healthiest vegetables available, having extremely high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as being high in fiber, iron, copper, manganese, and copper. Milder and less bitter than their adult counterpart, kale MicroGreens are fabulous in smoothies, salads, and atop soups. Strengthens the body and acts as a great anti-aging tool.

If MicroGreens are new to you (as they are to most shoppers), I would encourage you to give them a try. What have you got to lose? Absolutely nothing! On the flip side, if you use these little super power vegetables to supplement your salads and other foods you will gain a great deal health-wise, and you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing your part to help support a local farm family.

 

Enjoy your MicroGreens!

 

Andy

Is cabbage part of your heritage?- Tuesday, March 8, 2016

No St. Patrick’s Day table would be complete without a bowl of boiled cabbage. If you happen to be of Italian, Spanish or Polish decent, St. Joseph Day, celebrated Saturday, 3/19, is your big patron saint day. Cabbage is the one of the most popular winter vegetables in Europe, and rightly so: It comes into season during the winter months, it's inexpensive, nutritious, quite tasty, and is also versatile, working well in, soups, as a side dish, and at times as part of the main course.

When someone mentions cabbage we tend to think of basic green or red cabbage, but in truth there are actually more than a hundred different varieties. Most cabbages will have a short, broad stem and flowers that form a distinct, compact head. The cabbage family includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, collards, and the Oriental leaf vegetables such as Bok Choy and Napa cabbage.

Here are some of the more popular types of cabbage.

Green Cabbage

This is the most common cabbage variety. Pale in color and with tight leaves. It is used often in soups and slaws.

 

 

Red Cabbage

Actually, the color is more like a deep purple than red. And even though it looks different than the green cabbage, its taste is very similar. Red cabbage is most commonly pickled. They are also tasty in slaws and salads, bringing out color in dishes.

 

The Savory Cabbages

Savory cabbage is distinguished by its yellow-green crinkled leaves. It is also noticeably less compact than the common green cabbage. These cabbage types do well in stew, steamed or just as a garnish.

 

Napa Cabbage

These popular cabbages are a light green with crinkled leaves. Their head is compact and the stems are white in color. Napa cabbage is tasty even raw. It works well in stir-fry or steamed. You will find the Napa cabbage in almost all stir-fry dishes. If you enjoy a more delicate and milder tasting cabbage for your recipes, opt for the Napa cabbage.

 

Chinese cabbage – Bok Choy

Bok Choy is recognized for its dark green leaves and white stems. And unlike traditional green cabbage, the leaves grow loosely together rather than tightly around a head. With most Chinese cabbage both the stem and leaves can be cooked. They have a taste similar to celery.

 

Here is an interesting piece of info we uncovered in doing our research: Ever wonder where coleslaw got its name? Since the primary ingredient in any slaw recipe is cabbage, why isn’t it referred to as cabbage slaw? Turns out it actually was… you see, "cole" is the old English word for cabbage.

Although the cabbage you eat with your corned beef for St. Patrick’s or in your cabbage soup for St. Joseph’s day will be well boiled, the remainder of the year try to prepare your cabbage as close to raw as possible – sometimes called tender-crisp – to preserve this veggie’s many nutrients.

Speaking of nutrients, here is what cabbage and it’s relatives have to offer: It has high amounts of some of the most powerful antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables – phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes. Research has shown these compounds protect against several types of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancers. They also help lower the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or "bad cholesterol" levels in blood, which can build up in arteries and cause heart disease.

Rich in vitamin K, cabbage provides 85 percent of the body’s daily requirement. This is very important, not only for bone metabolism, but as a known Alzheimer's disease preventative by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. The 54 percent daily value of vitamin C supplied to the body with one serving of cabbage is impressive, too – even more than oranges – which can help scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals and protect against infection.

Cabbage is also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese, as well as healthy amounts of thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). It also provides iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium for strong bones, and potassium for regulating the heart rate and blood pressure.

 

White Sugar Substitutes- Tuesday, March 1, 2016

By now you have heard plenty of bad press about good old white refined table sugar. We’ve all heard that it spikes your blood sugar, increases inflammation, and sends you on an endless roller coaster of cravings. Here are some of the other options that are currently available to you:

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes known as "intense sweeteners" because they are many times sweeter than regular sugar. (Due to their concentrated sweetness, you only need to use a fraction of the amount.) In addition, artificial sweeteners are attractive alternatives to regular sugar for people who are watching their weight because they add very little in additional calories to one's diet.

Currently, artificial sweeteners are widely used in processed foods, including baked goods, soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, candy, puddings, canned foods, and dairy products. They also are becoming increasingly popular for use at home as many people struggle to reduce their daily intake of sugar.

For decades, Americans have turned to artificial sweeteners, a healthier alternative to refined table sugar, primarily as a means of losing or controlling weight. Not without controversy, however: Artificial sweeteners have been the subject of intense scrutiny for decades. Critics of artificial sweeteners say that they cause a variety of health problems, including cancer. But according to the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies, there's no sound scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the U.S. cause cancer or other serious health problems. And numerous research studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities, even for pregnant women.

Natural Sweetener Alternatives

In addition to the artificially made sugar substitutes, there are a number of naturally occur ones -- and depending on the intended use, selecting one of these would indeed be a healthier choice for you and your family.

Agave - Agave is a large, succulent plant with broad, toothed leaves. It's actually the same plant used to make tequila. Health conscious consumers are often surprised to learn that refined agave sweeteners are not inherently healthier than sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or any other sweetener. Nutritionally and functionally, agave syrup is similar to high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose. It does contain small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, but not enough to matter nutritionally.

 

Coconut Sugar - It's the hands-down favorite of nutritionists because of its low glycemic index. Made from the sap of the coconut palm tree buds, it’s not as chemically processed as other sugars. The biggest drawback is that coconut sugar is not available in large supply and therefore tends to be rather expensive; generally, four times the cost of refined sugar. Of the natural options, it tastes the most like regular sugar, with a slight caramel taste. It’s great in baking and can be substituted 1:1 for regular processed sugar.

 

Honey - Loaded with an array of vitamins and minerals, including B2, B6, iron, and manganese, honey’s anti-fungal and antibacterial properties will help ward off colds. Raw honey has a high level of antioxidants, and the darker honeys have even more. Take care, however, and watch your blood sugar: honey's glycemic index is higher than agave's (though it's still lower than refined sugar). Calories ring in the same as agave (60 calories per tablespoon).

 

Maple Syrup – Sap from a tree, it doesn’t get more natural than that. Pure maple syrup is high in antioxidants, zinc which boosts the immune system, and manganese, which is necessary for the body’s enzyme reactions. The only real drawback to maple syrup is that, when used as a replacement for sugar, it’s distinct flavoring will often overcome the taste of other ingredients. Some dishes just won’t taste right with a maple flavor.

 

Molasses - High in nutritional value, especially the blackstrap variety, molasses has 70 percent more potassium than a banana. It’s made during the processing of plain sugar, so it holds onto the sugar cane’s original nutrients before the refined sugar is stripped out. It's not a health food, even with its nutritional profile. And its strong taste isn't great for beverages and has limited use for baking dense, flavorful items like gingerbread.

 

Stevia - Calorie-free and natural, it comes from the stevia plant. It's sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need to use much. Sometimes it is chemically processed and mixed with sugar alcohol, which can cause diarrhea and indigestion, and may account for an unpleasant after-taste that some notice. Check the labels.

 

 

Don’t assume that cooking a delicious, economical roast takes too much time or skill.- Tuesday, March 1, 2016

We may be setting our clocks ahead in less than two weeks as we kick off daylight savings time, but don’t kid yourself: there is still plenty of time for Old Man Winter to take several more bites out of us. It’s a very good time to consider pulling out our crock-pots or slow cookers and putting them to good use making delicious, well-balanced meals that are both economical and, really, much easier to put together than you might imagine.

As you peruse this week’s ad, you'll notice that we are featuring several items that would make good candidates for such a meal, including corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day, pork loin roasts, baby back pork ribs, and whole beef briskets.

If you are not already a big fan of the slow cooker, let me give you some reasons why this little household appliance is worth its weight in fudge.

  • It saves you loads of time – Although it won't magically do all the work for you, it’s not far from just that. Cooking this way still requires some prep. Meats often need to be browned on the stove top, veggies need to be washed, chopped, and diced. But beyond that, once everything is in the cooker and the timer and temp are appropriately set, it does the rest. You are free to go to work, the gym, hike, nap, whatever. Five, six, eight, or ten hours later, you will return home to a fully cooked meal. Most slow cookers come with a feature that will switch the cooker to “warm” mode when the cooking is finished so that the meal is ready to be eaten the second that you arrive home. Oh, and one more advantage: a slow cooker is an all-in-one meal, so there are far fewer pots and pans to clean up.

  • A slow cooker is energy efficient and can be used year-round – A slow cooker requires only a small amount of electricity to do its work. Compared with a standard oven, slow cookers only use the same amount of electricity as a light bulb and they won't heat up an entire kitchen the way an oven does. Though we might associate warm, hot meals with wintertime, the beauty of slow cookers is that you can use them any time of year. The perk of using one in the summer is that it eliminates the need to use the oven, eliminating the discomfort of making an already hot home hotter.

  • It’s very cost efficient – I realize that meat is one of the highest ticket items that you purchase on a regular basis from our store, and I’ve no doubt that standing in front of the meat case and staring down a $30 to $50 roast is a bit intimidating, but one of our challenges as a meat department is to help you understand that looking at the price of the roast is not what you should be doing.

    Not that the price isn’t significant (we know that it is), but taken out of context like that we often overestimate the cost of preparing a good roast for dinner. Since we are approaching St. Patrick’s Day, let’s consider corned beef as an example. Assume you pick a corned beef flat at a price of around $6 lb. and the roast weighs about 3 ½ lbs. You are looking at around $21 for the corned beef. All you need to add to that for your meal is a few pounds of potatoes, a head of cabbage and a pound of carrots. Total cost of the entire meal will be around $25.50, and that meal will easily serve two with enough left over for a second meal reheated.

    Not crazy about reheated leftovers? Cut up corned beef and boiled potatoes and cabbage and cook it on the stove for a delicious homemade corned beef hash. Don’t miss out on saving some of the meat for lunch in the form of corned beef sandwiches or a grilled Ruben. Now, looking at it that way, your $21 roast and accompanying veggies provide a minimum of four servings and two meals for two people at an average cost of around $6 per serving.

  • You get good nutrition to boot - Mainly fresh ingredients, cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time, are used in slow-cooking. As a result, nutrition-rich, natural juices from vegetables and meats are retained. One benefit about slow cookers is that they are fully covered containers. This sealed aspect of slow cookers means that some percentage of nutrients -- even if released from the food -- would be contained in the slow cooker as food liquids or residues. In other words, if you consume all of the stewing liquid or soup liquid, you would be getting much of the nutrients that were lost from the food but not actually destroyed by the heat. crock-pot meals are also lower in fat, due to the fact that the foods cook in their own juices. Plus, it’s not necessary to add much butter or oil, if any.

  • Slow cookers are ideal for tougher, less expensive cuts of meat - You can buy less expensive cuts of meat that would be tougher to chew if you cooked them on the stove or in your oven. The act of slowly cooking meat in a crock-pot effectively softens even the toughest meats. So, in this way, a crock-pot can also save you money. Slow cookers are perfect for transforming cheaper cuts of meat, such as chicken thighs, shoulders of pork, beef or lamb, into tender and tasty dishes.

So why not go to the back of your cupboards or the top shelf of the food pantry where your slow cooker is most likely still sitting in the box it came in, rarely used. Pull it out and pick a recipe and give it a try -- you and your family will be glad you did.

 

 

Chris Tope – Meat Manager