2015: The Year of Fruits and Vegetables

Food, nutrition, and health and fitness trends all point to eating more fruits and vegetables

Fad diets come and go, but eating more fruits and vegetables is one constant key to better health. This year, more than ever, food, nutrition, and health and fitness trends are all about fruits and vegetables. Our nutritionist and trend-spotters got together to help you cut through the chatter of what’s hot in 2015.

Plant-based Protein

Protein has been a big buzz word in health and fitness for quite a few years now, and it is finally going mainstream. We are on board with protein too, but it’s the plant-based kind.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Food52: Dan Barber's Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Purée

Food52: Dan Barber’s Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Purée. Click for recipe.

With all the protein talk, people are neglecting their fruits and vegetables because they often forget that vegetables have protein too! Legumes like Edamame and Blackeyed Peas are all excellent sources of protein. But some vegetables have surprising amounts of protein, including Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, and Artichokes. (Hint: choose colorful varieties like Colored Cauliflowers and Purple Baby Brussels Sprouts for added antioxidants and to add excitement to your plate.)

Digestive Health

You keep hearing about probiotic foods and prebiotic vegetables—but what’s the difference? Probiotics are good bacteria that is beneficial to your digestive system; they can be found in fermented food like yogurt, sauerkraut, and Kim Chee (spicy Korean pickled vegetables). Kim Chee and fermented and pickled vegetables happen to be one of the top foodie trends for this year.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Sunchokes® - Jersusalem Artichokes

Prebiotics are a special type of plant fiber which nourishes the good bacteria already in your digestive track. Think of them as a food for all those good bacteria in your system. Vegetables rich in this prebiotic fiber are Sunchokes®, Dandelion Greens, Asparagus (also comes in purple and white!), Leeks, Garlic, and Onions.

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday is a movement started in 2003 to encourage people to eat meatless once a week, not only for better health, but to reduce our impact on the environment. The movement is gaining traction worldwide. Even some restaurants are adding Meatless Monday items to their menus.

Meatless Monday

Just because you’re cutting out the meat doesn’t mean that your meals should be less filling or unsatisfying. Many meat alternatives can pacify your carnivore instinct from firm Tofu to Soyrizo™ and SoyTaco™, plant-based sandwich “meat,” and meatless burger patties.

Frankly, you just can’t go wrong with adding more fruits and vegetables to your lifestyle. Eating well is always in fashion!

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Give Something Tasty

Baked goods are not the only edible gifts in town this holiday

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Club Frieda - Edible Gift Guide

Whether it’s a host-hostess gift or a holiday present, edible gifts are always in style. And there are reasons for that. Homemade gifts show consideration, creativity, and the thoughtfulness of the giver, and leave an impression on the recipient. We may not be able to tell you which friends gave us a bottle of wine at the last party, but we definitely remember who gave us the white chocolate-covered Oreo cookie “snowballs.”

Edible gifts may be homemade, but they don’t always have to be, well, made. Putting together a fruit basket or a food-making kit is just as well-received as any made-from-scratch baked good.

Non-refrigerated food gifts are also great. Think about your fridge the day of or after a holiday party. Do you have room to squeeze in more after all the leftovers?

Finally, package your gift well and remember to label it. If you’re baking, make your label big enough for an ingredient list. If it’s a food creation kit, don’t forget to add instructions or a recipe card.

Now that you know the basics, time to look at some unique ideas!

Meaningful Fruit Basket

Don’t just throw items into a basket! Make it meaningful for the recipient. For example, borrowing from Asian symbolism, you can give a gift of peace (apples, like the Organic Heirloom variety for great colors), prosperity (Pomegranate), and joy (Fuyu Persimmons). Drive away fall or winter blues with a basket of tropical fruits like Guava, Passion Fruit, or the cute little Zululand Queen Baby Pineapple.

Mulled Beverage Kit

Give a bottle of red wine or artisanal apple cider with packets of mulling spice and cinnamon sticks. For a more personal-sized option, portion out a tablespoon of the mulling spice with one cinnamon stick into a small cellophane bag and tie with a ribbon. Place the bag in a holiday mug along with a single-serving bottle of red wine or apple juice box.

Vanilla Sugar

Fill a jar with two cups of regular granulated sugar or turbinado (raw granulated) sugar. Split one vanilla bean pod lengthwise, then scrape the seeds into the sugar and stir well. Bury the bean in the sugar and seal. Portion off into any jar size.

Citrus Anything

Winter citrus is plentiful during this time of year and these fragrant fruits are great for infusion and candy making. Buddha’s Hand Citron, being all pith, is perfect for infusing into vodka and olive oil, or for making candied peels. Kumquats are also delicious candied, as well as in marmalade.

Baker’s Kit

Give your baker friend fresh ingredients and pantry items along with a recipe card to make something, such as:

  • Apple Pie: Pie pan. Green Dragon Apples. Cinnamon Sticks
  • Starfruit Upside-Down Cake: Cake pan. Starfruit. Pineapple juice. (Recipe here.)
  • Pineapple Upside-Down Cake: Cast iron skillet. Zululand Queen Baby Pineapples. Maraschino cherries.

Do tell us what you made for the holidays on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram We always love to share great ideas.

Wishing you a wonderful and delightful holiday season!

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Spooky Food for a Healthy Halloween

Find delightfully dreadful inspiration for your Halloween potlucks and parties in the produce aisle

Did you know that based on the nutrition labels on popular candies, the average child accumulates 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night?

Every family has its own strategy for keeping the kids healthy during the candy-centric holiday without compromising all the fun. But one of the ways to keep everyone’s candy consumption in check is to eat well before heading out for trick or treating or to a Halloween party. You—and your kids—are less likely to snack along the way if you’re already full.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Laura Bashar - Roasted Cauliflower Head

Laura Bashar

To make feeding your horde of monsters easy, look no further than your produce aisle. Plenty of fresh inspirations lurk around those piles of fruits and vegetables!

Roasted Brain

A whole cauliflower looks a lot like a brain. The colorful ones are especially intriguing once roasted. Check out this recipe by our friend Laura Bashar.

Stuffed Skull

Stuff and roast the bumpy, creepy green Buttercup Squashes like our friend McKenzie Hall did with Carnival Squashes. Not only do they look like an alien head, the winter squashes are an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - McKenzie Hall - Farro Stuffed Carnival Squash

McKenzie Hall

Witch’s Fingers

Oh, the possibilities are endless! Serve Purple Snow Peas or Purple Baby Carrots with Ranch dressing, or Fingerling Potatoes or oven-baked Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato fries with a Black Garlic mayonnaise.

There Will Be Blood

Red Dragon Fruit and Red Cactus Pear provide naturally bright magenta-red color you can add to fruit salad, smoothies, sorbets, and mocktail to create the blood splatters without artificial dye.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Red Cactus Pear Mocktail

Refreshing “blood”

Terrifying Tablescape

Gnarly Buddha’s Hand Citron, alien-looking Kiwano®, and fuzzy Rambutans create a frightening centerpiece.

We can’t wait to see your #SpookyFood creations come alive! (It’s alive! It’s ALIVE!)

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Know Your Hatch Chile

Why authentic Hatch Chile from New Mexico stands above the rest

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Hatch Green Chile

Chile aficionados—also known as “Chile Heads”—swear by the unique flavor profile of authentic Hatch Chiles from New Mexico. No other green chiles can compare. But what makes the Hatch Chile so special?

It’s the terroir, as the French call it.

The word is mostly used to describe the unique taste and flavors in wine, as the geography, geology, and climate of where grapes are grown affect the grapes themselves. The terroir of the Mesilla Valley surrounding the town of Hatch, New Mexico, at an elevation of 4,000 feet, gives the chiles their famous zest and heat, brought out through roasting.

Much as Champagne can only come from the town of Champagne, France, and Bourbon can only come from Kentucky, Hatch Chiles can only come from the Mesilla Valley in New Mexico. A new law now requires that any New Mexico variety of chile, such as Hatch or the actual variety that is called “New Mexico,” which is not grown in the state, must be labeled “Not Grown in New Mexico.”

Indeed, green chiles are out there parading as authentic Hatch Chiles even though they are grown elsewhere. But dedicated Chile Heads and foodies seek out true, authentic New Mexican chiles and will not settle for products not grown in the state. After all, it’s the terroir of New Mexico, Hatch or otherwise, that makes them special.

Frieda’s is proud to be one of the keepers of Hatch Chiles’ authenticity, and we are excited to see returning Chile Heads and new fans at our roasting events every August. Click here for dates and locations.

What do you do with Hatch Chiles? We have a few ideas:

Want to learn more? Watch: