Tell Me About It, Spud!

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If sweet potato fries haven’t already convinced you, we’re here to reaffirm the greatness of this popular holiday root. Sweet potatoes are known for being staple ingredients in comfort meals, but they are often confused for yams. As you walk through the produce department, it can be hard to shake the question, “What exactly is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?”

Sweet PotatoesBag of Sweet potatoes and yams

Background:

Like the name suggests, these spuds are the sweeter of the two. Sweet potatoes will typically have a deeper and stronger orange color. They are members of the morning glory plant family and are tropical, long-season vegetables. While botanical yams are rarely found in stores in the U.S., you will find an abundance of options for sweet potatoes.

Varieties:

This is where confusion can come into play. Don’t be deceived by the names that these go by—they are actually sweet potatoes!
  • Garnet Yam (red sweet potato)
  • Jewel Yam (orange sweet potato)
  • Classic (white sweet potato)

Nutrition:

  • Sweet potatoes blow yams away with vitamin A!
  • Sweet potatoes are twice as high in calcium compared to yams.
  • The natural sugars in sweet potatoes will give you a quick energy boost.
  • Eating a sweet potato after exercise can aid in a quick recovery.
  • Higher in natural sweetener, the carbohydrates and natural sugars in sweet potatoes are released in the blood stream faster. It is good to pair with high-fiber vegetables or protein.

Yams

Background:

The name, “yam,” was first adopted from the word “nyami”—meaning “to eat.” In comparison to potatoes, yams can grow to be much larger. They are distinguishable by a starchier and drier quality. Unlike sweet potatoes, yams are related to grasses and lilies. They are typically available in countries like West Africa, Asia or the Caribbean. Fortunately, the availability of sweet potatoes in your local store will be handy for favorite dishes around Thanksgiving. The expectation is that around 1.25 million pounds of sweet potatoes will be sold during this particular time of year!  

Sweeten Up With 5 Natural Sugar Alternatives

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Agave Nectar

One Tablespoon = 60 calories Agave comes from the agave plant and is similar to honey in taste and texture, but is lower on the glycemic index because it’s mostly fructose. Best for adding a touch of sweetness on top of sliced fruits, pancakes and oatmeal.

Coconut Sugar

One Tablespoon = 18 calories Like raw honey, coconut sweeteners contain a variety of minerals and antioxidants, plus inulin—a fiber that slows blood glucose absorption and promotes friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. It has a nutty, slightly caramel flavor, but does not taste like coconut. Best for substituting in recipes that call for granulated sugars.

Honey

One Tablespoon = 64 calories Raw honey is the sticky stuff that is considered, by some, to be a superfood, as it contains antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids and other nutrients. Raw honey has the same sweetness as granulated sugar and is an acceptable substitute for table sugar. Best for providing a sweet delicate flavor to baked goods, jams and marinades.

Stevia

One cup = 0 calories Calorie free, stevia comes from the stevia plant and is completely natural. More than 200 times sweeter than sugar, stevia does not raise blood sugar levels and is popular among diabetics and dieters. Best for baked goods and sweetening up a cup of coffee or a cold drink.

Turbinado Sugar

One Tablespoon = 45 calories Turbinado is a sugar cane-based, minimally refined sugar. Blond in color, the course crystals have a delicate molasses aroma and flavor. It’s best for topping cookies and breads with a sugary crackle. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sweeteners to no more than six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men per day, on average.  

Superfoods

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Superfoods are packed with high levels of chlorophyll and antioxidants. Due to their highly concentrated nutrient profile, they help boost energy levels, detoxify the body and promote healthy digestion. In addition to taVariety of Green Superfoodssting fantastic, superfoods contain an exceptionally high nutrient content when compared to the amount of calories per serving of processed foods. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for healthy weight management. Fruits and vegetables provide most of the carotenoid compounds in your diet. Carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin which are sources of phytochemicals that function as antioxidants in your body. Scientific research indicates that consumption of plant-based foods is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.1

Heart Health

The highest contribution of potassium in your diet is found in fruits and vegetables. Potassium is a heart-healthy mineral that most people lack in their diet. Potassium, the third most abundant mineral in your body, is a powerful electrolyte that is used by every cell and is critical for proper functioning of the nervous system and muscles cells, particularly your heart muscle cells. Low levels of potassium can cause fatigue, constipation, muscle weakness, or cramping in arm or leg muscles. Potassium also helps reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension and lowers your risk for stroke.2

Immune Protectors

Foods that are rich in color, red, yellow, purple, blue, and orange, contain immunity-boosting antioxidants. A strong immune can ward off infections and diseases. It is estimated that one third of all cancer deaths in the United States could be avoided through appropriate dietary modification such as increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.3

Healthy Joints

The high alkalinity properties in green drinks help reduce inflammation and may be the perfect choice of food for people suffering inflammatory ailments, like joint pain, arthritis or osteoarthritis. The key to reducing chronic inflammation is to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and easily digestible greens like wheat and barley grass, chlorella and spirulina. During 2007–2010, half of the total U.S. population consumed less than one cup of fruit and less than one and a half cups of vegetables daily; 76 percent did not meet fruit intake recommendations, and 87 percent did not meet vegetable intake recommendations.4 Recommendations for fruit intake range from one to two and a half cups and vegetables from one and a half to three cups per day. Consuming a powdered green drink can help you achieve your RDAs of fruits and vegetables.

Body Detox

Toxins are in the food you eat, the air you breathe and the water you drink. They invade your body each day. Luckily your body’s detoxification process neutralizes and eliminates those toxins. The liver plays a key role in most metabolic processes, especially detoxification. Consuming foods like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts increases glutathione, the most important antioxidant for neutralizing disease-causing free radicals in your liver. Raw juices—think apple cider vinegar—contain healthy enzymes that help rid your body of toxins. This is done by increasing your liver’s production of bile to remove impurities from the blood in your liver, where the toxins are processed for elimination. To help recharge, rejuvenate and renew your body include supergreens in your diet. The major sources of supergreen foods are fruits and vegetables, blue-green algae, sea vegetables, alfalfa and cereal grasses such as wheat, barley, rye and oat grass. A diet rich in superfoods has been proven to protect and heal the body. They contain a wide array of beneficial substances including proteins, protective phytochemicals and healthy bacteria helping you to feel better and gain more energy.
1 Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview1,2,3,4, Frank B Hu., Am J Clin Nutr September 2003 vol. 78 no. 3 544S-551S 2 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH. NIH Pub No 06-4082. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 2006 3 Khan N, Afaq F, Mukhtar H. Cancer chemoprevention through dietary antioxidants: progress and promise. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2008 Mar;10(3):475-510. Review. PubMed PMID: 18154485. 4 July 10, 2015 US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 2012. Available at http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2010.aspExternal Web Site Icon.  

Supercharge Your Smoothie

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Smoothies are great all on their own, but why not upgrade your daily concoction with nutrient-rich boosts? From immune-boosting echinacea to antioxidant powerhouse matcha powder, we’ll show you how to supercharge your juice or smoothie. Green Smoothie

Flax

Ground seeds add a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and helps to thicken the texture of the shake. Simply grind them up in a coffee grinder before adding to your smoothie.

Chia

Chia seeds have a mild, slightly nutty flavor. Add up to two tablespoons for a healthy dose of Omega-3s, protein, calcium, phosphorus and manganese. Soak the whole seeds for about 10–15 minutes just prior to blending. The soaked seeds become gelatinous and blend up well in a high-speed blender.

Almond Butter

Almond butter isn’t just for spreading on sandwiches or fruit slices. It also makes a healthy addition to your morning smoothies, yielding a creamier texture, thicker consistency, and nuttier flavor. Almond butter provides an ideal replacement for peanut butter for those who are allergic to it because it’s rich in vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein is naturally rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and L-glutamine, which prevents muscle depletion caused by exercising. In fact, it contains the highest levels of BCAAs of any other natural food source. Supplementing your smoothie with all-natural Sprouts Whey Protein also boosts the body’s ability to fight infection, enhances endurance and builds lean muscle mass. Try our great-tasting Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry flavors.

Matcha Green Tea Powder

Matcha green tea powder boosts the antioxidant value of any smoothie. It may also give you a spike of energy and a stronger immunity. To make a matcha-enriched smoothie, place one teaspoon of matcha powder into a cup, then add a bit of hot water. Whisk the mixture until a smooth paste forms. Add the paste to your favorite smoothie and blend well.

Echinacea

Echinacea is a plant that is widely used to help the body fight off many ailments, including flu and colds. People often add echinacea to morning smoothies during winter months to help reduce the duration of an illness and fight bacterial infections.

Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is the nutrient-rich embryo of a whole-wheat kernel. It’s rich in B vitamins, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamin E and fiber. Four tablespoons of wheat germ will add approximately 4 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein and 100 calories to your smoothie, according to the U.S. Nutrient Database. If you want fewer calories, add only one tablespoon for 25 calories.

Coconut Oil

If you’re looking for more energy, stronger bones and healthier skin, add coconut oil to your smoothies. When you blend up your smoothie be sure to add your coconut oil near the beginning before you start adding your cold ingredients. This prevents coconut oil clumps in your smoothie.

Cocoa

Cocoa powder is jam packed with flavanols—the compounds that make chocolate good for you. However, unlike chocolate, it’s low in calories, contains no sugar and is virtually fat-free. Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder for a heart-healthy boost. In our humble opinion, cocoa powder tastes best in smoothies made with bananas and/or nut butter.

Ginger Root

According to the New York Times, scientists have found in a variety of studies that ginger eases nausea and vomiting stemming from sea sickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy. Fresh ginger root tastes great in most green smoothies; namely kale, collards and spinach, and is especially nice with apple. It’s a great way to add warmth to your smoothie.  

Salt: Discover the Varieties

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Salt grains spilled on the coutner Salt is one of the oldest and most commonly used seasonings around the globe. It takes foods from bland to brilliant. It makes our bodies function and thrive. It’s abundant and inexpensive, but it’s also overused. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sodium for the average adult is 2,360 milligrams, though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends no more than 1,500 milligrams. Sounds like a lot—but don’t be fooled. Those numbers equal about one teaspoon of salt (or less) for the entire day, and there is sodium in pretty much everything we eat. In fact, 80 percent of the sodium we get comes not from the shaker on the table, but from the foods we eat. Currently, American adults are consuming more than 4,000 milligrams per day, due in large part to the presence of so many processed foods in our diets. The second biggest culprit of sodium overload is the food served in restaurants. Sodium, however, is vital for a healthy body. It helps maintain water balance and pH levels and enables cells to draw in nutrients. Excessive sweating can lead to salt cravings as an indication of a loss of sodium, dehydration, and/or an electrolyte imbalance. (Be sure to hydrate sufficiently before, during, and after rigorous workouts.) In excessive amounts, salt can be dangerous to your health. It can contribute to hypertension, heart disease, and may cause the body to retain too much water. To help avoid excess sodium in your diet, dieticians and doctors suggest caution when adding salt to your foods. Instead use herbs and salt-free seasonings to flavor your foods. If you must add salt, do so sparingly; a little goes a long way. At Sprouts, we offer many minimally processed foods, but even natural food products can go overboard with the sodium. So be sure to read labels and understand the terminology:
  • Sodium/salt-free: Contains less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
  • Very low-sodium: Contains 35 milligrams of sodium or less per serving.
  • Low sodium: Contains 140 milligrams of sodium or less per serving.
  • Reduced sodium: The sodium has been reduced by at least 35 percent from the regular version.
  • Light in sodium: The sodium has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the regular version.
  • Unsalted or no salt added: No salt is added during the processing of these foods.
However, they still may be high in sodium because other ingredients may have added sodium. Like everything else, the key is moderation. From a culinary standpoint, salt is probably the single most important seasoning. And these days, there are many different varieties to choose from.

Table Salt

Table salt, also known as sodium chloride, is mined from underground salt deposits. It is usually heavily processed, stripped of any trace minerals, and may contain chemical additives to prevent clumping. Iodine is often added to processed table salts as an essential nutrient. What it’s good for: Table salt dissolves quickly, so it is ideal for baking. Due to its fine granules, a single tablespoon of table salt contains more salt than a tablespoon of kosher or sea salt.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is produced through the evaporation of seawater. The evaporation process leaves behind trace minerals and elements indicative of the water source, giving sea salt variations in color and taste. Colors include pink and gray, both prized in the culinary world. You can also find sea salt in fine granules. What it’s good for: A favorite of chefs who appreciate how the larger granules of sea salt add textured crunch when added at the last moment to finished dishes. It’s also delicious when very lightly sprinkled atop caramel or dark chocolate treats.

Kosher Salt 

Kosher salt can be produced from the evaporation of seawater or mined from underground deposits. The name refers to the koshering process. Kosher salt contains no preservatives. What it’s good for: Kosher salt is another favorite of chefs for its coarse texture. The large crystals make it ideal for preserving because they easily draw moisture out of meats and other foods.

Fleur De Sel

Meaning “flower of salt” in French, fleur de sel is a hand-harvested sea salt. It is scraped from the top layer during the evaporation process before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans. It contains more mineral complexity than table salt and varies in color from white to gray to pink. Since it is hand-harvested and scarce, it is expensive and is usually reserved for the most special of dishes in the culinary world. Fleur de sel is a specialty item that can be found in gourmet stores or online. What it’s good for: Fleur de sel makes a fine finishing touch to any gourmet or special meal.    

Root Vegetables: At the Root of it All

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Throughout most of the year, our only exposure to “root vegetables” is with common items like carrots, garlic, onions and yams. However, come fall, there is a lot more going on underground, and it is reflected in the presence of all sorts of curiosities throughout the Sprouts Produce Department. Nutritionally, there is much to recommend about root vegetables. They are high in fiber and slow-digesting carbohydrates, so they can make you feel satisfied for longer. Still, their rarity and misshapen, bulbous bodies give them a strange appearance, making them seem hard to cook and perhaps even a little unappetizing. So we thought this would be an opportune time to de-mystify these produce underdogs from the underground.

At the Root of it All:

Rutabagas

These lopsided veggies are also known as Swedish turnips or simply as “swedes.” They are a hybrid of turnips and cabbage and are hearty enough to stand up to slow cooking and roasting. Rutabagas are rich in vitamin C and low in sodium. They have a slightly spicy, mildly sweet taste. Their leafy tops can also be eaten, and make a tasty addition to a salad. Look for rutabagas that are firm with unblemished skin. One cup of cubed, uncooked rutabaga contains about 11 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber and 50 calories. Next time you make homemade mashed potatoes, try adding some cubed rutabaga to the boiling pot. Mash as usual and enjoy!

Turnips

White-skinned with purplish red spots where the sunshine hit, these taproots have an entirely white interior flesh. Turnips make a tasty addition to soups and stews. The root of the turnip is a good source of vitamin C, while the green tops are a good source of vitamins A, K, calcium and folate. One serving of turnips contains about 36 calories, 8 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber. Look for firm turnips that are heavy for their size. Cut the stems and leaves off the turnips, wash, wrap in paper towels and place them in a plastic bag for a few days. Store the root intact in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Parsnips

These elongated root veggies look a bit like a bulky carrot with creamy white skin. Parsnips cannot grow in warm temperatures because they need frost to help develop their flavor. In addition to being a cousin of the carrot, parsnips are also closely related to parsley. They are rich in potassium and fiber and have a mild buttery sweetness. The next time glazed carrots are on the menu, try “maple-glazed parsnips” instead. Wash and peel two pounds of parsnips. Cut into evenly sized cubes and drizzle with a little olive oil. Liberally coat the parsnips with maple syrup, season with salt and black pepper, and roast at 350°F for 45 minutes. One serving of raw parsnips contains about 100 calories, 24 grams of carbs and 7 grams of fiber. Look for parsnips with a firm texture and an even, creamy white color.

Kohlrabi

Sometimes known as a German turnip, kohlrabi actually gets its name from kohl, the German word for cabbage. Oddly enough, this rooted tuber is one of the most popular vegetables in Kashmir. Those Kashmiris are on to something: kohlrabi is delicious, with a mild flavor faintly reminiscent of broccoli. The leaves of kohlrabi can be chopped and added to soups and salads and the bulbs can be cooked like turnips. Look for kohlrabi with rounded smooth bulbs. The leaves should be large and deep green. The flesh will range from green to purple. One serving of uncooked kohlrabi contains about 36 calories, 8 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fiber.

Horseradish

Your knowledge of horseradish is likely of the sinus-clearing condiment that comes in a jar and accompanies your prime rib dinner, but used sparingly, raw, grated horseradish gives a fresh snap of savory bitterness to any meat dish and even stews. It can also add some zip to bottled mustards. Horseradish is a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese. One serving of prepared horseradish contains 7 calories and 2 grams of carbs.

Beets

The vibrant gems of the underground, beets are wonderfully tasty and versatile. They add delicious color and texture to salads when used raw. When roasted, they caramelize to sweet perfection and need little embellishing before being served hot or cold. They can be boiled and the cooking water can be used for dye. Beet greens are wonderful when sautéed with garlic and olive oil and can be used like spinach. One serving of raw beets contains about 58 calories, 13 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber. Look for beets with relatively smooth skin and a firm body. Their color should be a deep, purplish red with no blemishes (though there are also golden beet varieties). The tops should be vibrant green with red veins running throughout.
Video Description: When selecting a perfectly ripened beet look for produce that is smooth and hard. The surface should be free of bruises and cuts. Avoid beets with soft moist spots or wrinkled skins.
 

Raw Foods—Where to Start

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At Sprouts, we’re making the raw food diet easy. Why? The raw food diet is a great way to eat more nutritious foods, and because raw foods have higher nutrient values than foods that have been cooked.

What is a Raw Food Diet?

A raw foodist is someone who consumes nutritionally dense, unprocessed foods that have not been exposed to temperatures higher than 118°F. Typically the raw food diet includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains—”living” foods. Organic Kale Chips

Why Eat Raw Foods?

Partaking in the raw food diet can help boost your body’s natural chemical reactions. By keeping your meals at a temperature less than 118°F, you avoid destroying essential enzymes, vitamins and nutrients found in “living” foods. These enzymes, vitamins and nutrients are key to digestion, cell repair, and other functions that are essential for overall health and wellness.

What Would I Eat?

The raw food diet includes fresh vegetables, fresh and dehydrated fruits, nuts and seeds, healthy fats from coconuts, avocados, hemp and flax seeds, as well as nutritious milks from almonds and cashews. Most raw foodist eat a vegan diet—the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat, poultry, seafood and the flesh of any other animal, in addition to beeswax, honey, cheese, eggs and milk. But there are some that consume unprocessed raw animal foods such as fish, muscle-meats/organ-meats/eggs, and raw dairy. To help you eat raw while on the go, Sprouts carries a variety of quick and easy raw snacks to fit your dietary needs. Our Organic Kale Chips make for a tasty raw food treat.

Try these recipes:

Cider Cleanse Supergreen Smoothie Raw-some Brownies

Do I Have to Stop Eating Cooked Foods?

You don’t have to eat raw foods 100 percent of the time to reap its health benefits. Consider a diet that contains 50 percent or more of living foods; it’s a great way to boost your immune and digestive health. By maintaining a balanced diet that includes lots of organic, fresh, raw foods and nutrient-packed cooked plant-based foods, you can keep your body strong and healthy.

Are There Any Potential Drawbacks?

Consuming enough calories and eating a well-rounded diet will help avoid nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin B-12, D, and the essential amino acids—methionine and lysine—are the most common deficiencies. Research shows that plant-sourced B-12 is not readily bio-available to humans. Very few foods naturally contain Vitamin D. Fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) are among the best sources. Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms provide vitamin D as well. Plant and grain-based proteins are considered incomplete proteins because they don’t contain all of the essential amino acids. A well-rounded diet will go a long way toward providing the proper nutrients needed to maintain overall health and well-being.  

Preserving the Rainforest—Supporting our Future

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If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit a rainforest, you may have an idea of what it might be like from studying habitats in school or watching educational TV or movies. A few Sprouts team members in our vitamin department recently had the privilege of traveling to Costa Rica to visit the lush herb farms where many of the most potent, organic, nutrient-rich New Chapter supplement ingredients are grown. Their stories about touring The Children’s Eternal Rainforest, a 55,000-acre private reserve protected by The Monteverde Conservation League and children all over the world, were both inspiring and painstaking. “Whenever I talk to customers about New Chapter since I have been back, I feel my face light up all the more. The trip to Costa Rica and tour of the rainforest, gave me so much perspective because I was shown—not just told. Educated—not merely informed. It was entirely influential to my role in spreading the word of wellness and our global environment.” – Tiffany Anne

Rainforests are at Risk.

While this rainforest is home to millions of the most bio-diverse plant and animal species, it also serves an important environmental purpose of providing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide for us today and for our children in the future. It is constantly at risk of being destroyed due to poaching, hunting and the high demand for development and products derived from its resources. In fact, rainforests are being destroyed at thousands of acres per day, and up to 200 species become extinct per day.

You can Help!

We recognize the importance of taking action to sustain this incredible natural treasure for our own sake and for future generations. This month, when you purchase any New Chapter supplement(s), 3 percent will help save precious rainforest land in Costa Rica through Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.  

Picking Peak Peaches

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Picking ripe peaches and stone fruit

For a fruit whose lifeline is just a few days, and whose growing season is just a few weeks, peaches go back a long, long way. They have been cultivated in the U.S. for hundreds of years, but are originally native to China, where they have been grown for more than 2,500 years. They, along with nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, olives and even almonds are known as drupes or stone fruits. A stone fruit is classified as any fleshy fruit with a single seed or pit in the center.

Types of Peaches

There are many individual types of peaches and nectarines, but the two major types are the yellow and white flesh varieties. Yellow peaches and nectarines have a yellow background with a pink to red blush; their flesh is deep yellow with a good balance of sweet tart flavors. Yellow peaches are best eaten when the flesh yields to gentle pressure. White peaches and nectarines have a creamy background with a pink to red blush overlay and creamy yellow flesh. They are usually less tart than their yellow counterparts and are ready to be eaten when still firm and crunchy. The white variety also ripens faster than the yellow.

Like peaches, plums also originated in China, though most of the ones sold in the U.S. are known as Japanese plums. This variety is usually small and round and comes in a variety of skin colors ranging from red, black, green and purple. Plums generally have tart skin with sweet flesh but some varieties are sweet inside and out. All three are nutrition powerhouses, full of vitamin C and A and potassium!

How Peaches Are Grown

Although peaches, plums and nectarines are harvested April through October and peak in June, July, August and September, the growing process is a year-round effort. In the winter, there are no fruits on the trees but growers are busy pruning the trees and measuring “chill hours,” which are the hours the outdoor temperature drops below 45°F (but not below freezing). Basically, these fruit trees need sleep to prepare for the next year’s crop. Chill hours can affect all stages of the growing process from pollination to harvest. The number of chill hours needed ranges from as little as 350 to as many as 900, but a total of 800–850 chill hours is considered optimal.

In the spring, the trees enter the bud and bloom stage. Once they are in full bloom, the pollinated blossoms start growing fruit. Peach and nectarine trees are self-pollinating but plum trees rely on bees and the wind to be pollinated. By the summer the orchards are ready to give up their bounty with some late varieties extending the harvest through the beginning of fall.

How to Choose a Ripe Peach & How to Ripen Peaches

The juicy yet firm flesh of peaches, nectarines and plums hold up well to heat, making them ideal for the grill, where their sugars will be developed and caramelized by the flames. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a fun, unexpected barbecue treat.
Video Description: When selecting a perfectly ripened stone fruit look for produce that yields to the touch and has a sweet fragrance. Avoid overripe stone fruits which are extremely soft or wrinkled.
 

Perfect Hatch Chile Pickin’ & Roasting

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Hatch ChilesHatch ’em while you can!

The tapered green chiles known as Hatch chiles are exclusively grown in the farmlands of Hatch, New Mexico. In season from late summer to early fall, Hatch chiles are a beloved pepper for chile fans due to their robust and spicy flavor. Because only chiles of this variety, grown in the Hatch region of New Mexico, can be called Hatch, there are other names for the same type of chile. The Pueblo chile is grown in Pueblo, Colorado. And, Anaheim chiles are attributed to farmer Emilio Ortega who brought the seeds from New Mexico to the Anaheim, California area in 1894. But, all three chiles are quite similar.

Perfect pickin’

When it comes to picking the perfect Hatch chiles, keep your eyes peeled for firm, smooth peppers with no blemishes, soft spots or wrinkles. Once picked, wrap unwashed Hatch chiles in a paper towel, place in a sealed container and refrigerate. They should keep for up to 14 days.

How hot are Hatch chiles?

Capsaicin is the chemical compound that gives all peppers their heat. Quantifying this is the Scoville heat unit scale, or SHU. A little bit of a wild card, Hatch chiles range from 0–70,000 SHU. What does this mean? For comparison, here are some peppers with their SHU heat range:
  • Green peppers 0 SHU
  • Jalapeños 2,500–2,500 SHU
  • Habaneros start at 100,000–350,000 SHU

How to roast Hatch chiles at home

While you can certainly eat Hatch chiles raw, they are best when roasted. Roasting the chiles mellows out the pepper’s potential fiery heat and lends to the distinctive, rich flavor of the chile. Additionally, the skins are tougher than other peppers. Properly roasting them makes removing the tough skins easier. Roasting Hatch chiles at home is easy—all you need to do is char the skin of the pepper. You can do this on a grill, in your broiler, or even with a pair of tongs over a gas flame on your stove. Our preferred method is via the oven.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Set the oven on broil and the whole process should take 10–12 minutes.
  2. Turn the peppers as the tops blister and char until they’re done on all sides, then remove.
  3. Immediately seal them in a resealable bag or foil and allow to cool. Cooling in the bag/foil will make the charred outer skin pull away from the pepper, making them a breeze to peel.
  4. When they are cool, remove them from the bag and use your fingers to gently peel the dark, blistered skin off, under cool running water.
  5. Slice down the length of the pepper and remove the top and seeds.
Tip: Stock up! Roasted Hatch chiles freeze beautifully, so you can enjoy their fresh Southwestern flavor long after their window of availability has closed.

Fire up the kitchen with these bold recipes!

Hatch Chile Esquites

Hatch Chile Esquites

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Guacamole and Shrimp Cucumber Bites

Guacamole and Shrimp Cucumber Bites

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Hatch Green Chile Mini Chicken Nachos

Hatch Chile Chicken Nachos

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