What’s in Season? Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Seasonal EatingKeep your menu plan fresh with seasonal fruits and vegetables — even in wintertime! We’ve got a recipe roundup for you, plus two new recipes at the end; one for pineapple pear crisp and the other for balsamic and bacon Brussels sprouts. Tune in to Studio 5 on Monday to see Live Well Utah Editor Marta Nielsen demonstrate these new recipes with Brooke Walker.


Eating in season is something we think about in the summertime when our gardens are bursting with raspberries, tomatoes, peaches and zucchini, but you can eat in season all year long! Stores may carry out-of-season foods in the winter, but you’ll usually find lower prices and higher quality produce when you shop in season.

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It’s easy to keep winter-season fruits like apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and pears on your counter for healthy snacking. Pineapple and pomegranate are also in season, and can be purchased already prepped and ready to eat, or you you can save on costs and do your own prep-work and keep the ready-to-eat fruit in the fridge. If you have healthy food options visible and accessible, you’re more likely to make healthy choices!

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There are also many vegetables that are in season in the winter, such as avocados, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash. These veggies work perfectly for those warm-me-up foods we love to eat in the winter like soup, or oven-roasted veggies.

Try these recipes that use winter fruits and vegetables:

Snacks and Treats:

Salads and Sides:

Main Dishes:

Pineapple Pear Crisp

This gingery crisp is a little bit tropical, but still a warm-the-belly kind of dessert that is perfect for colder months. This recipe maximizes the sweetness and flavor of the fruit with minimal added sugar and oil, and uses hearty whole grains in the topping. Serve it topped with frozen yogurt for added decadence. Serves 6 people.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe pears*
  • 2 c ripe pineapple (about ½ a pineapple)
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • 2 T brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1 t freshly grated ginger (or ¼ t ground ginger)

For the topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 t fresh grated ginger (or ¼ t ground ginger)
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • 3 T melted butter (or coconut oil for added tropical flavor)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Chop pineapple into ½-inch pieces and set aside in a medium-sized mixing bowl (be sure to get all the pineapple juice left from cutting and chopping into the bowl). Peel, core and chop pears into ½-inch pieces, and mix with pineapple. Add cinnamon, brown sugar (or honey) and fresh ginger to the fruit, and stir so that it is coated evenly. Transfer fruit to a 9×9 baking dish.

To prepare topping, mix dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well combined. Add melted butter, and stir until mix loosely holds together. Spoon crumble mix evenly over fruit, and bake for 30 minutes. Cover crumble with foil, to prevent over-browning, and bake an additional 5 minutes (or until pears are tender).

*Be sure to use ripe pears. Unripe pears will not soften sufficiently when baked. Bosc and D’anjou pears work nicely in this recipe.

Bacon and Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

This out-of-this-world Brussels sprouts recipe will convert even the most skeptical taste testers.The Brussels sprouts are are roasted, tossed with a zesty balsamic vinaigrette, and topped with bacon crumbles and pomegranate arils—what’s not to love? Recipe serves 4 generously.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils (approximately 1 small pomegranate)

Balsamic Dressing:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ t maple syrup
  • ½ t prepared mustard (Dijon or whole grain)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place bacon on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until crispy. When bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from baking sheet and set aside. Brush around rendered bacon fat to evenly coat lined baking sheet, and drain off any excess (this will enhance the flavor of the Brussels sprouts as they roast).

Meanwhile, prepare Brussels Sprouts by trimming the ends and cutting in half. Toss Brussels sprouts with oil, salt and pepper. Next, evenly arrange Brussels sprouts, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet used to cook the bacon. Roast for 20 minutes, or until sprouts are easily pierced with a fork. For smaller Brussels sprouts, 20 minutes will yield sprouts cooked soft all the way through. If you prefer a little crunch left in your vegetables, check doneness at 15 minutes.

While Brussels sprouts roast, crumble the cooked bacon and prepare the dressing. Whisk together all ingredients in a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring. If you are seeding your own pomegranate, versus buying the arils alone, you can also do this while the Brussels sprouts roast.

Transfer roasted Brussels sprouts to a serving dish, and top with balsamic dressing. Stir until evenly distributed, and top with crumbled bacon and pomegranate arils.


marta-nielsen-web2Marta Nielsen is the editor of Live Well Utah. She did not attend Utah State University (she graduated from another university whose colors are red and white), but loves working for USU Extension. Marta loves to cook and eat, garden, craft, travel, and read. She makes specialty cakes for family and friends as a hobby, and has been talked into making a few wedding cakes in the past. She and her husband have two small children, and live in Salt Lake County.

See more contributor bios here.

 




Easy Apple Roses

Apple RosesImpress your friends and family with beautiful, delicious, and easy apple roses.


Ingredients

  • 1 red apple (Honeycrisp, Pink Lady or any red baking apple)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (follow directions on box for thawing)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Additional butter and sugar for ramekins

Directions

Generously butter the ramekins/muffin pan so the roses don’t stick. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two ramekins (6-8 ounce) and sprinkle with sugar. Core the apple, cut in half and slice thinly.

Place apple slices in a single layer on a plate and microwave on high for about 45 seconds to soften. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel while rolling pastry. If you prefer, saute’ the apples in a single layer in a skillet using a small amount of butter for about 30 seconds per side to soften. Remove to a plate. Leave uncovered. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll puff pastry sheet to less than 1/8 inch thick. Cut two 3-inch by 12-14-inch strips, using a pizza cutter. Brush melted butter over dough, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix. Place the apple slices lengthwise on the long edge of the dough, about ¼ inch above the edge of the dough and overlapped slightly.

Fold the bottom half of the dough over the apple slices with the rounded edges of the slices exposed. Beat the egg and water in a bowl. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix. Starting from the end, roll the dough to form a rose-shaped pastry. Seal roll with end of the dough strip. Transfer roses to ramekins. Sprinkle with a little more cinnamon sugar. Place ramekins on middle rack of oven. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until well browned. Remove from oven and place on a baking sheet and cool 5-10 minutes. Remove from ramekins and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cool. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, or drizzle with warm caramel topping or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


This article was written by Patricia Mathis, USU Extension 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Educator in Wasatch County




Eating in Season // Pomegranates

pomegranatesIf you like the sweet and tangy flavor of pomegranates, now is the time to incorporate them into you menu plan, because they are in season through November. Read on to learn some of the nutritional benefits of pomegranates, and for a few recipes to try while they are in season.


As fall arrives we can enjoy the sweet, tart, juicy taste of pomegranates. These native
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fruits used on anything from salads to desserts are an excellent source of the phytochemcials, making them one of the best antioxidants. The
edible seeds of these yellow-orange to a deep red colored fruits have a citrus flavor and
make a delicious juice.
The last few years, the health value of the pomegranate has been under study. Research
is now showing us that the pomegranates may be one of the best antioxidant fruits that
can fight cancer, slow down the aging process, increase heart health and help with
Alzheimer’s disease. True, not all the research is in, but several studies from UCLA and
USDA indicate that pomegranates are a major stabilizer of cancer. The naturally
occurring antioxidants in this fruit fight the free radicals that do promote disease.
One average pomegranate contains about 100 calories and 25 grams of sugar. They are
also a good source of potassium.
Opening a pomegranate can be messy; however, if you cut the blossom end off and score
through the skin marking the fruit in quarters, you can submerge the pomegranate in ice
cold water and rub the seeds off the skins. The skin will float to the top, the seeds to the
bottom and then drain off the fruit.
To store pomegranates, keep at room temperature for a week, refrigerate in an air tight
bag for up to 3 months, or freeze the seeds for 6 months to a year.
Most pomegranates are imported into Utah markets and grocery stores from California
and Arizona; however two varieties are produced in Washington County, Utah. The light
pink seeded Dixie Sweet is native to the Southern Utah warm climate with soft and sweet
seeds. Other southern Utah-grown pomegranates and those imported may have darker
and harder seeds. If you have an opportunity to travel to southern Utah, take the time to
consume these locally grown fruits. No matter where you consume them, a pomegranate
could be one of the best foods you can give your health. The harvesting time for
pomegranates is October through November; you will find them in most Utah grocery
stores during October into December. Pomegranates are a treat, enjoyable as a salsa, in
salads, with main dishes, as jelly and syrups, or just by the hand full, so eat up and enjoy.

Pomegranate Salsa

  • 1 pomegranate, seeded
  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 Chile jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 Tbsp lime juice

Score, and break pomegranate apart in ice water. Drain the pomegranate seeds. Add all
ingredients and chill for 2 hours before serving.

Pomegranate Jelly

  • 3 1/2 cups pomegranate juice, fresh, frozen and thawed, or bottled
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 package (2 ounces) powdered pectin
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar

Combine pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and pectin in a 4 or 5-quart pot. Bring to a boil
over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar until well blended; return to a
boil and continue boiling, uncovered, and stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove
jelly from heat immediately.

Process in hot water bath 15 minutes. Cool for 24 hours and then remove the ring before
storing on the shelf.


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, retired Utah State University Extension associate professor,




Chill Out! Tips for Freezing Fresh Produce

chill outDuring the summer, fruits and vegetables are abundant — so don’t waste the opportunity for fresh produce because you may not have time to bottle it. Chill out: Use your freezer!


Freezing is safe, fast and gives the freshest taste with the highest nutrition of any preservation method. Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria—so make sure you wash and package your produce well–but it does slow or prevent bacterial growth because of the low temperatures.

A few tips:

  • Freezers should be kept at 0º F
  • Package in rigid, freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Make sure to label them!
  • Vegetables are best blanched and cooled before being frozen. It stops the ripening action.
    • There are a few exceptions: Sweet or hot peppers can be washed and thrown in freezer bags to be used later in salsas or ….whatever! Onions may also be frozen without blanching—but double bag them to prevent odor transfers to other foods.
  • Fruits typically need no pretreatment, but for convenience sake, wash/drain, then freeze the individual pieces of fruit on a tray. Once they are frozen (about an hour), take them off the tray and put them in freezer bags. When you want to eat them, you can take out the amount you plan to use, rather than thawing the entire bag.
  • For small berries, the less handling the better. Wash/drain them and put them in one layer in a freezer bag. Put the freezer bags flat on the tray in the freezer. That way they freeze as individual pieces, but you aren’t repacking and breaking them in pieces.
  • For best quality, do not let frozen fruit totally thaw before eating: the freezing process damages the cell structure and they tend to be mushy. Put them out to eat when they still have ice crystals on them.
  • Tomatoes can be washed and frozen to be used in salsa later with their peelings on. To peel the skins later, pour boiling water over them, and the peelings will slip off. Let the tomatoes thaw a little before trying to chop them for the salsa.
  • Measure any fruit to be used in a recipe while it is still a little frozen to get a realistic picture of how much you are using. Include any liquid from the thawing in the measurement.

For more information, look in the freezing section of the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Chill out—and enjoy the fruits of your labors!


This article was written by Cathy Merrill, FCS Extension Assistant Professor, USU Extension, Utah County




Healthy Homemade Fruit “Ice Cream”

Fruit Ice CreamCool off with this guilt-free frozen treat!


It’s not often that we hear “healthy” and “ice cream” in the same sentence, but substituting cream and sugar with frozen fruit makes this treat both delicious and nutritious. The best part is you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

Steps:

  1. Freeze several bananas or other fruit (strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, mangoes, etc). Once frozen, let fruit thaw for a few minutes and cut into chunks.
  2. Place fruit in food processor or blender and puree until the consistency is creamy. Feel free to add in cocoa powder for a chocolatey taste or peanut butter for some added protein.
  3. Spoon mixture into a bowl and add in desired toppings, such as chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, or granola.

Note: Use bananas for a creamier consistency. Other fruits will make the product more like sorbet, which is still delicious!


This article was written by Kali Anderson, Extension Intern for Utah County




Ask an Expert // Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

 

 

Storing FruitHave you been to a farmers market yet this year? Whether it’s from a farmers market or a grocery store, don’t let that fresh produce spoil on your counter. Here are some tips on how to store fruits and vegetables so they last longer. 


One of the benefits of shopping at farmers markets is the fruits and vegetables are often fresher than those at most grocery stores. Much of the produce was picked within a couple of days, or even hours of the market. Fresher fruits and vegetables will last a little longer before they begin to spoil. But, there are also some additional things you can do at home to help your produce last even longer. Follow these fruit and vegetable storage recommendations to reduce the amount of produce that spoils before you can use it.  Use this chart to identify fruits and vegetables that spoil the quickest and be sure to use those first.

Storing Fruits and Veggies


This article was written by Heidi LeBlanc, Food $ense State Director, and Casey Coombs, RD, CD; Policy, Systems, and Environments Coordinator, Utah State University Food $ense

 




Six Exotic Fruits to Try

exotic fruits

You don’t have to go on a tropical vacation to get a taste of exotic fruits. Look beyond the apples and bananas next time you’re at the grocery store, and give these exotic fruits a try.


Unusual Fruits Play

See USU Extension’s Jaqueline Neid-Avila introduce some of these exotic fruits on Fox 13’s The PLACE.

When you go to the grocery store, the first thing you typically see are fruits. Most of them probably look familiar— bananas, apples, peaches, pears, melons and more. However, you may see a few fruits that look a bit unusual, if not exoctic.

These fruits could be kumquats, passion fruit, or dragon fruit, among others. While you may be able to find some of these fresh fruits in your regular supermarket, they are more widely available and affordable at Asian, Latin, and gourmet supermarkets. You can even buy them online! Like more common fruits, these unusual varieties are good sources of Vitamin A, C, potassium and fiber. Since they are not something that you would normally buy, they can be seen as a treat.

So next time you are out buying groceries, check out the unusual fruits selection. Even if their curious appearance may turn some people off from purchasing, remember that mangos and kiwis were once considered to be exotic.

Here are some exotic fruits we recommend, and some ways to eat them:

Longan

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Longan have a white, soft pulp that surrounds a large black seed. When cut in half, the fruit  resembles an eyeball. It is a small relative of Lychee.

Rambutan

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Rambutan have a single seed surrounded by flesh that is grape-like in texture, with a delicate flavor. This is also a relative to lychee, but sweeter and not as juicy.

Longan, rambutan and lychee are all very similar. There are mild differences, so try each one to see which one is your favorite. They can be used to make jams and jellies, or a light refreshing juice.

Dragon Fruit

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This is a member of the cactus family and it has a leathery exterior ranging from yellow to bright pink with lime-green spiny tips. Flecked with tiny black seeds, its juicy flesh can be white or red and has a refreshing and light flavor.

The skin is inedible, so peel the dragon fruit or scoop it out of the skin. Dragon fruit tastes refreshing cold. Pair it with banana, berries, and kiwi in a smoothie, or make fruit kebabs, alternating kiwi and dragon fruit. Try broiling kebabs in an oven for 3 minutes.

Passion Fruit

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This edible fruit has a sweet-tart flavor and strong tropical scent. The seeds can be eaten with the liquidy center or strained out if you just want the juice.

Since there is only a small amount of golden, jelly-like filling, passion fruit is often used as a filling or flavoring.

Guava

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Several varieties of guava are available in varying sizes (they can be as small as an egg, or as large as an apple). They can be round or pear shaped, and have rough or smooth skin. Guava can be  yellow, green, red, or purple-black on the outside, with flesh that is pale yellow to bright red. Some guava have small edible seeds, while others are seedless. To eat fresh, guava should be very ripe.

Enjoy fresh, in salads,  or juiced to make jelly or syrup. Guava can also be cooked with meat.

Kumquat

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Kumquats look like oval shaped miniature oranges. The skin of the kumquat is sweet, while the inside has a sour, citrus tang. This creates a surprising clash of flavor when the fruit is eaten whole. Nibble the end of the kumquat to taste the rind first. Once you encounter the mouth-puckering juice, you can either continue nibbling cautiously, or pop the whole fruit in your mouth.

Kumquats can be sliced and added to salsa, made into marmalade, pickled or added to meat dishes.


This article was written by Jaqueline Neid-Avila, RDN, CD with USU Extension in Davis County




10 Tips for Better Tasting Fresh Produce

vegetable-tasteHow do you like your vegetables? If you’re looking for some delicious ways to get your family to eat more fruits and veggies, look no further!  We’ve got ten tips to help you pump up the flavor of your fresh produce.


We all know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. We’ve learned ways to make them less expensive and more convenient, but what if you or your family members just don’t like the taste? This week we offer 10 tips to help everyone learn to love the taste of fruits and vegetables.

  1. Try fresh fruits or vegetables with a healthy dip or dressing. Try hummus, salad dressing or yogurt.
  2. Increase the amount of vegetables in flavorful, well-liked foods. Try extra tomatoes and beans in chili, carrots in tomato sauce, broccoli mixed into mac and cheese and peas in minestrone soup.
  3. Add shredded carrots or zucchini to meatloaf, casseroles and quick breads.
  4. Try eating your vegetables first, when you are most hungry. Things really do taste better when you are hungry! Put out fresh vegetables with dip before dinner, or start the meal with a salad or vegetable soup.
  5. Shop in season—fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better. Think of a wonderful tomato from the garden in summer vs. the ones you can buy from the store in January. Farmers markets, roadside stands and your local grocery store are great places to get seasonal produce.
  6. Try preparing vegetables in different ways: raw, steamed, roasted, etc. The flavor and texture can be very different, depending on how you cook them. If you don’t like them one way, you might like them another!
  7. I especially recommend roasting or grilling vegetables. You get wonderfully sweet vegetables that are soft and creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
  8. Make eating vegetables fun by playing with your food. Try ants on a log, rainbow salad or pizza faces.
  9. Use a small amount of sugar when cooking bitter vegetables like kale or Brussels sprouts. This will help you become more familiar with the taste of vegetables, and you will learn to like the flavor more, even without the sugar!
  10. Just keep trying! We tend to like foods that we eat often or have at least tried multiple times. If you don’t like the taste of a vegetable today, it doesn’t mean you won’t like it the next time you try it!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist




Introducing: the Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie Bowl

We’ve talked about smoothies here before, but now let’s talk about something new – the smoothie bowl.


What is a smoothie bowl?

A smoothie bowl is a thick smoothie served in a bowl and topped with fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds or granola. It’s a nutrient-dense option for breakfast or lunch, and a great way to get in a few extra servings of vegetables. Here are six tips to turn your favorite smoothie into a satisfying, delicious smoothie bowl.

  • Use frozen fruits. Frozen fruits will make your smoothie cold, thick and extra delicious.
  • Try vegetables. Throw in a handful of carrots, spinach, kale, chard, red cabbage or an avocado.
  • Add protein. By adding a tablespoon of nut butter, a scoop of plain yogurt, or milk or nut milk, you add a boost of protein to your smoothie bowl.
  • Blend with a high-power blender. Blending thick smoothies can be rough on your blender. If you make smoothies often, you may want to invest in a high-power blender that can handle frozen fruits and fibrous vegetables.
  • Add chia seeds. Stir in a teaspoon of chia seeds after blending your smoothie, and let it sit for a few minutes. Chia seeds absorb water, and will naturally thicken your smoothie.
  • Top it off. Sliced banana, fresh berries, unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted almonds, crunchy granola…if you can imagine it, you can put it on your smoothie bowl. Shop your pantry and get creative!

Looking for a smoothie recipe to turn into a smoothie bowl? Check out these Food $ense smoothie recipes, or create your own.


 




Easy Eats // Create a Fruity Dessert

Create a Fruity Dessert

Have extra fruit on hand? Follow this guide to make a delicious dessert out of items that are already in your kitchen!









Here’s a Fruity Idea!

Try making one of these yummy fruity desserts! They are perfect for a casual summer day or a fun neighborhood party. Whatever the occasion, everyone will love what you create!

Just follow these simple directions and you will have a delicious, refreshing and fruity dessert in no time.

For a fun twist, try making your dessert from fruit only purchased at a farmers market or fruit stand.

Enjoy!

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Click below for a printable version!
Create a Fruity Dessert