Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category


Giving Fruit to Youth in our Communities

High Point HEalthy Families Celebration

These past couple of weeks have been very exciting for me as I’ve been able to expose City Fruit to two neighborhood Back to School events and provide fruit to them as well! A large part of why I do the work I do is because I care deeply about culturally appropriate, healthy food access for all people regardless of where they live, what they do, or how much money they make. As a person who grew up in a working class family and who had to trek nearly thirty minutes to a single farmers market outside of my community, I’ve made it a part of my life’s goal to increase accessibility of affordable (or in City Fruit’s case, free!) fresh food.

The first event — High Point Healthy Families Celebration —  was held at Neighborhood House in West Seattle, one of the first neighborhoods in Seattle where City Fruit still harvests and donates fruit. The community event was hustling and bustling with other awesome organizations who have a presence in West Seattle. Besides for awesome City Fruit gear giveaways, we were able to donate many crates of Italian plums to complement their free dinner!

Van Asselt Elementary School was the next Back to School festival we were able to partner with this year. We’re lucky enough to work in the same neighborhood of the school (Beacon Hill), so providing fresh fruit for them just made sense! Over 400 people attended the event and they were able to enjoy some tasty varieties of pears and plums. They also got some sweet bookmarks to start their school year off right! Our harvest coordinator Luke dropped off the bounty and was swarmed by a group of third graders who asked asked him how much money all of the fruit cost to buy in which he was able to explain City Fruit’s model. His response was shocking to the kids: “It was free! Thanks to the goodwill and generosity of folks in our community, MANY more people can enjoy fresh fruit!”

Support City Fruit today by getting involved as a volunteer harvester to get more fruit to families in need. You can also join us by taking care of the fruit trees in one of the public parks we steward to ensure pest free apples, plums, and pears!

Melanie is the Community Outreach Coordinator for City Fruit.


Board Meeting Beet Dip

City Fruit Board member, Jen, brought this delicious dip to our February meeting. It is ideal for lunches, parties, in any season.

Beet Dip

6 oz. beets
4 Tablespoons walnuts
1 slice stale or toasted bread
1 garlic clove
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

Cook beets.
Blend all ingredients together in food processor or blender.
Eat with bread, crackers, vegetables, whatever!



At City Fruit’s recent Harvest Party, Diana Vinh’s home made pickled beets were such a hit (especially with me!), that I was inspired dig up this great how-to article from the New York Times:

Beets: The New Spinach

Recently in the Well blog, Tara Parker-Pope wondered if she has been missing out on beets, which one researcher recently identified as nutritional powerhouses, high in folate, manganese and potassium.

If you, like Ms. Parker-Pope, have never made beets, then yes, you really are missing out. It’s easy to love fresh beets, and not just for their nutritional advantages. Beets have an earthy, hard-to-define flavor like no other vegetable’s, one reason they so often appear on high-end restaurant menus. But they’re perfect at home, too, and so this week we’ll be offering some simple ways to prepare them.

Beets are available year-round, but the best time to buy them is June through October, when they are at their most tender. Look for unblemished bulbs with sturdy, unwilted greens. In addition to the usual red variety, you may find beautiful golden beets, and pink-and-white striated Chioggia beets. Unless a red color is important to the dish, either type can be used interchangeably with red beets.

Often purchasers ask that the greens be chopped off. That’s a mistake — the greens bring an additional set of nutrients to the plate, most notably beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium. Take your beets home from the farmer’s market with the greens intact.

Roasting is the easiest way to cook beets, not least because the skins will slip right off. Cooking them this way is easy.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. (Later this week, we’ll show you how to sauté the greens.) Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish (or lidded ovenproof casserole dish). Add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes. They’re done when they’re easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins.

Roasted beets are wonderful on their own or simply dressed with a vinaigrette, and they will keep for five days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. Best not to peel them until you plan to eat them.


Pears and Pomegranates!

I have been eying the beautiful pears in the markets for days now. And suddenly yesterday, there were the pomegranates! This recipe makes a delicious, healthy snack for after school or a simple, yet tasty appetizer.

Brie with Pear and Pomegranate Salsa Quesadilla

Pear and Pomegranate Salsa:
2 Bartlett pears, minced
¼ C minced onion
2 Tbsp minced yellow bell peppers
¼ C pomegranate seeds
3 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
½ tsp dried sage

6 oz Brie cheese, thinly sliced
6 whole-wheat tortillas, about 9-inches in diameter

1. Combine all ingredients for salsa in a small bowl. Mix well
2. Place tortilla on a flat working surface and place 1 oz brie cheese on ½ of tortilla. Top with ¼ C salsa. Fold in half
3. Place briefly on a hot grill pan or under broiler to warm
4. Cut in half.
5. Repeat for all the tortillas


Rhubarb Patches in Full Swing!

I just can’t get enough of rhubarb….which is a good thing, as my rhubarb patch is in full production. My three plants each produce about 20 stalks at a time.

Here in an old and a new version of a favourite recipe from a recent New York Times.

1989: Rhubarb-Strawberry Mousse

1 1/4 pounds rhubarb, finely diced

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons kirsch

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

2 cups heavy cream.

1. Combine the rhubarb, strawberries and sugar in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft.

2. Pour 2/3 of the mixture into a blender with the kirsch; purée and set aside.

3. Pour 4 tablespoons cold water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow to soften for 10 minutes. Heat gently until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Stir into the rhubarb purée.

4. Combine the purée with the remaining cooked rhubarb mixture.

5. Whip the heavy cream until stiff and fold into the rhubarb mixture. Chill for several hours. Serves 8 to 10.

2010: Honey-and-Ricotta Mousse With Strawberry-Rhubarb Broth

1 pound strawberries (small and sweet), washed, trimmed and sliced

6 ounces rhubarb, washed, trimmed and sliced

3 ounces lavender honey

½ tablespoon red-wine vinegar (can also substitute lemon juice).

1. Place all of the ingredients in a small stainless-steel bowl that will fit appropriately over a double boiler. Add enough cold water to just cover the fruit (approximately 1½ cups), then cover the bowl with two tight layers of plastic wrap. Place the bowl over the double boiler and cook over low heat for at least 1 hour, making sure that the plastic wrap does not break. If it does, remove and replace it. (Alternatively, steep the ingredients directly in a nonreactive pot, covered, over very low heat.)

2. Once the broth has a nice ruby color and the fruit has sufficiently infused the liquid, gently strain through a fine sieve. Discard the remaining fruit. Sweeten with additional honey if you wish. Chill.

For the honey-ricotta mousse:

8 ounces whole-milk ricotta

1½ ounces lavender honey (or any honey you like) Grated zest from ½ lemon

1½ teaspoons powdered gelatin

1 cup heavy cream.

1. Place the ricotta, honey and zest in a food processor and blend until creamy. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and chill.

2. Pour 2 tablespoons cold water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow to soften for 10 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the cream and warm over medium-low heat to dissolve. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, but do not chill.

3. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks and fold it into the gelatin mixture. Fold the whipped-cream mixture into the ricotta mixture in thirds until fully incorporated. Chill for 2 to 3 hours.

For the garnish:

1½ cups thinly sliced rhubarb

½ cup sugar

1½ cups sliced strawberries

A few basil leaves

Shortbread cookies (like Walkers), crumbled.

1. Toss the sliced rhubarb with the sugar and allow to rest for 20 minutes. (If the sugar isn’t fully dissolved, stir and let sit another 10 minutes.) Add the strawberries and toss. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and toss with the fruit.

2. To serve, you can use a bowl or a cup. Use a spoonful of the fruit mixture as the base and spoon or pipe the mousse on top. Add a few ounces of the strawberry-rhubarb broth and sprinkle a few pinches of crumbled cookies over the mousse.
Serves 6.


Food Economy

courtesy of wsj.comThere’s a great piece on one of the Wall Street Journal’s blogs about food economy: It’s the (Food) Economy, Stupid. Clever play on the Bill Clinton catch phrase. The research behind the blog post is courtesy our of our local University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition.

The main thrust of their research found that…

“Having a grocery store nearby doesn’t guarantee purchases of fresh produce or other more healthful foods, the report found — those decisions are often driven by economics.”

Not that proximity of available fresh, nutritious fruits & vegetables isn’t important — it’s just there are other factors at play. One other driver is also the relative price within the store itself. Makes sense. As they write in the blog post: “Money matters”.

Only related by topic, I found this short series about Food Economy and thought it interesting. There are three videos so the entire thing is a little long, but educational.


Grow Your Own Lunch

Interesting interview on American Public Media‘s Marketplace show with Adam Nicholson on restoring the family farm at England’s famous Sissinghurst Castle (home of Vita Sackville-West)


Status in the garden

In today’s Dining & Wine section of the New York Times are two great articles. One is about the number of corporations who are providing gardens to their employees to grow vegetables, either to donate to food banks, have for lunch/snacks at the office, or to take home. The second article is about the White House pastry chef whose mission is to reduce dessert portion size and to create desserts with as little white sugar as possible. Check out his recipes for granola bars and cheese cake…yum!


Farmer Rebel Comes to Seattle

An article in the newsletter of PCC Farmland Trust gives information on getting tickets to see Joe Salatin, the farmer who has led, by example, the revolution against farming, and eating, industrially. Here in Washington State, we have a similar farming family doing the same thing near Walla Walla: Thundering Hooves…check out their website for finding and buying ethically grown and slaughtered meat.


Signs of Spring

Rhubarb is often considered the harbinger of spring as it pokes its little stalks up through mud, composting leaves, and other winter debris. It is also nick-named ‘pie-plant’ as it is the first fresh fruit pie of the year. My three rhubarb plants don’t yet have enough mass for a pie, but they do have enough for this fabulous mustard recipe, good to serve with those cozy winter stews or to give as a gift to friends.

Rupa’s Rhubarb Mustard
3/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
3 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
Just under 1 3/4 cup vinegar (cider vinegar, mostly likely)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grind the mustard and fenugreek seeds into a fine powder, leaving some portion of the yellow mustard seeds whole. Put everything in a wide pot and cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is helplessly soft. Add a splash of sweet wine at the end if you want to; run it though the coarse disc of a food mill if you like things smooth rather than chunky. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath if you want to keep it on the shelf.
Note: Cooking mustard tends to mellow it, so in Rupa’s recipe the rhubarb sourness is about an even match for the mustard heat. You might want something with more kick to it, in which case you can stew the rhubarb first and then simmer it with the vinegar and mustard for just a few minutes


Jamie Oliver @ TED

As we mentioned previously, Jamie Oliver won this year’s TED prize and his presentation is now available online. His presentation is compelling, delivered with a touch of humor, and full of horrifying statistics.

The part that stands out for me is that kids can’t even identify fruits & vegetables. At one point he holds up tomatoes and kids think they’re potatoes.

It’s worth a look.

And he also has an upcoming television series called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. A trailer of it is below.


Obesity – fruit can help

Hopefully everyone watched Michelle Obama & the kids kicking off the Let’s Move campaign. Here’s a video below if you missed it.

And here is another one that is Mrs. Obama explaining what it’s all about.

I just really like the simplicity of it all — eat better, eat less, and be active. It’s a great message and a model for living that anyone should be able to follow.

According to the last census, 64% of adults are overweight or obese. That’s a 36% increase since 1980. And in 2008 only one state had a prevelance of obesity of less than 20% — and no it wasn’t Washington. It was Colorado.

Children are slightly better (5%-17%, depending on age group). And Mrs. Obama’s campaign is hopefully going to bring that number down. As these kids develop good habits, they’ll carry them through for the rest of their lives.

One of the more striking statistics I’ve heard is that the planet has roughly 7 billion people. Of that, 1 billion are obese. An additional 1 billion have inadequate nutrition.

Availability of healthy, affordable food is a huge issue. It’s not easy to get local, healthy, low-cost fruits and vegetables in all areas of Seattle — food deserts exist in plenty of places. That’s something we’re trying to address. Last year we distrubted over 10,000 pounds of fruit to local food banks, senior housing, and worked with organizations like Market on Wheels to ensure everyone has access to healthy fruit.

Fruit is not only an important part of an every day diet, it can also help a person lose weight. The Mayo Clinic has a great article on energy density and how it’s possible to feel fuller with fewer calories when a diet is rich in fresh vegetables and fruit. They recommend “Whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits without added sugar are better options than fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore have a higher calorie content.”

So review that food pyramid and grab some fresh fruit the next time you’re looking for something sweet.