What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

August 9, 2011

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring White Corn

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring White Corn

Fresh-picked corn lends itself to a corn-a-copia of delights…sorry, couldn’t resist! Whether on the cob or shaved off and stirred into a dish, don’t miss out on one of summer’s sweetest foods.

Fresh Corn Salad with Black Beans, Tomato and Cilantro

Delicious with tortilla chips or as a salsa to top grilled Tilapia, this salad is always a hit. Courtesy of Laura H., a Sigona’s fan. Serves about 4.

Ingredients:

  • Juice from 2 limes, about 4 TBLs
  • 4 TBLs olive oil
  • 2 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • a 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kernels cut from 3 ears of white corn (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (use an assortment of halved cherry tomatoes or use 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • Half a bell pepper, seeded and diced (look for an orange one to add color to the dish)
  • 3 TBLs minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (or to taste)
  • optional: top with diced or sliced avocado when ready to serve.

In a bowl whisk together lime juice, oil, garlic and salt to taste. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Let salad stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let flavors develop. Laura recommends making it the night before.

Corn Quiche

If you have the right ingredients in your pantry and fridge, a quiche is easy to throw together for a weekend breakfast or brunch. Serves 4 – 6.

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups low-fat milk
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups corn kernels
  • ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • ¼ tsp ground mace
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Variations: Add half a red or green bell pepper, chopped, to onion and sauté. Substitute chili powder for nutmeg.

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray 9- or 10-inch quiche dish with cooking oil (or use a 2-inch-deep pie plate)
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté shallot for 2 minutes. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Add milk, cottage cheese, and eggs and beat together.
  4. Stir in corn, Cheddar, and spices.
  5. Pour filling into quiche dish or pie plate and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 30 minutes longer, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  1. Let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

 

Corn Ice Cream

This recipe comes from Frontera Grill in Chicago, one of the nation’s best known Mexican restaurants, owned and operated by Rick Bayless widely respected as one of our countries premier chef’s and an expert of Mexican cuisine. Makes about a quart.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 (1.5) cups corn kernels
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 (.5) cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 (.5) tsp vanilla
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon

Puree the corn with the half-and-half until as smooth as possible. Push the puree through a sieve or strainer to remove big chunks. Put corn puree, sugar and yolk in top of a double boiler and whisk together, cooking and stirring until thickened and starting to steam, about 180ºF. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and cool. Stir in cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Chill until cold and then churn in an ice cream maker according to directions.

Corn Fritters

These are delicious on their own but also wonderful topped with salsa and sour cream or with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, and a sprig of dill. Or serve them for breakfast (omitting the green onion) with maple syrup.

Ingredients:

  • 5 ears corn, shucked
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 TBLs flour
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1/4 (.25) tsp salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2 TBLs vegetable oil

Cut corn kernels from ears saving the juices from the corn. Puree corn with flour, sugar, egg yolk and pepper. Stir in green onions.

Combine egg white and salt in clean dry bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold the whites into the corn mixture.

Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Drop batter by large spoonfuls into oil. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook until browned then flip over and cook other side, about 2 minutes per side. Keep warm. Serves 4.

Sautéed Corn with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

A summer staple in my house that is incredibly easy to throw together and a great side dish to grilled meat or fish. Serves 4. Adapted from “Joy of Cooking.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (use a variety of tomatoes for added color)
  • A few leaves of basil, sliced thin (use scissors to snip)
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 TBL butter
  • 1 TBL cream, optional

Cut the corn from the cob. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels and cook for 1 min. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for another minutes until juices start to run. Stir in salt, pepper, basil, and cream. Serve.

Seared Scallops with Corn Fondue

Corn has a natural affinity for either corn or lobster. Imagine plump seared scallops or luxurious lobster in a bath of creamy sweet corn chowder. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 TBLs butter
  • 2 ears corn, shucked, and kernels cut off
  • a few sprigs of basil, leaves finely sliced
  • 1/4 (.25) tsp salt
  • small pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 (.5) cup whole milk
  • 2 TBLs oil
  • 12 large sea scallops

Melt half the butter over moderate low heat in saucepan. Add shallot and garlic, and cook, stirring until softened, about 1 minute. Add corn, basil, salt, and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until corn is tender. Add milk and continue cooking for 1 minute more. Puree in a blender until very smooth. Press the puree through a sieve into a saucepan and reserve.

Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Add the scallops turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes total.

Reheat corn over low heat and stir in remaining butter. (If you want to mimic the foams served in restaurants today, puree the sauce again in a blender or with an immersion blender until frothy.) Serve sauce with the scallops.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Remove all but the innermost layer of husk from the corn. Carefully peel the last layer back a bit to twist off the silk. Or…

For an impressive presentation, peel back the husk – don’t remove it – to remove the silk. Pull the peeled husk down to the bottom, creating a handle. Take one of the outer husk leaves off and trim it to a thin strip. Use the strip to tie the peeled back husks together with a bow (as pictured).

Heat grill to medium heat, oil the grates and place the ears directly on the grates. Turn several times as the corn cooks. Keep it on the grill for about 10 minutes or until the husks are charred and are beginning to peel.

Serve corn immediately along with butter, salt and pepper. You can also used spiced or herbed butters. Recipes follow.

Boiled Corn on the Cob

  • Use about 1 quart of water per ear of corn
  • Salt

Directions: Bring salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook for 2-4 minutes. Remove corn using tongs and shake off the extra water. Serve with butter, salt and pepper.

Not-So-Plain Corn on the Cob

Following are a few fancy butter spreads that add fantastic flavor to corn on the cob. Each ingredient combination is enough for about 4 ears of corn.

 Herb’s Favorite

  • 3 TBL butter, softened
  • 1 ½ TBL of fresh herbs, such as a combination of parsley, basil, tarragon, chives, sage and chervil

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

Honey Butter

  • 3 TBL butter, softened
  • 1 TBL honey or organic Agave nectar

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.       

Chili Butter – or – Chili-Lime Butter

  • 2 TBL butter, softened
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • For chili-lime butter, add grated peel of ½ of one lime. Add more if desired.

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

Lemon & Dill Butter

  • 3 TBL butter, softened
  • 1 tsp fresh dill weed or ½ tsp dried
  • Grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • Pinch of white pepper

Directions: Combine all ingredients, blending well. Store in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

August 2, 2011

Spice-rubbed Chicken with a Fresh Press Manzanillo, Fresh Peach & Avocado Topping

Spice-rubbed Chicken with a Fresh Press Manzanillo, Fresh Peach & Avocado Topping

Pairing the fruity, freshly pressed, medium-intensity Manzanillo from Australia with in-season produce enhances the lovely, summery flavors in this dish. Try the rub with a fish, such as mahi-mahi or snapper, if you prefer something other than chicken. Serves 4.

Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breasts, filleted in half so there are 4 thin pieces (about 1 inch thick)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 TBL paprika
  • Salt & pepper (heavy on the salt)
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press Manzanillo (AUS) olive oil, for brushing
  • Juice of 1 large lime

Avocado-Peach Topping

  • 1/2 a large avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium ripe peach, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press Manzanillo (AUS) olive oil
  • 3/4 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1 TBL Sigona’s summertime peach white balsamic
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 c cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Garnish (optional)

  • 4 lime wedges
  • 4 sprigs of cilantro

Directions: Begin by preparing the avocado-peach topping. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, peach balsamic and red wine vinegar. Add in seasonings and whisk to combine. Add in fruits and cilantro, stir gently to coat. Set aside.

Heat an indoor stove top grill or outdoor grill to medium high heat.

Brush one side of each of the 4 chicken filets, season with salt, pepper and equal parts of the cumin and paprika. Flip chicken, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper only.

Place chicken on the grill, cumin- & paprika-seasoned side down first. Cook for about 3 minutes a side or until juices run clear. Remove from heat, place on a serving platter and squeeze lime juice over all four pieces of chicken.

Top each chicken with a spoonful of avocado-peach topping, garnish (if doing so) and serve.

July 12, 2011

Sigona’s July 2011 Olive Oil of the Month: Frantoio from Livermore Valley, Calif.

Sigona’s July 2011 Olive Oil of the Month

Need a dish to pass for the next summer cookout? Try out our recipe for quinoa tabbouleh with our July olive oil of the month. The bold flavor and complex characteristics of this month’s feature add a depth of flavor that you can’t duplicate with just any old oil.

Sigona’s Fresh Press Extra Virgin Olive Oil of July 2011 is…

Frantoio
From the Livermore Valley, Calif.

This oil…

  • isn’t your grandpa’s Frantoio! It packs a punch, yet is balanced out when used in a flavor-loaded dish, such as a quinoa tabbouleh (recipe below) or a basil pesto with pine nuts
  • features the highest polyphenol count of any California olive oil, weighing in at 533
  • is an herbaceous, grassy, peppery and robust oil that rivals the biggest European oils
  • comes from the first fruits of the California season, so it has a beautiful, fresh color

Stay tuned for our next monthly feature!

If you’d like to sign up to receive monthly emails featuring the olive oil of the month, send an email to share@sigonas.com

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Avocado

Quinoa, like tabbouleh, became popular in the 70s, but has had a welcome resurgence as of late, partially due to it being gluten-free. Quinoa is complete protein, boasting all nine essential amino acids, and has a pleasantly grassy, nutty flavor and is slightly crunchy when cooked. Quinoa, a plant seed, is complete protein, boasting all nine essential amino acids. It has a pleasantly grassy, nutty flavor and is slightly crunchy when cooked. Use it like a grain or pasta, similar to how you might use bulgur wheat, the grain traditionally used in tabbouleh. The robust Sigona’s Fresh Press Frantoio extra virgin olive oil adds another layer of flavor that balances out when added to this ingredient-packed dish. 

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large tomatoes (about 12 oz), seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 green onions, chopped (all white parts and 2 inches of green tops)
  • 1/2 a medium English cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 radishes, chopped (optional)
  • 4 oz. Feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 TBL lemon zest
  • 6 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press Frantoio extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1 1/2 lemons (about 3 TBL)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 avocados (for serving, see note*)

Directions: Rinse the quinoa under cool water. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add the quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the quinoa is fluffy and chewy, about 20 minutes.

Strain quinoa to remove any excess water.

Place quinoa in a large bowl and add in tomatoes, parsley, onions, cucumber, radish (if using), Feta, mint and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, salt & pepper (to taste) and olive oil. Whisk briskly to emulsify the mix. Add all but 2 TBL to the quinoa mixture and toss to combine.

*Just before serving, slice avocados and add to the remaining olive oil & lemon juice mixture. Transfer tabbouleh to a serving bowl or large platter and arrange sliced avocados on top. Serve immediately.

July 6, 2011

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Avocado featuring Sigona’s Frantoio olive oil

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Avocado

Quinoa, like tabbouleh, became popular in the 70s, but has had a welcome resurgence as of late, partially due to it being gluten-free. Quinoa is complete protein, boasting all nine essential amino acids, and has a pleasantly grassy, nutty flavor and is slightly crunchy when cooked. Quinoa, a plant seed, is complete protein, boasting all nine essential amino acids. It has a pleasantly grassy, nutty flavor and is slightly crunchy when cooked. Use it like a grain or pasta, similar to how you might use bulgur wheat, the grain traditionally used in tabbouleh. The robust Sigona’s Fresh Press Frantoio extra virgin olive oil adds another layer of flavor that balances out when added to this ingredient-packed dish. 

Look for Sigona's Fresh Press Frantoio extra virgin olive oil (with a 533 polyphenol count!) at Sigona's today. It's our olive oil of the month for July 2011!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large tomatoes (about 12 oz), seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 green onions, chopped (all white parts and 2 inches of green tops)
  • 1/2 a medium English cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 radishes, chopped (optional)
  • 4 oz. Feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 TBL lemon zest
  • 6 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press Frantoio extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1 1/2 lemons (about 3 TBL)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 avocados (for serving, see note*)

Directions: Rinse the quinoa under cool water. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add the quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the quinoa is fluffy and chewy, about 20 minutes.

Strain quinoa to remove any excess water.

Place quinoa in a large bowl and add in tomatoes, parsley, onions, cucumber, radish (if using), Feta, mint and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, salt & pepper (to taste) and olive oil. Whisk briskly to emulsify the mix. Add all but 2 TBL to the quinoa mixture and toss to combine.

*Just before serving, slice avocados and add to the remaining olive oil & lemon juice mixture. Transfer tabbouleh to a serving bowl or large platter and arrange sliced avocados on top. Serve immediately.

Look for Sigona’s Fresh Press Frantoio extra virgin olive oil (with a 533 polyphenol count!) at Sigona’s today. It’s our olive oil of the month for July 2011!

May 11, 2011

Sigona’s Olive Oil of the Month for May 2011: California Arbequina

Sigona’s Olive Oil of the Month for May 2011: California Arbequina  

Sigona's May 2011 Olive Oil of the Month

The Sigona’s Fresh Press Extra Virgin Olive Oil of May 2011 is…

California Arbequina

This oil…

  • Is one of the best examples of an Arbequina we’ve ever tasted
  • Comes from a limited production…only 58 gallons produced
  • Has a polyphenol count of 220
  • Makes a great salad dressing or vinaigrette

Watch this video for more details and for Carmelo’s Citrusy Mango Ginger dressing recipe:

Here is a list of ingredients and directions for the recipe.

Come on in today for this great oil. 

See you in the store!

Follow Sigona’s on Facebook & Twitter

May 10, 2011

Citrusy Mango Ginger Dressing featuring Sigona’s California Arbequina Olive Oil

Citrusy Mango Ginger Dressing featuring Sigona’s California Arbequina Olive Oil

It’s mango season! The best mangos come from Mexico (their season is from May – September) as opposed to off-season mangos from South America. The difference is the time they spend traveling to our store: South American mangos travel up to three weeks while mangos from Mexico arrive in three days.

The Sigona’s Fresh Press California Arbequina Olive Oil used in this dressing lends a nice fruity & buttery flavor that finishes with a surprising zing. This new crop variety from California’s Sierra Foothills is from a limited edition – only 58 gallons were produced. Get it while it’s hot!

The in-season Haden mangoes are now in at Sigona's!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press California Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup combined Meyer lemon and lime juice (no Meyer lemons? Regular lemons will work just the same.)
  • 2 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBL shallots, minced
  • 1/2 TBL fresh ginger, minced
  • 3/4 TBL Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 TBL organic Agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup mango, diced
  • Salt & pepper

Directions: Place all ingredients in blender and whip together until the dressing mixes to a creamy consistency. Drizzle over a mixed greens salad (recipe follows) and toss. There should be plenty of dressing remaining…it will hold for several days in the refrigerator. This should serve 4-6.

Mixed Greens Salad with Mango & Avocado

  • 8 cups loosely packed spring mix
  • 2 1/2 TBL kalmata olives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 mango, diced

Directions: Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with citrusy mango ginger dressing.

May 4, 2011

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: California Avocados

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Avocados

  • It's important to know the difference between a Fuerte and a Hass avocado to make sure you get one that's ripe.

    Avocados ripen best off the tree and are generally delivered not-quite-ripe to farmers markets and stores.

  • Sigona’s always has ripe avocados available for our customers (look for the orange Ripe stickers). We have natural atmosphere rooms that ripen our avocados to perfection.
  • Ripe avocados yield to gentle pressure. Avoid fruits that seem “too squishy” when gently squeezed.
  • It’s important to know the difference in avocado varieties when selecting the fruit. For example, the skin of Hass avocados darkens when ripe, while the skin of a Fuerte avocado stays green.
  • Select avocados that feel slightly heavy for their size.
  • Once ripe, the fruit can be refrigerated until it is eaten, but not for more than two or three days.
  • Sliced avocados brown quickly so if preparing slices for later use, squirt them with lemon juice and cover with plastic wrap to keep the air out.



Robbie Sigona is produce buyer for both the Redwood City and Palo Alto Sigona’s Farmers Market locations. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables — some you won’t find anywhere else.

May 3, 2011

To Hass or not to Hass: California Avocados are in and fantastic at Sigona’s

To Hass or not to Hass

Learn about the differences in two avocado varieties now available at Sigona’s: the Fuerte and the Hass.

A Californian's favorite: the Hass avocado

By Robbie Sigona

California avocados are practically a staple for many homes in our state due to abundance, near year-round availability and versatility. Making a dish, such as an omelet or sandwich, “California-style” usually means simply adding in a slice of creamy avocado to the ingredient list.

Most shoppers are familiar with the Hass avocado; it is, after all, the most prevalent variety grown and sold in California, and the one purists say is best for making guacamole. The rich & buttery Hass is easy to spot because of its pebbly-textured skin turns from green to purplish-black when ripe. It’s also a sort of squatty, oval shape while some other varieties, such as the Fuerte, are pear shaped.

We currently carry both Hass and Fuerte avocado varieties, and while both are essentially the same inside with their light green, creamy & sweet flesh, it’s important to know the differences between the two to guarantee you get a good avocado.

Most have heard the phrase, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but when selecting an avocado, giving the outside the once over is a good place to start. The graphic below shows the simple, yet pertinent differences between the Hass and the Fuerte.

Anyone who unknowingly selects a Fuerte and waits (and waits, and waits) for the skin to darken is in for a disappointment. The skin of a Fuerte stays green when ripe. Furetes aren’t usually stocked at most grocery stores because their thin skin makes them too perishable. On the other hand, the thick-skinned Hass, a variety developed in the 1930s, has a great shelf life.

Did you know there are nearly 500 avocado varieties? According to the California Avocado Commission, just a handful of those 500 varieties are grown commercially; they are the Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Hass, Lamb Hass, Pinkerton, Reed and Zutano. The familiar Hass variety is the leader of the pack, representing nearly 95 percent of California’s total crop.

Most people prefer the California avocado over its Florida counterpart, and the reason is plain: taste and creaminess. Most Florida avocados have only half the fat content of California avocados, so they’re not nearly as rich or creamy. They also have a slight sweetness to them, which Hass lovers are not used to.

Avocados are a staple fruit in our stores, and because I grew up in our family market, you can believe me when I say I’ve eaten my fair share. It wasn’t until I was older that I became interested in the health benefits of avocados, especially when my wife and I became parents. We learned from my Uncle Carmelo that he raised his daughter Monica on raw food when she was a baby, and the nutrition-packed avocado was her favorite.

Though they’re high in calories, avocados can help you avoid weight gain if used in moderation in place of other high-fat or high-salt condiments like cheese or mayonnaise.

Of all varieties, the Hass contains the highest proportion of fat – “good fat,” that is! Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat which helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower the LDL (bad) type. Additionally, alligator pears, as they’re sometimes called in the produce business, are also a great source of protein, essential acids and heart-protective compounds such as Vitamin E, potassium, folate and fiber. They really are a superfruit.

But wait, there’s more!

Among findings from a 2005 research project completed at Ohio State University found that eating avocado with salsa or with a salad increased absorption of carotenoids (powerful antioxidants, protecting the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals) from the vegetables in the dish by as much as 15 times.

Did you ever think you’d know so much about the avocado?

Californians are lucky to have great avocados available nearly nine months out of the year. For the three months of the year when Californian avocados aren’t available, Chilean avocados are an acceptable substitute.

Whether you’re stocking up now for your homemade California-style BLTAs (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado sandwich) or for Cinco de Mayo guacamole, remember to check our signage for the variety of avocado you’re buying. We clearly mark the Hass avocados and the Fuertes, and are also sure to adhere the orange Ripe stickers to the fruits that are ready to eat that day. Make sure to check the rest of our blog for more avocado selection tips and avocado recipes, too.

April 6, 2011

Nice to Know Ya, Cherimoya

Filed under: Farm Focus — Tags: , , , — Sigona's @ 9:11 am

Nice to Know Ya, Cherimoya

By Robbie Sigona

We have the Bay variety of cherimoya in stores now from the Santa Barbara hills.

Have you heard of cherimoya? Would it help if called it by its alias, custard apple? We’ve received many calls from customers asking if it’s cherimoya season, and we’re happy to say the white-fleshed and sweet, custard-like California-grown fruits are finally here and at their peak.

The skin of a cherimoya is not prickly, but it’s not smooth. Most are covered with either bumps or dimples, giving it an air of something similar to a green apple wearing a suit of armor. Others say it resembles its Amazonian cousins, the soursop or guayabana, which have a prickly-looking skin. Unlike its apple look-alike, however, the leathery greenish-brown skin is inedible, as are its numerous black seeds.

Its delicate flesh has a custard-like texture that is pearly white, soft and silky smooth; not unlike an actual creamy dessert custard. The flavor of cherimoya combines attributes of apple, passion fruit, banana, mango, and pineapple into a unique profile of its own.

With this tropical flavor comparison, you may be surprised to learn these delicate fruits come to us from the Santa Barbara hills in Southern California. It’s rare that you’ll see cherimoyas in big chain grocery stores as they’re more of a specialty item and are usually a bit on the expensive side. Cherimoya are very delicate and are even hand-pollinated by growers because the flowers are often closed to tightly for bees to get in to pollinate.

The cherimoya is believed to be native to the South American Andes Mountains near Ecuador where it was originally discovered in the inter-Andean valleys. In the late nineteenth century it was brought to California where it is now grown in the coastal and foothill regions of the southern part of the state. Sigona’s is currently carrying Bay variety cherimoyas, which are typically light green and heart-shaped with an approximate three to four inch diameter. They’ll likely be in season through the end of May and into June.

A small cherimoya contains about 231 calories and is high in vitamins C, B6 and minerals, such as potassium and manganese. It’s a great source of dietary fiber. Though cherimoyas can be used to make a variety of desserts and drinks, this is a fruit that is typically eaten on its own after being chilled. To access the creamy, white flesh, cut the cherimoya in half lengthwise and simply scoop it out with a spoon (as you would an avocado).

Once the cherimoya has been halved, we recommend squirting on a bit of lemon or lime juice to keep it from darkening (again, like an avocado or apple). Cherimoyas can also be peeled and cut into pieces or puréed and used in salsas, seafood dishes, mousses, dessert sauces, pie fillings or creamy drinks. Cherimoya is particularly tasty after having been frozen – they become an amazing and completely natural alternative to ice cream! You can find more recipes here.

There is nothing quite like sub-tropical fruit in early spring! Try a Cherimoya today and you won’t be disappointed.

June 29, 2010

Tips for Healthy Living with III Pillars Training

Filed under: Healthy Living tips — Tags: , , , , , , — Sigona's @ 9:26 pm

Tips for Healthy Living with III Pillars Training

We’ve partnered with III Pillars, a gym in Menlo Park which strives to create a one-on-one training facility. They believe that exercise, nutrition and restoration all play an equal role in achieving optimal health. I really like the energy and total commitment that both Ryan and Erik have to bring healthy living to our community. — Carmelo Sigona

The “Skinny” on Fats

By Ryan Manuel, BS, a ACSM Health Fitness Specialist &Erik Heywood, BS, CSCS, CES, a Certified Metabolic Typing Adviser at III Pillars

Dietary fat is one of the most vilified and misunderstood components of the American diet. Some people fill their shopping carts with a plethora of non-fat products under the false idea that all fat is bad and that eating it will expand their waistlines. Extra calories from any source (fat, carbohydrates, or proteins) can be turned into body fat and for many, the excess consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar is the main culprit. Including healthy fats like flax oil, fish, walnuts, olive oil and avocados into the diet does have many benefits including 1) making you feel full longer by slowing the breakdown of your meal and 2) preventing cravings by providing longer lasting energy than high sugar foods.

Fat plays an important role when it comes to the flavor and consistency of foods. When fat is removed in prepared foods, something else will be used in its place. Many “fat-free” and “calorie-free” foods are loaded with artificial colors, flavorings, emulsifiers and much more. So you may be asking, “What’s left to eat?”  Here are some basics on the various kinds of fat, the ones to avoid, and the ones you should include in your diet.

AVOID THESE…

Partially or Fully Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenation is a process that turns polyunsaturated oils (normally liquid at room temperature) into a fat that is solid at room temperature. These “trans fats” are very unhealthy and their consumption has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and obesity. Foods that contain hydrogenated oils include some chips, crackers, baked goods, many frozen foods and much more. Read your labels!

INCLUDE THESE…

Foods high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

According to some health experts, most Americans already consume plenty Omega-6 Fatty Acids (vegetable oils, baked goods) and we should increase our levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The typical American consumes about a 10 to 1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 and that ratio should be closer to 4 to 1 or even lower.

Foods that are high in Omega 3s: Fish/fish oil, Flax oil, Chia seeds, walnuts, grass-fed beef and milk (such a beef from Marin Sun Farms), free range eggs.

Foods that are high in Omega 3s include…

  • Fish, fish oil
  • Flax oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Milk and meat. Cows which are fed grass instead of grains are much healthier and their meat has three times the amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids as compared to grain fed beef.
  • Eggs from chickens allowed to range and eat insects (look for cage free and free range)

Avocados

Avocados are mostly monounsaturated fat and are a great source of fat-soluble vitamins E and K.

Nuts

Nuts are high in Omega-6 Fatty Acids which are ok in moderation. They provide a healthy source of monounsaturated fats and also contain protein for repairing or building muscle.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil is the safest vegetable oil to use and is great on salads, vegetables, or for cooking at moderate temperatures. Using extra virgin olive oil is a great way to get your antioxidants.

One key to eating fats is to avoid the man-made ones which have taken over many of the foods we eat today. Healthy fats, like some of the ones mentioned here, are essential for normal hormonal functioning, healthy skin and eyes, an enhanced immune system, proper mineral absorption, and much more. So eat your fat, just choose the right ones and don’t overdo it! Stay tuned for our next nutrition article where we will tackle another controversial topic, carbohydrates.

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