What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

May 2, 2012

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Broccolette

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Broccolette

  • Choose broccolette that is straight (it curls up with age).
  • The top buds should have no yellowing and should be tightly closed (no flowering).
  • When shopping for broccolette, you might find it sold as broccolini.
  • This vegetable should be somewhat firm when fresh, but not near as firm as broccoli because of its gai lan characteristics.
  • Broccolette is all-edible so enjoy the whole thing from stem to top, just trim about 1/4-1/2 inch from the bottom and rinse and dry well before using.
  • It can be eaten steamed, parboiled, stir-fried, roasted or raw. If steaming or parboiling, be careful not to overcook…pull out slightly firm as it will continue to cook. If not using immediately, place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  • Learn more about broccolette, such as what it’s a cross between, in our feature article. Find recipes for broccolette on our blog too.

Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. 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.

What Does “I3C”, “DIM” and “SGS” Have To Do With Broccolette?

Tips for Healthy Living

We’ve partnered with Dr. Doug Husbands of Holistic Health Bay Area to bring you a new set of Tips for Healthy Living. Dr. Husbands is a functional medicine doctor, clinical nutritionist, anti-aging health practitioner and doctor of chiropractic. I appreciate that he encourages visiting the doctor to focus on staying healthy instead of only visiting when you’re sick.– Carmelo Sigona

How Broccolette is Good For You

By Dr. Douglas Husbands

Broccolette, also known as broccolini, is a hybrid vegetable that is a hand-pollinated cross between gai lan (a.k.a. Chinese kale) and broccoli. Now from a nutrition viewpoint, it is one of my favorite vegetables, and here’s why: both broccoli and kale are very high in some components that help balance hormones and decrease cancer development!

As I’ve talked about in a previous Sigona’s Tips For Healthy Living, vegetables in the brassica classification have some special nutrient components. Both broccoli and kale are in the brassica class. This vegetable classification has significant amounts of indole-3-carbinol (I3C), diindolylmethane (DIM) and sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS).

One of the greatest benefits of I3C, DIM and SGS are that they act to decrease a process called “aromatization” of testosterone produced in the body to harmful metabolites of estrogen. The harmful metabolites of estrogen, the 4-hydroxyestrones and the 16-alpha-hydroxyestrones, encourages tumor development.

By the way, these harmful estrogen metabolites can be objectively measured in the urine to see if your body is producing too much. Contact me to find out more about this if desired.

Another benefit of regularly eating broccolette is that I3C, DIM and SGS also promotes your body by making an estrogen metabolite that inhibits tumor growth. This metabolite, called 2-hydroxyestrone, helps to decrease the growth of cancer cells, according to numerous research studies.

For more detailed information of how I3C, DIM and SGS used in an effective concentrated therapeutic dose can significantly decrease cancer cell growth, see some articles in my newsletter archives and in my blog. For those of you who are not so intensely concerned with how broccolette can benefit your health, but just want to enjoy it, look for the cooking tips and recipes contained elsewhere in this issue of the Sigona’s newsletter!

About Dr. Doug:
Dr. Douglas Husbands is a Functional Medicine Doctor, Clinical Nutritionist, Anti-Aging Health Practitioner, and Doctor of Chiropractic. As a health advocate and coach, he is dedicated to achieving optimal health through resolving the underlying disease processes through diet, nutrition and lifestyle modification. To contact Dr. Doug, call 650-394-7470 or visit http://www.HolisticHealthBayArea.com

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Sigona’s Dried Fruit and Nut Specials: May 2-8, 2012

Sigona’s Dried Fruit and Nut Specials: May 2-8, 2012

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

April 18, 2012

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Local Asparagus

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Local Asparagus

  • Local asparagus is now at Sigona's! Look for fresh spears from Salinas and Stockton.

    Look for spears that are compact with no signs of flowering on the tips.

  • Really fresh stalks are even a bit squeaky.
  • The asparagus should have a fresh cut on the bottom, and it should have a green color all the way down the stalk, with as little white as possible.
  • Size is a matter of preference. Thin asparagus tastes stronger and more grassy. Thicker spears taste sweeter.
  • Did you know… the white asparagus is not a different variety? It’s just regular asparagus that’s been chlorophyll-deprived by being grown away from sunlight either under earthen mounds or plastic.
  • One end is the tough stem end; the other is the tender flower. To separate, hold it on both ends and bend. The stalk will snap at its natural breaking point.
  • Store in the fridge for 4-5 days.
  • If you have room in the fridge, and some extra time on your hands, trim the bottom ends of the asparagus and place the stalks in a half inch of water. This will keep your asparagus fresh and stop the dehydration process.

Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. 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.

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Asparagus

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Asparagus

My one caution about asparagus is not to overcook it, and that’s a pretty universal sentiment. Even going back to Rome, the Emperor Augustus is said to have dispatched orders “to be done in less time than it takes to cook asparagus.”

Grilled Asparagus

Try grilling asparagus to concentrate the taste and add an intense smoky flavor. It’s super simple.

What to do:

  • Toss the asparagus with Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Grill or roast it in a 450º oven until tender and a little bit of charring scars the tips. Keep an eye on it – it’s pretty fast!
  • Take it out and drizzle with more olive oil, if you like, or squeeze on a little fresh lemon juice.
  • Optional: top grilled asparagus with creamy goat cheese for a restaurant-worthy side dish.

Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Asparagus and Avocado

Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Asparagus and Avocado. Recipe and photo courtesy of Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy.

I love how this recipe uses the flavors of spring! It’s green color makes for a fresh side dish or filling lunch-size salad. Courtesy of San Fran-based food blogger Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy. Makes 2-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained (Look for it in our bulk section)
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 asparagus spears, shaved thin (use a vegetable peeler)
  • 1 handful fresh baby arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 TBL lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 2 TBL extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 TBL fresh dill, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: In a medium saucepan combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 12- 15 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, make the dressing by whisking together lemon juice and oil. Add avocado, shaved asparagus, green onion and arugula to the dressing.

Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl and allow to cool. Add quinoa to dressing and arugula mixture; toss with fresh dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Savory Grilled Chicken Breasts with Farro and Asparagus

This “full meal deal” recipe is fantastic for a spring dinner. Fresh asparagus, flavor-packed farro and a quick & easy savory grilled chicken breast is sure to impress any guest. Check out our how-to video for this dish then find the recipe below.

Farro

If making this entire meal, we suggest you start the farro first as it takes the longest to prepare. This recipe will yield about 9 or 10 half-cup servings and is satisfying as a leftover, served hot (as we are with this recipe) or cold as a great accompaniment to a salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Farro (Umbrian Farro — look for the Bartolini label)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 1/2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 a large stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 a large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 “Red” Fresno chili pepper, de-veined, seeded and very finely diced

Directions: In a large pot heat olive oil. Add diced onion, celery carrot and Fresno pepper and season with salt & pepper. Cook several minutes, working this mixture closely with a wooden spoon. Add the farro and work into the mixture for about a minute.

Next add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to a low simmer until tender (about 12-15 minutes). Liquid should all be absorbed and the farro should be loose and not stuck together. Serve and enjoy.

Savory Grilled Chicken Breasts

We recommend starting the chicken second so all the dishes finish at the same time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 large sprigs Rosemary, stripped, chopped and pressed
  • 1 TBL Sigona’s Fresh extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions: Pre-heat stovetop grill to medium high temperature. Cut the two chicken breasts lengthwise as evenly as possible. Remove all the needle-like leaves from the rosemary sprigs.

Chop and press rosemary leaves with your knife to let the highly aromatic oils be released. This will add a great flavor to the chicken breasts.

Add olive oil, salt & pepper and rosemary to the chicken breasts and work into the meat with your hands.

Place the chicken breasts on hot grill for about 2 1/2- 3 minutes on each side. Remove and serve.

Asparagus

No one likes mushy asparagus so be sure not to overcook the spears. It’ll help if you prepare this last.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. fresh, local asparagus
  • Large pot of boiling water

Directions: Cut off and discard about 1 1/2 inches of the bottom of the asparagus. Just before you’re ready to sit down for dinner, place asparagus in a pot of rapidly boiling water for about 2 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Cook’s note: The asparagus will continue to cook once it is out of the pot. This is why I serve immediately. If I plan to use it later, I’ll place it in an ice bath to instantly stop the cooking. I like to eat asparagus firm to be able to taste the sweet, fresh flavor of fresh local asparagus.

 

Asparagus for Any Dish

Once you have prepared asparagus on hand, you can use it in a number of ways. Plus, it’ll keep in the fridge for 4-5 days, so prepare a bunch or two at the beginning of the week so you’re able to grab & go.

What to do:

  • Boil asparagus for a couple of minutes then immediately submerge into an ice bath. This stops the cooking immediately, leaves the nutrients in, keeps the beautiful green color in the asparagus and helps prevent overcooking to the mushy state…nobody like mushy asparagus!

Asparagus prepared this way can be used in salads, future meals, healthy snacks and for the meal at hand. Here are a couple simple ways to prepare cooked asparagus for any dish.

Fresh Asparagus Salad with a Sweet Balsamic Reduction

Asparagus goes well with the flavors of Dijon mustard. If you look up vinaigrette for anything with asparagus, you can bet Dijon will be a star ingredients. Asparagus and balsamic also play well together so this is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 2-3 TBL Sigona’s traditional balsamic, 12-year-aged
  • 1/2 TBL Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh basil leaf, julienned
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil (we suggest our California Arbequina)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (bake in a single layer at 350F for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned)

Directions: Boil asparagus for a couple of minutes then immediately submerge into an ice bath. Once cool, remove asparagus and dry with a paper towel. Then cut into thirds, diagonally, and place on a serving platter.

While the asparagus cools, pour balsamic into a small sauté pan over medium-low heat and cook to reduce by half. This can happen quickly, so keep an eye on it. Once reduced, pour it into a small mixing bowl.

To the balsamic add Dijon, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Then, while whisking, add the olive oil to emulsify the mixture.

Drizzle the balsamic mixture over the asparagus, toss to coat, and then sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta and Pine Nuts

Pasta with asparagus, pancetta and pinenuts. Photo and recipe (adapted) from Cooking Light.

It’s asparagus season and we also have in some fantastic new olive oils that make a nice match. Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. uncooked or fresh pasta (such as cavatappi or another spiral shape)
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 TBL pine nuts (toast them for more flavor, see back)
  • 2 oz. pancetta, diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon (save the peel and grate a bit on top of the finished dish)
  • 2 tsp. Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 3 TBL)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, add asparagus to pan during last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain. Sprinkle pasta mixture with garlic; return to pan, and toss well.
  3. Arrange pine nuts in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Place in a small bowl.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 475°.
  5. Arrange pancetta on jelly-roll pan. Bake at 475° for 6 minutes or until crisp.
  6. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts, pancetta, cheese and lemon zest.

 

Baked Asparagus

This is a quick and easy recipe you can use with asparagus this week. Be sure to check the coupon in the e-newsletter to see how you can get your ingredients for free!

What to do:

  • Rub the asparagus with Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350◦ for 7-8 minutes. At the last minute, sprinkle a little parmesan over it. Remove it from the oven, and to finish it, drizzle a little balsamic over it.
  • Serve warm.

Free Sonoma Brinery Bread & Butter Pickles

Click coupon for an easy-print version

April 4, 2012

Free Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar

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Free Angel Heart Cakes Angel Puddin’

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Tips for Healthy Living: Easy, Relaxing, Non-Stressful Secrets for Losing Fat

Tips for Healthy Living

We’ve partnered with Dr. Doug Husbands of Holistic Health Bay Area to bring you a new set of Tips for Healthy Living. Dr. Husbands is a functional medicine doctor, clinical nutritionist, anti-aging health practitioner and doctor of chiropractic. I appreciate that he encourages visiting the doctor to focus on staying healthy instead of only visiting when you’re sick.– Carmelo Sigona

Easy, Relaxing, Non-Stressful Secrets for Losing Fat

By Dr. Douglas Husbands

Unstable insulin levels promote fat deposition. Since sleep is such an important component for stabilizing insulin, we’ll discuss safe and effective non-drug methods for improving sleep. Also, some tips on safe-for-almost-everyone nutritional substances and homeopathics for assisting getting a better night’s sleep.

Be Like a Vampire

No bright light source shining into the eyes 30 minutes or less before bedtime. This includes avoiding computers and the “boob tube” right before bed. Light coming in through the eyes suppresses the rise of melatonin, a hormone which prepares our body for sleep. For some, even the teeniest little emission of light from the phone console or a night-light can disrupt sleep. Wearing a face mask can be helpful for some. Have the bedroom as dark as possible for a good and deep night’s sleep.

Protein Fed, But Not Full

Don’t go to bed hungry – but don’t try to sleep right after a heavy meal. Have a protein source right before bed to help you sleep, like a small piece of turkey or chicken, or a small glass of coconut or goat’s milk. For convenience, you can use a scoop of whey protein powder in a glass of coconut or goat’s milk and chug that down 30 minutes before bed. This keeps your blood sugar more stable during the night without interfering with nighttime growth hormone output. (Less nighttime growth hormone output equals less recuperation and repair.) Warning: A cracker, cookie, bread or starchy carbohydrate right before bed raises insulin and blunts growth hormone output – and is a great way to slowly get fat!

No Caffeine Near Bedtime

This is a no-brainer, but many people don’t realize they are sabotaging their sleep by doing this so we’re mentioning it here. No caffeine less than three hours before bedtime!

Watch the Alcohol

Some people benefit from a small glass of wine one hour before bed to help them sleep but more than that will hinder your sleep. Alcohol is sugar and too much sugar will raise insulin and suppress growth hormone output during the night.

Calcium/Magnesium

Taking a capsule of 500 mg calcium citrate with 500 mg magnesium citrate without food right before bed not only helps you get to sleep, but also can help you sleep more deeply.

Homeopathics

Coffea cruda (30 c concentration), about 4 pellets (without food or water) every 20 minutes until you get to sleep is often effective for insomnia. Chamomilla, Aconite and Nux Vomica (6 c or 30 c) can also be helpful for sleep.

About Dr. Doug:
Dr. Douglas Husbands is a Functional Medicine Doctor, Clinical Nutritionist, Anti-Aging Health Practitioner, and Doctor of Chiropractic. As a health advocate and coach, he is dedicated to achieving optimal health through resolving the underlying disease processes through diet, nutrition and lifestyle modification. To contact Dr. Doug, call 650-394-7470 or visit http://www.HolisticHealthBayArea.com

Subscribe to the Holistic Health Bay Area Newsletter.
Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter

April 2, 2012

Sigona’s Olive Oil of the Month: April 2012

Sigona’s Olive Oil of the Month: April 2012

sigonas spanish manzanillo

Come check out Sigona's olive oil of the month, Spanish Manzanillo

With March arrived the first day of spring, although it was difficult to tell due to the rains that came crashing down from the clouds above. While the entire Bay Area is still desperate for more precipitation – the National Weather Service has stated that we’re still hovering at around 50% of normal rainfall – don’t let these overcast and soggy days keep you from thinking about delicious and vegetable-packed dishes that pair perfectly with tasty barbequed meats. We’ve got a killer roasted veggie recipe below that’s comforting, healthy and great for indoor and outdoor picnics.

Last month we talked a little bit about the chemistry behind Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oils, e.g. the higher the polyphenol count and oleic acid the better. Check out our new in-store signage about the oleic acid portion of the chemical chart. We’ve blown this sign up extra-large to make it easier to read. And of course, if you have any questions while in the store, just ask one of our crew members – they’ll be happy to assist you.

The April 2012 Sigona’s Olive oil of the Month is Fresh Press Manzanillo From Spain

This oil:

  • is fresh, big and fruity up front with a peppery sensation on the back-end
  • features a robust polyphenol count for a Manzanillo; typical Manzanillos struggle to reach a count in the low 300s, but this season’s press comes in at a stunning 383
  • is perfect for salads because although it’s packed full of fruitiness, it still comes out bold

Try this recipe!

Roasted Local Cauliflower with Savory Shallots

This is a very easy, simple and go-to veggie dish that will even satisfy folks that don’t typically enjoy cauliflower. The roasting really brings out the natural sugars of the veggies because it caramelizes the ingredients, which intensifies the savory and sweet flavors. This healthy dish supplies about 6 servings at only around 100 calories per serving.

  • Roasted Local Cauliflower with Savory Shallots
  • 1/8 cup of Sigona’s Fresh Press Manzanillo olive oil from Spain
  • 4 large shallots, quartered
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into even florets about 1-1/2 inch each
  • 1 lemon zest and juice (Meyer lemon if available)
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400F. In a large mixing bowl, combine olive oil, agave, cayenne, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Add cauliflower florets and shallots and mix thoroughly using your hands to ensure even coating of the olive oil mix.

Spread mixture in a single layer in a large baking pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally to get an even roast.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm.

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