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Berries 101: Choosing the Best

By Molly Siegler, March 30, 2018  |  More Posts by Molly Siegler

Updated March 30, 2018

 

When berry season begins in earnest, I feel like I’ve won the culinary lottery. Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries – are the perfect adornment for a bowl of oatmeal and make excellent afternoon snacks, but do you know how to handle this summertime windfall?

Bonus: Keep your eyes peeled for less common varieties: currants, mulberries, gooseberries or huckleberries, and handle them with the same care you use with other berry season standbys.

Get the Recipe: Traditional Strawberry Shortcake

Pick the Best

Color

  • Berries should be uniformly and richly colored.
  • Don’t worry about the hazy white “bloom” on blueberries – that’s a normal bloom berries form as a protective shield from the sun.
  • Avoid berries with brown patches or discoloring, which could indicate under-ripe or damaged berries.

Size

  • Size doesn’t really affect the flavor profile of the berries, though tiny berries can be more concentrated in flavor.
  • Wild berries tend to be much smaller than their cultivated counterparts.

Shape

  • Berries should be plump and firm.
  • If berries are wrinkled or shrunken, they may be drying out and past their prime.

Anything Else?

  • Berries should be dry and intact – if the berry carton is wet or has splotches of juice on the sides, some of the berries are likely overripe and could be moldy.
  • A good test is to give the container a gentle shake – the berries should move freely in the package.

Get the Recipe: Lemonade Ice with Whipped Yogurt

Store and Savor

Storage

  • Store unwashed berries in the refrigerator.
  • Berries are delicate, so consume them as soon as possible after purchase; blueberries can last up to a week.
  • Only wash berries just before you plan to use them.
  • To freeze berries for smoothies or baked good down the road, allow gently washed berries to dry completely (don’t forget to hull the strawberries first). Next, place the berries in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and freeze until firm. Store frozen berries in resealable plastic freezer bags.

Preparation

  • Berries can be flavorful additions to sweet and savory dishes alike.
  • Dice strawberries, then toss with lime juice and flecks of hot peppers for a spirited summer salsa.
  • Skewer blueberries along with other seasonal darlings like cantaloupe, pitted cherries and peaches for fun poolside snack.
  • Cap all your fingertips with upturned raspberries and have a snack on the go – but you’ll want more than that, so fold whole raspberries into your favorites pudding for a bright warm-weather dessert.
  • Quickly simmer blackberries with a splash of sweet wine, then serve over grilled chicken or fish.
  • Still hungry? Check out our collections of raspberry and strawberry recipes for more inspiration. 
Categories: Produce, summer

Supplier Stories: SmartSweets and Its Stevia-sweetened Gummy Bears

By Whole Story Editors, March 19, 2018  |  More Posts by Whole Story Editors

 

 

Just in time for Easter we’re introducing a sweet new addition to our stores, SmartSweets gummy bears
 
The idea for these stevia-sweetened treats started when SmartSweets founder, Tara Bosch, had a heart-to-heart with her grandmother, who confessed she regretted consuming so much excess sugar over the years, especially from one of their favorite treats to enjoy together — candy. Tara was having a similar sugar dilemma. She had been reflecting on her own relationship with food and how unhealthy it had become over the years. This conversation led to action. 
 
“Equipped with my belief that we should feel good about enjoying the foods we love while treating our bodies right, I bought a gummy bear mold and began recipe testing in my kitchen,” said Tara.
 

Smarter Choices

Motivated by the belief that relationships in all aspects of life come from smaller, smarter choices, Tara spent months perfecting a recipe for gummy bears that are juicy and chewy with a mouthwatering punch. Then, at only 22 years of age, she founded SmartSweets with the goal to tackle one of the largest and most concerning problems hidden in our everyday foods — sugar. So each serving-sized bag of SmartSweets has 3g of sugar and is made with no artificial sweeteners or colors.
 
Look for both flavors — Fruity and Sour — of SmartSweets at your local Whole Foods Market
Categories: Supplier Stories

Try the Trend: Dutch Baby Pancakes

By Lindsay Robison, March 19, 2018  |  More Posts by Lindsay Robison

 

 
 
A  Dutch baby pancake is a pancake-crêpe-popover hybrid that is a match for lots of sweet and savory toppings and is large enough to share. Plus, it has a party trick — it puffs up in the oven though quickly fall once removed from the oven. Once cooked, choose from a myriad of toppings to really make it your own. Try powdered sugar, syrup, fruit preserves, lemon curd and big wedges of fresh lemon, cinnamon sugar, your favorite nut butter or seasonal fresh fruit like berries and mangoes.
 
Check out this basic Dutch baby recipe then pull inspiration from these six examples below. 
 
1. Chocolate
This cocoa-based Dutch baby from @theoliveandmango is topped with rich chocolate sauce and a strawberry sauce. It would also be a crowd-pleasing dessert after dinner or brunch. 
 
 
 
2. Lemon & Blueberry
The fruit-filled Dutch baby by @thetravelingspoonchef takes a classic dessert pairing — sweet and tart — and creates something that would be celebrated during breakfast too. 
 
 
 
3. Spring Onion
You had us at goat cheese. Who says Dutch baby pancakes need to be sweet? This version with spring onions, herbs and goat cheese, would be a perfect star on a weekend brunch table. 
 
 
Credit: @dianemorrisey
 
4. Lemon Ricotta & Tomatoes
This take on a savory Dutch baby pancake is one to save for summer’s highly prized tomatoes. Enjoy more flavor in every bite by adding fresh herbs into the batter, then top with tangy lemon ricotta and sliced tomatoes. This is a pancake you can enjoy for any meal. 
 
 
 
Credit: @paulajroy
 
5. Chai-spiced
Tea lovers will rejoice in the sweet, aromatic spice mixture in this custardy Dutch baby pancake. Bonus: It can be mixed up the evening before and just given a quick whisk in the morning before baking.
 
 
Credit: @ashmmccormick
 
6. Apple
Ever wish you could have apple pie for breakfast? This Dutch baby packed with sliced apples and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar will satisfy that pie craving in the morning hours. Blogger Ashley McCormick also has recipes for lemon and berry compote versions
Categories: Food & Recipes, food trends

6 Mediterranean-Inspired Recipes for Spring

By Whole Story Editors, March 13, 2018  |  More Posts by Whole Story Editors

Recipe: Chilled Barley Salad with Spicy Hummus Dressing

Whether you're making a casual meal or entertaining a crowd, the best spring recipes highlight fresh seasonal ingredients with ease. That's why we're hooked on CAVA dips and spreads. Cooking is as simple as grabbing your favorite spring ingredients — think asparagus, sugar snap peas, haricots verts and radishes — and pairing with a bold flavorful dip and spread like CAVA's Traditional or Spicy Hummus, tangy, creamy Crazy Feta or fiery Harissa spread. 
 
You can whip up Spicy Hummus Toast with Sliced Radishes and Sliced Cucumbers in a snap for a savory breakfast or lunch, set out a colorful and quick appetizer with CAVA's Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and fresh veggies; or you can spice up shrimp with a harissa marinade for a simple dinner go-to. More good news: CAVA's dip and spreads (like all foods in our stores) are made without artificial preservatives and are vegetarian — and most are vegan too. Read on for some of our favorite dishes with CAVA dips and spreads.
 
Chilled Barley Salad with Spicy Hummus Dressing
Swap out your usual pasta salad recipe for this spring-veggie-laden, barley-studded alternative. CAVA's Spicy Hummus lends a kick, while lemon zest and fresh parsley amp things up even more. This salad's a cinch to make ahead for potlucks and picnics.
 
 
Lemon and Dill Salmon Burgers with Avocado Tzatziki
Salmon, fresh dill, lemon juice, CAVA's Tzatziki and an avocado spread come together for a new take on burger night. Bonus: If it's still chilly where you are, no problem. These are pan-seared - no grill required.
 
Asparagus Tart with Crazy Feta and Tzatziki Drizzle
This recipe makes the most of one of spring's superstars — asparagus. With CAVA's creamy Crazy Feta baked in and a drizzle of refreshing tzatziki on top, this simple, delicately spicy tart is equally suited for a quick weeknight dinner or a Sunday brunch.
 
 
Crazy Feta Toast with Roasted Beets and Chives
The deep earthiness of roasted beets partners with the creamy tang of Crazy Feta dip. Add bite with fresh lemon zest and a sprinkle of chives, and voila! A dish that's as flavorful as it is beautiful.  
 
Rainbow Grain Bowl with Pan-Seared Halloumi and Turmeric-Tahini Dressing
This easy-to-make grain bowl pairs colorful seasonal picks like radishes and heirloom carrots with faro, millet, arugula and halloumi cheese. CAVA's light and creamy Eggplant & Roasted Red Pepper Dip and a turmeric-tahini dressing tie it all together.
 
Planning a party? Check out this hummus hack for Lox Bagel Hummus, which features smoked salmon, pickled onion, cucumber, a poached egg and fresh dill.
 

It Started With Three First-Generation Greeks

CAVA started in a chef's kitchen, with three first-generation Greeks who took their families' recipes and gave them a modern spin. After many years of hard work — and a Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan — founders Ted Xenohristos, Ike Grigoropoulos and Dimitri Moshovitis continue to drive the company forward while keeping its culinary roots intact. 
 
 
CAVA produces its dips and spreads daily in small batches in Washington, DC, and Culver City, California though you can find them at select Whole Foods Market stores across the country. CAVA also has nearly 50 fast-casual restaurant locations across the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Southern California and beyond. 
Categories: Food & Recipes

5 Irish-inspired Recipes to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

By Ellen Miller, March 12, 2018  |  More Posts by Ellen Miller

Updated March 12, 2018

Photo: @AlexandraCooks

Whether you're of Irish decent or not, you can celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Irish American and Irish-inspired recipes. Looking for a new spin on the tried-and true? We can help with that. We're sharing fresh takes on St. Patrick's Day flavors from four food bloggers and one of our own favorites too. 

Tradition with a Twist

Classic Irish Soda Bread recipe is pretty spare — baking soda, flour, buttermilk and salt — and that’s it. Most of us here in the U.S. are probably more familiar with the Americanized version, which typically adds sugar, eggs, butter and raisins or caraway seeds. Alexandra Stafford, the writer behind the blog Alexandra's Kitchen, has developed a recipe that’s somewhere in the middle. She dresses up the original version — just a little — with an egg, a little bit of sugar and a couple of tablespoons of melted butter. The result? A warm, delicious (somewhat biscuit-y) Irish Soda Bread that’s not (too) sweet and is begging for a bit of butter. 

 

Photo: @theskinnyfork

If you’re all about easy set-it-and-forget-it dinners, check out Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage from Amanda Plott, the Austin-based home cook and blogger behind The Skinny Fork. According to Amanda, you can lighten up the dish by trimming the fat off your corned beef before tossing it into your slow-cooker — the water and steam heat will keep the meat perfectly moist. Try it with Wellshire Corned Beef Brisket, which is on sale for $6.99 per lb from 3/14 - 3/20/18* and made without synthetic nitrates or nitrites.

 

Photo: Rocky Mountain Cooking

Heather Blake, a Colorado realtor by day and a food blogger by night, re-imagined the traditional Irish American dinner as a crisp Corned Beef and Cabbage Salad with sliced corned beef, shredded cabbage, cubed cheese and an apple cider vinegar dressing. Try it for a festive lunch. Bonus: Organic green cabbage is on sale for .99¢ lb. from 3/14 - 3/20/18*. 

Photo: @amysheree

Amy Sheree, the food stylist and photographer behind AmySheree.com came up with something to make for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day — or even a handy solution for all those leftovers on the 18th. A poached egg and cubed sweet potato are all you need to turn last night’s dinner into Corned Beef Breakfast Hash.

 

Can’t imagine your St. Patrick’s Day without a glass of your favorite creamy stout? Get holiday ready with our sale on Guinness Irish Draught Stout — 4 packs of 12-fl.oz. cans are 20% off from 3/14 - 3/20/18*. Just be sure to save two cups for Chocolate Stout Cake with Fresh Figs, a spicy chocolate-y cake. Molly Siegler, our global culinary and hospitality associate coordinator, likes this rich dessert with a little whipped cream.

If you're planning on serving up traditional fare, check out our recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage. We've also got a classic recipe for Bangers and Mash, plus a sale on North Country Smokehouse Irish Banger Pork Sausages for $3.99 for 12 oz from 3/14 - 3/20/18*.

Looking for more savings this St. Patrick's Day? You're in luck. Save $4 per lb on creamy Kerrygold Kilaree Aged Cheddar also from 3/14 - 3/20/18*.

* Valid 3/14 - 3/20/18. While supplies last. Not valid at Whole Foods Market 365™ stores. U.S. only. No rain checks. Excludes grass fed, organic and cooked corned beef brisket. Guinness sale price not legally available in all stores.
Categories: Food & Recipes

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