Monthly Archives: November 2011

What’s FRESH & LOCAL in November?

Written for “Healthy Updates from Valley Natural Foods” (Burnsville, MN)

Mushrooms are easy to overlook in our nutrient-rich rainbow of fruits and vegetables. But research increasingly reveals why fresh mushrooms join the ranks of “super foods” such as broccoli and blueberries that are nutrient dense and calorie sparse. In Asia where food and medicine are one, mushrooms are a staple. “Mushrooms may seem plain, but they really are a super food.” says dietician Dr Sarah Schenker, “They contain virtually no fat, sugar or salt and are a valuable source of dietary fiber as well as five B vitamins,” not to mention a good source of plant protein and essential minerals.  Most significant among their minerals is selenium that protects against viruses. Adding mushrooms to your warming November stews will make you feel satisfied and healthy without boosting calories.

How about making mushrooms one of your main dishes this month, and adding them to your pasta and rice dishes, pizzas, soups, salads, sauces, stir frys, Thanksgiving dressing or holiday shish kabobs? Portabella, shitake and crimini mushrooms are delivered FRESH & LOCAL from Forest Mushrooms in St. Joseph, MN. Led by owner Kevin Doyle, Forest Mushrooms has been researching, cultivating and distributing edible specialty mushrooms since 1985.

With a little butter or your favorite oil, mushrooms can be sautéed or grilled with great flavor enhancers like fresh basil, garlic, ginger, marjoram or thyme, mustard, colorful sweet or hot peppers, leeks, shallots or onions. A simple marinade or balsamic vinegar may be left to soak in the upturned cap of the larger portabella mushroom. Portabellas can be served whole as a tasty vegetarian “burger” or sliced on top of salads. Eaten raw or sautéed, crimini mushrooms are the brown more distinctive-flavored “cousins” of the familiar white button mushroom and also the “baby stage” of the full-bodied portabella.

Generally not eaten raw, shiitake mushrooms are believed to have numerous health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, preventing high blood pressure and stimulating the immune system. First removing their fibrous stems, sauté shitakes in oil for 5 to 7 minutes, or cook them in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan for 15 minutes. The distinct smoky flavor of shiitakes complements chicken or fish.

Most mushrooms will remain fresh from seven to 10 days. Wipe each mushroom clean and trim off its stem. Refrigerate and store in a porous bag where air can flow freely around the mushrooms.  To learn everything else you’ve always wondered about mushrooms, visit Forest Mushrooms.

Don’t forget that tart tangy organic Sandhill cranberries are delivered fresh from Wisconsin throughout the November and December holiday season. Recognized for consumer popularity, nutrient content, antioxidant properties and enhancing everything from cereal to salsa, cranberries have attained commercial status as a “super fruit.” Located in the heart of cranberry country near Wisconsin Rapids and Vesper, Sandhill Cranberry managing partner Dan Wandler and employees produce just under 50% of the certified organic fresh cranberries marketed in the United States. Dan proudly proclaims, “Our family-owned market share is the result of producing the best quality cranberry in the United States.” Organic cranberries are 10 to 20 percent naturally sweeter than conventionally-raised cranberries.

On average, every acre of an organic cranberry bog is supported by six to seven acres of wetlands, woodlands and uplands, offering a healthy refuge to a rich variety of wildlife.  Since turning towards organic production in 2001, Sandhill cranes have raised their chicks in the land that surrounds the bogs. Northern pike, perch, bass, bluegills and croppies are now plentiful across the wetlands that support the 55 acres of low-growing vines at Sandhill Cranberry and employees who like to fish reap the benefits of a fresh catch. Owner Dan, family and employees enjoy bald eagles and other birds flying overhead, with great blue heron, osprey, wild turkeys, deer, wolves and bears also finding home at Sandhill Crandbery. Read more about Sandhill Cranberry in “This is Living Naturally.”

Want more inspiration for eating FRESH & LOCAL?

1) Stop by my FRESH & LOCAL demo at Valley Natural Foods on Tuesday, November 8th from 11 to 2. I will be handing out samples and recipes for “Cranberry Salsa with Pumpkin Seeds.” Receive free coaching to create a FRESH & LOCAL healthy kitchen. Valley Natural Foods is located at 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville, Minnesota, 55337.

2) Sign up at least one week ahead for my FRESH & LOCAL class at Valley Natural Foods on Tuesday, November 15 (6:30 to 8:30 pm). Call Customer Service at 952.891.1212, Ext. 221 at least one week ahead. Only $15 for members and $18 for non-members per class, take one class or keep FRESH & LOCAL the third Tuesday of each month, including December 20. Get a $3 off class discount coupon here.

3) Keep inspired by reading this FRESH & LOCAL blog each month.

FRESH & LOCAL health coach Loris Sofia Gregory is based in Apple Valley, MN.  Contact her directly at 952.431.5586 or on her website contact page. She would love to hear your ideas and needs for eating FRESH & LOCAL.