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February 2014

Simple and Super
By Mark Mulcahy

Seems like everyone is looking for that magic bullet to make themselves healthier these days. Well, nature with a little help from Melissa’s has provided it!

If you look at any article or news report that touts the benefits of natures superfoods, you find that ½ to 2/3 of the items on just about any superfood list are produce items.

Kale

With super foods such as pomegranates, garlic, broccoli, citrus and leafy greens Melissa’s has you covered when any of these are in season. And leafy greens and citrus which are in season and abundant right now are usually at the top of that list….And they should be! Take melissas organic kale for instance. The cold nights we have been having brings out kale’s natural sugars and deepens its color making it sweeter and more nutritious. Deeper color means more carotenoids, a group of plant pigments that includes beta-carotene and lutein, known to combat heart disease, cancer, & cataracts. Plus, a one-cup serving provides twice your daily needs for vitamins A and C, 20% of calcium and 10% of iron.

Or how about navel oranges? Oranges are an excellent food for the heart. Recent studies suggest that eating oranges may reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension. One reason may be that regular consumption of fresh oranges and juice has been shown to significantly increase the levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol while reducing the undesirable LDL forms associated with heart disease. Oranges also have anti-inflammatory properties, protect against blood clots and the build-up of plaque in arteries. They are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber.

When buying Melissa’s organic greens like kale and chard look for fresh vibrant leaves and firm clean stems. When you get them home, store wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your fridge. This should hold them for about 4 to 5 days.

For citrus, of which there are so many choices right now, you want to have them be heavy for their size, brightly colored, with unwrinkled skins. At home you can store them at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. If they start to get soft you can put them in the fridge and add a couple more days of shelf life.

If you’d like to add more super foods to your diet, here are a couple of my favorite tasty and easy recipes to get you started:

Black Kale and Orange Juice

Ingredients

3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Yellow Onion, medium dice
4 medium Garlic Cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
¼ cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
4 pounds Black Kale (about 6 to 7 bunches), tough stems removed and leaves cut into bite-size pieces

Instructions
Heat olive oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until simmering. Add onion, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook until vegetables have softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium high, add orange juice, and bring to a simmer. Add a few handfuls of kale and, as it wilts, continue to add a handful at a time, stirring constantly, until all the kale is in the pan, about 10 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until all the kale is wilted, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

You’ll need:

1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic, smashed
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

To make
Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower, cover, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer half the cauliflower to a food processor; cover and blend on high. Add remaining cauliflower florets, one at a time, until vegetables are creamy. Blend in garlic, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt, and black pepper.

You can eliminate the cream cheese and parmesan if you are watching your calories and substitute 1% organic milk or unsweetened almond milk.

As you can see it doesn’t take much to start eating healthier. It can be simple and super.