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May, 2009

Healthy Organic Snacking

By Mark Mulcahy

When I was growing up, I remember that after each little league game we would get a quarter to buy something from the snack shack, which usually consisted of some sort of chips, soda or candy.

Watermelon
But now my local produce department is my snack shack of choice. And let’s face it, with its longer days, holidays and warm weather, May is a month that is ripe for snacking morning, noon or night. And produce from Melissa’s is the best snack choice around! After all, it is always healthy for you, low in calories, and bursting with flavor. Really, what’s not to like? The interesting part comes when you ask someone what his or her favorite early summer produce snacking item is. Some blurt it out as soon as the question leaves your mouth, others ponder the question as if they are drifting back to their childhood; for instance watermelon was a popular choice when I asked around the office the other day.

Watermelon can be eaten in so many ways – sliced, cut into chunks, simply with a spoon (using the watermelon as the bowl), or served with a little lime juice and cayenne pepper. Or, as a friend once told me, “Watermelon is best served with a hammock and shady tree.” While watermelon is usually just getting started in May, English peas are in full swing, I could eat a whole bowl of ‘em by myself right now – straight from the pod and into my mouth. Or how about red, purple, or rainbow bunched radishes sliced with a little sprinkle of salt?

Peaches
Another friend gets her favorite snack idea from her grandparents and East coast roots — fresh picked blueberries and heavy cream. I can see how that would be habit forming. I told her if she lets that secret out she might have company at her bowl. Especially since blueberries are coming from California now.

And although JULY peaches are my favorite fruit (yes, I think there is a difference in peach varieties and when they are grown), May is the time when we start seeing the first organic peaches in the market. I think my favorite snacking produce item is seedless red and green grapes, so easy, so tasty, and so fun. But if I had to choose a veggie, it would probably be sungold cherry tomatoes. Both of these items start out firm and round and with a gentle bite burst their goodness into your mouth. Bunches and baskets of these get consumed in one sitting around my house this time of year.

Tomatoes
Or how about these snack ideas:
- A big, thick slice of rich, red tomato, or perhaps eaten whole, like an apple, warm and juicy, mmmm…
- California grown cucumbers instead of crackers with a little fresh sour cream dip
- A bag of blue lake beans as a crispy afternoon appetizer, either raw or slightly steamed
- Steamed chard rolled up and stuffed with cilantro, hummus and fresh corn
- Snap peas instead of peanuts for the baseball game
- The list goes on and on…

What’s your favorite? What’s your best friend’s favorite? How about your Mom? Can you name theirs? It’s fun to ask, and you may be surprised at the answer. Whatever it is, Melissa’s will have the best, fresh, organic produce available for your snacking pleasure all summer long. So what are you waiting for? Let the snacking begin!