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November, 2008

Fall's Fresh Vegetables...

Pearl Onions
Pearl Onions
Pearl Onions are members of the lily family. They are thought to have originated in Southern Europe. Pearl Onions are available in three colors: White, red and gold. They are available all year around and Melissa’s offers them packaged several ways. Pearl onions are a mild onion, about 1-inch in diameter. They have a papery skin and look like a miniature regular onion. Pearl Onions are very popular around the holidays. They are generally used in vegetable sautés, casseroles or creamed in a side dish. Pearl onions are great on skewers or in sauces too. To peel pearl onions, blanch them in boiling water, then plunge them into cold water. Cut off the root end, and squeeze the onion out of the skin. It is very simple and easy for such a delicious treat. Pearls should be stored in a cool dry place, just as you would a large onion. They are very low calorie, and very low sodium with some iron and vitamin C.

Italian Chestnuts
Italian Chestnuts
Chestnuts are generally grown in northern climates, although they can be found from Alaska to the Middle East. In the past, most chestnuts were ground to make flour for breads, while today, chestnut flour is used primarily for fancy cakes. Chestnuts have been associated with good digestion when eaten. They have an extremely high sugar content, which makes them excellent for cooking and baking. Italian Chestnuts are a holiday favorite for roasting. Chestnuts should be cooked before eating to bring up the sugar content, otherwise they are starchy and often bitter. Chestnuts can be microwaved or roasted. They are a good source of B Vitamins and iron, and they are low in sodium.

Winter Squash
Winter Squash
Melissa’s variety squash will add color and warmth to your dinner table, adding flavor, variety and health. With over 20 different squash varieties to choose from, you won’t have any problems finding one you will love. Hard squash is extremely rich in vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium. Squash can be easily prepared by halving and baking in the oven until tender.

Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash
This light beige colored squash is best when it is about 8-12 inches long. It has a bulb at the end of the long neck, as if it were an elongated pear. Butternut squash is a sweet tasting squash that is great when cooked and cubed as a side dish. The high carotene content of butternut squash makes its flesh a deep orange color.

Pumpkins
Pumpkins
Pumpkins are extremely popular this time of the year; not just because of Halloween, but also because the weather is getting colder and squash makes a great meal! Pumpkins can be used for desserts, breads, soups and decorations. You can substitute a pumpkin into just about any hard squash recipe you have. Pumpkins, like most squash are low calorie with about 45 calories per ½ cup, cooked. They are a good source of fiber and an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A.