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Chef in the Kitchen
February 2020

February is here, bringing us cold weather, the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. And don’t forget American Heart Month, too.

Clean Snax


Super Bowl Sunday is February 2. It will be played at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Luckily, stadiums are getting on the bandwagon with concessions serving an assortment of plant-based foods. So, stick with your new year’s resolutions and enjoy some healthier food and cheer on your favorite team! if you’re going to be watching it on TV, be sure you are prepared with plenty of delicious and healthy snacks. Melissa’s is here to help. Our Clean Snax® are perfect for any gathering – 10 delicious flavors to choose from. Or try putting a tray of finger hors d’oeuvres together with cut cucumbers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes and a little hummous dip. Your guests will be happy and so will their taste buds!

If you do attend the Super Bowl, be sure to look for Melissa’s at the Taste of NFL. We will be supplying all the produce for the event as well as for all the chefs at the event. This event donates proceeds to local Food Banks. Should be some good eating, and even better, it is for a good cause.

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY!!!


Chinese New Year began January 25, 2020 and the festival continues through February 8, 2020, about 15 days later. 2020 is the Year of the Rat.

There are many celebrations and festivities for Chinese New Year which include:

Plants and Flowers:

Every traditional Chinese household should also have live blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Flowers are believed to be symbolic of wealth and high positions in one’s career. Lucky is the home with a plant that blooms on New Year’s Day, for that foretells a year of prosperity. In more elaborate settings, plum blossoms just starting to bloom are arranged with bamboo and pine sprigs, the grouping symbolizing friends. The plum blossom also signifies reliability and perseverance; the bamboo is known for its compatibility, its utility and its flexible stems for furniture and other articles; the evergreen pine evokes longevity and steadiness. Other highly prized flowers are the pussy willow, azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus.

The Chinese firmly believe that without flowers, there would be no formation of any fruits. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to have flowers and floral decorations. They are the emblems of reawakening of nature; they are also intimately connected with superstition and with the wish for happiness during the ensuing year.

Oranges and Tangerines:

Etiquette dictates that you must bring a bag of oranges and tangerines and enclose a lai see when visiting family or friends any time during the two-week long Chinese New Year celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one’s relationship with the other remains secure. For newlyweds, this represents the branching of the couple into a family with many children. Oranges and tangerines are symbols for abundant happiness.

Candy Tray:

The candy tray arranged in either a circle or octagon is called "The Tray of Togetherness" and has a dazzling array of candy to start the New Year sweetly. After taking several pieces of candy from the tray, adults places a red envelope (lai see) on the center compartment of the tray. Each item represents some kind of good fortune.

Kumquat - symbolizes prosperity (gold)

Coconut - symbolizes togetherness

Peanuts - symbolizes long life

Longan - symbolizes many good sons

Buddha's Hand - given as gifts to represent good luck and fortune for the year

Mandarin Oranges represent wealth.

Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) encourages youth and wealth.

Lettuce also symbolizes wealth.

Mushrooms represent coins signifying riches and prosperity.

Green Onions symbolize brilliance and intelligence.

Won Tons are served to guests as a blessing for good fortune.

Asian Noodles are served to represent long life...the longer the noodle, the longer the life.

Anyone can participate in Chinese New Year festivities. Be sure to celebrate with plenty of Melissa’s fresh fruits and vegetables.

Crepes


The next big February celebration is Valentine’s Day. February 14th is probably the most romantic day of the year. It is definitely the busiest day for restaurants, so instead of waiting for hours to eat in a crazy-busy restaurant, enjoy a special evening filled with good food and romance at home. Add some heat to your Valentine’s Day meal by cooking with fresh chiles. Did you know that fresh chiles release endorphins and add a boost in mood and energy? Be sure to make your Valentine’s Day meal HOT by using plenty of fresh chiles. Use them with some fresh vegetables, like pearl onions, Asian veggies and fresh mushrooms to create a simple vegetable sauté. Use Melissa’s Crêpes for a sweet dessert; fresh berries and cream will set the mood at the end of the evening… While you are enjoying berries in your crepes, try some fresh organic strawberries. Strawberries have always been a romantic fruit. Try them in salads, desserts or simply sprinkled with a little sugar.

Dried Goji Berries


Another “romantic” ingredient is the Goji Berry. These little berries are packed with nutrition and are considered an aphrodisiac. You will find them dried and you can use them in recipes like you would use a raisin. They are mildly sweet with a little tartness. Try some for a little added romance.

Pomegranate


Pomegranates represent fertility and reproduction…. Eating these on Valentine’s Day has couples believing they will start or add to their family in the coming year. Depending on Mother Nature, you will find whole pomegranates or pomegranate arils to use in your recipes. They are perfect to add to salads or sprinkle on plates as a garnish to add color.

Truffles


And last but not least, the most coveted romantic ingredient: Fresh Truffles. Add fresh truffles to your favorite pasta dish, chicken or beef. They are so aromatic and pungent, and will add so much flavor.

The last celebration in February lasts the entire month: American Heart Month. Learning about heart-healthy foods will help you feel better and live longer. Start off eating your 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It’s so easy with all the convenient products we offer from vacuum sealed legumes to pre-packed vegetables.

Chickpeas


Eating foods that are high in omega-3 vitamins like salmon and tuna, as well as chick peas, raspberries, walnuts and high fiber foods will help keep your heart in good shape!

February is a great month to celebrate!