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In Praise of Pistachios

Friday, 14. November 2014 5:26

Pistachios growing in California's Central Valley.

Pistachios growing in California’s Central Valley.

 

A pistachio is a wonder.

For much of its growth cycle, its shell is empty. Only later does the tiny, sweet, green edible kernel grow inside.

It’s a phenomenon that has even surprised many a first time grower.

This summer, I was invited by the American Pistachio Growers to Fresno to watch the annual pistachio harvest.

There are more than 650 pistachio growers in Arizona, New Mexico and California. The Golden State boasts the most with more than 98 percent of the total growers and more than 300,000 acres of pistachio trees.

The pistachio crop may still pale in comparison to California’s almonds, which make up 940,000 acres. But pistachios remain an important crop, bringing in $1.3 billion in revenue. Indeed, the pistachio crop is expected to double in the next seven years.

With its hot, dry climate and rich soil, the Central Valley became a natural place to plant pistachios, which hail from the Middle East. In the 1960s, plantings began in the Fresno area. Nowadays, you’ll find family farms that have grown pistachios for generations.

Although they’re one of the more drought-tolerant trees, this year’s pistachio crop, which just finished harvesting, is about 30 percent lower than usual.

Tasting a just-picked pistachio.

Tasting a just-picked pistachio.

Once the kernel forms inside the shell, it keeps growing until it gets so big that it splits the shell, the sign that it is ripe for picking. Hence, the naturally created slit that pistachios in the shell possess, which makes it easier for us to crack them open with our fingers. A real treat is getting to taste a just-picked pistachio. Unlike salted, roasted ones from the store, a fresh one is softer and even more buttery tasting.

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Category:Enticing Events, General, Health/Nutrition | Comments (8) | Author:

NadaMoo! Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Ice Cream

Monday, 23. December 2013 5:25

"Gotta Do Chocolate'' NadaMoo! dairy-free ice cream.

“Gotta Do Chocolate” NadaMoo! dairy-free ice cream.

How cute is the name, NadaMoo!?

As you can tell, there is no cow’s milk in this ice cream.

Instead, it’s made with organic coconut milk.

That makes this ideal for friends and family members who can’t tolerate dairy. It’s also gluten-free and sweetened with agave nectar. If you need an easy, last-minute dessert for the holidays, just serve scoops in a festive martini glass.

A 1/2 cup serving has 130 calories and 7 g of total fat, both far less than regular premium ice cream.

But does it satisfy as much as the premium stuff?

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Category:General, Health/Nutrition, New Products | Comments (7) | Author:

FarmBox SF Rolls Into Town

Friday, 15. November 2013 5:28

Beautiful local produce delivered right to your door with FarmBox SF

Beautiful local produce delivered right to your door with FarmBox SF.

 

Imagine all the fresh pickings from a farmers market — only delivered right to your door.

That’s what FarmBox SF aims to do.

The company started in Los Angeles three years ago, and just expanded to the Bay Area this summer.

It’s similar to Community Supported Agriculture, only FarmBox partners with more than 25 sustainable and organic Bay Area farms to deliver a wider selection.

Recently, I had the chance to try out a special delivery. I say “special” because FarmBox SF delivers only to San Francisco and Marin County right now, not to the South Bay yet. But Branch Manager Taylor Flohr was kind enough to make a trip out of the way to get one to me. Plans call for expanding to the East Bay next and perhaps to the Peninsula/South Bay after that.

Here’s how it normally works: You sign up and get an email on Tuesday about what’s available. You have until midnight Wednesday to make any additions or deletions to your order. On Saturday, your FarmBox arrives.

The actual box, er, basket, of goodies.

The actual box, er, basket, of goodies.

It’s actually more like a basket — a bright red one at that. You can choose what size suits your needs. You can also choose more specific baskets such as “Fruit-Only” or “Juicing” or “CrossFit Paleo.” Additionally, you can add staples such as coffee, gluten-free baked goods, jams, breads, pickles, and organic butter.

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Category:Fruit, General, Going Green and Sustainable, Health/Nutrition, New Products | Comments (5) | Author:

Gluten-Free Pizza and More Noshes at Pizza Antica Santana Row

Wednesday, 2. October 2013 5:25

A gluten-free pizza at Pizza Antica at Santana Row.

A gluten-free pizza at Pizza Antica at Santana Row.

 

After hosting a cooking demo in August at Santana Row in San Jose with Chef Bradley Cenyowa of Pizza Antica, he had me intrigued.

Responding to customers’ needs, Pizza Antica — which has four locations — had begun to offer a gluten-free pizza crust.

It can quite challenging to get the texture just right in gluten-free bread and other baked goods. But Cenyowa is such a fan of the gluten-free crust at the restaurant that he eats it, himself, even though he does not suffer from celiac disease.

He invited me in as a guest of the restaurant to try it for, myself.

If you’re gluten-intolerant, the server will hand you a separate gluten-free menu to peruse — a nice touch. My husband and I — neither of us have issues with gluten — got both menus just to check them out.

The always busy restaurant.

The always busy restaurant.

We started off with the bacon, lettuce, tomato chopped salad ($10.25), which the kitchen thoughtfully split onto two plates for us. The salad is a tumble of textures in every fork-full. You get crunchy romaine, crisp bacon and fluffy bits of hard-cooked egg. There’s just enough Dijon dressing to coat everything, but not drown it.

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Category:Chefs, General, Health/Nutrition, Pizza, Restaurants | Comments (13) | Author:

It Looks Like Beef — But It’s Better for You

Monday, 26. August 2013 5:25

A hefty burger made with bison meat distributed by a San Francisco start-up.

A hefty burger made with bison meat distributed by a San Francisco start-up.

Wouldn’t you like to sink your teeth into that burger above?

You can — and do a body good, too.

That’s because it’s bison meat — which is lower in fat, lower in cholesterol and higher in good-for-you Omega 3’s than skinless chicken or grass-fed beef.

It’s also rich in iron, B12, zinc and niacin.

Recently, I had a chance to sample some ground bison meat from BisonBison Co., a new San Francisco start-up distributor that’s on a mission to introduce more folks to the merits of bison meat from American buffalo raised in South Dakota.

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Category:General, Health/Nutrition, Meat, New Products | Comments (12) | Author: