Thursday, January 29, 2009

How to drink an avocado

Excerpts from a 1/28/09 Chicago Tribune article by Jeremy N. Smith

Few Americans realize the avocado is even better sipped than dipped.

For enlightenment, visit the restaurants or cafe of a Vietnamese immigrant community and seek out sinh to bo, a sweet, rich, satisfying avocado shake—instant comfort food once you overcome the initial oddity.

"One of the most intriguing things for anyone observing Vietnamese restaurant patrons is the consumption of mysterious colored drinks, many of which include a vibrant green layer like avocado," Meera Freeman writes in her cookbook, "The Flavours of Vietnam."

Tempted? To make an avocado shake at home, combine in a blender avocado, condensed milk, ice cubes and a sugar syrup. You can add chocolate syrup, which makes it even better.

Don't be surprised if overindulgence adds a spring to your step or leaves your hair shining with supermodel splendor. An energy powerhouse, the avocado contains more oil and protein than any other fruit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pesticides on Fruits and Vegetables, when to eat organic

Excerpts from an article by Laura Dolson on

If you want to maximize the good you do to your body while minimizing the cost, you could choose to purchase organic produce for the fruits and vegetables which tend to have the most pesticides in the United States.

This list was compiled by the Environmental Working Group from over 100,000 studies by the USDA on 46 fruits and vegetables. The top 12 are often called “The Dirty Dozen”, but this information will help you in deciding where you may want to make the cutoff.

Bear in mind that there are many fruits and vegetables that are not on this list.The scores given are a composite of numbers and amounts of pesticides found in the studies. The “worst”, peaches, was given a score of 100, and the others were calibrated from that. The fruits and vegetables were washed or peeled as most people use the produce – for example, apples were washed, bananas and oranges peeled.

Pesticides on Popular Produce
Peaches – 100
Strawberries – 89
Apples – 88
Spinach – 85
Nectarines – 85
Celery - 83
Pears – 80
Cherries – 76
Potatoes – 67
Sweet Bell Peppers – 66
Raspberries – 66
Grapes – Imported from outside U.S. – 64
Carrots – 57
Green Beans – 57
Hot Peppers – 55
Oranges – 53
Apricots – 51
Cucumbers – 51
Tomatoes – 48
Collard Greens – 48
Grapes – U.S. grown
Turnip Greens – 41
Honeydew Melons – 40
Lettuce – 40
Kale – 39
Mushrooms - 36
Cantaloupe – 36
Sweet Potatoes – 35
Grapefruit – 34
Winter Squash – 34
Blueberries – 30
Watermelon – 27
Plums – 26
Tangerines – 25
Cabbage – 25
Papaya – 23
Kiwi – 23
Bananas – 19
Broccoli – 18
Onions – 17
Asparagus – 16
Sweet Peas – 13
Mango – 12
Cauliflower – 10
Pineapples – 6
Avocado – 4
Sweet Corn – 1

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Florida cold

SlimCado avocado and starfruit trees are susceptible to freezing weather. Last night in South Florida where we grow these fruits, temperatures dipped as low as 28F.

Our grove maintenance personnel were up all night in both locations providing freeze protection to the groves. Between running the irrigation systems and circulating warm air with helicopters, we believe our groves were protected from the cold. It can take several days for frost damage to show on the trees, so we will know for sure in a few days.

Annual Kumquat Festival

Dade City (located in Central Florida) has an annual kumquat festival, this year it will be held on January 31st.

It’s a day of outdoor fun celebrating the harvest of kumquats. Festival events include a recipe contest, Miss Kumquat beauty pageant and a kumquat decorating contest.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tropical produce and the inauguration

It wasn’t easy finding some mention of tropical produce in the planning of this week’s inaugural events, but I finally found some tidbits in a Wall Street Journal article by Eric Felten

The Canadian Embassy will be hosting a "tailgate party" in the embassy courtyard along the inaugural parade route with cocktails made from Canadian whiskey and topped with a slice of starfruit.

1¼ ounces of whiskey
--1/4 ounce of lime juice
--¼ quarter ounce of simple corn syrup

The Canadians will be pouring the above on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass, and then topping it off with half an ounce of champagne. A slice of starfruit will be perched on the glass rim. The drink is called a Crown Royal 44.

The following punch may have saved a President but was unable to come to the aid of White House furniture.

Excited by Andrew Jackson’s inauguration, mobs of people descended upon the capital in 1829 to see the new President. After the swearing in, the Presidential party rushed back to the White House followed by “a monstrous crowd” (to quote Daniel Webster). A witness said, “the motley concourse of people – riding, running helter-skelter – were striving to gain admittance into the executive mansion, where it was understood refreshments were to be distributed.”

The unruly bunch pushed into the White House, clods standing on the silk-upholstered furniture in muddy boots to get a glimpse of the new president (who was trying not to be crushed by his well-wishers). "The reign of King Mob seemed triumphant," wrote Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, appalled. Quick-thinking waiters lugged the following Orange Punch out onto the White House lawn. The partiers followed it outside.

Inaugural Orange Punch
3 parts fresh orange juice
1 part fresh lime juice*
1 part mulled orange syrup
1 part dark rum
1 part cognac
2 parts soda water
Combine in a punch bowl with a large block of ice. Serve in punch cups with a little crushed ice, and give each glass a dash of Angostura bitters.

Mulled Orange Syrup
Combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water and heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Add the peel from an orange and mulling spices (a couple of cinnamon sticks, some whole cloves and allspice berries). After 15 minutes, remove from heat and let it sit for several hours. Strain.

* No the original recipe didn’t call for limes, but the article’s author suggested a lime instead of a lemon. The author adds there is historical precedence to this replacement, Andrew Jackson while fighting the Battle of New Orleans tried and enjoyed lime juice. For history sake, we’ll assume he was drinking limeade.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Papaya beef - papaya working double duty

I'm posting a number of recipes lately. It's not my intention to become a recipe blog, but I do like to show out-of-the-ordinary ways our produce is being prepared.

I've always known that papayas can be used to tenderize tough cuts of meat. But I always wondered what you did with the papaya after pairing it up with a pot roast. Although there's no reason not to, I'm a little reluctant to then chop the same papaya up into a salad.

That's why I like this recipe, the papaya serves two functions.

  1. Tenderizes tough cuts of meat.
  2. Provides a delicious ingredient in the main entree starring the now tenderized meat.

One fruit, doing the work of two ingredients. Not many items in the produce aisle has this distinction. Talk about a budget saver!

Excerpt from an article written by the Associated Press posted 1/5/09

Start to finish: 4 hours (15 minutes active)
Servings: 6

  • 1 large ripe papaya, peeled, sliced and seeds discarded
  • 3 pounds round steak, cut into 6 steaks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • sliced 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 16-ounce can lentils

step 1 - tenderize
Arrange half of the papaya slices over the bottom of a large glass or ceramic baking dish (metal pans can react with the enzymes of the papaya).

Lay the steaks over the papaya, then top the meat with the remaining papaya slices. Cover the baking dish, then refrigerate for 3 hours.

step 2 - prepare the entree
Heat the oven to 325 F.

Coat a second glass baking dish with the olive oil, then arrange the onion slices over the bottom. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator, season them with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Lay the steaks over the onion slices, then top with the papaya slices and chopped tomato.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil, then bake until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and top with the lentils.

Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.

Papaya Pie

This is a first, always good news to see our produce used in different ways.

Papaya Pie

adapted from a recipe from, Caribbean cooking

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 Caribbean Red papayas (10 ct.)
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of lime juice
  • 1 medium sweet precooked pie shell

Slice off the papaya skin, take out the seeds and dice the papaya into 1” cubes. Mash the papaya. Add lime juice, cinnamon, orange extract.

Fold in the flour and sugar. Beat the egg whites until stiff, fold into the mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees about 25 minutes until the top is just brown. Let cool then chill in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Homestead Packing House Vice President Adds Belize Operations to His Duties

The official announcement and press release have gone out, Billy Pritchett has been named Brooks Tropicals Vice President of Operations. I took a few minutes out of Billy’s hectic schedule this morning to get his take on the promotion and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role.

Mary: What are your plans?
Billy: My plan is to continue working side-by-side with Brooks’ great management team in Belize. Our common goal is to deliver the best quality papaya. To do that we have to be the best at growing, harvesting, packing and distributing.

M: How do you hope to accomplish that?
B: Motivating everyone to continually achieve that common goal is my job. It’s a team effort that goes into effect every time a harvester picks a papaya from the tree, a packer puts the fruit in the box, and a trucker delivers the box to the customer.

My work can only be as good as the people I work with. And lucky me, I’m the head coach of a great team. We’ve got a game plan that makes any problem an opportunity.

M: What do you like about your job?
B: I love to beat the hell out of my competition. The best way to do that is to stay three steps ahead.

M: What do you like about working at Brooks?
B: I’m proud of what this company has done. Continually making high marks in food safety audits, recovering from devastating hurricanes, becoming the largest importer of papayas into the U.S. –all make a short list of what Brooks Tropicals has accomplished in the past and it’s only a precursor to what we’ll do in the future.

M: Any parting comments?
B: Life is good, not easy, but good.

Billy is married to Jessica, who is Product Coordinator in our Sales Department.
Billy has three daughters. One daughter, Kristen is an Administrative Assistant at Brooks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tradition since 1981

Excerpts from a 1/4/09 Parade magazine article by Martin Lindstrom

Some people believe that squeezing a lime into a Corona beer is a time-honored Mexican custom that came about to enhance the beer's taste. Others maintain that the ritual derives from an ancient Meso-American practice designed to combat germs, with the lime's acidity destroying bacteria.

The truth?

The Corona-and-lime ritual dates back only to 1981, when, reportedly on a bet with his buddy, a bartender popped a lime wedge into the neck of a Corona to see if he could start a trend.

This simple act, which caught on like wildfire, is generally credited with helping Corona overtake Heineken as the best-selling imported beer in the U.S. Market.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Top Foods That Fight Stress

Excerpts from an article found at, January 1st, 2009

Your brain & body are amazing. They come with a 24 hour, all natural, highly efficient pharmacy that dispenses the right drugs in the right amounts at the right times. During stressful times, the brain & body produces bio-chemicals and hormones from this pharmacy that help you stay calm, alert, focused and elevate your mood. When we are stressed, we naturally use up these bio-chemicals.So it makes sense then to choose foods that are higher in these aminos to support us in stressful times.

Unfortunately, most people tend to do the opposite. Many Americans do things that deplete these bio-chemicals, like reach for coffee, alcohol or junk food. Excuses like ‘it takes the edge off’ or ‘it calms my nerves’ or delusional concepts like ‘comfort foods’ often accompany this approach. Before you know it, your overwhelmed, overweight, exhausted, under slept, underfed, have bags under your eyes, blood pressure is off the charts!

Welcome to burnout.

A much more intelligent, sustainable and profitable approach to reducing stress is to specific foods that enhance health, give us energy and keep our body’s pharmacy stocked up, simultaneously avoiding the stimulants & habits that deplete them.These foods are high in tryptophan and tyrosine which support your body’s production of serotonin and catecholamines. These foods can alter your mood and offer many other benefits that are essential for reducing stress and improving health & wellness. Best of all, there are no side effects, nervousness and no risk of addiction.

Stress Reducing Fruits - the fruits that are highest in tryptophan & tyrosine include avocado, kiwi, cranberries, raisins, guava, plantains, figs and last but certainly not least, starfruit. If some of these fruits are not part of your normal routine, then when would be the perfect time to get more variety into your diet while eating good mood foods that are also juicy and delicious.

A comprehensive stress management program means not only avoiding foods & habits that are stressful, but also choosing smart foods that are supportive.