Organic Produce Buying Club – August, 01-03 2012

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My Organic Produce Club Weekly Food Share:       

          The Magic of Frozen Bananas

The Magic of Frozen Bananas

A naturally healthy and sustaining food, bananas give an instant energy boost that is long lasting, yet light on the digestion. They’re fantastic for smoothies, snacks and even raw vegan desserts. (See Marble “Nice Dream” Pie below)
When you take the extra step of freezing them, bananas undergo a remarkable transformation that creates a whole other texture and flavor, and can be used in some fantastic ways that everybody ought to know about.
Following are some of our favorite ways to use frozen bananas, as well as some simple guidelines to make sure your banana freezing goes smoothly!
  • Choose very ripe bananas
Ideally, when you’re freezing bananas, they should be so ripe that they’re covered in brown spots, just as for baking banana bread. This is when the bananas are at their sweetest, and most intensely flavored. Even if they would be too sweet and soft to eat normally, this is the perfect time to peel and freeze them. You can still freeze bananas that are not yet spotted, but the flavor and sweetness will be milder.
NB: Frozen bananas can still be used for baking. Simply remove them from the freezer, allow to defrost, then use them just as you would use fresh bananas.
  • Remove the peels
When bananas are ripe, remove the peels, tip the ends if necessary, and cut away any bruised spots or loose ‘strings’. Place peeled bananas in a plastic bag and freeze overnight or longer.
In a good freezer, they will last for a very long time. If your frozen bananas ever turn brown on the outside, they will still be fine to use, but the sweetness and flavor will intensify. Our preference is to use them for baking at this point.
When you’re ready to use your frozen bananas, simply remove the bag from the freezer, and use a knife to separate them from each other and cut them into slices.
Sliced frozen banana is a delicious treat all on its own! You can even add a little vegan chocolate/carob sauce for an extra decadent treat (see the bottom of this post for a home-made recipe). For a healthier alternative, you can add raisins, dates, sliced walnuts/pecans, vanilla, and a dash of tahini or peanut butter if you like.
Now that you have a supply in your freezer, you can use frozen bananas for smoothies, sorbets, yogurt and ‘Nice Cream’ (a soft ice cream alternative – see below).
The great thing about this recipe is that it tastes like a dessert without any of the unhealthy effects of eating sugar. Adding a vegan sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar might improve this recipe for those with a strong sweet tooth, but many of us find that it isn’t necessary, especially if the bananas were very ripe when frozen. (Keep in mind that different types of tahini taste different, and the strength or bitterness of the flavor might affect the finished product. A little added sweetener helps in this case.)
The following quantities will yield one full blender, or enough for about four people. A two-glass serving (half of this recipe) makes a light lunch that fills you up without a heavy feeling. The quick energy burst from the bananas is a great afternoon pick-me-up.
Banini (Vanilla Malted Shake)
4 cups ice cold water (but don’t add ice to the blender)
4 frozen bananas, sliced
1 fresh banana
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp. vanilla
In a blender or Vita-Mix, start with three cups of ice cold water. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Slowly add more water until it reaches desired consistency.
Optional: Add 1 Tbsp maple syrup or ¼ cup vanilla soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
Variation: Add fresh strawberry, carob, mint or peanut butter
 These days, some of us prefer to go for the sugar-free version – ice cream made from nothing but bananas!
“Nice Cream” is best prepared using a Champion® Juicer. If you don’t have a Champion, you can also use a food processor, but then (depending on the quality of the processor) it might be necessary to add a small amount of water or non-dairy milk to help the bananas homogenize. The texture won’t be quite as smooth as it is with the Champion, but it still tastes great!
Banana “Nice Cream”
6 frozen bananas
Optional: 2 Tbsp. tahini, peanut butter, or any nut butter
Homogenize frozen bananas through a Champion juicer (or a food processor). Add tahini or nut butter for a richer ice cream, or whip a dash of vanilla into the finished product. Eat immediately for a ‘soft-serve’ consistency, or freeze for a firmer “Nice Cream”.
~ Variation: Make a serving of carob-tahini fudge and swirl through the “Nice Cream” before freezing. Alternatively, top with Chocolate Sundae Sauce. Recipes below.
For a fruitier flavor, try the following recipes…
Sky’s Smush
serves 2–3 people (unless one of those people is Sky)
2 strawberry papaya (or other soft fruit, such as peaches, nectarines, or berries)
6–7 frozen bananas (depending on size)
Optional: vanilla, to taste
Removing the seeds, gently scoop papaya from skin (or peel and stone whichever fruit you are using), and slice bananas into rounds. Combine in food processor, and homogenize well using the S-shaped blade. Process until smooth and creamy.
Eat immediately for a soft-serve consistency, unless you want to freeze it for later. Freezing will change the consistency to firm.
Fresh Fruit Sorbet
serves 2–3 people
3 frozen bananas
1/2 cup frozen pineapple, sliced
1 cup frozen mango, sliced
1 cup papaya (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor (or Vita Mix®) a little at a time, blending into a cream. Delicious and creamy served immediately, or frozen to make sherbet.
Marble Nice Dream Pie
yields 1 pie
Crust
1/3 cup dried shredded coconut
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked for 15 minutes
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup raw carob powder
6 dates, soaked for 10 minutes
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1.  Blend crust ingredients in a food processor using the “S” shaped blade.
2.  Sprinkle a little dry carob into the bottom of a pie plate. Press crust into pie plate.
Carob Sauce
1 frozen banana
3/4 cup raw carob
4 Tbsp. raw tahini
8 dates, soaked for 10 minutes
1/2 tsp. vanilla
a small amount of water from the soaked dates
In a blender, blend all ingredients until thick and creamy. Freeze until ready to use.
“Nice Dream” Filling
12 frozen bananas
15 dates, soaked for 10 minutes
5 Tbsp. raw tahini
Topping
2–3 Tbsp. shredded coconut
1.  Homogenize filling ingredients using a food processor or a Champion® juicer, alternating ingredients.
2.  Mix half of the filling with Carob Sauce, to make carob-flavored Nice Dream.
3.  Put the carob and vanilla Nice Dream into the pie crust and swirl. Top with shredded coconut. Cover and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer five minutes before serving. For a soft freeze, serve immediately.
Chocolate / Carob Sundae Sauce
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
4 Tbsp. cocoa or carob powder
2 Tbsp. unrefined sweetener such as Rapadura (or maple syrup)
3 or 4 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. rice syrup
In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Pour over “Nice Cream”.
Carob Tahini Fudge
yields about 2 cups
1 cup raw carob powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup raw tahini
2 dates, pitted, soaked
1/8 cup water (from date soak)
Blend all ingredients thoroughly in a food processor. Freeze and serve.
Alternatively, swirl it through “Nice Cream” without freezing first.

Enjoy!

 Produce List for the week of August, 01-03 2012:

* Lettuce Red Butter
* Cucumbers
* Carrots Bunny Juice
* Greens- Kale Green
* Herbs- Dill
* Romaine Hearts
* Beets Red w/tops
* Broccoli
* Avocados (Fl)
* Onions Yellow Jumbo
* Broccoli
* Pepper Sweet Orange
* Squash Yellow
* Potatoes Russet
* Apricots
* Peaches Yellow (SC)
* Cherries Dark Sweet
* Bananas
* Melon Cantaloupe
* Oranges Valencia  

      Kale is the new Spinach
 Six Simple Ways to Enjoy Kale!

 Kale is a dark leafy green with a lot more to it than your average vegetable.
It is:

– Easy to grow
– Full of health benefits
– Delicious and simple to use in recipes!
In this simple guide to using kale I’ll teach you how to integrate kale into recipes you already have and how to create new and delicious kale recipes on your own. Whether you choose to marinate, dehydrate, steam, bake, boil or blend your kale, I’ve included simple tips to make each dish a success!

1. Kale Chips:

If you’ve never had kale chips the idea may sound strange, but they are SO yummy! You can make chips in the oven or a dehydrator.
For both methods:
– Tear or cut the leaf off the stem and into small, palm-sized pieces.
– Place the pieces either on a dehydrator tray (a little over 4 hours at 145 degrees), or on a baking sheet (10-15 minutes at 350 degrees) and sprinkle with salt.
After they have crisped up (be careful not to burn in the oven – it happens quickly!) remove the kale leaves and mix a small amount of oil, nutritional yeast and other seasonings.

Tip: Experiment with the amount of oil (usually no more than 1 Tbs. per large bunch of kale) and other seasonings you use. A bit of red pepper or dill is particularly yummy.
2. Steamed Kale:

If kale salad isn’t your thing, or if you’re looking for an easy way to cook kale, then try a quick steam.
– Remove the kale leaf stems and tear the leaf into bite-sized pieces.
– Set the pieces aside and wait for your water to boil.
The trick to not over-steaming greens and keeping the most nutrients in your kale is to wait to put the kale in the steamer basket until the water is fully boiling, placing the lid tightly on the pot and pulling it off the burner as soon as the kale looks done.
Leafy greens steam quickly too so don’t leave them unattended. The kale will become a brighter green color as it cooks. When it looks ready, use some tongs to pull the kale out of the basket, as it will continue to cook if left in the pot with hot water.
Tip: If you find steamed greens a bit bland, throw a little bit of tamari and nutritional yeast over the steam after it’s done! Another option is to steam some fresh garden herbs in with the greens at the same time.

3. Kale Salads:

Young leaves are delicious chopped up in a simple mixed salad. Simply remove the spine and cut the young leaves into strips, then mix it with your other favorite garden greens.
If the leaves are mature or a bit older they can become too tough for a mixed salad and taste best in a marinated or rubbed salad.
– Tear or cut the stem off your kale leaves
– Cut the leaves in half and then into strips.
– Take the strips and dress them with your favorite vinegar-based dressing, or a simple mix of oil, acid (lemon juice, vinegar, lime, orange etc.) and salt/tamari mixed together.
If you have time, let your dressed salad set for an hour or so to allow the leaves to soften. If you do not have enough time to let the leaves marinate you can “massage”* them until they are soft and ready to eat.
Tip: Adding a touch of chili oil and some sweet red peppers to your massaged kale salad will add color and an unexpected flair to your dish. Other possible variations include adding some raw or toasted seeds (such as sesame or sunflower), or sautéed mushrooms.
*Massage is just a fancy word for gently squashing the kale with your hands or a spoon, spatula or fork until they are tender.

4. Kale Stir Fries:

Follow the directions for steaming kale, but instead of throwing kale in a steamer pot, throw it into your stir-fry after the dish has finished cooking. The residual heat from the dish will cook your kale perfectly, but if it doesn’t cook well enough simply turn the heat back on for a moment.

 Tip: If your kale is a bit too chewy in the dish, add a touch of oil or tahini to soften the kale and add flavor.
5. Kale Soups:

Just as with a stir fry, when adding kale to a soup you want to make sure the other ingredients are fully cooked before adding in your kale pieces (removed from the stem and chopped). I find kale an excellent addition to pretty much any type of soup. Just cook up a pot like you normally would and then throw your kale in right before the dish finishes cooking (usually 10-12 minutes in a hot soup will be enough to soften and cook the kale.)
6. Kale Smoothies/Juices:

If you’re a big juicer you probably already throw kale in your Champion, but if not, watch out when you do. Green juice is absolutely chock-full of nutrients and you will feel the boost in energy almost immediately! Kale is a bit bitter when juiced though so it’s always nice to throw some apple or orange in along with it.
I personally prefer green smoothies rather than juice, for the added fiber and bulk to help keep you filled up. You have to have a good blender if you’re going to attempt this though. We use a Vitamix, which has enough power to blend up kale without it getting wrapped around the blade (and burning out the motor). If you’re not sure about the strength of your motor, cut the kale into small pieces before adding it to your smoothie and make sure you have plenty of liquid in your drink to help the kale blend.
Tip: Our standard green drink contains 2 oranges (whole sans skin), 1 papaya (with skin and seeds removed, although you can eat the seeds if you enjoy a good deal of spice), a bit of water, a number of de-stemmed kale leaves and some ice. You’ll be amazed how much energy a smoothie like this will give you!
Enjoy the Bounty!

Organic Produce Buying Club Weekly Food Share

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