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America’s Top Fruits & Vegetables: It’s National Fruits & Veggies Month!

September is National Fruits & Veggies Month, a holiday established by the USDA to bring greater attention to the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.

The message is not only to “make the most of summer produce while it’s still available,” but to integrate more fruits and vegetables into your daily meals. It’s pretty easy: Here’s how.

So who’s tops in produce?
 
 
WHAT AMERICANS ARE BUYING

The Fresh Produce Association shared these results from a trade industry survey, The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2022. The study reflected consumer behavior in 2021.

More specifically, it surveyed consumers on their most-purchased fruits and vegetables.

  • Most consumers (82%) said they had bought packaged produce (e.g. not loose pieces but sliced or otherwise prepared for efficiency) in 2021.
  • Of online shoppers, 47% have discontinued online shopping. The ability to touch and smell the produce was their number-one reason.
  •  
     
    CHANGES FROM LAST YEAR

    The chart below lists the most frequently-purchased fruits and vegetables in 2021 in the U.S. What’s new?

  • In vegetables, bell peppers, broccoli, and cucumbers all moved up on the list.
  • In fruits, mangoes made the list at No. 19, after not being on the list the previous year.
  •  
    O.K., maybe that’s not so exciting unless you’re a grocery store produce manager. But take a look:

    Where do your favorites rank on the list?

     

    Envy Apples On A Heart-Shaped Board
    [1] What are America’a Top 20 fruits and veggies? Apples are the #4 fruit (photo © Envy Apples | Facebook).

    Head Of Broccoli Broccoli[/caption]
    [2] Broccoli is #6 on the vegetables list (photo © Burpee).

     
    Chart Headline

    The Top 20 Fruits & Vegetables For 2022
    [3] The top 20 fruits and vegetables (chart © Fresh Produce Association).

     
     

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    Papaya On A Bagel? Plus More Papaya Recipes For National Papaya Month

    Papaya On A Bagel Instead Of Smoked Salmon - Recipe
    [1] What’s for brunch? A bagel with citrus cream cheese and papaya ribbons. The recipe is below (photo © Southern Selects).

    Fresh Papaya, Whole & Halved
    [2] There are numerous subspecies of Carica papaya, demonstrating different sizes, shapes, and flavor nuances (photo © Alleksana | Pexels).

    Fresh Papaya, Whole & Halved
    [3] A shorter, rounder variety (photo © Little Plant | Unsplash).

    The Papaya 'Tree' Isn't A Tree, But A Giant Herb
    [4] The papaya “tree” isn’t a tree, but a giant herb—just like the banana. The green fruits turn yellow when ripe (photo © Brooks Tropicals).


    [5] Green papaya salad. Here’s the recipe (photo © Rasa Malaysia).

    Papaya Boat Recipe, Stuffed With Cashews & Blueberries
    [6] A papaya boat can be a first course, or served with yogurt or cottage cheese for breakfast. Here’s the recipe (photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

     

    September is National Papaya Month and it’s the weekend, so how about something outside the box: papaya on a bagel instead of smoked salmon? Lemon cream cheese brings the right counterpoint so that the papaya is right at home on the bagel of your choice.

    The recipe, Papaya Ribbons with Lemon Cream Cheese on Toasted Bagels, was created by Southern Selects, a grower of premium products, as a creative way to use its papayas.

    > The history of bagels.

    > The history of cream cheese.

    > The history of the papaya is below.

    > There are more delicious papaya recipes below.
     
     
    RECIPE: PAPAYA RIBBONS WITH LEMON CREAM CHEESE ON TOASTED BAGELS

    We didn’t have a ripe avocado when we made this recipe, but we didn’t miss it.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 papaya, ripe
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1 package whipped cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Fresh bagels
  • Optional for serving: lemon wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the papaya in half, scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice the halves into 4 sections lengthwise. Trim the skin from the flesh.

    2. USE a vegetable peeler or a mandolin to thinly slice the papaya flesh into ribbons.

    3. CUT the flesh of halved avocado into thin slices. Cut the onion into thin slices and place both on the side.

    4. ZEST the lemon with a grater. Combine the lemon zest, cream cheese, and honey. Toast the bagels. When the bagels are ready…

    5. SPREAD the cream cheese mixture on one side of the toasted bagel and top with sliced papaya and then avocado. You can add a couple drops of lemon juice on top of the bagel, or serve it with a lemon wedge.
     
     
    MORE PAPAYA RECIPES

    Savory Recipes

    Today, the fruit can be found in a variety of cultures and their foods, ranging from savory to sweet. Note that you can easily substitute papaya for mango in most recipes.

  • Asparagus & Papaya Spring Rolls With Sweet Red Chili Dipping Sauce
  • Caramelized Salmon With Cherry-Papapa Salsa
  • Green Papaya Salad
  • Honolulu Hot Dog
  • Papaya Recipes For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  •  
    Sweet Recipes

  • Chilled Papaya & Watermelon Soup
  • Grilled Scallops, Papaya & Persimmon
  • Grilled Tropical Fruit Skewers
  • Papaya Boat Fruit Salad
  • Papaya Shave Ice
  • Ways To Enjoy Papaya
  •  
    Cocktails

  • Cocktail Garnishes
  • Papaya-Tequila Smash Cocktail
  •  
     
     
    PAPAYA HISTORY & USES

    The papaya, Carica Papaya L., is believed to have originated in southern Mexico and eastern Central America. Also known as the pawpaw*, the papaya is one of the 22 species in the genus Carica of the family Caricaceae, a family of flowering plants in the order Brassicales. (If that sounds familiar, see footnote †).

    The name arrives from ababai, a word in the Carib language of South America.

    It may represent the fusion of two or more species of Carica that are native to Mexico and Central America [source].

    The papaya was first domesticated in Mesoamerica, in the area of modern-day southern Mexico and Central America. By the time the Spanish arrived, in 1529, the papaya had already spread throughout Central America and into South America.

    Spanish invaders greatly enjoyed the salmon-orange-colored fruit and planted it throughout the Caribbean and South America. The Spanish then introduces it to Asia via the Philippines. It spread to India, and eventually to Europe.

    By the 17th Century, Dutch and Portuguese colonists had brought papaya to Africa and then onto the Far East, where it became an integral part of the cuisines of Southeast Asia [source].

    By the 19th century, the fruit was being cultivated in all of the world’s tropical regions [source].

    And why not: The succulent fruit, moderately sweet, has those special qualities that say “tropical!” even if you were blindfolded and given a bite.

    The fruit became popular for breakfast and green salads, pies, not to mention confections, juice, pie, sherbet, and other desserts. You can also toss halves on the grill, or add them to skewers.

  • Fresh papaya and avocado complement each other nicely. Include papaya in avocado boats (delicious with seafood salad) or add dice to the top of guacamole.
  • Cubes or small slices of fresh papaya make a colorful plate garnish, and complement fish, meat, and poultry.
  • Slices of dried papaya go well on a cheese or charcuterie board. Diced dried papaya is delicious in cookies, muffins, popcorn, trail mix, and as a garnish for ice cream and other desserts. A few cubes on top of whipped cream is a lovely pop of color.
  • The unripe (green) papaya can be cooked like squash, and raw it is delicious julienned for salad or slaw, or pickled.
  •  
    Like the banana, the papaya is botanically a berry. It may look like it grows from a tall tree, but both papaya and banana are the fruits of an herb.

    In 1932, Papaya King, a New York City hot dog stand, was the first to start what became a papaya juice craze. It’s still around, replicated by other mini chains such as Gray’s Papaya and Papaya Dog.

    In 2020, India produced 43% of the world supply of papayas [source].

    Papaya (is the third most cultivated tropical crop worldwide [source].

     
    ________________

    *Among other names for papaya are mamao, melon zapote, and papayo. But wait: Papaya is also known as papaw in Australia and other parts of the world. However, in the U.S., a pawpaw is not a papaya but an indigenous, mango-shaped fruit.

    †Brassicaceae (brah-si-KAY-see-ay), a high-antioxidant Brassicaceae family of flowering plants, was formerly called the Cruciferae and is sometimes called the Brassicas. cruciferous vegetables, mustard family, or cabbage family. The vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, packed with potent, cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Members include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga, tatsoi, turnips, and watercress, among others.

    ‡Carib or Kari’nja is a Cariban language spoken by the Kalina people (Caribs) of South America. It is spoken by around 7,400 people mostly in Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil.
     
     

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    Come To The New York Coffee Festival, October 7th – 9th, For Fun & Discovery

    The New York Coffee Festival, New York City’s flagship coffee event, is celebrating its return to the City That Never Sleeps (even after all that coffee) for the first time since 2019. The three-day festival runs from October 7th through October 9th, 2022.

    It’s an opportunity for coffee lovers from all over to head to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion to discover different types of coffee, food, and coffee cocktails while enjoying presentations, live music, and art.
     
     
    THINGS TO DO AT THE FESTIVAL

    There are unlimited tastings from more than 100 of the most exciting and innovative exhibitors of coffee tea, and nibbles. Just a taste of the exhibitors: Blank Street, Bodum, Nguyen Coffee Roasters, Oatly, Parlor Coffee, Raaka Chocolate, Rishi Tea, and Slayer Espresso Machines. There’s lots to discover!

    You’ll also be able to purchase great goodies. The last time we were there, we scored big on Chalo Chai (a terrific brand, not readily available in the U.S.) and discovered Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur.

  • Coffee Masters NYC is a fast-paced, multi-discipline global barista tournament that takes place annually at the London, New York, and Los Angeles Coffee Festivals. Judged by a panel of industry figureheads, it’s a knockout battle where 16 baristas showcase their skills head-to-head across a broad range of disciplines: cupping, brewing, latte art, signature drink, and more.
  • Latte Art Live, with the world’s best baristas set to pour magical creations. Expect a series of throw-downs, showcases, and hands-on workshops at The New York Coffee Festival.
  • The Coffee Cocktail Bar, serving a range of indulgent coffee cocktails.
  • The Village, where you can discover innovative products, cutting-edge brands, and exciting new businesses. You’ll be able to meet the personalities behind 2022’s coolest local brands and small businesses, in addition to checking out some awesome technology, next-level coffee brewing equipment, and micro-roasters.
  • The Movie Room showcases films depicting different aspects of coffee and coffee culture. The independent short films are curated by the Coffee Art Project: Film Edition, a high-profile international art competition aimed at showcasing the talents of emerging and established artists whose work is linked to the theme of coffee and coffee culture.
  • The Sensory Experience, a fully immersive sensory maze. After a brief meditation to focus the mind and enhance the olfactory and gustatory connection, sensory leaders will guide you through a series of aromatic and tasting encounters designed to expand your perception of flavor.
  •  
     
    FOR MORE INFORMATION & TICKETS

    Head to NewYorkCoffeeFestival.com.
     
     
    > The different types of coffee.

    > The different types of espresso drinks.

    > The history of coffee.

    > The history of espresso.

     

    New York Coffee Festival Exhibition Floor
    [1] There are lots of coffee cocktails to try (all photos © New York Coffee Festival).

    New York Coffee Festival Exhibit Floor
    [2] You may possibly run into some Instagrammable characters.

    New York Coffee Festival Exhibition Floor
    [3] Coffee cupping enhances your skills at detecting the complex aromas and flavors of coffee.

     

     
     

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    Butternut Squash Soup Recipe With A Latin Twist For National Acorn Squash Day

    Butternut Squash Soup With Latin Accents Recipe
    [1] Butternut squash soup with spicy Latin garnishes (photos #1, #2, #4, and #5 ©‎ Pointed Leaf Press).

    Butternut Squash Whole & Halved
    [2] The star vegetable: butternut squash. Here’s the difference between butternut and acorn squash (photo © Good Eggs).

    Soup Ingredients
    [3] Soup garnishes: chiles, chorizo, cilantro, lime, pepitas.

    Glass Of Grenache Wine
    [4] The author enjoys this soup with a glass of her Terra y Vino Grenache. “The berry notes and medium tannins found in Grenache,” she says, “balance the spice in the chorizo and bring out the richness of the butternut squash.”

     

    September 7th is National Acorn Squash Day. We have a collection of delicious acorn squash recipes, including this Acorn Squash Soup With Gnocchi.

    But today we’re horning in on acorn squash’s celebration to present a butternut squash soup recipe (there is no Butternut Squash Day and no inclusive National Squash Day, either).

    Butternut and acorn squash are similar in flavor and texture. Here are the differences between them. You can substitute one for the other.

    In fact, you can use any winter squash—acorn, buttercup, butternut, carnival, delicata, dumpling, hubbard, kabocha, sugar pumpkin, etc.—interchangeably in recipes.

    Editors’s note: The plural of squash is either squash or squashes. “Squashes” is not commonly used in the U.S., but it is correct.

    The recipe is from the new book, Caren Rideau: Kitchen Designer, Vintner, Entertaining at Home.

    Caren Rideau is a kitchen and interior designer, entertaining enthusiast, vintner, and owner of wine label Tierra Y Vino. The book highlights her colorful lifestyle, beautiful kitchen designs, inspirational entertaining spreads, delicious recipes, and wine pairings, with plenty of gorgeous photography.

    Inspired by her upbringing, Rideau’s work brings together the vibrant hues and styles of her native Southwest with a love for celebration fostered by her Mexican and Louisiana Creole roots.

    You’ll find a lot of that in this recipe!

    > The history of squash.

    > The history of soup.
     
     
    RECIPE: BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH A LATIN TWIST

     
    Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 2½ cups chicken stock
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  •  
    For The Garnishes

  • 6 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 fresno chile, sliced thin
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced thin
  • roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Lime wedges
  •  
    Optional For Serving/font>

  • Crusty country bread (or substitute)
  • Olive oil or softened butter or olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400ºF.

    2. PLACE the butternut squash, onion, garlic cloves, and red bell pepper on a flat baking sheet in one layer. Moderately drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and toss in the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. BAKE for 25-30 minutes or until the butternut squash is tender. Toss halfway through. While vegetables are roasting…

    4. COOK the chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat until brown and crispy (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from the skillet, drain off any excess oil, and place into a bowl.

    5. REMOVE the butternut squash mixture from the oven and place it into a Vitamix or blender with the chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Add more chicken stock if necessary to get a medium purée or your desired consistency.

    6. POUR the soup from the blender into a stock pot to warm thoroughly for about 20 minutes. Adjust the salt and pepper.

    7. SERVE in individual bowls and garnish with the cooked chorizo, chilis, and pepitas. Serve the lime wedges on the side for those who enjoy a fresh squeeze.

    We like to serve the soup with crusty country bread. While we like butter, the bread is perfect for dipping into olive oil.

     

     
     

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    Moroccan Chicken Recipe For National Chicken Month

    September is National Chicken Month. Here’s a tasty chicken recipe that’s off the beaten track—inspired by Morocco, to be precise.

    The recipe is courtesy of the National Chicken Council, which features recipes for lunch and dinner on their consumer website, ChickenRoost.com.

    We have to take exception with the given name of the recipe, which is Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant-Zucchini Ragout. That’s not accurate.

    Ragout (rah-GOO) is not a dice of vegetables; it is a stew. Like stews, ragouts can be made from different meats, seafood, and vegetables, with different seasonings. They can be vegetables-only.

    The key difference between a ragout and a stew:

  • The meat and vegetables in a ragout are cut into smaller pieces than in a typical stew.
  • Neither a stew nor a ragout would refer to a bed or a serving of diced vegetables.
  •  
    The lesson here is one you’ve heard before: Just because you read it in print doesn’t make it true.
     
     
    THE WORD “RAGOUT”

    The word “ragout” is the American spelling of the French ragoût. The English spelling drops the circumflex over the “u.”

    Ragoût, in turn, derives from the verb ragoûter, meaning “to revive the taste.”

    A similarly-sounding word in Italian is ragù, but it refers to a sauce, typically used to dress pasta.
     
     
    WHAT SHOULD THIS RECIPE BE CALLED?

    This is a chicken dish with diced vegetables (photo #1). In French cooking, there are four sizes of dice:

  • Large dice, 3/4″ square (carré in French—cah-RAY).
  • Medium dice, 1/2″ square (parmentier—par-men-TYAY).
  • Small dice, 1/4″ square (macédoine—MAH-suh-dwon) dice.
  • Very small dice, 1/8″ (brunoise—broon-WOZ), and there’s even extra-extra small, fine brunoise, 1/16″.
  •  
    See the chart showing the different sizes, below.

    This recipe calls for a 1/2 dice of the vegetables, or parmentier in the language of French-trained chefs. But doesn’t Moroccan Chicken With Parmentier Of Eggplant & Zucchini” sound more tempting than Moroccon Chicken With Diced Eggplant & Zucchini?

    If you agree, you have our permission to call the recipe as we have renamed it.

    > The history of chicken.

    > The different cuts of chicken.
     
     
    RECIPE: MOROCCAN CHICKEN WITH PARMENTIER OF EGGPLANT & ZUCCHINI

    The principal Moroccan seasoning, ras el hanout*, is a blend of ground spices: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, paprika, and turmeric.

    However, since most American kitchens don’t have ras el hanout, the recipe was developed with other flavors of Morocco that most of us keep in the pantry.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 ½ – 2 pounds chicken leg quarters
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine or water
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
  • ¼ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the leg quarters with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add the leg quarters to the pan, skin-side down. Brown the chicken, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and drain off all but 2 tablespoons of oil.

    2. ADD the eggplant to the hot pan and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, along with the zucchini, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. RAISE the heat to high and add the white wine to the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits (the fond). Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the parsley, and place the chicken legs back in the pan.

    4. BRING to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer should read 170ºF).

    7. TO SERVE: Place some of the eggplant-zucchini mixture onto plates, top with a leg quarter, and sprinkle with parsley.

     

    Moroccan Chicken Recipe With Eggplant & Zucchini
    [1] Moroccan-style chicken with eggplant, zucchini, olives and capers (photo © Chicken Roost).

    Pimento Stuffed Green Olives
    [2] Chopped pimento-stuffed olives go into the eggplant-zucchini mix (photo © Recipeland).

    Capers On A Marble Surface
    [3] So do briny capers (photo © iGourmet).

    Can Of Diced San Marzano Tomatoes
    [4] Diced tomatoes contribute to the sauce. Our favorite brand: San Marzano (photo © DeLaurenti).

    Purple Eggplant
    [5] You need only one eggplant (photo © IT Delice).

    Zucchini
    [6] And one zucchini. The singular form in Italian is zucchini. In the U.S., the same word is used for the singular and plural forms (photo © Good Eggs).

     
     
    The Different Sizes Of Diced Vegetables
    [7] Head to YouTube to see how to make each of these cuts (photo © ).
     
     
    ________________

    *In Arabic, ra’s al-ḥānūt means “top of the shop,” referring to the highest quality spices sold in a shop.
     
     

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