Friday, May 01, 2009

Produce Pointers

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it—fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses. They're not only naturally low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories, they're also packed with tons of good-for-you stuff, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The produce aisle has just what you need to help you lose weight and to reduce your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other health problems. And with spring upon us, there's no better time to load up on fruits and veggies. Use the following tips to help you get the most of your produce purchases. Before you pick a watermelon, slap its side. Hear a hollow thump? It's ripe and ready to go. When shopping for a grapefruit, it's not necessary to avoid fruits with green on the skin, as the color does not indicate ripeness. Small bright green Brussels sprouts with compact heads are your best bet; the smaller the sprout, the better the taste. For raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, avoid containers with juice stains; they may be a sign of crushed, moldy, or overripe berries. Skip scallions that are a translucent green. The lack of opaqueness means they have been sitting in ice for too long. Always store tomatoes at room temperature. Putting them in the fridge can make them mealy and flavorless. Ditto for bananas. Potatoes need to be stored in a cool, dark place, but don't refrigerate or they will develop a hard core and an undesirable taste. To make your herbs last, snip off the ends and submerge them in a glass of water. Cover with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Mangoes, plums, peaches, pears and apricots ripen faster at room temperature in a paper bag. Keep your bell peppers dry. They rot faster when exposed to moisture. {SOURCE}

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