Superfoods for the New Year

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tony Stallone, Peapod's "Produce Guru," has been in training for more than 40 years!

He is so passionate about produce that he claims his lettuce talks to him. Tony started going to the produce market with his father at the ripe old age of five, repacking tomatoes and learning the tricks of the trade.

For information on Peapod, visit To read Tony's blog, check out

He appears on ABC 7 News the first Sunday of every month to talk about the freshest produce of the season and the latest produce trends. The January 7, 2007 segment features Superfoods for the new year. Here's what Tony talked about in case you missed it:

First we heard from Hippocrates, "Let your food be your medicine." Then our grandmothers chimed in, "Eat your fruits and vegetables, they're good for you." And finally, seed grower Renee Shepherd advises, "The more color on your plate, the healthier your meal is." As we begin the New Year many of us have resolved to not just lose weight but to eat healthier (music to the ears of someone who is passionate about fresh fruits and vegetables!). So, here are some tips for healthier eating along with some new and very interesting produce. Can you say dinosaur kale?

Speaking of dinosaur kale, let's start out our New Year's resolution with plenty of this vegetable. Its proper name is lacinato kale but it also goes by several other alias' from Tuscan to black kale. Black refers to its deep, dark green color, so dark that it looks black (keep thinking color when choosing foods this year). It's off the chart in beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, fiber, foliate, manganese, zinc& shall I keep going? Suffice to say it is healthy! You can serve it raw chopped up and mixed with other lettuces or braise it in vegetable stock. I will bring examples of both for you to try and send you the recipe for the braised kale. Did I mention it is organic as well? You may have even had some already because it's hot on the chic restaurant scene.

Let's move from the beautiful rolling hills of Tuscany to the vast, dark regions of the Brazilian rain forest where we discover the new superstar of super foods, acai (ah-sigh-ee). You'll be hearing a lot more about this rain forest fruit going forward. Acai is the off the chart for almost everything that kale is, in addition to naturally occurring Omega-3, 6 and 9 oils. It is wild-harvested and grows on branches atop 60-foot palm trees. If you wonder how they harvest this fruit, here's a machete and there is the tree, simply shimmy up and cut off a branch. This unique, highly perishable fruit is the size of a blueberry (blueberries are also extremely high in antioxidants but acai has twice the antioxidant content of blueberries), is hard, contains a seed and usually comes in the form of juices, smoothies or sorbets. They peel the outer hull and make it into a pulp. They also make necklaces out of the seeds (I'll bring one to show). Sambazon makes the purest forms of acai around. I will bring plenty of samples to try. It's not only good for you, but many world class athletes drink it while training because it's so loaded with nutrition and protein it can be a complete meal. But you don't have to be an athlete, maybe just a busy mom or kid. Sambazon acai is also free trade and certified organic (starting to see a trend here?). You can learn more about acai at They are a very fun company committed to their craft.

How about some purple carrot chips? Yes, you heard me right! Purple carrot chips, labeled Beta Bites because they have 25% more beta-carotene than ordinary carrots, are also kind of cool looking so they might help get kids to eat more healthy, delicious produce. Listen to this - they have 290% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A! I guess our grandmothers were right when they said carrots are good for your eyes. Purple carrot chips are best eaten raw to enjoy the full health benefits.

In closing, why are omega-3, beta-carotene, antioxidants, etc. so important? I'm not a doctor, I'm just a just produce guy, but I do read about their benefits including preventing some forms of cancer, strokes and heart disease and I do know it would be a healthier world if we had more color in our diets!

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