Tips for Selecting the Best Produce


Beautiful woman buying kale at a farmers market

 

If you have ever purchased produce only to have it turn moldy or mushy a few days later, the fruits or vegetables you selected may not have been in the best shape to begin with. By selecting the right produce at the grocery store or farmers market, you avoid wasting money while also maximizing the shelf life of your food.

 

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to stay away from pre-bagged or pre-cut produce. Pre-packaged produce is often smaller and pre-cut varieties simply won’t last as long. Picking your produce individually will result in better flavors and textures.

 

Follow these tips for picking your fruits and vegetables.

 

Fruits

Apples: Fruits should be firm, colorful, shiny and free of bruises or punctures.

 

Apricots: Select aromatic fruits with no green spots and slight give with gentle pressure.


Bananas:
 Select fruit that is yellow all over with no green or brown spots.

Berries:
 Look out for mold and mushy berries.
     Blackberries & Raspberries: Full and juicy, but not leaking.
     Blueberries: Select firm ones and avoid berries with red or green areas.
     Strawberries: Select colorful strawberries with green stems. Fruit should be fragrant and shiny, as well.

Cantaloupe:
 Select aromatic fruit that is heavy for its size.

Cherries:
 Select plump, firm cherries that look dark and glossy with green stems.

Figs:
 Avoid selecting dirty, bumpy or broken fruits.

Grapefruit:
 Select a deeply colored fruit with a slightly reddish hue and a heavy, plump feel.

Grapes:
 Search for grapes that are firmly attached to flexible stems. Grapes should be deeply colored, firm and plump.

Kiwi:
 Select fragrant, plump fruit. If you want ripe fruit, select the ones that yield to gentle pressure, or pick firm ones and ripen at home for a few days.

Lemons & Limes:
 The best citrus will be bright and feel heavy for its size. Avoid discoloration and overly thick peels.

Mangoes:
 Selecting mangoes is best done by feel rather than color. The softer the mango, the riper it is. The stem end should be lightly scented.

Oranges: 
Fruit should be heavy for its size. Also look for smooth, firm and thin peels.

Peaches: 
Select aromatic fruit that is soft, but not mushy.

Pears: 
Ripe pears should give a little when pressed gently at the top.

Persimmons: 
Select smooth and plump fruit. The skin should be bright and glossy.

Pineapples:
 Search for large fruit with bright green leaves. The outside should be firm.

Plums: 
Select plums that are firm and heavy for their size.

Pomegranates: 
Darker colored pomegranates will be sweeter than those that are pink, which will taste tart. Fruit should be heavy and firm.

Watermelon:
 Select heavy, firm watermelon. When tapped, the inside should sound hollow.

 

Vegetables

Asparagus: Choose asparagus with firm, green stalks and tightly closed tips with no signs of flowering.

Avocados:
 If you’re looking for an unripe avocado, select a firm one that doesn’t give to gentle pressure. If you want to purchase a ripe avocado, choose a bumpy dark-green one.

Corn: 
Keep an eye out for plump corn with sticky, brown tassels.

Cucumber:
 Bright, firm cucumbers with even color are the best to take home. Keep an eye out for dullness, soft spots and bruises.

Eggplant: 
Select smooth, shiny eggplants with deep, uniform color. The vegetables should be heavy for their size, and the smaller eggplants are generally sweeter.

Garlic: 
Choose garlic that is plump and heavy without broken skin or soft spots.

Herbs: 
Select fresh herbs that are fragrant and do not appear wilted.

Lettuce: 
The outer leaves of a lettuce head should be intact and firm, and the whole head should be somewhat heavy.

 

Okra: The best okra will be bright green with no bruises or dark spots.

Onions:
 Select firm onions with papery skins that are still intact. Store at room temperature.

Peppers: 
Select shiny, firm, wrinkle-free peppers.

Potatoes:
 Select firm potatoes with no sprouts, slits, green tinge or wrinkles. Store at room temperature.

Rhubarb: 
The stalks of the rhubarb should be stiff and not limp. There should be no cracks or blemishes, and leaves should be small. Be sure to remove the leaves before you store rhubarb as they are toxic.

Sugar Snap Peas: 
The pods of sugar snap peas should be medium to dark green in color and feel firm and plump.

Tomatoes: 
Avoid fruit that is bruised, cracked or wrinkled. The leaves should be bright green, and the tomatoes should be heavy and smooth.

Yellow Squash:
 Select firm, small to medium squash, as the large ones contain too much water or fiber.

Zucchini:
 Be on the lookout for firm, shiny vegetables free of cuts and bruises. Pick out the ones that aren’t too big.

 

For a list of North Texas farmers markets to shop fresh, local fruits and veggies, visit Farmers Markets Offer Fresh Local Fare.

Farmers Markets Offer Fresh Local Fare


Vegetable stall in farmer market, including celery, parsnips and broccoli.

 

Summer is in full swing, and so are local farmers markets. Whether you’re shopping for fresh and locally grown veggies, sweet treats, specialty foods or homemade goodies, these North Texas farmers markets have it all.

 

Carrollton

Carrollton Farmers Market
2722 N. Josey Lane
Sundays; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Year-round

Highlights: Handmade crafts and homegrown produce

 

Coppell

Coppell Farmers Market
768 W. Main Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
April through November; December (Winter Market)

Highlights: Fresh berry custard pie, pickled jalapeños, fresh ginger beer

 

Dallas

Dallas Farmers Market
1010 S. Pearl Expressway
Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sundays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mondays, Thursdays & Fridays; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Hours vary by season)
Year-round

Highlights: The Market – a fully renovated indoor space featuring local merchants, artisanal food vendors and restaurants

 

White Rock Local Market
9150 Garland Road
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
March through December

Highlights: Wine samples, JJ&B jams and butters, local craft artists

 

Denton

Denton Community Market
317 W. Mulberry Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon (summer hours)
April through November

Highlights: Live music, local farms and artists, food trucks

 

Fort Worth

Cowtown Farmers Market
3821 Southwest Boulevard
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
Year-round

Highlights: Fiddle-and-guitar jam sessions, pastured chicken

 

Frisco

Frisco Farmers Market
8821 4th Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
April through October

Highlights: Homemade traditional Greek desserts and meals from Greek Mama’s Bites

 

Grand Prairie

Grand Prairie Farmers Market
120 W. Main Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
March through December

Highlights: Plethora of crafts, Christmas in July

 

Grapevine

Grapevine Farmers Market
520 South Main Street, No. 203
Mondays-Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sundays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
April through October

Highlights: Homemade fried pies, cajun cheddar kettle popcorn, gourmet tamales

 

Mansfield

Mansfield Farmers Market
703 E. Broad Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
April through October

Highlights: Homemade fudge, refreshing lemonade, allergy-free baked goods

 

McKinney

McKinney Farmers Market at Chestnut Square
315 S. Chestnut Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
April through November

Highlights: Baked goods, craft items, artisanal and speciality foods

 

Mesquite

The Marketplace DFW
150 W. Main Street
Second and fourth Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
April through October

Highlights: Locally grown honey, mustard pickles, handcrafted goods

 

Richardson

Richardson Farmers Market
101 S. Coit Road
Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (summer hours)
Year-round

Highlights: European-style market that mimics the popular village markets throughout Europe

 

Rockwall

Rockwall Farmers Market
101 Rusk Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
May through September

Highlights: Just Pie’s award-winning, buttermilk Pap’s Texas Pecan

 

Sherman

Sherman Farmers Market
115 N. Travis Street
Saturdays; 9 a.m. to noon
May through October

Highlights: Pasture-raised meats, kombucha, handmade soaps

Earth-Friendly Ways to Minimize Waste


chalkboard with the text make every day earth day

 

With spring cleaning underway and Earth Day inspiring us to develop greener habits, now is a great time to think about how the two intersect. You’ll find that a little planning can help reduce the amount of waste you bring into your home, and with a few simple changes, you won’t have as much to take out.

 

Americans can generate more than 254 million tons of trash in a single year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If that number is too big to fathom, consider this: that amount of trash weighs more than the combined weight of 1 million blue whales (the largest mammal on Earth).

 

Doing your part to make less trash can be as easy as remembering your reusable grocery bags. Read on to see our 10 suggestions of how to reduce waste in your home.

 

1. Swap disposable water bottles for a water filter and reusable bottles.

We all know we need to drink more H2O to stay healthy. Carrying a steel or glass water bottle will remind you to hydrate throughout the day and prevent you from buying a plastic water bottle out of convenience. Investing in a water filtration system — even as basic as a pitcher filter — will elevate the way your tap water tastes.

 

2. If on-the-go coffee is a must, bring a reusable mug.

If you can’t kick your addiction to a daily cup of coffee, bring your travel tumbler or mug with you and ask the barista to fill it instead of a disposable cup. Starbucks and many other cafes offer discounts for helping them reduce their cup waste.

 

3. Get to know your farmers markets and bulk bin section.

Frequenting farmers markets will not only keep you in line with your healthy-eating goals, it also supports local businesses. When you purchase whole foods there, you’re opting to reduce the amount of packaging brought into your home through processed and frozen foods. Likewise, shopping in the bulk-bin section eliminates extraneous packaging.

 

4. Keep your reusable bags at hand.

Have you ever entered the grocery store only to remember your stash of reusable bags is sitting untouched in your cabinets? If so, eliminate the need to remember by storing your reusable bags in more convenient places: a more noticeable area at home or in your car, handbag or backpack. That way you’ll always have a bag at hand, even for those quick, impromptu trips to get groceries after work.

 

Use your reusable bags for other occasions as well. Ask the waiter to place your to-go order in your bag instead of using their plastic or brown bags. Going on a shopping spree? Let the sales associates know you have your own bags for your new purchases.

 

When shopping for groceries, bring smaller cloth or netted bags to store produce, bulk-bin items and fresh flowers to avoid the thin plastic bags provided by stores.

 

5. Use glass containers to store food.

Display your farmers market and bulk goods in glass containers to keep them from going stale. Repurpose old glass containers from pasta sauce, jams and condiments for future storage.

 

Involving Daughters In A Healthy Hobby

 

6. Grow a garden.

Grow your own herb or vegetable garden, so you’ll always have the perfect amount of ingredients for your recipes. Doing so reduces food waste, which comprises nearly one-third of annual solid waste generated in the U.S., according to the EPA.

 

7. Dine at home.

Cooking and eating at home allows you to have more control — you can eat whole foods and add significantly less sugar and sodium than would typically be used in packaged and processed foods.

 

Eating fast food creates a plethora of waste, from the plastic straws and cutlery to the extraneous napkins and packaging.

 

8. Cut down on paper towels.

Instead of using paper towels, keep a stash of kitchen cloths and rags made from old T-shirts to do your chores. Eco-friendly towels made of bamboo and cotton can absorb big messes and dry dishes quickly.

 

9. Use Swedish dishcloths instead of kitchen sponges.

Your kitchen sponge can harbor as much (if not more) bacteria than a toilet. Experts suggest tossing sponges after a month of use, but that merely adds to landfills. Instead, use Swedish dishcloths, which are made of cotton and cellulose and are super absorbent when wet. The malleable form allows you to get into the nooks and crannies of dishes and silverware.

 

Invented in 1949, Swedish dishcloths come in a variety of designs to coordinate with your kitchen. Throw them in the laundry when they get dirty and reuse them again.

 

10. Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

Dryer sheets may make your clothes smell nice and keep your sheets soft, but they’re a one-time use product. Wool dryer balls can make your clothes just as soft, but can be used over and over again. Throw three of them into the dryer, and reduce the drying time of heavy fabrics, such as towels or jeans.

 

Use three to four drops of your favorite essential oil to each dryer ball to keep your fabrics fragrant.

Farmers Market: Go Local, Get Fresh


FmBigSummer is in full swing, and so are local farmers markets. Whether you’re in the market for fresh and locally grown veggies, sweet treats, specialty foods or homemade goodies, these North Texas farmers markets have it all.

 

Coppell

Coppell Farmers Market
768 W. Main Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
March-November; December (Winter Market)

Highlights: Fresh-rolled oats made to order

 

Dallas

Dallas Farmers Market
1010 S. Pearl Expressway
Monday-Sunday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Year-round

Highlights: The Market – a fully renovated indoor space featuring local merchants, artisanal food vendors and restaurants

 

White Rock Local Market
9150 Garland Road
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
March-December

Highlights: Wine samples, JJ&B jams and butters, local craft artists

 

Fort Worth

Cowtown Farmers Market
3821 Southwest Boulevard
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
Year-round

Highlights: Fiddle-and-guitar jam sessions, pastured chicken

 

Frisco

Frisco Farmers Market
8821 4th Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May-October

Highlights: Sweet dessert tamales from family-owned Along Came Tamale

 

Grand Prairie

Grand Prairie Farmer’s Market
120 W. Main Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
March-December

Highlights: Plethora of crafts, Christmas in July

 

Grapevine

Grapevine Farmers Market
325 S. Main Street
Thursdays-Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
April-October

Highlights: Specialty olive oil, Farmland cheeses, organic white plums

 

McKinney

Chestnut
315 S. Chestnut Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
April to October

 

Adriatica
6851 Virginia Parkway
Thursdays; 3 to 7 p.m.
April-October

Highlights: Farm-to-table dinners, winter markets, cookie samples

 

Richardson

Four Seasons Market
677 W. Campbell Road
Sundays; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (summer hours)
Year-round

Highlights: European-style market that mimics the popular village markets throughout Europe

 

Rockwall

Rockwall Farmers Market
101 Rusk Street
Saturdays; 8 a.m. to noon
May-September

Highlights: Just Pie’s award-winning, buttermilk Pap’s Texas Pecan

 

Sherman

Sherman Farmers Market
115 N. Travis Street
Saturdays; 9 a.m. to noon
May-October

Highlights: Pasture-raised meats, kombucha, handmade soaps

D-FW Weekend Round Up (9/4-9/7)


Your Weekend Round Up (9/4-9/7)

This weekend in DFW is packed with live music, celebrations, and the first regular season Cowboys game! Check out where you can find Aretha Franklin, Dallas’ best 80’s tribute bands, and one of the most exciting airplane stunt shows in the US.

 

Ken Burns and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History: He’s one of the most acclaimed documentary film makers whose subjects range from the Civil War to Frank Lloyd Wright. Join Ken Burns tonight, Thursday, Sept. 4, at Winspear Opera House to hear him speak about his latest project that focuses on the famous Roosevelt family.

 

First Thursday Late Night: The Perot Museum is introducing an all new series that will take place every first Thursday of the month. Tonight’s inaugural event will feature special guest Jeff Corwin and will explore the amazing islands of the Galapagos.

 

Let’s Dance: Tango, Waltz, and Cha-Cha with the DSO as award-winning dancers strut their stuff on stage Friday, Sept. 5, through Sunday, Sept. 7.

 

Brad Paisley, Randy Houser, Leah Turner & Charlie Worsham: These country stars will take the stage Friday at Gexa for an evening dedicated to their greatest hits and newest music.

 

Carnivores Tour: Linkin Park and 30 Seconds to Mars with special guest AFI will be at Gexa on Saturday, Sept. 6 to rock the night away.

 

Totally 80’s- A Night of Covers: Granada Theater is hosting a night of awesome 80’s cover bands on Saturday. Stop by to relive the decade with two of Dallas’ best tribute bands, Le Cure and Panic.

 

A Night to Remember feat. Aretha Franklin: This year’s fundraiser, hosted by anti-poverty organization CitySquare, takes place this Saturday and features “The Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin. She just one of the many big names to grace the annual event, which has also hosted Steve Martin, B.B. King, Bill Cosby, Jay Leno, and others.

 

Meyerson Symphony Center 25th Anniversary Celebration: Though there is a full week of events celebrating the Dallas Arts District building, Saturday will feature a parade and marching band on Flora Street. After the main event, there will be family-friendly activities and performances.

 

The Most Good Music Festival: Panther Island Pavillion in Fort Worth is hosting another music festival this Saturday, but this one comes with a good cause. You’ll see Jack Ingram, Stoney LaRue and other Texas country singers while benefitting the Salvation Army and its goal of providing 1 million meals to the hungry people of DFW.

 

Target First Saturdays: This free event at the Nasher is design especially for preschool and elementary school children. The theme this month is “Legacy.” Activities are based around inspiring your children’s artistic talents and broaden their understanding and appreciation of the world.

 

Drake vs. Lil Wayne: Head to Gexa on Sunday, Sept. 7, to see a friendly face-off between these two hip-hop/rap icons.

 

Cowboys vs. 49’s: The first regular season Cowboys game is finally here! See the ‘boys take on San Francisco on Sunday at AT&T Stadium and celebrate the beginning of the 2014 NFL season. If you can’t make the game you could always watch it here.

 

Red Bull Air Race 2014: After a three-year hiatus, Red Bull will be back at Texas Motor Speedway with a show that features airplanes flying through incredible aerial racetracks.

 

Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style: Fashion fans will love the newest exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Through October 5, attendees can gaze upon the memorable clothes made for first ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Reagan by one of fashion’s biggest names.

 

Farmer’s Markets: Get your taste of local produce at one of the many farmer’s markets over the long weekend.

 

Image via CitySquare

 

D-FW Weekend Round Up


Weekend Round Up- Pecan Lodge & Wine

 

Who doesn’t love a weekend filled with jazz, timeless theater, and brisket? How about one with a music festival and our Mavs in the playoffs? Welcome to Dallas-Fort Worth, where you can experience all of these things in a few short days. See all the great events going on during the beautiful weekend ahead.

 

Sweeney Todd: From tonight, April 24, to Saturday, April 26, you can enjoy four presentations of Stephen Sondheim’s famed play at Dallas City Performance Hall. More than 150 actors and singers will bring the spectacle to life!

 

Charlotte’s Web: Kids and adults alike will love this rendition of the classic story. The play is presented by Dallas Children’s Theater on Friday, April 25.

 

Pecan Lodge Brisket & Rhone Varietal Wines: On Friday, April 25, $30 will get you a half pound of brisket and 6 delicious Rhone Varietal Wines samples. From 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., “Brisket + Wine = Good Time.”

 

Denton Arts & Jazz Festival: This year’s festival, which is free, will take place Friday, April 25, through Sunday, April 27, in Quakertown Park. More than 2,000 musicians will preform on six different stages, with a heavy emphasis on jazz. You’ll also get a good dose of art, of course.

 

Sherlock Holmes: Various takes on this infamous character have been done on the big screen and TV for years. This Friday, April 25, see a play in which Holmes goes up against his nemesis, Moriarty, in a case surrounded by blackmail. Presented by the Dallas Theater Center, you can catch the show until May 25 at Wyly Theater.

 

Canines and Cadillacs: You read that right! If you’re a fan of pooches and parties, Saturday’s event is the one for you! It supports Duck Team 6, which is a 100% volunteer organization that has rescued over 400 dogs. It’s black-tie optional and there will be hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, cocktails, and live and silent auctions from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

 

Mavs Game: Cheer on our Mavs as they take on the San Antonio Spurs in round one, game three of the playoffs! The game is this Saturday, April 26, at home at 3:30 p.m. Get tickets here.

 

Edgefest 2014: Presented by 102.1 FM KDGE, this year’s Edgefest will showcase big names like Beck, The Avett Brothers, and Bastille. These three, and many others, will rock the festival, which takes place at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.

 

Spring Gallery Walks: Feel going on a walk in this weekend’s nice weather and seeing some art while you’re at it? Head to Deep Ellum for the Spring Gallery Walk that showcases 17 different galleries in the area on Saturday, April 26. The Dallas Art Dealers Association Spring Gallery Walk will also hold open galleries from the Design District to Denton, and there’s a Bike Swarm that begins at Oak Cliff Cultural Center.

 

Fort Worth AIA Home Tour: The Fort Worth chapter of the American Institute of Architects is hosting it’s 3rd annual home tour on Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27 from noon to 6 p.m. The tour will showcase outstanding residential properties in the area.

 

History with a Twist: Travel back in time this weekend as Dallas Heritage Village presents classic cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a performance by the Singapore Slingers. Attendees are encouraged to get in the spirit by wearing vintage early 20th century attire.

 

Local Farmer’s Markets: Take advantage of the beautiful weather and support our local vendors by checking out one of the many farmer’s markets all over D-FW.

 

Image from wineposte.com

D-FW Weekend Round Up


Your D-FW Weekend Round UpThere’s so much going on in D-FW this weekend, we had to roll out the Weekend Round Up post a little early this week. From the Final Four games to a six-block arts festival and a bull run to the farmer’s market, there’s something for everyone to get excited for this weekend!

 

Dining Out in Dallas: Battle of the Chefs is back for another year. Wednesday, April 2, meet over a dozen chefs from Dallas’ finest restaurants and sample their “house” specialities. Also enjoy music, featured wine, spirits, beer, and find out who will win the 2014 Best Chef Award.

 

Deep Ellum Arts Festival: The annual festival, which celebrates its 20th year this year, is back Friday, April 4, through Sunday, April 6. 200 top-notch artists will show off their work along six blocks of Main Street while 100 original bands and singer-songwriters perform on four stages. There’s a pet parade on Sunday, there will be copious food and drink, and admission is free!

 

March Madness Music Fest: From Friday, April 4, to Sunday, April 6, enjoy three days of free live music at the outdoor music festival at Reunion Park in downtown Dallas. The exciting, star-studded lineup includes Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Killers, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, fun., the Eli Young Band, Pat Green, The Wild Feathers, and Jack Ingram. If you don’t mind crowds and you love live music, you’ve got to check this out.

 

NCAA Men’s Final Four: If you were lucky enough to get tickets, or if you’d like to catch the big games on a TV around town, Florida takes on UConn April 5 at 5:09 p.m. and Wisconsin takes on Kentucky April 5 at 7:49 p.m.

 

The Great Bull Run: Ever want to participate in a bull run? Saturday, April 5, at Texas Motorplex you can grab life by the horns and experience the rush of a lifetime as you sprint down a quarter-mile track with up to twenty-four 1,500-pound bulls hot on your heels. You can also join as a spectator or partake in the Tomato Royale food fight.

 

“It’s in the Sauce” Competition: Chefs Dean Fearing, Dexter Samuel, Kent Rathbun, and Tre Wilcox will each create a one-of-a-kind barbecue dish using Sonny Bryan’s signature barbecue sauce live during the event at South Side on Lamar from 11:30 am to 1 pm on Saturday, April 5. This flavorful fundraiser benefits four local non-profit organizations.

 

Big Texas Beer Fest: Head to the Fair Park Automobile Building for this year’s festival that celebrates great beer, small businesses, and supports local charities. Tickets are $35 for general admission, which begins Saturday, April 5, at 2 p.m.

 

White Rock Local Market: Find the best of local produce, meats and cheese, breads and pastries, pickles, jams, tamales and more at this wonderful farmer’s market. On the 1st and 2nd Saturdays you will also find hand made furniture, toys, clothes, soaps and more, all made by North Texans. For all the fabulous markets in D-FW, click here.

 

Photo via ncaa.com/marchmadness