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We all know having a balanced, fruit and vegetable diet is important, right? After all, that’s what our parents always told us. However it seems most folks never took this advice to heart.
According to the USDA, we need 2.5 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit per day. However, the average American only consumes about 1.6 cups of veggies and 1 cup of fruit. How do fruits and vegetables fit into your diet plan?
Fruits and veggies contain all kinds of useful minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and can help your waistline. They can also be a great source of fiber.
That said, many of us struggle with maintaining a fruit and vegetable diet. If you belong in this group, here are 5 ways to enhance your fruit and veggie diet.
Change Your Approach
Change the way you think about fruits and vegetables.
All too often people associate fruit and vegetable diets with a bad experience, maybe from as far back as childhood. For example; They may associate sliced tomatoes with a slimy tomato they got on a stale sandwich or corn with salty canned corn served at their grandma’s house in the eighties.
The truth is, fruits and vegetables are amazing when selected and served correctly!
Instead of shopping for canned vegetables, buy them fresh from your local produce market. If you have any questions make sure to ask the employees.
At Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce we pride ourselves in a staff that is ready answer your questions and offer suggestions.
Click to find out what’s in season.
Find new ways to serve your fruits and vegetables. Sliced, sautéed or baked with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Discover the variety of colors available with a fruit and vegetable diet. It’s truly amazing how a colorful meal can inspire a meal for friends and family.
Whether shopping for tonight’s dinner for one or a family’s meals for the week, think about which fruits and/or veggies would taste good with it. As you experiment and try different options, you will find the preferences of you and those around you.
Take It to the Road
Some of us get hungry while we’re out running errands or on the way home. This is a perfect opportunity to add another serving of fruits and vegetables into your diet!
Remember to pick convenient on-the-go snacks. Some good examples include baby carrots, blueberries, and celery sticks. Having a small container of almonds or walnuts is a shrewd choice that stores well and adds protein to your daily snacking.
The next time you are shopping at your local Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce, look into our dried vegetable and fruit options. Banana Chips and Wasabi Peas are age old favorites.
Fun Fact: Peas are not actually vegetables. Can you guess what they are?
You are more likely to eat vegetables if they’re at hand, washed and ready to eat. There are a few ways to go about this.
You can buy pre-cut, pre-washed veggies, or you can chop them yourself.
No matter which option you choose, your vegetables should always be stored in your fridge, ready for munching.
Think about what containers you use and where you place your vegetable snacks so that they are easily accessible.
While prepping your healthy snack time options, place a container of hummus or low-fat ranch near by. Having such dipping options handy will only increase your likelihood to maintain a solid fruit and vegetable diet.
Drink Your Fruits and Veggies
Processed juices are not a good way to increase your fruit intake. They are often high in sugar, low in key nutrients and honestly don’t tastes as good as freshly made juice. Instead, try making juices and smoothies on your own!
We often think of fruit when referring to juices and smoothies, but vegetables can be a healthy and delicious ingredient as well. Find fun ways to combine both fruits and vegetables depending on what’s in season and your desired end result.
You can often purchase vegetable smoothies off the shelf at your neighborhood grocery store, or you can make them on your own.
Also, consider adding some other items to your smoothies. Avocados, almonds, and chia seeds are all a great fit. These foods add some healthy fats and nutrients while enhancing the fruity taste.
Find Your Favorites
With such a wide variety of fruits and veggies out there, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a handful you like. Once you have a couple of favorites, keep buying them.
By understanding your preferences and exploring the foods you like, you’ll be more likely to stick to your diet. There are so many different recipes and ways to prepare each fruit and vegetable.
That said, it would do you good to leave your comfort zone once in a while. After all, experimenting with new options is the easiest way to find a new favorite. It may be that you don’t care for fresh tomatoes, but absolutely love them sautéed or sun-dried! Maybe boiled or steamed broccoli has never been your thing, but baked with a little olive oil, salt and pepper is!
More on a Fruit and Vegetable Diet
Considering all the benefits of a fruit and vegetable diet, it’s a wonder why so many people choose to ignore it. Thankfully, it’s never too late to change your ways and increase your fruit and veggie intake.
Not sure where to get fresh produce in Tacoma, WA? You can always visit one of our three stores. We’ve got a great selection of fruit and vegetables at affordable prices!
Are you spending your hard-earned cash on vegetables, only for them to go bad after buying them? Want to know some easy ways to properly store vegetables so they’ll stay fresh for as long as possible?
In this article, we’re covering how to store your vegetables so you can keep your vegetables fresh (and delicious).
How to Store Vegetables
Have you ever stopped by the farmers market on a whim and left with way too much produce? It happens to the best of us – all of the beautiful fresh fruits and veggies look so good that we fill up our whole bag without knowing exactly how we’ll be cooking all of it!
Or maybe you plan on going away for the weekend before you can finish all the vegetables in your fridge. Well, the good thing is that there are ways to save these vegetables and spare yourself the waste.
When it comes to storing vegetables, each piece of produce is different from the next. Here are some general best practices on how to store vegetables, so you can rest easy knowing you have a few days to prepare them before they go bad.
Store Your Leafy Greens Immediately
If you purchase leafy greens, you should try to consume them within 1-2 days of purchasing them. This will ensure freshness and guarantee that you’re getting as many nutrients out of them as possible.
When storing them, wrap the unwashed leaves in a paper towel. It’s important to absorb any excess moisture on the leaves because that will cause them to rot faster. Once you’ve wrapped them, place them in a plastic bag and put them in your fridge.
Make sure to discard any rotten leaves before storing your greens in the fridge. And try to separate your different varieties of greens into separate bags!
Using the Fridge
It’s important to remember that certain veggies should be stored in a cool, dry place but not in the fridge. Potatoes, onions, and even tomatoes need their own dedicated space in the kitchen. Putting them in the fridge will cause them to lose some flavor. For your other produce, keep anything that’s not fully ripe out on the counter. Once your vegetables are ripe, it’s time to use the fridge or freezer.
Freeze Your Vegetables if You Can’t Eat Them in Time
The first thing you should do to store vegetables is chop the ripened veggies and freeze them for future use. You can freeze a variety of vegetables including bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, eggplant, mushrooms, and green beans.
Fall is upon us; some seasonal favorites that freeze well are pumpkin and squash.
To store them correctly, you’ll need to blanch the vegetables in hot water before sticking them in the freezer. This will neutralize any bacteria present in the vegetables, and in turn, delay spoilage. This is the step most people forget, and it makes all the difference.
Freezing veggies is a great way to meal prep – especially for soup. You can have all your favorite soup’s ingredients in one bag ready to go for an easy, healthy meal.
Buy & Prep Appropriately
When it comes to freshness, some vegetables last longer than others. Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and turnips will last up to two weeks in the fridge. Sturdier greens like kale and collard greens will also last a lot longer than greens like lettuce.
Beyond buying sturdier vegetables, you need to try to prep and store them the best way possible. For vegetables like carrots and beets, you should remove the tops and greens and store them separately. Keep pod vegetables and zucchini in resealable bags, and refrain from refrigerating vegetables like gourds.
It’s important to remember that the storing process differs by vegetable. Some will always last longer than others no matter how much you try to keep them fresh. If you’re uncertain how long a certain vegetable will last, check out this checklist on vegetable freshness. And as always, if you stop by a local Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce, our team can answer any questions you may have about specific veggies on your shopping list.
Final Thoughts on Vegetable Freshness
It isn’t fun to find out that the vegetables you bought have gone bad before you had a chance to use them. But, if you follow these easy tips, you’ll know how to store vegetables correctly and maximize their freshness. This guide will help you prevent food waste and save money too!
Unsure of what to do with your vegetables? Want some fun and easy recipes to try out? Let us know in the comments!
Having a mental menu of easy meals to make can be oh so useful! Your, friends, family and guests will all appreciate your cooking genius that helps you glide through those early morning wake-up calls and late night hunger pangs.
Don’t Get Hangry
“Hangry” isn’t just a fun word to say, it’s a gosh-darn real thing! According to scientific research, hunger contributes to poor decision-making and impulsive choices. A drop in blood-sugar levels for even the healthiest of athletes can make for grumpy times.
Skip the rumbling stomach, cranky guests, and crying kids by preparing healthy meals in fewer than 12 minutes. Here are five easy meals you can prepare at home.
Salads for Life
Salad is a quick and easy go-to meal. Either keep a rotating selection of greens in your fridge, or pick your own fresh lettuce from your garden or patio.
Spruce up your leafy greens with chickpeas, beans, veggies, seeds or nuts. Then drizzle your creation with some super healthy vinegar and olive oil.
To make it more filling, you can add a slice of crispy bread. If you love meat, add tuna, chicken or a boiled egg. For extra flavor, sprinkle some kosher sea-salt.
Some Egg-celent Choices
Eggs are a quick and easy way to add protein and flavor to left overs. One example is to pour that box of fries from the night before in a frying pan with butter. Add some chopped deli ham, maybe some onions, scallions or spinach. Once heated, add a scrambled egg and some cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Voila! An amazing hot breakfast.
Have some leftover beans and rice from your favorite Mexican restaurant? Consider adding a fried egg, and wrapping it all into a burrito or make a burrito bowl.
If you’re looking for something a little different, try a normal cheese omelet with chimichurri. Chimichurri is a green sauce that consists of garlic cloves, parsley, olive oil, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar and kosher salt. Chimichurri is great with an omelet but also goes well on fish, tacos, steaks and sandwiches.
Avocados are amazing. They are rich in healthy fats and protein. They are filling, and are great for your digestive system. As an added bonus, eating avocados year round helps to support small town economies in Mexico.
So what’s the best way to eat an avocado? Everybody is raving about their avocado toast these days, but have you considered an avocado and tomato grilled cheese sandwich? It’s an excellent choice for lunch or supper. Because of the avocado’s texture, you don’t need to use much cheese, which gives you that grilled cheese satisfaction, with more of a healthy kick.
To make this sandwich all you need is one avocado, one ripe tomato, butter, mozzarella cheese slices, sliced bread and some salt. It’s important to salt the tomatoes before putting the sandwich together.
Frozen Chicken Fillets
One of the best things for quick and easy meals are frozen chicken breast fillets. They are thin enough to cook quickly, and are small enough for portion control. If you have frozen grilled chicken, you can put this recipe together in no time.
A quick a flavorful recipe is to pan-sear your chicken and spice it with some Tacoma Boys Cajun seasoning. Make sure it’s cooked all the way through, then spend a few minutes sautéing pre-chopped zucchini and squash (click for some other Cajun veggie ideas).
At your local Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce we carry frozen chicken, along with an amazing selection of fresh chicken from our meat department. If you’ve never had free range, organic chicken, stop in today and try some. You won’t be disappointed!
South Western Steak Salad
It may be difficult to believe that a healthy steak dinner could be prepared so fast but timing is everything. While your steak is cooking, you have time to assemble the salad and put together a light and creamy chipotle dressing.
This meal can be packed with ripe tomatoes, silky avocado, and fresh summer corn. Not to mention your favorite cut of deliciously marbled steak. For an added crunch, serve this meal with crushed tortilla chips.
To up your sophistication level when it comes to quick and easy meals — our H&L Produce location offers dry aged beef. The slow aging process breaks down the protein in the beef, allowing for a buttery smooth texture that is found at the finest steak houses. Order yours today!
How is your Spice Library?
Take a naked breast of chicken and add a little salt, pepper and olive oil. You have yourself a delicious entrée. Now let’s switch that up with some pre-made seasoning from your very own Tacoma Boy’s spice library.
There is no need to hit up the popular fast food options. Within easy reach you can your meal to match your mood. From Mexican to Cajun to Italian or Curry. Having a well stocked spice library makes cooking fun and easy!
Stock The Essesntials
One of the best ways to ensure your kitchen is ready for quick and easy meals is to stock up on the essentials. It’s also a great way to make sure you are eating healthy!
A supply of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper can take you a long way toward eating fast and healthy meals. Butter, your favorite seasonings, rice, pastas and jarred sauces are another ways to ensure you have the means necessary to eat well at short notice.
Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce have a huge selection of specialty foods, from pickled quail eggs to spicy salsas and pasta sauces. Take a look the next time you are in and stock up for your next last minute feast.
Tools for Easy Meals
Cooking tools are important as well. A good sharp knife for slicing fruits, veggies and meats. A cutting board and bread knife. Take note that having multiple knives, measuring cups and cutting surfaces can make your cooking time more efficient. One cutting surface and knife for your veggies, another for your meat, etc.
As for cooking surfaces it’s great to have a pot for boiling water, another for warming sauces. A non-stick frying pan and a colander to drain your noodles and vegetables. Make sure that all of your cooking utensils are safe to use on hot surfaces! Some spatulas are NOT heat resistant. Nothing like melted silicon to ruin a meal.
Clean as You Cook
It doesn’t take much to create small habits of cleaning as you cook. Rinse that sauce pan with hot water while the sauce is still pliable. Wipe off those counters and clean those cutting boards while the sauce simmers.
If you think about it, keeping a clean cooking area just makes sanitary sense! By taking these small steps and more, you will end your prep time with considerably less to clean once finished.
Believe it or not, a dishwasher is a huge time saver! Combine it with dishwasher friendly pots, pans and utensils, and your evening can be spent with the ones you love — even if that’s just your favorite actor on Netflix.
Easy Meals: A Wrap-Up
Cooking easy meals at home shouldn’t be too difficult. Just make sure you’re ready and know your way around the stovetop and microwave.
No matter the time of day, you can get affordable fresh produce from Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce to prepare your hot home-cooked meals in minutes. Contact us today at any of our three locations.
We’re all guilty of opting for a bag of chips from the office vending machine, when we could have planned ahead with more nutritious snacks like a vegan cookie. While the occasional splurge won’t hurt you too much, we should be wary of how to handle that 3 p.m. urge for calories. Maybe consider some different kinds of vegetable snacks to satisfy your hunger, while keeping your health in mind.
Junk food takes an enormous toll on our bodies, from promoting obesity to increasing blood pressure levels. In fact, 13.5 million children worldwide now have an impaired glucose tolerance, which is a precursor to diabetes.
Our solution to combat cravings is to replace unhealthy snacks with healthy alternatives. Here is a list of delicious vegetable snacks for those who are on the go!
1. Kale Chips
No one ever said you had to do away with your favorite salty treat altogether at all. Kale chips are the perfect replacement for regular potato chips. They are flavorful, easy to make, and have under half the calories of their fried alternatives.
To make your own kale chips, start with some basic prep work. Remove the stem, wash your kale, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, tear your kale into roughly 4-inch pieces. Then wash your kale with a colander.
Place the drained and dried kale onto a baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over the top. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the “chips” and bake for 5 minutes. Voila!
2. Hummus Toast
Here’s a spin on a modern brunch classic. Hummus is a vegetarian friendly spread made from chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, garlic and spices. It is a great source of protein, iron and fiber. Fiber tends to expand in your stomach, making you feel full longer.
Making hummus toast is simple. Lather some toast with your favorite hummus. Get your veggie fill by adding in some fun ingredients, like cucumbers, peppers and/or tomatoes. Here are some ideas to get you started!
If hummus isn’t your thing, avocado will certainly do.
3. Stuffed Peppers
These spicy meat-filled snackers aren’t usually associated with being healthy. But they are delicious. You can certainly make your own small tweaks to this classic appetizer and make it more nutritious.
Fill a large peppadew with chopped meat such as bacon or salami along with some parmesan or mozzarella cheese. Alternatively — if you can handle the spice – try stuffing a slice of Coastal cheddar inside a Jalapeno pepper.
Some healthy options might include substituting the bacon or salami with lean, seasoned ground beef. Seasoned rice and/or beans can also make for a healthy alternative filling.
4. Beet Hummus
Beet hummus contains all of the basic ingredients as regular hummus, along with the addition of one large beet.
Roast a large beet then blend it with a food processor. Add in chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon, paprika, and cumin.
Beets are a great source of fiber, folate and vitamin c. They are also thought to help lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance among other potential benefits.
Get the full recipe here.
5. Veggies and Peanut Butter
What seems like just a way to get kids to eat their green turns out to be a great quick energy snack!
Take your favorite veggie. Dip it or slather it in some peanut butter and you have a delicious, fresh, protein packed snack! Carrots and celery are maybe the most common vegetable used with peanut butter, but nothing is stopping you from experimenting with peppers, cauliflower or even broccoli.
“Ants On a Log” is a a fun treat for kids and adults alike . Simply take some celery stalks, fill the gap with peanut butter, then line the peanut butter with raisins. This is a fun recipe that kids can easily take part in preparing.
6. Cucumbers and Hummus
While we are on the subject of dipping veggies, let’s take a good look at cucumbers and hummus! Cucumbers have a natural, refreshing quality that balances well with the fibrous, protein laden texture of hummus.
Serve this snack with a dollop of hummus on each slice, or as a plate of cucumber slices with a side of hummus. Mix it up with other dipping options like bell peppers, carrots or celery.
7. Cauliflower Pizza Dough
There are so many fun and amazing ways to substitute popular dishes with vegetable variations. More and more people are becoming aware of gluten intolerance which can take away their favorite dishes.
Thankfully there are crafty people out there who are mixing things up a bit to solve this problem. In the process everyone seems to win, as new healthy options are being developed all the time!
Cauliflower pizza dough is one such creation. Pick yours up today at your local Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce.
8. Avocado Everything Toast
While it’s fair to say that avocados are more of a meal than a snack, you know we couldn’t finish the list without at least one avocado recipe. Try this snack option on either a piece of toast or spread out to multiple crackers.
For our snacking purposes we will choose some Wasa light rye flatbread. Rye actually helps you feel full, while the flatbread is a great light alternative to thick slices of toast. Slice and spread your avocado as you see fit. On top of the avocado, sprinkle some homemade Everything But The Bagel Seasoning.
Local Produce for Your Vegetable Snacks
Getting into healthier eating habits doesn’t have to be too difficult. It also doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg.
You can find all the produce you need for your vegetable snacks right here at Tacoma Boys! Plus, we also offer a number of things you won’t find at your regular grocery store. Curious as to what we’re talking about?
Are you looking for the perfect gift for a friend, coworker, or family member? It can be hard to choose the right gift for different people, especially if you’ve already got them a number of presents in the past. I know it’s going to be hard to beat the watch I got for my partner from WatchShopping last year! Not all presents are going to be appreciated either, in fact, people return about $380 billion worth of gifts each year.
So how can you beat the odds and give a gift they’ll truly love? When gifting things like clothes, jewelry, books, and household items, you have to worry about the color, design, size, and if they already own the gift in question so you have to know the person really, really well in order for it to be perfect. This is why many look to Custom gift ideas to fill this need when it rises.
The good thing about gifting food from a specialty market near Tacoma is that you don’t have to worry about any of that. Just make sure it’s a food they like. And of course, you want to make sure the gift is special and unique, just like them.
Keep reading to discover 5 unique food gifts from a specialty market near Tacoma.
Chocolate and Handmade Fudge
Chocolate gifts don’t just have to be for Valentine’s day or anniversaries.
If you have a chocolate lover in your life, consider giving them a variety of chocolates from all over the world. They’ll love comparing classic American chocolate to imported chocolate. As chocolate is always a great to give, especially if you are looking for a unique gift idea, you might wanna try something like The Amazing Chocolate Workshop.
Of course, don’t forget to get a nice assortment of milk, dark, and white chocolate. And don’t forget the nuts and fruit that add wider variety.
Looking for a local favorite? We carry a wide selection Seattle Chocolate Truffle Bars. Specialty items like Pike Place Espresso, San Juan Sea Salt or the Many Thanks Truffle Bar might be the perfect touch to personalize a gift.
Have a friend that’s vegan, has a gluten intolerance or is organically minded? We have just the chocolate bar for them! Leafy Mama creates a bar that is all of those things, complete with a beautiful natural presentation.
If you’re looking for something handmade, try fudge. At Tacoma Boys, we hand-make almost 30 different flavors of fudge. Consider gifting a mix of traditional flavors, like chocolate and vanilla pecan with unique flavors like jalapeno, green tea, and banana nut.
If they aren’t a chocolate lover, maybe a gourmet cheese will suit their fancy.
Tacoma Boys offers a wide selection of cheese from across the United States and the World. Looking for a local favorite? Be sure to ask one of our knowledgeable employees to help you find something. They might lead you to a selection from Beecher’s or Tillamook.
One of our customer favorites is Coastal Cheddar from Ford Farm in Dorchester, England. This hand crafted cheese is made from the milk of free-range, grass-fed cattle.
Consider including crackers or wine to your gourmet cheese for a more cohesive and complete gift.
Are you shopping for someone who loves to cook and try new things? At Tacoma Boys we have a plethora of hard to find, quality items to pique the interest of any epicurean.
We’ve all heard of infused olive oil, but what about a gift of infused vinegar?
Infused vinegar can be used in place of marinades when cooking. It can also be used as a salad dressing or as a bread dip with a little extra kick. Anyone would love a unique and versatile gift of infused vinegar.
Organic and natural food products make great gifts for health nuts and nature lovers alike. Honey may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it can make a delicious gift.
Honey is an all-natural way to sweeten your beverages, breakfast and desserts. It can also do well as a sugar substitute in many recipes!
One of the other health benefits of eating local honey, is that it helps our bodies develop a tolerance to the pollen of local plant life. Ever get the sniffles or sneeze during certain parts of the year? Try a dose of local honey!
Tacoma Boys is a specialty market near Tacoma, WA that sources its natural honey from a local beekeeper. You may think that all honey is the same, but each type of honey actually has a distinct flavor depending on what flower was used during pollination.
They will love this unique and sweet treat, and you’ll be helping to save the bees, too!
Sometimes men are the hardest to shop for. Think outside the box and consider a healthy selection of cured meat. Instead of a dozen roses, the man in your life may be thrilled to receive a dozen different pepperonis and jerkies, wrapped in butcher paper.
Take note of their favorites, and you have an amazing gift idea ready for the next occasion.
NW Beer Basket
Did you know that the Northwest is home to some of the best craft breweries in the world? Our region’s grain growers provide us with a bounty of ingredients for a variety of brews.
Consider purchasing one of our inexpensive wicker baskets, and making your own gift basket of local brews, or maybe mix it up with our wide selection of international brews!
Custom Gift Basket
Is it too hard to choose just one food gift? We think so!
At Tacoma Boys, we handcraft custom gift baskets for anyone on your list. Just give us the theme, budget, and quantity — and we’ll do the rest.
This is a perfect solution for folks who may want a basket of samples for that special someone, or simply have no idea what to get! You could even add something like a fewpersonalized bobbleheads to each basket to add that extra bit of uniqueness. It’s also a quick way to create a specialize gifts one person or your entire staff.
Themed gift baskets are easy to shape around a certain person, holiday or occasion. Just call in your theme idea and pick it up when ready!
Unique Gifts from A Specialty Market Near Tacoma
If you’re living in Washington and looking for a unique food gift, look no further. Tacoma Boys, a specialty market near Tacoma, has a bounty of giftable foods.
A wide variety of chocolate, handmade fudge, gourmet cheese, infused vinegar, and natural honey are available. If you can’t decide what to get, we can make and deliver a custom gift basket for you!
Do you want to know more? Contact us today for more information or to order your unique food gift.