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It’s Apple Picking Season: Discover the Stemilt Growers Apple Varieties

Last summer we highlighted some summer fruits that we think make the perfect fast food. One of the fruits we highlighted were the deliciously sweet white cherries from Stemilt Growers. Today, in honor of the upcoming fall season, we’re celebrating the many tasty Stemilt Growers apple varieties. We had the opportunity to sample three of their apple varieties: Fuji, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith. Stemilt Growers has a total of fourteen apple varieties growing in their Washington State orchard. Those varieties include the above mentioned three plus Gala, Pinata, Honey Crisp, Sweetango, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Jonagold, Braeburn, Ambrosia, Mcintosh, and Cosmic Crisp. Let’s get to know more about the three apple varieties we enjoyed (all pictured below), starting with our favorite, the Pink Lady brand.

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PINK LADY BRAND

The Pink Lady brand is just as the name suggests, pink (with some slight yellow tones). This subtly sweet, crisp Australian apple will easily make you a fan at your first bite. It is a combination of the Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apple varieties, which accounts for its sweet flavor with a slight tartness. The Pink Lady is very firm and dense, which gives its continuous crispness with every bite. The inside is a bright white flesh that is resistant to getting brown when it’s cut. Stemilt Pink Lady apples are harvested in October and November, and available through July.

FUJI

My second favorite apple (tied with Gala apples) is the Fuji apple. The juiciest and sweetest of the three Stemilt Growers apple varieties, Fuji apples are the perfect choice for those with a sweet tooth. A cross between two classic American apple varieties – Red Delicious and Virginia Ralls Janet, the Stemilt Fuji apple are harvested in September and October but are available all year round. You’ll recognize Fujis by their reddish stripes and slight red blush color over a yellow background color. Bite into the Fuji apple’s crisp exterior to reveal a firm, creamy-white flesh.

GRANNY SMITH

The only green apple, as well as the most tart, the Granny Smith is one of the most well-known apple varieties and one of the best apples for baking pies. The Granny Smith apple is firm with a strong tartness similar to a lemon. Its interior is as firm as its exterior and boasts a bright white flesh that also resists browning when sliced. Just like the Fuji apples, Granny Smith apples are also harvested in September and October and are available all year long.

Do you have a favorite apple variety or an apple recipe you like to enjoy during the fall season? What are your favorite Stemilt Growers apple varieties?

Want Fast Food? Get Some Fruits

If you really consider the definition of fast food, food that can be prepared quickly, and can be a quick meal, fruit absolutely falls under that category. You need no real preparation, you can eat it on the go, and it satisfies your hunger. Additionally, with the extreme heat and humidity of the summer season, you can’t help but eat lighter meals, so yes, fruits are fast food. Today we’re going to highlight some of our favorite fruits, some new (there are some great new, slightly sweeter versions of your old favorites) and some old favorites from Stemilt Growers, Wonderful Citrus, The National Mango Board, Rainier Fruit, and KIKU Apple.

Skylar Rae Cherries – Stemilt Growers

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When they say this is the sweetest cherry you’ll ever eat, believe them. This rare, bi-colored Skylar Rae Cherry was discovered by chance; it boasts incredible firmness high sugars and is available for a very limited time (only two months out of the summer). Its skin is a golden yellow with a partial to full orange-red blush (not to be confused with the Rainier), and its delicious interior is very firm, with a smooth flesh that is nearly colorless. one bite of this very sweet and exceptionally crisp cherry variety and you’ll be in heaven. This delicious fruit works great in salads, and as a garnish for summertime drinks, but you may find yourself enjoying them as a snack right out of the bag.

Wonderful Sweet Scarletts Texas Red Grapefruits

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Those of you who like to sprinkle a bit of sugar or drizzle honey on your morning grapefruits, say goodbye to that ritual because the reddest, sweetest and tastiest grapefruit is at your local supermarket. The Non-GMO verified Sweet Scarletts (the first grapefruit to be verified by the Non-GMO Project) are 100% Texas-grown from the southern region near the Rio Grande River and owe their uber-sweetness to the lower nighttime temperatures, higher daytime temperatures, and the soil around the Rio Grande River in Texas. You want nutrition? Just half a grapefruit gives you 100% of the daily value of vitamin C you need, only has about 60 calories, they’re naturally fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free. Delicious and very good for you.

Mangoes – National Mango Board

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If you’re looking for wonderful fruits to enjoy during the summer, why not go tropical and grab a Mango or two. It’s decadent tropical flavor, juicy and nutrient-rich flesh, and wonderful sensory experience, make eating mangoes a healthy eating and fun experience. Packed with nutrients that range from prebiotic dietary fiber, electrolytes, minerals, antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E, the versatile mango is available year round and adds delicious flavor to a balanced meal, and gives you the recommended  5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables you need every day.

Lady Alice Apples

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Although we’ve missed the short season for these distinguished apples (the season runs from February – May), we still wanted to include it in our roundup. What makes Lady Alice Apples stand out? First, they have a distinct pink stripe over a vibrant banana yellow background, a look that’s distinctive from other apple varieties, it’s sweet with a delicate infusion of tartness, and has a crisp, juicy crunch that’s not just delicious, but discernible as well. This “Washington Original”was discovered by chance as a seedling in Gleed, WA. It keeps its texture in cooking and baking, and of course makes a great, healthy snack. we highly recommend adding this all-purpose apple in the spring.

KIKU Apples

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Continuing on the apple trail, get ready for another super tasty, premium apple. Much like the above, KIKU Apples boast a yellowish background, with a ruby-red striped overcolor. KIKU apples are very juicy and sweet (they has a balanced sugar-acidity ratio), fresh, and firm with a great crunch that lasts a long time. This sweet apple was discovered in Japan in 1990 by apple expert,  Luis Braun, and are available year round to enjoy. What distinguishes KIKU is its internal “honey-core“, which grows bigger and more yellow indicating its ripeness and good sugar content.

What I’m Craving | Del Monte Mango Fruit Cup Snacks

While I love discovering new brands, I find myself becoming quite nostalgic and fiercely loyal when a long-time favorite brand launches a new product I know I will enjoy. I’m a lover of fruit and I can’t always take fresh fruit on the go with me, so I opt for fruit cups. One of my go-to brands is Del Monte. The majority of my grocery list is filled with apple sauce, pear chunks, tangerine slices, etc which I either eat as a snack or use for a few smoothies. Of course not all fruits are available – I love mango but until recently, I had to buy whole mangoes, slice them, etc. Thanks to Del Monte, I don’t have to do that anymore with their Mango Fruit Snack Packs.

I have enjoyed several packs of this delicious tropical fruit. I hope you don’t mind my sharing a few of my favorite recipes – all of which you guys should definitely try.

Mango Refresher

1 jar (20 oz.) Del Monte® SunFresh® Mango, undrained
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
8 ice cubes
(Optional) fresh mint
Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor; blend until smooth. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint, if desired

Mango Chicken Stir-fry

2 cups Del Monte® SunFresh® Mango, drained and cubed
3 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut in cubes (I sometimes substitute shrimp)
1 cup green pepper strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup stir-fry sauce or sweet and sour sauce
1/4 cup sliced green onions
(Optional) salt
(Optional) pepper
(Optional) rice
Cook chicken, green pepper, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes in oil in large skillet, 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in sauce and green onions; cook 2 minutes. Add fruit and heat through. Serve with rice, if desired.

Don’t feel like cooking, you can eat it straight out of the cup or add a few extras first like granola, yogurt, etc to get a little snack variety. All these delicious fruits are available at your local grocery store.

Sun-Maid Products – Healthy Snacking

We’re all guilty of it, I’m talking about unhealthy snacking. We get a craving and without thinking, we reach for those potato chips, cookies, etc. We need to stop the robotic control we’re under when it comes to snacking and that starts with stocking our homes with healthy snacks.

Sun-Maid has a plethora of products that are perfect for that mid-day twinge – Raisins, Apricots, Currants, Mixed Fruits, Plums, Dates, Figs, that amazing Raisin Bread, etc. My top three favorites (I have quite a few) actually all fall under the Raisin category: Jumbo Raisins, Golden Raisins and Raisin and Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I could eat an entire bag of either the Jumbo Raisins and Golden Raisins and my caloric and fat intake would still be less than if I ate just a few potato chips or cookies. Both products have no Trans Fat, No Saturated Fat, No Cholesterol and over 300 milligrams of Potassium. I prefer to think of Sun-Maid products as tasty snacks that’s healthy rather the other way around because when most people think of healthy eating, taste is usually the last good point on the list.

I had a chance to speak to a representative from Sun-Maid at the Modern Moms Editors Showcase (apologies for sound but it was a very active and noisy showcase)

Now while Sun-Maids products are a great instant or last minute snack, they also are wondering to cook and bake with. I’m sure you’re thinking, oh yeah Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies are delicious but I implore you to be a bit more creative. As the weather gets warmer, I invite you to try the following recipe:

Lemony Raisin Bars

Ingredients

2 cups Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
1 can (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 cup butter or margarine
1-1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups oats
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

HEAT oven to 375 F.
In saucepan, COMBINE raisins, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon rind.
COOK and stir over medium heat just until bubbly. Cool slightly.
In bowl, COMBINE butter, brown sugar and vanilla; beat well.
ADD flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in oats and walnuts.
RESERVE 2 cups oat mixture for topping.
PRESS remaining mixture into 13×9-inch greased pan.
SPREAD raisin mixture to within 1/2 inch of edges.
SPRINKLE with reserved oat mixture; press lightly.
BAKE 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

Makes 48 bars.

And if you’re feeling extra bold, why not try these as well:

Summer: Tropical Pasta Salad – http://www.sunmaid.com/recipes/recipe/tropical_pasta_salad.html

BBQ Time: Savory Apricot Chicken Kabobs – http://www.sunmaid.com/en/recipes/recipe/Savory_Apricot_Chicken_Kabobs.html