Picking the Perfect Produce

When I go to the grocery store, I always follow a strict route around the OUTSIDE perimeters of the store, occasionally I will grab a few things from the inner isles but that is it!  Why?? Because this is where you will find everything you should buy when sticking to a good diet. You will find fresh Produce, Vegetables, the Deli, Bakery, Meat department, Seafood Department, and Dairy section. Cruising the inner isles will set you up for disaster if you lack will power… Inner isles usually contain your dressings, marinades, soups, tea/ coffee, pasta, cereal, candy, baking products, spices, juices, soda, alcohol, snacks, candy and cookies. Inner freezer isles contain frozen pizza, appetizers, pre-made dinners, frozen fruits, veggies and juices, ice cream and breakfast food.  So keep this layout in mind when heading to the grocery store your next trip out!

The first section I hit when I go to the grocery store is the produce section. I absolutely love fruit and I’m not sure if there is any kind I don’t like! Fruit is a very important component of a healthy balanced diet. Although, depending on my own personal diet I will pick up grapefruit, apples, bananas, some type of berry or kiwi fruit. At some point, a few of these won’t be on the menu… So, I ALWAYS make sure I am super picky with the types fruits I choose! Knowing what to look for in good produce is key especially when you have specific ones you can consume! I like to pick the best, so I can thoroughly enjoy every bite! There is nothing worse than looking forward to eating a piece of fruit or vegetable and realizing that you bought a dud!

Here are a list of fruits with the helpful tips I have to picking the best ones when I do my weekly grocery shopping.

Grapefruit: Don’t just look for a bright yellow color, make sure the skin is smooth, shiny and pick it up to weigh it. The heavier the grapefruit, the juicier and sweeter! Some grapefruits will give off a sweet scent or develop a blush tone color when ripe, just make sure they are heavy with smooth, shiny skin!

Strawberries: These are some of my favorite in the berry family! Strawberries are always best when they are in season.  Even though strawberries are carried by your grocery store most of the year, they are only in peak season from June through the middle of August! When choosing your carton look for the plump, deep red color berries.  Make sure they look firm and do not contain a hint of green or white at the base of the stems, chances are that means they still have ripening to do! The larger the berry doesn’t always mean the better or sweeter… so don’t ignore the small ones too!

Apples:  Did you know that there are over 40 different varieties of apples to choose from?! Ranging from the colors, to the taste, to the size and the baking uses! No matter what the color, make sure you handle the apple to tell whether it is firm and look for soft spots or “Bruises”.  Also be mindful of the reason you purchase them. Are they for consumption, baking or cooking? I generally buy apples to eat them fresh. The variety I love to buy is the “Honeycrisp” apple. Honeycrisps are available starting in September. These apples can also get to the size of softballs!!! They are blush tone, coral colored apples bursting with juice and a crisp, sweet flavor. I also like to use Honeycrisp apples for my holiday apple salad! I used to use Red Delicious apples, but they got mushy and brown if they sat with my other ingredients… Honeycrisps I find, don’t brown as quickly and they keep that crunch These apples are great for baking pies too!!

Blueberries: In this case it is always “The bigger the berry the sweeter the juice”  so choose the plumpest, blue/grey container of berries you can find. Steer clear of any with red or purple colored undertones… That means they are not quite ready to consume. These are also one of many Super Foods! Blueberries are very high in anti-oxidants, and are great on anyone’s diet!

Bananas: I actually bought a bundle of bananas at my local grocery store a couple weeks ago and the entire display of them were very green throughout… I had no choice but to take my pick of what they had and they sat on my counter for 1 solid WEEK and never ripened!!! I guess the shipment of bananas they had gotten were picked too soon and were not able to ripen after being picked. I tried to peel one before I threw all of them away and I ended up having to cut the peel with a steak knife to even get it started!! The actual banana itself was as hard as a rock. I have never seen anything like this before when buying bananas. Sooo… learn from my experience… when you pick up a bunch of bananas at the store, it is OK for the top of the peel to be somewhat green, but it should then fade into a nice yellow color. You want to buy a bunch a little under ripe so they last longer in your home. If the bundle you get is pretty green and that is all the store has on display, you can place them in a brown bag and it speeds up the ripening process for them.  When bananas start to over ripen they develop little freckles or brown spots. From a baking standpoint the browner the better, because the banana is over ripe and sweet, just make sure you cut out any soft spots or bruises before baking.

So there you have it!! The run down of my top fruit picks and tips to picking the perfect produce! And remember to have a healthy balanced diet you will need to consume at least 1 piece of fruit each day!!