June Blog Posts

Young jackfruit and ripe jackfruit, what’s the difference?

What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit is the newly popular food item popping up in stores and recipes across the country. When it comes to how you can eat it, it's a jack of all trades (pun intended).

Jackfruit is the world's largest tree fruit, clocking in anywhere between 8 and 100 pounds. Yes, you read that correctly, some jackfruits are 100 pounds! But, usually the ones you'll see in stores are in the 20-pound range. Jackfruit thrives in tropical climates and is native to India and southeast Asia, where much of it is still grown today. You will also see many growers in Mexico, and a few in the U.S is areas like Hawaii or Florida.

You can find fresh jackfruit in the produce section of Giant. You'll either see it whole or cut into sections to make for easier eating. To pick a ripe jackfruit, look for one that is golden brown on the outside, smells fragrant and yields slightly when you press on it. Pro tip: if you don't want an entire jackfruit, the produce department will cut it into sections for you, for free!


Once home, store your unopened jackfruit on your counter for 1-3 days depending on how green it is. Once cut, store in the fridge for up to 7 days. Jackfruit is available year-round, though seasonality may vary.

But...what does it taste like?

If you’re a 90s kid like me, you grew up chewing Juicy Fruit gum. What you probably didn’t know, is the flavor for Juicy Fruit gum was inspired by jackfruit. So, for those who have had the gum, jackfruit has a similar flavor. It is often described as sweet with hints of mango, banana, and melons. Now this flavor I’m talking about is specific to ripe jackfruit. Un-ripe, or young, jackfruit has a firm whitish flesh and a much milder flavor, making it perfect for meat-substitutes, more on that later on.

How do we eat it?

I get it, the thought of digging into a jackfruit is intimidating, I myself just learned a year ago about this fruit and how to cut into it. Instead of me trying to explain it, the experts at Frieda’s, one of our produce suppliers, have a great video here. You can enjoy it fresh after cutting open a ripe one or refrigerating the pods to snack on during the week.

The other side of jackfruit

While fresh jackfruit is a delicious way to consume it, un-ripe young jackfruit also has unique taste, texture, and uses in cooking. Many vegetarians, vegans, or just people wanting more plant-based meals are tapping into the unique meat-like property of jackfruit. Young jackfruit has a texture similar to pulled pork and a neutral flavor, so it takes on flavors you add to it (think BBQ jackfruit tacos, for example). The Jackfruit Company, carried at Giant Food, sells young jackfruit in a variety of different seasoning blends to make for easy, plant-based meals at home. To give you an idea of what the young jackfruit looks like, check out this photo of one of their offerings, below.


Nutrition differences: Young vs. Ripe Jackfruit

Interestingly, the nutrition profiles of young and ripe jackfruit are different. Both are great sources of nutrients (and have great flavor), but there are a few distinct nutritional differences. Young jackfruit is higher in fiber and lower in sugar than ripe jackfruit (which makes sense because it lacks that sweet flavor). In fact, young jackfruit delivers nearly 20% of your daily fiber recommendation in just a 1/2 cup serving. On the flip side, ripe jackfruit is higher in vitamin E and manganese, a powerful antioxidant that can help with inflammation. Both young and ripe jackfruit deliver a healthy dose of B vitamins, vitamin A and C, potassium, and other beneficial nutrients. I encourage you to give jackfruit a try, both fresh and young jackfruit! It’s a unique way to get more produce into your meals and snacks.

Marissa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about helping people understand the story behind what they eat. She’s curious about everything, especially when it comes to food. Since Marissa asks all the questions, she is here to give you the answers. In her series, Food Explained, Marissa will dive into the differences between common foods and what they mean for you and your health!




Dessert on a Budget for $1 or less a serving

One of the best parts of summer is fruit. And while fruit is great on its own, making it part of a summer dessert is even better - or so say my kids. So, whether you find yourself inside or out, entertaining company or spending the day with your kids, these fruit desserts are sure to please! Best of all, you’ll be eating local and in season!

Individual Fruit Cobbler Packs

Baked fruit with a crumble topping is the perfect self-contained sweet treat ever! Camp Side, Grill Side, or Oven Side they are sure to please. Best of all, no dishes to wash afterward. And, since it’s in a self-contained packet, you can use any combination of fruits or berries (or both).

Baked Peach Packs with Pecan Crumble – serves 2
  • 2 large peaches halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons chilled diced butter
  • Aluminum foil

How to: Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Remove the pit from each peach by cutting into 4 pieces and peeling away from the pit. Place in a square of aluminum foil. Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and oats. Add in diced butter and mix until you have a crumbly, pea-sized mixture. Top each peach with the streusel mixture and close foil into a tight ball. Bake peaches for 35-45 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned, and the peaches have softened but are still holding their shape. Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm. Vanilla ice cream optional.

Total Cost: $2.15 (Cost per serving: $1.07)


Savory Inspiration:

Grilled Fruit

Since you’re already spending time outside on your grill, why not add a dessert? There is something about how the flames of a grill can turn any fruit into a caramelized, smoky treat. I recommend picking fruits like peaches, melons, pineapple, pears, bananas, and figs which will hold their shape while cooking. So just throw YOUR favorite on a hot grill and stand by while they develop gorgeous grill marks. Try eating plain - kabob style, over ice cream, or like I have, over crepes. And, since crepes are basically thin pancakes, this is one dessert that can be made for breakfast – just add Greek or Icelandic yogurt for some protein!

Grilled Pineapple Crepes – serves 8
  • 1 pineapple, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

How to: In a large bowl, mix flour and eggs. Gradually whisk in milk and water. Add salt and butter and beat until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan. Pour in 1/4 cup batter and swirl to coat the pan evenly. Cook about 2 minutes on each side and serve warm. To grill pineapples, place wedges directly on grill and flip once even brown grill marks appear. Top with grilled fruit, honey cinnamon drizzle. Whipped cream optional.

Total Cost: $5.02 (Cost per serving: $0.63)

Note: If you find yourself with more time than money, look for Frieda’s French style crepes in the produce section. They’re a quick short cut and a bag of 10 is less than $3.


Savory Inspiration

Fruit Popsicles

When the weather gets hot, and the kids want a treat and you want them to stay hydrated, a popsicle is a great solution. Any pureed fruit is a good choice, you can even freeze a favorite fruit smoothie recipe into a popsicle. I created my recipe below with this basic recipe.

Watermelon Kiwi Pops – makes 8
  • 2 cups Watermelon pureed
  • 2 cups Strawberries pureed
  • 3 kiwis, pureed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt

How to: Puree watermelon and strawberries together and fill ice pop molds ¾ of the way. Freeze 1½–2 hours, until set. Add 2 tablespoons to the pop molds, freeze 30 min.–1 hour, until set. Puree kiwi Puree kiwi and lime juice and distribute kiwi mixture among molds. Freeze until solid, 3–4 hours. When ready to eat, run the pops under warm water for a few seconds to release from molds.

Total Cost: $4.98 (Cost per serving: $0.62)

Note: Popsicle molds aren’t needed to make these tasty treats, popsicle sticks and small paper cups work just as well!


Savory Inspiration

Fruit for dessert is just another easy way to make sure you are getting that half plate produce every day. Here’s to ripe fruit, warmer weather, and healthy-ish desserts.

Mandy is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about showing people how to eat healthy (and deliciously) on a budget. As a mom of two teenage boys, she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to stay on budget, keep it interesting, AND keep it healthy-ish. Let Mandy check the prices and create a plan that will satisfy your taste buds, wallet, and schedule. In her series, Healthy on a Budget, she will convince you that it’s NOT “too expensive” to eat healthy.




A New Twist on Summer Barbecuing

With summer right around the corner, I can’t stop thinking about entertaining and cooking on the grill. Because I grew up selling (and eating) lots of fruits and veggies, and because I recently became vegan, I don’t want to miss out on the BBQ fun. Everyone else has their secret burger or grilled chicken recipe — for me, it’s all about which new veggie side dish I can create on the grill.

When I have friends over for a barbecue, I like to start with a refreshing, welcoming cocktail. One of my favorite is a Passion Fruit Mojito (which I like to make zero proof so it’s kid-friendly).


Another of my new favorite appetizers is a fruit salsa! Hey mango salsa, move over — check out this eye-popping red Dragon Fruit salsa.


And instead of regular hummus, this Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato hummus is yummy, plus its colorful creaminess is a conversation starter!


My first go-to for grilled veggies is usually thick-sliced eggplant, zucchini squash, red and yellow peppers, and portobello mushrooms. Lately, I’ve added Shishito Peppers to my grilling mix. And when Hatch Chile season starts in early August, I always include Hatch Chiles. It’s become my signature dish. And it’s so easy!

After washing all the veggies, I thick slice the eggplant and squash, then halve (and de-seed) the peppers. I leave the mushrooms whole. I salt them all and let them sit for a couple of hours on baking trays. The salt removes both the bitterness and excess water. I then brush on some olive or peanut oil (so they don’t stick on the grill). I grill on medium-high heat on the outside grill (eight to 10 minutes on each side), then arrange the grilled veggies on a serving platter and cover with foil. I do this up to two to three hours before my guests arrive. This waiting time allows the veggies to rest and they actually become more flavorful. Right before serving, I drizzle with a balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette. The Shishito and Hatch Peppers are always the talk of the meal!


If anyone asked me what my favorite veggie is, I would say jicama (pronounced hee-ka-mah)! It looks like a brown turnip, but the inside is crunchy, white and sweet. And because it does not soften when cooked, it is awesome on the grill. Check out my Jicama Citrus Salad.


What about grilling heads of romaine lettuce? Talk about a fun twist on a summer salad. I got this idea from a local restaurant here in Southern California. Halve romaine heads (and rinse thoroughly). Spray grill with oil (so the lettuce doesn’t stick). Grill cut side of romaine head for a few minutes, until leaves are slightly blackened. Serve cut side up, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with feta cheese crumbles. Yum!

For dessert after a big barbecue meal, I usually opt for fresh fruit. Have you ever tried grilled fruit kabobs? I alternate chunks of Baby Pineapple, watermelon and goldenberries. A few minutes on the grill tenderizes the fruit and adds a nice rich flavor.


Hope you have a great grilling season!
Karen Caplan, CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce
@karen_kiwi

Karen Caplan is the CEO and President of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, and is the eldest daughter of produce trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, founder of the company. Having been in the produce business for over 40 years, Karen has become an expert on what’s trending with consumers and suppliers alike. Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families and food lovers everywhere since 1962.




BBQ Potluck Salads on a Budget - Feeding a crowd for about 50 cents a serving!

As the weather gets warmer we all think of bountiful bowls of lettuce and greens or potato and macaroni salad, but these don't always hold up well at barbecues and cook outs.  So why not try a salad without lettuce or mayonnaise - think grains, beans and pasta - and bring a ton of flavor and nutrition to the table without the worry of wilting or spoiling. Plus, because it starts with beans and grains, the cost per serving makes it an unbeatable way to feed a crowd.

Grains

I made this for one of my son’s school potlucks as a “vegan” entrée and it got rave reviews! In reality this is just a delicious grain salad that provides a lot of protein and fiber. Its great on its own or as a side. It includes cilantro which some folks don’t enjoy, so feel free to substitute parsley. (Disliking cilantro because it tastes "soapy" is actually genetic! These people have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves.)


Southwest Quinoa Salad - Serves 14

  • 1 15-ounce cans black beans
  • 1 15-ounce can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups quinoa (whole or colorful), cooked
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed and roasted (leave the skin on)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro (optional)

Dressing:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cumin

How to: Prepare the dressing by whisking the lime juice, oil, and cumin together in a small bowl and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set Aside. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the quinoa mix and stir gently to coat. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Total Cost: $7.67 (Cost per serving: $.55)

Note: This doesn’t have to be for company - this is a great grain salad to have on hand as a main course for packed lunches.

Savory Inspiration:

Beans

Time to clean out the pantry! This Mediterranean salad features canned chickpeas and black beans and, like our grain salad, is chock full of protein and fiber. This is a go to side for me when I’m whipping up a Greek dinner of grilled chicken kebobs and tzatziki. This salad tastes fantastic as a side, but also as a topping on your salad the next day if you have leftovers. I'll sometimes throw in some feta cheese if I have it on hand.


Ba le La Salad – Serves 14

  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup red onion finely diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

How to: In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, mint, and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic. Pour over the chickpea mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes to taste.

Total Cost: $7.63 (Cost per serving: $.54)

Savory Inspiration:

Whole Wheat Pasta

Forget the macaroni pasta salad - because this is the pasta salad you've been looking for! I was inspired by this Savory recipe (https://recipecenter.giantfood.com/recipes/153632/grilled-vegetable-pasta-salad) but the truth is any veggie would work: roasted, grilled, and even canned (think artichokes and sun dried tomatoes). You can also add some crunch with nuts or a taste of the savory with some parmesan cheese. Since peppers were on sale, I started with that as my base and looked for ways to bring the rainbow to my salad.


Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad – Serves 14

  • 1 box whole wheat pasta shells
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ cup Nature's Promise Organic Italian Dressing

How to: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Cut zucchini and peppers into bite sized pieces, place on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a lined sheet pan and roast for about 40 minutes, tossing once during cook time. Once peppers are done, combine in a large bowl with cooked pasta and ½ cup of Italian salad dressing.

Total Cost: $6.62 (Cost per serving: $.47)

Savory Inspiration:

These are just three easy ways to take the lettuce out of your salad but keep it tasty and nutritious. There is no secret to a successful salad – it's just about adding colors, flavor and texture. Start with a theme (Italian/Greek/Mediterranean), pick your pasta/bean/grain combo and take it from there - the possibilities are really endless.

Here's to summertime cookouts and BBQs with new, healthier sides that won't wilt in the sun!

Mandy is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about showing people how to eat healthy (and deliciously) on a budget. As a mom of two teenage boys she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to stay on budget, keep it interesting, AND keep it healthy-ish. Let Mandy check the prices and create a plan that will satisfy your taste buds, wallet, and schedule. In her series, Heathy on a Budget, she will convince you that it’s NOT “too expensive” to eat healthy.