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A FRESH Point of View: We’re LEED certified!

It’s not easy being green – but we did it! FRESH has received LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit group that recognizes outstanding accomplishments in sustainable, environmentally friendly construction and design.

FRESH is the first grocery store in our area to meet the stringent standards that go along with being LEED certified. LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”, and getting this recognition means that a building has been designed, built, and is operated in a way that reduces energy use, limits waste, and conserves water.

This is important to us at FRESH, because we’re part of the community. We designed and run FRESH in a way that uses our community resources wisely – while still creating a great, fun, affordable shopping experience.

And what that means to you is that many of our innovative, energy-savings ideas occur behind the scenes, or in ways that gently impact our guests.  For instance:

  • Have you admired the many native plants in our landscaping? Our water-efficient landscaping reduces irrigation demands by 50 percent over a baseline landscape. We even collect much of our irrigation water in a cistern that stores rainwater.
  • When you stroll down the frozen aisles, you may notice the lights switch on just as you pass by. That’s because they’re equipped with motion detector technology, which shuts off unneeded lights and optimizes energy performance.
  • Do you like to recycle? So do we! We designed a recycling collection and storage system that fits seamlessly in our stores, both in public areas and in our own work and storage areas. Plus, an amazing 98 percent of our construction waste was diverted from the landfill – a statistic that is considered exemplary by LEED standards.
  • We want to be good neighbors: To reduce “light pollution” to our neighbors, we used LED exterior lighting. Our outdoor  “green space” exceeds local zoning requirements by 25 percent, to give our guests a more natural setting. And we created preferred parking spaces for our guests who drive fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • Breathe easier: We designed our building with increased ventilation and low-emitting materials, in order to provide improved indoor air quality.



FRESH and Festive: Valentine’s Day at Home

If you don’t have your plans made for Valentine’s Day, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but time’s running out.

So since I called this little problem to your attention, let me also solve it for you: Plan a romantic dinner at home, and let us do (most of) the work.

First, pick up our surf-and-turf special from our chef-prepared area. Then, you’ll have plenty of time left over to whip up a cocktail (alcoholic or not) from recipes we’re providing from the fabulous Christine Gardner, food editor at the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Dinner: Our special Valentine’s Day FRESH for 2 menu is restaurant-worthy – but you can avoid the crowds and high prices. For $29.99, you get thyme scented, grilled filet mignon with bacon chive butter;  herb-grilled Gulf shrimp; creamy potatoes au gratin; grilled asparagus; fresh garden salad; and our house-baked brioche rolls. These will be available in our Grab and Go area in limited quantities, but we suggest you call 903-747-3512 to reserve your meal for pick up on February13 or 14.

Drinks: Our friend Christine Gardner regularly graces our FRESH Taste Kitchen with demos and classes, and these drinks are based on recipes she has taught to our guests. Fancy and festive, but easy!

POMEGRANATE PROSECCO PUNCH
1 bottle of prosecco (Italian sparkling wine)
1 (8 oz) bottle pomegranate juice
2 oz brandy
2 oz orange liqueur

Fill champagne glasses 1/3 full with pomegranate juice. Add a splash of brandy and orange liqueur. Top with prosecco.

PEACH GINGER SPRITZER
1 can peach nectar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 liter ginger ale
Peach slices

In a large pitcher, combine peach nectar and lemon juice. Top with ginger ale. Stir to combine. Fill glasses with ice. Pour in ginger ale mixture. Garnish with fresh peach slices.



Family Central: Easy, Homemade Shrimp Tamales

There’s a reason a lot of people only make tamales for special occasions, when there are plenty of family members or friends around to help: They can be a lot of work. Stewing meat for hours to make the filling, soaking the corn husks, making the masa shells; it can become an all-day project.

But my recipe for shrimp tamales is different. Because you use quick-cooking shrimp, the filling only takes minutes, not hours on the stove.  Try them this weekend for your Super Bowl party, or serve them up for Mardi Gras in a couple weeks.

And, if you use a tamale kit like the ones we carry from Melissa’s, you can have your tamales ready in just a couple hours. (The Melissa’s kits contain everything except the filling, including instructions, pre-soaked corn husks for wrapping, and a corn masa mix that just needs water.)

Shrimp Tamale Filling
Fills 12 tamales

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 lb 50-60 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup white onion, finely diced
1 tbs fresh garlic puree (SEE NOTE)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbs FRESH Creole seasoning
1 tsp cumin
sea salt, to taste

Puree shrimp by pulsing in a food processor. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a thick-bottomed sauté pan over medium/high heat. Add shrimp, celery, red bell pepper, white onion, garlic and cilantro. Stir. Add Creole seasoning and cumin. Sauté until shrimp are almost cooked through; then deglaze pan with lime juice and cook 1 minute more. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste. Place filling in refrigerator to cool completely before stuffing tamales.

NOTE: To make garlic puree, simply peel fresh garlic cloves and puree in food processor.



Freshie Faves: Pizzeria-Style Pizza

My family always keeps a couple of pizzas in the freezer, for those nights when nobody has much energy to cook and we’re too hungry to wait an hour for the pizza delivery guy to show up.

Good news if your family is like mine: We’ve recently added a few new pizza brands to our lineup, so you can mix it up a bit.

Our new varieties give you pizzeria-style quality in the convenience of your home – in less time, with no more work than turning on the oven.

Home Run Inn: True Chicago-style pizza, with a thin but slightly chewy crust that tastes like you pulled it out of a real pizza oven. Saucy, cheesy and filling, too. Home Run Inn started out as a neighborhood joint more than 80 years ago, branched into pizza in the 1940s, and it’s still run by the Perrino family, descendants of the founders. We like the uncured pepperoni, but there’s also sausage and a sausage-pepperoni blend.

Red Fork: These are pizzas for grownups, with sophisticated flavor combinations. You won’t miss the traditional red sauce on the Bianca pizza, with chunks of mushrooms, diced onions, intense kalamata olives, mozzarella on a thin layer of garlic-spiked ricotta sauce. There’s also a chicken-and-smoked gouda pie, and a more basic margherita, with Roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Like Home Run Inn, the crust is really good on these – crisp on the edges, just a little chewy, and flavorful, not like the cardboardy texture you may remember from the frozen pizzas you ate as a kid.

FRESH chef-prepared: These aren’t actually frozen – they’re fresh-made in our kitchens by our chefs – but they are too good not to mention. Our chefs have been hard at work, coming up with new varieties to join old favorites like our sliced-meatball and four-cheese pies. We recently introduced two winners: Smoked chicken, with goat cheese and spinach, and BBQ brisket, with cheddar cheese and jalapenos. Like all our chef-made pizzas, they’re on our own house-made crust, and available to take home and bake from the grab-and-go case. (Smart tip: Try them on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when you can pick up a pizza for just $9.99.)



Well and Good: Super Pomegranates

Pomegranates have been the “it” fruit for several years now, and not just because they taste good. (Which, by the way, they do; slightly tart but refreshing.)

No, at least part of the reason that pomegranate is such a popular flavor in juices, yogurts, tea and even ice cream is because the pomegranate is just so darned good for you.

Low in calories, high in fiber and Vitamin C, the pomegranate is just loaded with antioxidants. And even though it’s a fruit that has been eaten for centuries – it was even mentioned in the Book of Exodus – scientists have only more recently begun to study its health benefits. Just in the year 2010, pomegranate juice or extract was studied in 23 individual clinical trials registered with the National Institute of Health. 

  • Researchers are examining this fruit for links to protection against the following diseases; atherosclerosis, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, lymphoma, the common cold, coronary artery disease and still more.
  • The pomegranate juice or extract contains powerful antioxidant compounds that scientists believe can help inhibit the formation of plaque in the arteries, as well as balance high blood pressure.  Because of its high levels of polyphenolic compounds, it has greater antioxidant activity when compared to red wine or green tea.
  • Studies in the field of cancer have also shown promise with the pomegranate in its ability to block aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen to estrogen, a hormone known to have a role in the development of breast cancer.  Natural compounds in the fruit may potentially prevent estrogen-related breast cancer.
  • According to a report in the International Journal of Cancer, Dr. Hasan Mukhtar and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin at Madison conducted a variety of experiments to test the anti cancer effect of this fruit and found it has the ability to block skin tumor formation.

All that said – fresh pomegranates can be a little intimidating to prepare and eat. The part you eat are actually the hard little seeds, surrounded by a little sac of juice, called an “aril.” You can eat them on their own, or add them to yogurt or cereal, or even freeze them for a cold treat on warm days.

However, with the growing popularity of this fruit, it’s easier than ever to enjoy it. You can now purchase just the arils, cleaned and ready to eat, in the produce section. Or, several companies have taken the work out of getting the juice, with pomegranate juices that can be found on our grocery shelves with our juice selection. And, several yogurt companies have begun making a pomegranate flavor – check in the dairy section to see if your favorite brand has, too.



A FRESH Point of View: Big Game Plans

Are you ready for some football? The biggest game of the year is this weekend. And whether you’re hosting a bash, bringing snacks to a friend’s party, or would rather just avoid the whole thing and spend the weekend doing something else (like shopping or cooking!)– FRESH has you covered.

Snacks for sale: Don’t spend the weekend in the kitchen; we’ve got party food ready to serve. Make it a Tex-Mex theme with half-price margarita mix (located on our fresh-squeezed juice area in produce) and half-price quesadillas, in our chef-prepared case. Or look for our take on that classic party appetizer, 7-layer dip; we’ll have our own chef-prepared version while supplies last this weekend.

Super cooking demo: Spice up your party with some new ideas from Chef Casey Shanower’s talented team. They’ll be demonstrating new ideas for your football-watching menu (or any party night) from 6:30-7:45 p.m. Friday in our FRESH Taste Kitchen, just inside the patio entrance, between the chef-prepared section and the bakery.  It’s free, but because of the popularity of these cooking events, please reserve your seat by calling 903-747-3512.

Wing it: We’ll have our very own wing station, tossed to order with three sauce options (BBQ, Classic Buffalo, Asian), from mild to wild. Check it out in chef-prepared on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for just $4.99 per pound.

Wing it, part two: Got a killer wings recipe? You can afford to feed a crowd with these deal – 35 percent off Smart Chicken wings, from our market, and 50 percent off selected Wing Time Wing Sauce from grocery.

Shop and sample: Football not your game? Come spend part (or all) of your weekend with us. Saturday, we’ll have a full house of samples and demonstrations from some of our wonderful local and regional vendors. Stanley’s BBQ, a Tyler legend, will be in the Taste Kitchen, and look for other friends throughout the store: Beanitos healthy bean chips; spicy and seasoned peanuts from Lord Nut Levington;  Simply 7 hummus and lentil chips; and salsas, dips and sauces from Tyler’s own Leigh Oliver’s.

Fuel up with pancakes: You’ll need your energy to properly focus on the game. So come carbo-load with our popular all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, both Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m-1 p.m. All the yummy hot flapjacks, mix-ins and toppings you care to enjoy. (And if you really want to get the party started – don’t forget we have mimosas, too. Super Sunday, indeed.)



FRESH and Festive: What’s cooking at FRESH

Have you been to FRESH today? It’s our goal to see you as often as we can – not just for your weekly grocery shopping, but to enjoy some of our special meals, great deals, and free workshops, music and cooking demos.

Over the past few months, we’ve introduced several new weekly events, in addition to the frequent product samplings, cooking demos, holidays and festival events that we host. You don’t have to come every day to join the fun – but if you wanted to, you could!

Mondays (5-7 p.m.): Seafood Nights with Chef John Peters. Our talented seafood manager, who once cooked at New Orleans’ Commanders Palace and other fine restaurants, will personally cook your dinner to order! Choose from a selection of fresh seafood, shop or enjoy a beverage while the chef cooks it up, then eat with us or take home to enjoy.

Tuesdays (10-11 a.m.): Coffee Talk with Freshologist, Jane. You can’t help but catch Jane’s enthusiasm about her favorite products, exciting recipes, and new cooking techniques. She often brings in a guest from our talented team of experts. Pour a (free) cup of coffee and join the talk!

Wednesdays (5-7 p.m.): Happy Hour with food and drink specials. You never know what we’ll offer here; recent specials have included Frito pies, nachos, quesadillas and BBQ sliders – always washed down with a choice beverage like Shiner Bock. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll get for ridiculously low prices!

Thursdays (5-7 p.m.): Market Manager, Herb Turner, cooks for you. Herb will cook up the perfect cut of meat just for you, complete with savory sides. You can take home or enjoy here with us!

Fridays (6-7:45 p.m.): Front Row Eats Cooking Showcases! Launched just last week, this new series will feature our chefs, bakers and other culinary experts, doing what they do best – demonstrating how to use our fantastic ingredients in new ways. The demos are free, but because of limited seating, we ask that you reserve your spot by calling 903-747-3512.Tonight’s topic is fresh and healthy dinner options, with seasonal veggies, whole grains and lean meats. Next week, it’s super snacks for Super Bowl Sunday.

Fridays and Saturdays (times vary): Music Showcases: Our popular free summer music series is back, this time in the warmth of the store. Come catch old favorites and rising stars, like Daniel de la Rocha (4-7 today) and Neal Katz (3-6 Saturday, Jan 28).

Saturdays and Sundays (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.): Pancake Breakfast: Get your pancakes – all you can eat! We started these pancake breakfasts right around the holidays, and they’re a great way to ease into your weekend mornings. All you can eat, including all the mix-ins and toppings you can imagine, just $6.99 for adults, and $4.99 for kids 12 and under.



Family Central: Homemade Mac-n-Cheese

Mac-and-cheese is one of those foods that practically every child loves. In fact, some children of my acquaintance seemed to subsist entirely on mac-and-cheese, and the occasional grilled-cheese sandwich, for months at a go.

But the standard packaged stuff isn’t quite so appealing, at least not for the adults. So for a family meal, the trick is to find a gussied-up mac-and-cheese recipe that has enough interesting flavor and texture for the grown-ups, but not too much strong or “weird” cheese flavor to scare off the kids.

We’ve experimented with several combinations, and this one seems to satisfy everybody: The fontina and Mexican cheeses are nicely bland and creamy, and the cheddar and Asiago add just enough interest that the more mature palates don’t revolt. You can substitute any creamy, melting cheese for the three main cheeses, as long as you keep roughly the same proportion. And if your kids will stand for it, you can also add a thin layer of bread crumbs before baking, to add a bit of crunch.

Kid-friendly Four-Cheese Mac-n-Cheese
Serves 4-5 as a main course, 6-8 as a side

8 oz macaroni (elbow, farfalle or shells)
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 3/4 cup 2% milk
1 cup sharp cheddar, finely shredded
1 cup fontina cheese, finely shredded
1 cup Asadero or quesadilla cheese, finely shredded
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste, if desired

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a medium-size casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Over high heat, bring a big pot of salted water to boil, then add macaroni. Cook till just before al dente – about two minutes less than recommended on package. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then stir in flour to make a roux. Cook for about two-three minutes, stirring or whisking constantly, but do not allow to brown.  Slowly add milk, in a thin stream, whisking or stirring the entire time to avoid lumps.

Cook sauce, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, at least five minutes.  Lower heat slightly and stir in cheddar, fontina and Asadero or quesadilla cheese, stirring until cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth. Taste sauce, and add salt or pepper if desired. (Personally, we have found it does not need any extra salt!)

Add cooked macaroni and stir to coat well. Transfer to prepared baking dish and sprinkle with grated Asiago cheese. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, until casserole is heated through, cheese is bubbly, and edges are just starting to brown.



Freshie Faves: Angie’s Kettle Corn

Kettle corn is one of those old things that’s new again, a snack our pioneer ancestors ate but that then kind of disappeared.

But, with the exploding popularity of salty-sweet foods, it makes sense that kettle corn has made a big comeback in the last several years. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that popcorn has a reputation for being a healthier snack. It’s a whole grain, with more fiber and less fat than a bag of chips.

All those things are working in the favor of Angie’s Kettle Corn, which has just arrived in our snack aisles.

Angie’s is a boutique operation out of Minnesota that makes just one thing – kettle corn. And it comes in just three flavors – classic, lite and caramel.

If you’re going to make just one thing, you’d better be good at it. Angie’s is. All the flavors feature fluffy, crisp popcorn lightly coated with crystallized sugar and salt crystals, the perfect ying-yang balance of salty and sweet mixing in every bite.  I’m especially impressed with the lite flavor, which somehow manages to be just as satisfying and addicting as the regular versions, despite having half the sugar and half the fat of the original flavor.

Like a lot of boutique food companies, Angie’s has an interesting back story, and yes, there really is an Angie. She’s Angie Bastian, who started popping and selling kettle corn with her husband Dan at fairs and festivals in 2001. After getting some of their popcorn in the hands of the Minnesota Vikings players, the snack’s popularity took off, paving the way for them to go national.  

Especially at a time of year when you’re probably still trying to work off the effects of all those holiday treats, kettle corn is a good choice. Angie’s Kettle Corn has just four ingredients – popcorn, corn oil, sugar and sea salt. (Well, that’s for the classic and light versions; the caramel also contains some caramel flavoring and sugar syrup.) They’re gluten-free and taste like they have a lot more calories than they do _ in a nice big two-and-a-half-cup serving, you’ll take in just 150 calories in the classic and caramel flavors, and only 120 with the lite.



Well and Good: Diabetes Workshop

Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing health problems in America. About 1 in 10 American adults currently are living with this disease, and some experts predict that number could easily double within a generation.

However, for many, many people living with Type 2 diabetes, some pretty simple changes in diet and exercise can help control most symptoms. Lifestyle changes can even decrease the likelihood of developing more serious complications.

But where to start? That’s the confusing part. So let us help, with a FREE workshop from 2-3 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 28, on managing diabetes through diet, exercise and medicine.

I’ll be leading this workshop at the FRESH pharmacy, near the main check-out area. If you, a family member or a friend are already dealing with diabetes, or if you just want to learn how to lower your risk of ever developing this disease, this workshop ought to offer you plenty of practical, usable tips.

We’ll give you an overview of the disease and stress the importance of regularly checking your blood sugar, taking any diabetes medicines prescribed, and seeing your medical providers regularly. But we’ll also get into specifics on controlling carbs, eating right, and getting in a good workout. For instance, did you know:

Controlling your diet means more than cutting carbs: Yes, you need to count carbs, but don’t just get caught up in the numbers. Your body still needs some carbohydrates, just the right kind; oatmeal, for instance, is much better than a potato. And, you need to watch your fat intake. Meats and cheeses may not count against your carb limit, but the excess fat in these items means you can’t merely substitute bacon and steaks for bread and pasta.

Slow and steady wins the race: Especially for patients who have not been exercising regularly, the idea of going to a gym or running a mile may seem daunting. But I often suggest a much more natural approach to fitness, especially for those beginning an exercise program: Get up and vacuum, mow the lawn yourself, walk the dog a few extra blocks, or commit to taking the stairs a few times every day. The key is to be consistent and work more movement into your daily routine, every day.

If you’re living with diabetes, you’ll be amazed at how a few simple changes can make you feel so much better! Join us Saturday to find out more.



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