Hollandia Produce: The Best of 2014

As 2014 winds down, we’re reminded of how far we’ve come and how much further we hope go. Yet, before we rush into a whirlwind of New Year’s goals, let’s first acknowledge the seasonal milestones that our staff, customers and consumers have helped us to achieve.

Winter –Sowing the Seeds of Distinction

stacks_image_50While January is always a busy month, we started this year on a particularly high note. All of our living lettuce and living cress products became Non-GMO Project verified! With our ongoing commitment to using only all-natural ingredients in the production of our crops, whether conventional or organic, we were very pleased to receive thisWatercress and Upland Cress Named Superfoods distinction.

Additionally, our Live Gourmet Living Upland Cress and Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress products became Antioxidant Super Food Certified by SCS Global Services. Both products contain 127% higher antioxidant density than the USDA reported averages and high levels of magnesium, lutein, phosphorous, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E and K.

Spring – Food Safety First

In March, we demonstrated our commitment to food safety when we earned 100 percent compliance in all three key areas of our Primus GFS certification audit. These included: Food Safety Management, Good Agriculture Practices (GAP)/Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).

salad bar dedicationThe following month, we participated in one of our most gratifying initiatives. As supporters of the United Fresh Foundation’s “Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools” campaign, we donated two salad bars to the Conejo Valley Unified School District. This effort helped to provide children better access to healthy lunches and, hopefully, influence their families to make healthier food choices overall and increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.

Summer — On the Road… Again

By mid-year, we were busy traversing the country as an exhibitor at some of our industry’s most important trade events, including United Fresh and the Midwest Produce Expo, both held in Chicago and, the trendsetting PMA Food Service show held in annually in Monterey, CA.

Autumn — Planning for the Future

In October, we experienced record attendance at the year’s most prominent event: The PMA Fresh Summit. Here, we gave key customers a sneak peak at new product plans, and met with a variety of companies to explore strategic partnerships and opportunities to leverage upcoming trends.

Yet, through it all, we continued to push forward on our biggest accomplishment to date: our facility expansion in Oxnard, CA. Recently, the entire Hollandia Produce staff toured the property and witnessed prolific progress being made including new grow houses and other technological innovations. It was truly an exciting day.

Thematically, 2014 could be described as the year of the “shun”, not as in exclusion, but rather the appreciation for our certification, verification, expansion, and most, importantly, the lasting impression these efforts have had on all of us as we bid farewell to another year!

Spicy Tofu Butter Lettuce Wraps for Vegan Month

Nowadays, people become vegan for many reasons. It may be as a stance against animal cruelty, to reduce their carbon footprint, or simply as a healthy lifestyle choice. While we don’t purport to be anti-meat or dairy, as you may have gathered from our previous recipe posts, we do agree that a diet filled with fruits and vegetables is extremely beneficial.

In fact, a plant-based diet is rich in vitamins and minerals, and tends to be high-fiber and low-fat. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians and vegans are generally at a lower risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and several forms of cancer. Yet, to prevent any kind of chronic disease, vegetarians and vegans, as well as meat-eaters, need to consume a well-balanced diet to stay healthy.

That’s why we’re honoring National Vegan Month with this vegan recipe from Tablespoon.com that, we believe, will please any palate.

Spicy Tofu Butter Lettuce Wrap Ingredients 

Photo by Girl Versus Dough from tablespoon.com
Photo by Girl Versus Dough from tablespoon.com

4 Tsp vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. Soy sauce

1 block (12 oz.) of extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 1-inch squares

2 Tsp minced garlic

2 c. Cole slaw mix

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 or 2 inch stripes

1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

½ Tsp red pepper flakes (can be modified to reduce or increase heat)

2 Tbsp. plum sauce

1 head Live Gourmet® Living Butter Lettuce or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce

½ Tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (can be modified to reduce or increase heat)

2 thinly sliced green onions

2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Directions

Heat two teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add in tofu and cook for 10 minutes or until evenly browned on both sides. Next, add in one tablespoon of soy sauce and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove tofu and set aside.

Next, heat remaining vegetable oil over medium heat. Add in bell peppers, Cole slaw, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and Sriracha sauce, upon preference. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes or until the bell peppers are slightly soft, stirring occasionally. After, add in the remaining soy sauce and heat for 3 more minutes. Fold in plum sauce and tofu and gently mix together.

Finally, remove butter lettuce leaves, rinse and pat dry. Spoon the tofu mixture into the individual leaves, and sprinkle with green onions and cilantro. Next, enjoy the healthy goodness!

Hollandia Produce Sponsors Walk for Hope

At Hollandia Produce, we believe a diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables and regular exercise are fruit-and-veggieskeys to better health and cancer prevention. That’s why we are proud to sponsor today’s Walk for Hope on November 2, 2014 and help support the City of Hope in its efforts to raise awareness and funds to fight these sometimes fatal diseases.

Every year, far too many women must battle breast and gynecologic cancers. These are the women we love: our mothers, our wives, our sisters and our friends. Walk for Hope is a movement that unites survivors and supporters — women, men and children — in the fight against women’s cancers.

walk-for-hope

Hope is on the horizon, and your commitment can make a difference. If you would like to join us in this effort, you can set your fitness goal, or simply donate what you can. Together, we can build a world without women’s cancers.

 

Butternut Squash Salad Recipe for Halloween

 

With changing colors, cooler temps and pumpkins abound, there’s no doubt autumn has arrived. What better way to celebrate Halloween than with our festive, original recipe for Butternut Squash Salad served in a pumpkin bowl? Whether served as a Halloween party buffet centerpiece in a large pumpkin or plated individually in mini pumpkins, this recipe will delight your guests and deliver a burst of flavor and nutrition in every bite.

hollandia-produce-pumpkin-butternut-squash-salad

Salad Ingredients:

(You may not need the full amount of recommended ingredients depending on the size of the salad.)

1 medium-to-large pumpkin (for a party-size serving)    hollandia-produce-butter-lettuce

Or, X mini pumpkins (for individual servings)

1 (1.17 pound) package of boneless, skinless, chicken breast tenders  

3/4 cup of Olive Oil (to cook chicken and squash)

Salt and pepper

½ lemon

1 (3.5 oz.) package of dried cranberries

1 (3.5 oz.) package of candied walnuts or pecans (or, to candy the nuts yourself, follow this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/dawns-candied-walnuts)

1 (4 oz.) log of goat cheese

2-3 packages of pre-cut butternut squash (or 1 whole butternut squash)

1-2 heads of Live Gourmet® Living Butter Lettuce, or Grower Pete’s Certified Organic Living Butter Lettuce

Dressing Ingredients:          hollandia-produce-pumpkin

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

¾ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Carve the pumpkin as you would for a jack-o-lantern. Carve out a lid wider than hollandia-produce-butternut-squashusual to create the serving bowl. Next, scrape out and remove stringy, pumpkin innards until the interior is completely smooth. (To save time, prepare pumpkin(s) up to 2 days ahead.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place butternut squash pieces on a cookie sheet (if cooking a full squash cut in half and place skin side down) drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 -30 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Let squash cool (for full squash, peel away outer skin and cut into 1” squares).
  4. While squash is cooking, place chicken tenders in a skillet over medium heat. Hollandia-produce-cooked-chicken
    Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken. Next, drizzle chicken with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is tender or no longer pink.
  5. In a small mixing bowl or carafe, stir all dressing ingredients together.
  6. Remove butter lettuce leaves from head. Wash thoroughly and pat dry with paper towel or a salad spinner.
  7. In a separate mixing bowl, mix gently torn lettuce leaves, chicken and squash in a
    bowl. Crumple goat cheese over lettuce; add nuts and cranberries and gently toss.
  8. Transfer salad to mini pumpkins or large serving pumpkin.
  9. Pour a light coating of dressing over pumpkin filled salad and serve.                               hollandia-produce-pumpkin-butternut-squash-salad                               

Cashew Chicken Butter Lettuce Wraps

Time to get a little nutty. In honor of National Nut Day, here’s a new wholesome and scrumptious gluten-free, Cashew Chicken Butter Lettuce Wrap recipe from shescookin.com. This quick and warm meal is perfect for the autumn weather, and the best part about it is, it’s also ideal for leftovers.

Photo by Priscilla Willis from shescookin.com
Photo by Priscilla Willis from shescookin.com

Ingredients

(Servings: 3)

2 Large chicken breasts

2 green onions

4 beet greens or  Swiss chard leaves and stems

½ cup of low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup of peanut butter

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil or peanut oil

¼ cup of cashews

2 tablespoons of coconut aminos

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

10 Live Gourmet or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce leaves

Directions

  1. Chop vegetables and chicken breasts into half inch pieces.
  2. Heat sesame and sunflower oils over medium heat. Add chopped veggies and cook for 2 -3 minutes, until wilted. Remove greens from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Stir fry chicken pieces in hot oils for about 8 minutes or until they’re no longer pink. Remove and add the chicken pieces to the cooked greens.
  4. Add peanut butter and coconut aminos to the hot oils and stir together until thickened. Next, add in chicken broth and continue stirring until well mixed. Fold in the cashews, sesame seeds, and chicken and greens mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  5. Remove the butter lettuce leaves from the head. Rinse and pat dry.
  6. Go “nutty’ and create your own wrap!

 

How PMA Fresh Summit Impacts Our Business

fork-and-knife-lettuceFarm to fork is a familiar expression among many consumers today. Yet, the journey from product conception to consumer adoption is a bit more involved than many folks realize. At Hollandia Produce, our ability to harvest and deliver fresh produce daily to your local grocer is due in part to our valued network of leading national retailers, wholesalers and distributors. That’s why we’re thrilled to be exhibiting at the PMA Fresh Summit Expo on October 18 and 19 in Anaheim, CA.Live_Gourmet_booth

This trade event and others like it, allows us to take a valuable “time out” and visit with our channel partners and friends. More importantly, it provides us the opportunity to test new ideas and meet and engage with thousands of buyers and potential buyers of fresh produce, who offer us invaluable insight on current trends and your product preferences.

This weekend, in booth 3016, we will be showcasing our Live Gourmet® and Grower Pete’s brands of living butter lettuce as well as our Upland Cress and certified organic living watercress.

Rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and essential vitamins, watercress is quickly becoming the new kale. Recently, the Center for Disease Control published a study naming watercress as the most nutrient-dense food available. That’s why we’re not too surprised that the Watercress Alliance (which represents UK growers, suppliers and packers of watercress) has just launched the “Good for Every Body” public awareness campaign. Their watercress initiative will help spread the nutritional good news, and encourage our fellow stateside pundits of the peppery leafy green to help push demand as well.
If you would like to learn more, follow us on social media, where we’ll be sharing our favorite cress recipes and giving you the chance to be featured as a guest blogger in an upcoming post.

Dos and Don’ts for Extending Leafy Greens

best-practices-for-produce

How frustrating is it when you have to discard unused leafy greens, because they wilted before you had the opportunity to eat them? This is bound to happen with fresh produce. Fortunately, you can extend the shelf life of your leafy greens and to help you, we’ve compiled this list of dos and don’ts.

Dos:

  1. Do choose living leafy greens with their roots still attached such as our Live Gourmet® or our certified organic Grower Pete’s brands; they preserve freshness longer (usually 5-7 days) than conventionally grown greens.
  2. Do store living lettuce products in their plastic clamshell containers and keep their roots attached. live-gourmet-living-butter-lettuceThese clamshells function as mini-greenhouses or micro-climates, and provide a protective barrier that helps maintain and extend the product’s natural freshness, color, and flavor.
  3. Do store our cress products in an air tight container (such as a Ziploc® or Tupperware®) with their roots still attached.
  4. Do refrigerate your leafy greens as soon as possible. Produce needs to be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Our lettuce can be stored anywhere in the fridge as long as it’s in its clamshell. Cress products should be stored in the crisper section.
  5. Do store leafy greens away from other fruits and vegetables, because the hormone that plants produce, called ethylene, can hasten ripening.
  6. Do pre-clean surfaces being used to prepare leafy greens, then wash and pat dry your leafy greens before using or storing. This is best practice for all produce.
  7. Do check your leafy greens often and remove wilted or damaged leaves and throw-out the product if the whole plant looks wilted or old.
  8. Do adhere to your product’s Use By date and discard unused product that exceeds it.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t store your leafy greens anywhere other than your fridge or leave them outside of it for too long.
  2. Don’t store the root ball or plant in water. Our products have absorbed all of their necessary waterlive-gourmet-living-butter-lettuce before they reach you.
  3. Don’t refrigerate leafy greens while still wet, or even damp. Dry them well after rinsing and return them to their recommended containers.
  4. Don’t store leafy greens and other produce near any potential contaminants, such as raw meat
  5. Don’t feel obligated to eat the whole plant in one meal. Our leafy greens are harvested at your will. You remove as many leaves as needed and return the remaining product to the fridge for future use.
  6. Don’t eat your leafy greens past the expired Use By date; discard them immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
  7. Don’t waste your leafy greens or other produce. Stock up on their nutritional value and eat 7-9 servings per day!

fruits-and-veggies-more-matters

Back to School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

 

The summer has come to an end, and that means the kids are heading back to school! We know it’s difficult to provide your children with healthy meals all of the time, especially during the busy work week. That’s why we’ve put together these fresh ideas for nutrient-rich lunches that are quick and easy to prepare and tasty for your kids!                                                                                                                                          healthy- lunchbox

Sandwich Spruce-up:  The USDA recommends that we fill half of our plates with fruits and vegetables at every meal. Here’s a simple way to accomplish this at lunch. Buy a lunchbox with separate compartments and fill with your child’s favorite fruits and veggies. We recommend cutting them in fun shapes and sizes. If raw veggies aren’t appealing, try steaming them the night before. Fill the other compartment with a fun shaped sandwich, using a cookie cutter, that’s filled with lean cold cuts, freshly sliced tomato, a slice of cheese, a large leaf of Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce, and a bit of mayo and mustard served on whole wheat bread.
thermos- lunch

Warm- up with Watercress: Prepare for the cooler autumn weather by purchasing your child a good thermos to take to school. During a cold week make a nutritious soup like this Garden Cress Soup for dinner from recipetips.com. You can even substitute the garden cress with Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress to increase nutrition, since watercress is the most nutrient dense vegetable available. The soup will be great for leftovers, which you can put in a thermos for your child’s lunch the next day. Your child will be so happy to have something warm they won’t event notice they’re eating vegetables! Compliment this meal with a little lettuce or fruit salad and a slice of cookie cutter, fun-shaped bread to dip in the soup.

Live Gourmet Butter LettuceCheer up chicken: Send your child with a “make your own lunch.” Make this quick and tasty chicken salad recipe the night before. When you wake up put the chicken salad in one compartment of the lunchbox. Then tear off and rinse a few leaves from a head of Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce and add those into another compartment. Put in a spoon, and tell your child to scoop the chicken salad into the lettuce cups so they can make their own little lettuce wraps at lunch!  Add some sliced fruit to another compartment and there you have it a fun, well-rounded lunchbox meal, which makes a delicious to-go lunch for you too!

Super Confused about Superfoods?

Ever wondered what’s so super about a superfood? Are you confused about the difference between watercress and upland cress? You’re not alone, so let us clarify the facts for you.

A superfood is an extremely nutrient-dense food that, when eaten, is considered to be very beneficial for maintaining good health. These foods tend to be unprocessed, and often contain high concentrations of antioxidants and phytonutrients, believed to help prevent cancer and a wide range of other chronic diseases.
Cress is an overarching name for the peppery-flavored, dark leafy greens that fall within the mustard family. It comes in a variety of forms including: watercress, garden cress, upland cress, winter cress, bitter cress, yellow cress, pennycress, and rock cress. These plants are related to the more popularly known superfoods, broccoli and kale. In fact, in a recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cress has just superseded kale and broccoli, having been named the most nutrient-dense vegetable available on the market.

living-upland-cress-brochure

At Hollandia Produce, we grow two strains of cress: Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress and Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress. Both products are certified as antioxidant superfoods with 127 percent higher antioxidant density than the USDA reported average value. In addition to being loaded with essential nutrients, our cress products also contain as much vitamin C as an orange, more calcium than milk, and of course, high levels of magnesium, lutein, phosphorous, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, andvitamins A, B1, B6, K, and E!

click here to read brochure

 

It’s important to remember: no single food can provide you with the all of the nutrients necessary for good health. However, maintaining a healthy and diverse diet, filled with fruits and vegetables, including those that are considered superfoods, is good practice toward achieving this goal. Besides, in addition to being nutritious, they’re tasty and typically low calorie and high in fiber! Isn’t that reason enough to call them superfoods?

A Healthy Twist on National Lasagna Day

It’s National Lasagna Day! Why not celebrate with a new twist on an old favorite? We added cress, the world’s most nutrient dense superfood, to create a lasagna recipe that’s not only indulgent and delicious but packed with essential antioxidants, vitamins and phytonutrients. Plus, cress’ peppery flavor adds a complimentary kick to lasagna’s traditional taste.

Ingredients

  • Lasagna noodles                                                              spinach lasagna recipe with watercress
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 bags of Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress
  • 2, 15-oz. containers of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ cups of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup of chopped, fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup of chopped, fresh basil
  • 2, 12-oz. jars of marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • (Makes 8 servings)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Lightly oil a 9’ x 13’ baking dish
  3. Parboil lasagna noodles in salted water for 6 minutes (The noodles will continue to cook in the oven.)
  4. Sauté garlic and mushrooms in olive oil until the mushrooms are tender. Then, add in the watercress and sauté quickly (or until the greens are wilted)
  5. Mix together the ricotta and parmesan cheese, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs in a mixing bowl
  6. Pour a shallow layer of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the baking dish.
  7. Add one layer of pasta noodles
  8. Spread cheese and herb mixture over noodles
  9. Pour another layer of marinara sauce over the cheese
  10. Continue layering until all ingredients are used
  11. Finish with a top layer of mozzarella cheese
  12. Cook in oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the lasagna is bubbly and the cheese is melted