It’s been just over a year since we took a leap of faith and opened Ava’s.
When we think back on where we were a year ago, we’ve come a long way. Our selection of foods has been totally revamped with input from the neighborhood to grass-fed meats, organic produce, organic and raw dairy products, local wines, craft beers, bulk grains, Acme and Golden Sheaf breads, cleaning supplies, groceries including Amy’s and Annie’s brands, and gluten-free options, to name a few.
If you haven’t been to Ava’s lately, give us a chance to earn your business. Our mission is to bring you healthy foods, locally sourced when possible, at competitive prices. Stop by or drop us a note to tell us what we’re doing right or wrong. We are always seeking to improve, and we view this as YOUR neighborhood grocery.
Juan & Ann
by Deb Keller
Why go organic? In a word, pesticides. The President’s Cancer Panel recommends avoiding pesticides to reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. Another reason beyond your health, is the health of the planet since pesticides aren’t good for Mother Earth either.
The good news is that organic produce is becoming more and more price competitive. In fact, at Ava’s I have noted that organic is often very close in price and occasionally even cheaper than conventional. Today I checked russet potatoes, and organic and conventional are the same price.
But when there’s a significant spread in prices between organic and conventional, I hit the pause button.
A list called “the dirty dozen” can help us prioritize when we’re pausing to consider if the price is worth it. The USDA checks pesticides on conventionally grown produce once a year, and their data is then crunched by an organization called The Environmental Working Group, which publishes a list of the the dirty dozen for shoppers. It should be pointed out that produce is washed using high-pressure water systems before testing, so just thinking you can wash off pesticides isn’t going to work.
Topping the list as the dirtiest in 2012 is apples. The price for apples at Ava’s varies quite a bit, so it’s worthwhile to check these frequently. Ava’s had some delicious organic Jazz apples at $2.29/lb. (Jazz are kind of like Honey Crisp, my favorite.) There was also an organic apple called Autumn Glory that sold for just $.99/lb. Juan also now has some gigantic organic Fuji apples at just $1.39/lb. Compare this to the Farmer’s Market, which sells apples at $2.00/lb.
Peppers sit and #3, which is a bummer, because I really like ‘em, and they do tend to be pricier.
Blueberries sits at #9. Juan has recently been getting some very good organic blueberries from Chile, most recently selling at $6 for 3 6-oz packs (many fruits are coming from warmer climes this time of year). Also check out the Natural Directions blueberries in the freezer case. They are $5.49 for 12 oz so pretty much at what you get them on sale. And even though that’s pricier for frozen blueberries than at Trader Joe’s, they’re far superior in taste.
Surprising to me are potatoes at #10. As I noted above, Ava’s organic russet potatoes are the same price as conventional today. Ava’s also carries organic Yukon gold potatoes.
Kale makes the list at #11, and Ava’s organic kale is very competitive to commercial, and also with organic kale at the Farmer’s Market.
The Dirty Dozen
by Deb Keller
When I grew up in the Midwest, there was no such thing as kale. Course, there weren’t a lot of other things back then in the Midwest either. Like tacos. Arugula. Organic foods were not invented yet either. Later, though, when I moved to California, I noticed kale as an ornamental plant at the Stanford Shopping Center, planted around the trees over by Schaub’s meat market.
So I was surprised when I saw people actually buying kale at the Mountain View Farmer’s market. Being semi-adventurous, I thought I’d try it. It was tough and bitter, so I knew it was something that was probably good for me, but I didn’t like it.
Now at Ava’s I see people buying it all the time. I ask them how they prepare it, and a lot of customers juice it. And all of these customers look very healthy. This prompted me to look into nutritional value of kale, and this was the thing that really motivated me to give kale another chance.
The Meat of Vegetables
First of all, kale is the meat of vegetables. In 4 cups of raw kale, you get an astounding 9 grams of protein. (More later on how you can eat 4 cups at a sitting.) What’s interesting too, is that the protein is mostly complete, getting a 92 out of 100, where 100 is complete protein.
It’s also high in Omega-3s (484 mg) and Omega-6′s (370 mg), and at the right balance. (For omegas, you try to get between a 1:1 and 2.3:1 ratio, so kale comes in well at 1.3:1).
More Good News
Kale has a rating of 257, which makes it strongly anti-inflammatory. Inflammation causes all kinds of problems, and in fact doctors now think that inflammation may be a stronger indicator of heart disease than cholesterol. It’s also loaded with vitamins K, A, and C, calcium and potassium.
So maybe I’ve convinced some doubters to try 4 cups of kale. But here’s the rub: how do you eat that much?
After experimenting with many recipes I hit on baked kale, and this is the thing that gets me eating literally a bunch, or about 4 cups, of kale. Organic kale at Ava’s is very price competitive with conventionally grown so buy that. What you do is wash the kale and then spin it super dry. Strip off the leaf from the main tough stem, and toss it with 1-2 TBS of olive oil and 1/2 tsp of salt. Place it in a baking pan in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Keep your eye on it, and midway I usually toss it, because some of the pan will be getting done faster. You can also use parmesan cheese instead of salt, and I also make an Asian one with peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.
Too busy to make it? Ava’s also carries prepared kale in the aisle by the crackers: Brad’s Baked Kale.
Source for nutrition (multiplied X 4 for 4 cups of kale).
by Deb Keller
I’ve always liked lentils, but it wasn’t until I started looking at the nutrition information on the package that I began to LOVE them.
Consider: 1 cup of cooked lentils gives you a whopping 18 grams of protein, or 36% of your daily needs.
But it gets better. It’s a little tough to get sufficient iron in your diet, and with a cup of cooked lentils, you get 37% of your requirement. Dietary fiber? No problem. A cup of lentils supplies 67% of your daily needs.
Like all beans, lentils have a low glycemic index of 13, so they’re good if you’re watching blood sugar.
And you get all of this for only about 50 cents.
Ava’s carries Natural Directions Organic lentils and Bob’s Red Mill red lentils. The orange smaller ones cook down into sort of like a yellow mush. For ready-made lentils, try Amy’s Lentil Soup, Natural Directions Organics, or Westbrae Organics, and Progresso Lentils.
Lentils are super easy to make. I usually saute an onion until translucent, add lentils and water or stock and boil for 20 minutes. Skim off any foam, and then add a can of tomatoes and spices. I put cumin in everything. Curry is great too. Top with Straus whole milk yogurt (or for a real treat try the Crème fraîche from Ava’s) and chopped cilantro. Pair the soup with some Hamati’s whole wheat pita bread from Ava’s.
Let’s hear what your favorite lentil recipes are.
Source for nutrition facts.