Good Nutrition Starts with Education
The SLO Food Bank empowers people to make healthy choices in their everyday lives through outreach and education. This program aims to:
- Improve community members’ contextual skills in the kitchen, therefore increasing the likelihood of preparing more meals in the home using fresh produce and nutritious ingredients.
- Empower community members to engage in healthier behaviors, leading to more overall positive health outcomes in order to improve their physical, social and emotional well-being.
What We Do
In response to the pandemic, SLO Food Bank will be placing a heavy focus on virtual and indirect nutrition education. We will be hosting online nutrition and culinary classes as well as disseminating informational material in the form of flyers, healthy recipes, and children’s activities through all programs.
This webpage is an additional effort in our movement towards being a sustainable and reliable resource for community members and service providers across SLO County. It was developed in November 2020 and will continue to be updated on an ongoing basis for years to come.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will provide you with an array of nutrients essential for your overall health. See below for produce info and recipes!
Spring Fruits and Vegetables:
Appearance: Apricots are a fruit with a pit and orange color.
Availability: April through August
Look for: Plump, firm fruit with as much golden orange as possible.
How to Prepare: Rinse and cut lengthwise around the pit and gently twist to separate.
How to Store: Refrigerate unwashed ripe fruit for up to one week. Ripen firm fruit at room temperature until slightly soft.
Fun Fact: California produces 95% of the apricots in the United States.
Nutrition Fact: Apricots are high in vitamin A, which supports eye health.
Appearance: A sweet, tropical fruit that is yellow on the inside. The outer skin looks like a spiky pinecone.
Availability: March through July
Look for: Large plump, fruit with sweet fragrance and crown of deep green leaves.
How to Prepare: Rinse and cut off crown and bottom end. Remove end on strips from top to bottom. Slice and core as desired.
How to Store: Use immediately or refrigerate uncovered for two or three days.
Fun Fact: The top of a pineapple, after cleaning and drying, can be planted in soil and a new plant will grow.
Nutrition Fact: Pineapple contains an enzyme that helps with digestion and immune health.
Appearance: Has a furry, brown skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds inside.
Availability: March through May
Look for: Evenly ripe fruit, free of mold or soft spots.
How to Prepare: Peel skin and cut into slices or cut horizontally and scoop out with a spoon.
How to Store: Store ripe fruit in refrigerator for a week or leave on countertop away from direct sunlight for 1-2 days.
Fun Fact: You can eat the fuzzy skin of the kiwi; it has many nutrients!
Nutrition Fact: Kiwifruit is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Fiber and Potassium.
Appearance: A red berry with seeds on the outside.
Availability: April through November
Look for: Choose symmetrically shaped strawberries with a rich, even red color and fresh green caps.
How to Prepare: Gently rinse, pat dry, then remove green tops.
How to Store: Store in the refrigerator in original package in refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
Fun Fact: Strawberries are the only fruit that has seeds on the outside. The average berry has about 200 seeds.
Nutrition Fact: Strawberries can help improve heart health, lower the risk of developing some cancers and lower blood pressure.
Appearance: A long green vegetable that looks like a spear.
Availability: February through June
Look for: Choose firm asparagus stalks with dry, tight tips. Avoid limp or wilted stalks.
How to Prepare: Rinse and remove tough end of stems at point where it snaps easily. Leave spears whole or cut as desired. Asparagus can be blanched in boiling water, roasted, grilled or steamed.
How to Store: Stand spears in 1″ of water or wrap ends with damp paper towel. Cover and refrigerate for up to four days.
Fun Fact: Asparagus can also be purple and white in color.
Nutrition Fact: Asparagus has a wide variety of nutrients including folate, vitamin A, C, E and K.
Appearance: A green vegetable with many edible leaves.
Availability: March through June
Look for: Heavy plump, compact artichokes with uniform coloring and dark tips.
How to Prepare: Rinse and remove coarse lower petals up to about one inch of the stem. Snip off thorny tips. To prevent browning, dip in lemon juice. Boil, microwave or steam whole. After boiling 35-40 minutes turn upside to drain.
How to Store: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Fun Fact: California produces 100% of artichokes in the United States.
Nutrition Fact: Artichokes are an excellent source of fiber, which helps our digestive system, and vitamin C, which helps our immune system.
Appearance: Small, round and green.
Availability: March through July
Look for: Firm, bright green, medium-sized pods with no signs of decay or wilting.
How to Prepare: Shell peas by removing the stem end of the pod, peel the stringy fiber from the seam, pry the pod open, and run your thumb along the interior to detach the peas. Boil (2-3 minutes – use the minimum amount of water needed). Do not add salt, as they’ll toughen up. Steam 1-2 minutes.
How to Store: Refrigerate pea pods in a plastic bag; do not shell peas until ready to use.
Fun Fact: The most popular varieties of pea are snow pea, snap pea and sugar pea.
Nutrition Fact: Peas contain iron and zinc, which supports immune health.
Appearance: Avocados have a green-skinned, fleshy body that are egg-shaped or round.
Availability: March through August
Look for: Choose avocados that are firm but give slightly when pressed with a finger.
How to Prepare: Rinse and use a large knife and cut lengthwise around the seed. Twist to open the two halves to expose and remove the pit. To slice, either remove peel and slice or cut while still in the peel, using a spoon to scoop out the contents. Be sure to not hold the avocado in your hand while cutting!
How to Store: Store ripe avocados whole in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Unripe avocados can take up to 5 days to ripen. Store unripen avocados at room temperature. To speed up the ripening process, store avocados in a paper bag with a ripe apple or banana.
Fun Fact: Avocado trees were once called “Alligator pear trees”.
Nutrition Fact: Avocados contain healthy fats which help support brain health and Vitamin E, which helps protects cells from damage.
Appearance: Apples are crunchy, juicy fruits that grow on trees. They vary in color including red, yellow, and green.
Look for: Apples that are hard, without bruising or soft spots.
How to Prepare: Rinse and eat. To prevent browning, coat cut surfaces with lemon juice.
How to Store: Store at room temperature for up to a week or unwashed in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.
Fun Fact: The average apple has 10 seeds.
Nutrition Fact: Eat the apple peel to add more fiber to your diet. Fiber helps us stay full and aids in digestion.
Appearance: A sweet and juicy fruit with mild flavor that is the shape of a tear drop.
Look for: Firm, well-shaped, fruit. Use fully ripe fruit for immediate use. Minor scars and blemishes do not affect flavor.
How to Prepare: Rinse and enjoy whole or cut into pieces. To prevent browning, coat cut surfaces with lemon juice.
How to Store: Cover, refrigerate unwashed ripe fruit for up to three days. Ripen firm fruit at room temperature in a paper bag until it yields to gentle pressure at stem.
Fun Fact: Pears do not ripen on the tree. They’re harvested when they’re mature, not ripe. Pear also ripen from the inside out.
Nutrition Fact: Pears contain fiber, which helps with healthy digestion and keeps us feeling full.
Appearance: Plump, round, and shiny with orange skin and orange flesh
Look for: Dense and firm
How to Prepare: Rinse the outer skin, cut through the stem and into slices. Or simply peel and enjoy!
How to Store: Store at room temperature if you plan to enjoy the fruit soon. To enjoy later, store in the crisper in the refrigerator.
Fun Fact: The color “orange” was named after the orange fruit.
Nutrition Fact: One orange provides all the vitamin C you need in a day.
Appearance: A potato is a vegetable that grows underground. They can be brown, red, or blue.
Look for: Clean, firm, smooth potatoes, without sprouts, green areas or blemishes.
How to Prepare: Scrub well. Remove sprouts, decayed and green areas. Leave whole or peel cut as desired.
How to Store: Keep in a cool, dry, dark, ventilated place for up to two months or keep at room temperature for up to one week. Do not refrigerate except new potatoes for up to one week.
Fun Fact: The word “potato” comes from the Spanish word patata.
Nutrition Fact: Potatoes are rich in potassium which helps build muscle and keeps your heart healthy.
Appearance: Carrots are long root vegetables that taper at one end. They are a crunchy, sweet vegetable and are usually orange but can also come in yellow and purple.
Look for: Firm, clean, bright carrots that are well shaped. If tops are attached, they should be bright green.
How to Prepare: Trim root and stem ends. Rinse. Scrub or peel. Leave whole, shred or cut into coins or sticks.
How to Store: Cover, refrigerate unwashed carrots for up to 2-3 weeks.
Fun Fact: California produces over 85% of all carrots grown in the United States.
Nutrition Fact: Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which supports our vision and immune system.
Appearance: Onions are an edible bulb that grow underneath soil. They have many layers inside with thin papery layers on the outside. They are crunchy and pungent when raw and are soft and sweet when cooked.
Look for: Firm, small necked onions. Avoid dark spotted or sprouted bulbs.
How to Prepare: Rinse, trim root and stem ends. Discard outer leaves, cut in half and lay each side on the flat side to slice/chop.
How to Store: Cover, refrigerate unwashed carrots for up to 2-3 weeks.
Fun Fact: Onions make you cry because they contain sulfuric acid. To prevent tears, place onions in the freezer 30 minutes before chopping or chop onions from the top, and not the root end.
Nutrition Fact: Onions contain B vitamins, which help our cells grow and stay healthy.
Appearance: Cabbage are dense-leaved heads that come in shades of white, green, or purple.
Look for: Firm, heavy head with fresh outer leaves and good coloring.
How to Prepare: Remove outer wilted leaves. Rinse. Cut head in half lengthwise and remove core. Cut into wedges or shred. Boil, microwave, steam or stir-fry.
How to Store: Cover, refrigerate unwashed for up to two weeks.
Fun Fact: Cabbage is closely related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Nutrition Fact: Cabbage is rich in vitamin K, which helps wounds heal as well as vitamin C, which helps support immune system health.
Do you need some additional inspiration in the kitchen? Check out these yummy and nutritious recipes:
- Black Bean and Vegetable Quesadilla
- Bok Choy Noodle Bowl
- Eggplant Pasta
- Southwest Baked Potatoes
- Yucatan Chicken Tacos
Soups and Salads
- Corn and Salmon Chowder
- Hungarian Kohlrabi Soup and Kohlrabi Gratin
- Napa Cabbage Salad
- Southwest Salad
- Vegetable Salad with Tangy Avocado Dressing
Sweets, Snacks and Sides
- Baked Carrot Fries with Cumin
- Cheesy Cauliflower Mac
- Dutch Apple Yogurt Dessert
- Fresh and Fruity Slaw
- Frozen Banana Coins
- Frozen Bananas
- Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Honey Milk Balls
- Kale Chips
- Mexican Rice with Kidney Beans
- Pineapple Snack Cakes
- Stuffed Summer Squash
- Sugarless Oatmeal Cookies
- Tropical Fruit and Nut Mix