Vella's Market in Constantia, NY
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Vegetable Tips

The produce aisle will provide you with a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.

Spend some time in our produce area and load up your cart.

Vegetables will keep for long periods in the freezer and do not lose any nutritional value.











The Importance of Produce in a Healthy Diet

Voluptuous Veggies

Vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat and provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can never eat too many vegetables!

Here are some general shopping tips for buying produce:

  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season to keep the prices reasonable.
  • Examine your fruits and vegetables for freshness; avoid bruises and other deformities.
  • If you're into “super-convenience,” buy the prewashed, precut bags of salad, carrots, celery, and anything else offered at your supermarket. Look for premade fruit salads in either the fresh or frozen sections of your grocery store.
  • Check out the salad bar in your grocery store. This way you can get the exact amount of anything you need, and it's already precut and prewashed for you.
  • Speak with the person in charge of produce at your local supermarket, ask about unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, and then try something new!

  • Artichokes provide potassium and folic acid. Look for artichokes that are plump and heavy in relation to size. The many leaf-like parts are called “scales” and should be thick, green, and fresh-looking. Avoid artichokes with any brownish discoloration or moldy growth on the scales.
  • Asparagus provides vitamins A and C, niacin, folic acid, potassium, and iron. Look for closed, dense tips with smooth, deep green spears. Avoid tips that are spread open or seem to have any mold or decay.
  • Broccoli provides calcium, potassium, iron, fiber, vitamins A and C, folic acid, and niacin. Look for stalks that are not too tough with compact, firm bud clusters and that are dark green or sage green in color. Avoid broccoli with a wilted appearance, yellowish green discoloration, or bud clusters that are spread open. These are all signs of over-maturity.
  • Brussels sprouts provide vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium, iron, and fiber. Look for brussels sprouts with a bright green color and tight-fitting outer leaves. Avoid brussels sprouts that appear to be wilting or have blemishes.
  • Cabbage provides vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Whether it's green or red, cabbage can be used in coleslaw, salads, and a variety of cooked dishes. Look for a dense, heavy head of cabbage relative to its size, with outer leaves that display a green or red color (depending on the type). Avoid cabbages with outer leaves that appear wilted or blemished.
  • Carrots provide vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Look for smooth, firm, well-formed carrots that have a rich orange color. Avoid roots that are discolored, soft, and flabby.
  • Cauliflower provides vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Look for compact, firm curds (the edible creamy-white portion), and do not worry about green leaflets that may be scattered throughout a bunch. Although most grocers sell cauliflower without the outside jacket leaves, in the rare instance that they are left on, a nice green color reveals freshness. Avoid severe discoloration, blemishing, or spreading of the white curd.
  • Corn provides vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Although yellow-kernel is the most popular, there are varieties of white-kernel and mixed-kernel corn as well. Look for fresh green husks (the outer covering) and make sure that the silk ends are free from decay or worm injury. If the corn has already been husked (the outside covering removed), choose ears of corn that are heavily covered with bright yellow, plump kernels. Avoid kernels that appear dried or are lacking in color.
  • Eggplants provide potassium. Look for firm, heavy, dark purple eggplants (although there are other colored varieties). Avoid any that are shriveled, soft, or lacking color, or that reveal decay in the form of brownish spots.
  • Lettuce comes in several varieties: iceberg, butter-head, Romaine, and leaf lettuce. It provides vitamin C and folic acid. Look for bright color and crisp leaf texture when buying Romaine. For other leafy variations, select succulent, tender leaves and avoid any serious discoloration or wilting.
  • Mushrooms provide potassium, niacin, and riboflavin. Look for closed mushroom caps around the stems, with the underneath gills (rows of paper-thin tissue located underneath the caps) colored pink or light tan. Avoid mushrooms with wide-open caps and dark, discolored gills.
  • Okra provides vitamin A, potassium, and calcium. Look for bright green, tender pods that are under 4½ inches long. Avoid stiff tips (those that resist bending) or pods with a lifeless, pale green color.
  • Onions are not a significant source of nutrition, but they can certainly enhance the flavor of the foods you eat. With all types (red, white, and yellow), look for hard, dry onions that are free from blemishes. Avoid onions that are wet or mushy.
  • Peas (green) provide vitamin A, folic acid, potassium, protein, and fiber. Look for a firm, fresh appearance with bright green pods. Avoid flabby, wilted pods, and any sign of decay.
  • Peppers (sweet) provide vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Although green peppers are the most common, other delicious varieties include yellow, orange, red, purple, and white. Look for firm peppers with deep characteristic color. Avoid very lightweight, flimsy peppers that have punctures or signs of decay on the outside.
  • Potatoes provide potassium, most B-vitamins, vitamin C, protein, and fiber. Look for reasonably smooth, firm, and blemish-free potatoes. Avoid those with large bruises and soft spots and those that are sprouted or shriveled.
  • Rhubarb provides vitamin A, calcium, and potassium. Look for firm but tender stems with a decent amount of pinkish red color. Avoid rhubarb that appears wilted or flabby.
  • Spinach provides vitamin A, calcium, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Look for healthy, fresh leaves that have a dark green color. Avoid spinach leaves that appear wilted or show significant discoloration.
  • Squash (summer) provides vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber and includes several varieties, such as yellow crookneck, large straightneck, the greenish white pattypan, and the slender green zucchini. Look for firm, well-developed, tender squash. Check for a glossy (not dull) outside, which indicates the squash is tender. Avoid dull, tough, or discolored squash.
  • Squash (winter) includes acorn, butternut, buttercup, green and blue hubbard, delicious, and banana, providing vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Look for squash that is heavy for its size with a tough, hard outside rind. Avoid squash with any signs of decay, including sunken spots, bruising, or mold.
  • Sweet potatoes provide vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Look for firm, smooth sweet potatoes with uniformly colored skins. The moist type known as yams should have orange flesh, whereas dry sweet potatoes have a more pale appearance. Avoid discoloration, wormholes, and any other indication of decay.
  • Tomatoes provide vitamins A and C and potassium. Look for well-ripened, smooth tomatoes with a rich, red color. If you're not planning to eat them within the next few days, choose slightly less ripe, firm tomatoes with a pink or light red color. Only store fully ripe ones in the fridge because the cold temperature might prevent immature tomatoes from ripening. Avoid tomatoes that are over-ripened and mushy or show any signs of decay.

    Fabulous Fruits

    For a quick nutritious snack, a deliciously healthy dessert, or even part of a creative meal, fruit rules. Similar to its neighbor in our produce section, fruit is naturally low in calories and fat (except for avocado and coconut), while chock-full of nutrients and fiber. Get in the habit of keeping a stash of fresh fruit. Although dried fruit is another tasty option, keep in mind that it is more concentrated in calories because it has less water than its fresh counterparts. Also, beware of canned (and sometimes frozen) fruit with “heavy syrup added”; these are packed with calories and sugar. When buying canned or frozen fruit, read the labels and look for key phrases such as “no added sugar,” “packed in its own juice,” “packed in 100% fruit juice,” or “unsweetened.”

    What about fruit juice? It's certainly not a substitute for whole fruit (in fact, even the brands with pulp added will be lacking in dietary fiber), but fruit juice does provide nutrients and is clearly better than colas, sweetened iced-teas, or fruit punch. Go ahead and put a couple of juice containers in your shopping cart. When available, opt for the brands with added vitamin C or the calcium-fortified varieties.

    Here are some helpful hints for shopping for fresh fruits:

    • Apples provide potassium and fiber and are available in a bunch of varieties, including Red Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith, Empire, Washington, and Golden Delicious. Although each kind differs in seasonal availability, taste, and appearance, some general shopping savvy is to look for crisp, firm apples with a rich color (depending upon the type). Avoid apples with bruising, soft spots, or mealy flesh.
    • Apricots provide a lot of vitamin A, iron, and some potassium and fiber. Look for apricots that have a golden orange color and appear to be plump and juicy. Avoid apricots that are dull-looking, mushy, or overly firm or that have a yellowish green color.
    • Avocados provide vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Look for avocados that are slightly tender to the touch if you plan to eat them immediately. Otherwise, buy firm avocados and let them ripen at room temperature for a few days. Avoid any with broken surfaces or dark prominent spots.
    • Bananas provide a lot of potassium and some vitamin A and fiber. Look for firm bananas that are either yellowish green (and will ripen in a few days) or fully yellow and ready to eat. In general, bananas have their best flavor when the solid yellow color is speckled with some brown. Avoid bananas that are bruised or have a gray appearance.
    • Blueberries provide vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Look for plump, firm blueberries that are dark blue in color. Avoid berries that are mushy, moldy, or leaking.
    • Cantaloupes provide vitamins A and C and potassium. Look for cantaloupes with rough skin that are slightly soft and flexible when you press on the top or bottom and that have a sweet, fresh odor. Avoid extremely hard cantaloupes (unless you want to wait for them to ripen) and any with moldy spots.
    • Cherries provide vitamin A and potassium. Look for cherries with a dark red color, plump surfaces, and fresh stems. Avoid cherries that appear dull, shriveled, or dried.
    • Grapefruits provide vitamins A and C and potassium. Look for firm, compact grapefruits that are heavy for their size. Do not worry about slight discoloration or skin scars; this usually does not interfere with the quality of taste. Avoid grapefruits that look extremely dull and lack color.
    • Grapes provide some fiber and come in several color varieties. Look for rich-colored, plump grapes that are tightly attached to the stem. Avoid grapes that are shriveled and soft or that have brown, brittle stems.
    • Kiwi fruit provides a lot of vitamin C and potassium. Look for plump kiwi fruit that yields slightly to the touch; this means it's ripe. You can ripen firm kiwi fruit at home by leaving it at room temperature for a few days. Avoid kiwi fruits that are super-soft or shriveled.
    • Lemons provide vitamin C. Look for firm lemons with a rich, glossy yellow color. Avoid lemons with mold, punctures, or a dull, dark yellow coloring.
    • Mangos provide vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Look for orangish-yellow to red mangos that are well developed and barely soft to the touch. Avoid mangos that are rock-hard or over-ripened and mushy.
    • Nectarines provide vitamin A and potassium. Look for bright-colored, plump nectarines with orange, yellow, and red color combinations. Nectarines that are hard will ripen in a few days at room temperature. Avoid nectarines that are overly soft, lacking color, or show signs of decay.
    • Oranges provide a lot of vitamin C, potassium, and folic acid. Look for firm, heavy oranges (because this indicates juiciness) with relatively smooth, bright-looking skin. Avoid oranges that are very light (no juice) or that have thick, coarse, or spongy skins.
    • Peaches provide vitamin A and potassium. Look for peaches that are firm but slightly soft to the touch. Avoid greenish, hard peaches that are under-ripened and mushy peaches that are over-ripened.
    • Pears provide potassium and fiber. Look for pears that are firm, but not too hard. The color depends on the variety. Bartletts are pale yellow to rich yellow, Anjou or Comice are light green to yellowish green, Bosc are greenish yellow to brownish yellow, and Winter Nellis are medium to light green. Avoid wilted or wrinkled pears with any distinct spots.
    • Pineapples provide vitamin C and fiber. Look for pineapples that are plump, firm, and heavy for their size and that have a fragrant aroma. Avoid pineapples that appear dull, bruised, or dried, or that have an unpleasant smell.
    • Raspberries provide vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Look for plump, tender berries with a rich, uniform scarlet color. Avoid berries that are mushy or have any mold.
    • Strawberries provide a lot of vitamin C, along with potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Look for firm, red berries that still have the cap stem attached. Avoid berries that have large uncolored or seedy areas. Also avoid strawberries that have a shrunken appearance or any mold.
    • Tangerines provide vitamins A and C. Look for deep yellow or orange tangerines with a bright luster (which indicates freshness and maturity). Avoid tangerines with a pale yellow or greenish color or punctures in the skin.
    • Watermelon provides vitamin A and some vitamin C. For uncut watermelons, look for a smooth surface, well-rounded ends, and a pale green color. For cut watermelons, look for juicy flesh with a rich, red color that is free from white streaks. Avoid melons with a lot of white streaks running through pale colored flesh and light colored seeds.