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How to Tell When Fruits and Veggies Are Ripe

Bananas and peanut butter are a snack match made in heaven – a dynamic duo, so to speak. But if you don’t play your cards right, your beloved yellow fruit will become too mushy to handle the generous smear (or two) of peanut spread. Of course, you could always get your nut fix by attacking the jar with a spoon, but it’s just not the same.
Needless to say, dealing with fruits and veggies that are either unripe or too ripe is a buzzkill. But don’t worry, we’ve put together a handy-dandy guide that’ll help you determine when your summertime staples are as (Hello)FRESH as possible (see what we did there?).

1.Avocados

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Avoid avocados that are overly soft with large dark blemishes. Instead, opt for ones that yield gently to pressure in the palm of your hand. Then give ‘em a soft poke; you want the skin to “give” slightly but not remain indented. Finally, flip off the small cap at the top. If doing so reveals green flesh, you’re good to go.
If your avocados aren’t ripening fast enough to satisfy your guacamole cravings, store them in a brown paper bag at room temperature. To accelerate the process even further, toss in a banana. The yellow fruits emits ethylene, a gas that’ll do the trick.
Load up on healthy fats with avocado toast, smoothies, or this cherry pancake concoction

2.Corn

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Nothing screams summer like grilled corn-on-the-cob. To enjoy it at the peak of its flavor, look for a bright green and tightly wrapped husk. And you know those little strings sticking out from the top that get all over the kitchen when you’re shucking away? Those are called tassels, and you want to be sure they’re brown and ever-so-slightly sticky. Go ahead and take a peek inside before using a sharp object (your fingernail would work) to puncture a kernel. If the water that escapes is translucent rather than watery, the corn is ready to be enjoyed.
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Strawberry Mojito Recipe

The traditional mojito, which hails from Havana, Cuba, is made with only five simple ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime juice, club soda, and mint. But because we’re big fans of mixing things up, we decided to switch out the rum for tequila and toss in some juicy, succulent strawberries (gotta take advantage before they go out of season)! The result? Revolutionary. This cocktail literally tastes like summer.

Ingredients
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Brown Sugar
  • 6 Mint Leaves
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 5 Strawberries
  • Club Soda
Instructions
1.Muddle the strawberries, brown sugar, and mint.

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2.Add ice and tequila. Stir it all together.

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3.Top with fizzy club soda. But DON'T DRINK YET! There's still one more important step...Garnish with strawberries and mint.

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4.Gaze in awe at your beautiful creation (and snap a photo while you're at it).

5.Get the party started!
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Summer Skewers (+ Pottery Barn Accessories!)

If you ask us what the most important part of a meal is, we’re going to say… food (duh). But the team over at Pottery Barn would beg to differ. For them, it’s all about the accessories (think rustic wooden dining room tables, festive plates, and color-coordinated napkins and tablecloths). Instead of dueling it out, we decided to be mature adults and join forces. After all, you can’t have one without the other, right?

So without further ado, we present to you the perfect summer setup complete with mouth-watering recipes and beautiful kitchen accessories to impress your guests before they even take a bite of food. It’s the best of both worlds, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

First order of business: skewers.

HelloFresh’s expert chef Freida, aka the skewer master, has perfected the art of pairing fruit with meat. Feel free to toss these sweet and savory gems into the broiler or onto the grill – up to you!

Chipotle Shrimp Skewers with Charred Pineapple and Red Peppers

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Jerk Chicken Skewers with Peach and Red Onion

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5 reasons why grapes are good for you

You may already intuitively sense that fresh grapes are good for you. After all, people have been cultivating and eating them for thousands of years. From ancient times onward, grapes have also delighted our senses with their beauty, delicate sweetness and luscious, thirst-quenching qualities.
Today, research scientists have been discovering exciting new facts about grapes and why they may benefit health in so many ways. Here are five great reasons to add grapes to your day:

1. Grapes Deliver Antioxidants and Other Polyphenols. Grapes of all colors contain a variety of antioxidants and other polyphenols. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals to help prevent the process of oxidation that damages cells. Sounds pretty technical, but in fact, neutralizing free radicals happens naturally when we eat foods like grapes that promote antioxidant activity. When free radicals are left to their own devices, a condition called "oxidative stress" occurs. Oxidative stress is now associated with numerous health conditions and chronic illnesses.

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2. Love Your Heart: Eat Grapes. Human studies have shown that eating a variety of grapes may help support a healthy heart by promoting relaxation of blood vessels to help maintain healthy blood flow and function. Heart-healthy grapes may also help promote healthy aging: studies looking into the health benefits derived from eating normal portions of grapes on a regular basis, are underway at some of the nation’s most prestigious research institutions.

3. "Grape" News for High Blood Pressure. In a recent series of studies1 2 3, animals were fed a salty diet and their blood pressures rose as a result. When grapes were added to their diet blood pressure levels dropped, heart function improved and inflammation was reduced throughout their bodies. These animals also showed fewer signs of heart damage compared to those who did not receive grapes in the diet.

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4. A Boost for Colon Health. In a small human study of colon cancer patients4, those consuming a grape-enriched diet (equal to adding 2 1/2 cups of grapes per day for two weeks) were able to inhibit certain genes that promote tumor growth in the colon. This benefit was observed in the healthy tissue of the subjects' colons, not the cancerous, indicating a potential role for grapes in helping to maintain a healthy colon.

5. All Eyes Are On Grapes. Three recent laboratory studies5 6 7 suggest that regular grape consumption may play a role in eye health by protecting the retina from deterioration. In the first study, adding grapes to the diet early in life prevented blindness in animals that were prone to developing retinal damage in old age, similar to age-related macular degeneration in humans. In the second study the grape-enriched diet offered protection in multiple ways, from countering oxidative stress to lowering levels of inflammatory proteins and increasing protective proteins in the retina. In a third laboratory study, adding grapes to the diet helped reduce damaging and undesirable blood vessel formation that can leak into the retina and lead to vision loss.
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Chicken & spring vegetable lasagne

This is a light and spring-y lasagna full of green. I added in some chopped chicken for an extra hit of protein, but you can easily make this vegetarian by omitting the chicken and chicken stock.

Start off by making the green sauce. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. While it’s coming to a boil, prepare a large ice bath to shock the vegetables. This helps them stay green. Pop the garlic in the water and let it cook while you’re blanching. Blanch the vegetables in batches: 1-2 minutes for the broccoli and peas, 30 seconds for the spinach. Immediately plunge into the ice water to stop the vegetables from cooking. When cool, drain well. Place the vegetables and garlic in a food processor or blended and blitz until smooth and uniform. If needed, add a touch of chicken stock to thin out. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package, draining and rinsing lightly when cooked. (This is the only kind of pasta that I rinse – I don’t like washing off the starches, but it’s the only way to stop the noodles from sticking together in a giant lasagna nest.)

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While the noodles are cooking, make the cheese sauce: Over medium heat, in a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir constantly over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until smooth. Pour in half of the milk in a thin stream while whisking. When smooth, add the rest of the milk. Keep on medium heat and whisk for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
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2 Tips To Make Your Healthy Food Less Boring, So You’re More Inspired To Eat Well

For many people, the idea of healthy eating doesn't sound too appealing because it conjures up images of plain steamed vegetables or a bowl of bland quinoa. However, the reality is that healthy eating can be quite delicious, especially if you're armed with the right advice on how to make your healthy food more exciting. Spending time making your meals tastier and more unique can actually leave you more inspired to eat healthy.

"Many people set out to eat healthy and become frustrated when they feel deprived and uninspired by their food," says Amy Swartz, RD of meal delivery company Munchery. "Focusing so much energy on counting calories and the foods you shouldn't eat can feel overly restricting. Shifting the focus away from diets and calorie counting towards an overall healthy lifestyle and healthy eating choices gives you the flexibility to try new things, enjoy foods in moderation, and ultimately make healthy eating a permanent lifestyle change."

1. Eat What You Like

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2.Allow Yourself That Treat

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