It was a beautiful morning at the Club, Mumbai,when I arrived at this seminar organized by USDA in collaboration with FBAI on 16th December 2022. There was hustle bustle and excitement all around and we were all excited to learn about the nutritional benefits and Nitty-gritty of cultivation of these superfoods which have revolutionized the food market all over the world. The intensive use of technology and research practices adopted by USDA in farming and pest control have been successful in improving the quality of these ingredients beyond the regular varieties and hence recommended by nutritionists, medical practitioners and food experts across the world to be used in the recipes.
As the expert speakers started their presentation, I was visualizing wondering among green orchards and farms managed by American grower families.
Opening speech by Ms. Saloni Malkani
The seminar was opened by Ms. Saloni Malkani, the cofounder of FBAI, a premier news channel dedicated to promoting food, drinks, food bloggers and home chefs in India. She stated the objective of the seminar in brief, which is about culinary, sustainable food and health benefits of the ingredients.
Rhiannon Elms, a Senior Agricultural Attaché at USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Mumbai, summarized the goal of the seminar and introduced the presenters who individually took us to a memorable journey from the production to distribution and use of these ingredients in dishes, from farm to the plate.
The power of USA pears and Washington apples by Sumit Saran
Sumit saran, who is an Agribusiness consultant, spoke about reversing roles of men and women in the industry, women as buyers or purchase managers and more males as customers instead of the current roles which is just the opposite. According to him women are more organized and can be efficient buyers. He gave insights about the cultivation, distribution and nutritional benefits of US apples, pears, pistachios and cranberries.
Mr. Sumit Clarified that Washington apples come from the North-West, the state of Washington, and not from Washington-DC which is in the East coast of US. Washington is also known as the Apple state and is responsible for supplying apples throughout the year, not only confined to the Winter season.
The apples orchards in Washington have thousands of in-built reflectors, on which billions of dollars are spent by the State of Washington. These reflectors reflect sunlight uniformly, so that the apples have a uniform bright red color. They also have camera sorters with the help of which it is able to pick the best quality apples and sort them into the same size in a box.
Recipe to try with Washington apples
Some more recipes
The state of Washington also grows pears which are juicy and tender and produced all the year round, compared to the seasonal variety found in India. With the help of innovative technology, the USDA has revolutionized the pear market as well. The Washington apples and pears are found everywhere, they are able to penetrate into most of the cities in India by the local distributors and the small vegetable shop owners.
Pistachios are primarily an imported product in India, mostly imported from Iran, from the last few years, it is being imported from California. It is the lowest calorie nut and rich in protein. The pistachios are great for diabetes as it prevents the sugar spike. Research says that pistachios are complete protein which have 9 essential amino acids. They are a versatile healthy low-calorie snack.
I had prepared lamb meatballs with pistachios pesto in an online cook along event with chef Amanda on 29th October 2021.
You can find the recipe here
The fruits are called cranberries as the flowers of this plant resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill Crane. The dried cranberries with the dark red color and sweet and tangy taste are perfect to be used in Indian food, including Indian sweets.
Coconut Cranberry laddus
Pork meatballs in cranberry sauce
The versatility of US pulses and the wellness goals of California Walnuts by Sachin Khurana and shruti Gupta
Sachin Khurana and shruti Gupta listed the health benefits of US pulses and California walnuts. They showcased the beautiful farms where the walnuts are grown and the whole process of picking and packing these walnuts.
Nutritional benefits of California Walnut
- They are excellent source of:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Plant-based omega-3 fatty acid
- A good source of magnesium
Are California walnuts good for you?
California walnuts are rich in plant-based Omega 3 fatty acids which reduces the risk of heart diseases. They are rich in antioxidants and is considered anticarcinogenic. Walnuts are considered as super food for the brain. They are rich in DHA, Docosahexaenoic acid, which is a special type of Omega 3 fatty acid found in fishes like Salmon which is required for a healthy brain.
What kind of walnuts are California walnuts?
The walnut native to the US and grown in California are called the Black walnuts which have a stronger and earthier flavor.
Recipes of California walnuts
Salad making demonstration by chef Gaurav Madan
Chef Gaurav Madan demonstrated making an easy and healthy salad with the American ingredients like blueberries, cranberries, walnuts and pistachios.
Baking with USA blueberries
Shorya Kapoor who is an experienced bakery technologist gave insights about the uses of USA blueberries and their application in baking. The parts of the blueberries which are used are the fiber, extract, seeds and the blueberry oil.
The USA blueberries are Freeze-dried berry fruits and can be consumed as whole and without peeling as a healthy snack or fruit, without cutting. This way the original shape and appearance of the fruit is conserved, which is often desirable. He also listed the uses of blueberries in various baking dishes as an ingredient.
Delicious lunch made with US ingredients
US ingredients goodies Box
The attendees were bestowed with a wonderful goodie bag with a sample of these high-quality ingredients for trying them out in various recipes and I was all happy and excited to use them in various dishes and write about my experience.
Overall, it was a very enlightening seminar and I happily learnt and enjoyed at the same time. I am grateful and thankful to FBAI and Ms. Saloni Malkani for this opportunity.