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Bountiful harvest

California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in the Golden State. In season right now are apples, figs, pears, cauliflower, kale, snap peas and winter squash, to name just a few. Fall is the perfect time to use locally grown produce in your weeknight and holiday dishes. Here are two fall favorites for your menu:


California produces 99% of the pomegranates in the U.S. Pomegranates have been cherished for their exquisite beauty, flavor, color, and health benefits for centuries. Pomegranates have many health benefits from helping to reduce the chance of cancer to being a source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Blueberry and Pomegranate Power Bars

Yield: 12 bars
Nonstick cooking spray
8 cups popped popcorn
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup whole natural almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Line 13-by-9-inch pan with foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In large bowl, combine popcorn, oats, blueberries, pomegranate seeds and almonds.
In small saucepan over low heat, boil honey, brown sugar and butter 2 minutes. Pour over popcorn mixture and mix thoroughly.
Using damp hands, press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into 12 bars.
Dip bottoms of bars into melted chocolate. Place on wax paper-lined pan; refrigerate until ready to serve. Store in tight covered container in refrigerator.

Sweet potatoes

High in nutrients and low in calories, sweet potatoes are a designated superfood. They’re also fat- and cholesterol-free and a great source of dietary fiber which, among other things, can help you feel full and satisfied longer. They are also very versatile. Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, broiled, grilled, fried, steamed, sautéed, and pureed. They work in sweet and savory dishes, in everything from summery salads to wintery stews, and in all kinds of recipes and cuisines.

Savory Sweet Potato Waffles with Garlic Crème Fraîche

Makes 5 to 6 Belgian-style waffles
Waffle Batter
2 medium (1 1/4 lbs or 565 g) sweet potatoes
1 3/4 cup (245 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (35 g) cornstarch
4 teaspoon baking powder
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (see headnote above for substitution)
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, separated
2 medium garlic cloves, grated or minced

Garlic Crème Fraîche
1 medium garlic clove, grated or minced
1 small shallot, grated or minced
zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup crème fraîche (see headnote above for substitution)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

For Garnish (optional)
1 green onion, sliced diagonally

1. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes and put in a steamer basket. Place the steamer basket in a pot of simmering water (making sure the basket isn’t submerged in the water) and cover. Steam sweet potatoes for 18-20 minutes or until they are tender with a fork. Empty the sweet potatoes into a bowl and mash with a fork. You can do this a day ahead and just refrigerate the sweet potatoes (unmashed or already mashed).

2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, make the garlic crème fraîche by placing the garlic, shallots, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes for the garlic and shallots to soften, then stir in the crème fraîche, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate while you make the rest of the batter.

3. Place the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cheese, green onions, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir with a balloon whisk until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Place 1 cup of the mashed sweet potatoes (reserve the remaining sweet potatoes for another use), milk, butter, egg yolks, and garlic in a small bowl and stir with a balloon whisk until well blended. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip until soft peaks form.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together with a large spatula. Once the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated, add the beaten egg whites and fold until a batter forms.

5. Heat your waffle iron and cook the waffles as per your machine’s instructions. Serve with garlic crème fraîche and garnish with green onion slivers.