Rona's Favorite Healthy (And Not So Healthy) Recipes

Melissa’s Produce Is Back In Person!

Melissa’s Produce Is Back In Person!

They’re BAAACCCKKKKK…..that’s right, Melissa’s Produce, (@melissasproduce)  ie- Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc. has been delivering the global market since 1984 and is currently the largest distributor of specialty produce in the United States.  Basically, they’re everywhere and you’re probably eating something they distributed right now and didn’t even know it!

Anyway, if you’ve ever followed my blog, you know that a few times a year, Robert Schueller, the man here, holding the snacks and Melissa’s Director of Public Relations, invites a select group of food bloggers and other foodie types to discover new foods, new cookbooks and more.

Food bloggers taking picture of the food…’s what we do!


(Jeffrey and I just did an interview with him on our podcast,  You can listen here, but only after you finish reading this, ok?)

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, those in-person events stopped happening. Surprising, I know.  Well, he just brought them back….and he did it with a bang!

It was a 3 hour extravaganza, as Chef Tom Fraker & the kitchen team created a fabulous holiday tasting menu.

Then, Robert presented us with a list of the best in season produce for the holiday and coming winter months.  Here’s what he shared:

Top Specialty Items:

1. Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes

2.Baby Red Potatoes

3. Steamed Lentils (pictured with #5 on this list and #1 on the Top Holiday Items)

4. Ginger Root

5. Steamed Baby Red Beets (see photo above)

6. Gemstone Potatoes

7. Dragon Fruit (red, white and yellow)

8. Chayote Squash

9. Red Caribbean Papaya–this is a papaya on steroids. It can feed your family for a month. Freeze the leftovers. Ok, I’m lying. They are a giant fruit and very sweet and delicious.

10. Serrano Peppers

11. Baby Dutch Red Potatoes

12. Cherimoya

13. Mango (this one is an Australian Mango….very smooth and sweet. And HUGE! They come out during the winter, when there’s a dearth of them throughout the world. This variety is called the R2E2…get the reference?  It travels well, has a small seed and is very easy to cut.)

14. Baby Bok Choy

15. Jalapeno Peppers

Here are the top 10 Holiday Items

1. Steamed Blackeyed Peas (see the photo above)

2. Pink Pineapple (this is Kenny Kataoka, a long time member of Melissa’s procurement team and he has the best job. He searches the world for interesting, fabulous produce. Isn’t that an awesome gig?) Yes, pink pineapple is an engineered fruit.  Heck, didn’t Gregor Mendel Engineer stuff?  I bet that didn’t taste as juicy and sweet as these pineapples! These beauties are so rare, Del Monte, partnering with Melissa’s, takes the top off so people can’t plant them. @melissasproduce is the sole distributor.

3. Egg Roll and Won Ton Wrappers

4. Butterscotch Pears (Also called Korean Pears. They don’t oxidize when cut.  Score! They’re great for fruit and veggie platters)


5. Crepes

6. Hollandaise Sauce

7. Clean Snax (see what Robert’s holding)

8. Tamale Kits

9 Party Pecans

10. Holiday Kettle Popcorn

AND….this was the piece de resistance….we were asked to bring bit sized portions of a favorite Holiday dessert for a holiday recipe contest. 17 of us did that and boy, was it a sugar paradise!  Have a look–


These last ones were my entry. Holiday Bark. They’re super easy and absolutely delicious.  The semi-sweet chocolate bark went like wildfire, so I’ll share that recipe with you, below.

Holiday Bark

December 9, 2023
: Depends on your sugar craving
: Easy

A festive holiday or anytime gluten free dessert


  • 12 ounces bittersweet baking rounds
  • 1/2 Cup Melissa's dried cherries
  • 1/2 Cup Melissa's dried Mango
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Pistachios, chopped small
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (I like little more)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne powder, depending on heat preference
  • 3 tsps coco nibs
  • Step 1 Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper.
  • Step 2 Boil water in saucepan and lower heat so it simmers. in large glass or metal bowl, add chocolate and stir until melted.
  • Step 3 Add 1/2 the fruit and nuts.
  • Step 4 Add spices.
  • Step 5 Stir until mixed thoroughly.
  • Step 6 Spread chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet.
  • Step 7 Sprinkle with cocoa nibs and the rest of dried fruit and nuts. Press in a little so they stick.
  • Step 8 Chill in fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Step 9 Cut or break into bite sized pieces. (breaking is more fun!)
Food bloggers taking picture of the food…’s what we do!


All in all, it was a super fun and incredibly filling afternoon.  Thanks Robert and all the crew at Melissa’s @melissasproduce.  I can’t wait until the next one….

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