As a vegan who’s picky about the ingredients in the foods I eat, finding a milk alternative wasn’t easy. Most commercial nut beverages contain added ingredients to stabilize the liquid. I also found that I’d open up a carton of nut milk and it would go bad in my fridge before I used it all. I decided to explore making my own so that I could control the ingredients and make just what I’d need without wasting anything. The easiest way I found is to make nut milk out of organic nut butter. It’s so simple you’ll never buy packaged nut milks again.
How To Make Nut Milk From Organic Nut Butter
The basic recipe is 1 tablespoon of organic nut butter to 1 cup of water. You’ll need a blender, but it doesn’t have to be a high powered one, a regular blender will do. Just whizz the nut butter and water together until it is milky and smooth. Use more water if you like a thinner consistency, less water if you want a thicker consistency. A thicker nut milk makes a great creamer substitute.
Making your own nut milk out of organic nut butter allows you to make only what you need so that you’re not wasting any. The most common nut butter used to do this would be almond butter but experiment with other nut butters like cashew butter, walnut butter, peanut butter and pecan butter.
Keeping organic nut butter on hand is a great way to make sure you’ll always have nut milk available for recipes. Cashew butter, when made into milk, is the best cream substitute I’ve found. One of my favorite recipes to make is a creamed spinach recipe using cashew milk instead of cream. It is so rich and delicious, my 11 year old step-son was even asking for more.
How to make vegan creamed spinach using nut milk:
- 1 lb fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 c cashew milk
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- pinch of salt
Steam sauté the spinach until wilted and drain to remove the water. Add cashew milk and spices to the pan and stir constantly until the mixture thickens, 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.
Greens. We know we’re supposed to eat a lot of them, but how do you do it without getting bored of the same old salads? Make your own organic salad dressing! Nothing beats the freshness of homemade organic salad dressing and they’re really so simple to make with just a few key ingredients and whatever spices and seasonings you have on hand. I’ve got a handful of organic salad dressing recipes tucked in my back pocket that I can pull out and use when I’m in a rut. Salads never have to be boring again, once you know the tricks.
There are two main types of organic salad dressing – vinaigrette and creamy dressings. The basic formula for a vinaigrette is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil with whatever seasonings you’d like to add. The key is find the right balance between the acid, fat and seasonings. Since oil and vinegar naturally repel each other, these dressings will separate when standing. Creamy dressings add an emulsifier like mayonnaise to keep the ingredients from separating. You can either use a homemade mayo (simply whisk 1 ounce of egg yolk with 1 cup of oil until you reach the right consistency) or use a commercially prepared mayonnaise.
I’ll share with you some of my favorite organic salad dressing recipes but the flavors can so easily be tweaked for your own taste buds. By varying the type of oil (olive, sunflower, safflower, sesame, etc), the type of vinegar (balsamic, white wine, red wine, apple cider, flavored), and the seasonings, there’s nearly endless combinations.
Here are some of my favorite organic salad dressing recipes:
Raw Vegan Italian Salad Dressing
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. While this works best in a high speed blender, any blender will do.
I don’t know what else to call it because it is so good and you’ll crave it once you try it – its that good! I found a version of it online a while back and it was an instant addiction.
Miso Tahini Organic Salad Dressing
1 Tbsp miso
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup waterWhisk all ingredients together until creamy; you may need to add more water to thin the dressing.
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tsp of dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
In a small bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, mustard and mix well. Slowly add the olive oil while either whisking or stirring rapidly with your fork. Add the oregano and thyme, salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.
Creamy Caesar Dressing
2 anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves
1 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Place anchovies and garlic in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse until finely minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency. This dressing is better the next day after the flavors have combined overnight.
An exotic little seed that sprouts a tiny tail when its cooked, organic quinoa has so much going for it I barely know where to start. It’s a gluten free grain that is very high in protein, it’s easily digested and can be used for a wide variety of dishes from pilaf to cold salads, breakfast porridge and muffins (yes, muffins!), savory sides and sweet desserts.
A South American staple food, organic quinoa was first used for food at least 3,000 years ago in the Andean region of Bolivia, Peru and Columbia. The Incans called it the ‘mother grain’. In the 1980′s quinoa was introduced to the US and its cultivation began to increase for the first time since the fall of the Incan civilization. So powerful is this ancient food, the United Nations declared it a ‘superfood’ and NASA ranked it high on its list of possible foods for long duration space flight. A good source of complete protein as well as other nutrients, organic quinoa is a great addition to any meal.
The number one reason I’ve heard from people who have eaten organic quinoa and didn’t like it is that it tastes bitter. Organic quinoa has a coating on the outside of each seed of a compound called ‘saponin’, a bitter resin that needs to be rinsed off the grain before cooking. That bitterness goes away completely once you rinse the quinoa. Pour the amount you’re going to cook into fine mesh strainer and rinse it with water. You’ll see soapy bubbles; that’s the saponin. Rinse until the soapy bubbles stop.
There are a few different types of organic quinoa – white quinoa, red quinoa, black quinoa, and a combination of the three which is sometimes called tricolor or rainbow quinoa. The darker varieties have a slightly nuttier flavor but they can all be used interchangeably depending on what color you’d like your final dish to be.
Now that you know the secret to cooking great tasting quinoa, I’ll share with you some of my favorite recipes: a breakfast porridge, a muffin, a hot pilaf, a cold salad and a dessert.
Five Fantastic Organic Quinoa Recipes
Organic Quinoa-Hemp Breakfast Porridge
Get a good start to your day with this protein-rich, hearty breakfast that is full of antioxidants and omega 3′s.
Rinse and drain quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Combine quinoa and hemp milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is soft. Add hemp seeds, blueberries and cinnamon. Enjoy!
Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
These muffins make it easy to get great nutrition on the run – perfect for lunchboxes for kinds and adults alike.
2 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped raisins
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup grated carrots
1 small minced onion
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Combine the turkey, raisins, quinoa, carrots, onions, salt, pepper, oregano and Worcestershire sauce together, combining well. Add the egg and milk and combine well so that the mixture holds together. In an ungreased muffin pan, distribute mixture evenly, mounding the mixture on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until completely cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before turning them out of the pan.
Quinoa & Mushroom Pilaf
Enjoy this earthy, nutty pilaf instead of rice with dinner or try eating this cold on a bed of salad greens.
1 cup quinoa, pre-washed or rinsed
1 2/3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 small carrots, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 ounce dried mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Rehydrate dried mushrooms in boiling water and slice into strips. Combine quinoa and broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down, cover, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and thyme and cook until carrots are tender, another 5-7 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. When quinoa is finished, remove from heat and combine the quinoa and vegetables and stir in the chopped parsley. Enjoy!
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
A twist on a classic Mediterranean dish – by using organic quinoa in the place of bulgur wheat the dish becomes gluten free while maintaining all of the traditional flavors.
1⁄2 cup quinoa, prewashed or rinsed and drained
1⁄3 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
6 or 7 radishes, diced
1⁄2 cup chopped scallions
2 tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 3⁄4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, 15 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Toss the cooked quinoa with the oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with pepper. Let the quinoa cool completely, then add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings and serve.
Chocolate Quinoa Pudding
A twist on a classic rice pudding recipe, made even more decadent with dark chocolate.
Add quinoa, milk and maple syrup to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in cocoa powder. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the water has been almost completely absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Let cool – serve warm or chill to serve cold.
Now that you have organic quinoa recipes for any meal of the day, which are you going to try first?
Did you know that there is a great variety of organic flour to choose from, even if you’re trying to eliminate wheat from your diet? It may take some trial and error to get your recipes where you want them but with all sorts of gluten free organic flour options, there’s surely a variety that will work for your needs.
Using these different types of organic flour also means that you’re going to be getting a broader range of nutrients than if you just used organic wheat flour. If you’re not avoiding wheat and you want to increase the nutrition in your baked goods, just substitute a small amount of a different organic flour for the wheat flour in your recipes.
Let’s take a look at some of the more unusual varieties of organic flour and how to use them:
Organic Millet Flour – This type of organic flour is best used in combination with wheat flour, either to reduce the overall gluten content or to add nutrition and color to your baked goods. As a substitution, use no more than 1/3 millet flour in place of the same amount of wheat flour in your recipe.
Organic Amaranth Flour – Originally from South America, amaranth flour can be used to replace up to ¼ of the wheat flour in your recipes. It is also great for gluten free baking when combined with other gluten free flours. Organic Amaranth flour is particularly high in lysine, an amino acid which is not typically found in other grains. It is very high in protein, fiber and phytosterols.
Organic Buckwheat Flour – One of the best plant sources of protein, buckwheat is actually a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Buckwheat is naturally gluten free – don’t let the ‘wheat’ in the name fool you. Buckwheat flour has a mild flavor that is great for pancakes and crepes. It is also a great gluten free replacement for when you use organic flour as a thickener in gravy and sauces. Used with other gluten free flours, buckwheat flour is great in cookies and other baked goods.
Organic Quinoa Flour – One of the oldest cultivated grains in the world, quinoa is high in protein, calcium and iron. When using organic flour made from quinoa, you can completely replace the wheat flour in recipes, or just use any portion of quinoa flour as a substitute if you’re just looking to increase the nutrient content of your baked goods. The high protein content can cause dishes to be heavy or sticky so experiment with using a blend of flours. Organic quinoa flour can also be used as a thickener in sauces and gravy. Because quinoa is a seed, the flour can go rancid rather quickly so store it in the refrigerator or freezer to extend the shelf life.
Organic Coconut Flour – This organic flour is made from dried, defatted coconut meat that is ground into a flour. It is very high in fiber and very low in carbohydrates, with a tablespoon containing 2.5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of carbs. A favorite of the paleo community, it has a light coconut flavor that makes a great coating for chicken and fish in place of wheat flour or cornmeal. Add extra fiber to traditional baked goods by substituting up to one third of the wheat flour with coconut flour. Coconut flour absorbs quite a bit of liquids so you’ll want to increase the amount of liquid in your recipe to compensate. Since coconut flour is naturally sweet, you can also use less sugar in your recipes.
Organic Rice Flour – Made from ground rice, this organic flour is very popular in gluten free recipes. It doesn’t add much in the way of nutrition but it is a great base when mixed with other flours, for gluten free baking. Brown rice flour is made from the whole grain, while white rice flour is made from polished white rice. The brown rice flour will contain more nutrients; however it will go rancid more quickly. Both types of rice flour work the same way in baked goods. This flour can produce grainy baked goods when used on its own so you’ll want to blend it with other flours for a better end product. An easy blend for all purpose flour substitute would be 1 cup rice flour, 1/2-3/4 cup potato starch and ¼ cup tapioca starch.
Recipes using non-traditional organic flour:
Gluten Free chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until blended. Add the egg, salt and vanilla extract and blend until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, rice flour and baking soda. In 1/3 cup increments, stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture and blend until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and stir. Drop large teaspoons of cookie dough onto cookie sheet leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake one sheet at a time in the middle rack of the oven for about 7-8 minutes until they are just barely browned on top. Remove from oven and let cookies sit for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.
Quinoa Pancakes (courtesy of Bob’s Red Mill)
2 Tb Vegetable Oil
2 cups + 1TBS Water
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
4 tsp Baking Powder
2 cups Organic Quinoa Flour
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add liquids and whisk to mix. Preheat pancake griddle until a drop of water will “dance” on it. (Oil or spray griddle as needed). Spoon batter onto hot griddle to make pancakes about 4-5” across. Turn when edges seem dry (they won’t brown much because they don’t contain sugar). Keep cakes warm while you cook remaining cakes (or cool on racks to use as flatbread). Batter may thicken as it stands. Before spooning subsequent rounds of cakes on the griddle, stir in 1-2 tablespoons of water as needed. Makes 12 pancakes.
Gluten Free Banana Muffins
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup xylitol
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup liquid coconut oil
2 tbsp ground flax
Preheat oven to 350. Blend all of the wet ingredients then add the flax to the wet mixture. Whisk together the dry ingredients then combine the wet with the dry. Pour into muffin tins (makes 10) and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Why would someone want to eat an organic vegan food diet?
Study after study shows that eating a diet that is low in animal products and high in fruits and vegetables has a protective effect on disease. By minimizing your exposure to toxic pesticides and herbicides through an organic vegan food diet, you’re well on your way to good health.
A huge benefit to eating this way, especially with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables is that you can stop counting calories! Seriously, you can eat enormous amounts of food if you’re eating whole organic vegan food.
You might ask – what does it mean to eat organic vegan food, what can I actually eat?
For breakfast, fill your bowl with an assortment of fresh fruits and sprinkle with just a bit of hemp seed or cacao nibs and you’ll have a satisfying and energizing start to your day. This time of year, I’m indulging in gorgeous cantaloupe, fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, mangoes and more. It’s a truly glorious time of year to enjoy an abundance of those juicy summer fruits.
For lunch, try a huge salad – and I do mean HUGE. You can really fill up on leafy green veggies and other veggies like spicy radish, sweet red peppers, carrots and fresh juicy tomatoes. Add some sprouts or microgreens – my favorites are broccoli and clover sprouts and arugula and kale microgreens. Top the whole thing with some garbanzo beans and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top to add some zing to your salad. How’s that for some delicious organic vegan food?
For dinner, why not try a chopped veggie salad? Dice your favorite summer veggies like zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, red onion, pea pods and tomatoes. Add some chopped fresh parsley and cilantro and make a quick dressing with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and you can eat it as is, use lettuce leaves to make wraps, or top a fresh green salad with your chopped salad.
If you’re just starting, I would recommend following some recipes to start with. It will give you ideas on substitutions that will make your dishes delicious. For instance, did you know that using blended cashews in a soup will make it as creamy as if you used heavy cream? Blending cashews and other nuts and seeds to add to dips, salad dressings and soups is just one great tip you’ll find in recipe books like the ones below:
It’s a whole lot easier than you might think to switch your meals to using more organic vegan food. There are lots of ways to transition. You can start with one meal a day, then two, then all three. You can switch to being a ‘weekday vegan’ and only eat meat and dairy on weekends. You can eat vegan every day for breakfast and lunch and then make a choice for dinner whether you want to include meat. Any way that you start to transition toward eating more organic vegan food will be a benefit to your body. Don’t worry about being perfect, just do better and better every day. Your body will thank you for it!
I love the idea of Meatless Mondays for anyone who’s looking to eat a little healthier but doesn’t know where to start. Picking one day a week to replace animal foods with plant foods provides an opportunity to think out of the box and one of the easiest replacements for animal proteins is organic beans. Anything but boring, organic beans can be turned in to all sorts of delicious dishes from soups to burgers to pasta dishes and more. Here are some of my favorite recipes for organic beans for Meatless Monday or any day of the week.
4 Easy Meatless Monday Recipes With Organic Beans
Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew with Lemon Couscous (courtesy of Frontier Coop)
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, and diced
1 cup red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups sweet potato, diced
2 cups zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or try this stew with other organic beans like cannellini or baby lima beans)
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
5 cups vegetable stock or filtered water or 5 cups vegetable broth made from vegetable broth powder
6 tablespoons fresh or bottled lemon juice
3 cups whole-wheat couscous
Sauté onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper in olive oil in a large pot over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add sweet potato, and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Add zucchini, chickpeas, diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice; stir well to combine. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. While vegetables are simmering, combine remaining 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock and 4 tablespoons lemon juice in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add couscous, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine. Cover, remove the saucepan from heat, and set aside for 5 minutes to allow couscous to absorb liquid. Remove the lid and fluff couscous with a fork to loosen grains. Serve individual servings of stew over couscous.
Black Bean Polenta Pie (courtesy of Eden Foods)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
15 ounces Organic Diced Tomatoes
4 oz Green Chilies, do not drain
1 cup organic sweet corn, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup Eden Organic Spaghetti Sauce
15 ounces Eden Organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained (or try this recipe with other organic beans like pinto or kidney)
Bring the water to a boil for the polenta. Whisk in the corn grits and salt, stirring constantly until it thickens. Cover, reduce the flame and simmer 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°. Evenly spread the polenta on the bottom and sides of a pie plate. Set aside. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and sauté the onion for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peppers and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the beans, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and corn. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the bean and tomato mixture over the polenta and evenly spread it out. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
Mexican Bean Salad (courtesy of La Preferida)
15 oz. can La Preferida Black Beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can La Preferida Chick Peas, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can La Preferida Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen organic corn kernels, thawed
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup each chopped red, yellow and orange bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped, seeded cucumber
4 oz. can La Preferida Diced Green Chiles
16 oz. jar La Preferida Salsa (mild, med or hot)
1 tablespoon chili seasoning
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tomato, chopped
Place the organic beans, corn, green onions, bell peppers, cucumbers and diced green chiles in large bowl and mix well. Combine the salsa, lime juice and taco seasoning in a separate bowl. Pour over the salad and mix well. Add cilantro and tomato and mix gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving to allow flavors to blend.
Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cups short grain Brown Rice, cooked
2 (16 oz) cans Mexican style pinto beans
3/4 cups smoky BBQ sauce
4 to 6 whole grain buns
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice, organic beans and BBQ sauce. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through. Serve on buns.
With these four recipes you’ve got a whole month’s worth of Meatless Monday recipes with organic beans to try. What are your favorite ways to eat organic beans? Do you like them mild or spicy? In soups? In salads? Organic beans are so versatile and so full of nutrition and heart-healthy fiber. They’re a staple in my household – how about yours?
Endorsed by celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, musicians like Ziggy Marley, athletes like Brendan Brazier as well as bestselling author and alternative health advocate Dr. Andrew Weil, Hemp History Week is a time to educate about the benefits of industrial hemp for fiber, food, fuel, paper, building products, plastic and more. Learn more about Hemp History Week HERE. There are lots of reasons why organic hemp is beneficial – let’s take a look at some:
Organic Hemp is good for Our Bodies
Hemp seeds are high in protein and beneficial Omega fatty acids. In fact, they have a perfectly balanced 1:3 ration of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s – a balance that is critically important yet hard to find in most foods. Organic hemp seeds are easily digested, are free of gluten and have no known allergens. As a food source, organic hemp is nearly perfect. Their light, nutty flavor lends itself well to making plant based milk, cereals, granolas, protein powder and more. You’ll find organic hemp as an ingredient in many Nature’s Path products – cereals, oatmeal, granola, granola bars and more.
Organic Hemp is good for Our Earth
As an environmentally sustainable source of raw material for a wide range of products from paper, fabrics, plastics, fuel, building material and food, hemp is a low impact agricultural product as it can be grown without pesticides. It grows like a weed, which is how hemp’s cousin marijuana got its nickname. In case you think that hemp and marijuana are the same thing, rest assured, they are different and I’ll address that a little later.
Since organic hemp can be grown easily without chemical inputs, using it as a clothing fiber it can replace the use of cotton, a crop that accounts for nearly 25% of the pesticide use in the U.S. By shifting our clothing choices to organic hemp, we’re making a significant impact on the planet.
Hemp has even been used to clean up soil contamination. After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, industrial hemp was tested to help clean up the soil. Because of its fast growth rate, hemp showed great potential in cleaning up land contaminated with a number of pollutants from fly ash, sewage sludge to heavy metals.
Organic Hemp is good for Farmers
Hemp can easily be grown organically; it is beneficial for suppressing weeds and building soil, making it a perfect rotation crop. The market for hemp products is nearly a half a billion dollars a year and it is only growing. Since it is currently illegal to grow industrial hemp in the U.S., we are importing all of our organic hemp from Canada. As a crop that grows well wherever wheat grows well, organic hemp would be a boon to farmers in the U.S.
Organic Hemp History
Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known to man and has been crown by many civilizations dating back over 12,000 years. . Archaeologically, hemp dates back to the Neolithic Age in China, with hemp fiber imprints found on pottery dating from the 5th century BC. The Chinese later used hemp to make clothes, shoes, ropes, and an early form of paper.
Did you know that organic hemp is part of our nation’s heritage? George Washington planted hemp seeds in his vineyard at Mt. Vernon from 1765 to 1796. Thomas Jefferson planted an acre of hemp at Monticello in 1811 and promoted its cultivation. In fact, this country’s declaration of independence is written on paper made from hemp. Up until the 1930s, hemp cultivation was legal and hemp was a common crop. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the US government and media began spreading lies and misinformation about marijuana that its prohibition became imminent. It was banned in the USA under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and remains banned to this day.
Dispelling the Myths of Organic Hemp
Although hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis species, hemp contains virtually no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. If you smoke hemp you will likely get a headache. You will not get ‘high’. Its THC level is less than 1%, whereas marijuana may contain between 5 – 15%. Consuming hemp products will not cause a false positive drug test.
How to Use Organic Hemp
Available hulled or in the shell, hemp seeds are a great addition to salads, sandwiches, wraps and more. Blend the hulled hempseed into smoothies, use them in oatmeal, granola or other cereals, bake them into cookies and cakes – the uses are nearly endless. I love Ziggy Marley’s roasted whole hemp seeds; they have a crunch that makes the seed pop in your mouth with a burst of flavor.
Use in salads or smoothies for a burst of beneficial Omega fatty acids. Organic hemp oil has a bright green color and a nutty flavor that may seem strong at first. Try using a little bit at a time until your palate adjusts and make sure to store any opened organic hemp oil in the refrigerator.
A great addition to smoothies and protein shakes to up the usable protein in your diet. Try adding a little organic hemp protein powder in baked goods in place of some of the flour – you won’t taste the difference but your body will know.
A great non-dairy alternative to milk, hemp milk provides a creamy texture that is rich and flavorful. Use it in place of dairy milk anywhere you’d use it. Hemp milk is especially good in smoothies and shakes – try it in chocolate to make chocolate shakes for the kids.
Let us know which organic hemp products you’ve tried and how you use them!
I’m always on the lookout for new organic foods, I have been for years. It excites me when a product that hasn’t ever been available organic suddenly comes to market. One of the things I like best about being in this industry is being able to identify new organic foods quickly and making them available right away. Since I’ve got my ear to the ground for new organic products, I’ll probably write a similar column every couple of months because I just get so excited and I assume you all will be too! So here’s my list right now:
Othentic Jarred Vegetables – For the longest time I wondered why I couldn’t find organic pickled beets anywhere. I craved that earthy pickled taste but I didn’t want to eat all those added ingredients that are so often in conventional jarred products – the preservatives, the additives – yuck! That’s why I was so excited when I discovered Othentic. Their organic baby pickled beets are incredibly tender and delicious and if you’re a pickled beet fan, I would recommend these in a heartbeat. Not only does Othentic make organic pickled beets, they have a whole line of fermented vegetable salads and slaws. Made using traditional recipes and techniques, they are old world style.
Gimme Seaweed Snacks – One of the big snack crazes to hit the market recently is the toasted seaweed snacks. There’s no denying that they’re incredibly healthy on a lot of levels. For one, they have nearly no calories. They also have a perfect crunch and they melt in your mouth as you eat them. In addition, seaweed provides a range of minerals that we often lack in our diets. Seaweed also counteracts the possibly detrimental effect of eating too many goitrogenic but otherwise healthy foods like broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and kale. Too much of those foods in their raw state can mess with thyroid function and we don’t want that. So if you’re a kale chip fan, why not switch up your snack with seaweed snacks. While seaweed snacks have been on the market for a while now, this brand makes our list favorite new organic foods because it is one of the few that is actually USDA certified organic.
Native Forest Marinated Mushrooms – I have great memories from when I lived in New Jersey of visiting Kennett Square, PA – aka ‘The Mushroom Capital of the World”. There was this little gift shop, mushroom exhibit and tasting room where I literally could have spent all day sampling different flavors of marinated mushrooms. Since I’ve been in the organic industry I hadn’t seen anyone make an organic marinated mushroom – until now. Edward & Sons is sort of famous for finding the holes in the organic market and filling them and they did it again with their Native Forest brand organic marinated mushrooms. Juicy, flavorful and for me, an instant time machine, I could eat a whole jar in one sitting – no kidding.
Good Boy Organics Snacks – This line of new organic products came out just in time for summer picnics and barbecues. BOPS (Baked Organic Potato Snacks) are the first line of certified organic baked potato chips on the market. In classic flavors like sour cream and onion, bbq, and cheddar cheese, they make a great alternative for conventional chips. I was really excited that they also have an organic version of a cheese puff. Called ‘Organicasaurus‘, they’re shaped like little dinosaurs so they’re really kid friendly and fun. And did I mention delicious? Yeah. Definitely on my favorite new organic foods list.
Curry Love Organic Simmer Sauces - Of the new organic foods on my list, this one is actually a new old food. Curry Love came out a number of years ago, was pulled from the market, reformulated and was reintroduced this year. If you’ve tried it before and you weren’t blown away, give them another try. The new formulations are bold, flavorful and have just the right amount of kick. I’m a big fan of big flavors and these simmer sauces definitely deliver. We were especially excited to offer these sauces to our customers as an alternative to Seeds of Change simmer sauces. You may know that last year, shopOrganic removed all products from our site that are made by brands whose parent company donated toward the opposition of GMO labeling. There weren’t many brands that were in that category because we were already pretty picky about our products. Seeds of Change, owned by M&M/Mars, was one of them and so even though their products are organic, unique and tasty, we would rather support a small independent business like Curry Love. We hope you feel the same!
Ziggy Marley Roasted Organic Hemp Seeds – Until I tried these, the only hemp seeds I’d ever eaten were the hulled, soft hemp seeds. The hulled seeds are incredibly nutritious but I found that unless I made hemp milk out of them, their nutty flavor got lost in whatever dish I’d use them in. The roasted organic hemp seeds are completely different. The flavor is stronger and more nutty and the crunch is fantastic – each little seed creates a burst of flavor when you crunch on them. They are definitely one of my absolute favorite new organic foods. I love them on salads or straight out of the bag.
That’s my list of favorite new organic foods – what are yours?
Organic grains are a healthy part of any diet. No matter how you choose to eat, there are organic grains out there that are perfect for you. If you’re concerned about gluten in your diet, you’ll be avoiding organic grains like wheat, spelt, farro and rye, but you can have organic grains like quinoa, rice, amaranth, millet and buckwheat. If you’re eating a raw vegan diet, did you know that quinoa and buckwheat can be eaten raw and sprouted? Even if you’re on a paleo (no grain) diet, quinoa (actually a seed, not a grain) is often considered acceptable.
Let’s take a look at a list of our favorite organic grains:
This South American grain has been cultivated for as long as 5,000 years in the Andes. An ancient food, quinoa is technically not a grain, although we think of it as a grain and cook it in a similar way. This is one of the two organic grains that is a complete protein and is a wonderful substitute for rice or bulgur wheat in pilafs. Quinoa is cooked like rice, with a ratio of 1 cup of quinoa to 1 1/2 cups of water. Try it in tabbouleh or other cold grain and veggie salads. Use it as a side dish in place of rice or potatoes. Quinoa even makes a great breakfast cereal when made with milk or a plant based dairy alternative using a ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups of liquid. There are a few different varieties of quinoa, the most common being white quinoa. White quinoa has a light texture and nutty flavor and is best tasting when it is rinsed in water before cooking. Red and black quinoa are two other varieties that are a bit more nutty in flavor and a bit denser in texture. You’ll also find what is called rainbow or tri-color quinoa which is a blend of the white, red and black varieties.
Try this recipe for Quinoa Tabbouleh
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 2 scallions, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh mint, chipped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
In a medium pot, cover quinoa in water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer, cover, and allow to cook about 15 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, garlic, fresh mint and fresh parsley. Once the quinoa is cooked, use a fork to fluff and cool it down a bit. Add cooked quinoa, olive oil,lemon juice and salt to the chopped veggies and toss to combine. Chill for at least one hour before serving, preferably overnight, to allow flavors to meld.
A staple food in many parts of the world, rice comes in many, many varieties. You may be most familiar with long grain white rice and short grain brown rice; these are by far the most commonly used varieties in the U.S. By expanding into more exotic varieties, you’ll experience a great variety of flavor and texture. Try basmati rice or jasmine rice (brown or white) for a fragrant variety that pairs well with Indian and Thai flavors. If you haven’t tried Forbidden rice, it is a black rice that when it cooks turns a very dark purple color. It is chewier in texture than other rices and due to its deep, rich color, contains a high amount of antioxidants.
Try this recipe for Coconut Black Rice Pudding
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup Forbidden black rice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a medium saucepan, mix water, rice and coconut milk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, make sure to keep a close eye, adding extra water, 1/4 cup at a time, if the rice gets too dry. While the rice is cooking, toast the coconut. Heat your oven to 350°F. Place the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until golden-brown, stirring once during baking. When the rice is cooked to tender, add the sugar and salt. Simmer for two minutes, or until pudding is desired texture. Add a little more water for a wetter pudding; let cook longer for a drier pudding. Spoon into individual bowls and top with toasted coconut flakes.
Quite possibly the most versatile of the organic grains, wheat was key to enabling civilization to grow into the city-based societies that we now know. Because it was one of the first crops that could be grown on a large scale in a variety of climates and was able to be stored for long periods of time, wheat is often considered at the core of civilization. Wheat is a staple food that can be cooked whole or ground into flour for breads, cakes, noodles, pasta, cakes and more. Its versatility extends to its ability to be fermented to make beer and other alcoholic beverages and even biofuel. Wheat has come under a lot of criticism in recent years with the increase in celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. There are many theories as to why those sensitivities are on the rise, from hybridization to increase the gluten content of wheat, to GMO’s causing digestive disorders that make us more sensitive to gluten, to the simple fact that we as a country eat more wheat than ever in a processed state. Before industrialization made it possible to produce breads at the scale and pace that we do now, bread dough was given the opportunity to rise and ferment for much longer. That fermentation process seems to be key in transforming the gluten in wheat to a more easily digested substance in the bread product. That’s why sourdough breads are often more easily digested. Wheat berries can be used to make pilafs and porridges and can be ground to make homemade breads and pastries.
Try this recipe for Mushroom Wheat Berry Pilaf
- 2 tsps olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 lb sliced mushrooms
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries
- 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
- 1/2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
- 1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp grated lemon rind
- salt & pepper to taste
One of the most ancient of the organic grains, Farro is also known as Emmer or Einkorn. Grown in Italy, Farro is a wild wheat that can be cooked like barley or ground into flour to make breads and pastas. Farro mwas first domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and has been found in Egyptian tombs. As an ancient wheat, it has not been hybridized to increase its gluten content and while still off limits for those with Celiac disease, some people affected by gluten intolerance can actually tolerate Farro. Try Farro in soups and stews, as a porridge or risotto type dish.
Try this recipe for Farro Vegetable Soup
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup farro
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 quarts water
- One 15-ounce can pinto or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 large carrots, sliced in half rounds
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, heat the oil and add the celery and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated. Add 1 quart of the water and the beans and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the carrots and the remaining 1 quart of water. Cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes until the carrots are tender. Add the peas, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Another seed that is called a grain, buckwheat is highly nutritious and is the other of the organic grains that is a complete protein. When roasted and cooked, buckwheat is called kasha, a dish that was brought to America by Polish and Russian immigrants. Buckwheat can also be sprouted and eaten raw, as many raw vegans do to use buckwheat in dehydrated crackers and breads. Buckwheat flour is used to make soba noodles and pancakes. This versatile grain is gluten free and despite having the word ‘wheat’ in its name is not a wheat at all.
Try this recipe for Kasha With Bowtie Pasta
- 1 cup kasha buckwheat groats, medium
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup pasta bow ties
Place the kasha in a medium frying pan on medium high heat and toast until you smell the aroma of the kasha. Remove from heat and mix the kasha with the beaten egg. This should be done quickly to ensure the egg doesn’t cook apart from the grain. Be sure all the grains are covered with egg. Place the pan back on the stove and using a wooden spoon, flatten it out a bit, stirring and moving it about the pan until the egg dries and the grains have mostly separated. Set aside. Place a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta bow ties. In a 4-quart heavy stove-top covered casserole, heat the oil and saute the onions until clear. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the salt and pepper and the reserved kasha. Stir and cover. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the kasha is tender, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, boil the bow tie pasta just until tender. Drain well and stir into the kasha. Season to taste and serve.
Yet another of the organic grains that is actually a seed, millet is most known in America as bird seed but it is a highly nutritious food. Traditionally grown in northern Africa, millet is one of the few organic grains that is alkalizing, making it easier than other grains to digest. If you’ve eaten Ethiopian food, you’ll be familiar with Injera, the spongy bread that is used to eat. Injera is made with teff, which is a variety of millet. Less exotic than Injera, you can use millet just like rice or quinoa. It is cooked in a ratio of 1 cup millet to 2 1/2 cups of water, using more water if you’d like a softer consistency for a breakfast porridge.
Try this recipe for Millet Chili
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 (15 oz) can of corn kernels
- 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans
- 1 (32 oz) container of vegetable broth
- 1 cup millet
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
Heat the olive oil in large saucepan. Sauté onions, peppers, garlic, salt, and pepper for 4-5 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add in corn, beans, broth, spices, and bring to a low boil. Add millet and stir. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir. Adjust seasonings and serve, or simmer longer for even better flavor.
Again, Amaranth is actually a seed and not a grain, but it is used just like a grain. Although it looks a lot like millet, when cooked, amaranth has a mushier consistency so it makes a great breakfast porridge or mashed potato substitute. Amaranth can be popped as a snack – just pour some whole amaranth grain into a hot, dry skillet and shake or stir until the seeds pop. With its thicker consistency, amaranth makes a great addition to soups or stews that you may want to thicken naturally.
Try this recipe for Amaranth Grits With Cinnamon
- 4 ½ cups water
- pinch of sea salt
- ¾ cup amaranth grains
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 small apple, cored and chopped
- sweetener of choice (optional)
- milk or plant based milk alternative (optional)
Bring water and salt to a boil. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet over medium-high flame. When the pan is hot, add amaranth. Cover and shake the skillet to keep the amaranth moving, so that it toasts and pops but does not burn. When about half of the seeds have popped, add amaranth and cinnamon to boiling water. Stir well and lower heat to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add apple and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve plain or with sweetener and milk of choice.
Until relatively recently oats were one of the least desirous organic grains for human consumption. Because oats have a low gluten content and couldn’t easily be made into breads, they were overlooked for the more popular and versatile wheat. In recent years, however, many health conscious individuals have turned to oats instead of wheat specifically because they don’t contain gluten. Oats come in a number of varieties from whole oat groats, steel cut oats, and various sizes of rolled oats as well as oat flour. Mainly used to make oatmeal, oats can also be used in baked goods like oatcakes and oatmeal cookies and even oat bread. It is the main ingredient in muesli as well as granola.
Try this recipe for a homemade Cinnamon & Nut Granola
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried apples, diced small
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts and almonds.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, add the honey, oil, and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and mix with your hands until the oats are thoroughly coated. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and continue baking until the granola is very light golden brown, another 5 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Add the dried fruit and nuts to the baking sheet and toss to combine. Store in an airtight container and enjoy within 2 weeks.
And there you have it, our 8 favorite organic grains and recipes to use them in. What are your favorite organic grains?
There are lots of reasons to buy bulk foods online, from saving money to preparing for natural disasters. When you’re buying bulk foods online, it’s important to choose wisely.
So which are the best bulk foods online to buy?
The best answer to that is whatever foods you use the most of. To be more specific, here’s a list of some of the most commonly purchased bulk foods online and some tips on choosing which to buy:
When you’re stocking up on foods, rice is a staple that is on everyone’s list. If you’re going to be storing rice for long periods of time, make sure to buy white rice instead of brown rice. Brown rice contains the germ, which is the oil in the rice. The germ can go rancid much more quickly than white rice so you’ll only want to store about three months worth of a brown rice vs. nearly unlimited storage for the white varieties. Try basmati or jasmine rice for extra flavor or try forbidden rice for an exotic change.
With a tremendous variety to choose from beans are a one of the great staples. When stored properly, beans have been known to last for decades, so these are great to stock up on. You’ll probably want to buy the most popular beans: black turtle beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and garbanzo beans. Why not try some different beans like cannellini, adzuki, baby lima, great northern, or mung beans. Beans are a great staple food and when you’re buying bulk foods online, those staple foods are a great choice. Use them for soups, stews, dips, taco and burrito filling, eat them on green salads or chopped veggie salads. Bulk organic beans are definitely one of the best foods to stock up on.
One of the best staple foods, oats are available in a number of varieties: whole oat groats, rolled oats, and steel cut oats. Whole oat groats are an unprocessed oat kernel with the hull removed. Whole oat groats can be stored for quite some time; you can use a home grain mill to grind the groats into fresh flour as you need it. Steel cut oats are whole oat groats that have been cut into bits with steel blades. They’re also called pinhead oats and they look like a coarse grain. When making oatmeal from steel cut oats, your cooking time will be longer and your oatmeal will be nuttier and chewier than oatmeal made from rolled or quick oats. Rolled oats are your typical oatmeal variety – they come in various sizes from regular to thick and cooking times vary depending on the thickness. Quick oats have been rolled even flatter to have the shortest cooking time. Oats are not only great for making oatmeal but they’re also good for making cookies and breads.
A versatile grain that is higher in protein than other grains, quinoa is a fantastic choice when you’re buying bulk foods online. Quinoa can be quite expensive so buying in bulk will cut your costs and allow you to enjoy this incredibly healthy food. Quinoa cooks quickly in about 20 minutes and can be used in place of rice in most dishes. It can be eaten hot or cold, even as a breakfast porridge. Quinoa is available in a few different varieties: white, red, black and rainbow (a combination of the three). They all have a nutty flavor and great nutritional profile.
This often overlooked grain is another great pick. Buckwheat contains all eight essential amino acids, making it a complete protein that is very easy to digest. Although its name contains the word ‘wheat’, buckwheat is not part of the wheat family and contains no gluten. In fact it technically isn’t even a grain, it is a seed. It can be used to make porridge and cereals, and makes a great cooked grain base for a chopped veggie and grain salad. Buckwheat is also very useful in a variety of raw vegan dishes like granola and crackers.
When buying bulk foods online, it is important to only purchase a quantity that you will use before the product goes bad or gets stale. If you consume or use a lot of nuts, buying them in bulk will definitely save money but make sure to store them properly so they don’t go rancid. Because of their high fat content and tendency to go rancid, nuts should be kept refrigerated or even frozen if you’re going to store them for an extended period of time (8 months to a year). Some nuts store better than others so when nuts are on your list to buy bulk foods online, these are some of the better nuts to choose: Almonds, Hazelnuts, and peanuts have a higher fiber to fat ratio so they’ll store longer than nuts like walnuts and macadamia nuts.
Most people don’t think of buying spices in bulk when they are buying bulk foods online, but this is one place where you can really save money in the long run. Pick the spices you use the most for your cooking and baking, things like cinnamon, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and other seasoning blends. When you’re buying them in smaller quantities, you’re paying for the jar almost as much as the spice inside. In contrast, if you’re buying bulk foods online, most bulk spices come in 1 pound mylar bags which are lightweight, inexpensive and great for long term food storage. Once you open the bag, you’ll need to transfer the spics to something airtight.
Remember, make sure you have sealable storage containers and that you have a cool, dry place to store your bulk foods. If you don’t think you can use them quickly enough, split them with a friend and you’ll get the benefits of the low cost when buying bulk foods online without having more food than you’ll use.