As its getting colder out, our activities tend to move indoors, and when we get together with friends, healthy snacks aren’t always the first thing we think of. Today I’m going to give you some tips and ideas to make your get-togethers a bit healthier!
3 Tips for Making Healthy Snacks for Entertaining at Home
Tip 1: When it comes to grilling beef, poultry, pork etc., always try to use grass-fed beef or organic pastured, free range chicken and pork that is nitrate free, for the best possible quality.
Tip 2: When making your dishes, always strive to use as much organic ingredients as possible, this will lessen your exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and additives, and will ensure you get the most nutritional benefits from your food.
Tip 3: LIMIT or DO NOT USE overly processed foods (if you just can’t give up the chips and dip, make sure they’re organic… but try and limit your intake of chips and be sure to read your labels! The fewer ingredients the better when it comes to packaged foods).
With those three very important tips, you can make any meal or snack a healthier one.
25 Healthy snacks and treats for entertaining at home:
- Chorizo stuffed Jalapenos wrapped in bacon (my husband’s favorite snack food). All you need is 1lb of nitrate free chorizo and bacon. Cook chorizo all the way through in a skillet, slice jalapenos in half and seed them, stuff each half with chorizo and wrap in bacon. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30minutes (until bacon is cooked through). You can also grill these too! Note: This normally calls for cream cheese, feel free to add 8oz after the chorizo has been cooked and cooled slightly.
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Chicken wings – try these healthier versions here.
- Veggie platter with ranch dip.
- Fruit platter (or make it fun with fruit skewers)
- Potato chips! Jackson’s Honest is my favorite potato chip to indulge on!
- Organic roasted pistachio nuts
- Trail mix
- Organic popcorn popped in coconut oil, sprinkle it with some nutritional yeast for some added B vitamins.
- Kale Chips
- Guacamole dip: this recipe looks fantastic!
- Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Deviled Eggs: Recipe here.
- Nachos (if you follow the 3 tips above you will be good, just load them with as much veggies as possible)
- Beef Jerky
- Pretzels or this recipe for a grain free option
- Rice Cakes (be good topped with smoked salmon )
- Chili with toppings (cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, salsa)
- Crispy Chicken Dippers
- Pizza – again with following the 3 tips! Or try this “pizza” recipe for something out of the box. My family loves it!
- Sweet Potato Chips
- Bacon Chicken Bites
- Organic Granola
- Prosciutto Wrapped Melon
- Bacon Wrapped Dates
What are your favorite healthy snacks? Share in the comments below!
I hope these tips and snack ideas help you to make your next game day a little healthier! What are your favorite healthy football snacks?
P.S. Go Hawks!
With school back in full swing, for many of us that means our days just got busier. With kids in sports, after school activities, lots of running around and homework, I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to worry about is what to cook for dinner. Today I’m going to list a bunch of easy recipes for organic dinners for you, that are going to be fairly quick to prepare, but also healthy for your family. I cook 100% gluten free in my home, so many of these recipe might be on the more “paleo-ish” side of things, but please feel free to switch up these recipes to fit how your family eats! Just make sure you buy organic ingredients!
Quick & Easy Chili
I personally make this at least once a week, it’s so quick and easy and my family loves it. It’s also a great recipe to switch up the ingredients in from time to time.
- 2lbs ground beef (grass fed is best)
- 1 28oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 14oz can tomato sauce
- 1 7oz can tomato paste
- 1 or 2 onions diced finely (I actually pre blend (puree) a bunch of onions with garlic and freeze them in ice cube trays to throw into dishes (saves on watering eyes). I used 6 cubes for this chili.
- 1 Large bell pepper diced (any color will do, I like to use green)
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely (I already pureed mine with my onions)
- 1 Jalapeño (seeded and chopped) this is optional, just added some extra heat.
- 2 Tablespoons of chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon each of: cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander
- ¼ Teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Brown your beef in a pot. When it’s almost all the way browned I like to throw in my diced peppers, and onion (or cubes) and sauté them until slightly tender.
Add your spices, stir well.
Then add all your canned tomatoes to the meat mixture and stir until well combined.
Simmer for as long as you wish. It will be warm in about 10 minutes, but if you have time you can let it simmer all day if you want! Serves 6-8 depending on bowl size.
To serve you have many options: Serve on top of a bed of zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash, or for the non-paleo you can serve over rice, regular spaghetti noodles or even on top of a baked potato. Top your chili with fresh diced onion, sour cream, cheese!
Crock Pot Chicken
This is another dish I make once a week. Because I get two meals for the price of one. It’s so basic, simple and you can go as fancy as you like.
- 1 organic whole chicken (my crock-pot holds a 5-6lb bird)
- 2 onions, sliced
- Crock pot
- Spices if desired.
Properly prepare and handle your chicken. Lay slices of onion on the bottom of your crockpot and lay breast side down right on top of the onions. For extra flavor you can run your chicken with desired spices.
Add a small amount of water or broth to the pot. I think I do 1-2 cups.
Cover and cook on low for 4-8 hours. When the meat is falling off the bones is how I like it. To be sure just test your chicken with a thermometer (165 degrees).
Serve with sides of steamed vegetables. Severs 6-8 depending on bird size.
Tip: You will have a lot of liquid in your pot when the chicken is done. You can make gravy out of it if you wish. What I like to do is keep the liquid in the pot with the onions. I get all the meat off my chicken and throw the rest of the chicken (bones/skin) back into the crockpot. I add more onions, roughly chopped carrots and celery and fill the crock-pot up with water. Cover and that cook on low for anywhere from 12 hours or until the next day. Then from there you can strain and make chicken soup for your next dinner, or you can save the broth in freezer safe containers and use for later use!
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pound beef tips or any cut of steak (grass fed preferably)
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 Onion sliced (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 2 Organic Mushroom Sauce Mix
- 1 cup organic sour cream
- 8 ounces egg noodles
In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup water on high and brown beef on each side. Add sliced mushrooms and onions (optional) sauté with beef for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn heat to low. Add the 1 cup water, broth and the Mushroom Sauce Mix and stir.
Stir in sour cream.
Leave meat/sauce dish simmering on low heat and prepare egg noodles according to the directions on the package. Serve mixture over prepared noodles when ready. Severs 4-6.
* Instead of egg noodles, try kelp noodles, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or even gluten free pastas.
Here are links to more Easy Organic Dinners:
- Paleo Tacos
- Sweetpea Broccoli and Organic Cheddar Frittata
- Organic Pesto Chicken Pizza
- Butternut Squash Soup
When you’re trying to feed your family organic dinners, what are you easy go-to meals on busy week days? Please share your favorites!
I get many questions about the importance of organic foods. People ask if it is really that big of a deal, and some sadly don’t even know what organic means! And so, here’s a quick reminder of what organic means:
Organic (or-gan-ic): Food produced without the use of artificial or chemically formulated substances.
That’s it. Plain and simple. Eat organic and consume less toxic chemicals! A few years ago, I made organic brownies to bring to a social function and a gentleman asked me what my treat was, I told him they were dark chocolate organic brownies…and he immediately said that he doesn’t eat “that stuff”. I said, “What do you mean? Organic just means that no chemicals were used.” This man had no clue what organic meant. It’s so sad, and I know there are many others out there like him.
Seven benefits of eating and feeding your family organic foods:
1. Less toxic load.
We get enough toxic load from the air we breathe (think car exhaust, secondhand smoke, chlorine in our water, etc.). The last thing we need to do is eat our chemicals. Choosing organic can lessen your toxic load by two-thirds; that’s pretty significant to me, and a much better for your family. A note for babies: The advantages of organic foods might be highest for babies because of the amount of food they eat relative to body size. The average baby is born with around 200 toxins and carcinogens in their body. By the time kids reach their 2nd year, most have passed the lethal limit for the toxins. By feeding your child organic food, they will have about one-sixth the amount of carcinogens in their blood. Thus you will decrease the chances of illnesses significantly. Therefore, especially for infants and children an organic food diet is incredibly important.
2. You know where it comes from.
Food is considered organic if it comes from a farming system that avoids man made fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics and growth regulators. Instead, most organic farmers rely on basic crop rotation, using animal and plant manures, and hand weeding to grow their products. That benefits us because the foods contain no hydrogenated fats, artificial colors or flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
3. Avoid GMO’s.
More recently, an increase in production of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and the lack of labeling of these foods is causing many of us to choose organic. The impact of GMO foods and our health is still being studied, but the results so far do not look good. Rat studies show depressed immune systems, reproductive dysfunction, cancer, allergies, toxicity and more. In one 2005 study, conducted at the Russian Academy of Sciences, a 55% death rate of rat pups born to rats fed a GMO soy diet was discovered, compared to a 9% death rate of rat pups born to rats fed a non-GMO soy diet. Nearly 70% of all processed foods contain GMO ingredients, so choosing organic is the only guarantee that our food is free of GMO’s.
4. Tastes Better.
Yes! Have you ever ate an organic strawberry vs. a conventionally grown strawberry, or even an organic pastured egg vs. a conventional egg? The taste is so different. You will find that organic fruits usually always tastes sweeter and vegetables will taste bolder in flavor. It’s hard to go back to conventional once you have tasted organic. I think this is also true for how organic food looks. Organic foods just look more vibrant and healthy in size, shape and color!
5. Nutritional punch.
Antioxidants are important nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables and have been shown to impart multiple health benefits, including the prevention of many cancers and helps to slow our aging process. Some studies show that organic foods may have more antioxidants compared to commercial varieties. A 2012 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture discovered higher antioxidants, including vitamin C, in organic broccoli compared to conventional.
6. Organic meats or meats produced by local farmers are healthier.
As for organic meats and poultry, to be considered organic, animals cannot be fed animal byproducts (which reduces the risk of mad cow disease) and antibiotics additives that means that organic diary and meat products do not contain these residues. Repeated exposure to low doses of antibiotic residues can disrupt the normal flora of the human gut, reducing the number of healthful bacteria and leaving humans more vulnerable to harmful bacteria and illness, because remember 70-80% of our immunity is in our gut. Also organic fed animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep the animals healthy.
7. Help Detox.
Eating organic foods for just five days can rid the body of virtually all pesticide residues. Think you can’t afford it? Look for in-season deals at local farmers’ markets, buy in bulk, buy organic food online and preserve the excess to enjoy during the winter months.
I think the best benefit to eating organic foods is the guilt-free pleasure associated with the whole experience. Isn’t it reassuring to know that, by eating organic, you’re not only helping the environment but you’re feeding your family good, pure food that’s fresh and preservative free?! I think so!
Here’s the bottom line: If you’re trying to reduce pesticides and chemicals in your family’s diet, the best thing is either to buy food labeled “organic,” or ask the grower directly if you are concerned about how they grow their food. Most farmers are more than happy to share with you.
What are some of the benefits your family has received from switching to an organic diet?
There are two ways to dye Easter eggs naturally; either boil raw eggs in the naturally colored water, or soak hard boiled eggs in the colored water overnight. The first way is faster if you’re only using one or two colors but if you want to use a lot of different colors, its easier to make the colored soaking water and use smaller bowls to soak the hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator overnight.
To make the natural dyes, choose a natural ingredient from the list below. The quantity that you use will determine how dark the color is. Add distilled water and either cream of tartar or white vinegar to a non-aluminum pot. Use 1 TBSP cream of tartar or vinegar per cup of water. If you’re using raw eggs, boil them in the colored water like you normally would to cook hard boiled eggs. You can then either remove the eggs or if you want them darker you can continue to soak them in the refrigerator.
If you’re using hard boiled eggs, you can make batches of different colors, then use smaller bowls to soak the eggs overnight in the refrigerator. If the eggs don’t come out as dark as you want the first time, you can make a darker colored soak water and let the eggs soak a second time.
Natural dyes are made with just a handful of ingredients. You’ll need water, the natural material for coloring, and a mordant to help the colors penetrate the eggshell. The mordant can be cream of tartar or white vinegar.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Instructions:
- Place the eggs in a single layer in a pan. Add water until the eggs are covered.
- Add vinegar or cream of tartar.
- Add the natural dye materials. Use more dye material for more eggs or for a more intense color.
- Bring water to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- If you are happy with the color, remove the eggs from the liquid.
- For more intensely colored eggs, remove the eggs from the liquid. Strain the dye through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Cover the eggs with the filtered dye and let them soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Here’s a list of some herbs and spices you can use and the colors they yield:
Hibiscus flowers – Reddish blue/lavender
Turmeric root powder – Deep gold
Curry powder – Pale orange
Chili powder – Reddish brown
Paprika – Orange
Dill seed – Golden brown
Beet Juice – Pink
Coffee – Brown
Cranberry Juice – Pink
Red Cabbage Leaves – Blue
Onion Skins – Red or Yellow depending on the type of onion
Orange Peels – Pale Orange
Grape Juice – Lavender
Spinach Leaves – Green
Pomegranate Juice – Red
Find many of these natural dye materials HERE.
What are your favorite Easter traditions? Share with us in the comments below.
In this five part series for Non-GMO Month, we’ll take a look at common food items that likely contain GMO’s and we’ll be offering non-GMO alternatives. Avoiding GMO’s is quite easy once you know what to look for so we’ll be sharing with you some tips on how to keep your diet GMO free.
Most of us fall back on convenience foods once in a while to feed ourselves and our families when we’re just too busy to make a home cooked meal. In a quest to make sure we’re feeding our families wholesome, nutritious foods, you’ll want to make sure you’re avoiding GMO’s in these processed convenience foods. Make sure you’re feeding yourself and your family non-gmo meals by using the guidelines below. Avoiding GMO’s is easy once you know the secrets.
4 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Convenience Foods
1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic. This goes for convenience foods and any foods that you’re buying. Any product that has the USDA Organic logo on it is by definition non-GMO.
2 – Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label on packages. Even if a product isn’t certified organic, it can be non-gmo. To be certain, look for this third party verification.
3 – When you’re buying packaged breakfast foods, avoid risky ingredients. Most supermarket convenience foods contain corn, soy and canola – ingredients that are very likely to be genetically modified. Some ingredients will be obvious, like corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, soy isoflavone, canola oil, cottonseed oil. Some ingredients are sneaky in that they don’t list what their made from. These sneaky ingredients can be GMO if the product isn’t organic: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin c, citric acid, sodium citrate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, molasses, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (tvp), xanthan gum, vitamins, and yeast. Its a pretty sure bet that conventional supermarket convenience foods contain GMO’s so you may want to read the labels just to see, but I would avoid them at all cost.
4 – Re-define ‘convenience’. I know, its so easy to tear open a frozen dinner, throw it in the microwave and call it a meal, but in the long run your health and your wallet will be better served by preparing some foods ahead of time so that when you really need something quick and convenient you can pull fresh alternatives out of your freezer. It’s a great idea to cook in bulk – make a huge batch of organic rice then freeze individual or family sized portions. Do the same with cooked beans, cooked veggies and fruits. You’ll be easily avoiding GMO’s by preparing your own food at home with simple one-ingredient foods. Then, on one of those nights when you just don’t have the time to cook from scratch, you can just re-heat a meal you’ve already prepared and viola! GMO-free dinner!
Avoiding GMO ingredients is easy when you know you have organic alternatives. The chart above gives you great suggestions for replacements. For just about any convenience food you can think of, there’s an organic or non-gmo version, you just have to know what to look for!
Are there any convenience foods you just love but don’t know how to find a non-gmo version of? Let us know and we’ll direct you to it!
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.
Keeping Healthy New Year’s Resolutions
Most folks who celebrate the New Year on January 1 make some sort of resolutions and they know it’s tricky keeping healthy New Year’s resolutions. We may not formalize our goals, we may deny having them, but most of us feel a sense of completion at year end and a sense of possibility at the New Year. So, we’re inclined to want to make and keep healthy New Year’s resolutions. Kind of like do-overs. Whatever we didn’t accomplish, finish or even start last year has the possibility to come to fruition in this new year – or so we hope.
And for most of us, one resolution is to eat healthier food or get more exercise (or both). And while I don’t have any magic bullet to offer, I do have a few ideas that you might find useful as you launch your new year and your new and improved self. So, here are my top five ways to keep healthy New Year’s resolutions – let me know what works for you.
One thing I have learned over the years is that change doesn’t come easy and it usually doesn’t stick. The biggest reason for that is we tend to take on too many changes at once or take too big a step.
So, if you want to make a meaningful, permanent change in your life – like losing weight or sticking to an exercise program – start small. My suggestion is to make a list of what you want to accomplish – no more than three big things – and break each down into very small steps. Then, take Step 1 on your first item (or take Step 1 on your top three items if you dare).
MAKE ONE CHANGE STICK
Before you move on to Step 2 of your desired change, make sure that Step 1 change has stuck. Wait 60 days or 90 days. If you can make one meaningful change stick, chances are good you’ll be able to move on to Step 2, 3, 4 and make those stick. Take it slow. You’re better off skipping dessert 6 days a week (Step 1 goal) and keeping that habit for the next decade than you are to lose 10 lbs. in a month and put 20 lbs. back on over the course of the year.
EAT NON-GMO, ORGANIC FOOD
Organic food is, by definition, free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Some non-GMO food is organic, some is not. So, if you want to be sure your food is non-GMO, choose organic. GMO foods have been linked to intestinal distress, irritable bowel syndrome and a lot of other unpleasant physical symptoms. If you avoid GMO foods and eat organic, not only will you avoid pesticides and chemicals in your foods, you’ll eat healthy foods that will support your health and wellness goals.
DRINK CLEAN WATER
Many people don’t drink enough water throughout the day, especially when it’s cold outside. If you drink caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, etc. then you should boost your water even more since caffeine is a diuretic and contributes to dehydration.
Drink plenty of clean, plain water throughout the day. It will improve your mental outlook, your skin tone, your energy level and your health. Wow, all that for clean water. Keep a diary, increase your water over time.
Finally, be kind to yourself as you make these changes. Change pulls you out of your comfort zone, out of your routine and your ruts. That’s often an uncomfortable place to be and it can be so subtle, we don’t realize we’re out of sorts because of these small disruptions in our routines. Be kind – to yourself and others. No matter what else you do, you’ll have a better outlook if you just remember kindness matters.
This year, resolve to make one healthy change stick.
What is your resolution? How are you going to make a change that stays with you through 2013 and beyond?
Finally, before we go, here are some links to help you rev up your healthy lifestyle this year – drop a comment if you have a favorite online resource you use for healthy living!
So, I’ve let this blog get a bit stale, we’ve been busy running our growing company, but I’m happy to announce we’re re-booting our blog and revamping our website this month in honor of the 3rd annual non-GMO month.
shopOrganic, the premier online retailer of organic foods and eco-friendly products, has just re-launched as shopOrganic & shopGMOfree.
Without mandatory labeling, it’s difficult for consumers to determine whether their favorite products are produced using GMO’s. As U.S. consumer concern over GMO’s reaches critical mass, interest in non-GMO shopping options is on the rise and shopOrganic & shopGMOFree have responded by offering the widest range of organic and non-GMO products available online today.
shopOrganic has responded to this need by ensuring that the thousands of organic foods and eco-friendly products offered on their site are GMO free. The newly redesigned site focuses on consumers searching for non-GMO foods and provides reassurance about the nature of the products they purchase. The timing of the re-launch coincides with both the celebration of the 3rd annual Non-GMO month and the upcoming California vote on the labeling of GMO products.
I was amazed to learn that recent studies show that over 90% of all Americans want to know if their food contains genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). I knew there was serious interest in this topic, but I didn’t realize so many Americans shared this concern about GMOs. A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. And though the data is not definitive on the safety of consuming foods with GMOs, it seems reasonable to WANT know whether or not the food you’re eating contains GMOs. In the U.S. there are currently no restrictions on GMO’s, but in many other countries around the world, GMOs are banned. These countries include the entire European Union as well as China and Russia. Curious why the U.S. is so far behind this curve….
shopOrganic & shopGMOfree believes that everyone has a right to safe and healthy food and they make it easy for concerned consumers to shop without the worry that they’ll be feeding themselves and their families GMO foods.
October marks the 3rd annual Non-GMO Month. Started in order to raise awareness of GMO’s this month-long educational opportunity broadens the knowledge to a wider and wider population each year. The issue has created a groundswell of concern in California, where their population will soon vote on Proposition 37, a GMO labeling initiative. Whether or not that proposition passes, shopOrganic & shopGMOfree remains a trusted non-GMO shopping source.