For The Greater Goods (sm)

For The Love of Food

Peanut Butter & Beyond: Seven Healthy Nut & Seed Butters

By far the most popular nut butter on the planet is peanut butter.  Peanut butter peanut butteris a healthy protein and contains a good amount of fiber for healthy bowels. It also is high in potassium, which actually lowers the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. It contains healthy fats and magnesium to fortify your bones and muscles, and they also contain vitamin E and antioxidants.  Sounds great, right?  It is, but did you know how many other nut and seed butters are out there now? There are far more than the well-known peanut butter and almond butters. Though those are favorites, for sure, there are a few others that are sure to gain in popularity.  For people with nut allergies and sensitivities, this is especially exciting news. Also, having a wide variety of nut and seed butters to choose from makes baking, snacking and sandwich-making so much more fun. All that and each of these nut and seed butters has fantastic health benefits!

7 Healthy Nut & Seed Butters That Aren’t Peanut Butter

  1. Almond Butter: Just one ounce of organic almonds (about 20 to 25 almonds) can contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk. Also, almonds are a great source of magnesium and phosphorous, which are important minerals for building strong bones. Almonds are wonderful for brain health, they contain two vital brain nutrients: riboflavin and L-carnitine, which have been shown to increase brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Sunflower Seed Butter: Sunflower seed butter is increasing in popularity and is a perfect choice for those who are allergic or sensitive to nuts. My daughter is sensitive to peanuts, her favorite butter is sunflower. Like many nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals necessary to keep your body functioning. The water-soluble B-complex vitamins and vitamin C along with fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E are all found in sunflower seeds along with vitamin K. Sunflower seeds supply minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium.
  3. Brazil Nut Butter: This butter is not as well-known as the others, but shouldn’t be counted out. Brazil nuts are high in calories (don’t let that scare you away), and they contain good quantities of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. Its kernels, in-fact, have been staple energy sources of native Amazonians, and continue to be even today. The Brazil nut actually holds the highest natural source of selenium. Adequate selenium in the diet helps prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis, and cancers. Just 1-2 nuts a day does the job!
  4. Hemp Seed Butter: Hemp seed butter is steadily rising in popularity, as a tasty and nutritious alternative to conventional butters. Hemp seed butter is lesser known than most all butters, it also has a light, nutty taste. If you prefer your butter with a subtle, non-overpowering taste, hemp seed butter is the one for you. The nutritional value of hemp seed butter also makes it a close contender against almond butter. The seeds of the cannabis plant are a rich source of amino and fatty acids, which help sustain the health of organs such as the heart. The proteins in hemp seed butter are also very digestible, which means that your body will absorb and use them better.
  5. Cashew Butter: Cashews are slightly sweet and delicate in flavor, which make them perfect for making nut butter. Cashews are high in copper which can play a role in the elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment. Just a handful or two of raw cashews a day is equivalent to one dose of Prozac for mild depression.
  6. Pumpkin Seed Butter: This butter has a richer flavor and a softer consistency than peanut butter, making it perfectly spreadable. This is another butter that can be enjoyed by people who have a nut allergy or sensitivity. It is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians. It contains a good amount of the amino acid tryptophan for dealing with stress and can help to improve sleep patterns. It also contains beneficial fatty acid content, which can help with everything from reducing arthritis symptoms to improving your skin tone.
  7. Pecan Butter: The deep, complex taste of pecan butter makes this nut butter profoundly satisfying.  Pecans are rich in phytochemicals such as polyphenolic antioxidant ellagic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin. These compounds play an important role in removing toxic oxygen-free radicals, protecting your body from diseases, cancer as well as infections. Pecans also contain oleic acid, a fatty acid which has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer

Have you tried any of these nut & seed butters? If so which is your favorite? Make sure you try them all!

3 Organic Recipes for Grilling Season: Kabobs (+ bonus dessert ideas)

organic recipes

By Bart Everson from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (Veggie Skewers) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s that time of season for firing up the grill, and one of the best dishes to make is kabobs.   Kabobs are the perfect way to serve up a complete dinner from the grill. Its fun for kids and adults like to eat food on a stick, plus there are endless combinations so everyone gets something they like.

The sky’s the limit in organic recipes for the grill! To get the most from your meal, always remember to choose organic ingredients, this will guarantee that your food is GMO free!

3 Organic Recipes for Grilling Season: Kabobs

Organic Peanutty Chicken Kabobs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic (pastured raised) skinless boneless chicken breast halves or thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup organic crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp grated organic ginger-root (or 1 teaspoon organic ground ginger)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • Organic chopped peanuts, if desired for topping

Directions:

  1. Heat grill
  2. Mix all ingredients except chicken and peanuts; set aside 1/4 cup
  3. Thread the chicken on four 11-inch metal skewers, leaving space between each piece. Brush chicken with half of the reserved peanut butter mixture.
  4. Cover and grill kabobs 4-6 inches from the medium heat for 15- 20 minutes, turning and brushing occasionally with the remaining peanut butter mixture, do this until chicken is golden brown on the outside and no longer pink in the inside.

Serve with organic jasmine rice or quinoa and veggies

 

Quick Grilled Italian Pizza Sausage Kabobs

These were one of my husband’s favorite. He liked to sprinkle fresh mozzarella cheese on these after they were done grilling to get the real pizza taste!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds organic Italian sausage links, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium organic yellow zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 button mushrooms
  • 2 medium organic bell pepper (Use any color you like, green red, orange or yellow), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup organic pizza sauce

Directions:

  1. Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until partially cooked; drain.
  2. Thread sausage, zucchini and bell peppers alternately on each of six 12-inch metal skewers, leaving space between each piece. Place a mushroom on end of each skewer.
  3. Cover and grill kabobs 5 to 6 inches from medium coals 20 to 25 minutes, turning and brushing 2 or 3 times with pizza sauce, until sausage is no longer pink in center and vegetables are crisp and tender. Serve over any style pasta, rice or with a salad.

* You can use wooden skewers as well – just make sure you soak them in water so they don’t burn.

 

All Organic Veggie Kabobs

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Soak skewers in water 1 hour (if using wooden/bambo)
  2. Whisk together broth and next 6 ingredients until well blended; reserve 1/4 cup mixture. Combine remaining broth mixture and vegetables in a large bowl. Cover and put in refrigerator at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Remove vegetables from broth marinade, discarding marinade.
  3. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high). Thread vegetables onto skewers, and grill.
  4. Transfer the skewers to a platter or serving tray and remove vegetables from skewers, if desired.
  5. Serve with reserved 1/4 cup broth mixture.
Here is a fancy guideline of how long to cook different types of veggies:
  • Zucchini and squash

Prep: Cut into 3/4-inch rounds; thread onto skewers. Grill time: 7 – 10 minutes on each side or until tender.

  • Eggplant

Prep: Cut eggplant into 3/4-inch rounds. Cut Italian eggplant crosswise into quarters; cut into 3/4-inch slices. Thread onto skewers. Grill time: 5 – 6 minutes on each side or until tender.

  • Bell peppers

Prep: Cut into 1-inch-thick strips; thread skewers. Grill time: 4 -5 minutes on each side or until tender.

  • Mushrooms

Prep: Trim stems, and thread onto skewers. Grill time: 3 – 5 minutes on each side or until tender.

  • Onions

Prep: Cut into wedges, and thread onto skewers. Grill time: 3 – 4 minutes on each side or until lightly charred.

  • Cherry tomatoes

Prep: Thread onto double skewers. Grill time: 1 – 3 minutes on each side or just until skins begin to split.

Grilled Organic Fruit Kabobs

Who says you can’t grill dessert. Here are some fun grilling ideas for your sweet tooth… that’s healthy too!! These are a hit for kids and adults alike!

Fruit Ideas:

  • Strawberries
  • cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Pineapples
  • Mangos
  • Bananas
  • Kiwis
  • For Basting
  • Honey
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice/lemon juice
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes (optional)

Instructions

If you use wood skewers, soak them in cold water for an hour to avoid burning them. Turn on grill to medium heat. Thread each skewer with your favorite fruits. Warm some honey and mix with orange juice so it’s nice and thin and runny. Baste each kabob lightly with honey/orange mix then sprinkle with coconut flakes. Grill until the fruit gets some nice grill marks on each side. Remove to a serving plate (optional: drizzle with a little dark melted chocolate).

Dipping ideas:

  • Yogurt with honey
  • Coconut cream sweetened with honey and fresh squeezed orange juice (I love coconut cream sweetened with a bit of honey and blended with fresh strawberries)
  • Coconut butter
  • Chocolate
  • Your choice of nut spread

What are you organic recipes for grilling season?

 

Organic Salsa: Four Recipes to Spice up Your Summer

Can you think of anything that pairs better with a tortilla chip than organic salsa? Nope, I can’t either. organic salsaSalsa and chips are one of the best summer-time snacks, and they’re nutritious too, just always make sure your corn/tortilla chips are organic and you are good to go! Have you ever made your own organic salsa? There are so many different types you can make! You can practically make salsa out of any fresh produce. Last year I fell in love with watermelon salsa… so yummy! Don’t be afraid to be adventurous in the kitchen!

Four Organic Salsa Recipes

Lacto-Fermented Salsa

This recipe for lacto-fermented salsa is from one of my most favorite books Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This is my absolute most favorite salsa. Not only that you are getting wonderful benefits of the probiotics, it tastes delicious too! There is a little more work and waiting involved in this recipe, but I promise you, you will love it. This recipe makes one quart of salsa, which must be refrigerated, not canned.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium organic tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 small organic onions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped chili pepper
  • 6 – 8 cloves organic garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 bunch organic cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic oregano
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon salt)
  • 1/4 cup filtered water

Directions:

To peel the tomatoes, use a slotted spoon to place them gently into a pan of boiling water and watch for the skins to split. This only takes from 15 to 45 seconds, depending on the size of the tomatoes.

Then lift them out of the pan and place them in a colander set over a large bowl to catch the draining water. Allow them to cool while you chop the other ingredients. Then peel and seed tomatoes and cut into small chunks.

Mix all your ingredients together in a large bowl and ladle into wide mouth quart canning jar. Press down gently with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer, adding more water if necessary to cover the vegetables.

The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to the refrigerator.

 

Fruity Salsa

Perfect on top of a burger!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • 2 avocados diced
  • 1 ripe organic peach, diced
  • ¼ cup organic red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup organic fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (if you want a kick try cilantro)
  • ½ TBSP avocado oil (could use olive oil also)
  • ½ TBSP orange (squeezed)

Directions:

Throw all ingredients in a bowl and stir. That’s it!

 

Classic Homemade Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 small organic onion, diced
  • One organic Jalapeño, diced
  • 1 large organic Garlic Clove, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 {28 oz can} Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 1 {14.5} Can of Organic Diced Tomatoes
  • One big Handful of Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of half a Lime

Directions:

Add the chopped onion, jalapeno and garlic to a food processor or blender. Next add the can of whole peeled tomatoes (with their juices), fresh cilantro, sugar and salt and the juice of half a lime. Pulse until you get the desired consistency (chunky or smooth). Add diced tomatoes with green chilies. Give a few more pulses. Let refrigerate for a couple of hours at least before serving, but over night is best!

 

Homemade Blender Salsa

Quick easy salsa you can whip up in under 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 15oz. cans organic stewed tomatoes (you can substitute 1/2 fresh if available)
  • 1 4oz. can organic chopped green chiles
  • 1 organic Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 organic jalapeño pepper – chopped & seeded
  • 1 bunch cilantro – chopped (add as much as you’d like)
  • 4 green onions – chopped
  • 1 tsp organic sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper

Directions:

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend to your preference.

For best results and best for your health. Always choose organic ingredients. Do you have a favorite organic salsa recipe??

 

Healthy Fats for Healthy Kids

Did you know that a low fat diet for children can cause more harm than good? Yep, low-fat diets do not meet the nutritional needs for children. Instead, they can lead to inadequate energy intake and can interrupt or compromise normal growth and development. healthy fatsWhen kids are eating a low-fat diet, they typically eat more high sugar and starchy carbohydrates, which can lead to blood sugar problems and decreased immunity. This is sad because many parents believe that good nutrition is all about low fat and low calorie instead of healthy fats and nutritionally dense foods. We need to stop this way of thinking.

Healthy fats are essential for children’s growth and development including their brains, which are made up of 60-70% fats. Good fats are also another source of energy, which kids need. If you have kids or spend time around them, you’ve probably noticed how they are always craving snacks that are sugary or sweet, that’s because sugars/sweets are fast burning sources of energy. Satisfying them with healthy fats is optimal, because they are a slow/long burning sources of energy.

For proper growth, kids need to absorb all of their nutrients (vitamins and minerals), and they can do this by eating healthy fats. If they are deficient in fats or not eating proper fats then they are not absorbing and using those fat-soluble nutrients vital for their development, especially vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are also important for their immune function, which helps them to heal more quickly.

What are the best healthy fats for kids?

Healthy Fats For Cooking*:

*Always look for the words: unrefined, cold pressed, organic, and expeller pressed.

 

 Healthy Fats for Dressings/Salads/Mayo/Raw*

*These oils should not be heated; only use them when you’re not cooking them.

Foods That Contain Healthy Fats

 Here are some tips to help get more fat into your children’s diet:

  • Supplement with FCLO
  • Add a few tablespoons of healthy fat of your choice in smoothies (I like to do coconut oil or coconut cream and a scoop of nut or seed butter)
  • Heavily butter their toast or muffins with coconut oil or ghee
  • Add healthy fats to their oatmeal (usually ghee or coconut oil)
  • Make homemade mayo (I like usually avocado oil for this)
  • Cook eggs in butter
  • Sauté vegetables in ghee/coconut oil

 6 Bad Fats to avoid:

  1. Trans fats! Hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats These fats are toxic and interfere with the essential roles in our body.
  2. Oils in a plastic clear bottle are already rancid from light exposure. These should be avoided.
  3. Any fat that says refined; stay away
  4. Also another tricky play on words to watch out for is Cold-Processed (they want to make you think it say’s cold pressed)
  5. Canola oil and cotton seed oils are highly processed oils and should be avoided.
  6. Soybean oil

Read my earlier blog post for more information about healthy oils (fats) we should be eating

How do you get extra healthy fats into your kids’ diet?

DIY: Make Your Own Homemade Gourmet Salt Blends

Did you know you can make your own flavored gourmet salt blends? I didn’t until recently! To be honest, it never really occurred to me that I could makeDIY Gourmet Salt Blends so many different kinds of blends until I started trying some! You could end up paying a pretty penny for fancy salt blends, but today I’ll give you some fun recipes so that you can make your own gourmet salt blends at home.

First, let’s ditch the table salt. Table salt is heavily processed and refined, which means it is stripped of all it’s minerals except for sodium. They also usually add an anti-caking agent like aluminum back in. Our bodies cannot break the chemical bonds that are to be absorbed and used by our body, which leads to many health issues. Instead we need to use sea salt. Himalayan is a good choice as is Celtic sea salt. Both of which have wonderful health benefits.

DIY Gourmet Salt Blends

Seasoned Salt Recipe

Before finding out about all these exciting blends, this was the only salt recipe I’ve made and keep on hand.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Mix well in a glass gar or you can give it a quick spin in your blender or food processor.

There are so many different combinations you can make.  Start with the spices do you most use in your cooking. You can take a few of your favorites to make your own gourmet salt blend.

Some More Ideas for Flavoring Your Gourmet Salt 

  • Traditional Seasoning Salt: Salt, Sugar, Paprika, Onion and Garlic
  • Lemon Pepper: Salt, Pepper, Lemon Peel
  • Rosemary Garlic Salt: Salt, Rosemary, Garlic
  • Celery Salt: Salt, Celery Leaves, Celery Seeds
  • Tarragon and Wild Mushroom Salt: Dried Porcini Mushrooms, Dried Chanterelle Mushrooms, Salt, Tarragon, White Pepper
  • Taco blend: Salt, Paprika, Chili Powder, Cumin, Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic, Oregano

And here are a couple of other recipes I found and I cannot wait to try!

The sky’s the limit. Have you made gourmet salt blends before? Which spices did you use?

Eat These Organic Foods to Fight Arthritis

organic foodsBy the year 2030, an estimated 67 million (25% of the projected total adult population) adults aged 18 years and older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, but did you know there are two types of arthritis? The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis, a degenerative arthritis (wear and tear of the cartilage) usually associated with poor nutrition and aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. That means that the immune system attacks parts of the body. The joints are the main areas affected by this malfunction in the immune system. Over time it can lead to chronic inflammation and joint damage. A lot of doctors just treat arthritis symptomatically, meaning they will give you medication to help with the pain. However, there is growing research that just making dietary changes, like adding these organic foods to your diet, can go a long way with both types of arthritis.

6 Organic Foods to Help Fight Arthritis

1. Turmeric

Turmeric has a high antioxidant value and helps to boost the immune system. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is popular among those with arthritis and joint problems.

2. Vitamin C Rich Foods

One important function of vitamin C is in the formation and maintenance of collagen, the basis of connective tissue, which is found in the skin, ligaments, cartilage and joint linings, bones and teeth. Vitamin C rich foods include organic:

  • oranges
  • lemons
  • grapefruits
  • limes
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • dark leafy greens
  • cabbage
  • asparagus

3. Fish/Omega-3′s

Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more cold water fish, olive oil, walnuts or freshly ground flaxseeds. You may also want to consider taking a fish oil supplement to help keep your protein intake low.

4. Ginger

Ginger is another great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it’s said to be a superior anti-pain remedy, beating out over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Advil.

5. Berries

Berries including blackberries, raspberries, strawberries have anthocyanin’s which are a potent antioxidant responsible for the reddish pigment in foods, which may help reduce inflammation.

6. Blackstrap Molasses

High in valuable minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, blackstrap molasses has been a cherished home remedy for arthritis for a number of years. As a dietary supplement (easily consumed as a drink), blackstrap can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and joint pain, thanks to its vital constituents that regulate nerve and muscle function, and strengthens the bones. 1-2 tablespoons a day straight or mixed with warm water.

Though there isn’t an official Arthritis Diet (I don’t think), the following could benefit those with arthritis greatly:

  • Avoid processed and fried foods, both of which promote inflammation.
  • Decrease the amount of sugar you intake each day. The less sugar you eat, the less inflammation, and the stronger the immune system to defend us against infectious and degenerative diseases.
  • Avoid dairy products. Dairy has a known protein called Casein which may irritate the tissue around the joints.
  • Refrain from tobacco and alcohol use, which can lead to a number of health problems, including some that may affect your joints. Smokers are more at risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis, while those who consume alcohol have a higher risk for developing gout.
  • Drink your water. Water does more than hydrate you, it also helps lubricate our joints.
  • Limit or eliminate nightshades from diet. They are known to contribute to pain, inflammation and arthritis. Nightshades include: tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.

Have you found anything to help alleviate arthritis pain? If so tell us what worked for you?

References:

Peek Inside My Organic Pantry: Essential Foods To Have On Hand

My pantry actually goes through many changes and gets plenty of makeovers. It really depends on my family’s ever changing way of eating and organic pantrylearning. It took our family five years to get from a fully stocked non-organic, chemically-laden, processed food pantry to an all-natural, organic pantry. That might seem like a long time, but back then it was a learning process for me. Those were the days long before Pinterest and blogging so it was a slow process. So how do you stock an organic pantry? It’s actually easier than you think. All you have to do is swap out your non-organic staples with its better-half: the organic version! I promise you, you can do it. It took me five years to figure this stuff out on my own, but now I’m giving you the tips and know how to start today!

First things first: go through your pantry and throw out all your outdated and expired items. Next, I strongly advise you to throw out any products that have these ingredients listed on the label:

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Aspartame/Sucralose (artificial sweeteners)
  • Artificial Food Coloring (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 etc.)
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  • Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite
  • Trans Fat (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils)

* The above ingredients are all detrimental to your health; they are chemicals, preservatives, additives that have no business being in your body.

Now that you have cleaned your pantry, it’s time to re-stock it.

Here are fifteen essential go-to organic pantry items:

  1. Sea Salt
  2. Organic/Raw Honey – this lasts forever practically, even when it gets hard and crystallizes, it’s still perfectly fine to eat.
  3. Organic Flours (almond, coconut, all-purpose, or whatever your diet allows)
  4. Organic Oils (coconut, olive, avocado oils)
  5. Organic Baking Powder/Aluminum Free Baking Soda
  6. Organic Pasta (if you can eat grains)
  7. Organic Dried Beans (long shelf-life too)
  8. Organic Coffee
  9. Organic Tea
  10. Organic cornstarch or Arrowroot
  11. Organic Broth
  12. Organic Maple Syrup
  13. Organic Canned/Jarred Tomatoes
  14. Organic vanilla Extract
  15. Organic Spices

That wasn’t too bad was it? Now you are on your way to having an awesome organic pantry! The items above are my top picks for essential organic pantry items. What are your favorite pantry items and if you haven’t already are you going to make the switch to organic? Organic is always going to be worth it. It’s much better to feed you and your family food without the added chemicals, preservatives and additives.

Three Organic Recipes for Spring

organic recipes

Image Credit: By Bill Ebbesen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I just love spring. The trees are beginning to bud, the flowers are starting to bloom, and the days are slowly getting longer and longer. It is also the perfect time and season to “spring clean” your diet with these organic recipes! Out with the heavy fall and winter meals, and in with spring time fruits and veggies. In-season produce will benefit you the most nutritionally so here’s what to look for in the produce aisle or at the local farmers’ market:

 

In-season spring time produce:

  • Asparagus
  • Strawberries (available all year long, but their peak is between April – June)
  • Sweet Cherries (Late spring – early summer)
  • Radishes
  • Artichokes
  • Peas (sweet peas, green peas, snow peas)
  • Apricots
  • Rhubarb

And here are a few organic recipes for spring:

Organic Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Recipe

A perfect dessert for a nice spring afternoon!

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 °

Combine sliced strawberries & rhubarb in a medium sized bowl. Stir in cornstarch, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla.  Pour strawberry/rhubarb mixture into the ready pie crust. Top with remaining pie crust. Cut a few slits in the top crust. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until juice begins to bubble and crust is browned.

 

Crunchy Green Pea Salad Recipe

I love spring time salads, this salad will pack a nice crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz Organic Green peas (rinsed, fresh is best)
  • 1 c. diced organic celery
  • 1 c. diced organic green onion
  • 1 c chopped cauliflower or broccoli
  • 1 c. organic roasted cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds (or combo of any)
  • 1/2 c. crumbled cooked bacon (always look for nitrite free)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 c. prepared organic ranch dressing
  • 1/2 c. organic sour cream

Directions:

Blanch fresh peas. Combine all the vegetables, nuts and bacon with sour cream. Mix dressing and mustard together, pour over vegetable mixture. Toss gently. Chill at least an hour and serve.

 

Grain Free Crackers Recipeorganic recipes for spring grain free crackers

This might not be off of my list of spring time produce, but if you are gluten/grain free, there is always a need for a good cracker. This one is perfect for spring time or anytime!

Ingredients:

Directions:

In one bowl add all seeds, garlic and onion, pour water and stir until thick and water is absorbed. Add salt and pepper and any other spices/herbs you might like and stir to combine. Preheat oven to 325 °. Grease a pan and flatten out mixture until 1/4 inch or thinner. Bake for 30 minutes then take out and cut into the sizes you want the crackers to be, flip and bake 25-30 minutes more! These have a good source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, and absolutely no sugar!

What are your favorite spring inspired organic recipes?

2015 Sustainable Seafood Update

Sustainability is a big issue these days, and it should be. You can define “sustainable” in many ways, but at its core it is an engagement in practices that keep the environment healthy and food production economically and socially viable. This is no different with seafood; sustainable seafood means catching or farming seafood responsibly, with sustainable seafoodconsideration for the long-term health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment.  Sounds good right?! I agree, but the big question is how do you know is the seafood at the grocery stores or markets, or even on the menus at the restaurants, came from sustainable sources?

Here are a few tips to help you determine whether or not you’re purchasing sustainable seafood:

  • Buy seafood from knowledgeable, reputable dealers. More and more retailers and chefs are putting into practice sustainable seafood purchasing policies.
  • You’re usually better off eating the local variety. Even out of season, the local fish that haven’t been frozen are preferable.
  • The Marine Stewardship Council certifies seafood that is caught or raised in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner. When at the grocery store, seafood items that meet its criteria are marked with a MSC-certified label like the one shown here.

MSC logo

  • When at a restaurant or market, ask questions! Ask where is the seafood is from? Does that country manage its fisheries sustainably? 
  • American seafood isn’t perfect, by far, but the U.S. variety of a particular type of seafood is generally better than its imported counterpart, because the U.S. has stricter fishing and farming standards than other parts of the world do.
  • Read your labels and packaging! Look for wild caught instead of out of country or farm raised.
  • Smaller fish tend to be more plentiful and better for your health because they generally contain less mercury. Great small seafood choices include: squid, oysters, mackerel, sardines and mussel.

The Best in Sustainable Seafood:

  • Catfish (U.S.)
  • Clam, Mussels, Oysters
  • Cod: Pacific (U.S. hook & line)
  • Crawfish (U.S. Farmed)
  • Mahi Mahi (U.S. Atlantic troll, pole)
  • Salmon (Alaska)
  • Sardines Pacific (Canada & U.S.)
  • Tilapia (Ecuador & U.S.)
  • Tuna: Albacore/White canned (U.S. Canada)
  • Trout: Rainbow (U.S Farmed)

Seafood to Avoid:

  • Conch (wild)
  • Crab: Red King (Russia)
  • Crawfish: (China)
  • Salmon: Atlantic
  • Shark
  • Shrimp (imported, L.A. Wild)
  • Orange Roughy
  • Mahi Mahi (imported)

The above recommendations come from The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, I just listed a few. For more information or to look up a different species of seafood go to their site

To find out more up-to-date current info on which seafood is sustainable, farmed or even what is in season check out these wonderful resources:

Don’t Be Fooled: 5 ‘Health Food’ Products That Aren’t Healthy At All

health foodI can’t lie – it can be tough living a healthy lifestyle.  It can be downright confusing, even frustrating at times. Everyday there is something new to learn, something that you shouldn’t be eating, or should be eating, or something you once thought you should be eating, but shouldn’t anymore. It never ends. Bottom line is that unhealthy foods (sugar, processed foods, chemicals, additives etc.) are the reason why people are sicker and even fatter than ever before.  How do you know what’s really good for you and what’s just junk food disguising itself as healthy? Check out some of these so-called health food products that may have had you fooled.

 

 5 ‘Health Food’ Products to Avoid

1. Vitaminwater

It should really be called, “Sugarwater”. The first two ingredients in Vitaminwater are actually sugar and water. Go figure. The sugar they use in Vitaminwater is called crystalline fructose, a processed sweetener that has been linked to health problems. The sugar content of this drink is seriously disturbing. If you drink a bottle of Vitaminwater, you are actually ingesting 33 grams of sugar – that’s a little over 8 teaspoons in one serving (remember every 4g of sugar is equal to 1 tsp)! The “vitamins” in Vitaminwater, are not really vitamins. They are synthetic, meaning they are made by man. They are not the same vitamins our body can utilize as if we were getting the vitamins from our food. For much healthier options check out these recipes:

 

2. FroYo (Frozen Yogurt Shops)

Please don’t do it, don’t give into the hype! Frozen yogurt is a highly processed product.

I know, so sad, I can actually hear hearts breaking right now. These cute little frozen yogurt shops that keep popping up everywhere you turn…but don’t be fooled. Just because it’s “yogurt” does not mean it’s healthy. So, even though these little shops are fun and cute they are still serving highly processed dairy products with harmful additives like these:

  • Guar gum
  • Maltodextrin
  • Sodium citrate
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Cellulose gum
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Carrageenan
  • Aspartame
  • Red Dye 40

Eek!!! That’s just to name a few! These are actually the ingredients I saw at our local FroYo shop.

What do you do instead?  Instead get yourself some good plain Greek yogurt (Greek works best because it’s nice and thick) and instead of being sweetened with chemicals you can sweeten with maple syrup, raw honey or Stevia. And if you feel you’re missing out on the fun topping assortments they have at those shops, make your own little assortment using chopped nuts (pecans are my favorite), seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower), dark chocolate, granola, dried and or fresh fruits.

 

3. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

Regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories, but the reduced-fat variety has more added sugar, and that is because they took out some of the fat, so they needed to replace it with something. Don’t be scared of fat. Every cell in our body depends on fat, good fats that is, and peanut butter is a natural source of this healthy fat “monounsaturated”.

Instead look for an organic peanut butter and if you want to sweeten it, stir in a bit of honey or maple syrup.

 

4. Energy Bars

Convenience does come at a cost. Most commercial energy bars are nothing more than candy bars with a few nutrients thrown in (which are most likely synthetic) and contain ingredients are bad for you like soy protein, gluten, chemicals, preservatives and other nasty hard-to-pronounce fillers.

There is good news here. There are a few good energy/protein bars that I have seen. You just have to read your labels, the fewer ingredients the better. Another good alternative to these energy bars is to make your own.

 

5. Fooled by Fat Free

Often times we see these labels (Fat Free) and we automatically think that these products are healthier choices than the ones without that label. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there too. Unfortunately that’s not really the case. If you think about it, if all the fat is removed from something, a lot of the taste of the product will be removed along with it (because good fat just tastes yummy). So what do the big food giants do to compensate? They add other ingredients like sugars, flours, chemicals, fillers and salt. These ingredients add the flavor back in, while keeping the calorie count high.

Fat free may sound like a healthy choice, but the reality is that our bodies need fat. And it’s not so much the amount of fat you eat that’s important it’s really the type of fat. Remember, there are good fats, and bad fats! When it comes to your health you need to be consuming the good fats which are things like coconut oil, ghee, raw nuts, avocados, and pastured free-range eggs.

There are many more junk foods masquerading around looking like health foods, which other ones have you been fooled by? 

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