For The Greater Goods (sm)

For The Love of Food

Easy Organic Dinners for Back to School Season

With school back in full swing, for many of us that means our days just got busier. With kids in sports, organic dinnersafter 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions

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.

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic whole chicken (my crock-pot holds a 5-6lb bird)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • Crock pot
  • Spices if desired.

Directions:

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!

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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:

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!

7 Benefits of Feeding Your Family Organic Food

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 food

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?

Organic Granola Recipes: Maple Vanilla &Chocolate Chip

Granola always brings back sweet memories for me.  I remember when I was a kid my dad would come home from work with one of those old tins, (you know the ones that had Christmas scenes on them, and were once full of some sort of Scandinavian cookies) and when he would shake it, we knew exactly what it was!   Not cookies, but my grandma’s granola: simple, sweet and crunchy, the perfect granola!  Now that I’m grown and have a gluten sensitive daughter we have steered clear of granola and my kids’ favorite, granola bars. Steering clear of this isn’t only due to gluten intolerance, but also because often traditional, store-bought granola can be overly sweetened, processed and if you buy it at a conventional grocery store it will most likely contain GMO’s.  We don’t want that.  It’s always best to make your own or buy an organic granola brand which assures you that it is GMO free!

After trying out a few grain free recipes I finally came up with a version of my own organic granola recipe that is kid and husband approved!  I came up with a frozen organic granola bar which is pretty darn tasty too.  I hope you give them a try! 

Maple Vanilla Grain Free Organic Granola

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 170 (if your oven goes to 160 that would be preferable)

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step1

Toss  nuts, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit in a blender or food processor (or chop if you have neither), and process blend briefly, until nuts, seeds and dried fruit are broken up –you want different sizes of the pieces of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, some whole, some broken, some ground. You know, what makes granola, well granola!

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step2

Pour this mixture into a large bowl and stir in chia seeds, flax meal, coconut, and cinnamon.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step3

In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil and butter then whisk in honey, vanilla and sunflower/almond butter until smooth.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step4

Pour yummy liquid mixture into dry, and stir with a wooden spoon until liquid mixture is evenly coated.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step5

Spread maple vanilla organic granola out on a parchment lined baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. After 30 minutes, it should be golden brown. Stir again, turn oven off, and let sit in the oven for 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit out and cool—this is when it will harden and get it’s crunchy texture.

maple-vanilla-organic-granola-recipe-step6

When it’s cooled completely cool, break it up with your hands and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Organic Granola Bars:

My kids and husband love these snacks!  So quick and easy, and no baking required!

All you do is follow the above recipe, but when you get to step 5 let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes then add in the chocolate chips or chunks.

chocolate-chip-organic-granola-recipe-step1

Then instead of spreading onto a baking sheet, I use an 8”x 8” baking dish lined with parchment paper and pressed organic granola mixture into pan.  Stick it in the freezer for 2-3 hours and it’s done!

chocolate-chip-organic-granola-recipe-step2

Take them out, cut them up and keep in the freezer for a quick grab and go snack that your children will love!

Do you make your own organic granola?  Share your favorites in the comments!

Nutmeg: 7 Health Benefits & Creative Ways To Use It

health benefits of nutmeg

Photo credit: David.Monniaux

Typically associated with holiday foods like egg nog and pumpkin pie, organic nutmeg is also great in savory dishes like stuffing, soup and stir fry.  The health benefits of nutmeg may surprise you; from dental health to skin care, to aphrodisiac qualities and more.

7 Health Benefits of Nutmeg

1 – Sleep Aid

You’ve heard of having a warm glass of milk before bed in order to get a good night’s sleep?  Try adding a pinch of ground nutmeg for a more powerful punch. It also helps to promote the production of serotonin.

2 – Acne Treatment

If you suffer from acne or have acne scars, try mixing ground nutmeg with water or honey into a paste.  Apply it to the skin like a mask or use like a scrub and your skin will benefit.  Nutmeg has ant-inflammatory components that will help reduce the redness and puffiness associated with pimples. It will help remove blackheads, make scars less noticeable and make your skin smoother.

3 – Digestive Aid

Since ancient times, nutmeg has been used as a medicinal aid for digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating and excess gas.  Nutmeg oil helps to remove the excess gas from your gut, providing relief.  If you have regular digestive issues, try sprinkling nutmeg on oatmeal, in eggs, or in a fruit smoothie for breakfast every day.

4 – Dental Health

Along with clove and cinnamon, nutmeg is great for dental health.  It has antibacterial properties that help to protect teeth and gums and the oil in nutmeg is helpful in relieving a tooth ache.  It will also freshen your breath and keep your mouth clean.

5 – Immune Booster

Nutmeg contains trace minerals that are beneficial for immune system health.  It’s no wonder that nutmeg is commonly used in foods that are popular during cold and flu season.  High in potassium, calcium, iron and manganese, it’s a great idea to sprinkle nutmeg on your foods during the winter months.

6 – Brain Health

Ancient Greeks and Romans used nutmeg as a brain tonic, as it can stimulate the brain, eliminating fatigue and stress.  Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin which has been shown to protect the brain against degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.  It is also helpful if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression and can be effective to improve concentration and focus.

7 – Sex Drive

Yes, one of the many health benefits of nutmeg is its aphrodisiac effects.  Researchers have found that at low dosages it is capable of increasing sexual activity, increasing both libido and potency in men.  Before you go dowsing yourself in nutmeg, you should be aware that at higher doses, nutmeg does have adverse effects and can cause heart palpitations and nausea.

How To Use Nutmeg

Nutmeg can be used for both sweet and savory dishes. In desserts, it adds warm, nutty, holiday-spice flavor to foods like gingerbread and pumpkin pie. It also pairs nicely with meats for a subtly sweet component, and is great paired with vegetables like cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Here are a few ways to get the health benefits of nutmeg into your diet.

Beverages

Eggnog is the obvious choice, but even if you don’t like eggnog, you can add nutmeg to hot chocolate, or hot tea.  Try adding nutmeg to your fruit smoothies for a warming effect.  Add it to hot or cold apple cider.

Proteins

Using nutmeg in savory dishes and on proteins can add contrast to spicy and salty flavors.  A little goes a long way so use a light touch but try nutmeg on roasted chicken, pot pies, omelettes, braised beef, meatballs and more.

Desserts

Aside from pumpkin pie or apple pie, you can sprinkle a little nutmeg into vanilla pudding, try it on ice cream, pound cake, and cookies.  Try adding nutmeg to any dish that you’d normally use cinnamon for a slightly different flavor.

Soups

A dash of nutmeg in tomato soup adds an unexpected depth of flavor do a simple soup.  Try nutmeg in a blended cauliflower puree or winter squash soup.

Vegetables

Try sprinkling a bit of nutmeg on vegetables like sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, winter squashes, cabbage, cauliflower and spinach.

 

Now that you know the health benefits of nutmeg and some ways to use it, how will you be using nutmeg this season?  Let us know in the comments.

Avoiding GMO’s Part IV: Are There GMO’s in Your Holiday Foods?

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.

 

Avoiding GMO's

When it comes to holiday cooking, most of us lean on packaged foods at least a little bit to ease the burden.  We want to make our holiday meals memorable, delicious and healthy. One way to make sure they are healthy is by avoiding GMO’s.  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.

5 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Holiday Foods

1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic.  This goes for holiday 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 holiday foods like stuffing, canned pumpkin pie mix, boxed dessert mixes and gravies, 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 packaged foods contain GMO’s so you may want to read the labels just to see, but I would avoid them at all cost and choose an organic alternative instead.

4 – Get an organic turkey (or ham).  Even better, find a local turkey farm or pig rancher so that you can talk to them about how they raise their animals.  You want to look for animals that have been fed a non-gmo diet and have access to the outdoors.  The healthiest animals are ones that have been eating their traditional diets so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

5 – Cook with whole food ingredients.  When your mashed potatoes are simply made with potatoes, butter and milk (make sure the butter and milk is organic), you know exactly what you’re eating without looking at a long list of chemical ingredients.  Choosing whole foods over processed foods is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re avoiding GMO’s.  There are very few whole foods that are GMO, at least for now.  The ones to look out for and buy organic are:  papaya, sweet corn, zucchini/yellow squash, and soy.

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 holiday 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!

Organic Goji Berries: A Powerful Superfood

With superfoods being all the rage, let’s take a closer look at organic goji berries.  Often praised as the next fountain of youth, organic goji berries look like a shriveled red raisin.  They are both tangy and sweet with a raisin-like texture.organic goji berries

Organic goji berries are also known as wolfberries.  They come from a shrub that is native to China but grows in many parts of the world.  In Asia, goji berries have a reputation for extending life and are eating for many health reasons.  They have been associated with health benefits for diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related eye problems.

Filled with powerful antioxidants, organic goji berries join the list of other berries like acai, blueberry, cranberry and strawberry that have very high antioxidant levels.  The body uses antioxidants to combat damage from free radicals that can injure cells and damage DNA, creating abnormal cells.  Antioxidants can combat the destruction that free radicals cause.

High in Vitamin A and other carotenoids, organic goji berries can protect or even improve your vision.  They also contain the synergistic antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which are beneficial for eye health.

Organic goji berries are a great source of protein and minerals, containing 19 amino acids (including all 8 essential amino acids) as well as zinc, iron, copper, calcium, selenium and phosphorus.

Known as an adapotgen, organic goji berries help strengthen the body wherever it needs it.  They support the adrenal glands and endocrine glands, helping to keep stress feelings under control.

With all of those health benefits, you may be rushing to order some immediately, but what do you do with them once you have them?  Organic goji berries can be eaten dried like raisins in trail mixes, added to smoothies or desserts.  They can also be cooked into baked goods or used in herbal teas. Make sure to buy organic goji berries and not conventional, as the sulfites used on conventional dried fruits can be harmful to your health.

Organic goji berries recipes

Easy Organic Energy Bars

1 cup organic walnuts
1 cup organic almonds
1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
6-8 organic medjool dates
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 Tbsp organic coconut flour
½ cup organic maple syrup
½ cup organic cacao nibs
1 cup organic goji berries

Preheat oven to 350F.  Process in a food processor the walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds..  Add the dates and pulse a few times to combine but leave some texture.  Place the mixture in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well to combine ingredients.  Spread mixure into an 8×8 baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes, cut into squares and serve or store.  These freeze well for handy snacks.

Super Immunity Tea

2 cups filtered water
2 tsp fresh grated ginger root
1/2 lemon, sliced into thin slices
6 whole cloves
3 orange peels
1 Tbsp raw honey
Handful goji berries

Bring water to a boil then turn heat to low and add the  ginger, cloves, orange peels and lemon.  Steep for 10 minutes. Strain into tea cup and stir in honey and goji berries.  Enjoy.

Superfood Trail Mix

½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raw walnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup organic goji berries
¼ cup coconut flakes
¼ cup cacao nibs
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and store in an airtight container.

Chocolate-Banana-Goji Smoothie

2 frozen bananas, peeled
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/3 cup dried Goji berries
2 cups (or large handfuls) of fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
6 ounces of filtered water

Start by adding the liquid to your blender, then add the fruit, then the spinach. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.  If you do not have a high-speed blender, soak the goji berries for 10 minutes before adding them to your blender.

How to Make Your Own Organic Condiments Quickly & Easily

When I look at the ingredients lists for most condiments, even the organic condiments, I’m always just a little bit disappointed to find ingredients that I wouldn’t typically eat.  For instance, jarred organic mayonnaise will always contain soybean oil or canola oil.  Even though I know they’re non-gmo, since they’re organic, I still would rather use a different type of oil.  The solution? Make my own!  The same goes for ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, even ranch dressing.  So let’s take a look at just how easy it is to make them!organic condiments

DIY Organic Condiments

Organic Mayonnaise Recipe

The key to making homemade mayonnaise is to start with your ingredients at room temperature, so a few hours before you’re going to be making it, let your ingredients sit out on your counter.  This is one the organic condiments that once you taste it fresh, you may never be able to eat it jarred again.

Ingredients:
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup plus 1 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients aside from 1 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor.   Blend until well mixed – about 20 to 30 seconds.  Slowly drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while it is mixing.  This needs to be done very slowly so make sure that you’re pouring only the thinnest stream of olive oil into the mixture.  Once it is all combined it should look like the creamiest version of a mayo you’ve ever seen.  Place the mixture in a jar and refrigerate.  It should last for about a week longer than the expiration date on your egg.

Note: The olive oil you use will add flavor to your mayo.  If you’re using a strong tasting olive oil like Bariani, you’re going to have a strong tasting mayo, so choose an olive oil that has a light flavor if you don’t want it to overpower your mayo.  You can also use sunflower or safflower oil instead of olive oil.

Organic Ketchup Recipe

The kid-friendliest of the organic condiments, ketchup is a favorite of just about every kid I know.  Considering how much sugar is in commercially prepared ketchup, why not try making your own?

Ingredients:
7 oz tomato paste
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons sweetener of choice (try coconut sugar, coconut nectar, date sugar, or honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup filtered water

Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together completely.

Organic Mustard Recipe

Mustard is one of those organic condiments that can be made in a myriad of ways for everyone’s taste – from dijon to spicy brown to grainy mustards or super smooth spicy mustards, everyone has their favorite.  My favorite is the really grainy type so here’s a recipe to make your own at home.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup dry mustard powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 Tablespoons cold water

Place mustard seeds, wine vinegar, and wine in a small bowl and let stand for 3 hours. Empty the bowl into a blender or food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse until the seeds are broken. Add the remaining ingredients and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the container process for another 30 seconds. Place in a well-sealed container and refrigerate.  Allow to sit overnight before using.  Mustard mellow with age so if it is too strong at first, let it sit for a couple of weeks.

Organic Ranch Dressing Recipe

Its not that far of a stretch to group this salad dressing in with the rest of the organic condiments.  While technically a salad dressing and not a condiment, since so many kids will eat any veggie if its dipped in ranch, I’m treating it like one of the other organic condiments.  We don’t do a lot of dairy in my household so this is a recipe for a raw vegan ranch dressing that can stand up to the best traditional ranch dressing recipes.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours and drained
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 pitted dates soaked in 1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup of the reserved date soak water
2 large cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons red onion
1 Tablespoon Herbamare
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped finely
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped finely
1 Tablespoon scallions (use the green part only), chopped finely

Add all ingredients except the fresh herbs to a blender and process until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and stir in the fresh herbs.  If you’re using this as a dip, store it in an airtight container and let it chill for 2 hours before serving.  If you’re using this as a dressing, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water and stir well before storing.

Are there other organic condiments you’d like to learn how to make?  Let us know in the comments and we’ll post recipes in a future blog!

Organic Spices, Herbs and D.I.Y. Seasoning Recipes

By now we all know that organic foods and products are healthier and better for us than those that aren’t.  Organic milk, organic produce, organic grains…..but what about a key element in all our baking and cooking that makesorganic-spices our dishes taste delicious… what about organic spices?  Yes, spices and herbs are best to buy organic too!   I know in the beginning of my wellness journey I had no idea that using organic spices had an impact on my health, but the more I learned the more I realized that those nasty store bought packets of ranch dip, taco seasonings and Italian seasonings that I was buying on a weekly basis, didn’t contain organic spices, and were packed with icky ingredients such as MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and other chemical additives I can’t pronounce.

Of course now I use organic spices to make my own seasoning blends, well, really now I make EVERYTHING using organic materials… (I even make my own shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant, but that can be for a future blog!).

Organic Spices in D.I.Y. Seasoning Blends

Making your own seasoning blends does take a little time, but it’s worth it. Just knowing your family isn’t getting any extra unwanted and unnecessary sodium and chemicals in the food you prepare for them, is all worth it.  Plus, it only takes a little chunk of time, because once you’re done you have a ton of seasonings that you won’t have to buy or make for a while! And if you buy your organic spices and herbs in bulk at shopOrganic, it will save you money in the long run!  Now here are a few of my favorite seasoning blends using organic spices, that I make most often!

Taco Seasoning Blend Recipe with Organic Spices:

1/4 cup Cumin Powder

1/4 cup Chili Powder (for a little south western kick try the Chipotle Chili Powder)

1 tablespoon Garlic powder

1 tablespoon Onion powder

1 teaspoon Paprika

1 teaspoon Oregano

1-4 Tablespoons Cayenne Powder (depending on how spicy you like it)

1/4 cup Himalayan salt or mineral Sea Salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

To Make: Place all ingredients in bowl and mix.  Store in an air tight container or jar (I like to use mason jars). Use just like you would use with any taco seasonings.  I use about 2 Tbsp. per pound of meat when I am making tacos. Adjust it to your preference.

 

Italian Seasoning Blend with Organic Spices:

1/2 cup Basil

1/2 cup Oregano

1/4 cup Rosemary

1/4 cup Marjoram

1/4 cup Thyme

1/4 cup Sage

2 -3 Tablespoons Dried Minced Garlic

To make:  This one I actually throw in my vita mix and pulse it a few times just to cut down the rosemary and make it a tad finer.  You can also use a mortar and pestle or a food processer.  Store in container until ready to use.  Use in all your favorite Italian recipes.

 

Ranch Dressing Mix with Organic Spices:

1/4 cup Dried Parsley

1 Tablespoon Dill

1 tablespoon Garlic Powder

1 tablespoon Onion Powder

1/2 teaspoon Basil (optional)

1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper

2-4 teaspoons Sea Salt (optional)

To Make: Mix together and store in an air tight container.
For dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons dry Ranch mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
For Dip: Mix 2 tablespoons dry Ranch Mix with 2 cups of sour cream or yogurt.  Store in fridge until ready to use.

 

Dry Onion Soup Mix with Organic Spices:

2/3 cup Dried, Minced Onion

3 teaspoons Parsley Flakes

2 teaspoons Onion Powder

2 teaspoons Turmeric (optional )

1 teaspoon Celery Seed (or omit salt and use Celery Salt)

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 teaspoon Organic Sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix all ingredients and store in jar.  Remember to shake before each use.

Use 4 tablespoons in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix. Store this in a dry, cool place.

Tip: If you buy herbs in bulk you can freeze them for longer use!

 

Those are my four most used seasonings using organic spices in my home.  Which organic spices and herbs are your favorites?  Do you have a seasoning you would like to share?  I know I would love to see if anyone has a good homemade curry seasoning recipe… I just can’t seem to make a good one!

Organic Oatmeal – More Than A Breakfast. 25 Creative Uses For Oats.

A bowl of organic oatmeal is a hearty and healthy breakfast, but did you know how versatile oatmeal really is?  Not only is it a high fiber, delicious breakfast food, it can be used for beauty care, kitchen cleanup, kids’ activities, and more.   Let’s take a look at 25 uses for organic oatmeal:organic oatmeal

Skin Care with Organic Oatmeal:

1. Acne: Spread cooked oatmeal (after it has cooled) over your problem skin. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse. Oatmeal can absorb and remove oil and bacteria from skin, and exfoliates dead skin cells, all of which can combat acne. Try adding honey and tea tree oil for more acne fighting power.

2. Itch relief:  If you’re suffering from the itchiness of poison ivy, chicken pox or even a sunburn, try an oatmeal bath.  As a kid who got a lot of poison ivy, I can vouch for this one.  Place oats in an an old piece of clean pantyhose and knot it around the faucet in the bathtub so that it hangs in the water.  Draw a warm bath, allowing the water to run through the oats.  Soak in the tub and use the pouch of oats to rub your itchy skin.

3. General skin problems: Its easy to make your own oatmeal soap or scrub for any skin problems.  To make a scrub, grind 2 Tbsp of oatmeal in a blender then add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and enough water to make a paste.  Spread on dry skin then rinse off after 10 minutes.  Oatmeal soap can be made using the bits of soap left in your shower.  Melt them down with a small amount of organic oatmeal and pour into a mold.  Cool and you have your own fresh organic oatmeal soap.

4. Rejuvenating face mask: Mix 1/2 cup hot water with 1/3 cup oatmeal for two or three minutes, then add two tablespoons each plain yogurt and honey, plus one egg white. Spread thinly on the face, then relax for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water.

5. Stress releif: You don’t need itchy skin to have an excuse for an oatmeal bath. Try adding a cup of milk, two cups of oats (in a pouch) and a tablespoon of honey to the bath to moisturize the skin and relax the body. You could also use scented oils in a ground oatmeal pouch, as described in the itch remedy above.

6. Go ‘No-Poo’: If you’re not familiar with the trend, many people are moving away from using shampoo and are using other methods to cleanse the hair and scalp.  Grind oatmeal into a powder and mix with an equal amount of baking soda. Rub into the scalp and let it soak up oils and odors, then brush out.

7. Itchy dogs: Dogs also suffer from dry skin and hair problems. Try mixing equal parts oats and warm water and rubbing the mixture thinly over a dog’s dry, itchy spots. Wrap in aluminum foil and keep the dog still for 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and repeat regularly until your dog is scratching less.

8. Pore Refiner: Mix 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup hot water, and 1/4 cup honey in a food processor. Let cool, and apply. Wait 10 minutes, and rinse.

9. DIY Scrub: To smooth out rough skin your body or face, make your own scrub out of oatmeal by grinding up two or three tablespoons of oats in a food processor. Add one or two teaspoons of baking soda and enough water to turn it into a paste. Smooth the scrub onto the skin and rub gently in a circular motion. After about 20 minutes, rinse off the paste with cool water.

Organic Oatmeal For Your Health:

10. Weight Loss: Oats have more fiber than wheat and other flours so cooking with oat flour offers a more full feeling with fewer calories.

11. Fuel Your Exercise: Studies have shown that oats can help fuel muscles during a workout. Eat oatmeal about three hours before your next endurance run or bike ride and enjoy the benefits of this high fiber complex carbohydrate.

12. Lower Cholesterol: The soluble fiber in oats lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Oatmeal may curb small LDL cholesterol particles, which may be riskier than bigger LDL particles.

13. Reduce Inflammation: Lab tests show that antioxidants in oats have anti-inflammatory properties. It would be impractical to try to eat the amount of oatmeal needed to get the antioxidant levels used in those tests, but smaller doses over time may have benefits.

14. Cardiovascular Benefits: Since organic oatmeal is high in fiber it offers many cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure. Postmenopausal women, who tend to develop high blood pressure, should eat six servings of oatmeal on a weekly basis. Studies show that men can also reduce their risk of heart failure if they eat one bowl of oatmeal, per day.

15. Stable Blood Sugar: A high fiber diet that includes organic oatmeal for breakfast will stabilize blood sugar levels and won’t cause the mid-morning slumps, which comes from eating a lot of sugar and carbs in the morning.

16. Immune System Booster: Oatmeal contains a type of fiber called beta-gluten fiber. This fiber protects against heart disease and also supports the immune system, helping the immune cells seek out and repair areas of the body that may be fighting a bacterial infection.

17. Prevent Diabetes: Oatmeal isn’t just a good source of fiber, it is also a good source of magnesium, which regulates the body’s insulin and glucose levels. It’s been shown that, over the course of eight years, women who eat a diet rich in whole grains like oatmeal can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by up to 31 percent.

18. Lower Risk of Breast Cancer: A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggested that premenopausal women can reduce their risk of breast cancer up to 41 percent by focusing on diets rich in oatmeal and other whole grains.

Household Uses For Organic Oatmeal:

19. Odor Absorber: Oatmeal can absorb odors in your refrigerator or bathroom.  Just leave a container of oats open in your fridge or any other smelly spot.

20. Kid’s Toy: Make your own substitute for Play-Doh with organic oatmeal. Just mix two parts oatmeal with one part flour and one part water.  Add some natural food coloring if you’d like.  Once mixed, it can be molded into virtually any shape and can be painted once dry.

21. Soak Up Oil Spills: Cover the oil puddle with uncooked oatmeal and let it sit for 5 minutes before sweeping it up.

Organic Oatmeal In Your Kitchen:

22. Breadcrumb Substitute: Process oats in a food processor and use in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs, meatloaf and veggie burgers.

23. All Purpose Flour Substitute:  Grind oats in a food processor to create oat flour and use as a healthier substitute for traditional flour in cookies, pancakes, breads and more.  You’ll get twice the fiber with less calories.

24. Homemade Granola:  Nothing is better than fresh warm granola right out of the oven.  Control the ingredients in your granola by making it at home.  Here’s a great recipe for a basic granola that you can add to with whatever dried fruits and nuts you like: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30062-basic-granola

25. Thickener:  Soups, stews and dips can be thickened with some ground oats or oat flour.

Now that you’ve seen the whole list, what are some of your favorite ways to use organic oatmeal?

Organic Milk Recipes from Organic Raw Nuts

There are several different kinds of organic milk available today.  In this blog post I’ll share a couple of simple recipes for organic milk made from organic raw nuts.organic-milk-from-organic-nuts

How to Make Organic Milk from Organic Raw Almonds:

  • Soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water 6-8 hours or overnight (make sure the nuts are covered in water).
  • When done soaking pour out the water and rinse, then pour nuts in your blender.
  • Add 3 cups of filtered water and blend on high for 3 minutes.
  • Strain milk through a nut bag, sieve or cheese cloth.  Place in a jar and put in fridge.  Use within 3-4 days.

How to Make Organic Milk from Cashews (this is my favorite, quick easy, no fuss):

  • Pour 1 cup of raw cashews right into your blender (no need to soak or rinse)
  • Add 3 cups of water and blend on high for 2-3 minutes.  Pour in jar and use within 3-4 days (no need to strain)
  • To make an extra special treat, here is a little variation: Vanilla Honey Cinnamon Cashew Milk.  Just add the following ingredients to your blender alongside the nuts:
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2-2 tbsp of Honey  (you can also use maple syrup or stevia to sweeten also)

Important Note about Raw Almonds:

In 2007 the USDA implemented a mandatory pasteurization program for almonds in the U.S.  This rule was called for in response to two recalls of raw almonds from conventional farms due to the presence of salmonella. So please take caution that if you purchase organic almonds in North America, they will have gone through steam pasteurization.  Unfortunately in North America, now that “raw” almonds are pasteurized (by one of the above methods) they are still able to label them as “raw” because they aren’t roasted.  When experimenting with pasteurized raw almonds, I found that they did still sprout. While there’s no guarantee that a pasteurized almond would sprout, some are making it to market with their life force intact.

What’s your favorite kind of organic milk?  Do you make your own organic milk? Or do you have a favorite brand?

Sources:
1. “Cashews,” WHFoods.org
2. “Walnuts,” WHFoods.org
3. Cornucopia.org

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