For The Greater Goods (sm)

For The Love of Food

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? 

Organic Walnuts: Health Benefits & Recipes

Nuts like organic walnuts are one of nature’s richest foods. They have good quality protein and are even higher in fats (as oils) than seeds. Nuts make a perfect easy, filling, snack on the go. But don’t think all nuts are created equal. Roasted and salted are best avoided. The salt is not needed and roasting affects the oils and decreases the B vitamin and mineral content. With that in mind, beware of places that dish up the salted nuts, such as bars or airplanes. Eating nuts in their most organic, raw form is best. And, while all nuts have a bunch of nutritious properties, today the spotlight is on organic walnuts.organic walnuts

8 Health Benefits of Organic Walnuts

  1. Walnuts contain a high level antioxidant, called polyphenols. These protect the body from molecules that damage the tissue.
  2. The abundant amounts of omega-3s, including alpha-linoleic acid, are shown to help improve a variety of cardiovascular functions like blood pressure, and blood clots.
  3. They are great for brain health, containing a number of neuro-protective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. It’s no wonder that this nut looks like a brain!
  4. Walnuts help reduce risk of breast and prostate cancers.
  5. They’re good for weight control – just a handful will give you longer lasting energy.
  6. Walnuts contain melatonin which is a compound that helps induce sleep.
  7. They’re great stress fighting properties.
  8. Walnuts contain biotin which helps strengthen hair, and can also help reduce hair loss and improve hair growth.

Recipes with Organic Walnuts:

Savory Organic Walnut Spread Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Toast ½ cup of walnuts in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Blend with a chopped clove of garlic, a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, the juice of 1 lemon, and sea salt and pepper. Serve with veggies or crackers.

 

Soaked Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 cups organic walnuts
  • Filtered water
  • Sea salt

Directions:

In a large glass bowl add your walnut, sprinkle a little sea salt, and then pour filtered or purified water over the walnuts so they are completely covered. Leave them to soak overnight or up to 10 hours. Drain them well then store in jars or storage containers and store in the fridge for up to a week. Also if you have a dehydrator you can dry them on low heat or (nut seed setting) until slightly crispy, and store them. Use them like you would any recipes or just for a perfect easily digestible snack!

 

Chocolate Energy Balls Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic walnuts (soaked or raw)
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups soft Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a large food processor, process the organic walnuts and coconut until crumbly. Add in the dates, coconut oil/ghee, cacao, vanilla and sea salt, and process again until sticky (forms a ball and comes off the sides).

Form dough into 1-2″ balls, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then stick them in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving. Store the balls in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life. I like them frozen the best! You can also press the dough into a pan lined with parchment paper and freeze, then cut into bars.

6 More Tips for How to Use Organic Walnuts in Recipes

  1. Chop them up and add to yogurt with some fresh fruit.
  2. Make a grain free granola.
  3. Sprinkle on top of hot cereal.
  4. Soak them to make them more easily digestible.
  5. Nice crunchy addition to any salad.
  6. Throw into your smoothies for a boost of good fats.

Do you eat organic walnuts? What is your favorite way to eat organic walnuts?

Organic Cashews: A Versatile Cooking Staple

The little pale seed we know as the kidney-shaped cashew “nut” is slightly sweet, delicate in flavor, and firm, but slightly spongy, in texture, which is what makes this nut so versatile in the kitchen. I have organic cashews on hand at all times. I make cashew milk, smoothies, granola, cookies, sauces and even mayonnaise. The cashew is one of my favorite staples to use in the kitchen!  Plus these recipes are great for vegan and dairy free diets!organic cashews

Before I get to the recipes here are 4 quick health benefits organic cashews can offer:

1. Cashews are high in copper which is helps play a role in elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment.

2. Just a handful or two of raw cashews a day is equivalent to one dose of Prozac for mild depression.

3. Cashews have tryptophan with the essential amino acid L-tryptophan which is broken down into anxiety-reducing, snooze-inducing niacin. Even more important, tryptophan is also made into serotonin, one of your body’s most important neurotransmitters. Serotonin gives you that, good mood feeling.

4. Cashews are also high in magnesium which is great for heart health and building strong bones.

They are also usually more affordable than other nuts as well.

Uses & Recipes for Organic Cashews:

Cashew Milk Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Throw all the ingredients in your blender and blend for 3 minutes. Pour into a container and keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

* To soak, cover cashews with filtered water and let sit for 2-4 hours, if you let them soak too long they may get mushy.

Cashew Mayonnaise Recipeorganic cashews mayonaise recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup milk (can use unsweetened coconut, almond, cashew or cow’s milk)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (or olive oil)

Directions:

Combine the milk, cashews, lemon juice, mustard, and salt in blender and puree. With the blender still running add the oil in a very slow and steady stream until the mixture is thick and creamy. Makes about 3/4 cup and keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Use as you would any mayo!

Cashew Balls (2 Ingredients) Recipe

These are great for a quick snack for the kids’ lunch. You can add any other ingredients to them or even roll them in coconut flakes!  This is a quick base recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 10-12 medjool dates (pitted, trust me – they can ruin your blades)

Directions:

Throw in your food processor and blend until the mixture starts to stick together.  Form into little balls or even bars!

Cashew Cream Recipe

This is much like making cashew milk. Only using less water. You can personalize cashew cream with any spices or sweeteners you like.  Add honey and pour it over a bowl of strawberries. You can use it when recipes calls for heavy cream. It’s also good as a dip or a topping on tacos! You can also spread it on your sandwiches instead of mayo or use it as a dressing. The options are endless.  Here is a base recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups raw unsalted cashews
  • ¾ cup filtered water, plus more for soaking
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Place the cashews in a bowl and fill with filtered water at least an inch above the cashews. Allow the cashews to soak for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Drain and rinse the cashews well.

Place the cashews and filtered water in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until desired consistency.

Your cashew cream will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and can be frozen for up to 6 months. If you choose to freeze it, be sure to run it through the blender really quickly after you defrost it to eliminate any lumps.

Variations:

  • For a sweet cream, add pure vanilla extract, salt, and sweetener (if using ¾ cup water, add 1/8 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Also add 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, or a pinch of stevia, or a few dates.)
  • For a savory vegan cream, add a little salt and perhaps juice from half a lemon, miso, fresh or dried herbs, etc.

How do you use organic cashews in the kitchen?  

3 Organic Recipes to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Celebrate the luck of the Irish with these organic recipes. for St. Paddy’s Day They might be nontraditional, but they sure will bring a bit o’ fun (and green) to your day!

Three Organic Recipes For St. Patrick’s Day

Good Luck Green Organic Smoothie Recipeorganic recipes

Upgrade the Snamrock Shake! This nutrient dense green smoothie is reminiscent of a creamsicle.  Except in this smoothie you get all the health benefits with none of the guilt!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic Greek yogurt (can try coconut cream to make it dairy free, or another dairy free yogurt option)
  • 1 cup organic greens (kale, spinach or combo of both)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey or more to taste
  • 1/2 frozen chopped organic banana
  • 1 medium to large organic orange
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond, coconut milk work well)
  • 1 cup of ice

Optional Add-in’s:

Directions:

In blender throw all the ingredients and blend until smooth. That’s it!

 

Quick Asparagus Soup Recipe

This soup is so quick and easy to make, it’s all made in a high powered blender (Vitamix or Blendtec). You can modify this to your liking – using different vegetables, and spices if you would like. It’s a perfect green meal for St. Patty’s Day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pounds organic asparagus spears, cooked (could also use broccoli or a combo of both)
  • 1/2 cup organic half and half or whole organic milk
  • 1/2 tsp organic garlic powder
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Organic sour cream or crème fraiche

Directions

  1. Place asparagus and chicken broth into the Vitamix container and secure lid.
  2. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to High.
  3. Blend for 6 minutes or until hot. Reduce to low speed; remove lid plug.
  4. Add half and half through the lid plug opening. Blend for 10 seconds.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and serve.

 

Kale Chips Recipe

These are a great St. Paddy’s Day snack. Not only are they green, but they are packed full of nutrients!

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of organic kale (tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon organic avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Position racks in upper third and center of oven; preheat to 400°F.
  2. If kale is wet, very thoroughly pat dry with a clean kitchen towel; transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic, and pepper. Using your hands, massage the oil and spices to evenly coat.  Fill 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves don’t overlap. (If the kale won’t all fit, make the chips in batches.)
  3. Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 12 minutes total (make sure you check to make sure they don’t burn)

What are your favorite organic recipes for St. Patrick’s Day?  Do you have any good and/or healthy traditional or nontraditional organic recipes you make?

Cooking with Maple Syrup: Tips, Tricks & Recipes

We might all agree that maple syrup is definitely one of our favorite staples to make a breakfast perfect. Who doesn’t like drowning our pancakes or waffles in it ? When I was little I would make sure I poured my syrup into every little indent! Nothing made breakfast taste as delicious as maple syrup did. But, did you know that you can you can use maple syrup for more than just breakfast? Turns out you can use it in savory cooking dishes, baking, and much more!maple syrup

Let’s make sure we get something straight, first. Pure maple syrup is not to be confused with “breakfast syrups” or “pancake syrups” like Mrs. Butterworth’s, Aunt Jemima, or pretty much anything you get at a diner or a fast food restaurant. Those are not made from the sap of maple trees, but from high fructose corn syrup and other flavor compounds. American labeling laws prevent these imitations from carrying the word “maple” on their labels, but unfortunately people are still fooled nonetheless.

Maple syrup currently comes in Grade A and Grade B varieties.  Grade A is lighter in color and in flavor while Grade B is darker, richer and more flavorful.  It’s the one food I can think of where Grade Be is more desirable than Grade A!  This is changing, however.  In 2014, Vermont adopted a new grading system for maple syrup.  It will be fully implemented in 2015 so you’ll soon start seeing new labeling on pure maple syrup.  All maple syrup will be identified as Grade A but they will be distinguised by color so you’ll see Grade A Golden, Grade A Amber, and Grade A Dark.

The Golden maple syrup is the lightest in color.  It has a very mild maple flavor slightly thinner than the other two.  Good for drizzling over pancakes or for adding to cocktails

The Amber maple syrup is one grade darker in color and has more flavor and is thicker like honey. Also good and what I prefer on pancakes, or toppings on ice cream or other desserts.

The Dark maple syrup is still darker and has a deep, rich maple flavor and is usually very thick. This is the best to use in baking and cooking but can also be used on pancakes and dessert toppings.

7 Tips for Cooking with Maple Syrup:

  1. Mix maple syrup with an equal amount of Dijon mustard and use the mixture to glaze baked ham, roast pork or baked salmon fillets.
  2. Drizzle a little warm maple syrup on cooked vegetables (examples: mini carrots, wedges of squash, or slices of parsnip) to add decadent sweetness.
  3. Drizzle a little maple syrup on top of a spicy soup to balance its heat.
  4. Make a tasty vinaigrette to dress about 8 to 10 servings of organic salad greens by whisking together 3 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/3 cup olive oil, with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
  5. Drizzle over plain Greek yogurt for a bit of sweetness, top with berries or nuts.
  6. Add a tablespoon or two to your smoothies (especially pairs well with banana and nut or nut butters).
  7. Warm or cold, it makes a wonderful sauce for ice cream; sprinkled with a few chopped nuts.

How to substitute maple syrup for sugar in baking:

In baking, replace 1 cup of white sugar with 3/4 cup of maple syrup and reduce by 3 tablespoons the other liquid content in the recipe for every cup of maple syrup used. Because maple syrup is brown and granulated sugar is white, this replacement will darken your baked goods and cause them to brown quicker.

Maple Syrup Recipes from shopOrganic:

What is your favorite use for maple syrup?  Do you use it in other ways than just for breakfast?

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