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Organic World

November Specials at shopOrganic

Each month shopOrganic offers a different selection of sale items so that you can save a little money on the path of making better choices.  These specials also give you an opportunity to try some new products that you might have overlooked before. We’ve highlighted some of these great products below, including some products that are great for the upcoming holiday season. Be sure to head up to shopOrganic.com’s Sale section to see all of the November specials at shopOrganic.

November Specials at shopOrganicNovember Specials at shopOrganic

Artisana
Select products 10% Off

Artisana’s organic nut butters are carefully created in small batches to ensure the highest quality.  Their products are always raw, always organic, and always delicious.  Their walnut and pecan butters include the skins of the nuts to provide the most nutritional benefit.  Cashew butter is blended in to increase the natural sweetness and creaminess.  Click HERE to try this November special now.

Aunt Patty’s Sweetners
Select varieties 10% Off

We all know that refined sugars aren’t great for our health.  Aunt Patty’s makes a line of healthy sweeteners from whole food sources.  From the date sugar to honey crystals to coconut sugar and more – click HERE to try them now.

Better Life
Cleaning Products 10% Off

With funky names like Simply Floored and Einshine, Better Life makes cleaning fun, safe and effective.  Their products are environmentally friendly, smell great and work well.  Click HERE to try this November special now.

Better Than Bouillon
All products 10% Off

Just in time for the holiday season we’ve got Better Than Bouillon on sale.  Great for soups, stews, gravies and other holiday recipes.  Add some concentrated flavor to your favorite dishes.  Click HERE to try them now.

Choice Organic Tea
All varieties 10% Off

These organic and fair trade teas will warm you up on a chilly Fall day.  Choice Organics commitment to fair trade practices will make you feel as warm inside as their tea will.  Click HERE to try this November special today.

Farmer’s Market
Canned Organic Vegetable Puree 10% Off

With the holidays just around the corner, its a great time to stock up on canned pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut squash.  Great in casseroles, soups, stews and desserts.  Click HERE to try them all.

Flavorganics
Organic Baking Extracts 10% Off

It’s baking season, the perfect time to stock up on your favorite baking extracts.  Flavorganics extracts bring an extra punch of flavor to your baked goods.  Click HERE to try them all.

Giovanni
Select Body Lotions 10% Off

Giovanni Cosmetics is a family owned company committed to creating only the purest formulations.  Packaged in aesthetically beautiful bottles, their lotions come in scents to please just about everyone with quality you can feel on your skin. Click HERE to check out this November special.

Heavenly Organics
Organic Honey 10% Off

These honeys are produced by a coop of organic farms in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and throughout Northern and Central India.  With really unique flavors, these honeys are truly organic; the bees do not come into contact with any chemicals or pesticides.  Click HERE to check out this November special.

Mamma Chia
All Flavors 10% Off  

A great on the go snack, Mamma Chia pouches are full of nutrition.  Chia is high in protein, Omega 3′s, and fiber.  Blended with only pure fruit and vegetable purees with no added sugars, these make a great snack for kids and adults alike.   Click HERE to try them now.

Next Organics
Chocolate Covered Fruits and Nuts 10% Off
A decadent treat, Next Organics takes delicious nuts and fruits and coats them in luscious dark chocolate for a little bit of heaven in every bite.  Try these in your candy dish at the office and watch everyone gather around.   Click HERE to try this November special now.

Numi Tea
Organic Savory Teas 10% Off  
At first glance, you may wonder what Numi was thinking creating a line of savory tea?  But one sip and you’ll know – these rich flavors offer a satisfying yet practically calorie free afternoon snack.  Drink these like broth and fool your stomach into thinking you’ve had a meal!  Click HERE to try them now.

OCHO Candy
Full size bars and minis 10% Off  
Made in small batches with great care, OCHO Candy brings back the fun you remember about candy as a kid.  In flavors that will leave your taste buds tantalized, try them in full size bars or mini sizes.   Click HERE to try them now.

Oregon Chai
Organic Tea Concentrates 10% Off 
The original chai concentrate, Oregon Chai brings the flavors of the Himalayas to our cups.  In regular, decaf and a slightly sweet version, warm up on a cold night with Oregon Chai.   Click HERE to try them now.

Road’s End Organics
Gluten Free Gravy Mixes 10% Off  
If you’re avoiding gluten, it doesn’t mean you have to give up gravy this holiday season.  Try Road’s End Organics gluten free gravy mixes for the flavors you love at your holiday meals.   Click HERE to try them now.

Wholesome Chow
Gluten Free Baking Mixes 10% Off  
Delicious gluten free baked goods are a thing of the past.  Wholesome Chow got it right with their baking mixes, offering great flavor and texture in a home baked gluten free mix.   Click HERE to try them now.

Take advantage of these great sale items and more throughout November at shopOrganic.

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.

Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers: A Look at Both the Pros & Cons

Cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers?  Which am I going to use on my baby?  If you are a mom, most importantly a new momma I am sure you have pondered this question once or twice before.  I know I did. On average your cloth-diapersbaby will probably spend around 25,000 hours in a diaper and need about 6,000 diaper changes in their first years of life. Crazy thought huh?!

Your decision to use disposable or cloth diapers will not only have a great impact on your baby’s comfort and health; it can also impact the environment, and your pocket as well.  Today we’re going to look at the pros and cons of both types of diapers!  Hopefully after you read this you will get a better idea of how you want to diaper your sweet baby!

Disposable Diapers

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to dispose

Cons

  • In a baby’s lifetime it will cost anywhere from $2000-2500 if using disposable diapers and if you are using organic eco-friendly disposables it is going to cost  you more around $3,000
  • They are horrible for our environment it is estimated that around 5 million tons of untreated waste is deposited into landfills via disposables every year.
  • Harder to potty-train; toddlers can’t feel wetness as much with disposables, so it’s harder for them to potty-train.
  • More diaper-rash; according to one study, 78% of babies in disposable diapers get diaper-rash, compared to only 7% of cloth diapered babies.
  • A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 1999, found that disposable diapers do release chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. VOCs are linked to toxic health effects over time and with a high level of exposure, including cancer and brain damage.

Cloth Diapers

Pros:

  • It’s cheaper; cloth diapers can be expensive for the initial set-up ($250-$700), but in the long run they work out a lot cheaper than disposables, depending on what system you use.
  • Reusable and eco-friendly.  Make sure you are using natural detergents like Charlie’s Soap or Allen’s Naturally to get these diapers clean, and if they’re really stinky, try Stink Out, a laundry additive especially for cloth diapers.
  • Less diaper-rash; cloth diapered babies tend to have less diaper-rash, because natural cotton fibers breathe more easily.
  • Can be used for future children; works out even cheaper because you can use for any more children you have.
  • Cloth diapered children tend to potty-train earlier, because the cloth tends to hold moisture closer to baby’s skin.
  • No more of the scary pins your mom had to deal with. Cloth diapers now come with Velcro or snap closures, shapes fitted to baby, waterproof bands around the waist and legs, and removable linings, making the cloth change just as quick and easy as the disposable.
  • Cloth diapers are CUTE… have you seen all the different patterns, colors and styles they come in?!

Cons:

  • Not as convenient as disposables.
  • Have to carry your dirty diapers around with you.
  • Not as absorbent as disposables causing you to change your baby more often.

Now that you have an idea of the pros and cons of both types of diapers which one are you going to choose?  I truly believe that if you want to truly go organic, cloth diapers is the only way to go.  Using cloth diapers ensures that you are not only protecting our planet but your precious baby more importantly.  If you still decide to use disposable diapers I highly recommend finding organic, disposable diapers and staying away from conventional, diapers (Pampers, Huggies etc).  As I sit here writing this blog post I can tell you that like the breastfeeding vs. organic baby formula debate, I have experience with each side of the debate when it comes to my own children.  I currently have a 23 month old and I started out using cloth diapers with her then switching to cheap disposable diapers when my life got hectic (I also gave away all my cloth diapers – big mistake!).  Well, you know what I just did while writing this post?  I ordered more cloth diapers!  Hopefully these pros and cons inspire you as well!

Some Eco-Friendly disposable diapers:

  • Naty Natural Babycare
  • Nurtured by Nature
  • Seventh Generation Free and Clear Baby Diapers
  • Earth’s Best Tender Care Chlorine Free Diapers

Have you cloth diapered your children?  If so do you have any tips or tricks or gentle advice for new mothers just starting out?  We would love to hear your comments!

Also check out how easily and quickly you can make your own eco-friendly, organic baby wipes.

What you need to know: GMO Myths and Truths

Already in 2013, nearly half of all U.S. states have introduced bills requiring GMO labeling or prohibiting genetically engineered foods. With the growing attention on GMO’s, the biotech industry is spending a lot of time and money trying to convince the public that their GMO myths are actually true.   If you listen to supporters of GMO’s you’ll hear the promises that many biotech companies have made.

Top GMO Myths from Biotech Companies

  • GMO’s will solve world hunger
  • GMO’s will improve crop yields
  • GMO’s deter pests and weeds, reducing pesticide and herbicide use
  • GMO’s are better suited to extreme weather conditions
gmo myths

Photo Credit: Lindsay Stradtner

Digging deeper into the truth of those claims, you’ll find something very different.  Let’s take a closer look at the basic facts about GMO’s and then we’ll bust some GMO myths.

First, what is a GMO?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering (GE) techniques. This technology combines DNA from different species, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Why are GMO’s used?

Nearly all commercial GMO’s are designed to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide.  Some GMO’s are designed for quicker growth (GE Salmon), increased levels of specific nutrients (Golden Rice), or to resist disease (Papaya).  Whether these GMO foods actually live up to their designed purpose is something we’ll get to in the myth busting section.

What foods are GMO?

The most common GMO foods are corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini  and yellow).   Many ingredients in processed foods are made from corn or soy so when you’re reading labels on processed foods, look for these ingredients: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural and Artificial Flavorings, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrin, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), and Xanthan Gum.  If you’re not buying organic and you see these ingredients, they are likely GMO.

To get an insider’s look at which GMO crops are approved for use and what traits they have been modified for, click here.

Are GMOs safe?
The verdict is unclear. In the U.S., GMO’s have been approved based on studies performed by the very same companies that create GMO’s and profit from them. Scientists have identified a number of ways in which GMO’s could potentially adversely impact both human health and the environment. These include new allergens in the food supply, antibiotic resistance, production of new toxins, gene transfer due to pollen drift, creation of new viruses and more. More detailed information can be found at the Union of Concerned Scientists website at www.ucsusa.org. Most developed nations including all of the countries in the European Union, Australia, and Japan have either significant restrictions or outright bans on GMO’s.

GMO Myths Busted

GMO Myth: GMO’s will solve world hunger
Truth: According to John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America wrote a great piece addressing this issue.  Biotech holds up Golden Rice as the savior for malnourished.  Nearly a million children die every year because they are weakened by Vitamin A deficiencies and an additional 350,000 go blind.  Golden rice was developed and is being promoted as the answer to this problem but if you look more closely, you’ll see the flaws in this GMO crop.  “For one thing, we’ve learned that golden rice will not grow in the kinds of soil that it must to be of value to the world’s hungry. To grow properly, it requires heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides — expensive inputs unaffordable to the very people that the variety is supposed to help. And we’ve also learned that golden rice requires large amounts of water — water that might not be available in precisely those areas where Vitamin A deficiency is a problem, and where farmers cannot afford costly irrigation projects.  And one more thing — it turns out that golden rice doesn’t work, even in theory. Malnourished people are not able to absorb Vitamin A in this form. And even if they could, they’d have to eat an awful lot of the stuff. An 11-year-old boy would have to eat 27 bowls of golden rice a day in order to satisfy his minimum requirement for the vitamin.”  Read the full article HERE.

GMO Myth: GMO’s will improve crop yields
Truth: A peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability examined those claims and found that conventional plant breeding, not genetic engineering, is responsible for yield increases in major U.S. crops.  The definitive study to date on GM crops and yield is Failure to Yield, by Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and former biotech adviser to the US Environmental Protection Agency.  It shows quite clearly that GMO does not produce increased yields and in many cases the yields are reduced over time.

GMO Myth: GMO’s deter pests and weeds, reducing pesticide and herbicide use
Truth:  Many GMO crops have pesticides and herbicide resistance built in to the plant itself.  The most well known is Bt corn, which has the Bt bacteria inserted into the genome of the plant. It causes insects eating the plant to die by exploding their stomachs.  While this application was successful at first, pests have developed resistance to Bt corn and farmers are turning to more and more pesticide use to keep up with the adapting insects.  For more information about pesticide use in GMO Crops, click HERE.

In herbicide tolerant crops like ‘Roundup Ready’ soy, farmers have increased herbicide use over time to keep up with ‘superweeds’.  The superweeds have become so much of a problem for farmers that Monsanto has proposed 2,4-D resistant plants.  An ingredient in Agent Orange, 2,4-D is a pretty nasty chemical.  It has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, kidney and liver problems, reproductive effects, and shows endocrine disrupting potential.   See Rodale Institite’s article about 2,4-D.

GMO Myth: GMO’s are better suited to extreme weather conditions
Truth: Long-term experiments at the Rodale Institute, an organic research farm in Pennsylvania, found that, during normal weather, organic and conventional farming produce about the same amount of food. But in drought conditions, organic wins out, producing 30 percent more in years of drought. That’s because organic soil is alive with beneficial bacteria, and the soil acts like a sponge to hold water in reserve during drought.  The healthy soil also helps prevent flooding.  The real key to growing crops in a changing climate is seed diversity.  Navdanya, an organization founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, has a mission  “To protect nature and people’s rights to knowledge, biodiversity, water and food”. They have a program that focuses on saving seed that is adaptable to changing climates.  Read more HERE.

Now that I know some of the GMO myths and truths, how do I avoid GMO’s?

Since the US does not require labeling of GMO’s there are a few ways to reduce your consumption of GMO’s.

1 – Buy Organic
Certified organic products are not allowed to contain any GMO’s. Therefore, when you purchase products labeled “100% organic”, “organic”, or “made with organic ingredients”, all ingredients in these products are not allowed to be produced from GMO’s. For example, products labeled as “made with organic ingredients” only require 70% of the ingredients to be organic, but 100% of the ingredients must be non-GMO.  If you have a hard time finding organic food locally, you can shop for organic food online and have it delivered to you.

2 – Look for Non-GMO on the label
In the absence of mandatory labeling, many companies voluntarily label their products as non-GMO. In addition, the Non-GMO Project offers verification and a Non-GMO Project Verified logo on a product means that the product meets their standards for GMO avoidance.

3 – Avoid at-risk ingredients
Most GMO’s in processed foods come from four crops: corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed. If you’re consuming conventional processed foods and you find on the label these ingredients, they are likely GMO: corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, glucose, modified food starch, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, soy isoflavone, vegetable oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil.

What are some GMO myths you’ve heard?

Avoiding GMO’s Part III: Are There GMO’s in Your Favorite Candy?

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

With Halloween right around the corner, we’ve all got candy on the brain.  There are so many memories associated with candy that we can hold on to our favorites and enjoy them without thinking about the health effects.  Even if you don’t indulge in candy often, its important to consider choices that are better for you and better for our world.  Making sure you’re avoiding GMO’s in your candy is a good way to make sure the candy you are choosing is just a little healthier.  Yes, its probably still full of sugar and fat but why not make the best choice you can.  If you’re concerned about the Halloween candy that’s about to show up everywhere you go, you have good reason to be.  But its easy to make sure you’re avoiding GMO’s in your candy if you follow these tips below:

4 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Candy

1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic.  This goes for candy as well as 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 candy, check the ingredients.  Most supermarket candies contain corn, soy and canola – ingredients that are very likely to be genetically modified.  Some ingredients will be obvious, like high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, cottonseed oil or soy lecithin.  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,  sucrose, and xanthan gum.  Its a pretty sure bet that conventional supermarket candies 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 – Ditch the candy!  For a sweet treat, try dried fruits instead.  They may wind up in the ‘trade’ pile on Halloween, but giving out mini boxes of raisins is a great way to be involved in the holiday without contributing to the ill health of children.

Avoiding GMO ingredients is easy when you know you have organic alternatives.  The chart above gives you great suggestions for replacements.  There’s an organic or non-gmo version of lots of different kinds of candies, you just have to know what to look for!

Are there any kinds of candy 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 if we can!

Organic Halloween Candy & Healthy Activities for Kids

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but how some of us celebrate it has changed over the past few years, especially those of us who are trying to keep our kids eating healthy, organic foods.  Making sure your kids are organic-halloween-candyeating healthy doesn’t mean making them stay home on Halloween, but you also don’t have to let them binge eat GMO-packed products each Halloween either.  Whether it’s organic Halloween candy or ‘cash for candy’ programs, there are several different ways you can keep your kids eating healthy this Halloween.  Here are some Tricks and Treats for keeping your kids healthy this Halloween season.

Tricks: Healthy & Fun Halloween Activities for Kids

  1. Create a Haunted House.  The kids can do this with materials you have around the house, and this can keep them busy for hours.  The best part is the kids will have fun putting the haunted house together as well as taking turns going through it and scaring each other.
  2. Halloween Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Contest.  Make a batch of your favorite organic cookies or cupcakes and let the kids use organic frosting to decorate the treat as something scary.
  3. Halloween Pumpkin Massacre.  What do you do with pumpkins the day after Halloween?  Before throwing them in the compost let the kids make a bit of a mess destroying them.  It’s physical, it’s inexpensive, and it’s fun!

Treats: Organic Halloween Candy

  1. Yummy Earth organic Halloween candy has a wide variety of flavors of lollipops and hard candies.  They come in  a variety of flavors in 3 oz. bags or in larger assorted bags and so they’re perfect for opening and handing out handfuls on Halloween.
  2. Surf Sweets organic Halloween candy includes sour candy worms and gummy bears.  These are great candies for trading with your kids. “I’ll give you a handful of sour gummy worms for each of those butterfingers you got last night…”
  3. Ocho organic Halloween candy has several different types of organic chocolate bars.  And who doesn’t love organic chocolate?  From dark chocolate peppermint to mini milk chocolate caramel candy bars, these are the perfect treats for chocolate lovers.

What are some of your favorite healthy activities for kids during Halloween?  Do you have a favorite organic Halloween candy?  Let us know in the comments!

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Organic Dried Cranberries: 5 Favorite Ways to Use Them

You may already be familiar with the dried cranberries that go by the name ‘Craisins’.  They’re a delicious snack and they’re great for on-the-go, but I want to let you know why it is important to choose organic dried cranberries instead.  Most commercial dried fruit uses additives and preservatives that maintain the color and the softness of the fruit.  Not only are these additives not necessary, they may be harmful to your health.  Sulfur dioxide, the most common additive in conventional dried fruits, may cause health problems if you have asthma, sulfite sensitivity or sulfite allergy.

Also, when you choose organic dried cranberries, you’re avoiding both pesticides and potentially GMO sweeteners that are often used on conventional cranberries.  Considering this is a great snack for kids and their smaller bodies are more sensitive to pesticides, why buy anything but organic?

organic dried cranberries

Health Benefits of Organic Dried Cranberries

Nutrients like vitamin C and fiber play a very important role in cranberry’s health benefits but its really the phytonutrients in cranberries that are so beneficial.  Containing phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and flavonoids, cranberries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits, help control urinary tract infections, support the immune and cardiovascular systems, benefit the digestive system and are cancer preventative.  All of that in a tiny red berry makes you wonder how you can start to incorporate more of them in your diet on a regular basis.

 

Five Ways to Use Organic Dried Cranberries

 

Desserts

Organic dried cranberries add a tart burst of flavor to your favorite dessert recipes.  Try substituting some or all of the raisins in your dessert recipes for a change of pace.  Recipes like oatmeal raisin cookies, apple pie, biscotti and rice pudding are perfect for substituting dried cranberries for raisins.  Use a 1 for 1 replacement.  Here’s an easy recipe for a cranberry biscotti that is great for the holiday season:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cane sugar
1 1/2 cups toasted pecan halves
1 cup dried organic cranberries
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roughly chop the pecans and set aside. Combine baking powder, flour, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs, yolks, and vanilla and add to dry ingredients.  Mix until a sticky dough is formed.  Add in the pecans, cranberries, and lemon zest. Turn dough out onto well-floured surface.  Sprinkle with flour and knead slightly. Shape into 9-by-3 1/2-inch logs. Transfer to baking sheet and bake until brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool enough to handle. Lower oven to 275 degrees. On cutting board, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Return pieces cut side down to baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. Turn over and bake another 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack and store in airtight container.

 

 Granola

Making homemade granola is really simple, much less expensive than store bought, and you can customize the ingredients.  Here’s a simple recipe for organic granola using dried cranberries that is perfect for the holiday season:

4 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped raw walnuts
1 cup organic dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the oats, coconut, walnuts, salt, and cinnamon and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour half of the liquid mixture over the oats mixture, in the large bowl. Use your hands to combine them until well mixed then pour in the rest of the liquid and mix again, making sure all of the oats are coated.  Pour the mixture onto the baking sheets and spread it out evenly or in small clumps if you like granola the sticks together. Bake for 10 minutes then stir and bake for another 10 minutes.  Stir again and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until toasted brown. Stir in the dried cranberries and let the granola cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

Salad Topping

I eat a lot of salads in my house so I’m always looking for ways to jazz them up with something different.  Adding nuts or seeds along with a dried fruit makes the salad come to life.  One of my favorite combinations is pecans and cranberries.  Here’s a recipe for a spinach salad using dried organic cranberries:

6 cups organic mesclun salad mix
1/2 cup organic pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons organic white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons organic olive oil
2 teaspoons organic dijon mustard
Salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup organic dried cranberries
1/3 cup organic walnut pieces

In a bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, vinegar, olive oil, and mustard and whisk to combine.  Place mesclun mix in a large bowl and pour the dressing on top.  Toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Top with cranberries and walnuts and serve.

 

Breads and Muffins

Baked goods get a tart lift when you add organic dried cranberries.  From holiday breads to breakfast muffins, adding cranberries also gives you a boost of antioxidants.  Here’s a recipe for an organic cranberry bread – serve it warm right out of the oven or room temperature.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
zest of one orange
1/3 c fresh squeezed orange juice (from the zested orange)
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sunflower or safflower oil
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup organic dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside.  In a large bowl stir together the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cranberries and chopped nuts.  In small bowl beat eggs with a fork and stir in milk, orange zest and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; the batter should be lumpy.  Add the orange juice and stir to combine.  Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

 

Snacks

Adding organic dried cranberries to snacks like trail mix, snack bars or popcorn balls is a great way to get healthy antioxidants into your diet.  Here’s a recipe for popcorn balls that are really fun to make with kids for holiday gifts.

8 cups popped plain popcorn
1 cup organic dried cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter

Place popcorn and dried cranberries in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Combine the brown sugar and maple syrup in a small pan and add butter. Cook over medium heat, until butter melts and mixure comes to a boil, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens slightly. Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring until coated. Dip hands in cold water. Shape popcorn mixture into 2-inch balls, pressing firmly to hold shape. Place on waxed paper and cool completely. Let stand overnight to harden. Wrap in decorative plastic wrap. Makes 12 balls.

What are your favorite ways to use organic dried cranberries?  Let us know in the comments!

Avoiding GMO’s Part II: Are There GMO’s in Breakfast 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 in breakfast foods 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 in breakfast foods

We’ve all been told that we need to start the day with a good, healthy breakfast but have you ever stopped to wonder if there are GMO’s in breakfast foods you love?  Make sure you’re feeding yourself and your family non-gmo breakfasts by using the guidelines below.  Avoiding GMO’s in breakfast foods is easy once you know the secrets.

5 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Breakfast Foods

1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s in breakfast foods is to buy organic.  This goes for breakfast 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 – Enjoy single ingredient foods for breakfast.  Fruit (aside from papaya) is non-gmo so enjoy fresh bananas, grapefruits, melons, apples, kiwi, grapes or any of your favorite fruits.  Single ingredient hot breakfast cereals are also going to be non-gmo.  Cook up some oats, buckwheat, millet or rice and enjoy a porridge for breakfast.  Add some dried fruit, just make sure there aren’t any added ingredients like sweeteners or oils in the dried fruit.

4 – Make a green smoothie for breakfast.  Using fresh, whole ingredients is an easy way to make sure you’re avoiding gmo’s all the time.  Try blending a handful of spinach with a frozen banana, a couple of dates and a spoonful of coconut oil in a little water for a healthy way to start the day.

5 – When you’re buying packaged breakfast foods, avoid risky ingredients.  Most supermarket snack 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.

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 breakfast 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 breakfast 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 Baby Formula & Other Healthy Alternatives to Breastfeeding

As a mother I have been on every side of the breastfeeding vs. supplementing vs. organic baby formula debate. From not being able to nurse a child at all, to organic baby formula feeding, to breastfeeding with supplementation and currently I am fortunate to say that I was able to breastfeed by youngest child without supplements or bottles for the entire first year of her life.

web-md-photo-organic-baby-formula

Photo credit: WebMD

Having been on all sides of the feeding baby spectrum I must point out how your child’s health benefits from breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby’s physical and mental development.
  • Colostrum that is produced by the mammary glands during the first few days of a baby’s life helps guard baby against colds, flu, staph infections, polio and other viruses.
  • They also benefit from appropriate jaw, teeth and speech development as well as overall facial development
  • Breastfeeding diminishes the onset of type 2 diabetes in both the mother and the child.
  • Babies who are breastfed are less vulnerable to allergies and heart diseases.
  • Unlike formula, breast milk is able to adapt to the changing needs of your baby.
  • Breast milk contains live enzymes that help babies produce important antibodies and ward off infections.
  • Breast milk has just the right amount of nutrients for your baby and plays a key role in enhancing its immune system. This also improves the overall health of the mother.

And that’s just to name a few, there are so many other added benefits to breastfeeding your child, the one I like most is that it’s ALWAYS readily available.  I remember packing around water, formula, bottles and that was just no fun.  It’s so much easier when your baby’s meal is attached to you ;) Having said all that, I must express that even though mother’s milk is far superior to formula, the fact of the matter is sometimes it’s just not an option.  Some mothers are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons or they may have an inadequate milk supply or it may be that they’re not able to produce milk at all.  Each mother is different and every situation is different and there will be times when a mother needs to supplement.  In that case there are a few alternative options you may want to look into.

Healthy Alternative Options to Breastfeeding

A wonderful first option would be to find a trusted friend or a relative who might be willing to donate fresh milk or you can even find a milk bank to purchase donated milk (which has been tested).

Secondly, if that is not an option the next best thing would be to make your own formula, and personally if I had known this information with my formula fed baby, this is the direction I would have gone. Here are some great whole foods based formula recipes, based on Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions.

Organic Baby Formula

Lastly, if none of the above alternative options work for you that’s when I would look into pre-made organic baby formula.  Make sure you read your labels and stay away from conventional formulas and always make sure you buy organic baby formula.  Here is a good organic baby formula option.  This brand of organic baby formula is suggested for a baby 12 months and older. For infants less than 12 months, use as directed by a healthcare professional.

The most important advice I could give to any new mom, is to do your research and educate yourself on breastfeeding and organic baby formula feeding and that way you can make the best decisions for you and your child.

*Note on Goat milk: Although goat milk is rich in fat, it must be used with caution in infant feeding as it lacks folic acid and is low in vitamin B12  (both are essential to growth and development).  Look here and under the first recipe it will say, Variation: Goat Milk Formula which will instruct you how to make a proper goat milk recipe.

Avoiding GMO’s Part I: Are GMO’s Lurking in Your Snack 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

Do you ever wonder if there are GMO’s lurking in your favorite snack foods?  If you do, you’re not alone, and if you’re not eating organic snack foods, there probably are GMO’s in your snacks.  Since GMO’s aren’t labeled in the US, how can you tell?  Here are some tips:

3 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Snack Foods

1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic.  This goes for snack 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 – Avoid risky ingredients.  Most supermarket snack 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.

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 snack 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 snack 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!

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