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Organic World

Curb Your Hunger with Hulled Barley

Hulled barley has been around for a long time, however, we don’t hear about it much these days.  Dr. Oz recently published an article on the benefits of hulled barley and so we thought we’d dig a bit deeper and list all of the health benefits we could find for this amazing superfood!

hulled barley

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

10 Important Health Benefits of Hulled Barley

  1. Hulled barley is high in beta glucan, which helps lower cholesterol levels.
  2. It’s a good source of selenium (shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer).
  3. It contains niacin (the B vitamin that protects against cardiovascular risk factors).
  4. Provides lignans (a phytonutrient thought to protect against breast cancer).
  5. Hulled barley has the most fiber of any whole grain, and so it helps protect against cancer as it can help speed food through your digest track.
  6. It can help prevent heart disease.
  7. It includes healthy doses of iron, protein, and calcium.
  8. Barley can help prevent gallstones.
  9. Can help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  10. Many studies have shown barley being linked to protection against diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and premature death.

How to Curb Your Hunger with Hulled Barley

What if I told you that eating hulled barley is not only very beneficial to your health, but it can also help reduce an insatiable appetite?  Hulled barley is actually an all-natural appetite suppressant.  The fiber in hulled barley expands in your stomach making you feel fuller for longer.  So include it in your meals day-to-day and start curbing your hunger for high-calorie foods.

Hulled Barley Recipes

There are so many different ways you can incorporate hulled barley into your diet and every meal (soups, salads, breakfast, etc.).  It can be made into a breakfast porridge like oatmeal, or used in the place of rice or other grains.  It can be used in hot dishes as well as cold salads.  Here a are a few recipes you can try:

Hulled Barley Breakfast Bowl

Hulled Barley Veggie Salad

Barley Mushroom Soup

Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad

Do you incorporate hulled barley into your diet?  If so, what is your favorite way to do so?

Organic Pecans: Health Benefits & Recipes

Now that we are about a week into April, I thought it was fitting to bring to you some fun facts, health benefits and recipes for organic pecans!  Why?  Because April is National Pecan Month!  Now, let’s look into why this slightly sweet, delicious nut is so wonderful!

A Few Fun Facts about Organic Pecans:organic pecans

  • Pecans are a Native American tree nut which is actually a member of the Hickory family.
  • Pecans were an important food for the Indian tribes of the Southern United States before Europeans settled.
  • George Washington was known to frequently carry a stash of pecans in his pocket, and Thomas Jefferson dedicated part of his time to help cultivate them.
  • The US produces about 80% of the world’s pecan supply.

Organic Pecans Health Benefits and why you should eat them:

1.  They’re packed with 19 vitamins and minerals in just one serving (1 ounce=19 halves).

2. 1 serving contains 60% Manganese which is a naturally occurring mineral in our bodies and is a powerful antioxidant which seeks out and destroys the free radicals in our body.

3. Organic pecans have no cholesterol in them.

4. Eating just a handful a day may help protect the nervous system against neurological diseases.

5. Pecans are the highest ranked nut for antioxidant content.

6. Pecans are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of phenolic antioxidants. Regular addition of pecan nuts in the diet helps to decrease total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood.

7. Organic pecans are a good source of protein with about 3g per serving.

8. One serving provides 10% in your daily fiber intake.

9. They help regulate your body’s metabolism.

10. The nuts are very rich sources of several important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.

11. These nuts are a good source of vitamin A, which helps vision and bone growth.

 

Get organic pecans in your diet:

  1. Eat a handful a day.
  2. Lightly toast them and throw them on a salad.
  3. Chop them up on sprinkle them on your favorite ice cream.
  4. Crush or grind them to make a yummy crust for your favorite protein (meat, poultry, fish, etc.).
  5. Soak and dehydrate them which makes them easier to digest.
  6. Blend them in a high power blender to make pecan butter or buy it here.

One of my favorite recipes is Chocolate Pecan Brownie Bites (or bars):

Ingredients:

Directions:

Throw all the ingredients in your food processor expect for the 1 ounce of dark chocolate and process until it blogs up  into a big crumbly dough.  I like to test it for stickiness: grab a piece of the dough to see if when you press it together it sticks nicely.  If it’s still too crumbly sometimes I just add a table spoon of coconut oil or a few more dates.  When it’s sticky enough to your liking you have a few different options: you can lay out some parchment paper on pan and scoop out by tablespoons and roll into balls, or you can form the whole dough into a flat rectangle shape.  When done forming your shape you can add some of the chopped dark chocolate to the top or your balls or sprinkle over your rectangle form and press into the dough.  Now chill in your refrigerator for a couple hours until firm and chewy, after chilled you can cut the dough you formed in to a big rectangle, into bars and store in the freezer for a quick snack.

 

More great Pecan recipes:

Pecan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Pecans

Sweet Crispy Pecans (personal favorite)

Grain Free Granola (feel free to use ALL pecans for the nut ingredient)

Clean Eating Nut Crust Chicken

Hope you enjoy your next handful of pecans now. How do you incorporate pecans into your diet?

Natural Cleaning Products You Should Be Using

 

Spring is officially here.  I love this time of year, when all things become new again. It the perfect time to start yournatural cleaning products Spring Cleaning.  It’s always a refreshing feeling when we can clean our homes and make it feel fresh and new!  For those of you who dread doing anything with the word CLEAN in it, I’ll try to help you make it as painless as possible.  This year instead of cleaning the traditional way with chemical-laden cleaning products that do more damage to our environment and bodies than good, let’s switch out those products with more organic or natural cleaning products that are environmentally safe!

To make the switch to all natural cleaning products easy, I’m going to name well-known conventional product brand names and list natural cleaning product alternatives.  Here we go!

Natural Cleaning Products for the Kitchen

Instead of these all purpose cleaners: Mr. Clean, Simple Green, and 409,
try Better Life-Whatever All Purpose Cleaner or Biokleen All Purpose Cleaner.

Instead of these dishwasher detergents: Cascade, Finish or Ajax,
try Ecover Zero-Natural Automatic Dishwashing Powder or Tablets.

Instead of these window/glass cleaners: Windex or Zep,
try Earth Friendly- Window Kleener or Better Life Glass Cleaner.

Instead of using Drano for a clogged drain,
try Earth Friendly-Earth Enzyme Drain Opener or Biokleen Bac Out Drain Gel.

Instead of those Pledge or Clorox surface wipes,
try GreenShield Organics- Biodegradable Fresh Sent Surface.

Natural Cleaning Products for Laundry

Instead of these toxic laundry soaps: Tide, ALL, Surf, Gain etc. ,
try Ecover – Zero Natural Laundry Powder , Ecos Laundry DetergentAllens Naturally Laundry Detergent.

Instead of these Fabric Softener and dryer sheets: Snuggle and Downy,
try Ecover-Fabric Softner and Mountain Green-Dryer Sheets-Free & Clear.

Instead of Shout and Spray n’ Wash for stain removers,
try Ecover Stain Remover.

Instead of Woolite for delicates,
try Ecover Delicate Wash.

Natural Cleaning Products for the Bathroom

Instead of Scrubbing Bubbles toilet bowl cleaner
try Earth Friendly-Toilet Cleaner or Biokleen Soy Toilet Scrub.

Instead of KaBoom Tub and tile cleaner
try Naturally Clean-Tub and Tile Spray Cleaner.

Instead of Soft Scrub,
try Ecover-Cream Scrub.

Natural Cleaning Products for the Home

Instead of these floor cleaners/wood cleaners: Mop & Glo or Pledge,
try Better Life-Simple Floored Floor Cleaner and Ecover Floor Soap.

Instead of air fresheners like: Glade and Air Wick,
try Air Scense-Natural Air Freshener or Orange Mate-Air Freshener.

Now that you know there are natural cleaning products for all those traditional conventional products, I hope you start going through your cabinets and start swappin’ out the bad with the good!  Trust me you will feel so much better making the switch!  Which are your favorite natural cleaning products?

Learn more about how to make the switch to Green Cleaning.

3 Vegan Recipes for the Great American Meatout

Have you seen the study that came out recently that found that eating meat and cheese is as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes?  The study, published by the University of Southern California found that excessive protein consumption is linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality andvegan recipes that middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources including meat, milk and cheese are also more susceptible to early death in general.  While it’s not necessary to go completely vegan to get the health benefits of eating less animal products, these vegan recipes will make it easier if that’s your goal.

In honor of the Great American Meatout, I’m sharing three of my favorite vegan recipes.  Since I eat a vegan diet and I love to cook, I’ve played with lots of vegan recipes to make them satisfying and delicious.  The Great American Meatout encourages people to pledge to go vegan for a day, for one day per week, or every day.  Reducing or eliminating your intake of meat and dairy is possibly one of the best things you can do for your health.  When giving up meat and dairy, its still important to eat a whole food diet, so don’t get sucked in to buying meat analogues – they’re full of processed junk and you don’t need them to make a satisfying meal.  These vegan recipes will make you forget you ever needed meat and cheese.

Three Amazing Vegan Recipes

Vegan Recipe #1:  Macaroni and Cheese

8oz organic dry pasta of your choice
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Soak the raw cashews in filtered water for about an hour, then drain and add them along with the rest of the ingredients into a blender – a high powered blender like a VitaMix or Blendtec works best but a regular blender will do, you’ll just need to blend for a longer amount of time.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  You can use any type of pasta you like: quinoa pasta, gluten free pasta, whole wheat pasta, semolina pasta.  Elbow pasta or shells are traditionally used for mac and cheese but use whatever shape you like.   When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and pour the sauce into the pot and heat through.  You can serve the mac and cheese just like this or to make it even better, add some cooked broccoli, spinach, peas, mushrooms or any other veggies that you’d like.

 

Vegan Recipe #2: Three Bean Chili

1 TBSP Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 TBSP cumin powder
3 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
15oz can black beans
15oz can pinto peans
15oz can red kidney beans
28oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 TBSP chia seeds

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium heat. Add garlic, pepper, onion, carrot and sauté until everything is soft, 5-10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover, simmering for about 30 minutes on medium heat.  The chia will thicken the chili quite a bit so if you find that it is too thick, add a little bit of water.

Vegan Recipe #3:  Meatballs

1 cup (packed) fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
8 oz organic tempeh
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup cooked hulled barley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel seed

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.   Chop the tempeh into small pieces; it should be crumbly.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil and garlic.  When the garlic is aromatic, add the chopped spinach and a tablespoon of water.  When the spinach is wilted, add the tempeh, stir to combine then add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and barley.  Stir to combine then turn off the heat to let the mixture cool.   In a bowl, mix together the vital wheat gluten, flour, nutritional yeast, salt, basil, oregano, dried pepper flakes and fennel.  Add the tomato/spinach/tempeh mixture to the bowl.  Stir to combine and knead for a couple of minutes.  This helps the gluten keep the meatballs in a ball shape.  Form 1 inch balls from the mixture; place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  This makes about 35 meatballs.   Bake for 15 minutes and then turn them over. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.  This allows the inside of the meatball to become firm.  At this point you can choose what to do with your meatballs.  Add them to marinara, make a swedish meatball sauce, slice them thin and put on pizza, make spaghetti and meatballs, sliders, its up to you.

What are some of your favorite vegan recipes? Share with us in the comments below!

 

 

Understanding Organic Food Labels

I get many questions about this topic.  How do I know if I’m buying organic food?  How do I know if it’s safe to buy?  What does “All Natural” mean?   Well, this is my goal today, to help you find and buy organic food easily and give you some tips for what to watch out for.organic food

I’ll start with what to watch out for.  You need to ALWAYS be wary of the word “Natural” on a product especially if it’s a processed food product (packaged).  All I can say is to ignore it.  Unlike the term “Organic” which is highly regulated, the term “Natural” only means that the product doesn’t contain artificial colors and flavors.  There can still be plenty of unnatural ingredients in products simply labeled “Natural”.  Read more HERE.

How to read organic labels

Even today I run into people who don’t understand the importance of organic food or why they need to buy them.  Honestly, buying organic food and especially organic whole foods have never been so important.  There are many reasons to buy organic; here are the big ones:

  1. No toxic pesticides
  2. Support local farmers and preserves family farms
  3. Sustainable
  4. No GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)
  5. High nutritional value
  6. Very few cases of food poisoning have ever been linked to organic foods or farm processor
  7. Humane treatment of animals and animals cannot be fed slaughterhouse waste
  8. Organic Farming prohibits use of sewage sludge
  9. Organic certification prohibits irradiation

How to read labels to find organic food

How do I know if fresh produce is organic?

If you are trying to find organic produce, what you need to look at is the PLU code. If it has 5 numbers starting with a 9, that is organic.   This also might be accompanied with or without the USDA Organic Label sticker.  Conventional produce will have 4 numbers usually starting with a 4 or a 3.

What about packaged items?

These are what you might see on packaged items:

  • “100% Organic”:  If you see this on a package then all the ingredients in that package are organic and it may have the USDA organic seal on it.
  • “Organic”:  When a package is labeled organic then it means that the ingredients in that package are at least 95-99% organic. The product may also bear the USDA organic seal on the package.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients”:  What this means is that the ingredients must contain 70-94% organic ingredients. It will NOT have the USDA organic seal on it. Instead the package may list a certifying agency like QAI, CCOF or one of many independent organic certifying agencies.  The ingredients list will identify which ingredients are organic.
  • If the product is below 70% organic it will not have the USDA organic seal and it might only list organic ingredients in the nutritional information panel.

Even if a producer is certified organic, the use of the USDA organic label is voluntary.  Some brands have higher standards than USDA and have chosen not to use their certification; Eden Foods is a good example of this.

Many people ask about the remainder of the ingredients in a 95% organic or 70% organic product.  Those remaining ingredients still have to meet a strict set of standards – they cannot contain GMO’s and they cannot contain artificial ingredients.  Oftentimes in a USDA organic product, the only things that aren’t organic are salts and those can’t be considered organic because they are minerals.

Also, not every food producer wants to go through the rigorous process of becoming certified.  This is especially true of small farm operations who cannot afford to go through the process. So when shopping at a farmers’ market, don’t be scared to ask how they grow their food.  Also, if you are shopping at a grocery store and in the produce section you see “Farmed Locally”, many times it is organic and a much better choice than conventional.  If you are concerned just find someone to ask!

I hope this helps your shopping a little easier when trying to make sense of the organic food labels. Do you have any tips of your own that I missed? Leave them in the comments!

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs – A Tradition Worth Sharing

Dyeing and decorating Easter eggs is a fun family tradition, but have you ever made naturally dyed Easter eggs?  My mother grew up in Switzerland and passed this fun family tradition on to me, my sisters and brother. She showed us how to dye Easter eggs using natural materials that left beautiful, natural colors and designs – simple, artisanal and great family fun. If you have other techniques for naturally dyed Easter eggs, share them here, I’d love to hear them. Using natural elements to dye Easter eggs is a great way to engage your family and friends – and keep it chemical-free! Try naturally dyed Easter eggs this year for a more organic spin on Easter.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Supplies

Supplies for making naturally dyed Easter Eggs

The first step is to go outside and gather anything that is green – leaves of a bush or tree, grass, parsley or anything from the garden. Make sure that it’s not toxic or poisonous. You’ll use these supplies, so get creative and gather your green materials.

You’ll also need yellow onion skins. If you have a bag of organic onions, you can cull the skins. If not, go to the grocery store, pick through the organic yellow onions and gather up the loose skins. Usually if you tell the person working in the produce section and/or the cashier what you have in the bag and what you’re going to do with them, they’ll just let you take them. (I use about a produce bags worth for a dozen eggs.) These skins form the foundation of your naturally dyed Easter eggs, so this is an important ingredient, don’t be shy; gather those skins.

Finally, you’ll need thread. This is what you’ll use to wrap around the eggs to hold the greens in place. Though you might be able to use string, I’ve never used it and would recommend you stick with thread – the color of the thread doesn’t matter.

OK, you’ve got your greens, yellow onion skins and thread – oh, right, and uncooked eggs, preferable organic, of course. I use white eggs – I’ve never tried eggs that are brown or blue/green (from Araucana chickens), but that could be fun too.

Wrapped Eggs For Naturally Dyed Easter EggsBy wrapping the greens on the eggs, the greens will leave a yellow color. So, the greens are the decoration or the design element. You can put as much or as little on as you like. You can wrap the entire egg or use just a few pieces – your choice.  All of your naturally dyed Easter eggs will be totally different from each other – just like snowflakes! The onion skins will dye the eggs a beautiful earthy red color and coupled with the yellow creates  naturally dyed Easter eggs worthy of art.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Finished naturally dyed Easter eggs – no two are alike!

Use the thread to tie the greens to the egg. The pattern of the thread will also become part of the design. The good news – there is no wrong way to do this. So, it’s a great activity for the whole family, though it does require some manual dexterity to handle the egg, the greens and the thread. Wrap the thread any which way, many times around to hold the greens tight to the egg. Tying off the thread is usually a bit tricky, so if you’re doing this with younger children, help with this part.  You’ll need to look for a loose area to thread the string through so that you can tie a knot and keep the thread tight while it is boiled. It doesn’t need to look nice or be tidy – it just takes a bit of patience – you’ve got plenty of that, right?

Now it’s time to dye and hard boil your Easter eggs.  Add cold water to a large pan and place the eggs and the onion skins inside.  Bring the water to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it sit for 17 minutes without disturbing the eggs.  Pour off the water and rinse with the eggs in cold water and let them cool.  Discard the onion skins.  Once the eggs are cool enough to touch, you can begin to unwrap your little treasures and marvel at your beautiful, artisanal, naturally dyed Easter eggs. Refrigerate until you’re ready to hide or get cracking and eat them right away! Happy Easter!

 

Improving Children’s Behavior with Organic Foods

These days it seems you can’t go 24 hours without hearing stories of children with ADD or ADHD.  I’m 35 and I can’t ever remember any of my classmates having these kinds of issues back when I was in school.   Anyone can see that our S.A.D. (Sad American Diet) is playing a huge role in this and switching to organic food can make a great impact.  Most Americans are eating too much processed foods organic foodand not enough organic whole foods.  I’m not blaming it all on our diet. Of course I know that genetics and environment factors also play a part but remember this: just because you have a genetic factor does NOT mean you will get the disorder or disease.  That only happens 4% of the time the other 96% percent comes from our lifestyle choices and it’s up to us to make better choices for ourselves and our children.   Let’s take a look at a few things in the conventional diet that could be triggering behavioral issues in children.

Children’s Behavior + Non-Organic Foods

ALLERGENS

Allergens are in healthy foods, but if your body is sensitive to them, they might affect brain functions, triggering hyperactivity or inattentiveness. You might find it helpful to stop eating—one at a time—the top nine food allergens: wheat (gluten), milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish and corn. Starting a food journal with yourself and your children will help you find the culprit more quickly.

FOOD DYES:

Researchers have found that there may be a link between food dyes and hyperactivity and ADHD. The FDA requires FD&C Yellow No. 5, also called tartrazine, and FD&C Red No. 40, also called allura, to be listed on food packages. Other dyes may or may not be listed, but be cautious about anything colored before you put in your mouth or your kids mouth. Items to watch for: toothpaste, vitamins, fruit and sports drinks, hard candy, fruit-flavored cereals, barbecue sauce, canned fruit, fruit snacks, gelatin powders, cake mixes and the list goes on.  This is a good reason to read your labels.

SUGAR

We all should know by now that sugar is our enemy.  We need to stay far away from the stuff as much as possible and I have no doubt that sugar plays a HUGE roll in behavioral disorders.  Back in the 1800′s the average person consumed 10lbs of sugar a year, sounds like a lot huh?  But do you know how much the average person consumes today?  The average person today consumes 199lbs of sugar a year, that’s PER PERSON.   That’s pretty frightening don’t you think?  If I could stress one thing to you, it would be to cut out or at least cut down on sugar.  Read your labels, the average soda has 45-50grams of sugar in one can (12oz) can, that’s 12 tsp of sugar.

Poor nutrition can cause a child or adult with ADD/ADHD to become distracted, impulsive, and restless. The right foods (especially organic, whole foods), on the other hand, can lessen those symptoms.

Protein is a good choice, stick with organic poultry, grass fed beef and organic or pastured raised eggs. Beans can also be a good source of protein. Quality protein are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent blood sugar spikes which increase hyperactivity.

GOOD FAT

Fats play a part in our energy, we need fats because they help the slowing of our food absorption, which plays a role in proper energy regulation.  Meaning we will have more energy for longer, unlike sugar which burns off very fast.  Good fats to add to your children’s diet are organic coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, cold pressed oils, organic nuts and hemp seeds are all good choices.  Put them in smoothies or salads, or spread on vegetables.

My take away from today is to always choose organic whole foods over processed foods when it comes to feeding your children. If you suspect your child might have behavioral problems try taking a good look at your child’s diet before you do anything else.  Cut out the sugar and processed foods and eat more organic whole food meals.

How have you seen improvements in your child’s behavioral issues with a change to organic food?

Organic Toddler Food: Tips to Keep Your Tiny Ones Healthy

Have you ever wondered what is healthy for you to feed your toddlers (ages from about 1-4 years)? I’ve been in the same boat.  I hate to think about what I fed my first two children in their young life.  They were fed plenty of chicken nuggets, Spaghetti-O’s, tons of Campbell’s soup and Goldfish….uorganic toddler foodgh… that’s enough to make me want to cry!   Thankfully I have learned so much since those years, and now that I have a third toddler running around I am happy to say that she has never had those kinds of foods in our home. When you’re not at home this can be a challenge, but nothing a little prepping can’t fix!

What I think is important for all of us human beings, from infancy until well…death, is to always eat WHOLE foods.  What does that mean?   That means to eat food in its purest form, foods that contain 1 ingredient, foods that you can pick straight from the garden.   The more you can steer clear of processed foods (yes, even organic processed foods) the better your health and longevity will be and it will benefit the future of our toddlers and their future children.

Here is a good guide line for feeding yourself, your family and of course our active toddlers:

Always buy organic when possible.  I recently wrote a blog explaining which foods are most important to buy organic.  Buying organic helps us reduce the pesticides and chemicals that are used in farming. We definitely want to keep as much of that away from our toddlers.   For the produce that you can’t buy organic, just make sure you soak/wash them before you eat them.  I usually fill the sink up with water and pour 1 cup of vinegar in the water and let my veggies and fruits soak about 10 minutes, after that I drain water and let them dry on kitchen towel then put them away.

To mention once again, I must stress that staying away from processed foods is going to be key. There are so many chemicals, dyes, additives and preservatives and not to mention GMO’s in those foods… none of which our bodies can handle especially our babies and toddlers.   I very much cringe when I see moms feeding their toddlers Cheez It’s and Cheerio’s – there are better options available for all of those finger foods that toddlers love so much.

Here are some good options for organic toddler foods:

These are just a few options of organic toddler food that you can buy. These are processed, but much better than the conventional brands, and all are free of GMO’s – they’re great for being on the run and having something on hand to keep them occupied and well-fed.

Bottom line: feed your children whole foods whether they are toddlers or teens.  They are going to be healthier, get sick a little less and be less prone to allergies and food sensitivities.   If I could recommend any book to you about eating a whole foods diet, I would recommend Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.  It’s all about preparing whole foods and properly prepared meals for your whole family!

What organic toddler foods do your tiny ones like? Any tips I missed for feeding your toddlers organic foods?

Organic Pistachios: 7 Health Benefits & Tips

We always hear about the health benefits of other organic nuts like almonds, walnuts etc…but we rarely ever hear about organic pistachios.  I have good news folks.  Organic pistachios have some awesome health benefits!   The pistachio nut are the dry fruits from trees called the Genus: Pistacia.  These trees are mostly found in the warm dry indigenous areas of Western Asia, but are also grown in the Mediterranean regions and the United States too.  In ancient times the pistachio has been revered to as a symbol of health and wellness. How awesome is that?  I’m already starting to like this nut a little more than I did before ;)

organic-pistachios

Photo Courtesy of Savannah Lewis

7 Health Benefits of Organic Pistachios

1. Rich Source of Energy

100 g of nuts contain 557 calories. In addition, they are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of antioxidants. Organic pistachios contain phytochemicals and other strong antioxidants such as carotenes, vitamin E and selenium, which help with tissue-damaging free radicals. In addition to thiamine and vitamin B6, organic pistachios contain other B vitamins that your body needs for strong metabolism and energy production.

2. Digestive Aid

Organic pistachios help with digestive problems like IBS, heartburn, high fiber organic pistachios provide you with prebiotic benefits, helping you maintain good gut flora (beneficial bacteria) in our stomach, which also boost our immune system.

3. Minerals

Organic pistachios are an excellent source of minerals.  Our body cannot make minerals so it’s important that we ingest them.  They are an awesome source of copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. 100 g of nuts provide 144% of the daily recommended levels of copper. Copper is an essential trace mineral that is required in neuro-transmission, metabolism, as well as red blood cell synthesis.

4. Reverse Hair loss

Organic pistachios contain a good amount biotin.  Many people who are experiencing hair loss also are deficient in biotin.  If this happens to be your case, try some organic pistachios for starters… it’s worth a try right?

5. Healthy Brain

Because organic pistachios have a high quantity of vitamin B6, this helps in increasing the hemoglobin count in the blood. This oxygen rich blood is then supplied to the brain making it even more active.

6. Heart Healthy

They are heart healthy. Organic pistachios improve your general health by decreasing cholesterol levels and increasing ones monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

7. Weight Management

If you like to snack on nuts, you can help control your weight by limiting your portions. The fiber content of the nuts may make them more filling, helping you to eat fewer calories later on in the day. A study published in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” in June 2010 found that participants who consumed 240 calories worth of pistachios for 12 weeks lowered their body mass indexes and triglyceride levels more than those who consumed 220 calories worth of pretzels. Also, UCLA researchers did a study of overweight adults who were able to lose the equivalent of 10–12 pounds over three months by cutting 500 calories and adding an afternoon 3-ounce in-shell pistachio snack.

Tips for How to Store Organic Pistachios

Raw, unshelled pistachios can be placed in a cool dry place for few months. However, shelled kernels should be placed inside an airtight container and kept inside the refrigerator in order to prevent them turning rancid.  Storing them in the freezer can help you keep them much longer.

I think those are some wonderful reason to start eating some organic pistachios don’t you?  Eat them as a snack, throw them in a salad.  I bet they would make a delicious nut butter if you throw some in your blender or food processor… hmm the ideas!!  If you can’t find good organic pistachios nearby, buy organic pistachios online.   Buying organic will ensure that your pistachios are pesticide and GMO free!!

Do you love organic pistachios?  What kind of recipes do you use them in?  What fun ways do you eat them?

Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffles: A Recipe for Yum

I bet you didn’t know that National Cherry Pie Day is coming up on February 20th.  Cherries are a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids which have anti-cancer benefits.  They are also rich in melatonin which can help the body’s sleep patterns.  Cherries can even slow down the body’s aging process, with the flavonoids isoqueritrin and queritrin, antioxidants that work to eliminate byproducts of oxidative stress and slow down the aging process.  Add cherries to your diet easily with organic cherry juice, organic cherry butter or organic dried cherries.

I love how there are days dedicated to sweets, but the whole pie thing just isn’t for me.  I don’t make pies…well that’s a lie I’ve made a few chicken pot pies in the past, but now that my family is mostly gluten free I just don’t do the pie thing anymore.  Do I miss it…eh sure, but I like being healthy better.

So how am I going to celebrate this awesome day?  Well I’ll tell you… instead of cherry pie, I made organic cherry chocolate truffles!   That are pretty darn yummy too.  My kids LOVE when I have to make treats for my blogs because they know they get a special treat when they come home from school…and this one is one of their favorites.   I make these kind of truffles all the time.  There are so many ways to make them, today instead of raisins I replaced them with dried organic cherries!   Getting excited yet?

Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffle Recipe

Directions:

In a food processor or a blender add the nuts (1st 3 ingredients) and process or blend until finely ground. In this picture…I let it go too long and it started to turn in to butter…don’t be alarmed if this happens to you, it will still turn out perfectly fine…that’s just what I get for tending to my toddler ;)

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Next throw in all the other ingredients and process or blend until well combined, it should form a nice dough and easily come off the sides of the blender or processor.

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-step-2

Now roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I got 15 tablespoon sized balls, but you can make them smaller to get 30.  After you have rolled them, you can add an extra touch and roll them in anything of your choice.  You can chop up dried organic cherries and nuts and roll them in it, or you can do just nuts.  I rolled mine in unsweetened coconut flakes and raw cacao nibs (I like the crunch of the nibs).   If you want to get really fancy you could even dunk them in melted chocolate…oh the possibilities!!!

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Place them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to harden slightly and your done!   Store these in a air tight container in fridge and they will keep for about a week.  Store in freezer for longer storage!

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-final-product

Additional Notes for Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffles:

  • Use any combination of nuts
  • Instead of Stevia, try a little raw honey or maple syrup (you might have to add a tablespoon or two more of raw cacao powder)
  • Instead of organic cherries you can use organic cranberries (that’s what I usually use) or any other dried fruits
  • Don’t like cacao powder or are allergic? Try carob instead
  • Is your dough too dry?  Don’t worry add a little splash of water until you get the right consistency.

What is your favorite organic cherry pie recipe?   I would love to know if anyone else knows of any good recipes for gluten free pie crusts? Please share in the comments!

 

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