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Find out the latest health and organic news from our resident dietitian, Rebecca, along with recipes, tips and more!

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The content posted here is for general informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Health information changes frequently as research evolves. You should not rely on any information here as a substitute for consultation with medical professionals.

Signs Of Spring

As the tulips start to sprout from the ground they cause us to take note of the delightful transition into Spring. It’s refreshing to see all the sights and sounds of Spring budding around us. It’s also refreshing to see a new lineup of fresh fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store. The extra sunshine and warm weather brings in a whole host of new foods to pick from to liven up your meal plan.

My favorite spring veggies are sugar snap peas. They add a nice crisp crunch to a salad and they are sweet and delicious eaten by themselves. Asparagus is also another family favorite, it goes great scrambled with eggs in the morning. Other seasonal foods include arugula, rhubarb, strawberries, radishes and all varieties of sweet peas. Next time you’re at the store take advantage of the quality and freshness of Springs seasonal produce.

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Versatile Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a flavorful reduction made from grapes. It’s often used as a tangy addition to salad dressing, but it can also be valuable in many other ways during the cooking process. Here are a few unique ways balsamic vinegar can be that secret ingredient to liven up your next recipe.

  1. Reduce the vinegar to a syrup. Reduced balsamic goes great over fruit salad or a bowl of vanilla ice cream! Reducing balsamic only takes a few minutes. Simply add about a cup of balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan, bring to a boil then simmer on low for 2-4 minutes until the consistency of the liquid is thicker and syrupy. Adding a little sugar and cinnamon can provide one more layer of flavor when using the syrup on fruits or desserts. One cup of balsamic makes about 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar syrup.
  2. Marinate meats and vegetables. Balsamic vinegar and garlic are a great marinade to tenderize and add flavor to steak, veal, tofu or chicken. My favorite vegetable to marinade in balsamic vinegar are portobello mushrooms, onions and tomatoes.
  3. Finish a soup, salad or entree. An aged balsamic can be an excellent finishing ingredient. When the cooking process is complete, just before you serve your favorite soup or main entree drizzle a little aged balsamic on the top. It can help bring favors together and add a colorful zip to any recipe.
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Roasted Carrots

The first time I served these to my family they couldn’t believe they were eating carrots. The roasting process takes these root vegetables to a new and different level of flavor. This recipe is a great side item for hamburgers from the grill or as a substitute for a starchy carbohydrate.

1 lb carrots, peeled
3 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Olive Oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Black Pepper
2 teaspoons dried dill weed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with Clearly Organic cooking spray.
If your carrots are thick cut them in half lengthwise, if not, leave them whole. Slice the carrots diagonally into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Place carrots in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and dill. Toss ingredients until carrots are well coated. Place carrots on the baking sheet in one layer and roast in oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Carrots will get smaller while cooking.

Roasted Carrots Roasted Carrots
Roasted Carrots
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Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

This easy to make vinaigrette goes great over leafy greens or it can be used as a flavorful
marinade for your next chicken dish.

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Parsley Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Clearly Organic Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Olive Oil

Place spices and sugar in a glass jar. Add balsamic vinegar and oil. Place lid on the jar and
shake vigorously. Dressing can be stored at room temperature for up to a week.
Variations: Organic honey can be substituted for granulated sugar. Spices can be mixed and
matched depending on desired taste.

Balsamic Dressing Balsamic Dressing
Balsamic Dressing
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Benefits of Green Tea

Have you ever stopped to take a closer look at the health benefits of green tea? This tea has
been around for centuries and it has been used medicinally to help counteract many adverse
health issues. Green tea is well known for its antioxidant content. Antioxidants help reduce the
risk of disease by helping to flush out the free radicals in your system. Free radicals can come
from our daily exposure to things like car exhaust, UV rays and industrial fumes. Our bodies
need antioxidants, from our diet, to help fight off oxidative stress.

By drinking 1 to 2 cups of green tea, without sugar, per day you can start reaping its health
benefits. As you think green for the week of St. Patrick’s Day try starting a new routine of
enjoying green tea. This may not be your traditional St. Paddy’s day drink but it has a lot to offer.

Tea
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Whole Wheat Waffles

These crisp golden waffles go great with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and a dollop of plain
yogurt. Add some seasonal fresh fruit and you have the perfect whole grain balanced breakfast!

2 Clearly Organic Eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Clearly Organic Almond Milk
2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Olive Oil
1/2 cup Clearly Organic Unsweetened Applesauce
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Clearly Organic Old Fashioned Oats
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon sugar

In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together eggs, milk, oil, apple sauce and vanilla. In a
separate larger mixing bowl add whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, oats, baking powder,
cinnamon and sugar. Stir together dry ingredients. Then add egg mixture to dry ingredients and
stir until ingredients are evenly distributed.
Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat. Pour batter into waffle iron in batches. Cook
until crisp and golden brown. Waffles can be topped with fruit, plain Greek yogurt and pure
organic maple syrup.

Whole Wheat Waffles Whole Wheat Waffles
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Homemade Chicken Tenders

These crispy parmesan crusted chicken tenders are an easy dinner option your whole family will love. Serve them over a bed of leafy greens for a delicious salad, or they also go great with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans.

Clearly Organic Cooking Spray
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Clearly Organic Eggs
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup dry whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 lb chicken tenders or chicken thighs
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Dried Basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Place flour in shallow bowl. Lightly beat eggs in another shallow bowl. Combine parmesan and breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl. On a plate or plater evenly sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and basil. Taking one piece of chicken at a time coat each in flour, then dip in egg mixture. Let excess drip off then roll in breadcrumb mix. Place chicken on prepared rack. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn each piece over after the 10 minutes and continue cooking an additional 10 minutes or until crisp and cooked through.

 

Homemade Chicken Tenders Homemade Chicken Tenders
Homemade Chicken Tenders Homemade Chicken Tenders
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All Natural

A debate is currently being waged on what it means to be considered a “natural” food. We see this claim posted proudly on the front of many packaged foods. So what are the requirements for a food company to say that they have an “all natural” product? According to the main agencies that regulate food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the natural claim can be posted on anything that is deemed ‘minimally processed’. This vague phrase leaves the door wide open for interpretation, allowing a multitude of packaged products to claim they are “natural”.

When Consumer Report conducted a survey of over 1,000 Americans they found that most people attributed the word ‘natural’ to mean no artificial ingredients, artificial colors or genetically modified foods (GMO’s). However, that is not necessarily true especially in regards to meat products. One fool proof way to ensure you are limiting GMO’s, artificial flavoring, colors and processing is to consume organic products. Certified Organic foods contain 95%-99% organically grown ingredients. When you see the 100% Organic label you can be confident the food is organically grown or contains all organic ingredients. Take a minute next time you’re at the store to watch for some of these labels.

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Banana & Oat Bread

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 Clearly Organic Eggs
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Pure Vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup Clearly Organic Old Fashioned Oats
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a bread pan with Clearly Organic cooking spray. Beat
together Greek yogurt, mashed bananas and eggs in a mixing bowl. Then beat in brown sugar
and vanilla until ingredients are evenly distributed. In a different small bowl mix together white and wheat flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently stir in oats and chocolate chips. Transfer batter to the bread pan and bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes. Bake until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow bread to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.

Banana and Oat Bread Banana and Oat Bread
Banana and Oat Bread Banana and Oat Bread
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Cooking With Dried Beans

When you think of adding beans to a recipe your mind often defaults to the various canned varieties of beans that are readily available at most grocery stores. In fact, you might even walk right by the bagged dried beans on your way to pick up a can of beans for your next chili recipe. The best part about dried beans is that they are the most nutritious and inexpensive food you will find sitting on the shelves at your store.

 

If you’ve never tried cooking with dried beans it’s worth experimenting with when making your next batch of soup. All dried beans require is time. They are easy to use and pack a little more nutritional punch than their canned counterpart. Dried bean have significantly less sodium than canned beans. They also have slightly more folate, iron and potassium. Canned and dried beans are similar in calories per serving and protein content. The main benefit to canned beans is their undeniable convenience.

 

Cooking with dried beans at home is no more trouble than filling a pot with water and letting it simmer joyfully on your stovetop all afternoon. Cooking a pot of beans on an afternoon when you are home anyway can be a relaxing and resourceful way to meal prep. Just be sure to give your beans plenty of time to reach their desired tenderness. Soaking beans in advance is also a great way to trim down the cooking time. One pound of dried beans yields about 5 cups of cooked beans. Making plenty of beans for soups, salads, burritos and much more. Extra beans not used after soaking can be stored in the freezer, that way you will have delicious and nutritious beans whenever you need them.

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