Find out the latest health and organic news from our resident dietitian, Rebecca, along with recipes, tips and more!
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It’s difficult to know what to prioritize when looking at a food label. Between the fine print of the ingredient list, and the mess of the Nutrition Facts chart it can be hard to know what words or numbers to scan for on a label. Not to mention the changing trends of health gimmicks that aim to catch our eye on the front of the package. However, one truth does remain, the nuts and bolts about what is in packaged food still lingers in the ingredient list.
Here are two things to look for when reading the ingredient list:
One of the best labels to look for on the front of a package is the USDA Certified Organic label. This is one way to ensure you’re consuming food that is not genetically modified, and contains limited or no extra processing.
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise (store bought or homemade, see recipe on blog)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups diced chicken
1 cup finely diced celery
3/4 cup red grapes, halved
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Toast slivered almonds in a sauté pan, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove almonds from pan and set aside. Combine lemon juice, mayonnaise and salt. Vigorously whisk the 3 ingredients together in a bowl. Gently stir in chicken, celery and grapes. This mixture can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Add almonds just before serving.
The chicken salad can be served in bib lettuce cups.
3 egg yolks at room temperature
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard spice
2/3 cup Clearly Organic Olive Oil
1/3 cup organic coconut oil (warm)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place egg yolks into a blender and blend until smooth. Add lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper, and slowly blend until evenly distributed. Very slowly add olive oil while blending. The mixture will start to emulsify as you add oil. Blend for 1-2 minutes before adding coconut oil. Add additional warm coconut oil slowly. Scrape sides of blender and blend for another 1-2 minutes.
Variations: 1 cup Clearly Organic Olive Oil or canola oil can be used verses adding coconut oil.
This mayo recipe goes great on Chicken Salad.
2 lbs free-range boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 cups squash or zucchini, cut in chunks
1 cup red onion, cut into chunks
1 cup red and yellow peppers, cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning (see recipe on blog)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves of crushed garlic (optional)
Place all of the ingredients in a large freezer bag. Seal and toss mixture until ingredients are distributed evenly. Store in refrigerator over night. When you are ready to roast the mix preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place contents from the bag onto a greased pan or baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Check to be sure chicken is cooked through. Broil for 2 minutes so chicken can be golden on top and veggies can be crisp. Serve with a mixed green salad.
After a long day at the office or an endless afternoon taking care of your children, cooking dinner can become a daunting task. The thought of starting to cook dinner when you’re already hungry usually becomes very challenging. That’s when it’s tempting for the cook to cut corners on a recipe for the sake of time. Furthermore, we can all relate to the overly busy day that leads you to get take out and call it done.
Making meals ahead of time can be a lifesaver for a busy lifestyle. If you chop and season meat and vegetables ahead of time it becomes much easier to provide a well balanced fresh meal for your entire family. By setting aside one hour once a week, to chop and prepare food, it could be possible to make meals for up to a week.
My favorite “make ahead meal” is roasted veggies and chicken. I put two free-range boneless skinless chicken breast in a large ziplock bag with 4 cups of my favorite chopped fresh veggies. I like to use red and yellow peppers, mushroom and red onion. I then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of my homemade Italian seasoning. Then I’m set for when I walk in the door, starving, at 5:30pm. When I come home all I have to do is take my mixture out of the bag, place it on a greased pan and roast it at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. The uncooked chicken and chopped vegetable mix can also be put in the freezer and used at a later date. Watch for more “make ahead meal” recipes next week.
Homemade Italian Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Basil
2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Parsley
2 Tablespoons Organic Oregano
1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Rosemary
1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
In a small bowl mix together each of the spices. Store in an air tight container for up to 6 months.
1 cup Clearly Organic Old Fashioned Oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Clearly Organic Eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon oats for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with Clearly Organic cooking spray. In a mixing bowl add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients until evenly mixed. In a small bowl add blueberries and 2 Tablespoons of the flour mix, this will prevent berries from sinking to the bottom of the loaf pan. Toss blueberries until they are lightly coated with flour mix. In a separate mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, yogurt and oil until well blended. Stir in dry ingredients to the sugar mix in 3 batches until all ingredients are well incorporated. Gently fold in blueberries and lemon zest. Add batter to prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of oats over the batter and bake for 55 to 65 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes in loaf pan, then remove and let cool for an additional 20 minutes.
The best meals involve a great flavor combination, and well balanced flavor typically comes from herbs and spices. Lining the shelves of many grocery stores are a wide variety of spice blends. However, many of these herb and spice blends contain additives, anti-caking agents and MSG. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer that is added to some commercial spice blends. The best way to limit MSG and additives in your diet, is to eat organic.
Making your own spice blend is a fun natural way to pack flavor into your recipes. By mixing up your own flavor profile you can add more of what you love and less of what spice comes on to strong. If you have a good variety of spices on hand it’s easy to make your own blend. My favorite blends to make at home are taco seasoning, Italian seasoning and a Creole inspired mix, which is great on vegetables.
Here is a guide for how to make your own taco seasoning.
Organic Taco Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Chili Powder
1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Crushed Red Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Paprika
1/4 teaspoon organic oregano
1 teaspoon organic sea salt
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Black Pepper
In a bowl mix together each of the spices. Store in an air tight container for up to 6 months. This recipe makes enough to season 1 lb of taco meat. It’s best to use about 2 Tablespoons of seasoning per pound of meat depending on your taste preference.
1 head of green cabbage, about 6 cups
2 cups red grapes, halved
1/3 cup Clearly Organic Olive Oil
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1 small shallot, chopped
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
In a large mixing bowl add chopped cabbage and sliced grapes. Prepare dressing by adding oil, vinegar, chopped shallot, dry mustard, sugar and poppy seeds to a blender. Blend the mixture until it has a salad dressing consistency. Pour dressing over cabbage and grapes and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Cabbage will wilt as the dressing marinates with the fruits and vegetables. Just before serving stir in sliced strawberries and sunflower seeds.
If you are looking to cut down on your preparation time you could purchase pre-chopped cabbage and bottled poppy seed dressing. This recipe is also great with sliced pecans, almonds or cashews.
One of my favorite things about summer is the wide variety of delicious berries that are available June through August. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries are a mainstay in my grocery cart while they’re at the peak of freshness. The beauty of these super foods is that they offer us a host of different vitamins and minerals while also tasting like a decadent dessert.
Almost all fruits and vegetables contain disease fighting antioxidants. However, nutrient rich berries are some of the best sources of these vital components that improve our health. Blueberries, in particular, have concentrated amounts of anthocyanins that can help reduce inflammation and help slow age-related memory loss.
Even when the season for berries has passed, it’s important that we keep incorporating these fruits in our meal plan because of their nutritional profile. Purchasing frozen berries makes enjoying these fruits possible all year long. When picking up frozen fruit in the winter or for smoothies in the summer look for pure and simple fruit. Avoid the frozen fruits packed in syrup or with added sugar. These products can contain added sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. Berries are delicious in their natural state, whether fresh or frozen. Watch for a strawberry coleslaw recipe next week!