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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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IMPORTANT NOTICE: AWG provides the Dietitian's Corner blogger(s) with free products and compensation for posts.

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.

Nutritionist Corner: Make Ahead Meals

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.

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Nutritionist Corner Recipe: Homemade Italian Seasoning

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.

Nutritionist Corner: Homemade Italian Seasoning
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Nutritionist Corner Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

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.

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Nutritionist Corner Recipe: Homemade Spice Blends

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.

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Nutritionist Corner Recipe: Strawberry Slaw

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.

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Nutritionist Corner: Summer Berries

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!

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Nutritionist Corner Recipe: Broccoli Carrot Salad

2 cups shredded or spiralized carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 cup Clearly Organic raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Greek Yogurt Mayo:
3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Clearly Organic garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a mixing bowl add carrots, chopped broccoli florets (cut into bite size pieces) and raisins.
Add all of the ingredients of the yogurt mayo to a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Pour mayo mix over the top of the carrot broccoli mix. Stir to coat evenly. Stir in sunflower seeds before serving.

The flavors blend as the salad ingredients sit together, so this mixture is best if made in advance.

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Nutritionist Corner: Picky Teen Eaters

A customer recently asked for help getting her picky 14 year old son to eat healthy foods. A picky toddler is the typical food refuser. Parents often live with the hope that their beloved child will simply grow out of the food fuss phase, and thankfully most do. However, if you live with a longstanding picky eater here are a few tips to help save you and your child from additional frustration.

1. Parents, without involving your child, make a list of the healthy foods your child enjoys eating. There has to be at least a few fruits, proteins, nuts, cheese or other natural items that your child likes. This will help remind you of the foods to have readily available to help set your child up for success.

2. Involve your child in the cooking process. Especially if your child is always wanting to eat something different than what you are making for yourself and the rest of your family. Let your child modify the foods you prepare, but make them modify the food themselves. As your child reaches the teen years it is an educational opportunity for them to see how food is prepared.

3. Set parameters on snacking. Eating a large snack after school or late in the afternoon will likely interfere with their appetite at dinner. Hunger is a big motivator for kids to try new foods. Set a good example in your personal snacking choices and encourage moderate snacks when needed. Be sure to have a refrigerator and pantry stocked with lots of healthy options.

4. Choose your words wisely. Encourage and support your child’s well thought out nutrition decisions. Unlike toddlers teens can be reasoned with (most of the time), try not to make food rules and regulations. Strive to have open ended discussions that challenge your child to think about why they like eating certain foods

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Nutritionist Corner Recipe: Greek Zucchini Pasta Salad

2 medium size zucchinis spiralized
1 cup quartered artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/2 cup cubed salami
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup quartered Kalamata olives
For the dressing:
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic dried basil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

Slice zucchinis halfway through and then spiralize them using the noodle blade. Place zucchini noodles in a bowl with the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, feta cheese, salami, red onion and Kalamata olives. Place all the ingredients of the dressing in a small bowl and whisk together. Pour dressing over salad mix and combine thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. The mixture is best if left for an hour, so the dressing can soften the zucchini. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy.

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Nutritionist Corner: Spiralizing

The latest trend in cooking with vegetables and fruit is spiralizing. This is a delicious and fun way to serve up a wide variety of foods. Spiralizing is also a good way to incorporate some vegetables that have long been forgotten. I never knew what to do with a parsnip until I got a spiralizer.

What is spiralizing? Originally it was a technique common in the vegan and vegetarian world, because it is the process of turning ordinary vegetables and fruit into a noodle like shape and texture. Spiralizing requires a spiralizer machine. There are several companies that make the device, and the good news about all of them is that they are relativity inexpensive. They range in price from $25 to $55 dollars depending on how many blades come with the unit. The best part about spiralizing is that it fosters an easy way to prepare and cook vegetables so people can more easily reach their needed vitamin and mineral requirements for optimal health.

The best vegetable to try spiralizing first is a zucchini. In my opinion zucchini makes a delicious replacement for a traditional carbohydrate based pasta noodle. Zucchini noodles, commonly refereed to as zoodles, are light in calories but packed with fiber from the skin and vitamin C. Watch for a spiralized zucchini recipe later this week!

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