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Welcome to The Nutritionist Corner by Clearly Organic!

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 Nutritionist Corner blogger(s) with free products and compensation for posts.

Milk Options

When it comes to milk we don’t just have to choose between 2%, skim or whole milk anymore. Options abound we can go with soy, coconut, cashew, rice, almond or traditional cows milk. This might leave you wondering what kind of milk is best for you and your family? The answer will likely be different for everyone based on your taste preferences, allergies and food sensitivities.

Cows milk alternatives became popular due to the growing number of people desiring a diary free milk choice. Almond milk, soy, coconut and rice milk (plus several others) are dairy free. They are also great if you’re vegetarian, vegan or lactose intolerant. However, some cows milk alternatives are lower in protein and higher in sugar, so like any food you purchase that has a label take a look and see what the product is offering. Some of the main things to consider when looking at a milk label are calories, protein and sugar content. Weigh your options and find what works best for you.

Caesar Chopped Salad

This delicious combination is a unique way to enjoy a caesar salad. Shaved brussel sprouts and broccoli are two super foods that help mix up your leafy green routine.

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

2 cups broccoli florets, chopped

1/2 medium shallot, sliced

1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Pepper

1 lb brussel sprouts, halved and thinly sliced without stem

1/2 cup sweet red pepper, thinly sliced

2 peeled hard boiled eggs, grated

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 half of an avocado, sliced

1/2 cup Clearly Organic Caesar Salad Dressing

Lemon wedges (optional)

In a sauté pan toast pine nuts over medium heat with a dash of olive oil. Stir every 30 seconds to prevent burning. Toasting should only take about 4-5 minutes. Remove nuts from heat and transfer into a separate bowl, set aside. In the same sauté pan heat olive oil, shallots and broccoli over medium high heat. Add salt and pepper and sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sautéed broccoli and shallots to a salad bowl. Using a chefs knife remove stems of brussel sprouts and thinly slice. Slice red pepper then add brussel sprouts and red pepper to the salad bowl with the broccoli. Add grated eggs, Parmesan cheese and avocado chunks. Top vegetables with Clearly Organic Caesar dressing and half of the toasted pine nuts. Toss ingredients together until evenly distributed. Just before serving top with remaining toasted pine nuts and squeeze a lemon wedge over the top of the salad if desired.

Caesar Chopped Salad

Caesar Chopped Salad

Caesar Chopped Salad

Caesar Chopped Salad

Caesar Chopped Salad

Caesar Chopped Salad

Eat More Vegetables

The world of nutrition and fitness has multiple different approaches and opinions, but one thing everyone can agree on is vegetables are a vital part of living well. Veggies can improve your health if you incorporate them into your meal plan on a daily bases. However, that is part of the challenge. Many people find vegetables hard to cook and lacking in flavor. So when you hear that you need to eat vegetables everyday and we need to add more of these super foods to our diet we start to dread what that might involve.

Here are a few easy ways to eat more veggies.

  1. Try a new vegetable based recipe. Scan the web for appealing photos of vegetables, and test out a new way to prepare a veggie you enjoy.
  2. Add extra vegetables to an existing recipe. It’s easy to add extra veggies to a soup or hot dish. Also try adding vegetables to a non traditional recipe like homemade meatballs or meatloaf. You can add minced carrots, cauliflower or broccoli to these recipes.
  3. Try a veggie smoothie. You know you need more greens but the thought of eating another salad is nauseating? Try a spinach, frozen berries and almond milk smoothie.
  4. Make a veggie bag. The prep work for vegetables is usually what keeps people from eating them. If you can set aside one day to wash, chop and prep your veggies you’re far more likely to get your needed 5 plus veggies servings each day.
Hidden Salt

The Food and Drug Administration recommends that most Americans can safely consume about 2,000 milligrams of sodium each day. People at risk for heart disease should limit their intake to around 1,500 mg. However, the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. Most of this excess salt consumption is not coming from the salt shaker. It’s coming from ready prepared packed foods. Cereal boxes, frozen dinners, canned soups, fast food and restaurant foods are often culprits for extra sodium.

 

The most common location for hidden sodium is packed sweets. Sweet blended coffee drinks and doughnuts are some of the most surprisingly sodium dense foods that don’t even taste salty. The best way to keep your sodium intake in check is to enjoy lots of plant based whole foods. Potassium, which is another essential nutrient, can balance sodium consumption by helping to lower blood pressure. Potassium is naturally found in fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, prunes, oranges, tomatoes and bananas. The best way to avoid hidden sodium is to embrace cooking with the vegetables and natural proteins that you love.

Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

What makes a dip healthy can depend on what you serve it with, this spinach and artichoke dip goes great with sliced sweet peppers, broccoli and zucchini.

1 (8oz) package Clearly Organic Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Pepper

1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Onion Powder

1 (14oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 (10oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

6 grape tomatoes, quartered, for garnish on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl stir together softened cream cheese, yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper and onion powder. It also works well to use an electric hand mixer to evenly distribute ingredients. Then using a spatula to stir, add artichoke hearts, well drained spinach and mozzarella cheese. Add contents to a small baking dish. About 1 1/2 quart. Top with Parmesan cheese and sliced grape tomatoes. Bake until cheese is browned and sides are bubbly. 20-25 minutes.

Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Baked Fish

Steaming fish or chicken in parchment paper is a healthy and flavorful way to provide a balanced meal. It’s easy to assemble and can be personalized to fit different taste preferences.

Ingredients for one parchment steaming pouch:

1 (4 to 6 oz) cut of firm white fish, such as halibut or cod, fillet should be about 1 inch thick

1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Olive Oil

1/4 cup zucchini, chopped (squash, sliced potatoes, and broccoli also work great)

6 grape tomatoes, cut in half

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives or tarragon

1 Tablespoon dry white wine or water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Draw out a large piece of parchment paper. About 18 x 11 inches. Fold parchment in half from left to right and using scissors cut parchment into a large heart shape. Place fish in the center of one half of the parchment heart. The heart should be big enough to have at least a 1 inch border around the fillet. Drizzle fish with olive oil, rub with salt, pepper and desired spices. Lay a few springs of herbs (if using) on top of the fish. Place vegetables on top and around fish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on more of your desired spices. Fold parchment heart over to cover fish. Crimp the edges together folding them over themselves. Tilt the package up slightly and pour in wine or water. Finish crimping the edges to make a snug seal. Cook on baking sheet for 10 minutes

Baked Fish

Baked Fish

Baked Fish

Baked Fish

Veggie Tots

2 cups broccoli, fresh or frozen

1 cup cauliflower

2 Clearly Organic Eggs

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/3 cup Italian herbed breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Dried Parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with Clearly Organic pan spray or line with parchment paper and set aside. Bring cauliflower to a boil in a sauce pan for 2 minutes, add broccoli and continue cooking with a low boil for one minute. Drain contents into a collider. Place broccoli, cauliflower and onion into a food processor and pulse until veggies are finely chopped. Add contents to a mixing bowl and stir in eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well. Then using a spoon, or your hands, form mixture into tot shaped pieces. Place veggie tots onto prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp. 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through.

Veggie Tots

Veggie Tots

Veggie Tots

Veggie Tots

Veggie Tots

Cooking Using Parchment Paper

Parchment is a moisture resistant paper that is specially designed for oven use. It also has many helpful applications in the kitchen. Parchment paper can be used to line baking dishes, cake pans and it can be a steaming pouch. Many recipes utilize parchment as a great way to cut down on added calories in a recipe. It can even be used in place of extra butter or oil on a roasting pan.

When steaming chicken or fish using parchment paper it can yield a delightfully flavorful meal. Fresh herbs and spices help make steamed vegetables and meat tender and delicious. To assemble a parchment paper steaming pouch simply cut a piece of parchment in the shape of a large heart. Then add your favorite veggies, protein, olive oil and spices to one side of the heart shape. Seal up the parchment by placing the bare side of the paper over the food. Tuck in edges and roast in the oven. Watch the Clearly Organic blog in January for healthy meal ideas using parchment steaming pouches.

Avocado Pesto With Zucchini Noodles

Take our traditional Pesto recipe and add avocado! This makes a creamy flavor rich sauce for any kind of pasta or veggie noodle.

Noodles:

3 zucchini, spiralized

1 Tablespoon Clearly Organic Olive Oil

For Avocado Pesto:

1 ripe avocado, pitted and mashed

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Clearly Organic Olive Oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place avocado, basil and nuts into a food processor. Pulse several times, then add garlic and cheese. Pulse several more times and scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl with a spatula. While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop a few times while adding oil to scrape down the side with spatula. Continue running food processor until ingredients are well emulsified. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini noodles. Gently stir noodles while cooking. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in avocado pesto mixture, cook until flavor is well combined, about 3 minutes. Top with a jarred sun dried tomato and avocado chunks.

Avocado Pesto With Zucchini Noodles

Avocado Pesto With Zucchini Noodles

Avocado Pesto With Zucchini Noodles

Avocado Pesto With Zucchini Noodles

Avocado Pesto With Zucchini Noodles

Natural Protein Smoothies

A Clearly Organic customer Kathleen W wrote in and asked about making an everyday smoothie with extra protein. This is a great question that has multiple answers. There are lots of fun ways to implement a smoothie routine with a wide variety of natural organic foods. Adding protein based foods to a smoothie helps slow down the digestion process of your meal making you feel full longer. It also helps add thickness and flavor to a fruit or vegetable smoothie.

Here are six natural foods that add protein to a smoothie:

Flax Seeds

Nut butters

Oats

Chia Seeds

Plain Yogurt

Quinoa

Each of these protein based foods can also be found in an organic variety if desired. Watch our blog in the New Year for natural protein smoothie recipes. This is a great way to start off 2017!