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Category Archives: Food

6 Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day

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Before you rush out and buy those last-minute Valentine’s gifts from the grocery store, here are a few ideas to keep your Valentine’s personal and eco-friendly.

Homemade Cards are the Best!

handmade-valentines-day-cards-craftUse recycled paper to create a unique and one-of-a-kind heartfelt card. You can even add some flare with objects from around the house, like buttons and ribbons, or add a list of things that you love most about the person.

Choose Potted Over Cut Flowers

yellow-phalaenopsis-99363_640Give a potted plant rather than a bouquet. This way your loved one can enjoy them longer and even plant them in their garden.

Chocolate Makes a Delicious Option

chocolate-marshmallows-502376_640Don’t just pick a heart-shaped box that was conveniently located by the checkout line in the store. Give a box of scrumptious organic chocolates.

Skip the Restaurant

Avoid the crowds and create a delicious dinner at home together! This is a fun way to spend the evening, and you can even pick your own menu, music, and entertainment.

Pick a Unique Gift

hand planted the tree in soilGive a gift that symbolizes your love, like planting a tree. This is a gift that will give for years to come!

Go Vintage

8699142296_2f947f0d57_hCheck out vintage stores to find a special one-of-a-kind vintage gift. Retro is in!

However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, be sure to make it special!

Warm Up with an Organic Soup

Bean and Barley Soup

Take the chill off this winter with a nice warm bowl of soup for dinner! Here is a great recipe for a healthy and organic soup that will please the whole family.

Bean and Barely Soup

Yield: 4 (serving size: 1¼ cups soup and 1½ teaspoons cheese)

Ingredients

1 cup organic pinto beans

1 tablespoon organic olive oil

2 cups finely chopped organic red onion

1 cup finely chopped fresh organic flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped organic celery

1/2 cup finely chopped organic carrot

1/2 cup chopped fresh organic basil

9 cups water

2 cups organic vegetable broth

2 organic bay leaves

1/3 cup uncooked organic pearl barley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce

2 tablespoons grated fresh organic Parmesan cheese

Directions

Sort and wash beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2” above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel.

Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, parsley, celery, carrot, and basil; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans, 9 cups water, vegetable broth, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves.

Place 3/4 cup beans and 3/4 cup cooking liquid in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed bean mixture to pan. Stir in barley, salt, pepper, and hot sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until barley is done. Ladle soup into individual bowls; sprinkle with cheese.  

Enjoy! 

Make this Thanksgiving Special and Memorable!

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While Thanksgiving is a holiday when families come together to celebrate and give thanks, it is also a great time to make lasting memories. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your celebration to make more amazing memories!

1. Ditch the technology

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Put those phones, tablets and laptops away and enjoy the company that surrounds you.

2. Make dinner from scratch

13979780940_572de3d1dc_zDig deep into your skills and make that delicious dinner from scratch. A homemade meal can be healthier as well as fun. Get messy and make some yummy food!

3. Put everyone on the spot

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Have everyone go around the table and tell something that they are thankful for. You can even have everyone name a good quality about the other guests, such as caring, beautiful, understanding, etc.

4. Take a walk

Walking sticksBefore the turkey is done or after you have stuffed yourself, get outside and take a walk. Enjoy the day and the beauty of nature.

5. Volunteer or Donate

7501683_6b61f9dc17_zRemember, this holiday is about giving thanks, and a great way to do that is to help others. Volunteer at a local shelter, food bank, or your favorite charity. If you can’t volunteer on Thanksgiving, talk with your family about what you would like to do in the future and make a plan.

However your family gives thanks, be sure to have a happy Thanksgiving!

10 Foods That Help You Sleep

There are so many different methods for falling asleep, from counting sheep to meditating. If you are looking for a delicious alternative to those methods here are some great suggestions for tasty snacks that you can have before bed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

1. Cheese and Crackers

house_calls_enCheese is a protein-rich food that provides sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carbohydrates in crackers assist the tryptophan in reaching your brain helping you fall asleep more quickly. Compare cheddar cheese to turkey and you will find that cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey!

2. Almonds

5081954872_021e68ccb7_zThese delicious and crunchy nuts contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Eating a tablespoon of almond butter or a handful of almonds before bed may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

3. Walnuts

walnut-328091_640Another nut that helps you catch your zzz’s are walnuts. Walnuts are a good source of melatonin, helping your body respond to stress and allowing you to relax.

4. Bananas

Banana_bunchBananas are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also offer a vast amount of magnesium and potassium that both help to relax muscles and ease pain such as a charley horse.

5. Cereal and Milk

3599466415_f2df29705c_bMilk also contains tryptophan. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep cycles. While the carbohydrates in cereal make the tryptophan more available to the brain.

6. Cherries

cherries-390932_640Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock.

7. Decaffeinated Green Tea

8151509619_f434aca966_bGreen tea contains theanine, an amino acid that helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

8. Hummus

Hummus_from_The_NileChickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan, but also folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, (especially in older people) and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock. So spread that hummus on a slice of bread for your pre-bed treat!

9. Pumpkin Seeds

1414256_20140128070420Pumpkin seeds are another snack that are packed with a variety of nutrients and tryptophan.

10. Lemon Balm Tea

peppermint-tea-1109_640Tea made from the herb lemon balm contains naturally occurring oils with terpenes, organic compounds that promote relaxation and better sleep.

So grab a snack and catch your zzz’s!

Organic Treats for Trick or Treaters

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It is time to prepare for all the adorable little trick or treaters that will be coming out for Halloween. Usually the preparations take us to the local market for some bags of over-sugared candies that we parents usually end up eating. Well, this year you might want to try something a little more healthy so you won’t feel so guilty about sneaking a few here and there. There are many great candy companies out there that offer healthier alternatives to the standard Snickers, M&M’s and more. Here are some truly yummy organic and sugar-free options that kids will love.

Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruity Snacks

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These fruit snacks may not be a traditional candy, but they are still sweet and delicious.

Unreal Candy Bars

1.-Unreal-Candy-Bars

Unreal candy bars offer a wide variety of candies that are modeled after conventional candy bars such as Snickers, Peanut M&M’s, Peanut Butter Cups and more.

Bug Bites Organic Milk Chocolate

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Individual pieces of delicious milk chocolate that are perfect for passing out to all the kids in the neighborhood. Each square contains a fun and educational insect trading card.

Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Halloween Treats

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These tasty, fruity snacks are made with organic juice and no artificial colors or flavors.

Yum Earth Organic Pops

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Another great alternative to the standard lollipop are these organic and healthy pops in many different tasty flavors, from Pomegranate to Razzmatazz Berry.

Halloween Glee Gum Pops

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These gum pops are 100% natural, with a hard candy exterior and a delicious gummy middle. These gum pops come in 3 different flavors: Sweet Strawberry, Crisp Green Apple, and Juicy Orange.

Whatever you chose to hand out to the kiddos, make sure it is an “eek”-o-friendly option!

Fall is Here-Bring on the Great New Pumpkin Recipes!

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With the crisp Fall weather here, it’s time for all the delicious Fall favorite treats! I love all things pumpkin, but I needed to add a new recipe to my usual lineup. So after searching high and low, from the Internet to good old-fashioned cookbooks, I came across this delicious Pumpkin and Bourbon Cheesecake recipe. The original recipe comes from Epicurious, but I changed the recipe slightly to make an organic version. This cheesecake was such a hit with my family and friends that I will be making it again!

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Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake

Makes 12 to 14 servings

Ingredients

For crust

1 1/2 cup organic graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup packed organic light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated organic sugar

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) organic unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling

1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin

3 large organic eggs

1/2 cup packed organic light brown sugar

2 tablespoons organic half and half

1 teaspoon organic vanilla

1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon

1/2 cup granulated organic sugar

1 tablespoon organic cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons organic cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated organic nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground organic ginger

1/2 teaspoon organic salt

3 (8-ounce) packages organic cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping

2 cups organic sour cream (20 ounces)

2 tablespoons granulated organic sugar

1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon

Preparation

Crust:

Stir together crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press in a single layer on the bottom and up sides of a springform pan. Chill in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Filling:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes.

Make topping:
Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy this yummy Fall dessert!

The OTA Annual Organic Report

The OTA is the leading voice of the organic trade industry in North America. They conduct surveys and reports on what is currently happening in the organic market. The OTA released their 2013 Organic Annual Report this year, and it is full of exciting information regarding the continued growth of, and interest in, the organic market. Here it is:

OTA Annual Report 2013

 

Check out our previous blogs about the organic market and the OTA, The Organic Market is Growing and OTA Reports 8 in 10 Parents Purchase Organic Products. For more news, articles and insight into the organics industry, visit the Organic Trade Association website HERE.

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