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OTA Reports 8 in 10 U.S. Parents Purchase Organic Products

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Check out this article from the Organic Trade Association:

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“U.S. families are increasingly embracing organic products in a wide range of categories, with 81 percent now reporting they purchase organic at least sometimes. This finding is one of many contained in the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) newly released 2013 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study, conducted Jan. 18-24, 2013.

“More and more parents choose organic foods primarily because of their desire to provide healthful options for their children,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s CEO and Executive Director.

Not only are more consumers choosing organic products at least sometimes, but the majority of those buying organic foods are purchasing more items than a year earlier. New entrants to buying organic now represent 41 percent of all families – demonstrating interest in the benefits of organic food and farming is on the rise. Produce continues to be the leading category of organic purchases, with 97 percent of organic buyers saying they had purchased organic fruits or vegetables in the past six months. Breads and grains, dairy and packaged foods were also frequently cited (all scoring above 85 percent) among those who purchase organic. Families choosing organic foods are increasingly important to retailers of all types, with organic buyers reporting spending more per shopping trip, and shopping more frequently than those who never purchase organic food.

Consistent with findings from previous studies, nearly half (48 percent) of those who purchase organic foods said they do so because they are “healthier for me and my children.” Additionally, parents’ desire to avoid toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers (30 percent), antibiotics and growth hormones (29 percent), and genetically modified organisms (22 percent) ranked high among the reasons cited for buying organic products.

Awareness of the USDA Organic seal has also grown, with more consumers more likely to look for the seal when shopping for organic products. Moreover, over four in ten parents (42 percent) say their trust in organic products has increased, versus 32 percent who indicated this point of view a year ago. In fact, younger, new-to-organic parents are significantly more likely to report improved levels of trust in organic products.”

It is great to see the industry growing and more people becoming aware of the importance of organics.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA), which is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America.  The OTA represents over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states and has become the leading voice for organic trade in the United States.  For more news, articles and insight into the organics industry, visit the Organic Trade Association website HERE.

What to do with Easter Leftovers

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When I think of Easter, I think of a big delicious Easter ham. This year, however, we are having a much smaller family gathering, and we will have so many leftovers! What do we do with them?

OMI tip: Try a farm-to-table approach and buy your ham from a local farmer. Or see if your local grocery store carries (or can order) no-nitrate ham.

Perusing the internet, I have found a meal for every part of the day, from a ham cup with scrambled eggs to a delicious ham, broccoli, and cheese pocket to a light, savory ham and lentil soup. (Veggies, eggs and cheese can be found at local farmers markets and artisan shops, as well.)

Try out these tasty recipes for the week after Easter and let us know what you think.

Ham cups

(Photo Credit: http://www.recipebyphoto.com/breakfast-ham-cups/)

Ham and Cheese Egg Cups

Ingredients:

6 free-range brown eggs

2 cups grated cheddar cheese (or any kind of cheese you prefer)

2 young organic green onions

12 ham slices, cut a little thick

salt and pepper

Don’t feel limited by these ingredients! You can add just about anything, from mushrooms to tomatoes to spinach to onions, etc. and even top them off with avocado!

Cooking Directions:

Grease pan with non-stick cooking spray; line with ham slices.

Sprinkle cheese inside ham slices.

Pour in the egg mixture (ggs, salt and pepper) beat well with a fork.

Chop small green onion tops and divide among cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes

Broccoli Ham And Cheese Pockets 2

Ham, Broccoli And Cheese Pockets

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough (enough to make 2 large pizzas)

6 tablespoons grainy mustard (optional)

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups organic broccoli florets, cut small

1/2 pound ham, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons italian seasoning

Cooking Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly dust a cookie sheet with fine cornmeal or line with Silpat or parchment paper.

Combine mozzarella and cheddar cheese and set aside.

Divide pizza dough into 6 equal-size balls.

Roll each ball into a thin circle. Make sure to keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel while working.

If using mustard, spread 1 tablespoon all over circle. Place 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese mixture on half the dough. Top cheese with 1/3 cup broccoli and 1/6th of the ham. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.

Fold dough over the top to form a pocket and press all the air out. Seal the edges using a fork.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Brush olive oil on the top of each pocket and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown.

(A great option to freeze and eat later, or all week for lunches!)

(Original recipe courtesy of Serenabakes)

ham and lentil soup

 

Delicious Ham and Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

3 cups organic chicken broth

3 cups water

1 medium organic onion, cut into thin wedges

1 ½ cups chopped organic celery

1 ½ cups thinly sliced organic carrot

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained

6 ounces cooked ham, diced

1 ½ teaspoons dried organic thyme, crushed

3 cups shredded fresh organic spinach

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved

Cooking Directions:

In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine broth, water, onion, celery, carrot, lentils, ham, and thyme.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Stir in spinach. Ladle into bowls. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese.

(Original recipe courtesy of bhg.com)

Chocolate, Strawberries, OH MY!

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With Valentine’s Day just a few short days away, and the thoughts of strawberries and chocolate dancing in our heads, I was reminded of this delicious dessert, a twist on the traditional Neopolitan ice cream, that I made last year for my husband and I immediately had to share. Try it out with your significant other and leave a comment on how it turned out for you!

Strawberry Chocolate Decadence

Ingredients:


Organic butter (for greasing pans)

2 cups diced organic strawberries


1 box vanilla cake mix, batter prepared according to package directions


1 box chocolate cake mix, batter prepared according to package directions

1 8 oz package cream cheese

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (1 cup for a slightly less sweet flavor)

1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract (recipe and ingredients below)

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided


12 medium organic strawberries, sliced, for garnish

Preparation
:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two large-sized muffin pans with butter and set aside.
 Place diced strawberries in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until berries starts to bubble, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely. Prepare vanilla cake according to package directions. Pour batter into one of the muffin pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Prepare chocolate cake according to package directions.

Pour batter into the remaining muffin pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, place thickened strawberries in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add cream cheese and butter, mixing until smooth and creamy.

Place the slightly larger layers (these will be the cake bottoms) on a sheet of wax paper. Spread strawberry mixture thickly over the bottoms. Cover with remaining layers of cake. Each cake will have both a chocolate and a vanilla layer. Place 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside for garnishing. Place remaining chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until chocolate has melted and is very smooth.

Pour over tops of cakes, letting drip down the sides. Let set for 20 minutes at cool room temperature if serving right away. Or, refrigerate until ready to serve. Cakes can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
 Garnish tops of cakes with slices of strawberries and reserved chocolate chips before serving.
 Makes 12 single-serving cakes.

Strawberry Extract

Ingredients:

1 lb. strawberries

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

cheesecloth

Preparation:

Pick off stems and slice strawberries.

Place the strawberry slices in a saucepan with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. Cover the pan and turn on medium heat to bring to a simmer.

Cook the strawberries for about 30 minutes or until the slices start to become very soft.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place it into a plastic container to catch the liquid. Pour the liquid through the strainer to separate the liquid from the solids. Squeeze excess juices from the cheesecloth into the plastic container.

Pour the liquid back into the saucepan and turn it on medium heat. Leave the saucepan uncovered. Cook the liquid until it is reduced to 1/4 cup. Reducing the liquid evaporates the water in it and concentrates the flavors.

Organic Romantic

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I was looking for some new ideas for Valentine’s Day when I found this great article on how to be an “Organic Romantic”. From organic chocolates to locally, sustainably grown flowers- the options are endless for a more eco-friendly V-Day! Check out the article HERE.

‘Tis the Season to be Yummy…

As we gather together for the holidays, there is typically food involved in our celebrations. Here are some great recipes to incorporate into your festivities, with inspiration from different holiday celebrations from latkes to prime rib.  Whatever you decide to make, make it delicious!

Latkes

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Ingredients:

  •     5 potatoes
  •     2 onions
  •     3 eggs
  •     1 tsp. salt
  •     ¼ tsp. pepper
  •     ¼ to ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  •     oil for frying (canola is recommended)

Directions:

Peel potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water so they won’t turn brown. When ready to prepare the latkes, drain the potatoes. Place potatoes and onions in a food processor fitted with a knife blade; pulse until smooth. Drain mixture well.  Pour potato mixture into a large bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper. Add enough flour so that the mixture holds together.

Pour 1” of oil into a large, deep frying pan; heat over medium-high heat.  Carefully drop ¼  cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil.  (Flatten the pancake slightly so the center will cook.)  Fry for several minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through; drain on paper towels.

Serving Suggestion: Serve the latkes with applesauce.

Collard Greens

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Ingredients:

  •     ½ lb. smoked meat (ham hocks, turkey wings, or neck bones)
  •     1 Tbsp. house seasoning (recipe follows)
  •     1 Tbsp. seasoned salt
  •     1 Tbsp. hot red pepper sauce
  •     1 large bunch collard greens
  •     1 Tbsp. butter

Directions:

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, house seasoning, seasoned salt, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour.

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand.  (The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don’t need to be stripped) Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into ½” to 1” thick slices. Place greens in pot with meat; add butter.

Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, adjust seasoning to taste.

House Seasoning

  •     1 cup salt
  •     ¼ cup black pepper
  •     ¼ cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Joe’s Prime Rib

Chef Joe, who we have given the honorary title of “Official OMI Chef,” provided us with a wonderful prime rib recipe you will be sure to use over and over again.

prime-rib

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup Montreal steak seasoning
  • ¼ cup thyme
  • ¼ cup paprika

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Preheat oven to 425° F.  Tie prime rib using butcher’s twine in 3 or 4 equal spacing increments.  Rub the entire prime rib: top, bottom, and sides all over!

Roast at 425° for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, reduce temp to 275° and continue to roast until the internal temp in the very center of the roast is between 110°-120°F for medium rare (120°-130° for medium).

Allow roast to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing with a very sharp knife.

To serve with your delicious prime rib, try one of these excellent sauces:

Horseradish Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.

Au Jus Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 2 packets beef buillion
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in pan; bring to a boil and strain.

Now that dinner is over and you’re looking to add something sweet, here’s a great recipe for delicious Nutty Chocolate Matzo Crunch.

Nutty Chocolate Matzo Crunch

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Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 6”x6” matzos
  • 4 oz. milk chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup Marcona almonds or salted cashews, chopped
  • ½ Tbsp. fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

Directions:

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and top with a wire rack. Place matzos on top of rack. Drizzle chocolate over matzos until almost covered. Immediately sprinkle evenly with chopped nuts and salt. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until set, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. (If chocolate softens, return to refrigerator until set) Matzo crunch is best eaten the day it is made.

On the Organic Farm…

A Twist on Traditional Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgiving comes with all kinds of delicious favorite side dishes. Since we are in the office on Friday after Thanksgiving, we at OMI like to have a potluck at lunch where we bring a side dish with a twist to the classic recipes (as well as evolving them into our own organic creations). Here are a few of our favorites…

       

I myself am a wine lover, so when I found a recipe that included a sangria flavor with the traditional cranberry sauce, I knew that I would love it. Such a tasty rendition if you love the classic but want it a little different this year.

Sangria Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

1. organic lemon

1. organic lime

1. organic orange

3 cups fresh organic cranberries

1. container (16-ounce) frozen organic strawberries

1. cup red wine

1 1/2. cup raw organic turbinado sugar

Directions

1. From lemon, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze 3 tablespoons juice. From lime, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. From orange, grate 1/2 teaspoon peel and squeeze 1/4 cup juice.

2. In 3-quart saucepan, combine lemon, lime, and orange peels, cranberries, strawberries, wine, and sugar; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon, lime, and orange juices.

3. Spoon cranberry sauce into serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

 

Here’s a way to try something new with stuffing. Add a few veggies you have never used before, or like this fun recipe, add wild rice and wild mushroom

 

Herb Wild Mushroom and Wild Rice Stuffing

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) organic butter


2 cups sliced wild mushrooms
( options to try: morel, oyster, trumpet, shiitake, chanterelle or porcini, in any combination)

1 cup chopped organic celery


1 cup chopped organic white onion


1 tablespoon chopped fresh organic thyme

1/4 chopped fresh organic Italian parsley

1 teaspoon sage, rubbed

1/4 teaspoon salt


1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

4 cups cooked organic wild rice


2 cups dry unseasoned bread cubes
(try gluten free bread)

1 ½  cup organic chicken broth

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery and onions; cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in seasonings.

2. Mix rice and bread cubes in large bowl; stir in vegetable mixture. Add broth; toss gently until well mixed. Spoon into 13×9-inch baking dish; cover.

3. Bake 30 minutes.

This new take on sweet potatoes with a streusel topping instead of the usual marshmallows makes for a delicious, sweet side.

Sweet Potato Gratin with Pecan-Ginger Streusel

3 pounds (about 6) medium organic sweet potatoes

1/2 cup apple cider or juice

1/4 cup organic Grade B maple syrup

3 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Streusel Topping

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten free, coconut flour)

3 tablespoons packed organic light brown sugar

3 tablespoons cold organic unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

2 tablespoons chopped organic crystallized ginger

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly butter a shallow 2-quart baking or casserole dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just barely tender when tested with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Pull off skin, then slice into 1-2″ thick rounds.

3. Arrange slices in prepared dish in concentric circles, overlapping slices slightly. In a liquid measuring cup, combine cider, syrup, butter and salt pour over potatoes. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make streusel topping:

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or combine mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in pecans and ginger.

2. Remove potatoes from oven. Uncover and sprinkle with Streusel Topping. Bake, uncovered, until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.

3.  Refrigerate for up to 1 day. Reheat, covered, in a 375º F oven until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

 

Whatever choices you make for your meal, we hope you have a happy holiday and give thanks.

Pumpkin Fun!

With Halloween right around the corner, I’ve got pumpkins on the brain. We all know the tradition of carving pumpkins with scary faces, but what do you do with the goop on the inside?  And what do you do with the pumpkin after Halloween is done?

Here are some ideas for pumpkin fun:

1. Pick your pumpkins at a local organic farm to minimize transportation while helping support your local farmers. Picking a farm that is pesticide-free ensures that the pumpkin you pick won’t introduce armful chemicals to your family.

2. Be sure to save your pumpkin’s innards while you carve it. The innards and the seeds can be used to make many things, from pumpkin bread to pumpkin soup and even a healthy alternative to potato chips.  For recipes ideas, click HERE.

 Even if you are not that much of a cook, pumpkin seeds roasted in the oven and sprinkled with sea salt make a great fall snack as well as a healthy option for kids.

3. Carving your pumpkin allows for your creative side to come out! Allow your creative side to come out when carving pumpkins this year!  Print out a scene and trace it onto your pumpkin before cutting.  Whether you go traditional or modern, carving pumpkins helps you get into the spirit of the season, and makes great décor for your front porch. Here are a few of our favorites.

4. When it’s time to retire your carved pumpkin, don’t throw it in the garbage. Cut up your gourd and turn it into compost or feed it directly into your garden. If you’re without a yard, many cities offer programs that help you collect these materials, such as New York City Greenmarket . Or see if your local community garden can add it to their compost bin.

Have a Happy Halloween!

It’s Scary How Good This Recipe Is!

With Halloween right around the corner, many people are thinking of carving pumpkins for the their porches.  However I’m thinking about the delicious recipes that incorporate pumpkin, from soups to sauces.  The recipe that jumps into my mind is my favorite dessert, pumpkin cheesecake.  Here is the recipe for the best organic pumpkin cheesecake you will ever have the privilege to enjoy! 

Organic Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Makes: 12-16 Servings

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Bake Time: 60 – 75 Minutes

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups organic graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground organic cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Smart or Earth Balance butter spread

Filling

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages organic cream cheese
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed organic pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk {or egg substitute}
  • 1/4 cup organic sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground organic cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground organic nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground organic cloves
  • 2 tablespoon organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

To make the crust

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add the melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch spring form pan. Set it aside.

To make the filling

Beat cream cheese until smooth. {I do this in a stand mixer.} Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar, and spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined and not lumpy. Pour into crust.

Spread out evenly and place in oven.  Bake for 1 hour or until the cheesecake is soft to the touch and does not jiggle when the pan is shaken.  Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Yummy served with homemade vanilla ice cream, too!

How to Create an Eco-Friendly Halloween

Going green doesn’t mean you have to compromise the funny or yum factory of Halloween. Make your holiday fun, unique and an Eco-Friendly event.

  1. Participate in a Costume Swap

Gather a group of your children’s friends or parents from school and bring costumes to swap and trade. Your kids will be excited over having a “new” costume without having to purchase a whole new one and it will  eliminate waste.

  1. Give Out Healthy Candies and Treats

Pass out candy without harmful ingredients that still taste yummy and wont get your house egged.  See the Trick Or Treat OMI Blog from 2011.

UNREAL Candy offers chocolate treats that taste as good as major commercial brands but without the articial colors, dyes, sweeteners, preservatives, hydrogenated oils and GMOs.  Check out their goodies HERE.

Surf Sweets offers a variety of gluten-free, organic gummies, sour bears and jellybeans.   They even have treats in spooky spider shapes for Halloween!

  1. Use Reusable Bags for Trick-or-Treating!

Any bag can hold goodies, from baskets to bags to old purses and more.  Old pillowcases make great bags to collect candy and can be easily decorated or customized for your child.  A simple white pillowcase can be turned into a “ghost bag” by drawing, sewing or gluing on eyes and mouth.  Or simply add your child’s name.

  1. Decorate with Nature

Use natural items to decorate this year, such as hay bales, leaves, branches, gourds, pumpkins, mums and more.

  1. Light up the Night

If you string up lights to keep your walkway safe for trick-or-treaters, be sure to use LEDs or solar-powered lights.  LEDs use less energy than conventional holiday twinklers.

  1. Let Kiddos Decorate

Forget store-bought window sickers and skeletons. Help your kids cut out bats from recycled paper or make hand print spiders for walls and windows.  Carve or paint pumpkins for more decorations. White sheets can be hung as ghosts.  Get creative!

How will you keep your Halloween more Earth friendly?

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