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Welcome to The Nutritionist Corner by Best Choice!

Find out the latest health and organic news from our resident dietitian, Rebecca, along with recipes, tips and more!

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Fermented Foods

Foods such as plain yogurt, sauerkraut, strong aged cheese, kombucha and pickles are great options to boost your microflora and promote digestive health. Fermented foods are considered any food that has been through a process which enables natural bacteria to feed on starch and sugar to create lactic acid. This process not only helps preserve the food it also creates beneficial enzymes, vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids and different strains of probiotic. Some nutrition experts link consumption of fermented foods to improved digestion.

If you’re new to the idea of consuming fermented foods try starting with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fermented food per day. You’ll likely find these nutrient rich foods help moderate your appetite, increase energy, support your immune system and help prevent various diseases. Over time your body will start to crave heath promoting nutrient dense foods. Consider implementing lato-fermented coleslaw, kosher dill pickles or fermented juice to your next meal.

Homemade Latte

One of my favorite ways to celebrate Fall is with a warm frothy latte. Once I realized how easy it is to make a latte at home I didn’t feel the need to limit this kind of goodness to a five dollar splurge at the coffee shop. Making your own latte doesn’t require any fancy equipment or milk foaming machines. You can mix up a latte with a jar, a lid and some strong brewed coffee.

Simply brew a strong batch of coffee or expresso beans. I like using a french press or aeropress to ensure the coffee is bold and smooth. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup (depending on how strong you prefer your latte) strong brew coffee into your favorite mug. Pour desired amount of milk into a jar. Secure the lid and begin shaking the milk until it’s frothy. It should double in size with about 60 seconds of shaking. Then remove the lid and microwave the milk for 30 seconds. Pour the milk into the espresso, holding back the foam with a spoon. Finally, spoon the foam on top and sprinkle with cinnamon to garnish. Your homemade latte can even be sweetened with honey, vanilla or chocolate. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Rice Syrup

Recently we received an online question from customer Maureen N. Her question was in regards to rice syrup. She was wondering what rice syrup is, and if a recipe calls for rice syrup what is a proper substitute if you don’t have this product? Thanks for your question Maureen, we’re happy to provide some clarity on this food.

Rice syrup or brown rice syrup are sweeteners often used in packaged foods. It is made by breaking down the starches and simple sugars in rice. When the simple sugars are separated out they are in a liquid form called maltose which is then boiled down into a syrup. Rice syrup tends to be less sweet than sugar and a little more nutty in flavor. When substituting rice syrup in a recipe it’s best to trade it out with another nectar-like sweetener such as agave nectar, corn syrup, maple syrup or honey.

Smoothie Question

Recently Clearly Organic customer Kathleen W wrote in to ask about organic smoothies. She requested more information on good protein sources for our favorite smoothie combinations. Thanks for your question Kathleen. We hope this blog post provides a little guidance for your next smoothie making endeavor.

Making the perfect smoothie requires the right ratio of produce, protein and healthy fats. When you’re making a smoothie that will serve one here is a good guide.

*1 cup of your favorite fruit. Fresh or frozen. If you use frozen you likely won’t need to add ice.

*3/4 cup of liquid. Milk, almond milk, coconut water and yogurt are great options. I think it’s wise to skip or limit fruit juices because it adds a lot of extra sugar and calories.

*1 Tablespoon of healthy fats. Such as avocado, chia seeds, milled flax seeds and nuts add nice texture and nutrition to a smoothie.

*extra boost of vitamins and minerals – add a handful of greens such spinach or chopped kale. Other boosters can be a small scoop of protein powder or a few tablespoons oats can add extra fiber.

 

Health Benefits Of Beets

This beautiful vegetable offers a wide variety of health benefits due to its rich mineral and antioxidant content. Beets can range in color from red to purple even yellow and orange. No matter what the pigment of this vegetable it packs a powerful nutrient punch. Beets can help fight cancer, heart disease, inflammation and stimulate brain functioning.

When you are picking a bundle of beets up at the store or farmers market look for beets that are firm, smooth, brightly colored and attached to their original fresh green leaves. Beets can be roasted, steamed or even grated and eaten raw over a salad. Almost every part of the beet can be enjoyed, the bulb, the stem and the greens. The only part that needs to be discarded is the thin stem on the bottom of the bulb. Beets can stay fresh in the fringe for 2-3 weeks if the greens are removed. Beets are one of mother natures most nutritious foods. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for more recipes featuring beets.

Portion Control

No matter what kind of meal plan someone follows they likely won’t see results unless they enjoy foods in the right portion size. Controlling portions is much easier said than done. The most logical way to keep portions in check is to weigh and measure your food. However, that’s tedious and pretty unsustainable for most people. Here are two simple tips to control your portion sizes.

  1. Watch your toppings. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, oil and mayonnaise can add on extra calories. Dish out these condiments in a reasonable amount. Then put them back in the refrigerator. By doing this we can save added fat, calories and sugar. This is a small change that can pay off in the long run.
  2. Add extra produce. Most dietitians recommend making half your plate vegetables, one quarter protein and the other quarter fiber rich carbohydrates. This rule of thumb adds more volume to your plate and more nutrients helping you feel full and satisfied.
5 Foods To Eat In The Month Of August

Late summer offers the widest range of foods available during the year. Some of the most delightful fruits and vegetables are at their peak in August. Berries are still plump and juicy this time of year and fresh lettuce can still be found at the farmers market.

Here are 5 foods that are best to enjoy in the month of August.

 

  1. Heirloom tomatoes. These colorful and meaty tomatoes go way beyond the flavor of a conventional tomato. Each variety of heirloom has a unique taste.
  2. This culinary vegetable is mild in flavor and can take on many different uses in a recipe. It’s delicious grilled, roasted, sautéed or blended into a dip.
  3. The crisp of a garden fresh cucumber is a true sign of summer. They can stand alone on a veggie tray, make a refreshing salad or be turned into pickles.
  4. Swiss Chard. This vegetable is not only beautiful to look at it’s also very nutritious. Swiss Chard is a super green in the beet family that is quite tasty when cooked to perfection in soup, casseroles or dip. It can also be blanched and used as a tortilla.
  5. They are not only great eaten by themselves they can also be added to a variety of recipes as the key ingredient. A peach chutney atop a pork chop, or peaches in a mixed green salad are a delicious way to enjoy this late delight.
The Perfect Caramelized Onions

Sometimes it’s hard to believe but onions are naturally sweet. The best way to pull out the sweetness from an ordinary onion is to caramelize. Caramelizing onions is the process of slow cooking them in a little oil until they are translucent brown and loaded with rich sweet flavor. Caramelized onions go great on sandwiches, pizza, steak, onion soup and quiche. The delightful sweet flavor can also be enjoyed alone. Caramelized onions make a tasty side dish.

When preparing your onions to be caramelized peel back all the thin outer layer and cut the onion root to tip. Place the onion slices in a thick bottomed sauté pan that’s coated with olive oil. Heat the pan on medium high until everything starts to simmer then stir, add a pinch of salt and lower the heat to medium low. The onions will need to cook about 30 to 40 minutes, on low, while you stir occasionally. The trick is to let the onions sit long enough to turn slightly brown but stir before they burn or dry out. I like adding a little water to the pan about half way through to ensure the onions don’t dry out. The process takes time and practice, but the delicious result is a crowd pleaser.

Everything Is Better With Bacon

What is it about the salty crunchy goodness of bacon? It has a way of taking a sandwich up a notch and turning a simple salad into a meal. These days bacon always manages to land itself on many popular fad diet meal plans. Likely because most people don’t want to cut back on bacon. Most of us want to find more reasons to add bacon to a recipe.

Bacon has gotten a bad reputation over the years, but recently many health professionals have changed their tone. One average slice of bacon has about 45 calories, 3 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein. The natural fat and protein content of bacon is what makes it so filling and satisfying. Furthermore, bacon doesn’t contain trans fat (the cholesterol raising bad fat) it contains mono and poly unsaturated fats along with beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. So next time you are wanting a little more flavor and crunch to your meal don’t feel bad about adding a slice or two of bacon.

Making Homemade Fruit Preserves And Jam

The Summer months offer a wide variety of in-season fruit. Making it an excellent time to put together a batch of preserves or fresh fruit jam. The plentiful harvest of berries, peaches and apricots make some of the best jam and preserve creations. Cooking up a jar of jam is also easier than you might think. It just requires some patience and gentle stirring.

My favorite fruit mixture is fresh strawberry preserves. Strawberries are naturally high in pectin, a gelling agent, making them a great choice for canning. Most preserve recipes only call for fresh sliced fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Watch the blog for easy fresh fruit preserve recipes!