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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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Baking Season

‘Tis the Season for baking! The holidays call us together for fellowship, food and lots of seasonal treats. December is typically a month where multiple baked goods spring from peoples kitchens and cause many of us to share our favorite sweet creations. Here are a few tips of holiday baking.

  1. Pay attention to butter consistency. Butter is the first ingredient in many baked goods, so it’s vital to your end result to have your butter prepped as the recipe directs. Particularly heed the instruction for room temperature butter. Over melted or greasy butter can change the look and texture of your final product.
  2. Read the entire recipe in advance. To avoid disaster or a missing ingredient read your recipe and instructions ahead of time. It’s also wise to set all your ingredients out on the counter before you begin.
  3. Room temperature eggs. This is an easy step to skip. However, room temperature eggs, much like butter, can make a big difference in texture and structure of your product. Room temperature ingredients emulsify with better uniformity and consistency.
  4. Measure with precision. Baking requires good measuring practices. Spoon and level measure flour with measuring cups. Measure wet ingredients in a measuring pitcher. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for some delicious holiday treats. Happy Baking!
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5 Tips For Healthy Meal Planning During The Holidays
  1. Stock your pantry. Having your go-to items already at home makes meal planning one step easier. Beans for chili, noodles for chicken noodle soup, rice for casseroles and whole grain crackers for dips are great stock up items for the busy holiday season.
  2. Prep challenging recipes in advance. If a meal calls for lots of chopped ingredients, consider cleaning and chopping ingredients the night before. Vegetables in particular can take a lot of time to skin and chop, so it’s great if you can tackle time consuming steps a day early.
  3. Have healthy snacks ready to go. You’re much more likely to eat veggies and fruit as a snack if it’s prepped and ready to eat. We often grab high carbohydrate (and high calorie) snacks because they are convenient when we’re starving. If fresh vegetables and fruit are made just as easy to consume then chances are we’ll make the right choice.
  4. Dust off your slow cooker. One dish hearty meals that can fed multiple people are easily made in your slow cooker.
  5. Make breakfast the night before. If you despise mornings then make them easier by prepping breakfast the night before. Overnight oats with chia seeds, an egg bake and muffins can all be made the night before so you can sleep a bit longer.

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Making An Entree Salad

Anyone can put together a salad, but if your looking for greens to be the main event at your next meal then this article is for you. Salads can be a little lack luster when you’re simply taking some greens out of a bag and pouring on dressing. Here is an easy formula for constructing the perfect salad.

Every good salad needs: greens, dressing, protein, an added crunch and at least one bonus item.

Greens: when you think salad you immediately envision lettuce. However, your base of greens can be a variety of veggies. Shaved asparagus, cabbage, chopped kohlrabi or a roasted squash or brussel sprout. Your vegetable base can be grilled, pickled, raw or roasted.

Dressing: this is an important part of any salad. Dressings come in two main categories-vinaigrettes or creamy dressings. It’s important to remember that you don’t want to weigh down a soft leafy green, like spring mix, with a heavy creamy dressing. This will drown out flavors and make your greens feel mushy. Light leafy green mixes pair well with vinaigrettes while bold more bitter flavors from cabbage and kale and can stand up to a creamy base. Less is more when it comes to salad dressing.

Protein: a little protein can add stability and satisfaction to your salad. Anything goes here, just keep your protein flavors in line with your vegetables.

Crunch: this is the secret key ingredient. Roasted nuts, a classic crouton, savory granola, flax seeds and hemp seeds make great crunchy toppers.

Bonus items: think seasonal. Fresh or dried fruit, herbs and ancient grains make perfect bonus items. Berries work great in the summer along with fresh basil, cilantro or mint. Winter can be a great time to add quinoa, rice, couscous or barley.

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Mindful Eating

The holiday season is upon us, and this festive time of year can have a big impact on your nutrition routine. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the average American gains one to two pounds over the holidays. This may not sound like a significant amount but the reality is most people don’t lose those extra couple pounds. Making the holiday season a potential culprit for habitual weight gain. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! You can enjoy all your seasonal favorites if you practice some simple mindful eating.

 

Mindful eating (verses mindless eating) is the practice of becoming more aware of your body and mind connection to hunger. It’s analyzing how needs and wants affect your nutrition decisions. Mindful eating around the holidays can be making the conscience decision to only eat one plate of food at a meal verses going back to the buffet for seconds. Mindful eating is also the decision to eat more vegetables at a meal verses filling your plate with carbohydrates and meat. The basis of mindful eating is the desire to make better food choices and then follow through on that goal.

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Fall Favorites

Cinnamon, maple, squash, apple and pumpkin…ohhh the sights and smells of Fall. When the sweaters and scarves come out we also start changing our meal habits and food choices. Fall often brings us back to soup, casseroles and warm pasta dishes. A common misconception is that these warm comfort foods have to be heavy on the calories and light on nutrients. Here are a few simple tips to make comfort foods healthier.

1. Make a cream sauce without heavy cream. Experiment with evaporated milk or use 2%

milk instead.

2. Swap your noodles. Try whole wheat pasta for your spaghetti or in your macaroni and cheese.

3. Try new varieties of potatoes. Yukon gold potatoes work great for creamy mashed potatoes without all the butter. Also try chicken stock verses butter for extra creamy and smoothmashed potatoes.

4. Choose lean meat. Instead of ground beef use grass fed free range meat.

 
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Health Benefits Of Pumpkin

As if we needed any more reasons to enjoy this seasonal favorite. Pumpkin not only adds flavor and spice to a recipe it also adds nutrients. This bright orange squash is loaded with Vitamin A and carotenoids. Vitamin A is best known for its ability to aid in vision clarity and help fight off certain cancers. Pumpkin seeds, just like other nuts and seeds, are excellent sources of plant based chemicals that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

One cup of mashed pumpkin is loaded with potassium. Potassium helps us keep our electrolytes balanced so muscles can recover and function properly for rebuilding. Pumpkin cooks up beautifully in pies, soup, breads, ravioli, dips and casseroles. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for a healthier pumpkin pie recipe!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

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