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

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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.

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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!

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Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

1 1/2 cup Clearly Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk

1/3 cup Clearly Organic Chia Seeds

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Vanilla

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

2 ripe bananas

Add the first 6 ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. This may take a few minutes. The cocoa powder may require vigorous whisking to fully blend in with the milk. Cover contents and store in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours. The chia seeds need soaking to achieve the pudding like consistency.

Add contents to a blender then pour in maple syrup and chopped bananas. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as needed. The pudding can stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 days, however it’s best to serve it right away. I love serving this pudding with a dab of whipped cream and a few banana and berries pieces.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

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Eat What You Love

Around the holidays everyone is thinking about their favorite festive traditions. Many family traditions involve special recipes and bountiful meal times. Making it challenging to eat healthy this time of year. Grandmas recipes are not typically low calorie, but at the same time it’s comforting to enjoy some family favorite foods once a year. Therefore, the holidays are a great time to focus on portion control. Eat what you want, just don’t over do it. Some general principals to follow when you are enjoying a festive family meal.

*Skip the seconds. Enjoy one plate of your favorite foods and resist the urge to fill up again. One plate is typically all it takes to be satisfied.

*Focus on the healthy nutritious foods that you love. Try not to go down a mental list of vegetables that you hate, or the foods you are allergic and intolerant to. Simply enjoy the fruits, vegetables and grains that make you happy.

*Don’t be afraid to bring a healthy dish to a holiday party. Most friends and family members appreciate a well made healthy recipe, so don’t be shy about bringing your new favorite healthy appetizer or side dish.

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All Things Avocado

Avocados are the new favorite addition to any meal. This nutrient rich fruit can take a lettuce salad or a sandwich to the next level of flavor and satisfaction. The reason behind avocados rise, and decline years ago, is related to its fat content. Avocados are well known for being higher in fat, which is entirely true. However, most of the fat content avocados offer is monounsaturated fat, this particular type of fat helps lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Avocados also have a unique ability to help increase the absorption of vital nutrients in your body.

If you haven’t joined the bandwagon of increasing your avocado consumption, it might be a good choice to consider. Avocado toast, sliced avocado on a salad and avocado pesto are my favorite ways to incorporate this super food. In fact I even chose avocado to be the first food I introduced to my little girl when she was able to start enjoying solid food. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for some delicious avocado based recipes!

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Super Seeds

In recent years health professionals have encouraged the addition of seeds and nuts to daily meal plans to increase your nutrition profile. We now see flax seeds being added to lots of products from chips to frozen waffles. Hemp and chia seeds are also becoming increasingly popular in everyday recipes.

The main health benefit that flax, chia and hemp seeds offer is the essential fatty acid omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid offers many disease prevention characteristics and it works as an anti-inflammatory in your body. Hemp seeds are set apart by one key factor, they contain all essential amino acids. Which is very rare for a plant food. This makes hemp seeds an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. Hemp seeds, flaxseed meal and chia seeds are great additions to a wide variety of foods. Watch our Clearly Organic Blog for unique recipes that incorporate these super seeds!

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Making Any Recipe Organic

No need to buy a special cookbook to find the best organic recipes. These days virtually any family favorite dish can be made organic by purchasing the right ingredients. We no longer have to hunt for organic foods. They’re available in virtually every aisle of the store and abundant in the produce section, and in many cases with increased availability comes better prices.

Now that we can find flour, sugar, butter and many staple items available in an organic variety it becomes easy to convert traditional baked goods into organic treats. As the holidays approach try making your favorite dish organic! It adds wholesome pure ingredients to any recipe.

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Tips For Roasting Vegetables

A roasted vegetable done right can turn any veggie naysayer into a believer. The best part about roasting vegetable is that virtually anything goes, no complex recipes need to be followed. Most people have everything they need (oil, salt and pepper) for roasting already in their pantry. If a few simple rules are heeded, then you can be on your way to cooking up flavor rich vegetables everyone will love.

 

  1. Oven Temperature. Be sure you put veggies in a hot oven. I think 400 to 425 degrees is the best roasting temp. Any more than 425 can blacken and burn vegetables on the outside without cooking the middle. Any lower then 400 would extend cooking time and not provided the desired toasty edges that makes roasting so delicious.
  2. Give your veggies space. Spread your vegetables out on the baking dish. Leave a generous amount of space between each piece. If the food is stacked on top of each other or to close it will steam and not roast. Don’t be afraid to split up your product. It still works great to roast two pans at a time, just keep them in the middle of the oven and rotate the pans halfway through cooking.
  3. Don’t skimp on the oil and spices. Add enough oil for all the veggies to be coated but not so much that oil starts to pool at the bottom of your bowl or on the roasting pan. Same general guide for salt, pepper or any desired spices, add enough so that each piece looks evenly seasoned.
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Oats

When it comes to breakfast cereals any type of natural oats are an excellent choice. Most unflavored oats are made from minimally processed whole grains. Oatmeal and oat bran contain a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. This is the substance that gives oatmeal its ability to help lower cholesterol. Several types of oats are available on store shelves but each offers high quality nutrients and beta-glucan.

Steel-cut, stone ground and rolled oats are the common oat varieties sold at the grocery store. However, their nutritional profiles are very similar. Some of the biggest differences in the types of oats comes down to how you prepare the food and the resulting texture of the grain. If you prefer a hardy chewy cereal you would likely enjoy steel-cut oats. Old-fashioned and rolled oats offer a smoother texture with shorter cooking and preparation time. Any way you cut it oats are a great addition to your next meal or recipe.

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Apple Season

One of my favorite signs of fall is the delightful array of apples that start flooding into my local grocery store. Each type of apple has a distinct flavor and purpose. It’s amazing how one type of fruit can have so many different varieties. Each kind of apple has unique characteristics based on its flesh, firmness and response to cooking.

While their are literally hundreds of apple varieties, most stores carry about a dozen options that suit the local climate. Red and Golden Delicious are well known varieties that are great for fresh eating and go well mixed with salad greens. Gala, Jazz, Fuji, Braeburn and the ever popular Honeycrisp are strong sweet apples. All of these options can be juicy, tart and crisp. The best apples for pies tend to be Braeburn, Granny Smith, Cortland or Pink Lady to name a few. Some of the best varieties for sauces and cider are Jonathan, McIntosh, Granny Smith or Winesap. While apple season is going strong try testing out a new recipe with your favorite variety of fruit.

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