Find out the latest health and organic news from our resident dietitian, Rebecca, along with recipes, tips and more!
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Smoothies are great any time of year, but I find myself pulling out the blender far more often in the summer months. Between the availability of seasonal fruit and the cool refreshment of a hydrating drink summer is prime time for smoothie making. Classic smoothie ingredients include yogurt, fruit, juice and ice. However, there are lots of unique items that you can blend in to add flavor and a nutritional boost.
My favorite thing to add to any smoothie is greens. Spinach, kale and even turnip greens add fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals. They may turn the liquid a shade of green or brownish but when blended with fruit and a little orange juice the drink still tastes sweet and refreshing. Other unique smoothie ingredients include oats, wheat germ and almonds. They can add thickness and texture making nuts a nice substitute for yogurt if you’re wanting a dairy free smoothie. Depending on the season avocado, coconut, pumpkin, ginger and any spice for that matter can be mixed in to add thickness and flavor.
This patriotic holiday is a great time to enjoy all the fresh seasonal fare that midsummer produce has to offer. Blueberries, cherries, sweet corn and melons (just to name a few) are at the peak of flavor and freshness in the beginning of July. So now is the time to incorporate these seasonal foods, and the many other delicious options, into your July 4th celebration.
Here are some ways to add seasonal produce into traditional recipes. Instead of the typical coleslaw, potato salad, hamburgers and hot dogs try these unique spins on family favorites at your next backyard barbecue. All of these recipes can be found on the Clearly Organic website.
During the warm summer months it’s natural for your body to start craving fresh new meal options. The last thing you want to do on a hot summer day is spend time in an over heated kitchen. Summer months can also lead to more snacking, because the seasonal fare tends to be more water based and light. So, here are some delicious, easy summer snack ideas.
The lingering smell of cooking on the grill is one of my favorite signs of summer. There is a classic lineup of foods that we consider grill items. Hamburgers, hotdogs, steak and brats belong on any grill during the summer months. Another delicious and nutritious item for the grill is seafood. However, fish can scare off the novice grill master because of its tendency to stick to the grates or overcook. Here are some tips to avoid both of these common issues.
This red stalked vegetable is often thought of as a “pie plant,” and it does make a delicious tart pie filling. However, rhubarb is compatible with a lot of foods. Therefore it can be added to a vast array of dishes. Rhubarb blends well in all kinds of desserts, plus the tart characteristic of the vegetable make it a great addition to savory meals. Most recipes involving the vegetable require cooking or soaking the stalks in honey, this helps cut the naturally sour nature of the plant to make it a delectable balance of sweet and tart.
Peak season for rhubarb is April – June. When shopping for the vegetable at your local grocery store look for thin, red, crisp stalks. Rhubarb keeps well, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator for up to a week. Next time you’re trying to dig up a new recipe for a get together try incorporating rhubarb. From cakes, crisps and pies to chutney, sangria and salad this vegetables adds a lively unique flavor to any dish.
You’ve likely seen these large banana looking foods hanging out in your produce section at the store. They range in color from green to black, and unlike bananas each color can serve a different purpose for cooking. Black plantains are not rotten they’re actually the sweetest option of plantain which is often used for baking and desserts. Green plantains are starchy with a slightly sweet taste when cooked. They can be used like a potato. Adding them to a soup, stew or curry dish works great. Green plantains also make the best plantain chips. Yellow and black plantains have a sweet taste when baked or fried. They are much less starchy than their green counterpart.
Don’t be fooled by the fruit like look. Plantains must be cooked to be enjoyed and to reap their many nutritional benefits. This unique food is gluten free, in fact it’s a staple in many grain free breads, muffins and tortilla recipes. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for some easy ways to incorporate plantains into your next recipe.
The season for producing pure maple syrup spans the gap between winter and spring. Most maple syrup comes from regions where large amounts of snow are melting throughout March. This melting snow helps to nourish thirsty maple trees so they yield copious amounts of sap. It takes 40-45 gallons of sap to produce about one gallon of pure maple syrup.
A common question many maple syrup farmers get is; what’s the difference between light colored and dark colored syrups? Maple syrup is Graded solely by its color, and the difference in color is primarily related to what time of year the product was made. Grade A maple syrup is made at the beginning of the season. It’s considered a light aromatic syrup that is traditionally pancake syrup. Grade A Dark Amber is made later in the season when the weather is warmer. It’s considered a good option for baking since its flavors are more robust. Grade B is the darkest and it’s made at the end of the season just before the maple tree begins to bud. It has a strong bold maple flavor. All pure maple syrups contain beneficial naturally occurring nutrients, and pure maple syrup is never refined so you won’t see anything else listed on the ingredient list. Next time you’re at the store pick a bottle of pure maple syrup and enjoy the flavors of the season.
Just a pinch of vibrant fresh herbs can add unique flavor and color to any recipe. Many chefs consider herbs the secret to transforming a normal dish into an extraordinary meal. The challenge many everyday cooks run into is knowing how to appropriately use herbs. It’s also worth noting that if a recipe calls for dried herbs one can easily choose to add fresh herbs if desired. Dried herbs are more potent and concentrated than fresh, so you will use less. When transitioning to fresh you’ll likely use three times as much. Therefore, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon dried oregano you would need 1 tablespoon fresh, since there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon. Here are some tips on how to pair and incorporate herbs into your kitchen.
Basil- a natural partner to tomatoes, peas and zucchini; great in pesto, pastas and sauces
Thyme- eggs, potatoes, poultry and squash
Flat Leaf and Italian Parsley- potato and egg salad, tabouli
Rosemary- fish, lamb, chicken, roasted potatoes, soup and stews
Dill- carrots, potato and egg salad, cottage cheese, fish, green beans
Mint- fruit salad, tabouli, tea and water
Cilantro- chicken, salsa, tomatoes, most Mexican and Caribbean cooking
Chives- potato and egg salads, dips and tomatoes
Poaching is a great way to transform a simple egg into a decadent indulgence. Once you perfect the technique you can easily enjoy poached eggs at any meal time. Here is a guide on how to poach an egg.
The most classic way to enjoy a poached egg is a traditional Eggs Benedict, but once you master the art of poaching you’ll fall in love with adding this perfect protein to other dishes. Salad, pasta, risotto, sweet potatoes and soup are also great foods that get even better when topped with a poached egg.
As the tulips start to sprout from the ground they cause us to take note of the delightful transition into Spring. It’s refreshing to see all the sights and sounds of Spring budding around us. It’s also refreshing to see a new lineup of fresh fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store. The extra sunshine and warm weather brings in a whole host of new foods to pick from to liven up your meal plan.
My favorite spring veggies are sugar snap peas. They add a nice crisp crunch to a salad and they are sweet and delicious eaten by themselves. Asparagus is also another family favorite, it goes great scrambled with eggs in the morning. Other seasonal foods include arugula, rhubarb, strawberries, radishes and all varieties of sweet peas. Next time you’re at the store take advantage of the quality and freshness of Springs seasonal produce.