Say yes, to these healthy snacks for kidsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, January 5th, 2017

made-in-nature-coconut-chips-maple-vanilla

Milk and chocolate-chip cookies may be a classic, but for all its appeal this pair often comes up short on nutrition. Instead, consider one of these tasty healthy snacks for kids, which put a healthier spin on snack time and also offer key vitamins, minerals and healthy fats for growing bodies. We’ve divided our go-to snacks by those that take a little preparation time and those that can be enjoyed straight from the bag. Don’t worry, all are long an enjoyment, short on prep time and super healthy– which we think is exactly what any snack should be.

No assembly required:

Choco Crunch Figgy Pops. Got a chocolate lover in the house? Instead of reaching for a bar, consider this healthful treat. Organic cocoa and cacao nibs, dates, figs, seeds and coconut combine for a decidedly indulgent snack that you can pass out with impunity. These Figgy Pops are sweetened with just a touch of organic apple juice concentrate and are an excellent source of fiber. Try all 5 delicious flavors.

Cinnamon Citrus Nut Fusion. Who doesn’t love cinnamon? This kid-approved spice pairs with citrusy orange, walnuts, cashews, almonds and dried apples and cranberries in this taste-bud tempting mix. Even better, all our Fruit and Nut Fusions are free from refined sugar and packed with protein-rich nuts, which can help anyone feel full longer. Translation, fewer, “mom, when’s dinner” interruptions.

Maple Vanilla Coconut Chips. Meet the humble and astonishingly delicious coconut chip. Kids will love this crunchy delight, which is kissed by vanilla bean and just a touch of real maple syrup. Go ahead and let them indulge. Coconut is packed with the good kind of fat. And don’t forget there’s more where these came from. Our coconut chips come in 5 other delicious flavors including kid friendly Spiced Cacao and Toasted Cinnamon.

Smyrna Figs. Fig-filled cookies? Who needs ‘em? These kid favorites are often loaded with unhealthy ingredients including high-fructose corn syrup. Yuck! If your tots like getting figgy with it, consider giving them the real deal instead. Our Smyrna Figs are truly nature’s candy offering flavors of honey, butterscotch and a slight nuttiness from the seeds. What’s more, they’re entirely free from added sugars and naturally high in fiber.

Some (painless) assembly needed:

Banana Date Pineapple Granola Bars. Make your own granola bars and avoid the unknown and unhealthy ingredients that often wind their way into this lunchbox staple. This recipe delivers, soft, chewy bars stuffed with tasty (and perhaps undetected) healthy ingredients.

Goji Berry Truffles. These dark cacao truffles are totally delicious, super easy to prepare, and packed with healthy fats, antioxidant-rich cacao and vitamin A-rich Goji. Yum! The only trouble will be keeping them around.

Sweet and Salty Popcorn. Making popcorn on the stove is fun for kids (under adult supervision, of course), plus popcorn is a good source of fiber and who doesn’t love it? Add some sweet coconut chips for a nice flavor balance and to boost this snack’s hunger-curbing power by delivering satiating healthy fats.

Make It Vegan! 8 Easy (and Delicious) Ingredient SwapsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Vegan Avocado Toast Hummus Kale ChipsSo, you’re adapting a classic recipe to be 100-percent plant based? No problem! There are vegan substitutions for pretty much every ingredient these days. Whether you need the perfect whipped topping for a festive pie, or simply to cut a few eggs from a recipe, we’ve got you covered. Here are our favorite foolproof vegan ingredient swaps.

 

1. Replace Whipped Cream with Aquafaba

If you’ve never heard of aquafaba it may be time to get better acquainted. This oft-overlooked vegan ingredient can work wonders on the dessert table. Aquafaba is the liquid in your can of chickpeas. Because the legumes are cooked in this liquid it contains protein and carbohydrates, which allow it to be whipped into stiff peaks like heavy cream or egg whites. Just add cream of tarter (for stabilization) and sugar and voilà! Expect light, airy and totally pie worthy results. Here’s a recipe.

2. Replace Butter with Sweet Potato

We get it, butter is tricky to replace – especially in baked goods which often suffer mightily from its lack. Fortunately, whipped sweet potato, believe it or not, can come shockingly close to imparting buttery-like benefits. That’s because the tuber is dense, subtly sweet and super moist. Hmmm … that does sound like butter. Even better, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A and beta-carotene.

3. Replace Butter with Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil is another great vegan replacement for butter. We love a pat of coconut oil on warm muffins just out of the oven and in any other baked good that traditionally calls for butter. Research shows that the naturally occurring saturated fats in coconut oil not only help baked goods stay moist but also may help boost the metabolism and support the immune system. Wow!

4. Replace Eggs with Flax or Chia Seeds

Did you know, ground flax or chia seeds can be used to replace eggs in baked goods? That’s because the naturally occurring polysaccharides of these ingredients, when combined with water, form a gel that can give structure to quick breads and muffins. Simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground seeds with 3 tablespoons of warm water for every egg you need to replace.

5. Replace Cream with Canned Coconut Milk

Oh, the wonders of coconut milk! It’s delicious, versatile and perhaps the ultimate convenience food since popping open a can requires very little work. We like it instead of milk or cream in soups and desserts like this one.

6. Replace Sour Cream with Silken Tofu

We’ve all likely experienced the highs and lows of tofu. But when it’s good, it can be oh, so good since it virtually disappears into a dish and takes on the flavors of other star ingredients. Our favorite tofu applications this time of year, and where it’s rarely detected, are dips, puddings and desserts where it’s substituted for sour cream.

7. Replace Cheese with Nutritional Yeast

Sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salads, soups or anywhere else you might add a touch of cheese. This inactive yeast imparts an addictively cheesy, salty taste to any food in touches. Even better, it’s also an excellent source of fiber, protein and several B vitamins. Nutritional yeast helps us achieve that rich cheddar flavor in our Bedda Than Chedda Kale Chips, without having to use cheese!

8. Replace Cream Cheese with Cashew Cream

Cashew cream is another versatile, and addictive cheese replacement. Make this cream yourself by simply pureeing cashews with water in a blender. And, just like cream cheese, this delight can be used in savory or sweet dishes depending on the ingredients you add. We like it for pasta sauces, soups and (honestly) simply licking from the bowl.

Vegan Holiday Recipes To “Wow” The Whole FamilyWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Vegan Holiday Recipes

Preparing a holiday menu that the whole family will enjoy can be a challenge – especially when not everyone eats the same way. Perhaps your vegan household will be entertaining guests more accustomed to traditional holiday recipes? Maybe you’ll be the lone vegan at the table but would like to offer a dish that’s not quickly categorized as the healthy, vegan option i.e. “fibrous and flavorless”? Whatever your situation, adding crowd-pleasing vegan holiday recipes to your table is a worthy effort.

As you know, many dishes this time of year are laden with excess fat, oil and sugar. Our tendencies to overindulge during the holidays can lead to urgent and drastic measures to get back on track come the New Year. Conversely, a diet rich in plant-based foods can leave eaters feeling light, bright and energized. In fact, research shows that a vegan diet contributes to a host of health benefits including reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and more – but we know we don’t need to convince you. These indulgent holiday recipes emphasize healthful ingredients AND (most importantly) flavor. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if many don’t realize they’re entirely plant based.

Appetizers

Start the party with these festive appetizers that pack a tasty dose of heart-healthy nuts, fruits and seeds.

Avocado and Cranberry Hummus
Spicy Coconut Mango Popcorn
Sweet and Spicy Cranberries and Pumpkinseed Mix

 

The Main Attraction

We like to offer a spread of several main dishes to suit different palates. Give the classics a twist by adding a new salad or perhaps a few ethnic influences.

Mango Farro Pilaf
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Plum and Sweet Potatoes Anna

Kale Apple Salad
Cranberry Spinach Salad
Double Baked Sweet Potato & Toasted Coconut

Dried Cranberry and Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

 

Dessert

You’re sure to leave a lasting impression on your guests with coconut oil, fair trade cacao and organic dried fruit.

Dessert Tamales with Coconut Sauce
Goji Berry Truffles
Forbidden Black Rice Pudding
Raw Truffle Balls
Chocolate Dipped Candied Apricots

Tart Cherry Lemon Muffin RecipeWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Delicious, and Healthy, Tart Cherry Lemon Muffins

Spring is in the air and that means it’s cherry season! I modified this delicious muffin recipe from Real Healthy Recipes using Made In Nature Organic Tart Cherries and let me tell you… these muffins are good. I love baking as healthily as possible and this recipe definitely ticks that box. You’ll use ingredients like coconut flour, maple syrup, and coconut milk. They’re even gluten, grain, dairy, and cane sugar free!

Ingredients

Tart Cherry Lemon Muffins

  • ⅔ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 omega-3 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon zest from one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon cherry extract
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup Made in Nature Organic Tart Cherries, chopped into small pieces

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While it’s heating up lightly grease a 24 count mini muffin pan with coconut oil or your other favorite cooking oil. Grab a medium-sized bowl and whisk the coconut flour, salt, and baking powder together.

Using a second medium-sized bowl combine the eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, and cherry extract. Mix it all up add in your finely chopped tart cherries. Then, add your cooled and melted coconut oil, whisking it into the batter. Keep whisking until the batter is smooth and lump-free.

Bake for 25 minutes, basking in the ahh-mazing smell that’s filling your kitchen. Be sure to give them a check every so often since cooking times can vary. You want the muffins to be a light golden brown color. Remove them from the oven, let ‘em cool, then gently remove each muffin to continue cooling on a wire cooling rack.

And that’s it! This healthy tart cherry lemon muffin recipe couldn’t be easier.
Are you going to give this recipe a go? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Brownie Recipe with Coconut Chips to Satisfy Your Sweet ToothWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Delicious, Gooey Brownies with a Tropical Coconut Twist

Once the weather starts teasing me with warmer temperatures my mind immediately turns tropical. And, there’s nothing I love more than taking advantage of that tropical state of mind by incorporating more coconut into my recipes.

I don’t know about you, but I also have a pretty ravenous sweet tooth. When I’m craving some time on the beach and something sweet, I whip up these amazing brownies using a combo of Made in Nature coconut chips and shredded coconut flakes. I like my brownies rich, fudgy, and sinful. If you feel the same way, let’s get baking!

Fudgy Coconut Brownies with Coconut Chips

Toasted Coconut Chips from Made in Nature

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups cocoa
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4 large eggs gently beaten
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened, fine flaked coconut
  • 1 package Made in Nature Maple Madagascar Vanilla Toasted Coconut Chips

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Amazing Snacks On The Go – Fruit Bar RecipeWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

You’ll Love These 3-Ingredient Dried Apple Energy Bars

Like many a health-minded foodie, I love fruit bars. Lärabar is probably one of my favorite brands, but you know what kind of fruit bars I love even more? My own homemade organic dried apple fruit bars.

If you need a quick snack for your workday commute, or just want to avoid midday hanger, give these guys a try. Oh, and before I forget… you’ll only need three ingredients! Mind = blown.

Ingredients

1 cup nuts (use mixed nuts, almonds, cashews, or any other nut you enjoy)
1 cup Made In Nature Organic Dried Apples
1 cup Made in Nature Organic Deglet Noor Dates

Organic Dried Apples from Made in Nature

Directions

Whip out your food processor and toss in the nuts, dried apples, and dates. Pulse a few times to break everything up and separate the dates by hand if they start to get clumpy. Then, you want to process the mixture until a ball is formed. This should take a minute or two and you may want to scrape the sides of your food processor to make sure nothing is sticking to the sides and blade.
Put some wax paper on your countertop and then plop your ball down. Press the mixture into a thick square, making it as thick as you ultimately want your bars to be. Wrap that lovely square up in the wax paper and let it chill in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, unwrap your square and place it on a cutting board. I usually cut mine into 8 – 12 bars depending on how large I want my fruit bars to be.

… And that’s it! Your bars can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks at a time. If you’re anything like me, there’s no way they’ll last that long. I think they’re best right out of the fridge, but I also like wrapping them up to go. They’ll get a bit soft eventually, but it doesn’t impact the amazing taste.

Do you enjoy making your own homemade energy bars? What are your favorite ingredient combinations? Swap recipes and ideas in the comments!

7 Healthy and High Protein FoodsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Healthy Foods That Pack a Protein Punch

Whether you’re training for a big event like a marathon, or simply want to up your strength and muscle, a high protein diet can be a huge help. Protein helps repair and rebuild muscles, but remember — if you don’t also eat enough carbs or fats to satisfy your energy needs protein will be converted into energy, meaning fewer calories go to muscle repair. That’s why a balanced diet is so important!

Are you ready to up your protein intake? Give these 7 healthy and high protein foods a try!

1. Hard boiled eggs

Eggs - A high protein food and snack
Hard boiled eggs are one of my favorite high protein snacks to prep ahead of time. I generally boil a dozen, then they’re ready and waiting for me whenever hunger strikes. One large egg contains about 6 grams of protein.

2. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds pack a surprising amount of protein… there’s nearly 10 grams in just a quarter cup. You can add them to trail mix, sprinkle over salads, or eat ‘em plain. Just be sure to watch your portion sizes, because a quarter cup also contains 180 calories.

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6 Delicious Fruits You May Not Have TriedWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Friday, May 13th, 2016

Apples are Great, But You’ve Gotta Give These Unique Fruits a Try

I love apples and bananas as much as the next fruit-obsessed person, but I also love trying new and unique fruits whenever I can. These six fruits aren’t your usual standbys but they’re just as delicious.

If you haven’t tried these fruits before you’ll definitely want to sample them all. And if you have tried them, I’d be willing to bet this post will have you craving a repeat experience!

1. Goldenberries

Goldenberries are well-known throughout South America, and they’ve even been classified as a superfood. Their tart flavor will wake up your taste buds, but these chewy berries are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of Vitamin C. I like eating them on salads, in my oatmeal, and straight out of the bag.

2. Goji berries

Another superfood to add to our list of tasty fruits you need to try, goji berries are grown in certain parts of Asia, like Tibet. Dried goji berries are soft and chewy with a subtle sweet-tangy flavor that’s quite addicting. These berries also make a good topper, but if you find you aren’t a huge fan of the flavor, blend them up in a smoothie to reap the nutritional benefits. Goji berries are a great source of Vitamin A.

3. MulberriesFresh Mulberries

If you’ve noticed that I have a bit of a berry obsession, you have a keen eye. I can’t help it — there are so many unique berry varieties to try!

Dried mulberries are tender and soft, and you can include them in tons of different recipes. Give these ricotta and grilled mulberry peaches a try for a truly unique (and mouth-watering) flavor combination.

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4 Healthy Appetizer Recipes For Your Next Dinner PartyWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Prepare These Quick and Easy Appetizers in No Time

Every great party needs tasty appetizers, right? I’m a firm believer in that statement, so skip the potato chips and try one of these four good-for-you appetizer recipes instead.

1. Fig and goat cheese appetizer

Whipping up this appetizer is so incredibly simple, and the taste payoff is huge.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Made In Nature Calimyrna Figs or Black Mission Figs
  • ¼ cup of red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 ounces goat cheese (soft Brie cheese also works well)
  • 16 crackers
  • 16 pieces of fresh arugula or mixed mesclun greens

Directions:
Add the oil and onion to a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until they begin to soften.

Fig and Goat Cheese Appetizer
Trim the stems off your figs and slice them into 1/4″ slices (about 4-5 per fig).
Add the figs and balsamic vinegar to your skillet. Saute for 2 – 4 minutes until the figs soften and are nicely coated with oil and vinegar. Remove from heat.
Spread cheese on crackers so that they’re lightly covered.
Add one small piece of arugula or mixed green on top of the cheese. Place fig topping on greens and serve.

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Healthy Snacks For Kids School LunchesWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Monday, May 9th, 2016

Try Adding These Healthy Snacks to Your Child’s Lunchbox

There’s more to a school lunch than the main meal, so what are some healthy snacks that you can pack in your child’s lunch box? These healthy snacks are all kid-approved and will keep their energy levels up throughout the school day.

Homemade fruit salad

You’ll never want to pack sugary, syrupy fruit cups once you try making your own homemade fruit salad. All you have to do is slice up your child’s favorite fruits like apples, bananas, and blueberries, then squeeze some lemon over the top to keep things fresh.

Dried fruit

Unsulphured Apricots from Made in Nature

If you’re concerned about keeping snacks cold dried fruit is a tasty and healthy snack alternative. While I’m not a kid, I am a kid at heart, and I think these juicy Made in Nature Organic, Unsulfured Apricots would be a real crowd pleaser. Made in Nature’s Organic Tropical Fusion is another one to try!

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Spiced Up Salad With Pomegranate Seeds and GingerWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Monday, April 18th, 2016

Try This Awesome Pomegranate Seed Salad

Are you looking to, literally, spice up your salad? If you love ginger and spice, then you’ve gotta make this salad. There’s even a delicious surprise ingredient that really makes this recipe shine.

Pomegranate Seeds for Salads

Salad Ingredients:

  • 6 cups greens. You can use kale, romaine, spinach, a mix… it’s up to you and your taste buds! I like to mix up a bunch of different greens for my salads. I’ll occasionally add some pre-packed cabbage for extra crunch, too.
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup cooked edamame
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1 package Made In Nature Pomegranate Ginger Fusion Nut Blend

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ½ cup honey
  • 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (depending on your palate and how strong your ginger is)
  • ¼ cup mild flavored oil (avocado, grapeseed, or walnut oil are all great choices)
  • Salt to taste

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4 Healthy Snacks for Kids You Can Make at HomeWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Friday, April 15th, 2016

Try These Kid-Friendly Snack Ideas… They’re Healthy, too!

Would you be thrilled if your children’s snacks were healthier? I just love thinking about fun new snack ideas, and the ones I’m going to share today are all kid-friendly and super easy to make at home.

 

Energy Balls - Kids Snack Recipe

1. Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

Making (and eating) fruit and cheese kabobs is tasty and interactive. To get the kids involved prepare bowls of cut up fruit like apples, grapes, pineapples, bananas, and any other favorites. Set out another bowl with cheese cubes and show your snackers how to thread their fruit and cheese onto the wooden kabob sticks.

All in all, they’ll get a few servings of fruit, lots of fiber, some protein, and a happy stomach!

2. DIY Trail Mix

Trail mix, because it’s so easy to customize, which is perfect for picky palates. Plus, if you make your own you’ll know exactly what your kids are eating — no unnecessary preservatives included. Lately I’ve been loving this easy concoction:

This combo is a nice mix of tart and sweet, soft and crunchy. We sweeten our Tart Cherries with a touch of organic apple juice and the coconut chips add another layer of warm, toasty sweetness. If your kiddos aren’t ready for the bitter bite on the cacao nibs, feel free to swap them out for dark chocolate.

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7 Healthy Snacks That Pack Nutrition and FlavorWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Level-Up Your Snacking with These Balanced, Healthy Snacks

Keeping my snacking on the healthy side is one of the bigger challenges I face while trying to eat my way toward a more balanced diet. It would be so easy to grab a few cookies or a handful of chips (and sometimes I do just that!), but there’s also a better way to snack.

If you want to eat healthier and balance your diet, give these healthy (but still super tasty and satisfying) snacks a try. They’re all quick and easy, too!

1. Seaweed snacks

Wait, what? Seaweed? Heck yeah! Seaweed snacks are a personal favorite of mine, and they’re extremely healthy. High in vitamins A and C, they’re also one of the only natural, non-animal sources of vitamin B-12. They’re packaged much like crackers, and come in a ton of different flavors.

Healthy snack ideas from Made in Nature

2. Dried fruit

One of my favorite nutrient-packed snacks is dried fruit, and Made in Nature has plenty of fruits to choose from. Choose your favorite or create your own delicious mix of fruits. My favorites are dried mango or Smyrna figs – they are both so good I really can’t choose.

3. Homemade trail mix

Trail mix isn’t just about GORP (good old fashioned raisins and peanuts.) Get creative! Mix your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits together for a snack that’s perfectly tailored to your taste buds. You’ll know exactly what you put in, so this is a great way to avoid unnecessary sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.

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Clean Eating – Finding Clean Food in the Grocery StoreWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Making Clean, Healthy Food Choices When Shopping

You want to make healthy choices when shopping for you and your family at your local grocery store, but it can be so hard to sort through the marketing messages and hype to find what’s truly wholesome, minimally processed, and actually good for you. Clean Eating - Finding Clean Food at the Grocery Store

That’s why so many people have turned their focus toward “clean” eating. Clean eating is essentially the same thing as healthy eating, because there’s a big focus on eating a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. On the flip side, clean eating just takes it a step further by eliminating things like processed foods, refined sugar, preservatives, and other unnecessary additives.

How can you learn what’s really “clean” in the grocery store? What are some dead giveaways on the nutrition labels of unhealthy foods? Keep reading to learn more about how to figure out what’s healthy, and what isn’t, in the grocery store.

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Quick Healthy Breakfast IdeasWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Fast Breakfast Recipes for a Healthy Start to Your Day

Rumor has it that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I’m not one to argue with established logic… especially if eating is involved. Make your first meal a healthy one by trying out one of these quick, healthy breakfasts.

Quick Healthy Breakfast IdeasOvernight Oats

Overnight oats are, hands down, one of my favorite quick and healthy breakfasts. And making them is so, so simple:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons flax meal
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Mix everything together in a mason jar or other container with a lid, pop the jar in the fridge, refrigerate overnight, and enjoy! It’s that simple. Make sure to experiment with different ingredients, too. Protein powders mix in well, cashew butter is decadent, coconut milk tastes wonderful, berries are the perfect topping… well, you get the idea.

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Must Have Kitchen Items & UtensilsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Seven Useful Kitchen Tools That Will Transform Your Cooking

You already have the basics: pots, pans, baking sheets, spatulas. But, what if you could completely transform your cooking and baking with some new utensils and gadgets? Here are 7 awesome kitchen tools that you might not have — some of them I’m already obsessed with, and others are high on my list of “wants.”

1. Silpat baking sheets

Move over, parchment paper. Silicone is durable, resistant to extreme temps, transfers heat evenly, and is inherently nonstick. That’s why Silpat baking sheets are so useful, even when it’s time to bake flaky pastries and gooey cookies. Plus, you can use them over and over again.

2. Immersion blenders

This tool changed my life, because it meant I never had to transfer my roasted red pepper soup to the blender for pureeing again. Now I can puree soups straight from the pot, thicken sauces right on the stovetop, and easily mix up ingredients with a hand-held immersion blender.

Kitchen Items and Untensils

3. Salad spinner

Veggie prep can be a pain, especially if you need to wait for your washed broccoli and lettuce to dry. That’s where a salad spinner comes in handy. Don’t let the name fool you, because this amazing tool can wash all sorts of produce. Some can also be used as colanders, which is helpful for pasta.

This larger tool can take up a bunch of space in your cabinet, which is why I love this collapsible model by Progressive International. (more…)

New Uses for Kale Chips!Written by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Put Down the Bowl and Try Kale Chips in Your Favorite Recipes

Kale chips are fantastic and there are so many different ways to prepare them: with some extra heat from spices or sprinkled with parmesan and garlic, to start. But, you don’t have to eat them straight from the bowl every time a craving hits (though we wouldn’t blame you if you did).

Kale Chips - Great for Snacking and Cooking!

I love it when people get creative with their food, thinking outside the box to create delicious new combos – and lately I’ve seen tons of interesting ways to eat kale chips. Surprisingly, there are plenty of alternative uses for kale chips that you may not have thought of before, and I’m so excited to share them with you!

If you’re running low on time or just want a hassle-free way to turn kale chips into your next power snack, we’ve got you covered. Personally, Made In Nature’s Bedda Than Chedda and Sriracha Chili kale chips are two of my favorite flavors.

Using kale chips as a snack topping

Once you’ve spiced your kale up and dehydrated the fibrous leaves into a crunchy chip (or bought your favorite kind from the store), try using them as a topping on some of your favorite snacks:

  • Crumble your kale chips and toss them in with some air popped popcorn. Chips flavored with salt and olive oil taste great, but don’t be afraid to get creative.
  • If you’re like me and tend to cover your pizza in parmesan and red pepper flakes, try making some kale chips with those same flavors. Then, you guessed it – use those kale chips as your new favorite pizza topping.
  • Who doesn’t love toast smothered in creamy avocado? Personally, I’m a huge fan. Switch up the flavor of your avocado toast by adding crispy kale chips as a topping.

Kale chips as a topping for pastas, soups, and chili

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Enhance Everyday Recipes by Adding FigsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Friday, March 4th, 2016

Breakfast through Dinner: Healthy Figs Sweeten Any Meal

You may have heard that you can use figs in place of refined sugar in some sweeter recipes, but figs can be used for so much more! Have you thought about incorporating figs into your everyday meals?
Figs Add Sweetness to Most Recipes
Whether you love fresh figs or can’t get enough of dried figs, try adding figs to these well-loved recipes and meals and get ready for a tasty twist on everyday staples.

Adding figs to salads

If you love adding fruits like strawberries and pears to your salads you’re bound to enjoy the addition of figs to your next bowl of greens. The next time you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market pick up your usual salad ingredients, plus some fresh or dried figs.

This fig salad recipe from Whole Foods is a great starting point. As the recipe suggests, you can also broil or grill the figs beforehand, and the result will be a delicious caramelization of the fruit’s natural sugars. Feta is the cheese of choice for this recipe, but a rich, creamy goat cheese would also pair wonderfully with the sweet figs.

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