14 Valentine’s Day Recipes that Beat a Box of ChocolatesWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Valentine’s Day is all about indulgence. While we love a heart-shaped box filled with sweets and treats as much as anyone, there are many more delicious ways to show your sweetheart you care – especially if your Valentine is you. Ditch the crowded restaurants and chocolates filled with mysterious ingredients and whip up your own indulgence at home. We have you covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

valentines-day-recipes-raw-truffle-balls

A Lovely Way to Start the Day


Save some dough and the long lines of V-day brunch and enjoy more cuddle time at home. Any of these recipes is sure to get your loved one in the mood, or eat them in bed yourself while watching a movie featuring your celebrity crush.

Potassium-Protein Morning Shake
More energy on Valentine’s Day is a good thing, and this shake delivers with dried bananas, oats and almond butter. What will you do with that extra boost? That’s for you to decide.

Ricotta & Greek Yogurt Pancakes with Goldenberry Basil Syrup
Nothing spells I love you like a stack of pancakes made just for you. Go the distance with these extra-fluffy, extra-tasty Ricotta and Greek Yogurt Pancakes with Goldenberry Basil Syrup. Yum!

Honey Date Loaf
Ask your honey on a date with a sweet slice of Honey Date Loaf made in their honor. Bake this breakfast the night ahead and be one step closer to impressing your date come V-day morning.

Banana Coffee Crepes
Who’s not wowed by crepes? The pancake’s sophisticated French cousin is light, airy and often filled with things that make people happy. This recipe infuses the favorite with coffee (yes coffee!) and organic dried bananas.

Black Mission Fig & Goat Cheese Hard Boiled Eggs
Everyone loves deviled eggs, so why not enjoy them for breakfast? This spin on the hors d’oeuvre classic brings sweet mission figs and tangy goat cheese into the fold for a decidedly delicious (and unexpected) morning meal.

Treat Yourself to a Fancy Dinner

Everyone knows that dinner out on Valentine’s Day can crowded, pricey and underwhelming. Save the time and get cozy in your own kitchen. Nothing spells foreplay like chopping, stirring and tasting together.

Cuban-Style Paella
Shrimp, scallops and chorizo, oh my! While paella can sometimes be a time-consuming affair, this recipe makes it a snap, though just as scrumptious.

Dried Cranberry & Apricot Braised Lamb Chops
Who wouldn’t swoon over this festive garnet braise featuring tender lamb shoulder and dried apricots and cranberries made plump from any favorite pinot? The recipe calls for one cup of wine. What will you do with the rest of the bottle?

Squash and Fig Stew
It’ll be hard not to get comfortable when the smells from this stew of butternut squash, grass-fed beef, onions and dried figs, begin wafting from the kitchen. A kick from a hint of jalapeno will make it even easier to lose a layer.

Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza
Everyone loves pizza, and here’s a way to make it V-day worthy.  Fancy figs, goat cheese, arugula and thyme come together in a snap for this delicious vegetarian meal.

Say Yes, to Healthy Indulgence

Be sweet on your sweetheart or give in to your cravings with impunity. The most delicious desserts are naturally guilt free because they use only the highest quality, organic ingredients.

Goji Berry Truffles
Sweetened with maple syrup and infused with nutrient-rich Maca (which, ahem, is shown to support sexual function) these dark cacao truffles are easy to make and so packed with healthy ingredients it’s easy to forget they’re dessert.

Raw Truffle Balls
You really can’t have too many truffles on Valentine’s Day, and these little delights are free of refined sugar and surprisingly made with fiber-rich dates, apricots and raisins. Go ahead, have two or five.

Warm Chocolate & Coffee Figgy Pudding
It doesn’t get sexier than this dark, decadent, sophisticated, warm winter dessert. For the full experience, we strongly suggest you pair your pudding with cognac while sitting by a roaring fire.

Fig & Port Gelato
We think ice cream is a welcome treat any time of year. Rather than reaching for a pre-purchased pint, let Valentine’s Day be your inspiration to try your hand at the churning wheel. This recipe brings together Golden Calimyrna Figs and ruby port for fabulously pink, gourmet scoops.

Chocolate Dipped Candied Apricots
Double dipped chocolate apricots are easy, healthy and fun. We like to cover ours in nuts and seeds, but we won’t tell if you pull out the heart-shaped sprinkles.

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

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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!

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Make your holiday feast a snap with these time-saving tipsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

No one likes spending extra time in the kitchen toiling away behind the stove or scrubbing mountains of dirty dishes. But during the holidays when friends and family take over the house, such activities may seem unavoidable. We understand since we spend plenty of time in the kitchen all year long developing recipes featuring our organic fruit. Just because a dish looks like it takes hours doesn’t mean it actually should. From our test kitchen to yours, use these tips to streamline meal prep and cleanup and spend more time doing what your really want to do this holiday season.

When you’re cooking …

1. Start with mise en place. This French term literally translates to “putting in place.” Prepare your  ingredients before you begin cooking. That means chopping, pulling out spices and of course designating counter space. Not only is this a great way to save time while cooking but it also makes the process much less stressful.

2.  Keep a sink of soapy water. You may not have time to clean as you go, so let a sink of soapy water do the heavy lifting for you. Dishwasher loading becomes a snap.

3.  Put away your groceries. If you’re the one cooking, takeover unloading groceries.  This is the best way to ensure you know where everything is as you prepare for mise en place. It’s no fun knowing you bought something but having no idea where it is. We’ve been there.

4.  Keep valuable utensils handy. Next to the stove fill a mason jar with the tools you most often use like spatulas, tongs, wooden spoons and rubber scrapers.

5.  Sharpen your knife.  Sharp knives are safer and they work much better. Keep a knife sharpener on hand and use it often.

 

Easier ingredient prep …
These commonly used ingredients are a snap to prepare with these tips from the pros.

* For easy whip cream, shake ingredients in a cool mason jar.

* Slice avocadoes in the skin to make cubes. It makes them even easier to mash into guacamole.

* Put a dish towel or damp paper towel under your cutting board to keep it from slipping.

* Grate frozen butter straight into flour when make pastry dough for even distribution.

* Instantly core a head of iceberg lettuce by slamming it down on a cutting board.

* Add a pinch of baking soda to onions to caramelize them in half the time.

* To keep cheese from sticking to your grater, coat it with a nonstick spray.

* To get more juice out of lemons and limes microwave them for a few seconds.

* For perfect potato wedges, use an apple slicer.

Do you have any go-to kitchen time savers that you rely on? We’d love to give them a try. Leave a comment below.

10 better-for-you foodie gifts from our kitchen to yoursWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

During the holidays does your kitchen become a dessert factory pumping out sugar cookies, gingerbread and truffles to ring in the season? This year, we’re looking forward to taking a healthier approach by offering overindulged, stressed family and friends a treat they truly won’t regret eating. Consider sharing these easy, healthy foodie gifts to do the same.

Apricot and Fig Preserves 
This vibrant jar of apricot jam is as beautiful to look at as it is tasty to eat.  Made essentially with just fruit, water and lemon juice, it’s also completely sugar free. Try other Made In Nature dried organic fruit to enjoy the best of the season year round.

Granola with Cranberries & Raisins
Share the gift of homemade granola. Crisp, flavorful and full of your favorite nuts, berries and seeds, once anyone’s tried the real deal it’s tough to go back to the store-bought stuff. Be sure to include the recipe, and if you’re feeling creative suggestions for other nut berry combinations like dried mangoes with cashews or apples with extra cinnamon. Make a big batch and store leftovers in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Raw Truffle Balls 
These elegant truffles make a lovely dessert but are healthy enough to also enjoy while snowshoeing or even for breakfast. Made with just dried fruit, nuts, unsweetened cocoa powder and a touch of orange juice, friends won’t believe they’re sugar free and high in fiber.  Even better, they’re also a snap to prepare.

Sweet and Spicy Cranberries and Pumpkinseed Mix 
We like to keep this sweet and spicy mix on hand when we have company in town. The healthful snack is filling since it’s rich in fiber and simultaneously satisfies both sweet and salty cravings. Don’t be surprised when friends and family ask for the recipe.

Honey Date Loaf 
Give banana bread a break with this Honey Date Loaf which is perfect for the holidays. Made with naturally sweet organic Deglet Noor Dates it only used 1/4 cup of honey and 1/2 cup brown sugar for sweetness. Cinnamon and nutmeg add a seasonal touch.

Pineapple Cranberry Apple Granola Bars
Your friends will thank you for sharing this easy and healthy grab n’ go breakfast/snack option. Making your granola bars may seem challenging but this recipe is truly a snap with only a handful of on-hand ingredients. Simply line a baking dish with parchment paper, bake, cut and serve. Voila!

Pineapple Coconut Cookies 
Macaroons meet pineapple upside down cake, in these tender cookies. Grandparents will appreciate your update on the classic dessert (dot with maraschino cherries if you’re feeling cheeky). We love the rich coconut flavor and chunks of sweet pineapple.

Cranberry Mole 
Mole may not be on your Christmas menu, but south of the border the dish is a holiday classic. Traditionally a rich blend of chilies and chocolate, during Christmas and Lent in Central Mexico it’s often made with romeritos, a wild Mexican shrub similar to rosemary, and served with dried shrimp cakes. Try our holiday mole version which features dried cranberries. Deliver in small mason jars with a suggestion to try it alongside a Christmas turkey or other poultry.

Cranberry Oatmeal and White Chocolate Cookies
Whole wheat flour and oats, peppered with sugar-free organic cranberries update this classic cookie recipe with a nutritional edge. Don’t stop there though, consider mixing in chopped nuts for a portion of the white chocolate chips.

Chocolate Dipped Candied Apricots 
Naturally delectable dried apricots become even more of a treat when dipped in delicious dark chocolate and your favorite heart-healthy nuts or seeds. Try a variety of crunchy toppings such as crushed pistachios, macadamia nuts, cashews or even colorful sprinkles. Deliver in a parchment paper lined boxed.

Tip and tricks from our recipe guruWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Mango and Pineapple Stuffed Chicken Burgers, Dried Cranberry and Apricot Braised Lamb Chops, Raw Truffle Balls—just reading Stephanie Stock’s recipes have us licking our lips. Luckily, she’s part of the Made In Nature Team putting delicious, done-in-a-snap meals, snacks and treats at anyone’s fingertips. What inspires her creativity in the kitchen? She shares how she became comfortable behind the stove and tips, tricks and tidbits for igniting your inner chef.

How did you become a foodie?
I come from a family of foodies. My Mom has always been an amazing naturalist cook and lets ripe, simply prepared fruits and vegetables speak for themselves. I grew up tasting the flavors of her Puerto Rican upbringing. My Father has a master’s degree in animal science and has been working in the meat/poultry industry for over 40 years. I was raised with an understanding of various cuts of meat thanks to him. I realized at a young age how food bonded my family together and made us feel good.

How can we get creative in the kitchen?
Take baby steps. Embrace what you love be it an ingredient or cooking method and use that as your starting point. Involving your family is another way to light the creative spark. When you’re eating something you particularly enjoy, be present to totally enjoy it. How does it smell? How does it feel in your mouth? Does it incite a particular emotion?

In my kitchen, creativity stems from cultural exploration. I bring friends, family and even co-workers into the kitchen to hear about the foods that remind them of home. That inspires me.  The best reward is the look on people’s faces after the first bite.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Our Made In Nature dried bananas and almond butter. Either together or on their own, I’m in heaven.

Best number of guests at a dinner party?
Infinity! I love to entertain and share my passion with others. You can’t go wrong bringing any number of people together over good food. Think Thanksgiving parties but all the time. Am I right?

Do you have a must-have kitchen utensil?
A sharpened chef’s knife. It’s essential when preparing really any dish–especially when I need to dice dried fruit and obviously to showcase my ninja skills.

Go to ingredient?
Hands down, olive oil. If you were to walk into my kitchen, you would quickly notice a bottle sitting pretty next to my stove. It’s the base of many of my cooking dishes. I also use it topically for its health benefits. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts from Mama Nature.

Apron, or no?
I wear a chefs jacket when cooking, apron when baking and cocktail vest when drink mixing. What can I say, I’m a girl who likes options. Dressing up is fun and can be motivating when working in the kitchen. Do it!

Figs make everything taste better—10 ways to use themWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Summer is here which means we’re dreaming up all the ways we can dress up vanilla ice cream to cool off from the heat and enjoy this season. Sure, sprinkles and chocolate sauce are nice, but in the Made In Nature kitchen, we prefer to be more creative (and healthy) with our desserts. The blank slate of vanilla is perfect for showing off everything from slivered almonds to our new favorite, sautéed figs.

Here’s an easy recipe for our favorite sautéed figs, but it doesn’t just stop at ice cream and appetizers. Here are 10 other ways to incorporate figs into your summer diet.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZsSM_x45wc

Fig Bruschetta: Toast baguette slices. Top with sautéed figs and goat cheese. Arrange on a baking sheet, sprinkle with chopped olives. Broil until nuts begin to brown. Sprinkle with favorite herb. We like fresh Thyme.

Figgy Ice Cream: Top your favorite vanilla bean ice cream with sautéed figs. Sprinkle with pistachios for delightful crunch.

Fig stuffed pork tenderloin: Slice pork in half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Place between plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a mallet or heavy skillet. Spread fig preserves and blue cheese over pork, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around outside edges. Roll up the pork like a jelly-roll, securing with twine as you go.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 450° for 20 minutes.

Crunchy fig, endive spears: For an easy appetizer, separate endive spears and dress with fig preserves, blue cheese and walnuts.

Goat cheese, arugula pizza with figs: Top pizza crust with olive oil, goat cheese and sautéed figs. Broil until cheese begins to bubble. Take out and top with thin slices of prosciutto and caramelized onions. Let cool slightly and top with fresh arugula. Buon appetito!

Fig ricotta: Top ricotta cheese with sautéed figs, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with thyme for a classic Italian breakfast.

Grilled chicken salad with figs: Top spinach with grilled chicken breast slices. Add toasted walnuts, blue cheese and diced figs. Dress with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Yogurt with figs: Top Greek yogurt (we like plain, Vanilla works great as well) with figs, crushed pistachios and a drizzle of honey.

Linguine with figs and pancetta: Sauté radicchio with prosciutto and diced figs. Add mixture to linguine, toss with feta cheese and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil if the pasta is dry.

Chicken with fig sauce: Puree sautéed figs using a food processor and adding water as needed to desired texture. Serve on top of grilled or roasted chicken sprinkled with finishing pepper and rosemary for garnish.

 

What else can you do with figs? We think the possibilities are endless. Tell us about your favorite recipe in the comments section

Do You Want To Date? Recipe ContestWritten by Wendy Goldner | Friday, June 14th, 2013

Imagine yourself on the shores of Tunisia with wine in one hand and sun-dried Deglet Noor Dates in the other. Sounds heavenly right? Well now you can enjoy them without paying for the airfare as Made In Nature is proud to announce this delicious fruit as a brand new member of the Made In Nature family! To celebrate this addition, we’re asking, do you want to date? To inspire you to participate in the celebration, Made In Nature will send you a FREE sample of our luscious sun-dried, unsulfured, pitted Organic Deglet Noor Dates when you participate in the Made in Nature Do You Want To Date? Organic Recipe Contest! Dates6oz_72RGBMade In Nature’s certified-organic sun-dried Deglet Noor Dates are prized the world over for their translucent blond color and soft caramel-like flavor that distinguishes them from all other dates. Our dates are the sweetest, moistest, most delectable dates under the sun. Just the way nature intended. How do we do it? We work with the most dedicated family of farmers to grow the best-tasting, organic fruit on the planet. Our organic dates are handpicked from small farms in Tunisia where the terrain is rich with sunlight, clean and abundant ground water, and fertile soil. As we like to say, our dates grow with their feet in the water and their heads in the sun!

How can you participate?

It’s simple. E-mail us at news@madeinnature.com by 06/20/13 to receive your 24 oz sample bag and then get cooking! There will be three categories you can enter your recipes in.

  1. The Best Date: the best overall recipe
  2. The Speed Date: the best quick and easy recipe with 5 ingredients or less
  3. The Date Night: A fancy, formal dinner recipe

• 1st prize in each category: $150 and 15 FREE bags of Made In Nature Organic Deglet Noor Dates for Reader Giveaways

• 2 runner-up’s in each category: 10 FREE bags of Made In Nature Organic Deglet Noor Dates for Reader Giveaways.

We’ll judge your recipe on taste, creativity, and readers’ responses—so be sure to send your fans to like and share your dish on social media and tag us in any posts so we know what’s happening. If you post any recipes on your blog, just make sure to email us a link at the email address posted. The contest will run through 07/15/13. As a bonus for our dates launch, now through July 15, if you buy one 28 oz bag of Made In Nature Organic Dates and two other products (any size or fruit), you get free shipping. Make sure you spread the word. Join the Made In Nature Do Want To Date? Recipe Contest today! E-mail us at news@madeinnature.com for your free dates by 06/20/13, then start posting!

IMPORTANT DATES 06/20/13: Deadline for emailing news@madeinnature.com to participate. 7/15/13: End of contest date. THINGS TO REMEMBER – There are 3 categories: speed date, best date, and date night. You can enter in any or all of them. – You must find a way to let us know about your recipe, preferably through tagging us in a social media post, but email works too. – This contest is about sharing, so make sure the recipe ends up on your site or your facebook or our facebook. Somewhere for the world to see!