Gear up for National Nutrition Month with 5 Surprising Super FoodsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, March 6th, 2017

Mocha Espresso Smoothie  Tart cherry, apple and cabbage slaw made with Made In Nature organic dried tart cherries, red cabbage, green cabbage, apple, and carrot, with an apple cider vinegar, honey, and lime juice vinaigrette.  vegan-sweet-potato-toasted-coconut

Does anyone else have Spring Fever? As the sunlight lingers a little longer each day and a certain chill leaves the air, we can’t help but look forward to summer. Luckily, we know it won’t be long before shorts and flip-flop season is upon is. To gear up for making the most of the warmer weather to come, we’re putting special attention on health by teaming up with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for National Nutrition Month. For the month of March, look here and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for specific ideas on how you can  “put your best fork forward” to nourish mind, body and soul.

To get things started on the right foot, below are 5 favorite recipes we hope may inspire your menus this month. You may be surprised by the super food ingredient that makes them stand out. Who says healthy and delicious are not synonymous?

 

Mocha Espresso Smoothie
Super ingredient, Cacao:
Contains 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries and is the highest plant-based source of iron. Cacao is also rich in magnesium and calcium.

 

Stuffed Breakfast Tomatoes
Super ingredient, Roasted Tomato: Cooking tomatoes dramatically boosts beneficial lycopene.  Lycopene is an antioxidant that is a shown cancer fighter and also supports eye health.

 

Tart Cherry Apple and Cabbage Slaw
Super ingredient, Cabbage: This rainbow salad is rich in many healthful ingredients including carrot, apple and tart cherries. We love that it uses both red and green cabbage, which contain glutamine, an anti-inflammatory agent shown to reduce joint pain, fever and even help manage allergies.

 

Cranberry and Plum Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Super ingredient, Turkey: Aside from being a low-fat source of protein, regular turkey consumption is connected with a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer. Be sure to select, free-range, organic meat if possible.

 

Double Baked Sweet Potato and Toasted Coconut
Super ingredient, Sweet Potato: Did you know that sweet potatoes contain more Vitamin A than any other food? Vitamin A plays a key role in maintaining vision and supporting brain function. It’s also a known immune booster.

Clean Eating 101 with the Conscious CleanseWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

 

conscious-cleanse

Clean eating may be all the rage these days, but it can be hard to decipher exactly what it means and even harder to make it part of your daily routine. As part of National Nutrition Month, we sat down with Jo and Jules of the Conscious Cleanse to talk about what it means to eat clean, and get their top tips for stocking your pantry with healthy eats. They’ve also shared a recipe to get you started (which uses our Unsulfured Organic Dried Apricots).

If you’re looking for more, sign up for the next Conscious Cleanse, which starts on March 8th. Click here to register for their two week, whole foods based Spring Forward Cleanse, which will help you spring clean your body, mind, and pantry.

 

Clean eating has been a popular buzzword lately, and it has taken on many different meanings. What does clean eating mean to you?

Clean eating means taking it back to the basics. It’s about eating REAL food. It’s becoming confusing to navigate the world of healthy eating and nutrition because there are so many conflicting messages out there. We believe that if you start putting whole foods into your body, like an apple, a salad or a chicken breast you can revolutionize your health. Keep it simple and you’re on your way!

 

Do you have any advice for someone who is a beginner to clean eating or just starting out?

Instead of thinking about all of the food you’re going to be taking out of your diet, reframe your thinking to focus on what you’re going to add in. We like to make veggies the center of our food universe. Our Conscious Cleanse food plate has ⅔ of the plate filled with veggies and the other ⅓ is a non gluten grain, animal or veggie protein.

 

When stocking up your pantry, what guidelines do you generally follow to ensure you’re eating clean?

We ask our participants to think about where a food came from. Did it come from the earth? Can you imagine an animal eating this food out in the wild? Although we may all love it, there is no pizza bush 🙂

If you think about shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store, that will point you in the right direction. Make sure to stop in the produce department for a head of lettuce and then grab carrots, fennel or parsnips for roasting. In the bulk food section get your nuts, dried beans and non-gluten grains. Then check out the fish or meat counter for salmon, bison, lamb, cod or your favorite organic or wild protein. Another staple is a healthy oil like coconut or olive oil. There are also some fantastic hidden food gems in the center of the store, so we’ll often times make direct suggestions of brands that make healthy packaged food. Made in Nature is one of those awesome clean brands.

 

What are some of your favorite clean eats when it comes to snack food?

We’re obsessed with little bite sized snacks that take less than 10 minutes to make.  Our latest creation is Sunshine Bites. One of the things that makes these bites so great are the cashews. They provide a bit of protein and healthy fat which keeps you full and satisfied for longer. We also love the sweet and tangy flavor that the apricots add to the bites. It’s hard to find organic unsulfured apricots, so we were thrilled to find Made In Nature’s Apricots. When in a pinch, we put a little raw almond butter on them for a easy sweet treat. 

Sunshine Bites Recipe

Yield: 20 servings

conscious-cleanse-apricots-sunshine-bites

Ingredients:

2/3 cup raw cashews

1 cup dried apricots (purchase organic, unsweetened, unsulfured)

½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, plus more for garnish

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lime

pinch sea salt

pinch ground turmeric

Instructions:

Soak cashews for four hours. Drain and rinse. In a food processor combine all ingredients. Pulse to combine until a sticky dough is formed. Spoon out about a ½ tablespoon amount of mixture at a time and roll into a ball with your hands. Roll in coconut to coat. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Who Says Eating Vegan is Work? Here are 20 Tasty and Convenient MealsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, February 27th, 2017

vegan-sweet-potato-toasted-coconut  vegan-butternut-squash-quinoa  vegan-potassium-protein-shake

Sure, adopting a vegan diet means you’ll likely be preparing more food at home, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your kitchen. There are plenty of convenient and healthy food options that can keep you fueled without taking too much time away from the many other things on your plate. And, bonus, because vegan meals are often loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber to keep you full, you’ll have more energy to cross items off your to-do list. Here are some of our favorite and totally easy vegan breakfasts, lunches, dinners and more.

BREAKFAST

LUNCH

  • Make a sandwich: Spread whole-grain bread with hummus and top with your favorite veggies. We like, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, pre-washed salad greens and sprouts.
  • Grab some soup: Some grocery stores now offer a vegan soup option in their deli. If yours doesn’t, scope the refrigerator section. Many brands now offer organic, vegan ready-to-eat refrigerated soups. Here’s one of our favorites.
  • Make a burrito: All you need are tortillas, refried beans, your favorite vegan cheese and salsa. Throw in some avocado and veggies like kale, red pepper and sweet potato for more flavor and a boost of phytochemicals and vitamins.
  • Salad: Find salad bar and go to town! Or, prepare this Butternut Squash Quinoa salad at home.

DINNER

  • Go Italian. It doesn’t get much easier than pasta, marinara and a healthy sprinkle of nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan.
  • Make a quick stir-fry. Throw your favorite veggies into a hot skillet. Cook until they begin to brown and their color brightens, then toss with soy, sesame oil and a pinch of red chili flakes or Sriracha.
  • Order in or take out. Many Chinese and Thai restaurants offer vegan options.
  • Dress up a Sweet Potato. Here’s an indulgent way to do it.
  • Whip up a satisfying salad

SNACKS

  • Apple smothered in peanut butter
  • Granola with Cranberries and Raisins
  • Hummus with snap peas, carrots, red pepper strips and cucumber slices for dipping
  • Salsa and your favorite tortilla chips
  • Edamame drizzled with sesame oil and sprinkled with kosher salt
  • Air-popped popcorn drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with your favorite seasonings. Or, go Indian with this Spicy Coconut Mango blend.

Could Cutting Calories Slow the Aging Process? Here’s the Latest ScienceWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

vegetables-fruit-calories-aging

From tales of The Fountain of Youth to modern day serums and creams that promise to smooth and plump, humans have long been interested in arresting the aging process. Naturally, a healthy diet and active lifestyle can go a long way towards promoting life and fostering a youthful glow, but this may not be the only key. A recent study published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics suggests that how much one eats may actually slow the aging process.

In the study, one group of mice were given unlimited access to food, while the other consumed 35 percent fewer calories. Results showed that the mice eating a calorie-restricted diet lived longer, experienced more energy and fewer diseases. According to scientists of the study, “the restriction caused real biochemical changes that slowed down the rate of aging.”

 

What is the calorie, aging connection?

The study authors found that when ribosomes – the cell’s protein makers – slow down, the aging process slows too. The decreased speed lowers production but gives the ribosomes extra time to repair themselves.

“The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest,” said Brigham Young University biochemistry professor and senior author John Price. “When tires wear out, you don’t throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It’s cheaper to replace the tires.”

Reduced calorie consumption was the key to slowing ribosomes, at least in mice.

 

Hmmm … but what about in humans?  

These findings aren’t entirely shocking. Another study conducted in 1972 found that residents of the Japanese island Okinawa naturally consumed 17 percent fewer calories than the average Japanese person. The Okinawans lived an average of a year and a half longer than those on the mainland and were 60 to 70 percent less likely to die of heart disease, cancer and cerebral vascular diseases.

Still, before you start diligently counting calories, the study authors warn that calorie-restriction has not been properly tested on humans and suggest instead that their findings impart the importance of a healthy diet. “The essential message is understanding the importance of taking care of our bodies,” study authors told Science Daily.

 

What is a “healthy” diet?

We like Michael Pollan’s Three Simple Rules for Eating:

  1. Eat Food: That means food that is unprocessed and doesn’t come from a factory. Shop primarily from the perimeter of your grocery store.
  2. Not too much: One key to not overeating is making sure your meals are satiating. Protein and fat send signals to your brain that you’re full faster than bread, pasta and fruit. Make sure your meals include both.
  3. Mostly Plants: Make plants the superstars of your diet. Rather than thinking of protein as the main, consider meat and fat as the side dish.

Say Yes To These Healthier 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 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.

Immune System Boosting Holiday Hacks For Busy MomsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, December 12th, 2016

No time is a good time for catching a cold, but if ever there were a season to diligently strive to keep your immune system strong and the sniffles at bay, it’s now, right? With the holidays just around the corner, life is likely everything but simple. There are cards to send, shopping lists to cross off, parties to attend and flights to catch. Unfortunately, all that time out-and-about means you’re exposed to more germs.
Immunity Booster Hydrating Lemon Water

In fact, it’s not the cold weather that makes winter prime time for getting sick, but our preference for staying indoors when temperatures dip. More time inside means more potential for interacting with others, and it’s not just the germ-y handshake you’ll need to craftily dodge. You’re also more likely to be breathing in recycled air (think, air that someone else has exhaled), which may contain viruses. Gross! We know adding something else to your mounting to-do list may be the last thing you want to consider, but luckily keeping you and your family healthy is simple with these easy tips.

Catch your Zzz’s

Make hitting the hay priority numero uno. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Children need more depending on their age. You’ll know you’re getting enough if you feel fully rested upon waking – before that mug of coffee. Not getting enough sleep impacts the immune system by lowering the number of killer cells that fight germs. Also, without a full recharge your body doesn’t have the fuel to properly run all systems, often at the expense of the immune system. Be diligent about lights off, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Doing so will reinforce your body’s sleep cycle and promote better sleep.

Drink up

Dry winter weather, and our tendency to indulge in one or two, ok, a few, more alcoholic drinks this time of year increases the risk of dehydration. Without enough H2O, your body can’t eliminate toxins and waste materials. Additionally, not getting enough water can cause energy dips and negatively impact sleep. The recommended intake is 64 to 80 ounces of water a day for men and women and 40 to 64 ounces for children 5 to 12. Front-load consumption by putting a glass of lemon water on your nightstand table and drinking upon waking. You’ll get the additional power of cold-fighting Vitamin C and potassium from the lemon. Plus, this much-touted elixir has a host of other health benefits including helping your skin glow.

Junk the junk food

We know it’s tempting, especially during the holidays, to give in to cravings. It’s just once a year, right? But indulging can be a slippery slope, especially when you’re surrounded by temptation, stressed and exhausted. Before you know it you’ve polished off the box when you only meant to eat one or two. There’s a reason you might not feel so amazing after being bested by sugary, salty, fatty urges, and it has nothing to do with guilt. Research shows that the health of our immune system is directly related to the nutrients we receive in our diet. While one or two indulgences won’t have dire effects, a week or month of unhealthy eating may keep you under the covers. Prepare for sticky situations by carrying healthy snacks that deliver immunity-boosting protein, Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc. Here’s our favorite party treat.

Carry a pen

Invest in your own supply of ballpoints and you may just save yourself from getting a cold. Just think of the number of places you may use a communal pen throughout the day – at the bank, doctor’s office, yoga check in, restaurants, retail stores – and the number of other hands that were likely there before you. It’s a wonder we’re not sick more often. Germs are most easily spread from hand-to-hand (or, object-to-hand) contact. Avoid touching items that are not sanitized often. Think, menus, grocery carts, condiment dispensers and bathroom handles. Also, wash your hands at least 7 times a day. It’s not as difficult as you may think.

Have a good laugh

Go ahead, click that Funny or Die link that your best friend just sent you. Fire up Tina Fey on the DVR. When we laugh, research shows we decrease stress hormones and increase the number of killer cells that fight germs. As you may imagine that means added stress has the opposite effect. Getting serious about lightening up may be the best thing you can do to light up your immune system.