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.

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.

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

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!

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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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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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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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.

Recipes and tips to make your Thanksgiving menu a bit healthierWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

What if this year after your Thanksgiving feast rather than feeling tired and bloated you felt energized and fueled. Yes, it’s truly possible with a few minor tweaks to your menu and a couple better-for-you additions. Here’s how we plan to amend the holiday classics to truly support mind, body and soul.

Amend your Menu

1. Try a crisp instead of pie. You’ll cut calories from the crust and make room for more fruit. In the crumble on top try using coconut oil rather than butter.

2. Serve your turkey with a homemade pesto or seasoned yogurt rather than fatty gravy.

3. Instead of buttery mashed potatoes, serve sweet potato fries sprinkled with salt, pepper and lemon zest.

4. Use creamy Greek yogurt to make holiday dips.

5. Offer “spritzers” rather than soda. Mix seltzer water with your favorite juice–unsweetened of course.

From our kitchen to yours
Want to add a few better-for-you options to your menu? Start here. These taste-tested favorites are sure crowd pleasers.  

Squash and Fig Stew
If Fall were a dish, we bet it’d be this Squash and Fig Stew which captures the season with butternut squash and Made in Nature dried figs. Serve it as a side dish or alternative to turkey.  

Dried Cranberry and Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad 
Quinoa and kale deliver an additional nutritional punch to roasted sweet potatoes. Dried cranberries add a touch of sweetness. Consider swapping candied yams for this much healthier side. 

Fruity Pastry Pillows
These fruity pillows have just two main ingredients: puff pastry and your favorite Made in Nature Fruit. They’re a snap to prepare but guests don’t have to know. Offer a choice of apricot or cranberry for a cheery brunch treat. 

Dried Cranberry & Apricot Braised Lamb Chops 
Turkey’s not for everyone. Consider these holiday-ready lamb chops as an addition to the menu. A cranberry and pinot noire sauce peppered with sprigs of thyme is as delicious as it is festive.  

Should you have any questions as you’re preparing your holiday feast, we’re here for you. Submit questions below or you can connect with us via Facebook.

Sick of getting sick? Try these 5 surprising immune-boosting foodsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The air is getting cooler and with cozy nights by the fire comes another not-so-friendly reminder of the season—the annual cold. Don’t ring in the season by catching something unpleasant. These immune boosting foods can help you fight off bugs before your first sniffle. Bonus, they taste pretty great too!

Mushrooms
Mushrooms have been used to support immunity for centuries, but it’s only now that researchers know why they’re so effective. Studies show that consuming funghi enhances the number and performance of white blood cells. Since these cells are the body’s first defense for fighting any kind of infection, a healthy supply is essential. Try shiitake, maitake or reishi mushrooms which appear to offer the biggest immunity boost.

Yogurt
Much of how we feel is regulated by the gut. Craving sugar? You may have an overgrowth of Candida. Feeling the end-of-summer blues? Research shows it’s bacteria in our digestive tract that regulates levels of the “happy hormone” serotonin. If you’re coming down with a cold, it may be time to check in with your gut. While we’re still learning a lot about how the gut works, most doctors recommend consuming probiotics as one way to keep it happy. Consuming yogurt is a great way to get your probiotic dose. A Swedish study found that of 181 factory employees, those that consumed a daily supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri—a specific probiotic that appears to stimulate white blood cells—took 33 percent fewer sick days than those given a placebo. Try Stonyfield Farm yogurt (which contains this specific strain) with almonds, pistachios and warming spices in our favorite Mediterranean Spiced Yogurt

Oats and Barley

There’s good reason mom sent you to school with a belly full of oatmeal. The beta-glucan (a type of fiber) in the grains has more antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities than Echinacea, according to a Norwegian study. Enjoy a bowl in the morning to boost immunity and promote speedy wound recovery. We like it with almonds, coconut milk and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Lamb

Do you know the secret ingredient in over-the-counter remedies that is  guaranteed to shorten the duration of your cold? It’s zinc, which is integral for the development of white blood cells. Unfortunately many of us are short on the this key nutrient which means when cold season comes we’re more susceptible. The good news is there’s an easy way to get your daily dose. Oysters, beef and lamb are great sources. Try these Dried Cranberry Apricot Braised Lamp chops. If meat isn’t in your diet, regularly consuming cashews is another way to get your zinc hit.

8. Sweet Potatoes
In addition to bolstering your gut and white blood cells, also consider your skin for cold prevention–after all, it’s your first barrier against bacteria and viruses. Vitamin A is the nutrient to consider here since it plays a major role in keeping skin healthy. Look for foods rich in beta-carotene which your body uses to make Vitamin A. sweet potatoes are our pick since they’re also delicious just about any way they’re prepared.  Try them in this mouth watering casserole.

“Pic A Healthy Lunch” photo contest Winners!Written by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Thank you to everyone that entered our “Pic A Healthy Lunch” photo contest. It was great to see what you all love to eat, and we enjoyed sharing a few of our favorite lunches, like our panini and wrap, with you! As stated in the contest guidelines, everyone that entered will receive a coupon, so congratulations to all contestants! Our winners will each win 1 pack of every flavor of our Fusion Blend packs and the runner-ups will win 1 Fusion Blend Pack of their choice. Congratulations to all and thank you for entering! If you want a closer look, all the entries are up on our Pinterest page.

Now, for the winners and runner-ups.

Our two winners are:

Areli Biggers and her vegetable wrap

wrap winning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lori McLain and her lunch salad

lunch salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our runner-ups are:

Charlitha Arney and her Chicken and Turkey Bacon sandwich

turkeybaconsandwich

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Schmidt and her Mediterranean Soup

medsoup

 

 

 

 

 

Shianne Trentman and her marinated and slow-cooked chicken

marinatedchicken

 

5 easy and healthy kid snacksWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

It’s that time of year again. You know, when life speeds up, the days get shorter and the to-do list seems to magically double over night. Between carting the kids to after school engagements and managing your own busy day, planning for snack time can fall way down on the priority list. Inevitably though, “what can I eat,” will be the first thing parents hear when their kids pop through the door. Address growling tummies without falling prey to the endless not-so-healthy convenience foods out there with these healthier options.

Pineapple Cranberry Apple Granola Bars
Granola bars can be healthy—especially when they’re made with organic, antioxidant-rich fruit and a modest amount of added sugar. Kids will love these sweet, crunchy bars. Smear with peanut butter to up the protein power.

Chocolate Dipped Candied Apricots
High in vitamin A, iron, protein and fiber, dried apricots are a naturally convenient, healthful snack. But you can make them a real treat by dipping in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. Let kids sprinkle with nuts, coconut or get creative with their own favorite crunchy add-ons.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
As if they needed another selling point, in addition to being tastier than the regular russet, sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamins A and C and are a great source of fiber and protein. Make them kid friendly by slicing into wedges, sprinkling with salt and baking at 425 (turn them just once so they get nice and crisp). Yum!

Fig and goat cheese pizza
Sure, this pizza was created with adult taste buds in mind, but it easily becomes kid friendly with a few easy swaps. Instead of goat cheese, try calcium-rich mozzarella which also wins points for its fun, stretch ability. Trade out arugula for ham for ham to add protein.  Slice thin and keep in the fridge for an easy heat-and-eat snack.

Grab ‘n go Fusion single serve packs
In a pinch, our new Fusion packs put healthy after-school snacks at anyone’s fingertips. Certified Organic and made with sulfur-free organic fruit, they’re perfect way to satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth without overdoing it on empty calories. Keep a few packs in the car and let kids choose a favorite next time they need a little something.

Meal makeovers: 5 Healthy, Kid-Friendly SubstitutionsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

What are the favorite foods around your house? We bet you’ll recognize a few of the crowd-pleasers we regularly serve. While these foods are often loaded with empty carbohydrates, fat and sugar, we’ve found a few easy ways to up their nutrition profile while not diminishing flavor. Give them a try and don’t hold back when your kids ask for a second serving.

Mac and Cheese: It’s fine to start with a box, just make sure you pick an organic option to avoid unnecessary artificial colors and preservatives. Instead of adding water or milk, try using a non-dairy option such as almond milk. Almonds are naturally a great source of calcium, and most milks are also fortified with vitamin D. These nutrients work in concert to support bone health, immunity and improve cell function. Before serving, grate in an orange carrot for a dose of Vitamin A. If you use a Microplane grater, they’re nearly imperceptible!

Potato Chips: Sometimes a crunchy, salty, snack is the guiltiest of pleasures. Rather than opting for the bag of Lays, try introducing sweet potato crisps. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes and are loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.  Veggie chips are also widely available and provide the salty crunch without any of the trans-fat.

PB&J: Wheat bread just won’t cut it for some kids. That’s okay, it’s what’s inside that really matters. Rather than peanut try antioxidant-rich sunflower butter which has a delightfully creamy consistency and is a great source of protein, magnesium and Vitamin E. If your kid demands peanut butter, try an organic brand or better yet this healthier PB2. Instead of regular jelly, which often has excessive sugar or high fructose corn syrup which acts as a preservative, look for organic, reduced-sugar options. Or, better yet, make your own preserves following this easy recipe.

Spaghetti: Did you know tomatoes actually pack a higher nutritive punch when they’re cooked since heat activates the compound lycopene? That means spaghetti sauce is packed full of the Cancer-fighting phytochemical. Your focus should be on what’s underneath all those antioxidants. Traditional spaghetti noodles are made with white flour which is a blood sugar nightmare. Instead, experiment with using spaghetti squash. It has the same texture as the real deal, a mild flavor but is packed with fiber and nutrients like vitamin C, manganese and potassium. Bonus, after roasting the squash get the kids involved in pulling apart the spaghetti-like meat inside.

Pizza: Next time you’re making pizza try experimenting with unconventional cheeses. Options such as goat cheese and feta taste amazing and are much lower in calories. For some people these cheeses can also be easier to digest. Use a thin rather than doughy crust which is just as much fun to eat but also lower in calories.  You can also try swapping the pepperoni or sausage for tomatoes, basil or other fresh veggies.

Labor Day MenuWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Friday, August 30th, 2013

Break out the swim trunks, hiking boots and grill because it’s time to say good-bye to summer by celebrating all its goodness one last time. Whether you’re camping by the lake, chilling by the pool or cooking up a char-grilled meal with friends, Made In Nature wants to be a part of your weekend planning. To make sure you have a great and healthy day off we put together a list of fun and fit activities and fruit-inspired recipes so you don’t have to spend any precious free hours planning out where to go or what to eat.

What to Eat

Apricot Rice Pudding Pops

Mango and Pineapple Stuffed Chicken Burgers

Cranberry Spinach Salad

Mango Avocado and Red Onion Salsa

Mini Fruit Pies

What To Do 

Hit up the flatirons or find a trail near you and take in a long hike or some trail running.

With temperatures cooling, there’s only a handful of good pool days left, savor the cool water and rays and chill by the pool.

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Get some friends together for a morning jog or bike ride through your neighborhood.

Pack up some of the great food you made and head to a park where you can eat and play fun games like croquet, basketball and maybe volleyball or badminton.

 

Whatever you do this Labor day, make sure you enjoy yourself and remember you can always have fun while staying healthy!