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Summer’s bounty: Radishes

28 May

The second installment of our summer series about enjoying in-season organic produce. Learn simple tips for highlighting summer’s bounty in fresh, well-spiced meals this summer!

By Tom Havran

The peppery, refreshing crunch of summer radishes belie this root vegetable’s relationship to spicy horseradish and mustard. All are members of the Cruciferae family, named for the cross-like shape of their four-petaled flowers. Radishes are some of the first spring-sown vegetables available in fresh markets, and the earlier you get them, the milder and more tender they are.

radishes

How to prepare it: Gently scrub radishes clean and trim away roots and tough leaves. An hour soak in fresh, iced water can improve the crunch and tame the overly peppery taste of particularly hot radishes. Radishes are best eaten fresh as crudités, sliced to adorn salads or onto sandwiches. A classic way to serve them is sliced onto soft, generously buttered bread, topped with flaky sea salt and freshly-cracked pepper. Continue reading

Summer’s bounty: Asparagus

14 May

This kicks off our summer series about enjoying in-season organic produce. Learn simple tips for highlighting summer’s bounty in fresh, well-spiced meals!

By Tom Havran

Could there be a better-tasting or healthier vegetable to kick off the fresh produce season at your local market than springtime asparagus? These emerald green spears burst from the ground containing a complex flavor of earthy, sulfurous minerality and vibrantly green vegetal sweetness.

asparagus

Simply Organic Garlic ‘n’ Herb and Grind to a Salt make perfect seasonings for simple, grilled asparagus.

How to prepare it: There’s simply no wrong way to enjoy asparagus — except overly boiled into mush! Steam and adorn with butter, salt and pepper, grill with olive oil and garlic, broil with balsamic vinegar, or munch raw with a seasoned creamy yogurt dip.

Spices and herbs to complement: Try asparagus with delicate, green herbs like parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil. Continue reading

Clean up your environment pre-baby with homemade cleaning products and more

9 May

By Tom Havran

Bringing a baby into the world often sparks a fundamental lifestyle reset for caring and conscientious parents. In an effort to create the safest, most nurturing environment for the new arrival, we start paying attention to everything in our home environment, from the food we eat, to the body care products we use, to the household products we clean with.

Here’s a short list of tips to detox your life and create a healthy, safe environment for your baby pre- and post-arrival:

Clean up your cleaning routine. Babies and the whole family need clean air and clean surroundings in the home if they’re going to thrive. One way to help ensure this is to switch to natural products for cleaning, laundry and dishwashing — or make your own homemade cleaning products.

Eat organic. Pregnancy is an important time to think carefully about your nutrition and the quality of every bite you take. You don’t have to make all the changes alone — consider switching your whole growing family’s diet to organic food, which will go a long way toward keeping pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and genetically modified foodstuffs out of your food supply. It’s not always possible to eat a 100 percent organic diet, so in such cases, concentrate on whole, unprocessed and locally grown foods and produce. Consult the Environmental Working Group’s periodic posting of the cleanest and dirtiest produce (in terms of pesticide residue), and make certain that you thoroughly wash fresh produce with a natural commercial wash. Or make your own natural wash with this recipe: Continue reading

Tea as a warm weather treat

15 Apr

Iced tea

By Tom Havran

A steaming cup of freshly-brewed tea is a warming delight for the cold winter season, but not nearly as crave-worthy as the weather warms. If tea is part of your daily ritual, don’t abandon it during spring and summer — turn your favorite brew into a cool and heavenly warm weather treat.

Below, a few of my favorite ways to enjoy tea during the spring and summer:

Basic iced tea

Black and green iced tea are wholesome and fortifying ways to quench thirst. For the best flavor, and to avoid cloudy iced tea, follow these tips:

  • Use whole, loose leaf tea (not bags). Whole tea creates a robust flavor without the bitter tannins of the broken leaf in tea bags.
  • Use filtered or distilled water to brew your tea. Avoid hard or treated tap water because any minerals or salts in the water can interfere with the natural flavor of the tea leaves.
  • Use 1½ to 2 times the regular measure of tea leaves to compensate for the ice dilution.
  • Sweeten the tea before you add the ice.
  • Allow the tea to reach room temperature before adding the ice.

Continue reading

Kid-friendly spring snack ideas

3 Apr

By Sara Mallicoat

After a brutal Iowa winter — when even my 3-year-old said we needed to move elsewhere — I am over the bitter cold and ready to stop hibernating. This year, I used my hibernation time to master some tasty creations that satisfied my pickiest eater and fed my obsession with sneaking fruits and vegetables into every meal!

If you’re like me, and hear, “Mommy, I’m hungry,” every two hours, then you understand the need to have healthy, kid-friendly (and husband-approved!) snacks constantly on hand. I use organic ingredients wherever possible, which makes my heart happy knowing that I lovingly made something nutritious and tasty that my family loves.

Below are a few of my current favorite recipes. While the deviled eggs and hummus are special occasion treats for us, we make the muffins and roasted chickpeas almost weekly. Happy spring — enjoy!

Spring Snacks-8

Sneaky Blueberry Muffins: These may look like your typical blueberry muffins, but they’re hiding a healthful secret. Packed inside is a cup of whatever vegetable or fruit puree you have on hand (our favorite is squash or half squash, half sweet potato). Get the recipe. Continue reading

Why brunch is the best meal ever invented

13 Mar

By Tom Havran

Sunday is funday because it’s the traditional day for brunch — the best meal ever invented! It’s breakfast for lunch and lunch for breakfast.You can sleep in past breakfast time and still get a breakfast you can linger over for as long as you want. When brunch is done and you say goodbye to your dining companions, you still have the rest of the day for yourself. (I suggest a nap.)

Brunch on a Sunday is the best way to celebrate the end of one week and the beginning of a new one. But most of all, brunch is the best meal because of the food — which can be light and healthy, a decadent weekend indulgence, or a mix of both kinds of fare (my preference). I break the ultimate brunch down into seven courses:

asparagus frittata with thyme

Asparagus Frittata with Thyme

1. Eggs. I like them fresh and local, scrambled soft or sunny side up with buttered multigrain toast. For the fluffiest scrambled eggs, separate the whites and whip them to soft peaks. Whisk the yolks, then fold them into the whites. Scramble the egg mixture in a buttered skillet (no need to add cream or milk), then season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. For best flavor, remove from heat and serve on warm plates while still creamy but not runny. I also love egg dishes, like this Asparagus Frittata with Thyme. Continue reading

5 steps to make curry your culinary soulmate

1 Mar
coconut chicken curry

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry (click image for recipe).

By Tom Havran

When I fix a great curry, I feel like I’m snuggling up to something warm, comforting and wholesomely good. The experience of fragrant spices, aromatic heat, and silky texture all combine to do more than simply satisfy my appetite; the effects of curry build to engulf all of my senses and nourish my whole being. If I’m feeling down, I turn to curry because it will give me an emotional lift. Curry is medicine that I love to take, a sort of gastro-therapy for my body, mind and spirit.

You can’t hurry love, nor can you hurry curry. It takes time to light this fire, and attention to detail before the dish can weave its complex culinary spell. Curry is a multilayered fusion of exotic spices, fresh aromatics and involved cooking techniques. Curry is born of a hands-on conjuring process that ultimately brings about a climax of sublime expression, proffered on a warm bed of pristine basmati or jasmine rice, with a side of pillowed flatbread.

Tofu-Curry-Noodles-with-Vegetables-8

Tofu Curry Noodles with Vegetables (click image for recipe).

If I wrote a book on this topic, I’d call it the Curry Sutra, and it would contain five steamy chapters. Here’s the brief for each:

1. Spices. SPICE is the spice of life! The seasoning line-ups, recipes and names for curries are as disparate as the preferences of the people that love them, resulting in an impossible-to-crack formula of match-making. There is no standard for a properly spiced curry, but most curries do share some fundamental DNA, having a core group of spices that includes earthy turmeric, smoky cumin, smoldering chili, lemony ginger and perhaps some nutty-floral coriander. After these, any combination from a long list of supporting spices gets involved in the affair: mustard, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace, black pepper, celery seed, caraway and fennel. The common denominator is a complex diversity of aroma, flavor and heat, blended into a coherent and dazzling expression — similar to the way a fine wine, symphony or perfume would be realized. Continue reading

Start fresh for healthy meals: Cauliflower pizza crust recipe

17 Jan

By Sara Mallicoat

January is a time for setting new goals, but mine isn’t new. One of my missions as a mother and wife is to feed my family a wholesome, vegetarian, grain-free meal at least one night a week.

Considering my husband is not a vegetable fan (bless him for tolerating my experiments) and my 2½-year-old is very picky about the vehicle in which his food is served, this is next to impossible if I don’t want to be a short order cook for the night! This mission is even more critical after the holidays for two reasons: 1. We overindulged and need to get back on track; 2. My family thought we were feeding an army and sent me home with a ton of leftovers after each holiday gathering. My mother always sends home leftover vegetables, and I never really know what to do with them.

I tried a vegetable stir-fry, but that didn’t really float by husband’s boat, so I decided to come up with something that would work for both of us (and the 2½-year-old, too) — pizza!

cauliflower pizza crust recipe

This pizza starts with a grain-free cauliflower crust and is topped with anything your heart desires. My favorite is topped with a tomato broccoli sauce, sautéed mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers, a little arugula or spinach, and a sparse dusting of Gouda and mozzarella cheese. Even the toddler ate it because to him it was pizza — and who can resist pizza? It left this momma overjoyed that I got my son and husband to eat vegetables! Of course, my husband’s concern was that I would quit making my flour pizza crust, but once I said that I would still on occasion give him that indulgence, he agreed to make this a permanent recipe in our house. Continue reading

Eating in season with winter salads

9 Jan

By Alan Miles

I’m always impressed with the great selection of salads at our in-house Organic Café, even in the dead of winter. The Café purchases some grocery items that aren’t in season here in Iowa during the winter months, but the salad selections definitely shift to winter fare.

Jami Kimm

Jami Kimm prepares the salad bar for the lunch rush.

I asked Jami Kimm — aka “CEO of the Salad Bar” — her secrets for making and stocking dozens of delicious salads when the local vegetable patches are all under six inches of snow.

Keep it simple
Jami’s first rule for winter salads: Keep it simple, especially compared to summer salads. Continue reading

15 best recipes of 2013

30 Dec

By Katie Staab

The best way to judge a recipe is to try it. Every year, we develop dozens of recipes to help you find new, interesting ways to use spices in your cooking. If your 2014 resolution is to cook more at home, then this list is a great place to start!

vegan butternut squash soup

This velvety butternut squash soup with warming spices like Garam Masala and ginger is completely vegan — and delicious!

Facebook: Our Facebook fans have spoken! Based on a show of “likes,” these were the biggest hits on Facebook this year.

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