Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Yeeps? Feeling the Need to Move It & Lose It??

by Maria Noel Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Coordinator

Let's face it: Now that the holidays are behind us, we're all feeling a little overstuffed and undernourished. Most of us know what we need to do - eat better, more vegetables, more exercise -  but it just seems a little lackluster and difficult. I'm pleased to be working with Chef Scott, the Co-op, and area experts to bring back our popular Move It & Lose It! 6-Week Weight Loss Series, which runs on Wednesday nights starting January 14. We won't be dolling out any magic bullets, but we seek to inspire you with delicious, simple, healthy recipes and cooking tips to reinvigorate and expand your healthy kitchen. Click here to learn more about the series and how to register. But, in the meantime, here are some simple tips to get you on your way:

Get Nutrient-Dense: As yummy as pasta and bread can be, they tend to fall in the (mostly) "empty calorie" category. Let your meals be inspired by fare that multi-tasks with lots of vitamins, minerals, good fats, fiber, protein, and antioxidant and inflammatory action. These include cruciferous vegetables, berries, orange vegetables, greens, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, whole grains, beans and legumes, wild-caught fatty fish, eggs, grass-fed meat in moderation, and yogurt.  Season with citrus, herbs, spices, seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, and a little bit of hard cheese, dark chocolate, or a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil. Soups, salads, stir-fries, smoothies, and veggie-based juices make it easy to load up on the good stuff.

Get Inspired: We are bombarded with the sights and scents of tasty but less-than-healthy food via ads and roadside attractions. Surround yourself with healthy cookbooks, blogs, magazines, and websites that remind you how appealing healthy cooking can be. EatingWell.com and its associated magazine and cookbooks are favorites in our house. Also check out VegetarianTimes.com and its magazine and cookbooks. Favorite healthy cookbooks include The Longevity KitchenPower Foods, Andrew Weil's  True Food... Also check out cookbooks by noteworthy authors Ellie Krieger, Christina Pirello, and Deborah Madison. Even if you're not vegetarian or vegan, meatless cookbooks can help introduce you to new healthy recipes to integrate into your kitchen.

On the Go: Cooking meals at home and bringing your lunch to work is the best way to improve your health and stick to a budget. When eating out for special occasions, opt for restaurants that understand real food including the Co-op's Celery Stick Café, Spoon Revolution, and Sunny's Table in Concord; Republic and Cafe Momo in Manchester; and Lemongrass in Moultonborough. Also opt for one or none - appetizer, alcoholic beverage, or dessert - to go with your meal and start with a salad. (Beware of salads in chain restaurants - they often pack two to three meals worth of calories!) Check out the menus ahead of time; fried food is less tempting on your computer screen than when the scents are wafting around you. Don't be afraid to split a meal (just tip a little extra) or ask to have half your dish wrapped up to bring home for lunch the next day.

Crunching Numbers: If you want to lose weight, one way to approach it is to measure your portions and count calories. Yes, it's tedious, but it can be eye opening! Take your weight and multiply it by 12. This equals the maintenance calories for the average person, or how much you need to eat to maintain your current weight. Subtract 500 calories per day to lose one pound a week (or 1000 per day to lose two pounds), but don't go below 1200 calories and keep your goals reasonable so that they're easier to achieve and maintain. This is generally 400-600 calories per meal plus one or two 100-200-calorie snacks, but it varies widely from person to person. Click here for more on this approach.

Listen to Your Body: "Intuitive eating" involves paying closer attention to how you feel throughout the day, how hungry you are, and whether or not your body really enjoys the food that you're eating. It's useful in place of or alongside calorie counting. No matter what the numbers say, if you're ravenous, you should eat. (Better yet, eat something nourishing before you get ravenous.) Try to avoid letting yourself get overstuffed after a meal and realize that it's ok to be a bit hungry when you wake up and before meals. How do you feel after you eat particular foods? As time goes on, you'll notice that you crave and feel much better with healthy foods without a rush of excess sugar or refined carbs. (But, if you desperately want that cupcake, intuitive eating says you should have it, in a reasonable portion, and enjoy it.) Local dietician Hilary Warner specializes in this approach, and you can also learn more in the book Intuitive Eating.

Move More: A few things in life positively or negatively impact almost every aspect of health: diet, sleep, stress management, and movement. From a numbers perspective, exercise helps you burn calories to reach weight loss and maintenance goals in an easier, more sustainable way, but the benefits reach far beyond that to improved mood, disease prevention, etc. Any exercise is better than nothing, but certain types of exercise make a bigger impact on calories burned. Some of the best include the gym stair-climber (306 calories burned*), mountain biking (291), cross-country skiing (my favorite!) or running (273),   snowshoeing, biking, jogging or swimming laps (240), or kayaking, gardening, golfing or walking at a brisk pace (171).  Strength-train a few times a week to boost your overall metabolism so that you burn a tad more calories all day long, even when you're not exercising. Strength training includes weight lifting, lunges, push-ups, etc. Certain types of yoga, hiking, and sports incorporate aspects of strength training. *The calories burned are calculated for a 150-pound person doing the activities for 30 minutes.

Enlist Aid: Having someone to enjoy meals and exercise with improve your odds of sticking with a routine and meeting your goals. I'm fortunate to have a supportive husband. I'm the health nut foodie, and I have certainly improved the quality of the food Shannon eats since we met. Cooking dinner together is one of our favorite parts of the day. He's the outdoor enthusiast, and over the years I've taken up hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing and am dabbling with jogging, and we try to incorporate these activities into our weekend/weeknight play time and vacations. If you live alone or have a less-than-supportive spouse, connect with friends or family members who share your drive. Meetup.com groups are a great way to connect with like-minded adventurous folks, too. When my husband had to study for a big test last summer, I enjoyed connecting with several different kayaking groups and one of my cousins to get out on the water. I have clients who get together to snowshoe with friends every X day of the week in winter. Talk about positive multi-tasking! Social time, time out in nature, and movement, all rolled into fun! Click here for an article on how to have get outside this winter.

Herbs & Supplements for Weight Loss: I really don't believe in magic bullets. I've yet to come across any supplement that is safe and effective enough to impress. All the previous tips are much more likely to get you to your goal while also improving your mood, decreasing inflammation, and preventing a variety of chronic diseases. However, some herbs and supplements can lend a hand to make it a little easier to stick to your routine and lose weight. Some help balance blood sugar, others boost energy, and yet others enhance metabolism or thyroid function. Green tea has the most promise across the board. I love to combine it with holy basil (aka tulsi) for stress-busting, craving-curbing, metabolism-boosting effects as a morning tea. Cinnamon or chai tea (without cream and sugar) after meals serves as blood sugar-balancing dessert. Adaptogenic herbs that help your body adapt to stress - rhodiola, holy basil, ashwagandha, and eleuthero - provide support. Certain nutrients also help: Studies suggest that getting adequate calcium from food or supplements helps us burn calories more effectively. Before taking herbs and supplements, talk with your healthcare provider and check with your pharmacist for interactions if you take pharmaceuticals.

What are YOUR secrets to good health? Share them in the "Comments" section below!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Peelin’ Easy: Orange Fruits and Holiday Traditions

by Wesley Hatch, Produce Clerk

A well-loved tradition in my family, and a time-honored one in many families the world round, is the partaking of citrus during the holidays, specifically in my family those crate-bound, easily peelable miniature oranges. What are they called? Mandarins? Clementine's? Tangerines? Baby oranges? (as a kid, I could not have cared less what they were called: as long as they were juicy and easy to peel, my hands grabbed greedily orange orb after orange orb until my little fingers were sticky and my lips and cheeks stained and my belly full.  A delightful part of my holiday experience.) As I’ve grown older and, I hope, wiser, my palate has grown a bit more refined, leaving me wanting a holiday fruit with a little more complexity.  But first, where do those tasty crate-bound treats come from and how are they related to oranges?
Let’s see if we can’t break this down:
What often comes in crates and is eaten around the holiday are fruit known as Clementine's, members of the citrus family. The citrus family is easily recognizable from their thick outer skin – the rind – their segmented interiors, and their strong fragrance emanating from both the interior juice and the zest on the outside. Grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons are among the most popular citrus fruits, along with our old holiday friend the Clementine.
Clementine's are similar to oranges, though smaller, juicier, and easier to peel. The Clementine was first produced through accidental hybridization between the Mandarin and the sweet orange: hybridization in that it is a cross between two distinct fruits – the sweet orange and the Mandarin orange – and accidental in that the hybridization occurred without human intervention. Father Clement Rodier, the Clementine’s namesake, discovered an unknown fruit tree growing among the bushes in his orchard, and by grafting a cutting from the unknown tree onto an existing orange tree, the Clementine came to be.
Although the Clementine is often juicy and easy to peel, I have grown wary of buying the crates due to the seemingly increasing number of duds, or fruit not juicy or soft. What a let down, peeling back the skin and feeling the fruit, which should be soft, and finding it hard and juiceless.
For someone looking for more complexion of flavor in their holiday citrus, tired of disappointment in their Clementine crates, or just looking to try a new fruit, I suggest branching out to another soft, juicy citrus: the Satsuma.

About a month after starting here at the Concord Food Co-op, we in produce received a shipment of Satsuma mandarins – peeling back the skin, exposing the lush orange and white beneath, popping the first easily-separated section into my mouth, the juice burst forth onto my tongue so sweet as my teeth sank in: I was hooked.
Satsuma oranges, also known as Christmas oranges, are actually of the Mandarin variety, making these oranges a kind of step father to the Clementine. Just like the Clementine, Satsuma's are nearly seedless citrus, making it that much easier to eat. Taking their name from the Japanese Providence where the fruit was first exported to the West, Satsuma's are sweet and easy to peel, and are grown all over the world, including Florida, California, and Louisiana, and many parts of Asia. This holiday season, try a Satsuma. You never know, maybe it will be the start of a new, long-lasting tradition.
Thank you, and happy eating.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Baked Brie Two Ways

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

At the December Cheesy Wine Down Wednesday tasting class at the Co-op, Heidi suggested that our Executive Pastry Chef Elaine Speer come up with a cheesy treat for us to enjoy and Elaine did not disappoint!

Heidi pouring the Amaretto over the bake brie.
Elaine decided on two different kinds of baked brie that she prepared in advance for us and all we needed to do was bake them! Baked brie is the perfect holiday appetizer to warm your guests and pairs well with so many different flavors and textures. Elaine prepared for us a Henri Hutin Brie Couronne topped with raspberry jam and wrapped in puff pastry and a Blythdale Farm Vermont Brie that she suggested pouring a shot of amaretto over once baked.
These baked brie suggestions are so easy to prepare yourself and wow your audience, I was lucky enough to get the inside scoop from Elaine on how to create the perfectly gooey brie without it turning into a big melted mess. Let me share with you her tips for the brie with raspberry jam.
She first cut the rind off the top of the brie before topping with raspberry jam. Then very carefully she lay the puff pastry over the top trying to centre it as best as possible. Then even more carefully she flipped the brie, so now the raspberry jam top is the bottom with the puff pastry underneath, so she can now wrap the pastry completely around the brie taking care to pinch the dough together completely to seal it in. Once the brie is completely sealed in the dough flip back over so the jam will be back on the top of the brie and you have a nice smooth top. You can use any left over dough to create a decorative topping, like Elaine's grape design.
Elaine created a grape design on the top with the left over dough.

Elaine suggested preparing this a few hours in advance and freezing before baking. This will help the cheese melt slower so the pastry has more time to bake to a golden crust and the cheese will be less likely to leak through.
Once frozen and about 25 minutes before you are ready to serve, place your pastry wrapped brie on an oven safe tray and paint with an egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown at 400 F. Once baked you can carefully place on a serving dish to sit for five minutes before presenting your masterpiece to your guests. Don't forget to place a cheese knife on the platter to help your guests break into your treat. Serve with some crusty French bread or crackers, sweetened almonds and a glass of Predator Old Vine Zinfandel. Elaine tells me this is a nice hearty wine that goes well with the creamy brie.
If you were present and need a refresher for the rest of the cheeses we tried on the platter here is the list:
  • Brillat Savarin Cranberry (this is the one that we thought tasted like a cheesecake, yum!)
  • Mimolette (the bright orange cheese)
  • Petite Basque (he light colored, firm cheese)
  • Fresh goat cheese from Vermont Creamery covered in herbs or cranberry

And let me also give a shout out to Derek who came in especially to sample the Co-op Wines of the Month from Charles Smith Wines. I think everyone left the tasting class with a new favorite wine too, I know I left happily with a bottle of Boom Boom! Syrah in my bag. If you are looking for the list of Co-op Wines of the Month: 
  • Eve Chardonnay
  • The Velvet Devil Merlot
  • Boom Boom! Syrah
  • Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon
  • King Fu Girl Riesling
Derek educating us on the Charles Smith wines while we enjoy samples.
And of course if you ever have any questions or suggestions, either leave a message in the comments or come in store to chat. Elaine and her team of bakers love to help you out, especially with holiday baking!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Treats to Savor & Share

by Maria Noel Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

'Tis the season for a little indulgence, especially if it's in the name of gift-giving! Here are a few of my favorite chocolate treats to bring to parties and give as treats, all of which just happen to be gluten-free...

Herbs that Combine Well with Chocolate

Peppermint & Other Mints, Vanilla, Lavender, Ginger, Orange Zest, Rose Petals, Tarragon (esp w/white chocolate), Chiles, Coffee, Bay, Star Anise, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Basil, Holy Basil/Tulsi... Let your imagination go wild!

Infusing Herbs in Chocolate:

Heat your chocolate recipe, remove from heat and add some flavorful herbs. Let sit 30 minutes or more, (reheat if necessary to liquefy) then strain and proceed with recipe. Be very careful not to overheat the chocolate or it will separate.

Simple Chocolate Recipes:

* These recipes use this infusion technique or could be adapted with it.
  • Lavender Chocolate: Grind one teaspoon of dry lavender flowers to a coarse powder. Melt 3 oz of dark chocolate in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave. Stir in lavender, and spread onto wax paper to make a new bar, let harden.
  • Peppermint Brownies: Add one to two tablespoons of dried peppermint leaves to your favorite brownie recipe or mix and prepare as usual. Cut into small brownie pieces (~20 pieces for a box mix makes it around 100 calories per brownie).
  • Chocolate Sauce*: Whisk together equal parts real maple syrup and pure cocoa powder, add vanilla extract to taste. Use about 1 tablespoon per serving to drizzle over fruit. 
  • Coconut Chocolate Fudge*: Melt and mix together equal parts dark chocolate and unrefined coconut oil in a double-boiler. Pour onto a rimmed sheet covered in wax paper, cool in the fridge to harden. You can also sprinkle this with nuts, a dusting of nutmeg or cinnamon, etc. (It will melt if you let it get too warm.) 
  • Decadent Gorp: Chocolate chips, almonds, and dried cranberries (one small handful is a serving!)
  • Herbal Cocoa: Make 6 oz of tea using a chocolate-friendly herb like rose petals, holy basil, peppermint, cinnamon, or star anise. Strain the herbs and then add an all-natural hot cocoa mix to the tea. 
 

    Favorite Fancy Chocolate Dessert Recipes

    Brigham's Hot Fudge Sauce*

    This recipe makes a QUART of hot fudge, so plan to bring it to a party, give some away, or freeze it in smaller containers. It keeps for about a month in the fridge. When cold or room temp, it will be very thick, almost fudge-y, so you'll want to warm it to pour over ice cream or brownies. ( like to just eat it in this semi-solid state by the spoonful, though. Why ruin it with ice cream? You can adapt this recipe by changing the vanilla extract for mint, orange, etc, but I love the original so much I've never done this. Buy the best quality chocolate you can find or afford, your fudge will be much better for it. I've doubled the chocolate and halved the sugar on the original recipe - my adaptation is below. One heaping teaspoon (1/2 oz) has about 50 calories.

    ·       8 oz of quality baking chocolate or equivalent of powdered baking cocoa
    ·       1/2 lb of confectioner’s sugar
    ·       1 stick of butter (no substitutions!)
    ·       1 can (13 1/2 oz) evaporated milk
    ·       1 teaspoon vanilla

    Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan. Alternately add milk and sugar. Stirring, bring to a slow boil (bubbles just around the edge of the pan). Remove from heat, add vanilla, stir. Pour into 1 quart jar or into smaller jars. Keep refrigerated or freeze. (It is NOT shelf stable.)

    Chocolate Truffles*

    This recipe is adapted from the one at on www.herbcompanion.com. You can find similar recipes by Susan Belsinger in Not Just Desserts and Jerry Traunfeld in The HerbFarm Cookbook.
    • 14 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate chips or finely chopped block chocolate
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • Herbs to Infuse: 1 cup loosely packed fresh herbs (ie: peppermint leaves or dried spices), coarsely chopped, or 2-4 tablespoons dried herbs
    • 8 ounces premium white or semisweet chocolate, tempered** or melted
    • Optional to roll around truffle: About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar or tinted sanding sugar, garnish
    Make Ganache/Truffle Filling: Place chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.
    Combine cream and coarsely chopped herb leaves (or spice of choice) in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to scalding point, turn off heat and steep the herb(s) in warm cream about 30 minutes. Strain cream into another nonreactive saucepan to remove herbs. Squeeze herbs over pan to recover any retained cream; discard herbs.
    Gently reheat cream to scalding point. Strain hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly onto chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. Let mixture sit 1 to 2 minutes before stirring to allow cream to melt chocolate; gently whisk until chocolate and cream have come together and the filling is perfectly smooth. If chocolate does not melt completely, place bowl over barely simmering water, stirring as needed to achieve desired consistency. Pour filling into a small bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight, until mixture is very firm.
    To Finish: Using a 11⁄4-inch melon baller, scoop truffle mixture into small (1⁄2-ounce) spheres. Roll spheres between palms to smooth out any lumps or divots. Place a single sphere on a fork and submerge in tempered or melted white or semisweet chocolate. Shake off excess and set truffle on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining spheres. (You can stick a shelf-stable indicator – such as a dried rose petal or piece of crystallized ginger – to the top of the truffle while the chocolate is still warm.) As soon as cookie sheet is filled, set it in refrigerator to allow dipping chocolate to solidify completely. Transfer truffles to an airtight container and store in refrigerator until ready to eat.
    Just before serving, remove truffles from refrigerator, trim off any chocolate “feet” with scissors and roll truffles in confectioners’ or sanding sugar, as desired.
    **Google “how to temper chocolate easy” for techniques. It’s not necessary, but it will make for a shiny rather than dull finished product.

    Peppermint Fudgy Black Bean Brownie Bites (Gluten-Free!)

    (with a Raspberry Brownie variation in the description)

    Hoping to make something a little more virtuous yet still indulgent? These brownies are a riff off the dairy-free, gluten-free recipe found here; however, I've made a lot of adaptations. It's particularly amazing baked as mini cupcakes and topped with ganache. This recipe is easily adapted to other flavors. For example, you can skip the peppermint and top the ganache with a raspberry.
    •  One 15-ounce can (or 2 cups homemade, slightly overcooked) black beans, drained and rinsed very well
    • 4 large eggs
    • 3 tablespoons melted butter (or canola oil)
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or maple syrup)
    • 1/2+ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (to taste - I use about 1 cup+)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract or 1 tablespoon dry peppermint leaves, optional
    • Pinch salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (optional – I like better without)
    Preheat the oven. Prepare pan or cupcake tin and set aside.
    Place the black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, butter/oil, sugar/syurp, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peppermint extract/leaves, baking powder, and salt and process until smooth. If using chips, add 1/4 cup of the chips and pulse a few times until the chips are incorporated.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan (for brownies, smooth the top with a rubber spatula) and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips, if using.
    Bake until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before slicing into squares (if serving as regular brownies) or frosting with ganache.
    Traditional Brownies: Bake at 350°F in a lightly oiled 8x8-inch baking pan for 30-35 minutes. Makes 16 brownies (cut into 2-inch squares). Chocolate chips work better in this recipe b/c they have more time to melt.
    Mini-Cupcake Brownie Bites: Bake at 350°F in a mini cupcake tin with cupcake papers (or w/o, if it’s well-oiled or nonstick) for approximately 15 minutes. Makes 24 mini cupcakes. Chocolate chips work better in this recipe b/c they have more time to melt, but this is amazing when topped with a bit of ganache.
    Ganache: I make ganache by melting down equal parts heavy cream and dark chocolate. Once it cools I scoop it into a ziplock bag, snip an end, and use that as a pastry bag. If you have leftovers, you can just put that bag into another ziplock and store it in the freezer til you need it next.
    Freeze It! To really wow guests with fresh-baked desserts, freeze the raw dough in the cupcake tin (using wrappers). Once solid, put them in a freezer bag. When you want to cook them, pop the desired number of frozen cupcakes into your tin.

    Chocolate Tea Blends

    Chocolate Mint Tea 

    Delicious like an Andes candy with no sugar at all!
    • 2 tsp peppermint
    • 1 tsp cocoa nibs
    • 1/8 – 1/4 vanilla bean, snipped into small pieces (or a squirt of vanilla extract)
    Steep approximately 20-30 minutes or to taste. It can be weak if under-steeped or bitter (from cocoa nibs) if over-brewed.

    Cocoa Coconut Tea 

    Deliciously rich and reminiscent of a candy bar or cookie - no cream or sugar needed.
    • 2 tsp toasted shredded coconut (unsweetened)
    • 1 tsp cocoa nibs
    • 1/8 – 1/4 vanilla bean, snipped into small pieces (or a squirt of vanilla extract)
    Steep approximately 20-30 minutes or to taste. It can be weak if under-steeped, so give it time.


    And, it's lovely weather for a...

    Holiday Cocoa Tea

    This blend features evergreen needles, mint, and chocolate in a delightful blend that makes it feel like Christmas!
    • 2 tsp peppermint
    • 1 tsp cocoa nibs
    • 1 tsp hemlock* needles
    • 1 tsp lemon balm
    • 1 tsp rose petals
    • 1/4 vanilla bean, snipped into small pieces
    Cover with 16 ounces of near-boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
    * Hemlock TREE (a common evergreen in these parts) is totally NOT poisonous and unrelated to the deathly poisonous hemlock wildflowers. Click here to learn more about hemlock needles and how to identify and harvest your own.



    Maria runs Wintergreen Botanicals in Allenstown, offering on-site and online classes and herbal health consultations. For more herb-inspired recipes and information about herbs, visit www.WintergreenBotanicals.com. Her first herbal book is due out from Storey Publishing by spring 2016.

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Nutrition & the Holidays

    by Dr. Amanda Hegnauer, ND, Naturopathic Doctor & Co-op Wellness Educator

    How did it get to be November already? Summer has come and gone. Autumn feels like it’s practically over. And, somehow, the holidays are just around the corner. I propose that now is time to grasp the inevitable and plan for the future so we can enjoy the holiday season in a healthy way!

    I am a firm believer in a good plan. By planning ahead we are setting ourselves up for success.

    Step 1: Schedule wisely.

    Review your social calendar and be consciously aware of what your functions will include. Make time in your schedule to prepare and enjoy your gatherings. Remember, it’s okay to allow yourself a bit of indulgence this holiday season. We all know that we cannot hide from that tin of fudge at the office party.

    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nutrition-the-holidays-tickets-9772877941Step 2: Know your limits.

    Try bringing a healthy (but still tasty!) dish to your next gathering. If you have worked hard to lose those five pounds prior to the holidays and know that you will instantly gain them back just from looking at a piece of decadent chocolate cream pie, than perhaps the best plan is to bring something healthy. Do some research, there are many different options for low-calorie, low-sugar desserts that won’t destroy your hard work! Scour your healthy cookbooks or www.eatingwell.com for inspiration.
    A few words on sugar. Sugars have a more detrimental effect on weight and cholesterol levels than fats do. The average American consumes 22.2 teaspoons of sugar each day. That’s 335 calories with zero nutritional value. One 12-ounce soft drink has 8 teaspoons of sugar, according to the American Heart Association. This triggers inflammation in your body, which in turn contributes to increased health risks including diabetes and heart disease. Think back on this when you go to have that punch, fun cocktail, or second serving of dessert.

    Step 3: Don’t forget good foods.

    As we are well aware, food is one of the foundations of the holiday season. This leads us to step three; when considering what your menu will be, please don’t forget good foods. Include good oils, whole grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables in your dishes. As you are preparing your meal, consider food sensitivities and be considerate of others. Bringing a gluten-free, dairy-free dish – that is still delicious – will be sure to score you an invite to the next social engagement.

    Step 4: Balance nutrition & exercise.

    The energy that we utilize during exercise is derived from the good sugars and fats that we acquire through good foods. If the balance between these foods are off (perhaps due to too many extra indulgences...), those five pounds that you worked so hard to lose will reappear faster than you can say “Happy New Year.” Find ways to fit in a brisk walk or hike, a run at the gym, or a night dancing with your spouse.

    With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are parties to plan, meals to cook, and many blessings to share. By keeping up with your exercise regimen, healthy foods, and naturopathic care, you can let go of the guilt during this most joyous season and enjoy!

    Dr. Hegnauer practices Naturopathic medicine at Whole Health Concord. Her specialties include autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, endocrinology, gastroenterology
    and women’s health. Learn more at www.naturalmedicinenh.com.

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    Sweet & Savory Winter Squash

    by Shawn Menard, Produce Manager

    With all of the winter squash varieties to choose from at the Co-op it can be challenging to decide which type to pick.  And once you pick, it can be even more challenging to find a new and exciting recipe you haven’t tried yet. Below are some of the squash you will find at the Co-op and my favorite way to use each one. Hopefully this will make it easier for you to decide what will be for dinner.


    Acorn
    This mild sweet squash is easy to handle and absorbs flavor well. Acorn squash is excellent stuffed with your favorite meat stuffing or bean and vegetable mixture.  Cut in half from top to bottom and remove seeds.  Score the flesh in ¼ inch increments and place each half in a baking dish cut side up.  Brush the flesh with olive oil or butter and bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until slight caramelization occurs. Fill each half with desired stuffing and bake for an additional 10 minutes.


    Blue Hubbard
      Its thick bumpy skin is more difficult to handle and cut, but the orange flesh on the inside is well worth it.  The flavor is sweet and nutty. Both flavor and texture are comparable to a sweet potato.  Blue hubbards are great with butter and maple syrup.  Cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place halves cut side down in a baking dish with a half inch of water. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Let cool and mix in butter and syrup to your liking.  Finish with salt and pepper.
    This large and misshapen squash is one of the most challenging to deal with.


    Buttercup
    This petite squash is one of the easier varieties to handle due to its size and relatively thin skin.  Peel and cut into one inch pieces. Mix 2 tablespoons each of agave (or honey) with balsamic vinegar. Brush liquid mixture over squash pieces and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.


    Butternut
    This is the squash everybody knows.  Its delicious, easy to find, and you can do almost anything with it. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut in half lengthwise and peel.  Scoop out seeds and cut into ¾ inch pieces.  Coat pieces in olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Heat 6 cups chicken stock on low heat. In a separate large pan melt 5 tablespoons of butter and sauté 2 ounces of diced pancetta and two diced shallots until shallots become translucent. Stir in 1.5 cups Arborio rice until coated. Add a half cup of dry white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and 1 cup grated parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.


    Delicata
    This cylindrical squash is very easy to handle and is my personal favorite.  The skin is edible when cooked making it hassle free. I love using delicata in quesadillas this time of year.  Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place halves in a baking dish with the cut side down in a half inch of water and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Allow squash to cool to the touch and cut into quarter or half inch pieces.  Saute the pieces with sliced mushrooms, garlic, onions, dried sage, salt, and pepper.  Cook the mixture in your favorite tortillas with a nice sharp cheddar and enjoy dipped in hot sauce.


    Kabocha
    Also know as the “Japanese Pumpkin” this squash is exceptionally sweet and also nutty in flavor.  It’s texture is reminiscent of russet potatoes and can either be very smooth and creamy or firm depending on how it is cooked.  This is by far one of the most dynamic winter squash varieties and can be used in almost any winter squash recipe.  To get the best out of kabochas, I like to bake in half (with seeds scooped out) at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Place each half face down and add about a half inch of water to the bottom of the baking dish. This will allow some parts of the squash to remain slightly firm while other parts are soft and smooth.  Allow squash to cool for a few minutes then carve out the flesh away from the skin with a large spoon.  Partially mash and add spices that compliment the rest of your meal.


    Red Kuri
    The red kuri squash is often mistaken for sugar pumpkins as their shape, size, and color are similar. The orange flesh provides a chestnut aftertaste. I like using red kuris for breakfast.  Try adding some mashed red kuri squash into your favorite potato cake recipe.  You could also add small cooked pieces to potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and corned beef for an awesome breakfast hash.


    Spaghetti
    The name says it all here, spaghetti squash is an excellent alternative to pasta, especially if you are on a gluten free diet.  Cut in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out.  Place flesh down in a baking dish and add a half inch of water to the dish.  Bake at 450 for 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow squash to cool for a few minutes.  Grab two forks, using one to hold the squash in place and the other to the scrape along the flesh.  As you scrape the flesh it will yield spaghetti-like fibers.  Place all the fibers in a bowl and mix with your favorite pasta sauce.

     

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Thanksgiving Food Blog Round Up

    The holiday season is upon us with just about a week til the big T-day! We've covered all sort of holiday dinner topics previously on this blog, so we wanted to do a little round up for you...

    The Turkey

    The Veggie Sides

    Appetizers

    Special Diets

    Sweets & Treats
    Want more inspiration? Check out EatingWell and Vegetarian Times.

    Holiday Cooking with Fresh Herbs

    by Maria Noël Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

    In November, I’m still harvesting fresh herbs from my garden to complete a dish for dinner or a party. Even though most of our garden sleeps during the winter, a few hardy herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory will persist into the snowy weather. It’s no surprise that they pair so well with the foods of the season: roasted poultry, squash and root vegetables, cranberries, apples, and baked goods.

    Whether you’re harvesting these herbs straight from the garden or “cheating” and purchasing them from the Co-op’s produce department, the few minutes it takes to add fresh herbs to these dishes are worth the amazing flavor.

    Roast Turkey & Chicken

    Stuff sprigs of rosemary, sage, winter savory, and thyme under the skin of the turkey or chicken before roasting. This prevents the herbs from burning and allows the flavors to penetrate the meat as it cooks. I usually put 1 to 3 sprigs per pound of poultry. (Sage and rosemary are potent, but thyme is mild.)

    Gravy

    Separate the leaves from the stems of several sprigs each of rosemary, sage, and thyme. Place the stems in the hot gravy for several minutes to infuse it. Strain out the stems, then add 1 tablespoon of chopped leaves per cup of gravy. Or simply place the whole sprigs of rosemary, sage, and thyme in hot gravy for 10 minutes, strain, and serve. (I learned this trick from famed herbal chef and author Jerry Traunfeld.)

    Stuffing

    Sage and thyme offer classic flavors to stuffing. For 12 servings of stuffing, chop 1 to 3 tablespoons of fresh herb leaves and fold them into your stuffing. Add 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley for bright flavors.

    Biscuits, Rolls & Butter

    Fold chopped fresh chives and grated cheddar into biscuit batter for a tasty quick bread. Rosemary, sage, thyme, savory, and dill hold their flavor well when baked. Add a handful of fresh, chopped herbs into any dough or batter. If you don’t have time to make fresh bread, flavor the butter instead. Use a food processor to mix 1 tablespoon of chopped chives and 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon into a stick of softened butter. Reshape in wax paper or place in serving dishes, then
    refrigerate to harden slightly before serving. Using the same technique, add roasted garlic and finely chopped rosemary leaves to softened butter.

    Potatoes

    In a food processor, blend any tender herbs into softened butter, then add that butter to mashed potatoes. Parsley or chives work well. Use 1/4 cup of herbs and 6 tablespoons of butter per 2 pounds of potatoes.

    Squash & Roasted Vegetables

    Sage brown butter adds creamy goodness to mashed squash and pureed root vegetable soups and chowders. In a small skillet, fry a handful of whole, fresh sage leaves in a half stick of butter. You can use the fried leaves as a garnish or remove them before adding to your recipe. Frying sage transforms and mellows the flavor. For roasted squash and root vegetables like potatoes, add several whole sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and/or savory to the pan. Or fold in chopped chives a few minutes before the vegetables are done roasting.

    Apple Cider

    A crock of cider accompanies all our fall and winter get-togethers. Pour 1 gallon of local cider into a crock pot and add 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks, 10 whole cloves, 3 allspice berries, 2 bay leaves, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1/2-inch of fresh ginger root (sliced), and some freshly grated nutmeg. Let simmer at least one hour. Serve with local maple liquor or homemade cordial. (Available in liquor stores. Make your own by combining equal parts maple syrup and good vodka.)

    Cranberries

    I’m a cranberry purist, but a sprig or two of fresh rosemary infuses nicely in homemade cranberry sauce (remove before serving). Or make this easy cordial: On the stove, dissolve 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water. Add cranberries and cook until tender. Fill a mason jar halfway with the mixture, then top it off with quality vodka and a few sprigs of rosemary. Let sit for two weeks, strain. Serve solo or in cocktails at parties. It also makes a nice gift.

    Maria teaches and sees clients throughout the country. Her first herbal wellness book is due out from Storey Publishing in February 2016. Visit www.wintergreenbotanicals.com for more herbal recipes.

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Superfoods of the Season

    by Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

    Step back goji berries, chia, and acai. You’re nice and all, but it’s late autumn in New England. Our kitchens are stocked with good-for-you goodies that make up for what they lack in exotic by in affordability, accessibility, and taste. It’s time to look at your seasonal standards in a whole new way.

    Pumpkins & Winter Squash

    This is the time to enjoy winter squash and pumpkins before storage takes its toll on their flavor and texture. Right now they’re bursting with betacarotene and other carotenoids that bolster your immune system, keep skin supple, and help you stay lubricated during the cold, dry winter. They also improve eyesight, reduce cancer risk, and are good for your heart. Their fat-soluble nutrients will be even more powerful when canned, roasted, simmered into soups, and baked into delicious treats. Think of them as the original gluten-free carb, the likes of which kept the Pilgrims from starving during the first harsh winters. Toast up those seeds for a mineral-rich, high-fiber snack.

    Brussels Sprouts

    I hope I didn’t lose you at “Brussels” because these petite cabbages are completely transformed into a mouth-watering side dish when prepared properly. Saute them with olive oil or butter (and perhaps a little white wine or hard cider), salt, and pepper. To spruce it up, mix in sauteed mushrooms, garlic, crisp bacon, or dried cranberries. These babies rank among the highest anticancer foods, help lower cholesterol, and give your liver a boost (and, admit it, with cocktail season in full swing, you could use that). Also try one of the newfangled and surprisingly tasty thinly chopped raw Brussels salads.

    Apples

    U-pick season has ended, but now’s the perfect time to up your daily produce ante with baked apples, applesauce, and other dessert-y treats from apple crisp with whole grain topping to handmade apple pie. Experiment with less and less sugar and let the tangy tart flavor of apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon satisfy your sweet tooth.


    Cranberries

    Talk about tart! These local fruits pack a wallop in terms of flavor and antioxidant content. Play around with natural sweeteners like maple syrup, OJ, or pomegranate juice concentrate to give them a lift without the usual sugar hit. What will these berries do for you? Besides their famous ability to fend off urinary tract infections, they also fight both arterial and dental plaque, and decrease inflammation. Add them to apple dishes, goat cheese salads, make a fresh cranberry chutney, and more.

    Cinnamon & Cardamom

    Maybe these super spices won’t grow in our soil like the rest of the seasonal powerhouses, but chances are you already have them in your kitchen, and they will bring your food and health to a higher plane. Almost any culinary spice improves digestion and decreases inflammation. Cardamom is one of my favorites  for kicking up digestive juices while providing a special chai-like flavor to baked goods, soups, baked beans, bacon and ham, smoothies, and eggnog. Cinnamon helps improve your body’s ability to process sugar and insulin while also patching things up in cranky bowels. Simmer a few sticks or let them sit in a thermos for an hour for a surprisingly sweet sugar-free tea that you can enjoy after meals. And, of course, add it to any dish you’d like!

    Maria runs Wintergreen Botanicals Herbal Clinic & Education Center in Allenstown. Her first herbal wellness book is due out from Storey Publishing in February 2016. For herbal recipes and more herbal inspiration, visit wintergreenbotanicals.com.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    The Three Variables of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

    by Laura Piazza, Recipes for Repair Cookbook Co-Author & Co-op Wellness Educator

    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/anti-inflammatory-dishes-tasty-dishes-to-quench-your-fire-tickets-9682375245
    When going on an anti-inflammatory diet, we choose to eat foods that can influence how we feel and progress with chronic illness and chronic symptoms. There are three variables to an anti-inflammatory diet, one of which can often be overlooked.

    Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help in many ways because you fuel yourself with nourishing foods, many of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, you work to remove foods that are said to promote inflammation. These foods often have little to no nutritional value. There is a third variable though, one which many of us don’t know to look for – hidden food sensitivities.

    If you have a food intolerance but don’t know it and continue to eat the offending food(s), you will just add to the inflammation that’s already present in your body. This can create or aggravate symptoms. It is especially important to learn of any food sensitivities if you are battling a chronic symptoms or chronic illness, because some of your symptoms and/or inflammation may be dietary. Remove the offending food, and symptoms can either be minimized or even disappear altogether!
    Food sensitivities are not the same as food allergies, which are more immediate and can be severe or even deadly. A reaction to a food that you are sensitive to won’t be as severe and can happen hours to days after eating that particular food. The symptoms can vary greatly, which makes it even more of a challenge to determine if the food you ate an hour or a day ago is causing discomfort.

    You can identify unknown food sensitivities by going on an elimination diet and keeping a food journal, or by asking your health care provider to perform specialized testing. Once your sensitivities are discovered, it’s essential that you take the appropriate steps to eliminate those foods from your diet in order to have the full benefit of an anti-inflammatory diet.

    When you pay close attention to your body, you may find that the foods that cause you distress are common allergens like gluten, corn or dairy, or something more obscure. A few uncommon sensitivities that readers have shared with me are turnips, carrots, and cashews.

    To some, the prospect of changing your diet or giving up certain foods feels overwhelming. But this doesn’t have to happen overnight. In breaking old habits and introducing new ingredients into your kitchen, new cooking habits and a healthier way of eating will result. A gradual change will feel less stressful and will allow you to slowly ease into a new way of eating.

    One way to ease your fears is to try new recipes or products. If you believe you may be dairy intolerant, for instance, try some recipes or products that are dairy-free. You may be surprised to find that a recipe or product doesn’t taste much different when a dairy-free milk, like almond or rice milk, takes the place of milk.

    To exemplify my point that eating allergen-free and/or anti-inflammatory meals can still be appetizing and delicious I have provided an easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast recipe (see below).

    If you suspect food sensitivities and/or want to implement an anti-inflammatory diet into your life, you can view the physician-developed anti-inflammatory/elimination diet featured in our book on our web site, www.recipesforrepair.com. Here you can try over three dozen professionally-developed recipes, all of which were developed for the diet and are identified as gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and/or vegetarian.



    Recipe ~ Carrot Almond Pancakes

    These pancakes may look a little different than what you’re used to, but they taste sweet, nutty and very satisfying. Top them with a teaspoon of raw honey and some blueberries for a complete breakfast treat. Prepare and refrigerate the pancake batter the night before, so that you can make your breakfast in a few minutes.
    Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian.
    Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 12 minutes. Makes 4 pancakes.

    1 cup peeled and grated carrots (2-3 carrots)
    ¼ cup almonds
    1 slice fresh ginger (1/8-inch thick)
    1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
    2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 egg
    ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    ½ teaspoon vanilla
    1-2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
    1 teaspoon raw honey
    Blueberries (optional)

    1. Place the grated carrots in a medium-sized bowl.
    2. Place the almonds, ginger and flaxseed in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5-6 times until the almonds are finely ground.
    3. Add the almond mixture and all of the remaining ingredients, except for the ghee, honey and blueberries, to the grated carrots.
    4. Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hot.
    5. Pour two ¼-cup portions of pancake batter into the frying pan, and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining batter.
    6. Top with honey and blueberries if desired, and serve hot.

    Recipe & photographs reprinted from Recipes for Repair, with permission from the authors. To learn more about Laura and her award-winning anti-inflammatory cookbook, visit recipesforrepair.com

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    Identity Crisis: Yam or Sweet Potato?

    by Jay Sjostrom, Co-op Produce Clerk

    This week in the Concord Food Co-op’s produce department we are highlighting the Japanese yam/sweet potato. Before I go into the detail of that particular variety I’d like to address a question we’re often asked in produce: Is there a difference between Yams and Sweet Potatoes?

                There are two separate answers to this question, one in regards to culture, and one to botanical truth. Starting with the latter, most of the “yams” we sell in the USA are botanically sweet potatoes. This goes for all varieties available at the Co-op. In fact yams and sweet potatoes are from two different plant families. True yams are largely unavailable; most people have probably never seen or eaten them. While sweet potatoes have a generally smooth looking and attractive appearance, the yam has a much wilder looking, tree bark exterior. It is also much drier than a sweet potato. So with this knowledge in mind: why do we call sweet potatoes yams in the USA?
                For one, it’s a cultural thing, but it’s also marketing too. There are two are varieties of sweet potatoes: a firm, light tan variety, and a soft copper colored variety (Garnets and Jewels). The light tan variety was the first to be introduced in this country.  This variety was first called and still is labeled a sweet potato. The copper color variety came after and was called a yam in order to better tell the difference between the two. This difference of look, feel, and labeling has estranged so-called “yams” from the sweet potato family and thus left customers with the question we started with.
                Japanese yams are also in the sweet potato family. In fact, they are the sweetest variety we offer at the Co-op and if not over-cooked retains a unique flavor, setting them apart from the garnet and jewel. Its purple skin makes it easily identifiable amongst the earthier hues of its neighbors. So if you’re looking for the sweetest variety of yams this holiday season, look no further. We have yams at a great reduced price of $2.29/lb starting Friday November 7th, 2014.

    Looking for recipes?
    Try these links:
    Maple-Cranberry Sweet Potatoes
    Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Peppers
    Black Bean- Smothered Sweet Potatoes
    Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges with Jalapeno Sour Cream
    Maple-Cranberry Sweet Potatoes
    Maple-Cranberry Sweet Potatoes

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    A New England Cheese Platter

    by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

    At last nights Cheesy Wine Down tasting class, the Co-op's cheese expert Heidi showed us how to create the perfect New England themed cheese platter. Heidi brought along lots of props to help inspire our own creations for the upcoming holiday season including a variety of platters, boards and various dishes that she likes to use to present her selections to her guests. A great idea she had was using ramekins to serve nuts and jams. We all have ramekins hidden in the back of the kitchen cupboards that hardly get to see the light and they are the perfect size for small spaces and servings. Heidi also pointed out that while traditional plates are great for serving already cut cheese, they don't make for a very elegant cheese cutting board, so stick to flat boards or slates when serving cheese that your guests will be cutting into themselves.

    So onto the cheese selections; the Co-op's cheese buyer Suzy has been busy finding seasonal cheeses that make great conversation starters from local New England farms. These selections make great gifts this time of year too. We tried Olga cheese from Seal Cove Farm in Maine, that is a blend of raw cows and goats milk. From New Hampshire we tried Toma and Piermont from Robie Farm. Robie Farm is a 140 year old dairy farm in Piermont along the Connecticut River. Then we tried a nice selection of cheeses from Vermont Farms like Lake's Edge and Crottina from Blue Ledge Farm. The Lake's Edge cheese has a dramatic ash-vein through it which makes for a very eye-catching selection on a cheese platter and tastes out of this world with a dollop of honey. From Grafton Village we tried the Leyden cheese that is inspired by an area of the Netherlands. And lastly from Von Trapp Farmstead we tried the Mad River Blue cheese and Brie from Blthydale Farm.
    It sounds like a lot is going on, but for a group of 25 people it served us very well (there was plenty for seconds and even thirds) and only cost about $65 for the cheeses and another $20 for a blueberry spread, a couple apples and some walnuts. That works out to less than $4 per person. (Don't worry you definitely get your money's worth at our tasting class, we also prepared 2 other similar sized platters plus the wealth of knowledge that Heidi provides.)

    Now lets move on to the wines of the month. Clos LaChance winery is a small family owned and operated winery near the Silicon Valley in California. The vineyard and production facility are both Sustainably Certified via the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. This means that when you purchase Clos LaChance wines you are supporting environmentally sound practices, economically feasible agriculture and socially equitable conduct. I think this makes the wine much more enjoyable!
    We started the evening with a glass of Chardonnay and Meritage. The Chardonnay would pair lovely with a manchego, but the goats milk cheeses on the platter were a great alternative. The fruitiness worked well with the Reine des Rennette apples too. The Meritage was a lovely splash to enjoy with the Mad River Blue and nuts. The strong personalities of each worked well.
    Then we tried the Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. I thought the Cab Sav was a great wine with anything on the cheese platter. It was fresh and fruity, even though it looked dark and mellow. The Sav Blanc worked well with the goats milk cheeses on the platter like the Olga from Seal Cove Farm or the Crottina from Blue Ledge Farm. the fresh citrus notes left a crisp taste on the palate.
    Like Heidi always tells us, pairings are a personal thing, you either like a combination or not, so get out there and try something new from the Co-op! Make sure to print your coupons to save $5 on cheese with your wine of the month purchase, click here.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Pineapple Coconut Smoothie

    Pineapple Coconut Smoothie

    Pineapple Coconut

    Kris demonstrates how to create a yummy sweet Pineapple Coconut Smoothie using lots of goodies from Navitas Naturals. She says this is a great smoothie to treat yourself, give it a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup pineapple
    • 1 cup strawberries
    • 2 bananas
    • 2 cups coconut milk
    • 1 tablespoon grenadine
    • 1 cup ice
    • 1 tablespoon Navitas Naturals goji berries
    Instructions:
    Kris suggests chopped up the fruit before placing in the blender. When everything is prepared, the order isn't important, just throw it all in a blender & blend until smooth.
    Serves 2
    Preparation time: 10 min
    Total time: 10 min

    Watch the video below as Kris demonstrates how easy this yummy smoothie is to create!

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Cookie Dough Smoothie

    Cookie Dough Smoothie

    Cookie Dough Smoothie

    Kris demonstrates how to create a yummy sweet Cookie Dough Smoothie using lots of goodies from Navitas Naturals. She describes this one as tasting like Pecan Sandy Cookie Dough, give it a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 Cup Raw Pecans
    • 1 Whole Ripe Pear
    • 2 Tablespoons Navitas Lucuma Powder
    • 1 Teaspoon Maca Powder
    • 1 1/2 Cups Almond Milk
    • 1/4 Cup Diced Medjool Dates
    • 2 Tablespoons Navitas Cacao Nibs
    • 2 Cups Coconut Water
    • 1 Cup Ice
    • 1 Teaspoon Navitas Cacao Powder
    Instructions:
    Kris suggests using a very ripe pear for the best flavor and dicing your medjool dates up as best as possible before blending to get a smoother consistency. You may also want to use a food processor to make the pecans into a powder. When everything is prepared, the order isn't important, just throw it all in a blender & blend until smooth.
    Serves 2
    Preparation time: 10 min
    Total time: 10 min

    Watch the video below as Kris demonstrates how easy this yummy smoothie is to create!

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    German & Swiss Cheeses at the Co-op

    by Jaimie Jusczyk - Digital Marketing Specialist

    For October the Co-op's monthly Cheesy Wine Down Wednesday tasting class participants wanted to sample festive German and Swiss cheeses, and what a great suggestion!

    The Co-op's Cheese Buyer, Suzy sourced us some great new cheeses to try along with the Co-op's Wines of the Month from Van Ruiten Family Winery.
    We tried  Bauer Butterkäse, a Cambazola, König Ludwig Bierkäse and the dreaded smelly Limburger from Germany. As I held my nose to try the Limburger I was surprised that the cheese definitely had a strong flavor that wasn't too bad. Definitely worth the try, though I am not sure you will find it in my shopping basket. The Butterkäse was delightfully creamy and salty, I can see using it in grilled sandwiches or wraps in my future.
    From Switzerland, we tried The Red Witch, Gruyère and Nufenen. The Red Witch is a fun October cheese as the wheel has a huge red witch silhouette on it with a paprika rub on the rind. It's an alpine style cheese that is silky with a meaty flavor. You will definitely want to try this with a bold red wine.
    Lastly we tried a cheese with Swiss origins but created closer to home, Reading Raclette from Vermont. Some of you may know raclette as an entire dish of its own, melted and served with potatos and gherkins, but this cheese definitely deserves its place on a cheese board as well. A great cheese for cool nights with a cup of hot tea or cider.

    The Wines of the Month for October are really something special from the Van Ruiten Winery in California. You will find from the Glory Days a Chardonnay, Merlot, Old Vine Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. All four wines had fruity flavors that went well with our cheeses. I personally thought the zinfandel with the Red Witch was a great combo. The pepperiness of the wine complemented the nutty and meaty flavors of the cheese.
    And last but not least as we wrapped the evening up with the Bakery Box serving their Cheesecake of the Month, Black & White Citrus with a sample of Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin beer. This melt in your mouth dessert will blow your taste buds away! I am a really big fan of chocolate orange and this cheesecake really does take the cake! I don't know how they do it, but our Co-op Bakers can really satisfy the fussiest of palates with their all-natural desserts, you have to try this cheesecake!

    So while I need to take a nap after all that cheesy, chocolate orange goodness, get yourself into the Co-op and try for yourself!
    Click here for wine and cheese coupons or sign up for our next class.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    Creamy Carrot Smoothie

    Creamy Carrot Smoothie

    Creamy Carrot Smoothie

    Kris shows you how to create an energy boosting Creamy Carrot Smoothie featuring hemp seeds and wheat grass powder from Navitas Naturals.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 Cups Carrot Juice
    • 2 Bananas
    • 1/3 Cup Raw cashews
    • 1/3 Cup Hemp Seeds
    • 3/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • 1 Teaspoon Wheat Grass
    • 2 Cups Ice
    Instructions:
    If you can juice your own carrots that is the preferred way, but you can find 100% carrot juice at the Co-op in glass bottles. When everything is prepared, the order isn't important, just throw it all in a blender & blend until smooth.
    Serves 2
    Preparation time: 10 min
    Total time: 10 min

    Watch the video below as Kris demonstrates how easy this yummy smoothie is to create!

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    Green Tea Pear Smoothie

    Green Tea Pear Smoothie

    Green Tea Pear

    This week Kris created a powerful Green Tea Pear Smoothie that was chock full of omega fats, antioxidants and fiber. While it may have looked a little swampy, the green tea and pear flavor was refreshing and sweet.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 Ripe Pears
    • 1 1/2 Cups Green Tea
    • 1 Cup Navitas Naturals Chia Gel
    • 1 Cup Ice
    • 1 Teaspoon Navitas Naturals Wheat Germ
    • 1 Teaspoon Navitas Naturals Lucuma Powder
    Instructions:
    Brew your green tea an hour before to give it time to cool before making your smoothie. To prepare the chia gel, mix 4 tablespoons and chia seeds with 2 cups of water. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes, then give it another 15 minutes before adding it to your smoothie. Chia seeds absorb about 9 times their weight in water to create a jelly like substance we call chia gel. When everything is prepared, the order isn't important, just throw it all in a blender & blend until smooth. If it is not sweet enough, add another teaspoon of lucuma powder.
    Serves 2
    Preparation time: 10 min
    Total time: 10 min

    Watch the video below as Kris demonstrates how easy this yummy smoothie is to create!

    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

    Banana Fig Zinger Smoothie

    Banana Fig Zinger Smoothie

    Banana Fig Zinger Smoothie

    Jay created this spicy smoothie recipe as a good kick off to fall. Using Navitas Naturals Acai Powder, bananas, apples, figs and ginger, this is a powerful smoothie to boost your immune system.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 Bananas
    • 1 1/2 Apples
    • 1/2 Cup Dried Figs
    • 1 Cup Ice
    • 2 Tablespoons Granulated Ginger
    • 2 Tablespoons Navitas Naturals Acai Powder
    • 1 Cup Water
    Instructions:
    The order isn't important, just throw it all in a blender & blend until smooth. If you don't like a strong ginger flavor you might want to use half the recommended amount.
    Serves 2
    Preparation time: 10 min
    Total time: 10 min

    Watch the video below as Jay demonstrates how easy this yummy smoothie is to create!

    Friday, September 5, 2014

    French Cheese Tasting at the Co-op

    by Jaimie Jusczyk - Marketing Specialist

    Heidi took us all for a tour of the French countryside this past Wednesday for the Co-op's monthly Cheesy Wine Down Wednesday tasting class. We were also treated to samples of Tierra Del Fuego wines from The Imported Grape and Caramel Apple Cheesecake from the Bakery Box.
    Our beautiful cheese plate with spreads and crackers.

    The cheeses we tried were:
    Sèvre et Belle - Bucherondin de chevre
    Port Salut® - Port Salut®
    Fromagerie Guilloteau™ - Saint Angel®
    Le Châtelain® - Camembert
    Gabriel Coulet - Roquefort
    Fromagerie Jean Roussey - Munster Gerome
    Tome Fleur Verte Chevrefeuille

    While I am not a fan of the barnyardy-ness flavor of goats cheeses in general (you know what I mean?), I was pleasantly surprised by the mild taste of the Tome Fleur Verte Chevrefeuille. The herbs on the scalloped edges really shine through on this fresh goats cheese. If you want to try something out of your comfort zone without taking a huge risk, I would definitely recommend this on your cheese platter. Served with a plain cracker this cheese doesn't need anything else to be enjoyed.

    And the wines we tried were a Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
    
    Gus from the Imported Grape kept the wine flowing as usual.
    If I had to choose one of these to take to dinner it would probably be the Cabernet Sauvignon. For a dark ruby red wine, this cab sav has a soft and elegant structure that any wine lover would enjoy with a meaty entrée.

    My own favorite combination was the Saint Angel® with the Anarchy in A Jar - Fig & Onion Jam on cracker while sipping the Chardonnay. Now that's my idea for the last of the summer wine, a sweet jam with a creamy cheese that sticks in your mouth while you sip a cool glass of grapey white, yum!

    What was your favorite combination?
    Do you have a suggestion for the next cheese tasting class? Send an email to Suzy, cheese@concordfoodcoop.coop with your requests or questions.
    
    Join us for Cheesy Wine Down Wednesdays on the first Wednesday of the month.
    View all the photos in our Facebook album, click here.

    The next class is Wednesday, October 1, where we will try some German and Swiss chesses with the Co-op Wine of the Month from Van Ruiten Winery. The Bakery Box will also debut their October Cheesecake of the Month, Chocolate Orange. You don't want to miss it! Register today, tickets are only $6 /person. Click here.