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Easy Weeknight Dinners with O Organics

25 Oct

Easy Weeknight Dinners with O Organics

Fall has befallen us! As the cooler weather sets in, our minds start migrating to warm, comforting foods that taste best when cooked at home.

Last week I had the chance to partner with O Organics on Palm Springs’ Desert Living show to bring you some super easy ways to make weeknight dinners in a snap.

 

 

Did you know that 60 years ago the typical American family dinnertime lasted 90 minutes. Fast forward to today where families spend 12 minutes eating their evening meal together!

Even though we have less time, we don’t have to compromise on taste, quality or health – and O Organics makes it incredibly easy to add organic items into everyday meals without a lot of time, money or effort.

In the Southern California area, O Organics is available at Albertsons and Vons. They feature more than 300 items for every occasion throughout the grocery store: from fresh fruits and vegetables, to wholesome dairy and meats, cereals, snacks and more.

Below are just a few of my favorite O Organics recipes. I love their ideas for making main courses in muffin tins. They’re perfect for portioning and you can batch cook ahead of time and freeze for fast weeknight meals.

And while you’re dabbling in dinner prep, it never hurts to sneak in a dessert and even throw together something for tomorrow’s breakfast. These German Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are no-bake and a huge hit in my house. And O Organics PB&J Overnight Oats are so easy and delicious, I’m tempted to eat them before morning comes!

 

Muffin Tin Meatloaves by O Organics

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Ingredients

  • 1 O Organics egg
  • 1/2 cup O Organics salsa, plus more
  • 1 pound O Organics lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 9 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, add egg, salsa, chili powder and salt; whisking with a fork to combine. Stir in oats. Fold in ground beef gently until all ingredients are evenly incorporated into the beef.
  • Coat a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Divide ground beef mixture among 9 of the muffin tins, pressing the beef down slightly in the center.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and add a teaspoon of salsa to the center of each meatloaf, and top each with a tablespoon of cheddar cheese. Put meatloaves back into the oven for another 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  • Remove from oven and let cool 2-3 minutes, then remove mini meatloaves from muffin tin and serve!

 

3 Cheese Muffin Tin Pasta by O Organics

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked O Organics penne pasta
  • 3 O Organics eggs
  • 2 cups half-moon slices of zuchini
  • 2 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk eggs for 1 minute. Stir in Colby Jack cheese and garlic powder. Add pasta and veggies, and stir to coat noodles in mixture. Add Parmesan, and stir again to coat fully.
  • In a 12-cound muffin tin sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, divide mixture equally among each muffin tin. Sprinkle the top of each with a teaspoon of crumbled feta.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees F, until fully cooked through but not overdone. Remove and let cool 5 minutes. Remove pasta from muffin tins (if needed, take a butter knife along the edges to loosen the pasta – it should remove easily), and serve.

 

German Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup O Organics creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup pecan chips, toasted
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeed

Directions

  • In a bowl, stir together peanut butter, oats, coconut, pecan chips, honey, cocoa powder and flaxseed. If mixture is too sticky, add another teaspoon or so of ground flaxseed until it reaches a good consistency.
  • Roll into balls about 2 tablespoons each. Top with extra coconut flakes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

PB&J Overnight Oats

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon O Organics strawberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons O Organics creamy or crunchy peanut butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Directions

  • In a small clear jar, spread strawberry preserves and 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter on the sides of the jar. In another cup, mix together oats, cinnamon, chia seeds, and almond milk. Pour oat mixture into clear jar. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  • In the morning, top oats with chopped apple. Slightly warm maple syrup with 1 tablespoon peanut butter. Drizzle on top of apple and enjoy!

For the full Desert Living Easy Weeknight Dinners segment with O Organics, please click here.

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with the products mentioned in this post; I was not paid to write this post but I was paid for the product mentions in the TV segment appearing in the post.

Healthy Holiday Tips & Tricks

29 Dec

Healthy Holiday Tips & Tricks

With New Year’s upon us, the holiday entertaining season is still in full swing. And if you’re like most Americans, you can expect to gain 1-2 pounds this holiday season.

But good news: you don’t have to be just another heavy holiday statistic! If you want to Beat the Creep this year, check out these simple tips for curbing holiday weight gain:

Follow the “Rule of Ones”

  • If a holiday party buffet is about to ruin your day, follow the rule of ones: grab one appetizer, one main dish, one side, and one dessert.
  • With the rule of ones you have to make your choices matter. Start out strong by amplifying your appetizers: pump up flavor & spice, not salt and fat.
  • This holiday season I am loving the convenience of Bibigo Korean BBQ Sauces & their fully cooked Chicken & Cilantro Wontons. Pair the 2 together for a tasty, convenient appetizer packed with authentic Korean BBQ flavor that won’t break your calorie budget.

“Three Bites: Now Say Good Night”

  • Attack that holiday meal by following the three-bite rule: the first bite is the best, the last is to savor, and one in between is for good measure.
  • Be a smart stocking stuffer with savory and sweet treats in bite-size, calorie controlled portions which help you satisfy without overindulging.
  • My favorite tasty treat this holiday season is the Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond KIND bar – it’s packed with ingredients you can see and pronounce, and only has 5 grams of added sugar!

Power Up with Protein in Peanuts

  • Fiber and protein are the 2 nutrients that help keep you full – and peanuts have a great combination of both; with 7 grams of protein per serving, peanuts have more protein than any other nut.
  • Everyone leaves Santa cookies, but why not also pack him some peanuts to power his present delivering through the night?
  • For a delectable and protein packed treat, check out this great gluten free Ultra Peanut Butter Cookie recipe from the National Peanut Board

For these and other healthy holiday tips, check out my recent segment on NBC 7 San Diego.

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I was compensated for product mention in this post & TV segment – thoughts & opinions are my own.

California Avocado Recipe Contest Winner: Avocado Berry Gelee

6 Aug

California Avocado Recipe Contest Winner: Avocado Berry Gelee

Congratulations to Roxanne Chan of Albany, CA for winning the Fiber is the Future & California Avocado Commission’s Recipe Contest!

Roxanne’s recipe submission is for an Avocado Berry Gelee, an innovative use of avocados in an easy-to-prepare and beautifully displayed summertime dessert.

Avocado Berry Gelee

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe but slightly firm California avocado, peeled, pitted, coarsely grated
  • 2 Tbsp blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp raspberries
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp minced candied ginger
  • Lime zest and berries for garnish

Directions:

  • Combine the grated avocado, berries and lime juice in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the orange juice in a separate, small microwavable dish; let soften 1-2 minutes then microwave 10 seconds on high or until the gelatin dissolves.
  • Stir in the avocado and berry mixture along with the ginger.
  • Pour into a 4 cup mold and refrigerate till the gelee sets up, approximately 1-2 hours.
  • To serve: unmold onto a serving dish, garnish and serve.

Congratulations again to Roxanne and to all of the other contest entrants.

For more great California Avocado recipes, click here.

Starbucks’ New Stuff Roundup

27 May

Starbucks’ New Stuff Roundup

“It’s time to start thinking of Starbucks for great food”.

Or so says the promo material for the new La Boulange line of “artisanal pastries” being offered at the ubiquitous coffee shop.

La Boulange Bakery is a San Francisco institution that has been serving up “fantastic brunches and healthful lunches” in the Bay Area since the 1990s. You may have never been to La Boulange, but if you’ve been to a Starbucks in the past month, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with the advertising blitz featuring the new line of pastries.

Why did Starbucks partner with La Boulange? Well, it certainly wasn’t to improve your health! According to the company’s FAQs, somehow, “Through this great partnership, we are able to make your Starbucks experience more welcoming and satisfying than ever.”

Provided that you consider white flour, butter, and copious amounts of sugar and salt welcoming and satisfying ingredients, you’ll be stoked on these new options clogging your coffee wait pastry case.

To be fair – Starbucks isn’t claiming any of these products are even remotely healthy; but it is somewhat distressing to see that not-a-one is even on the cusp of being a nutritious pick:

  • The average La Boulange pastry at Starbucks contains 7 grams of saturated fat, roughly 1/3 of your daily max. If a pastry represents 1/3 of your daily food intake, that’s fine, but let’s be honest – it doesn’t.
  • The only offering with 3 g fiber or more per serving is the Wheat Spinach Savory Square (4 g fiber/square), but it tops out at 13 g saturated fat and almost 600 mg sodium, which kind of negates the fiber factor here.
  • When taken to task on the high fat/high calorie nature of French pastries, the Starbucks site cites a, “Variety of options – from more indulgent treats to lighter bites with as few as 170 calories”. Problem is, there’s only ONE sub-200 calorie pastry (out of 28 items), and that’s the notoriously light Flourless Chewy Chocolate Cookie. The rest of the treats set you back an average of 330 calories, roughly double the “lighter bite” line.

If you’re looking for a better bet at Starbucks, stick to the old standbys:

The bottom line: if you’re REALLY wondering why French women don’t get fat, it’s because they probably don’t eat at Starbucks.

Anatomy of a Skinny Cow

5 May

Anatomy of a Skinny Cow

I recently found myself elbow-deep in a gas station’s reach-in ice cream freezer.

Buried beneath the high-fat, high-sugar off-brand offerings, I unearthed a seemingly healthier product: a Skinny Cow Vanilla low fat ice cream sandwich.

Now what makes this product healthier than other ice cream sandwiches? Well, here’s the run-down of a Skinny Cow…and of course we’ll start with fiber.

Fiber

Most skinny cow products have at least 3 grams of dietary fiber. What in the world is fiber doing in ice cream, you ask?

Well, real ice cream has no fiber because it’s made of fat and sugar, 2 bastions of the fiber-free ingredient world.

But Skinny Cow has wised up to consumers’ interest in fiber. So they shove in functional fibers like inulin, cellulose, and gums.

These fibers have not been shown to yield the same health benefits as naturally occurring fiber, like the type you find in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

There are certainly lower-calorie, tastier ways to get 3 grams of fiber. They’re called apples.

Calories

The Skinny Cow vanilla ice cream sandwich I tried had 150 calories. Compare that to a Klondike classic vanilla ice cream sandwich (which I also bought in case the Skinny Cow let me down) with 180 calories, so it’s not that big of a difference.

Your typical 1/2 cup serving of ice cream is going to set you back about 150 calories (250 calories if you’re going premium), so you’re not saving much on the calorie front with this guy.

Ingredient List

Now any processed ice cream product is going to run long on the ingredient list. And the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich is no different.

It consists of skim milk, white flour, sugar, caramel color followed by some more sugars, sugar, corn syrup, and then a bunch of preservatives and fake fibers. And it sure tastes like it.

Taste

The Skinny Cow vanilla ice cream sandwich doesn’t really taste like an ice cream sandwich. The wafer is thin and disintegrates before you have a chance to chew.

But thankfully, before you notice the paper-thin wafer has disappeared, you’re hit with the cloying sweetness that is 14 grams of added sugar.

Furthermore, because it only has 2 grams of fat, you simultaneously miss out on that luscious mouthfeel you would expect from fat in ice cream…but then again, that’s what you get for buying an ice cream boasting about its skinniness.

Verdict

All in all I’d say pass on the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich. There are more satisfying ways to eat 150 calories of ice cream. And certainly smarter ways to get 3 grams of fiber.