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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.

HelloFresh: High Fiber Meals Dropped at Your Door

10 Nov

HelloFresh: High Fiber Meals Dropped at Your Door

Are we living in the Golden Age of Food?

It seems that in almost every corner of this country people increasingly have access to high quality, healthy foods. Sometimes it comes at a price. And sometimes it comes to your door.

With all of the home-delivered, semi-prepared meal options out there, it can be challenging to sort through the noise. And while many home-delivery meal services do deliver on taste, price and nutrition are sometimes relegated to the back seat.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to discover HelloFresh – a company that delivers delicious and healthy recipes with all the pre-measured ingredients to your door each week.

 

How it Works

HelloFresh provided me with 3 sample meals for this blog post. They have a Classic Food Box (for omnivores) and a Veggie Box (for herbivores). The classic meals start at $10.75 per person, per meal (including shipping) while vegetarian meals start at $9.08 per person, per meal (also including shipping).

The box arrives on your doorstep (appropriately refrigerated I might add…food safety first!); and each meal is perfectly packed with individual, pre-portioned ingredients and beautiful, descriptive recipe cards.

And when it comes to the chef’s selections, this is not your run-of-the-mill mac-and-cheese type of vegetarian menu! The week I received meals included:

The ingredients were packed individually to maintain freshness and each recipe card has a step-by-step preparation process laid out with gorgeous acompanying food photography.

I love that all of the HelloFresh recipes include the nutritional analysis – and each of the meals I sampled had between 9-26 grams of fiber per serving.

 

Why Cook at Home More?

Cooking at home(vs. eating out) is your best bet for health – and your wallet. A service like HelloFresh can infuse life back into your home cooking routine. Having food come to you (vs. you going to it) forces you to try new ingredients. I had been meaning to try both sunchokes and kale chips – and voilà…they showed up on my doorstep to work their way into my weeknight meal!

Another impressive component of HelloFresh’s operation is their nationwide delivery options. So many innovative home food delivery companies are limited to New York, San Francisco and not much else; but not HelloFresh (unless you live in Hawaii or Alaska…they’re not there yet).

All of the HelloFresh recipes are available online, so you can continue to make your favorite meals at home. They also have an incredible blog filled with great information on how to cook, tips about cooking tools and recipes and stories from their team.

If you’re looking for a healthy (and high fiber) home-delivered meal service, I would highly recommend HelloFresh! Check out my favorite HelloFresh recipe – Afghan Red Lentil Soup with Cumin, Mint, and Lemon below.

 

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Afghan Red Lentil Soup with Cumin, Mint, and Lemon

Recipe from HelloFresh, Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 oz carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 oz fresh mint
  • 1 can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 Tablespoon oil

Instructions

  • Prep the veggies: halve, peel and dice the onion. Peel the carrots and then finely dice. Finely chop the celery. Mince or grate the garlic. Zest the lemon, then halve. Cut one half into 4 wedges. Thinly slice the fresh mint, reserving a few leaves for garnish.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and cook, tossing, for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the cumin and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the tomatoes and the dried mint to the pot. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes until almost smooth. Add the lentils, and 2 cups water to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the sliced mint and the juice of half the lemon and stir to combine. If you have a blender, you can blend the soup for a creamier consistency.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with lemon zest (to taste), reserved lemon wedges, and fresh mint leaves. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information 

Amount per serving; recipe makes 2 servings

  • 530 calories
  • 8 g total fat
  • 134 mg sodium
  • 93 g carbohydrate
  • 26 g dietary fiber
  • 29 g protein

Disclosure: I was provided with sample meals from HelloFresh for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

5 Nov

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

I recently received a copy of The Vitamix Cookbook: 250 Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Make in Your Blender to review here on the fiber blog. Although I’ve been a Vitamix owner for about 5 years, I’m always eager for more recipes to test the limits of this timeless kitchen appliance.

For some historical context, I was a reluctant convert to Vitamix. My husband – Mr. Fiber – brought me on board following an unauthorized trip to Costco that happened to coincide with an in-store Vitamix Road Show.

He was as mesmerized by the demonstration as I was dumbfounded by the price. I plotted to return it (as I do with roughly all of his Costco purchases), but after flipping through the Whole Foods Recipes book that came with the Vitamix, I was sold.

Sure, I figured, you can continue to keep buying, breaking and replacing $30 blenders with crappy motors that can’t handle frozen fruit…or you can buy the Cadillac of blenders that is so powerful, it can make both hot soup AND frozen desserts.

 

High Fiber Soup in a Snap

Although most people think smoothies or juices when it comes to blending, for me, it’s all about the soup. I have always been in awe of the power of the Vitamix, with its blades that can reach speeds fast enough to create friction heat that bring soup ingredients to steaming hot in 4-6 minutes.

When I got my copy of The Vitamix Cookbook, I flipped right to Chapter 4 for Soups, Salads and Sides. The book features 40 fresh, new soup recipes that bring flavor to life in just a few minutes.

Most of the soups in the book have at least 3 g dietary fiber and under 500 mg sodium per serving, a good balance for homemade soups, which are hands-down healthier than canned, store-bought versions.

 

A Bit About the Book…

The Vitamix Cookbook is authored by Jodi Berg, the current President and CEO of Vitamix and a fourth-generation member of the 100-year old Vitamix company family. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical introduction in the book, which explains the foundations of the company.

Jodi explains how her great-grandfather founded the business, and that other Vitamix family members were challenged by digestive problems that caused them to seek solace in whole foods.

I love that all of the recipes in the Vitamix Cookbook are accompanied by accurate nutrient analysis, including dietary fiber (since most cookbooks forget fiber.) The food photography is beautiful and the layout of the recipes makes it easy to navigate and plot what’s going to go into the Vitamix next.

 

The Power of Whole Grain Flours

Chapter 2 features Breakfast and Brunch recipes, with great ideas for incorporating a variety of whole grain flours.

I have been using my Vitamix to make my toddler daughter baby food since she could eat, and I’ll certainly be incorporating the Banana Waffles (3 g fiber) and Bran Cherry Muffins (6 g fiber) recipes from this cookbook into our morning meals repertoire.

 

Recipe Rundown

I tested 8 recipes from the book – one from each chapter – and not surprisingly, my favorite was the soup sample, “Spiced Butternut Squash Soup”. With just 160 calories, 110 mg sodium and 4 g dietary fiber, this is a notably nutritious step up from your typical squash soup.

The Spiced Butternut Squash Soup recipe is below – but in the meantime, check out your own copy of The Vitamix Cookbook over at Amazon, and for more great Vitamix tips, tricks, videos and recipes, visit the Vitamix website.

 

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Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe from The Vitamix Cookbook by Jodi Berg

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (471 g) peeled, chunked butternut squash
  • 2 medium Gala apples (11 oz / 317 g), seeded and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cup (89 g) torn kale leaves
  • 1 cup (128 g) diced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups (1.2 liters) carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup (73 g) raw almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  • Combine the squash, apples, kale, onion, vinegar, carrot juice, almond milk, almonds, and spices in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Ladle half of the hot mixture into he Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select Variable 1. Turn the machine on and slowly increase the speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 1 minute.
  • Pour the pureed soup into a clean pot. Repeat with the remaining soup. Stir together both batches to combine. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Amount per 1 cup (240 ml) Serving

  • 160 calories
  • 4.5 g total fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 110 mg sodium
  • 27 g total carbohydrate
  • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 6 g sugars
  • 5 g protein

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the Vitamix Cookbook for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

 

Legumes in Your Linguine? Edamame Spaghetti Fiber Find

27 Oct

Legumes in Your Linguine? Edamame Spaghetti Fiber Find

Cruising through Costco this week, I was delighted to encounter Edamame Spaghetti from Explore Asian in the aisle.

The ingredient list is short & sweet: organic edamame (green soybeans) and water.

Now, I love pasta as much as the next person – but it’s generally low in fiber, low in protein and packed with refined carbs that I can do without.

What lacks in traditional pasta is what rocks this edamame pasta. A 2 oz serving (roughly 1/2 cup dry pasta) provides:

  • 200 calories
  • 5 mg sodium
  • 21 g carbohydrate
  • 11 g dietary fiber
  • 24 g protein

With traditional pasta, for 200 calories you usually get twice those carbs with not much else. Here you’re banking almost half of your daily fiber and protein needs in 1 generous portion.

This protein and fiber-packed pasta alternative is also a great find for those on gluten-free, vegan or kosher diets. It’s USDA certified organic, non-GMO project verified and provides 30% daily value for iron per serving.

But does it taste as good as pasta? You bet. I found I had to cook the edamame pasta a little longer than the recommended 4-5 minutes on the package. But at about 8 minutes in boiling water, the texture was perfect and surprisingly close to real pasta.

You can serve the edamame pasta in place of any spaghetti or linguine in a traditional Italian dish. I chose to serve it up fake-Pho style with this simple soup recipe.

Fake Pho Edamame Spaghetti Soup

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, remove the tough outer leaves and smash the inside
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 8 cups low-sodium broth
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup mushrooms (I used Japanese shimeji mushrooms, but any will do)
  • 4 oz (2 servings) edamame spaghetti
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Basil leaves to garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in pot over medium-hi heat. Add lemongrass, scallions and ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add broth and fish sauce and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add mushrooms and edamame spaghetti and boil for 8-10 minutes
  4. Garnish with basil leaves and lime juice

Nutrition Information

Per 2-cup serving:

  • 260 calories
  • 10 g fat
  • 500 mg sodium
  • 23 g carbohydrate
  • 7 g fiber
  • 23 g protein

 

Succumbing to the King Arthur Cult

16 Sep

Succumbing to the King Arthur Cult

I’m not a big baker, but when a recipe recently called for whole grain spelt flour, I wasn’t about to go searching for stale spelt product at my local healthfood store.

So I was pretty stoked when I stumbled upon the fabulous online options available from King Arthur Flour.

Now a thing or two about the King: King Arthur has been in business for 225 years, so they’ve got the flour power bit down. As of 1996 the company transferred from a family-owned operation to an employee-owned operation and they became a Certified B Corporation in 2007, meaning they are deemed ethically and environmentally fit by the nonprofit B Lab.

According to Inc. Magazine, employees at King Arthur get 40 hours per year of paid volunteer time, free professional development, reimbursement for weight management and childcare. On top of that, lower-paid workers receive a subsidy for produce from a local farm.

So what does employee relations and business development have to do with flour? A company that takes care of its employees has those employees in turn producing the highest quality products.

I scoped a few baker blogs for King Arthur praise and apparently I’m 225 years behind the curve on this one. They all rave about the fabulous flour they’re churning out in Vermont.

Although King Arthur sells every type of baking flour imaginable, its’ the Whole Grain section that really gets me going. If you need wheat berries, gluten free brown rice flour or organic pumpernickel flour delivered to your doorstep, this is the place to go!

I also found their Videos selection incredibly helpful. Did you know that you’ve been measuring your flour wrong all this time? You’ve got to fluff first!

Lastly, if you find yourself stuck in a baker’s blunder, call up the King Arthur baker’s hotline. The number is (855) 371-2253. The friendly employer owners folks there know it all.

And if you’re curious how much fiber is in the organic whole spelt flour? It’s 3 grams fiber per 100 calorie 1/3 cup serving. I learned it from the hotline!

For a whole grain kick to your next morning meal, check out this super simple Spelt Pancakes recipe from the Whole Grains Council and King Arthur’s Flour:

Simple Spelt Pancakes

Serves: 4 (16 4-inch pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (7 oz) whole spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 oz) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (14 oz) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Combine the milk and melted butter, and the vanilla if you’re using it.
  3. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened: it will seem very wet, but will thicken as it sits. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes before you use it.
  4. Heat a non-stick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. If your surface is not non-stick, brush it lightly with vegetable oil.
  5. When the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across the surface, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to eliminate excess oil, and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4-cupful at a time.
  6. Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, about 2 to 3 minutes. You may need to adjust your heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface, or being too pale.
  7. When the cakes are just beginning to set, flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, about 1 minute more, until they’re golden brown on both sides.

Nutrition Information (per 4 4-inch pancake serving)

  • Calories 137
  • Fat 4g
  • Carbohydrate 20g
  • Dietary Fiber 4g
  • Sugar 4g
  • Sodium 375 mg
  • Protein 5g