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Dinner Made Easy with Veggie Noodles

Spiralizing vegetables is all the rage in the culinary world. So many diets are looking to noodles made out of vegetables as a way to eat gluten-free, cut calories and add more vegetables to a meal.

Basically, you take a dense vegetable like butternut squash, zucchini or potatoes and put it through a gadget called a spiralizer. The spiralizer will cut the vegetable into long noodles. They can be eaten raw, sautéed, parboiled or fried. There’s just one problem. I’ve tried a few spiralizers, and the results were not as successful as I expected. The noodles were flimsy, broken or oddly shaped.

When I saw the spiralized noodles from Veggie Noodle Co. at FRESH, I couldn’t wait to try them. It’s a great company out of Austin, and they do the spiralizing for you. The noodles are perfect, and the packaging comes with quick, easy recipes and cooking instructions. Plus, there is a variety of vegetables to choose from: butternut squash, sweet potato, zucchini and beet. I can’t even begin to imagine the mess that I would have made if I had tried to spiralize a beet!

Having all these options allows you to get creative with recipes. All of them can be made so quickly. It’s the perfect solution for weeknight dinners.

The butternut squash spirals can be sautéed for a few minutes and then tossed in pesto and olive oil. The sweet potato spirals are really delicious when fried. It’s a bit like sweet potato fries. The beet spirals are beautiful and can be sautéed, fried or boiled. Toss them with olive oil and a few drops of balsamic, and then top with some goat cheese crumbles for a nice pasta substitute.


Taste the Difference with Grass-Fed Cows

Taste the Difference with Grass-Fed CowsThese days, you hear a lot about how grass-feeding versus conventional grain-feeding can make a difference in the flavor of meat and dairy. What does it mean and how can a different diet change the milk?

Since 2009, Maple Hill Creamery has been crafting whole-milk dairy products from cows in upstate New York that are 100% grass-fed. Their organic yogurts have an earthy flavor and smooth texture. Sugar, artificial flavors, colors and thickeners are never added to their products.

Their yogurt is tastefully tart, smooth and topped with a layer of cream on top. Each whole-milk product they craft begins as a single blade of grass.

According to the dairy’s website, their farmers pay close attention to the varieties of grass the cows are eating and the growth stages of the grass as it varies from each season. They guide the cows to eat areas of grasses prior to the seeding stage. Once seeding begins in the fall, the grass uses all the energy and protein to mature the seedhead, which reduces its nutritional quality for the cows. This grazing and growing process circumvents the resources typically used to produce corn, soybeans or grains that dairy cows consume.

Cows are ruminants, which means they are meant to thrive on fibrous grasses and plants. Their rumen is a four-part digestive system with a specific digestive flora.

So, what happens when a cow is fed a grain-based diet instead of a 100% grass diet?

When a cow eats corn and grain, the pH of the rumen begins to drop and becomes acidic, which destroys some of the digestive flora. While a diet of corn and grain may increase a cow’s milk yield, it can degrade the milk’s quality. Additionally, an acidic rumen can cause a variety of ailments for the cow, stemming from inflammation. Generally speaking, the cow’s lifespan will be shorter, and the chance of infection is higher.

When a cow eats a grass diet, the digestive flora flourishes, aiding with digestion and keeping the immune system strong with a healthy body. Testing has shown that milk from 100% grass-fed cows has higher levels of omega-3 levels than other dairy. Additionally, the milk has 3 to 5 times the amount of beta-carotene.

Because of the seasonality of the grass or wildflowers the cows consume, the flavor of the Maple Hill Creamery products can vary during the year. It brings about a special taste experience. Look for the Maple Hill Creamery Cream on Top Yogurt, Greek Yogurt and Drinkable Yogurt in the FRESH dairy case. Give it a try and taste the difference!

Post-Training Snacks for FRESH 15

Post-Training Snacks for FRESH 15The fourth annual FRESH 15 will be here soon, and if you plan to run the race, you may be working toward longer distances during your training runs. As you increase exertion and distance, it’s important to properly refuel after a long run.

Nutritionists with Running Magazine recommend a high-protein snack within 30 minutes of running. After a six-mile run, eat an apple paired with a healthy fat, like cheese or almond butter. This will help replenish amino acids that are needed for your muscles. Also, the fruit and fat combo increases blood glucose levels to provide energy to your cells.

After a longer run between 7 and 10 miles, have a mini meal that includes protein, fat and carbohydrates. Egg or tuna salad on whole-grain toast is a good choice.

Also, stay hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day, and try to drink half your weight in fluid ounces. Snack on fresh fruit and nuts for additional energy.

Some great refueling choices you can find at FRESH include the following:

Full Circle Almond Butter: Made from 100% ground almonds. A great source of protein.

Full Circle Almond Milk: All-natural, rich and creamy non-dairy beverage enriched with calcium and vitamins A, D and E.

Dave’s Killer Bread: Made with whole-grains, certified organic, non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup and no preservatives. Contains 5 grams of protein and fiber, 250 grams of Omega-3 and 22 whole-grains per serving.

Natural Sea Solid White Albacore Tuna: Ocean-friendly, wild-caught tuna packaged in BPA-free cans. Contains 179 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Go Back to School with Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola BarsIt’s back to school time! That means alarms are set, lunches are packed, and all the school supplies are ready to go. Don’t forget the most important part – breakfast!

Everyone knows that it’s the most important meal of the day, but it’s often the meal where poor choices affect the way we eat and feel for the rest of the day.

Grabbing a granola or nutrition bar is a popular choice, but you need to read the labels and watch out for preservatives, sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.

When it comes to granola bars, it is easy and inexpensive to make your own. Plus, you know exactly what goes into them, and you can customize the ingredients to fit your taste or health needs.

When selecting ingredients, look for the following:

  • Brookshire’s Old-Fashioned Whole-Grain Oats
  • Brookshire’s Fruit & Nut Trail Mix
  • Brookshire’s Sunflower Seeds
  • Full Circle Organic Honey
  • Full Circle Organic Raisins
  • Full Circle Organic Agave Nectar
  • Full Circle Dried Fruit
  • Full Circle Peanut Butter
  • Dried Fruit, Nuts & Coconut Flakes from the Bulk Department

Homemade Granola Bars

2 cups Brookshire’s Old-Fashioned Whole-Grain Oats
1 cup nuts or trail mix
1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit
1/2 cup Full Circle Organic Honey
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, spread out the oats and nuts. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Coat a pie pan with cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray. Add the honey. Cook over medium heat without stirring until large bubbles form and the honey begins to darken around the edges. The bubbles will start small and increase to about 3/4 inch in about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Immediately pour the oats, nuts, dried fruit and pinch of salt into the pan. Spray a spatula with cooking spray, and stir the mixture until completely coated with honey.

Quickly press the granola into the pie pan. Place in the refrigerator, and allow to cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges, and wrap in plastic wrap. The granola bars can remain at room temperature for up to five days, or they can be frozen.

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

Mother Nature’s Sports Drink: Full Circle Coconut Water

Full Circle Coconut WaterAn important part of any exercise program is staying hydrated. The fluids lost during a workout or any type of physical activity, especially in high-heat conditions, are important to replace.

Sometimes water is not enough, and many sports drinks are high in sugar, calories or artificial ingredients. That’s why I was excited to discover the Full Circle All Natural Coconut Water. Not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk or oil, coconut water is a clear liquid in the fruit’s center that is tapped from young, green coconuts.

Coconut water has been called Mother Nature’s sports drink, and many athletes swear by it to prevent cramping and dehydration.

Here are a few reasons why I love Full Circle Coconut Water:

  • Low in calories, and naturally fat-free and cholesterol-free
  • Contains more potassium than four bananas and is an excellent source of Vitamin C
  • Coconut water is made up of easily digestible carbohydrates. When you exercise strenuously for an extended period of time, especially in hot conditions, you need easily-absorbed carbs for quick energy and to replace lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
  • It has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor that is refreshing and thirst-quenching.
  • It has fewer calories, less sodium and more potassium than a sports drink. Ounce per ounce, Full Circle Coconut Water contains 5.6 calories, 1.4 grams of sugar, 44 milligrams of potassium and 2.5 milligrams of sodium.
  • Plain coconut water can be a better choice for adults and kids looking for a beverage that is less sweet.

So, be sure to grab Full Circle Coconut Water for your next workout. Before and after, it’s a great choice for natural hydration.

FRESH Start in 2016

FRESH Start in 2016After an indulgent holiday season, I actually look forward to the peace, quiet and renewal that comes with the New Year. January is a month to evaluate, change and establish new routines. It’s also a great way to ReFRESH your diet and start some healthy habits for 2016.

Here are a few ideas for a wholesome and healthy start to the New Year:

Frozen Fruit & Yogurt Smoothie: In a blender, combine 1 cup Full Circle Fat-Free Milk or Full Circle Almond Milk with 1/2 cup Brookshire’s Frozen Fruit and 1/2 cup Brookshire’s Low-Fat Yogurt. Blend to combine. Add more milk to reach desired consistency. Use a variety of yogurt and fruit flavors throughout the week.

Hot Green Tea: Full Circle Organic Green Tea has so many health benefits and is a great way to stay warm during a chilly time of year. Give it an additional antioxidant boost by adding Full Circle Honey and fresh lemon juice to a hot brewed cup of tea.

Overnight Oats: This is one of my favorite breakfasts on the go. Add 3/4 cup of Full Circle Fat-Free Milk or Full Circle Almond Milk to a Mason jar with 1 tablespoon Full Circle Raisins and 1 teaspoon Full Circle Organic Brown Sugar or Full Circle Honey. Stir to combine and then add 1/2 cup of Brookshire’s Whole-Grain Oats. (Quick Cooking or Steel Cut Oats are not recommended for this method.) Refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours. Fresh fruit or nuts can be added before eating.

Rise & Shine with a FRESH Healthy Breakfast

Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt paired with FRESH Signature Granola Summer has ended and September is almost here. It’s a time to get back into school and work routines. That means early mornings and the daily rush to get out the door.

So, you hit the snooze a few times; that doesn’t mean you can skip breakfast. There are still some great options that are quick, healthy and easy to eat on-the-go when you are short on time.

Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt paired with FRESH Signature Granola is one of my favorite breakfast combinations. Top with a drizzle of honey and some fresh berries, and it’s almost like dessert for breakfast.

Not only is it delicious, but it’s healthy, too. The yogurt is made with milk from 100% grass-fed cows. They are committed to making the highest quality 100% grass-fed, organic, whole-milk dairy products. With a variety of flavors in their cream-line yogurts and handcrafted Greek yogurts, you are sure to find a favorite. They even have drinkables for an on-the-go healthy snack.

The FRESH Signature Granola is made in-house with organic rolled oats, walnuts, organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coconut, currants, cranberries, apricots and blueberries. It is lightly sweetened with brown rice syrup and baked in a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger, cardamom, vanilla, orange essence, and canola and sesame oils.

It’s a wonderful mixture of all-natural flavors, and the protein and fiber keep you satisfied and away from unhealthy snacks.

On mornings that are rushed, I pack my yogurt to-go. Simply grab a Mason jar and layer the ingredients – yogurt on the bottom, a drizzle of honey, a layer of fruit and granola on top. It’s easy to eat and will stay fresh in the office refrigerator. You can even make it the night before. With the granola on top, it stays crisp and dry, and whenever you’re ready, there’s a healthy breakfast at your fingertips.

Quest Bars & Chips

Quest Bars and ChipsI have to admit that when grabbing breakfast and snacks on the go, I usually don’t have the time or patience to make the best choices.

That’s why I love finding a product that eliminates the guesswork and, of course, tastes good, too.

Quest Protein Bars and Quest Protein Chips fit all those categories. They are low in fat, carbohydrates, sugar and calories. They also contain no gluten or soy, and they are high in protein.

The chips have 21 grams of protein and come in five flavors – Sea Salt, BBQ, Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion, and Cheddar & Sour Cream. They are baked instead of fried and contain high-quality ingredients. These chips offer a guilt-free crunch and savory flavors that make snacking fun and healthy.

The Quest Bars come in 12 flavors, from S’mores to White Chocolate Raspberry. They may taste unhealthy but are full of ingredients that have a clean nutritional profile.

Sweetened with stevia, the bars contain only one gram of sugar and net five grams of carbohydrates. They are high in fiber, contain no gluten and have 20 grams of protein.

These bars not only serve as a snack or meal replacement but also as an ingredient in baked goods. The Quest researchers have created recipes using the bars as a low-carb substitute for sugar, gluten and chocolate. Visit Quest Nutrition to find recipes find recipes for things like blueberry-almond muffins, lemon-coconut pound cake and strawberry cheesecake cookies.

At Quest, it’s their promise to make the quest for clean and healthy eating a delicious and fun experience.

Health & Wellness: Kerrygold Cheese


Kiss me, I kind of look Irish! With my red hair and freckles a plenty, it was destiny that I spend some time on the Emerald Isle. I jumped the pond a few years back but I will always have a fondness for Ireland.

Of course, when I celebrate there is always cheese around. My dear friend Andrew Griffith, whom I consider “the Big Cheese” at FRESH, was on hand to showcase the Irish cheese offerings from Kerrygold at FRESH. In Ireland, cows roam free in fresh air and graze in lush pastures of tender grass. From this legendary landscape comes luscious milk that births some divine cheeses you simply must try!

Vintage Irish Cheddar boasts a delightfully distinctive character.  Aged for three to six months the wheel is encased in black wax to differentiate it from less-aged Cheddars.  This connoisseur’s cheddar, notable for its rich, rounded, buttery flavor and firm, smooth body, deserves a place on the cheese board alongside your choice of the world’s other great cheeses.  Pair it with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon Blends and Syrah.

Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey is infused with robust flavor, Kerrygold’s rich and creamy Aged Cheddar with unique undertones of the smooth, woody, and nutty taste of pure Irish Whiskey. What a bonus! Entrenched in the history and traditions of Ireland, Cheddar and Whiskey are now together in one spirited cheese. This tasty combination is the perfect complement to your cheese platter and is also a unique gift item.

Dubliner can be described as a combination of Cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano. The description is quite accurate.  Dubliner tastes of a mature Cheddar with the sweet aftertaste of Reggiano.  Created by Kerrygold and named after Ireland’s capital city, this cheese’s texture is semi-firm and slightly crumbly. Dubliner’s flavor is one-of-a-kind, with a slight spice and sweet aftertaste.  This cheese is complemented by strong reds like Merlot, Cabernet and Chianti, and is also an excellent choice with Irish beers!

Dubliner with Irish Stout is a combination of Kerrygold’s original Dubliner Irish Cheese and its perfect pair, an Irish Stout, are now together in a unique cheese. The classic flavor combination brings out the sweet, nutty, rich flavor of Dubliner and swirls and tumbles it together with the malty, caramel, bitter flavor of a perfect pint of Irish Stout. Serving this cheese to your guests will have them toasting for more!

Health & Wellness: Siggi’s Yogurt

Health Wellness YogurtIf it’s good enough for a Viking, it’s good enough for me! Lucky for us, there is no need to break out your battle gear to try skyr, the traditional Icelandic “yogurt.” Norse Vikings have made skyr since settlers from Norway first arrived on the island in the ninth century. You can enjoy some by simply picking up a container of Siggi’s at the FRESH dairy department. Siggi is actually a genuine person! His name is Siggi Hilmarsson. His story is that he got nostalgic for his homeland’s skyr-style yogurt, so he started making his own. He made enough to share with us, too!

It’s a bit thicker than American or even Greek yogurt, and skyr is pretty healthy! Made from non-fat milk combined with live cultures, it is low-fat, high in protein AND packed with probiotics. Also, be aware that Siggi doesn’t add lots of sugar to his creation, so you will enjoy the traditional tang taste with no artificial sweeteners.

There is no doubt that you will relish sitting down and eating Siggi’s mixed with a little FRESH granola or blueberries. I dare you to try a Viking version or a southern favorite.

Siggi’s Ranch-Style Salad Dressing

1 cup (5.3 oz) Siggi’s Plain skyr (0% or 2%)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 small shallot, minced
1 tsp dill, chopped
1 tsp chives, chopped
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar with the exception of the olive oil. Mix well and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

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