Cook it Now: Oregano This herb is the first word in antioxidant levels

Wordpress-Header

Oregano really gets the short end of the stick.

While people go wacky over blending oodles of basil into lush pesto and get giddy over glasses of fresh mint tea, oregano is usually just weighed down in pizza sauce.

This gutsy herb deserves better, especially since it’s a great source of vitamin K and it has been shown to boast serious antioxidant levels (four times more than blueberries!) and to be an effective anti-bacterial. Oregano essential oil is so potent that it has even been shown to kill the hospital superbug MRSA and to combat the bacteria that causes food poisoning.

This hardy perennial is also a snap to grow: It’s accustomed to carpeting sun-blasted Mediterranean slopes, so in comparison, your cared-for window box will seem like a luxury.

Marissa Lippert: Registered dietitian. Nutrition consultant. Cafe owner. Oregano fan.

Marissa Lippert, the registered dietitian behind the nutrition counseling firm Nourish and owner of Nourish Kitchen + Table —a seasonally influenced, locally inspired food shop and café in New York City—is wise to oregano’s ways: “Fresh oregano is one of my favorite summertime herbs,” she says. “I’ve got a tiny balcony at home and oregano is probably the most prevalent herb in my herb box.”

Read on for her three easy ways to incorporate fresh oregano into your cooking ASAP.

1. For an incredibly easy appetizer or snack: Slow-roast heirloom cherry tomatoes at 300° with a good amount of olive oil, ample fresh oregano, crushed garlic cloves, sea salt, pepper and chile flakes. Spread the mixture on toasted crostini just by itself or with a bit of feta or fresh goat cheese.

2. Stuff whole fish with a mixture of fresh herbs like oregano, thyme and parsley and spring onions as well as lemon slices. Season generously with sea salt, pepper and olive oil, and cook on a well-oiled grill for about 10 minutes on each side until cooked through.

3. Whip up a riff on chimichurri for a delicious sauce for steak, shrimp, chicken, roasted potatoes…really anything you can think of. Whisk together finely chopped fresh oregano, cilantro, parsley, minced garlic and shallots, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, a touch of ground cumin and fennel seed and red chile flakes.

 

Get cooking with recipes from Nourish!

Just Say No (To GMOs) Nancy's Yogurt goes the extra mile

Wordpress-Header

Whenever you first learned about the health benefits of live probiotics (overall immune health, better digestion and gastrointestinal health), it’s likely that Sue and Chuck Kesey of Nancy’s had you beat by a long shot: They’ve been touting beautiful bacteria since 1970, when they introduced the first yogurt with live probiotics to the US market.

Now that yogurt fills our grocery store shelves, the Kesey’s have just completed another pioneering move: Their Organic Lowfat Kefir and Organic Lowfat Cultured Cottage Cheese are the first Non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Project Verified kefir and cottage cheese on the market, and all of the company’s dairy products fall under Non-GMO Project certification. Nancy’s fields an all-star lineup: The traditional yogurt is seriously creamy, the high-protein strained Greek variety is unbelievably thick without thickeners or additives and the drinkable kefir teems with live probiotic cultures.

 

Yogurt is a family affair! Left to right: Siblings Kit Kesey and Sheryl Kesey Thompson, Nancy Van Brasch Hamren (the namesake of Nancy’s Yogurt) and founders Chuck and Sue Kesey.

Co-owner and VP of marketing Sheryl Kesey Thompson, who’s also the daughter of Chuck and Sue, explained to us: “Nancy’s consumers are wise and educated about their foods and they continued to ask questions about GMOs and wanted as much current information as possible. We took the extra step so we could provide the answers they were looking for.”

It’s clear that this is one family that won’t stop innovating. In January, Nancy’s will introduce an unsweetened probiotic cultured soy yogurt as well.

Meanwhile, while you wait for that delicious new product to hit the shelves, check out the Non-GMO Project’s database of products. It’s a fascinating way to make informed choices about what goes into your fridge—and your body.

 
Learn about Nancy’s

Bar None Raise the bar on snack time

Wordpress-Header

We love a good, wholesome meal made from unprocessed foods (raw ratatouille anyone?), but last night’s supper doesn’t translate well to on-the-go snacktime.

So when we’re hiking in the Great Outdoors or enduring a long-haul flight, we need a stable, portable snack bar that is still delicious. Below, two new-to-us energy bars that check all of our boxes:

Austin-based Bearded Brothers makes bars that are organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, paleo-friendly and non-GMO. We can barely comprehend how one bar could be all of these things and still taste great, but what we can comprehend are the fantastically simple ingredients and the adorable compostable packaging. Take the six elements in the Colossal Coconut Mango: organic dates, almonds, dried mango, coconut flakes, chia seeds and sea salt (4 for $12, 12 for $36).

Organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, paleo-friendly and non-GMO. We really couldn’t ask for more!

 

 

This Bar Saves Lives was dreamed up by a trio who witnessed extreme childhood hunger while traveling in Liberia, and were struck by the preventable nature of the problem. For each bar sold, a life-saving packet of food is delivered to a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition. It’s easy to follow through on the purchase when bee-friendly almonds from California, wild blueberries from Maine and Omega-3 rich flax seeds make nubbily non-GMO gluten free bars (9 for $20) that are completely anti-Gumby in texture.
Where to buy This Bar Saves Lives

Order Bearded Brothers online

We Say Tomato Summer’s vibrant tomatoes are the cherry on top

Wordpress-Header

Tomatoes continue to surprise us.

Just when we think we’ve seen every variety out there, another wild heirloom pops up on a table at our local farmer’s market. This year alone we’ve gone ga-ga for striped Green Zebras, supersweet Yellow Sun Golds and elegant Black Cherry tomatoes.

One simple, humble cup of ripe, raw tomatoes is a great source of Vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. And because they are low in calories, high in fiber and have a relatively high water content they are a filling food, i.e. they can aid in weight loss or maintenance.

What really has us excited though are the recent studies showing that Lycopenean antioxidant 10 times more potent than vitamin E that is present in red tomatoes and a key ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet—has been shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease risk by improving the function of blood vessels. Lycopene has also been linked to helping with some cancers.

Turning up the heat significantly boosts the absorption of Lycopene and wonderfully, if you pair it with olive oil, it becomes even more absorbable by the body.

Super simple & nutritious tomato pasta

 

 

To take advantage of the tomatoes’ total nutritional largess, we are making a tomato pasta that gently cooks tomatoes in the heat of the pasta. The technique is so simple that it barely needs a recipe. Make it once and you won’t ever need to consult a tomato pasta recipe again.

1. Set a pot of regular or brown rice pasta* to cook.

2. While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice a red onion, mince a clove or two of garlic, halve (if cherry) or chop (if full-size) 2 pounds tomatoes and let everything mingle in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, pepper, a huge handful of chopped basil and a splash of red wine and balsamic vinegar.

3. Strain the pasta, then immediately dump it over the tomato mixture. Let everything steam for a few minutes, then toss thoroughly and let sit about 15 minutes longer before serving.

*Clean Plates Note: We particularly like Tinkyada stone ground brown rice pasta. It tastes and has the texture of regular pasta, is wheat- and gluten-free and is also easily available. Alternatively, use the seasoned tomatoes over a bowl of roasted or sauteed vegetables.

Learn about heirloom tomatoes

Butter Me Up BUTTER elixir is a beauty product with a conscience

Wordpress-Header

If you’re concerned about the food you put in your mouth, you should be just as aware of the products you put onto your body.

Just because you don’t chow down on your moisturizer like you would a hunky kale salad, that doesn’t mean the moisturizer isn’t being absorbed through your skin, muscles, fat and bloodstream. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, “The average woman uses 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily. Many cosmetic chemicals are designed to penetrate into the skin’s inner layers, and they do. Among them: industrial plasticizers called phthalates; parabens, which are preservatives; and persistent fragrance components like musk xylene.”

Facts like that have us wanting to trash the entire contents of our bathroom cabinets; instead we are running happily towards a new discovery: BUTTER elixir ($35 for 3 oz.).

Wordpress-contest

BUTTERelixir and BUTTERelixir LIP

BUTTER elixir was created by Tony Lupinacci, Lorenza Pintar and Jared McCann (who also happens to be an International Yoga Champion). The three wanted a product that was as sophisticated as it was clean, natural and hydrating.

The 100% natural, made-in-NYC result is an alluring mix of just four therapeutic-grade ingredients: almond oil, argan oil, lavender and chamomile. The insanely good smelling oil (happily, the subtle but spicy smell is unisex) is packed in recycled plastic bottles and is rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids and Vitamins A and E.

It’s also a multi-tasking workhorse: We’ve tried the silky oil on our skin, as a hair and scalp treatment, as a lip balm and as a cuticle oil—all to great moisturizing success.

This week, the BUTTER team will introduce a brand-new face-friendly formulation ($48) that includes more of that potent argan oil, along with apricot kernel oil, rose hip oil and rose essential oil.

Looks like we can chuck a whole bunch of those chemical-laden products after all.

 

Learn about safer cosmetics

The Raw Deal How to easily include more raw food in your diet

Wordpress-Header

Raw food blogger and author Gena Hamshaw has us swearing up and down to add more raw foods to our diet after reading her new release, Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat ($20).

Plus, we’ve got our own selfishly lazy motivations: Eating raw food means turning on the stove and the oven a whole lot less during these dog days of summer. Score!

Hamshaw is no hard-liner: She enthusiastically writes about the digestive and nutritive benefits of a fiber-rich, plant-based diet that includes many raw options without insisting that we all give up the comforts of cooked food forever and ever.

Her approach feels easy and refreshing, instead of intimidating. The book starts off with more than 100 pages of knowhow, including everything from meal plans to the basics of healthy vegan nutrition, before jumping into the recipes.

Give your stove a break and try your hand at some raw dishes

As tomatoes and zucchini reach the apex of their season for both flavor and nutrition, take a spin at making a raw ratatouille brimming with fresh herbs.

This flexible recipe drives Hamshaw’s fuss-free philosophy home: “Though the word ‘ratatouille’ may conjure up images of casserole dishes, roasting fragrantly in the oven, this raw spin on the French classic is surprisingly delicious,” she says. “I love it without any heating at all, but I offer up a dehydrator option for gentle heating, and an oven option if you’re craving a more traditional presentation.”

Makes 4 servings

2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1⁄4-inch slices

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thinly into coins

1 bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 large heirloom tomato, seeded and diced

1⁄4 cup minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1⁄2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips

1 garlic clove, minced

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup pine nuts, cooked or sprouted lentils, or chickpeas

1. Combine all the ingredients except for the pine nuts in a large mixing bowl. Adjust the seasonings to taste (you can add more herbs if you like, or more lemon for a more tart taste).

2. Let all the ingredients marinate for a few hours, so that the flavors can marry. If you’re serving it cool, simply stir in the pine nuts or legumes and plate. If you’re heating it, use one of the options below, and stir in the pine nuts or legumes right before serving.

Oven option: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the vegetables in a small casserole dish and cook for 15 minutes. Give the vegetables a stir, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until they’re soft throughout.

Dehydrator option: Set your dehydrator to 140°F. Spread the vegetables onto two Teflex-lined dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate for an hour before serving them warm. If you keep the dish raw, it will last overnight in the fridge.

If you cook or dehydrate it, it will last for up to 3 days.

Adapted from Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014

Power Up Recharge your batteries with this cool drink

Wordpress-Header

Every day, Dan MacCombie and Tyler Gage work to improve the lives of more than 3,000 indigenous Ecuadorian farmers, and each year they plant over 150,000 trees in the Amazon. They also happen to sell a smooth-sipping energy-boosting drink made from certified organic guayusa leaves: Runa (which means “fully alive” or “fully living human being” in Kichwa). Not familiar with guayusa (gwhy-you-sa)? Neither was Tyler before he went to work with indigenous communities in South America. There, he had a life-changing experience: “I tasted guayusa tea, a traditional beverage the native communities drink in early morning tea ceremonies, and was amazed by the nice energy it gave me and appreciated the great flavor,” he says.

Channing Tatum: actor, Indigenous rights activist, Runa investor

The drink, which is brewed in the same fashion as tea, contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but it sports super-benefits like amino acids for circulation, chlorogenic acids for high blood pressure and twice the antioxidants found in green tea. Unlike tea, it contains no bitter tannins, meaning each sip has that smooth flavor with sweet carmel notes, that Tyler loved so much on first taste. Tyler and Dan have made it easy to get your hands on that same burst of clean, Fair Trade guayusa energy: The tea is grown in the upper Amazon region of Ecuador but their products are available in some 2,400 stores all over the country. This summer, we plan on sipping on the brand’s new selection of drinks sweetened with Vermont maple syrup ($1.99 for 14 oz.) when we’re lagging. And for days when purity is our MO, we’ll look to the unsweetened guayusa ($1.99 for 14 oz.) that zips with organic lime juice concentrate. But truthfully, Runa is so good that we need no excuse to open a bottle.

Learn about the Runa Foundation

Ice Age Wake up and smell the iced chocolate

crio-bru_national_7.8_wordpress

If it’s summer, there’s a damn good chance that every other person on the street is toting around a cup of iced coffee.

This year, we’re nominating an alternative for summer’s drink mascot of choice: iced cacao.

We’ve been brewing Crio Brü’s ($15 for a 12-oz bag) roasted and ground cacao beans and pouring the concentrate over ice with cold water and almond milk all week (get the recipe here). And we’re hooked. The fact that cacao is loaded with antioxidants and hearty-healthy minerals like zinc and magnesium doesn’t hurt its chances for replacing our morning coffee either.

This is no childish chocolate drink. Brewed pure cacao is deeply, darkly chocolately, but in a deliciously bitter (and low-calorie) way. Summer’s sticky heat has got us tense enough without adding a jittery dose of caffeine. Thankfully, brewed cacao contains theobromine, which packs an energy punch without the jitteriness.

What you’ll need to make brewed chocolate

When we asked Dr. Eric Durtschi, the president and founder of Crio Brü, how he came up with the idea to start the company, he was quick to fess up, “I have always been a chocoholic.” Plus, chocolate was in his blood: Durtschi’s dad used to work for Russell Stover.

The company offers multiple varietals of Fair Trade cacao beans from around the globe with both organic and seasonal options.

Cacao also has another leg up on ground coffee beans: The already-brewed cacao grounds can be sprinkled on top of yogurt or into baked goods.

How to Brü the perfect Crio

 

 


We’ve already given away cookbooks and event tickets but we’ve got more goodies waiting to find their way to you— like a Crio Brü gift pack: a bodum french press, Maracaibo, Maya and Mojito crio Brü, and chocolate covered coca beans! FOLLOW US TO STAY IN THE KNOW WITH NEWS, RECIPES, UPDATES AND giveaways, and SHARE WITH US USING #CLEANPLATESCLUB

instagram twitter facebook pinterest

Parks and Recreation Our guide to picnicking with style (and sustainability)

picnic_nat_7.1_wordpress

Picnicking might mean eating away from the comforts of home, but that’s no reason to leave your stylish and sustainable principles behind. Below, our guide for all your summer al fresco-eating needs:

1. MyDrap: These cotton or linen napkins come on a perforated roll (think paper towels but much, much cooler) and can be laundered up to six times ($27 for 50). Pick from a multitude of styles and colors, and be happy knowing that this easy solution to sticky fingers is biodegradable.

2. The folks from Brooklyn-based SustyParty (motto: Respect the Earth and Party On) create eco-friendly, compostable, sustainable and disposable tableware, including jazzy paper cocktail straws ($6 for 50). Everything in their rainbow of fun options is made in America in factories that employ and empower the visually impaired.picnic_nat_7.1_middle

3. Say “cheers” with a box of crisp, certified-organicYellow+Blue rosé, which comes in environmentally friendly packing so you can have the best of both worlds ($10 for 1 liter). Not only will a box of wine save you some crucial poundage in your tote, with their smaller carbon footprint, these boxes are better for the environment than glass bottles.


4. If you’re pressed for time, elevate your outdoor dining experience with a curated selection of essentials from Hamptons Lane. These pros will outfit you with everything from an olive wood and carbon steel knife to small-batch fig and onion jam and a BPA-free wine tote ($45 with a free monthly membership; $59 for a single box).

5. Make iced tea on your way to the picnic with aTherm-o Terra Water Bottle ($30). The double- walled glass bottle sports a removable stainless steel tea strainer as well as a solid bamboo top.

 
Find a picnic spot
 

Cook it Now: Watermelon Yes! We've got your watermelon recipe right here.

Watermelon.Nat.6.24.wordpress

Nina Planck knows from real food.

She is the daughter of two Virginia farmers, a founder of farmer’s markets from London to New York, the author of Real Food: What to Eat and Why and Real Food for Mother and Baby, and married to the proprietor of New York’s famed Murray’s Cheese.

Having picked many a watermelon in her day, we knew Nina would be just the person to consult for a summer recipe to suit all the gorgeous watermelon just starting to flood the markets.

We’ve long known about watermelon’s superpower-like hydrating properties, but new studies on the ability of watermelon to reduce the risk of heart disease and to relieve muscle soreness (take that, Ibuprofen), have us wanting to incorporate the fruit into our diets in more ways than just eating it out of hand.

Planck’s recipe for a Fermented Watermelon Basil Cooler from her brand-new cookbook, The Real Food Cookbook: Traditional Dishes for Modern Cooks came through in a big way.Watermelon.Nat.6.24.middle.vertical

This recipe is a perfect vehicle for enjoying watermelon’s amino acids (L-citrulline and L-arginine), antioxidant powerhouses (Vitamins C and A) and its anti-inflammatory phytonutrient (Cucurbitacin E) in one juicy, unexpected drink.

For the recipe Planck blends watermelon with basil, lemon juice and a tiny bit of whole cane sugar (palm sugar is an acceptable swap) and unrefined sea salt. The final magic touch is fresh whey and a fermentation period of three days (i.e. leave it out on your counter and don’t touch it), which carbonates the drink. Drink the cooler as is, or make it boozy with the addition of vodka for a Watermelon Basil Fermentini.

We’re raising a glass to your health!

 Fermented Watermelon Basil Cooler

Makes 2 quarts

8 to 10 pounds watermelon, cut into cubes

1/2 cup basil leaves

1 cup of juice from Meyer or regular lemons

1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar or palm sugar

1/4 cup fresh whey (CP Note: Purchase a quart of organic whole-milk yogurt and strain through cheesecloth overnight in the fridge. Use resulting whey in recipe.)

1 tablespoons unrefined sea salt

3 cups water

1. In a blender or food processor, blend the watermelon chunks until smooth (working in batches if necessary). You should have 3 cups of pulpy juice.

2. Gently bruise 1⁄2 cup of basil leaves with a mortar and pestle to release their oils. Squeeze 1 cup of Meyer lemon juice.

3. Place the watermelon juice, lemon juice, basil leaves, sugar, whey and salt in a sterilized 2-quart glass jar. Cover with the water, stir and close the lid tightly.

4. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days. Unscrew the lid daily to allow a little carbonation to escape, then replace the lid .

5. After 3 days, chill and serve. The watermelon cooler can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

 Watermelon Basil Fermentini

Pour 1 ounce of vodka over ice, add 6 ounces of Watermelon Basil Cooler, and shake vigorously. Garnish with watermelon and basil.