Recipe Makeover: Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Considering it’s National Peanut Butter Day (yes, there is such a day!), Framed Cooks’ Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars seemed like the perfect recipe for this week’s makeover.  I’ve swapped in better-for-you ingredients that boost nutrients while leaving out harmful pesticides, GMOs, carcinogens and other toxins. The result? A healthier yet still indulgent bar made with kid-friendly comfort foods.

Better butter:  Replace conventional butter with butter made from the raw milk of grass-fed cows.  (If you’re allergic to dairy, substitute organic extra-virgin coconut oil for the butter.)

Organic, lower-glycemic sweetener:  Replace processed white sugar with organic coconut palm sugar, a more nutritive option that can help stave off sugar-induced energy crashes.

Organic, free-range eggs: Boost flavor and nutrients with organic free-range eggs from pasture-raised hens; hormone- and antibiotic-free eggs from cage-free hens are also a good choice. (Hens raised in crowded battery cages have a greater chance of producing eggs with salmonella, offer few nutrients and often have a bland, fishy taste.) Continue reading

New Must-Read Book from Dr. Mark Hyman

Bestselling author Mark Hyman, M.D. has a new book out today called The Blood Sugar Solution. I plan to read it asap and recommend you do the same.  The book explores a condition that Dr. Hyman calls “diabesity“:

“Diabesity is the continuum of metabolic disturbances from mild blood sugar and insulin imbalances to pre-diabetes to full blown type 2 diabetes.  It occurs in about 40% of people of normal weight – these are the skinny fat people who look thin but are metabolically fat and have all the same risk factors for disease and death as those who are overweight.  And it occurs in 80% of overweight people.”

He also notes this staggering statistic: One in three children born today will have diabetes unless we do something differently. Continue reading

Oscars Potluck: A Food for Every Film

By Veronika Ruff Taylor

In an effort to put a new spin on the usual Oscars party—you know, glam finger foods, sparkling sips, and a winner’s pool—my friends and I started an Oscars Pot Luck tradition, where each guest brings a dish inspired by one of the Best Picture nominees. Last year we feasted on “True Shrimp & Grits,” and in 2010, we munched fancy mixed nuts inspired by Up in the Air. Since many of my friends refuse to set foot in their kitchens, ordering from our favorite Clean Plates-approved restaurants is always allowed. Here are ideas we’re considering for Sunday…

The Descendants

Bring the tropical flavors of Hawaii to the party with some pineapple-and-mango “Tropical Freeze” smoothies from the Candle Cafe on the Upper East Side. (You could also make your own version at home by blending a selection of tropical fruits with coconut water and ice, to taste.) Continue reading

Weekly Roundup 2.24.12

Here are some of the best food stories we came across this week:

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Photo by author (taken in a Brooklyn subway station)

And the Award Goes To…Oscars Party Appetizers

Roll out the red carpet! In honor of The Oscars this Sunday, I’ve rounded up some tasty treats to make your viewing experience as delicious as possible. Simply pair with your favorite organic sparkling wine, and voila! You’ll feel like a star.

Mini Truffle Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

View original recipe. My recipe makeover tips:

Whole grain baguette:  Choose baguettes made with nutrient-rich, organic, whole grain flours like whole wheat and spelt.

Truffle cheese:  I suggest skipping the truffle butter and Gruyere the recipe calls for, and instead using unflavored butter (organic, of course — ideally from grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free cows) and truffle cheese (aka Boschetto al Tartufo). Continue reading

The Greenhorns: Young Farmers Unite

“The Greenhorns are a posse of young people who care a lot about the future of agriculture.” – Severine von Tscharner Fleming

The young, agrarian and eco-conscious are gaining numbers and momentum, thanks in part to the efforts of The Greenhorns, a grassroots non-profit organization that aims to recruit, promote and support young farmers in America. This trailer for their documentary, also called The Greenhorns, gives you a good sense of what they’re all about:

The group employs a variety of media to meet its mission, including films, a weekly Heritage Radio show, a book of essays by young farmers and a wiki-based resource guide; they also host social and educational events nationwide. On the horizon: an almanac covering everything from agricultural history to wildlife rescue, apron design, farm hack case studies and brownfield restoration.

I recently spoke with the group’s director, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a Hudson Valley-based farmer, activist and organizer. Continue reading

Congratulations, Clean Plates Healthier 2012 Contest Winners!

The time has come to share our Clean Plates Healthier 2012 Contest winners with you! After two weeks of fast and furious typing, our entrants held their breath over the weekend waiting to hear if they were one of the lucky few. We had our work cut out for us, as we pored over more than 50 personal, moving stories to choose five lucky winners and help them on their path to continued wellness.

Grand Prize Winner: Mike Comparetto

Clean Plates - Mike ComparettoAs our Grand Prize winner, Comparetto wins a full scholarship to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Training Program and Online Education Forum, including an iPad loaded with program materials and a copy of all three Clean Plates printed guidebooks.

About winning the prize, Comparetto says, “I have been dedicated to health and personal development for a while now, and I just knew that the next step was to get the right training and start helping others achieve health and happiness. Thank you so much to everyone involved in this contest; my gratitude is endless.”

Here’s an excerpt from Comparetto’s entry:

“My journey into healing really began with Buddhist meditation practice more than 5 years ago, and it is still a major component of my daily life. The addition of proper diet and lifestyle choices created a synergistic effect with my spiritual practice, and I feel that the two together are the key to finding total freedom from mental and physical ailments. This holistic approach has led me to a place in my life I never imagined I would be. Lately I feel as though a great weight has been lifted off of me, and I can more clearly see my mental processes in action.”

Congratulations to Comparetto on his journey to date, and to taking this next step on his path to continued wellness.

The competition wasn’t any less fierce when it came to choosing our Second Prize winners in New York City and Los Angeles. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup 2.17.11

Chipotle ad

Here are some of the best food stories we came across this week:

  • Don’t Mock the Artisanal-Pickle Makers: The hipster-artisan, so often the butt of jokes*, may be pointing the way forward for the American economy.
  • Pollan’s Food Rules Get Animated: A video starring animated veggies brings Michael Pollan’s Food Rules to life.
  • First Lady Brings Chefs to Schools: As part of her Let’s Move initiative, this week Michelle Obama launched, “a new website that will connect chefs to classrooms and cafeterias.”
  • Chipotle Vs/ Factory Meat: The Clean Plates approved chain debuted its first national ad during the Grammy’s (screenshot above), promoting the importance of hormone- and antibiotic-free meat. Bonus: the soundtrack features Coldplay and Willie Nelson.
  • Prince Charles on the Future of Food: A new book version of the Prince’s moving speech at last year’s Future of Food conference features an all-new foreword by Wendell Berry and afterword by Will Allen and Eric Schlosser.

*See We Can Pickle That from Portlandia on IFC.

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When Organic Food Gets Contaminated

Organic brown rice syrup is better for you than sugar — unless, of course, it’s laced with arsenic.

Researchers from Dartmouth University say they found dangerous levels of arsenic in foods featuring organic brown rice syrup, including a number of infant formulas. One brand of formula they tested “had a total arsenic concentration level up to six times the U.S. federal limit,” Bloomberg reports. The syrup is also found in certain cereals and energy bars, among other products. Continue reading

Vegan Spiced Black-Eyed Peas with Curry Leaves

Enjoy the rich Indian flavors in Saveur magazine’s Spiced Black-Eyed Peas with Curry Leaves, made all the more delicious when you sub in these higher-quality, nutrient-rich ingredients:

Better oil:  Replace peanut oil with organic extra-virgin olive oil, organic extra-virgin coconut oil or organic ghee from grass-fed cows. Cultures around the world use these culinary heavyweights for their beautifying and health-giving properties — think radiant skin, slim waistline and a strong immune system.

Organic flour:  Boost nutrients with organic chickpea or garbanzo bean flour.  Organic flours are free of harmful synthetic pesticides, chemicals, sprays and fertilizers.

Organic, lower-glycemic sweeteners:  Replace jaggery (an Indian sugar) and processed brown sugar with organic coconut palm sugar or local organic raw honey, two lower-glycemic sweeteners packed with health-giving properties.  Use a one-to-one ratio for the palm sugar and a one-to-three ratio for the honey. Continue reading

Farmstead Meatsmith Shares the Beauty of Butchery

Farmstead Meatsmith

Farmstead Meatsmith makes me want to cut and cook some meat.

Comprised of husband and wife team Brandon and Lauren Sheard, Farmstead Meatsmith in Washington state is a butchery and charcuterie service for small farms and homesteads in the Puget Sound region that brings back a traditional—if not antiquated—approach to slaughter and butchery. The company educates farmers in slaughtering, butchering and prepping animals for full culinary use, but it doesn’t stop there; it also creates beautifully charming videos (watch below) that educate consumers with the goal of restoring traditional knowledge of meat harvesting and cookery. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup 2.10.12

Here are some of the best food stories we came across this week:

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Red Velvet Pancakes for Your Valentine

This Valentine’s Day, treat that special someone to my makeover of Tidy Mom’s decadent Red Velvet Pancakes with Sweet Cream Cheese Topping on the Recipe Girl website. As always, I’ve swapped in better-for-you ingredients to boost the recipe’s deliciousness, eliminate pesticides and other toxins and infuse your body with nutrients. Enjoy!

  • Spelt flour: Increase nutrients by using spelt flour in lieu of all-purpose flour.  Unlike other grains, even conventionally grown spelt is not commonly sprayed with pesticides or other synthetic chemicals.
  • Organic raw cocoa powder: Boost antioxidants and other essential health-supporting nutrients with organic raw cocoa powder (a superfood!); organic unsweetened cocoa powder is also a good choice. Continue reading

Chocolates We Love (Hint: So Will Your Valentine)

Lagusta chocolate hearts

If you choose your chocolate wisely, it can be all pleasure — no guilt. An antioxidant bomb, dark chocolate can lower your blood pressure, increase your blood flow, lower your cholesterol and give your skin a sexy boost of H2O. And, of course, it’s considered an aphrodisiac, too (‘just sayin’). Continue reading

Organic Spirits: Folktales in a Bottle

The secret behind Pennsylvania-based Art in the Age‘s latest organic spirits? “I raided my mom’s ancient family cookbooks for recipes and then turned them into spirits,” says producer Steven Grasse, who also created Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum. “Each one has a fascinating story — a folktale in a bottle.”

Root organic spiritLooking to his family tree first inspired Grasse to create ROOT. As this video explains, ROOT has its origins in the 1700s, when Native Americans enjoyed root tea — a mix of birch bark, sarsaparilla, wintergreen and other wild roots and herbs. Continue reading

Recipe Makeover: Smitten Kitchen’s Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs

Imagine waking up this weekend to the warm aromas of cinnamon and brown butter, and dipping a piping hot breakfast puff into your coffee.  Sound too good to be true?  It’s not. Try my makeover of Smitten Kitchen’s Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs — same deliciousness, packed with better-for-you ingredients. Continue reading

Tips for a Healthier Superbowl Sunday

The average “armchair quarterback” will consume nearly 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat from Superbowl snacks, says Phil Lempert, aka the Supermarket Guru, who offers up some tips for managing game-day indulgences. Example: serve baked whole wheat pita slices in place of store bought chips, and be sure to have plenty of veggies on hand. If you tend to overeat in group settings, take steps to help yourself out: ask a buddy at the party to help keep you accountable, and/or contribute a couple of healthy snacks to the mix to help minimize temptation.

Here are some recipe ideas: Continue reading

Weekly Roundup 2.3.12

Here are some of the best food stories we came across this week:

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Photo by Flickr user Kevin Harber

Win $7K in Prizes: Announcing Clean Plates Healthier 2012 Contest!

Hello, February! It’s been a big year so far at Clean Plates — we’ve launched an iPhone app, expanded from New York to Los Angeles and unveiled a brand new website — and to celebrate, we’ve put together a Healthier 2012 Contest to reward our loyal followers with close to $7,000 worth of prizes. Read on for details, and visit our official contest page on Facebook.

Here are the great prizes we’re giving away to a few lucky winners: Continue reading

Buffalo Wings for Superbowl Sunday

Buffalo Wings

If you’re like me, Super Bowl Sunday means a heaping plate of spicy wings accompanied by crisp celery sticks and creamy blue-cheese dressing. Try my makeover of Ellie Krieger’s Broiled Buffalo Chicken Wings from Leite’s Culinaria for a better-than-you riff on the original that doesn’t sacrifice an ounce of taste. These wings are guaranteed to score high marks, even if your favorite team doesn’t. Continue reading