Return to Real Tea with Dilmah…

I am excited to introduce you to my favorite tea…actually it’s more like a re-introduction as you have met previously when I’ve blogged about my love for Dilmah Tea.

Sri Lankan family tea company Dilmah, was established by Merrill J. Fernando to bring finest quality, Single Origin Ceylon Tea, garden fresh to tea drinkers around the world. His Dilmah Tea brand was the first genuinely ethical tea brand, bringing a smile to the faces of the underprivileged in Sri Lanka, whilst giving consumers quality, authenticity and natural goodness in their cup of tea.


It took Fernando nearly four decades and in 1988 he launched his own brand – Dilmah. Coined from the names of his two sons Dilhan and Malik, Dilmah was the first producer owned tea brand, and offered tea ‘picked, perfected and packed’ at origin. Unlike the multi-origin blends that monopolized supermarket shelves, Dilmah brought tea that is freshly packed at source and therefore rich in flavor and natural goodness.


Merrill pioneered three important initiatives which have today become hallmarks of Dilmah.


  • Traditional Tea ensures that the tea in made in the traditional, orthodox way perfected over a century
  • Single Origin ensures that the tea is Pure Ceylon tea and not blended with cheaper teas from around the world
  • Garden Fresh packed at Source ensures that Dilmah teas are the freshest and brimming with antioxidants

The Fernando family built their business around their love for tea; today Dilmah is the only vertically integrated tea company with its own tea gardens – some of Ceylon’s best estates – and state of the art printing & packaging facilities, tea packing and investments in every segment of the industry.


Dilmah is unique; a brand that is founded on a passionate commitment to quality and authenticity in tea, it is also a part of a philosophy that goes beyond commerce in seeing business as a matter of human service. This is what makes Dilmah the first ethically produced tea. Business ethics and social responsibility guide the family business where profits from the company are shared with those who are less privileged in society. The MJF Charitable Foundation was established to fulfill this commitment and is changing the lives of over 10,000 people each year through more than 300 different humanitarian projects. Dilmah Conservation is working towards a harmonious coexistence of man and nature by creating awareness and implementing sustainability initiatives.


What makes Dilmah especially unique is the philosophy that defines every aspect of the brand and the companies of the MJF Group. The key to Founder Merrill J. Fernando’s vision was integrity – in relation to his workers, the Ceylon Tea industry and in relation to his customers. Quality, Authenticity and Natural Goodness was what tea drinkers desired and that is what Dilmah offers. In relation to the workers, the exploited and ailing tea industry and our developing country, integrity meant ethics and genuinely fair trade. Merrill J. Fernando built ethics into the heart of his business and pledged to make his business a matter of human service.


That commitment is discharged through the MJF Charitable Foundation, a government approved charity that was formed by him and which bears his initials. The Foundation seeks to enhance the welfare of the Group’s workers, whilst also pursuing humanitarian assistance programs amongst marginalized communities.


With the objective of changing the lives of 10,000 underprivileged people each year, the MJF Foundation designs, funds, and implements over 300 projects throughout the country. These range from dignified empowerment of women, differently abled, conflict or tsunami affected communities, welfare projects, education and provision of free health care or vocational training. The Foundation has provided facilities to the National Cancer Institute to establish the first free breast cancer screening program for poor women in Sri Lanka. The pre-school program has constructed 72 pre-schools on Dilmah and associate company tea gardens, whilst also offering free English and Computer classes to older children. Foundation nutrition programs benefit children and the elderly and its Small Entrepreneur Program (SEP) has been hailed globally for its effectiveness. The Prisoners Reform & Reintegrate program helps rebuild the lives of reformed prisoners released on parole and the MJF Kids Development Program for urban slum children is offering a light of hope to children with little opportunity in life.

Have you ever tried Dilmah Tea? If so, I’d love to hear what flavors you’ve enjoyed…

As we’re on the topic of my favorite tea, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite recipes using Dilmah’s Lemongrass Green Tea…I love cooking and baking with tea.  It’s not just for sippin’ and can be used in so many recipes to add flavor and antioxidants.

Risotto with Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water (for tea)
  • 8 Dilmah Lemongrass Green Tea Bags
  • 1 oz. dried Marx Foods Black Trumpet Mushrooms
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and mashed
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cups risotto
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Soak dried mushrooms in a bowl of water for 25 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid.  Rinse mushrooms under cool water; squeeze gently to remove moisture.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, heat water with Dilmah Green Tea bags; bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes; discard tea bags.
  3. Add onion and risotto; cook for 10 minutes.  Add balsamic vinegar, dried mushrooms and avocado.  Cook over medium heat until tea has been absorbed.
  4. Cook risotto for another 20 minutes until tender.  Season with sea salt and pepper.
  5. Serve warm and top with a sprinkle of scallions.
  6. Enjoy!

The Secret Ingredient Cookbook

I was recently sent The Secret Ingredient Cookbook by Sally Bee to review.  I enjoyed Sally’s recipes, however, they were not gluten-free or dairy-free, therefore I made some tasty changes and made a spin-off of her famous recipes.

Here are two delicious recipes that I thought you may enjoy. Although they are not gluten-free, I’ve made changes below to make these meals enjoyable by us folks with gluten-intolerance.

Chicken Casserole

This dish is easy-peasy but so delicious my family demand it at least once a week. It’s simple enough to have mid-week without too much fuss, with a good helping of brown or basmati rice and lots of green vegetables (I love it with steamed asparagus).

This recipe calls for white wine, which does give a lovely flavor. Most of the alcohol is burned off during cooking, so it’s not a problem. However, if you’d like to miss out the wine, simply add more stock or even some non-alcoholic grape juice.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp flour (I used Gluten-Free Rice Flour)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sprinkling of dried mixed herbs
  • 4—6 skinless chicken breast portions, cut into chunky pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 rashers (slices) very lean bacon, cut into cubes
  • 8 ounces shallots, peeled, and halved if large
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red and 1 green (bell) pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used Gluten-Free)
  • 1 ¼ cups white wine (the alcohol will burn off during cooking)

Directions

1.)    Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2.)    Mix the flour with some black pepper and the dried mixed herbs in a large bowl, then dust the chicken breasts in the flour and put to one side. Reserve some flour for the sauce.

3.)    Over a medium heat, gently heat the olive oil in a large, lidded flameproof casserole dish, Add the chicken and the bacon and fry until golden.

4.)    Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.

5.)    Now add all the remaining ingredients – the (bell) peppers, zucchini, stock and wine. Stir in the reserved flour to add thickness to the sauce.

6.)    Cover and cook in the oven for about 11/2 hours, or until the chicken is nice and tender.

* If towards the end of cooking you feel the sauce has reduced too much, just add a little more stock.

Orange and Peach Filo Parcels

These low-fat parcels (pockets) are like golden presents wrapped in brown paper. It’s only when you open them up and taste the insides that you appreciate the flavor and aroma of the cooked fruit and sweet maple syrup.

Makes 6 parcels

Ingredients

  • 3 oranges
  • 3 peaches or nectarines
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (I used agave nectar)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 12 sheets fib (phyllo) 7inch squares (I used Rice Paper)
  • Icing (confectioners ) sugar, to dust (I used Stevia natural sweetner)
  • 3 ½ in diameter ramekin dishes

Directions

1.)    Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.

2.)    Using a small knife, remove the peel and pith from the oranges and cut in between each segment.

3.)    Wash and slice up the peaches or nectarines into similar sized pieces as the orange segments.

4.)    Put the fruit, maple syrup and water into a large pan and simmer over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Take off the heat and strain over a jug (pitcher), saving the juices for later. Lightly oil the ramekins.

5.)    Brush one of the fib (phyllo) squares with a little oil, then lay another square on top and brush again. Turn over so that the greased side is facing down, then gently push the double fib square into a ramekin.

6.)    Repeat with the remaining pastry to line the remaining ramekins.

7.)    Divide the fruit among the ramekins. Gather up the fib edges and twist together lightly to seal. Transfer ramekins to a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

8.)    While your parcels are cooking, pour the juices into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half.

9.)    When the parcels are cooked, remove from the ramekins and put onto plates. Dust with icing (confectioners’) sugar and serve with the reduced juice poured over. Yummy!

Recipes from The Secret Ingredient by Sally Bee, copyright 2010 Sterling  Publishing Co.


A Special Thanks to Partner’s Tea Co. who I had the pleasure of meeting at The Fancy Food Show last week.  Partner’s Tea is offering my readers a great discount thru August 1st.

The Discount Code Is: Apple20

Enjoy their tasty teas; I’m loving their Green Teas…

And, be sure to check out my featured post,

“Who Doesn’t Love An Egg?” on the Eggland’s Best website!


Dilmah Tea’s New Flavors

I am thrilled to announce the most amazing new exotic tea flavors by Dilmah tea’s, which the company sent me to sample.  A few months ago, I reviewed Dilmah Tea’s, which you can view here.  And, now I’m so excited to tell you about their new flavors! I’ve honestly been having a few cups of tea everyday since I received these samples.  The teas are perfect hot or cold and I’ve even opted to use them in my cooking recipes, as well for an exciting spin on flavor.

The soft, sweet, fleshy texture of ripe Mango in a teacup.  The combination produces a fruity brew with a sweet finish.  The texture, offers a balanced and juicy character.

Dilmah’s 100% Pure Ceylon tea’s are now available in the following flavors:

  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  • Peach
  • Caramel
  • Lemon
  • Mango
  • Chamomile (Caffeine Free)

Aromatic and refreshing, a tea from the Udapusselawa region of Sri Lanka, with medium body. Delicately scented with Lemon flavor, this tea produces a delightfully lively tea. Can be enjoyed hot or iced.

The aroma of these tea’s is incredible and tastes amazing.  I have been sipping on each of these Ceylon flavored teas every morning this week and I simply can’t get enough of them…They have a perfect hint of natural sweetness that is not too strong, yet not to faint…just the perfect touch, which is a great way to start off your morning….

Known for its gentle taste, Peach is second only to Lemon in its popularity as an iced tea. This elegant fruit flavor is delightful taken cold, but also wonderfully relaxing as a hot beverage after a meal or in the afternoon.

Since I cannot drink caffeinated coffee, I drink 2 cups of Dilmah’s Green Tea’s every morning with my breakfast, however, since these samples arrived, I haven’t touched my green’s (I’m sure they’re missin’ me) but I’ve found a new love…the Ceylon Flavored Teas by Dilmah….

Black tea flavored with natural vanilla. Tea from plantations in the Udapussellawa region of Ceylon – light, but with good color, and medium strength to complement the flavor of Vanilla well.

Dilmah, I’m speechless…Thank you for helping me wake up in the morning…these teas are truly going to become a part of my pantry staples.

High grown Ceylon black tea complemented by the aroma of Caramel and English toffee. Caramel with its thick, malt flavor combines with the taste of traditional English Toffee to precede the taste of a light, high grown Ceylon tea. Strong toffee note with a gently sweet finish. Ideal taken hot or iced.

So, forget Folger’s…

There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of Dilmah’s new exotic teas….

Mild, gentle and fragrantly delicious tea fused with the flavors of sweet Strawberry. Refreshing and floral with a long bouquet that offers fruitiness some astringency and a slightly tart, sweetness.  An afternoon tea.

Thank you, Dilmah for waking me up to these deliciously exotic flavors!

Leaf color and infused leaf are similar – daisy color of small whole flowers, yellow-green and bright yellow splashes. This is a light bodied and silky infusion of pale straw yellow color with lemon accents (color). Aromas span the floral to the spicy. Tropical fruit is a major aroma with ripe pineapple dominating. The aftertaste is slightly sweet and reminiscent of green apples and red apple skin. A hint of berry evoking the temperate climate countryside makes for this classy but relaxing, detoxifying and palatable infusion.

In the News this Week

Figuring Out Food Labels

Fermented Foods Make a Comeback

Ageless Living

Fat Epidemic Linked to Chemicals

Foods Causing Addiction

Risks for Youths Who Eat What They Watch

How a Little Extra Weight Can Help

The Health Dangers of Bad Habits

Yogurt Shows Consumption Rise

More Gluten-Free Food Products Hitting The Store Shelves

Product Review: Dilmah Tea

Sri Lankan-based Dilmah Tea, the world’s only global single-origin tea brand and the number one tea in 10 countries, is bringing a healthier and higher-grade product to tea drinkers in America for the first time. Sold in over 90 countries, Dilmah Tea is recognized as the global authority on tea trends and gourmet tastes and boasts twice the antioxidant content in their
Ceylon Green Tea as that of a well-known competitor.


The freshness of Dilmah’s tea with foil-sealed packaging and hand selected tea leaves from the distinctive Ceylon tea bush is a critical difference.  Many tea brands purchase their tea from multiple countries and import in bulk for packing long after the tea is harvested. Yet tea producers such as Dilmah own and manage their own fields and quickly package their products at origin. The result is a significantly healthier and more flavorful product when it gets to retail shelves.

I had the pleasure to taste a delectable assortment of Dilmah’s teas and let me tell you, I was incredibly impressed.  As a fan of green tea, I opted to try their Ceylon Green Variety Pack, which is pure Ceylon tea and I was blown away by the incredible flavors.  My favorite is the Green with Lemongrass Leaves, which was a perfect accompaniment to my morning breakfast.  Furthermore, I couldn’t wait to display the beautiful designer gourmet teas on my kitchen counter as each box is beautifully decorated and each delicate teabag is sealed within the container—very impressive as this is the perfect way to keep your tea fresh.  The Dilmah t-Series Ceylon Young Hyson Green Pure Ceylon Luxury Leaf Bags were incredible and the bags are beautifully crafted, perfect for when I have company at my new apartment!

According to a controlled comparative analysis of the antioxidant levels comparing best-selling specialty teas from Bigelow and Twinings, Dilmah’s teas had significantly higher levels than its competitors in both green and black teas. Dilmah’s Ceylon Green Tea contains twice the antioxidant content as compared with Bigelow Green Tea. The same study showed that Dilmah’s Earl Grey contained 50 percent more antioxidants as compared with Twinings Earl Grey. The independent study, conducted by Brunswick Labs, LLC, confirmed what earlier studies have shown ­ that single origin teas fresh-packed at source in foil-wrapped tea bags and quickly shipped soon after being picked in the fields provide consumers with an end product that contains the highest level of antioxidants.

I also tasted the Ceylon Silver Tips White Tea, which was another luxurious experience, in itself.  Now, I am a true tea connoisseur as my family, friends and past roommates can tell you…I’m known to have over 40 boxes of tea in my cabinets and usually consume close to 6 cups a day…I know what your thinking…how do I drink that much? Well, it’s easy when you are sipping on handpicked, sophisticated flavors as with each Dilmah tea.

The story and history of Dilmah teas is incredible and I recommend you to visit their website at Dilmah.com for an astounding story on the foundation of their 100% Pure Ceylon Teas, packaged in a sophisticated, fresh display…perfect for your morning cup, an evening sip and to offer to house guests during the holidays.  These tea bags are  beautiful to the eye; almost too beautiful to drink.  But the beauty of the unique packaging will not deceive your taste buds as the flavors are incredible; you will surely enjoy every sip and savor every moment of your Dilmah tea experience.

While most green teas throughout the world originate in China (or from the China variant of the tea bush), the bushes used to grow Dilmah’s green teas are a different type, which many tea experts believe have a higher level of antioxidants and produces a fuller bodied, better tasting green tea. At the same time, what many consumers don’t know is that from the day tea is harvested; its quality and antioxidant levels begin to decline. Because Dilmah Tea is from a single origin, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon, hence CeylonTea), which is considered the best source, they uniquely pack their tea within a few weeks after harvesting.

Grown in the best tea fields in Sri Lanka, this tea field-to-tea cup dedication results in tea that is not only a much higher quality, but also contains more antioxidants than other teas on the market.

You can purchase Dilmah’s selection of single origin pure Ceylon green teas, premium single origin pure Ceylon black teas and watte single estate teas at select Giant, Hy-Vee, Big Y, King Kullen, QFC, Earthfare and Harmons supermarkets as well as other supermarkets and retail outlets.

You can also order online at Dilmah.com, Amazon.com, Alice.com and Teadog.com. The green and black teas have a suggested retail price of $3.69 per box and the single estate watte tins have a suggested retail price of $7.99 per tin.

Have you had the luxurious experience of sipping on Dilmah Tea? If so, what is your favorite flavor?

Iced Ginger n’ Dandelion Root Tea

This tea is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day…Today is a hot one here in Manhattan.  This morning I made a pitcher of Iced Ginger n’ Dandelion Root Tea—such a refreshing way to start off a hot August morning!

I also made a tasty tray of Iced Ginger n’ Dandelion Root ice cubes…these are a flavorful way to add pizazz to any drink or cocktail!

iced tea

My tea recipe is  low in calories, high in flavor and easy to make.    When I was growing up, we made iced tea with flavorful tea bags and let it sit in the sun for hours.  This recipe is quite unique in that I add a touch of agave nectar, nutmeg, ginger, fresh strawberries and mint to the tea.

Dandelion tea is packed with vitamins A, C, D and B Complex as well as zinc, potassium, iron, manganese, choline, copper, calcium, silicon and boron.  It is an agent for keeping optimum liver, kidney and gallbladder functions.  Moreover, I recommend dandelion root tea to my clients to enhance detoxification as well as to relieve digestive disorders.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger Root
  • Handful of Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 4 Organic Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Bags (let sit for 15 min)
  • 2 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
  • 10 Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 Lime, sliced
  • Dash of Nutmeg
  • Handful of Ice cubes

Directions

  • Boil 3 quarts of water in a tea kettle.
  • Pour the hot water into a gallon pitcher and add nutmeg, lime, mint leaves, strawberries, agave nectar and ginger.  Mix well.
  • Let sit for at least 1 hour.
  • Mix again and serve chilled over ice.
  • Enjoy!

Coffee Alternatives

How do you jump-start your day?  The typical American wakes up with a large cup of joe…or two or three…

coffeeee

Interesting enough, Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee each day, making the US the world’s largest coffee consumer.

Now, we’ve all heard how coffee is supposed to enhance alertness, mental and physical performance and concentration, however, did you know that it inhibits the absorption of essential nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, iron and B Vitamins.

Coffee is simply a drug in a mug…it’s an adrenaline delivery system that jolts the body’s central nervous system.  This jolting action wakes us up and gets us going, however in the long term, the unnatural and constant stimulation of our nerves creates stress levels that damage the resilience of the immune system (which protects against disease).  So, the question is, “Why would a healthy, normal person not be able to get through the day without this cup of joe (read: injection of adrenaline)?

Well,  coffee is part of a stress cycle; we need it to keep up with the pace of modern life.  However, did you know that drinking water and snacking on healthy foods throughout the day can help you to decrease/eliminate your coffee consumption?  Caffeine withdrawal is not a fun process; many people report mood swings and headaches.  Try switching to green, black or white tea in the morning.  I personally have 2 cups of green tea each morning and it gives me a healthy dose of antioxidants and caffeine.  Green and white teas have much lower caffeine levels than coffee and are a great way to relieve your ‘withdrawal headaches’.  Also, try pouring yourself a cup of 1/2 decaff, 1/2 regular coffee.

Go, ahead…you’ve got nothing to loose (except for a lotta caffeine)…Give my suggestions a whirl…Start by trying to decrease your coffee consumption.

For more information on caffeine, take a look at my Caffeine…Friend or Foe? post.

Here are a few alternatives to coffee for you to try:

  • Black Tea

Black tea is made from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, a perennial evergreen shrub.  The leaves of black tea are oxidized and heavily fermented before drying, which gives this tea a strong flavor.  Black tea varieties are named for their growing regions, such as Ceylon or Darjeeling.  Black tea has approximately 50 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce cup, compared to coffee which can have anywhere from about 100-190 mg per 8 ounce cup.  The amount of caffeine depends on how long the tea is brewed and the quality.

  • Green Tea

Green tea is known for its popularity in Japan and powerful antioxidant qualities.  Green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and lower LDL cholesterol.  Both black and green teas come from the leaves of the same plant, however, what sets green tea apart from black tea is the way it is processed.  The leaves are steamed, rather than fermented as in black teas.  This steaming process is said to enhance its disease-fighting qualities.  Green tea has about 30 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce cup.  Many people describe its taste as a grassy or earthy flavor–this is my favorite type of tea by far!!!

  • White Tea

White tea comes from the same plant as green and black teas however the difference is in the leaves.  These leaves are picked earlier in the season when the leaves are young and buds are covered with white hairs, giving tea its name.  White tea has gone through a minimal amount of processing and is not fermented.  It has a light sweet taste and has a small amount of caffeine, approximately 15 mg per serving.

  • Dandy Blend

This instant beverage is an herbal coffee substitute made from chicory, sugar beet and dandelion (known for its detoxifying properties).  Dandy Blend is rich in minerals and provides extra energy without caffeine.

  • Pero

This caffeine-free, instant coffee substitute is from Switzerland and is made from chicory, rye and malted barley.

  • Teechino

A blend of roasted grains, fruits, nuts and herbs make up this caffeine-free coffee alternative.  It brews similarly to coffee, can be used in a coffee machine and has a similar aroma and taste to coffee! Teechino has high levels of potassium, which helps to balance acidity in the body.  Moreover, it offers a natural energy boost from the nutrients, not from the stimulants

  • Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is a species of holly, native to South America.  It is prepared by steeping dried leaves in hot water, rather than boiling hot water as you would coffee or tea.  The flavor is bitter, herbal, grassy and some say similar to green tea.  The stimulant in yerba mate is called Xanthines, which is similar to caffeine, although many people report fewer side effects.  Yerba Mate contains potassium, magnesium and manganese.

Have you tried any of these coffee alternatives?  Give them a try and let me know how this ‘non-coffee’ experiment works for you…how do you feel?

Simply Satisfying Swaps

Here are a few tricks of the trade from my healthy kitchen to yours…read on for some great alternatives to your pantry staples.

newwww 

  • Swap your traditional mayo for plain Greek yogurt.  My favorite brands are Chobiani, Fage and Siggi’s.  These yogurts are a perfect substitution to mix into your typical tuna salad or spread onto your sandwich.  Moreover, Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium, probiotics and protein–these benefits out way the typical sodium-laden mayo.

Here are a few other ways to swap Greek yogurt into your meals and snacks.

-When making a veggie dip, substitute for sour cream by using 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with lemon/lime juice, Nu-Salt and pepper, as well as dried herbs and spices of choice.

-Toss a salmon, chicken, pasta, or tuna salad with Greek yogurt and a dollop of Dijon with a few dried cranberries.

-Use Greek yogurt when marinating your choice of protein (Seitan, Tofu, Tempeh, Chicken, Turkey, etc.) By simply combining yogurt with a dash of balsamic vinegar, herbs/spices and sesame seed oil will make your mouth water and impress your guests at your next BBQ.

  • Add fruits and vegetables to everything.  By filling up at every meal with these antioxidant packed, water-dense foods–you’ll reap nutritional benefits and a ton of filling fiber.  This will not only increase the volume of your meals but it will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied.

Here are a few of my favorite tricks for adding in more fruits and veggies.

Pile veggies on that sandwich! Add any fruit or veggie such as roasted red peppers, collard greens, kale, sprouts, sliced apples and pears.

-No matter what type of  ‘salad’ your menu is calling for (chicken, tuna, pasta, potato, etc.), add in fresh red grapes with pine nuts, toss in fresh pineapple chunks with blueberries, finely chopped red bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini, or toss in red onions, shallots, cherry tomatoes and black olives.  Any of these fruits and veggies will jazz up your ‘salad’ whether tossed in alone or all together.  Have fun and experiment with different flavor combinations such as diced apples with walnuts into your tuna salad or black olives with yellow corn in your potato salad.  Don’t forget to drizzle some balsamic vinegar along with fresh lemon or lime juice over the final product-this will ensure a lasting zest to any dish!

-Add orange, lemon, lime zest to top any dish including omelets, meats, grains, salads and oatmeal!

-In the mood for a pizza? Simply swap your pepperoni for grilled veggies with extra tomato sauce! Take a peak at some of my favorite pizza recipes on my Recipe page.

-Break out your blender! You know it’s hiding behind your bowls in your pantry–so break it out and explore the endless opportunities of creating delicious smoothies.  Simply blending a few ice cubes with fresh fruits and vegetables along with a dollop of Greek yogurt will leave you satisfied whether it’s for breakfast, dessert, or just an afternoon snack to cool off from the heat. I like to combine 1 cup Greek yogurt, with a banana, spinach, lime juice and a drizzle of honey!

  • Eat what you crave.  Have fun playing Martha Stewart in your kitchen and start experimenting with healthier variations of your favorite treats!  Check out my On-the-Go Snacks Category for more snack ideas.  Just be sure your snack is a nice combo of healthy fats, carbs and protein to keep you satisfied and your tummy happy.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to indulge with healthier and more nutritious options.

-Sub in dark chocolate for milk chocolate and you’ll get a nice dose of antioxidants and richer flavor with each bite!

-Alternate with non-dairy options such as rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk and coconut milk in your recipes.

-Try a non-dairy frozen treat with brands such as Toffutti , Soy Dream, and Rice Dream.

-Create a delictable dessert by starting with a whole wheat or gluten free tortilla, then spread with peanut butter and add a few dark chocolate chips along with a drizzle of honey.  Wrap up the wrap and place into the microwave for 20 seconds. Enjoy this warm, delicious treat that packs in antioxidants from the honey and dark chocolate as well as a nice dose of protein from the nut butter.

-Bananas are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Simply dip the banana  into melted dark chocolate and coat with crushed peanuts. 

-French toast is a breakfast favorite of many of my clients, however, try dipping your bread into egg whites and serve with Greek yogurt and berries.

-Toss in berries and crushed walnuts in your favorite pancake and waffle recipe for a heart healthy does of Omega 3’s as well as antioxidants.  Drizzle with organic honey and a nice spread of nut butter for a well rounded meal.

-Enjoy Greek yogurt drizzled with agave nectar or  honey, chocolate chips and slivered almonds for a colling treat!

-Make your own frozen juice bars. Simply use pop-sickle Tupperware holders and create your very own natural fruit juice…pour into the tray and once they’re frozen you can enjoy a delicious fresh squeezed juice ice pop!

-Enjoy a bowl of organic apple sauce with a few peanuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, all spice, numeg and Greek yogurt.

-Slice and core apples, place into a deep dish and cover with cinnamon, honey, lemon juice and water. Enjoy these freshly baked apples with granola for a decadent dessert.

-Dried fruit stuffed with nut butter.  Some of my clients enjoy dates stuffed with almond butter…I like dried apricots with cashew butter and dipped in melted dark chocolate. Give these a try-I assure you they will satisfy your sweet tooth in a pinch!  Experiment with different dried fruits and nut butters such as dried cranberries, cherries, pears, apples and bananas to name a few and simply dip into warm dark chocolate or for a protein boost dip into warm almond, cashew or peanut butter.

-Mix together a warm cup of oats with 3/4 cup of steel cut oats, cashews, unsweetened coconut and golden raisins.

-Toast up a delicious afternoon hold-me-over snack with your favorite bread.  Toast bread and top with natural nut butter, thin sliced apples and a drizzle of honey.

-Chop up quick crudities of raw veggies with a side of hummus, guacamole, and salsa dips for your afternoon ‘at-your-desk’ pick me up.

-Pair together a piece of all natural turkey breast with hummus and red bell peppers for a satisfying protein boost.

-Reach for those filling, high fiber crackers and top with 1/4 cup black beans, a dollop of Greek yogurt, salsa and melted SoyaKaas soy cheese.

-For your 3PM blood sugar drop, pack a fresh piece of fruit with a few slices of SoyaKaas soy cheese and raw almonds.

-Try topping your bran crackers with an all natural apple butter and a handful of tasty macadamia nuts.

-Reach for a bag of frozen edemame, heat up in the microwave and top with Eden Organic Pasta Sauce and a hit of melted soy cheese.

-Make a dip with mashed avocado, chili powder and Greek yogurt; pair with veggies and crackers for a pre-dinner appetizer.

-Make your own trail mix with carob chips, granola, puffed rice, almonds and dried fruit.  Pack into individual serving sized Zip-lock bags for easy go-to-snacks for the office or when out running errands between meals.

  • Switch up your cooking methods–choose a unique and tasty broth for a flavor boost.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to switch up broths when cooking.

Use tea bags while cooking.  I love using my green tea bags when making my chicken-not only is it delicious, but I enjoy all of the healthy antioxidants as well.

-Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock.  You can find delicious low sodium varieties in your local health food store, which are organic and quite flavorful.

  • Move over blender, reach in that pantry for your Cuisinart.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to puree foods with my handy, dandy Cuisinart.

-Hummus. Enough said.  Puree chickpeas, white, black or kidney beans with a dash of tahini and vegetables of your choice…puree well…and poof-your very own homemade hummus.  My favorite hummus recipe is black olives, chickpeas, fresh basil and roasted red peppers.  Enjoy with pita wedges for a fabulous appetizer.  Be sure to check out my Recipe Pagefor more of my homemade hummus recipes.

-Casseroles.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Fond memories (or shall I say nightmares of mom’s weird casseroles back in the ’80’s”…no, no, no…these casseroles are even more delish…simply puree parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, etc. with bran  crumbs, a dollop of Greek yogurt and some orange zest for a nice side dish.

  •  Spice n’ Herb it up! Condiments can do wonders–Get zesty with new flavors.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate condiments and herbs n’ spices.  Be sure to check out my Condiments of Choice Page and Product Reviews Page for more ideas.

-Cinnamon is fabulous. Enough said.  Add it to your morning oatmeal, sprinkle it into your chicken salad, dash a bit into your yogurt with some nuts and granola.

-Salsa, salsa, salsa…and I’m not talking about the dance! Add salsa to your morning omelet, afternoon crudites, pile it onto your sandwich or jazz up your salad, and don’t forget to use it with your homemade tacos and burritos.  My favorite salsa is Amy’s Organic Black Bean and Corn—it is a hearty, chunky salsa with an amazing taste and a must for any dish!

-Mustard is a great choice to spread onto any sandwich, bun or wrap–the flavors and varieties are endless…

-Wheat free low sodium tamari sauce is a wonderful way to substitute your soy sauce sans the gluten!

-As I mentioned above, lemon and lime juice add a pungent flavor to any dish and marinade.  Adding this juice to spices, mustard and Greek yogurt will make a wonderful sauce in place of a heavy cream sauce.

-Vinegars can do wonders.  I love buying organic white balsamic vinegars–experiment with purchasing different vinegars and see what your taste buds have been missing!   

-My favorite herbs are fresh cilantro and basil, not to mention dried thyme, rosemary and oregano.  Top any dish with these delicious herbs instead of processed, calorie laden sauces.  It’s a cheap and easy way to add great flavor to your meals—my father has always grown a beautiful garden in our back yard with a wonderful array of herbs that we use for cooking.  Thanks dad for getting me hooked on healthy, antioxidant packed fresh herbs!  I can’t wait to see your garden this summer.

-Whip up a quick marinade at your next BBQ using tamari, fresh garlic and grated ginger–lather on top of veggie kabobs and throw ’em on the grill for  serious BBQ flavor!

I hope you enjoyed a few of my Healthy Food ‘Swaps’ …do you have any swaps that you use in your meals and snacks?

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