mysuperfoods

power up, naturally.

One year later… a message from our Marketing Director!

When I jumped on board with MySuperFoods, I had no idea what I was getting into. I’ve always had a love/love relationship with food—I can make a mean grilled cheese, and I will always try something new on a menu (disclaimer: If I find a dish that I absolutely love, I will specifically go to that restaurant to eat the same thing over, and over, again.) Needless to say, a “snack brand” instantly caught my attention. Then, Katie and Silvia won me over—with their story, with their kids, and with their ideas. They helped me truly understand why they had this desire to feed their own kids better food—food that will nourish them, not just fill them. Enter my favorite colleagues. I find such a respect for each of their kids. They are intuitive, curious, question asking, and demanding tiny humans. They are full of inspiration! They’re polite and dramatic—just like me. I wanted to be surrounded by all of these energies: the positivity of these two women, the unconditional support of their husbands, and the excitement that their kids bring . I wanted to be part of a change that they spoke of. I wanted to learn, and I knew they would teach. SIMG_2912o, with some time to adjust into my position with MySuperFoods, a few things started to become clear:

  1. My bosses are extremely smart—Together they are fierce and insightful—driven with passion and a determination like I’ve never seen. Silvia and Katie each took their own role seriously, yet there was a collaboration and teamwork that surprised me. I will never forget a certain phone call, which put us in a position that we needed to make a big decision in a short period of time. They deliberately voiced pros and cons. They respectfully agreed and disagreed. They both knew there was no right answer, and they sincerely trusted each other’s gut and opinion. They taught me more about being in a partnership over that single lunch break, than I had learned throughout my entire life.
  2. The “Start-Up” industry is where I want to be. Prior to starting with MSF, I was working for Via-Games Inc.—a tech startup in NYC that was developing a web based HR game. It was a seed-stage venture, and I was able to learn about the necessary moving parts it took to bring a business to life. I worked directly beside the founder, as a tech-savvy, millennial who wanted to build a bridge between a generation gap. We created a web based management-training tool that would help boomers and millennials give feedback to one another more effectively. I pitched her brand to angel investors, start up incubators, and fortune 500 leadership executives. From there, I gained communication tactics and confidence that I did not have before.
  3. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding—early on, I learned that the start up world is not for everyone. We share responsibilities. We pick up when someone puts down. It’s definitely one of those environments that requires many hats—in different shapes, colors, and sizes. My first few sales calls were less than 30 seconds, and I took no as a definitive answer. I was so discouraged. I was convinced that I’d never make a single sale. Silvia and Katie understood with compassion—and, they encouraged me keep trying. We work out of a house. We sit side by side. They hear me on the phone—they laugh at my strengths, and help me tweak my weaknesses. They invested time into helping me develop skills that I wasn’t sure I’d achieve. My first (semi-big) sale came just a few months ago—and I was so excited, proud, and humbled by this new skill I put to work.

So, it’s been one exciting year working for this glamorous company—and I couldn’t picture my experience any differently. There will be many more brain storming lunches, celebratory dinners, and trade show booths to design. There will be last minute demo cancellations (ugh.), impromptu buyer meetings (yes!), and packaging options to consider. We will debate over the color of our new t-shirts and flavor profiles for new products. Although each day brings something new, one thing is for sure: I’m more excited today than I was yesterday, and tomorrow will undoubtedly be a ton of fun.

-Elizabeth

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Lunchbox Tips for the School Year

lunch boxWhen I was a kid I loved the first day of school.  New pencils, new backpack, new clothes.  A fresh start and a new beginning.  Oh, the possibilities.

I feel the same way today, even though I’m well beyond my school going years.  This morning, in Staples, I saw three kids shopping for supplies with their mom and I actually felt a little jealous.

Now, on the other side of the playground fence, I am faced with my own set of beginnings.  My first year of daily lunch packing for my daughters.  Five days a week.  No messing around.

Last year, I let them stay for lunch every once in awhile since their preschool class typically got out before lunch (they begged to go everyday like some of their other friends).  I made lunches on those mornings like I packed the first few presents of the Christmas season.  With patience, flare, and one-too-many embellishments.  My fear now is that with 5 days a week staring me in the face I’ll quickly end up like the haggard present wrapper on Christmas Eve, 5 minutes before Santa jumps down the chimney.  Newspaper and a twist tie on top?  That’ll do.

I’ve gathered some information and here are the top 5 tips that seem to keep everybody sane, happy and well fed:

1. Plan ahead. Set out their lunch box, thermos, water bottle, etc the night before

2. Sit down together over the weekend and talk about what kinds of foods your kids like.  What can they help prepare during the week?

3. Combine proteins and carbs to keep them satisfied and focused throughout the day – turkey, cheese, tortilla roll up or hummus and crackers do the trick!

4. Choose lots of colors – fruits and veggies make this easy.

5. Add something fun. A colorful napkin, a bendy straw, a smiley face on a post it.  Anything to let them know you are thinking about them while they are away.

For some more great ideas, check out an old post of ours about creating healthy lunchboxes for your kids!

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Sweet Summer Squash

Summer squash in basket

Did you know there were over 40 varieties of squash? Right now summer squash is in its peak season from mid summer to end of summer, buy a few different types of squash summer and try them out. These varieties of summer squash include:

  1. Yellow with a crookneck or straight neck shape
  2. Zucchini that is green or yellow, long or round
  3. Pattypan is a scallop shape

 

When selecting summer squash it is best to choose small, firm squash with bright-colored blemish free skin.

 

Summer squash has a ton of nutritional benefits- One cup of squash has a ton of nutritional benefits, it is high in vitamin C providing 25% of the DV, also contains about 17% of your DV of beta carotene to help with vision degeneration associated with aging. Also yellow squash is very low in calories with only 18 calories per cup, very low in fat and low in carbohydrates.

 

If you are interested in preparing summer squash without a complicated recipe, sautéing is an easy way to bring out sweetness of these vegetables. Chop the squash into small pieces for fast cooking, and allow it to get browned and caramelized. Turn it into a side dish by tossing with beans or cooked grain such as quinoa, a generous handful of fresh herbs and a flavorful cheese like goat or feta.

 

At MySuperFoods we always have a ton on summer squash on hand and lucky for us Katie makes the best zucchini chocolate chip muffins. These muffins are incredible, perfect for a snack or even a sweet treat, so if you have a few extra squash try this recipe http://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/what-to-do-with-16-summer-squash/ and hope your friends and family love them as much as we do!

 

To try a new summer squash recipes, check these out!

 

Grilled Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

Adapted from myrecipes.com

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups baby yellow squash, quartered length
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray

 

Directions:

 

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Combine baby zucchini and baby yellow squash in a large bowl. Add ­olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper; toss well. Place vegetables on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until lightly charred and tender.

 

Squash with mint and goat cheese

Warm Squash Salad With Mint

Adopted from Julie O’Hara at NPR

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed and chopped into half-inch pieces
  • 3 small yellow crookneck squash (about 3/4 pound), trimmed and chopped into half-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained and dried
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

Add the olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and heat to medium high. Add all the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until squash is lightly browned and tender (adjust the heat if squash browns too quickly). Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the beans and most of the mint to the bowl. Toss gently. Just before serving, crumble the goat cheese over the salad and finish with the rest of the mint.

 

Fettucine squash

Fettuccine With Squash Ribbons

Adopted from Julie O’Hara at NPR

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat or regular fettuccine
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 fully cooked chicken sausages, preferably spinach and feta or sun-dried tomato flavor
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise
  • 3 medium zucchini, trimmed, skin removed and peeled into thin ribbons of about ½ inch wide
  • 3 medium yellow crookneck squash, trimmed, skin removed and peeled into thin ribbons
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and add fettuccine. Cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta-cooking water and drain.

Meanwhile, coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium. Add chicken sausage and cook, turning often, until golden brown on each side. Transfer to a cutting board. Allow sausage to rest for a few minutes, then thinly slice on the diagonal.

Add olive oil to skillet and turn heat to medium-low. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes, or until skin is no longer taut. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Deglaze skillet with about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta-cooking water, loosening any bits from the bottom of the skillet. Remove from heat.

Off the stove, add the zucchini ribbons to the empty pasta pot, followed by the tomato mixture, the drained pasta, the sliced sausage and about three-quarters of the basil. Toss well to combine. If pasta appears dry, add enough of the reserved cooking water to coat the pasta so it looks moist, but not wet.

Divide among 4 bowls and use a vegetable peeler to shave thin pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve immediately.

 

Sources

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-summer-squash-50400000120703/

 

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-yellow-squash-and-zucchini

 

http://www.livestrong.com/article/349229-the-nutritional-value-of-yellow-squash/

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92739541

 

Be sure to check out

http://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/what-to-do-with-16-summer-squash/

 

 

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Add A Pinch Of Flavor To Your Summer Cooking

Summer herbs

Summer is the perfect time to pick fresh herbs from your garden or purchase from the local market to add amazing flavor to any dish.  Herbs contain phytochemicals that provide disease-preventing qualities and also help lower inflammation. They are also very low in calories and add HUGE flavor to any dish!  Instead of adding salt and pepper, fresh herbs can help change a dish dramatically and limiting your sodium intake can help manage high blood pressure.

 

Here are some quick facts about which herbs best accompany common meals:

Rosemary

  • Perfect adding to a marinade for meat such as pork chops, poultry and fish or vegetables such as potatoes
  • Flavorful in soups and sauces
  • Important to remove the needles from the branch and chop before cooking (unless the recipe calls otherwise.)

 

Mint

  • Refreshing flavor
  • Great for cold salads and salads
  • Stimulating addition in summer drinks such as a sun brewed iced tea or fruit infused water
  • Works with both savory and sweet flavors

 

There are so many variations of infused waters to try, but to start out try this refreshing orange mint recipe

 

Orange Mint Water

Recipe adapted from Mary Gormandy White

Ingredients

3 large oranges, sliced

10 mint leaves

1/2 gallon of water

Directions:

  1. Place mint and orange slices in a pitcher.
  2. Add water.
  3. Infuse for two hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Pour over ice.

Serve garnished with an orange slice and a sprig of mint.

 

Basil

  • Easy to grow in a small space and has so many uses
  • Is suggested to be added at the end of cooking so the flavor is not destroyed
  • Coincides well with simple tomato and basil salad
  • Emphasized in dishes from Italy
  • Also is a great addition to strawberries and balsamic vinegar side dish

 

Dill

  • Has a huge punch of flavor
  • Is high in antioxidants
  • Perfect to be added to fish such as salmon, chicken, potatoes, salads, pasta dishes and dips
  • There is a pronounced flavor with the addition to cold salads

 

Oregano

  • Very high in antioxidants
  • Has a hint of sweetness and spiciness
  • Suggest sprinkling in a dressing, pizza seasonings or adding to a sandwich

 

Thyme

  • Added to soups, stews or braised meats for winter meals
  • Is a major French flavoring
  • For summer meals thyme is perfect for adding flavor to meat and vegetables

 

Here is a suggestion for a thyme salmon recipe!

 

Napa Valley Glazed Salmon

Recipe adapted from Mary Hess from eatingright.org

Ingredients

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon white pepper

1¼ pounds salmon, cut into 4 pieces

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Combine the honey, thyme, mustard, lemon zest, and pepper in a small bowl. Arrange the salmon in a shallow roasting pan lined with cooking foil. Using the back of a spoon, spread the honey mixture to coat the top of each fillet.
  3. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes with a fork.

 

Cooking Tip:

Serving Suggestion: Slice leftover salmon and place on top of a bed of mixed greens and chopped tomatoes for an easy lunch or dinner.

Variation: Substitute your favorite dried or fresh herb for the thyme — or combine several.

Tip: To store fresh fish a day or two after purchase, rinse and place in a bag with ice. Pour off melted ice and replace with more ice chunks.

 

Cilantro

  • Pungent flavor
  • Best served fresh just before a dish is added
  • Probably have seen it added in guacamole but can also be added to salsa and other summer other dishes such as sprinkled on fruit salad or vegetables

 

Sources-

http://www.eatright.org/public/slideshow.aspx?id=6442470269 – 11

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visualguidefreshherbs

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Cleaning House (Your Body That Is)

spring_detoxMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

 

As a follow-up to the last two articles written regarding lead and mercury exposure and/or toxicity in children and adults, I wanted to provide some ideas for families to consider to be able to remove harmful compounds in the body – but in a safe and effective way.  Please note that this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe any particular condition or method associated with detox. Detoxification is a vast field that can range from gentle to extreme and should always be supervised by a professional.  Women who are pregnant, could be pregnant, and/or nursing should avoid detoxing because toxins released can cross the placenta barrier and affect the developing fetus or cross into breast milk.  If your child tests positive for heavy metal levels, removal of these toxins from the body needs to be conducted by a medical professional who specializes in detoxification, as great caution needs to be taken with the release and proper removal of these substances from smaller, still-developing humans.

 

Detoxes and cleanses are not meant to be a quick weight-loss fix or diet; cleanses and detoxes should be taken seriously and done with an intent to heal and repair the body.

 

With precautions in mind, there are different approaches to consider when thinking about keeping the body “clean” on the inside on a daily basis.  Always remember that conditions such as eczema, rashes, digestive issues, infection, and illness are all ways for the body to communicate with us that something is wrong.  There are daily practices, foods, and supplements that my family utilizes to help our bodies get rid of the onslaught of chemicals and toxins that surround us each day.  While these are merely ideas I am sharing, please do not view this as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to what you should do.  Each body is different and needs to find what works for it.

 

With all of the toxins commonly found in our everyday environment, personal care products, foods, and home furnishings/decor, detoxing for adults 2-4 times per year is ideal. When considering a form of detox, a whole-food detox is optimal as it avoids unnecessary overload commonly seen from extreme supplements and expensive detox beverages. It is strongly recommended to consult with a physician prior to a detoxification.

 

Before detoxing, I would consider getting tested for a genetic disorder called MTHFR that greatly affects the body’s ability to remove toxins and rid itself of heavy metals.  Without getting into too much detail or complicating explanations, the disorder is very common in many people, is easy to treat, but very damaging if left untreated.  It affects the way the body can methylate, which leads to detoxing (which the body is normally pretty effective at).  Without the natural ability to do this, the body is susceptible to years of damage, which leads to disease and disorder.  Common side-effects of untreated MTHFR can be: infertility, miscarriage, hormone imbalance, thyroid disorders, heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, depression, and mood disorders, just to name a few.  Some doctors are not fully comfortable screening for and treating MTHFR since there has been limited “exposure” about this condition, so be sure to ask to have it done (it’s done through a blood test, and even a saliva test has come out).  If your doctor won’t screen you, you can have it done on your own, which I think is totally worth it considering its complications.  Additionally, if you try to detox or cleanse and if you have untreated MTHFR, you can actually cause more of a build-up of toxins in your body since it has a hard time ridding itself of these contaminants to begin with.

 

The best way to start detoxing is to find and eliminate sources of “contamination” (as I like to call it).  Things such as pesticide exposure, chemicals in foods and products, heavy metals, etc. should all be monitored and avoided as much as possible.  While it is impossible to avoid all contaminants on a daily basis since they are everywhere in our environment now (and actually natural-occurring in some places as in cases like heavy metals), please do not stress out over trying to be “perfect” – stress itself is considered a toxin to the body!

 

  • Eliminate- Have you ever heard of an elimination diet? Many people try elimination diets to pin-point particular allergens or foods that cause sensitivities.  What does this have to do with detoxing? By first removing the common sources of inflammation, allergens, and toxicity is key to making space for the body to cleanse and renew.  Consider the following sources:
    • refined sugars
    • flours
    • caffeine
    • alcohol
    • dairy
    • gluten
    • meat (for some people’s diets)
    • cutting these foods out of the system for several days can cause someone to feel ill at first, as the body is adjusting to purging out inflammatory markers.
  • Try to eat organic when possible (especially off of the Dirty Dozen list)
  • Avoid processed foods, as most of these contain crops that have been treated and/or changed in so many ways, your body may not even recognize what’s in it.
  • Try to use as many natural-based products in the home and for the body that do not contain chemicals. We breathe these chemicals in and they are absorbed through the skin quickly.
  • As mentioned in the previous articles, try to find sources of heavy metals – from products in the home to the foods we eat – heavy metals are lurking wherever you turn.
  • Invest in clean water – whether that’s getting a water service, a home-treatment system, a single water filter for the kitchen, showerhead filters, etc….try to hit as many sources as possible – prioritizing on the water you drink – for this is the source of many contaminants that build up in the body. I personally recommend reverse osmosis, distilled (with minerals added back), or a Berkey (I just bought one for our drinking water…I’ll let you know how it works).  Water flushes the body of impurities, so this is important.  Aim to consume at least 50% of one’s body weight in ounces of water daily from non-plastic containers.
  • While cleanses are regarded as completely safe when done properly, any type of cleanse can still be stressful on the body and mind as impurities are removed and the body works hard to restore itself, so remember to rest and relax.  This is also a great way to start teaching children modes of meditation and/or taking breaks to actively and mindfully rest (i.e. not sitting in front of the TV or sitting inactive for hours on end).
  • A large emphasis on alkaline-rich deep-green plant sources is key to a successful detox and balancing for common acidity excess that can be the source of severe physical and emotional issues. Using dark leafy greens to juice and/or eat during a cleanse is imperative.  Additionally, eating dark leafy greens (and juicing) is important to maintain on a daily basis to help keep toxins moving out of the body from exposure day-to-day.
  • We like to use chlorella and spirulina as daily detox agents. My son eats chlorella on its own and he takes spirulina in his smoothies (trooper!).  These blue green sea superfoods are very rich in minerals, vitamins, protein, and even bind to heavy metals and radiation and flush them out of the body.  Since we have been doing maintenance doses daily for quite some time now, we don’t use large doses for a cleanse….although I would recommend people doing cleanses to take larger doses initially to help trap many of the heavy metals and contaminants out of the body as they are released out of the tissues and cells so they are not floating around the body as free agents, where they can re-implant themselves in other tissues without being properly removed.
  • There is another process called chelation (pronounced “key-lay-shun”) therapy that is used in heavy metal detoxing cases where either an IV of heavy metal-binding fluids are flushed through the system to bind to and remove heavy metals or oral supplements of heavy metal-binding substances can be ingested to help bind to and remove heavy metals. This process should only be done by a licensed medical professional since it needs to carefully monitored.
  • You can help pull toxins out of your body with a detox bath (using Epsom salts): http://wellnessmama.com/8331/detox-bath-recipes/
  • Please be cautious of supplements that claim to be “detoxers” – while there are many reputable products on the market that help facilitate a healthy cleanse, there are many that are questionable and may not even be healthy. Recent studies have found that some of these “detoxers” actually have more heavy metals and contaminants in them than what they are supposed to be removing from the body!  This is why I believe in using whole-food cleanses (like organic pressed juices) as the best detoxifying agents.
  • A great book and resource on juice detoxing is by Steve Meyerowitz: “Juicing and Fasting”
  • Remember that your detox or cleanse is only as effective as keeping the bad stuff out once you get rid of it. So many times I hear of people doing a cleanse just to watch them go back to their old, bad habits – eating the foods that replace contaminants, using chemical-laden ingredients and/or beauty products.  In all honesty, don’t bother doing a cleanse unless you have a genuine intention to work on keeping the bad stuff out.  I only say this because it is confusing AND dangerous to your body to remove toxins (which the body has to work hard at doing) and then putting that stuff right back in.  I know you can’t be perfect, which is OK, but have a plan put in place of the things you are going to do to try and keep toxins out as much as possible.

 

As mentioned before, I believe that a whole-food detoxing approach is best and is very effective.  By eating detoxifying foods on a daily basis, you can maintain a healthy natural elimination of toxins that bombard the body.  Here is a list of some websites that contain helpful lists of detoxifying whole foods:
 

What have been some of your detox experiences?  What would you recommend or what has worked for you?  Any tips you’d like to share?

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more:http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.

 

 

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Super Ingredients

As a mom (or a person) it’s hard to stay on top of the latest and greatest nutritional powerhouse ingredients.  (Nevermind getting everyone up, dressed and fed for the day…)

Here’s a simple breakdown of some of our favorite ingredients, why they are so amazing and some products we buy for our own kids to maximize nutrition:
1. Chia – rich in omega 3s (polyunsaturated fats).  These are essential fatty acids that are good for cognitive development (brain food), asthma, growth, and anti-inflammatory effects.  We used chia in the development of MySuperCookies and also love Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola.
You can read more about chia here.
2. Quinoa – Has 8 essential amino acids, which can’t be made by the body, but are needed for brain health, immunity and kidney function.  Quinoa is also high in vitamins A, C and E, which makes it a great antioxidant.  We love Simply 7 Quinoa Chips with Sea Salt.
3. Acerola – tropical superfruit with many health benefits.  It is extremely rich in vitamin C, an essential nutrient that plays a role in immunity health.  MySuperCookies are made with acerola and 1 serving (11 cookies) achieves 50% RDA of Vitamin C.
4. Coconut Oil – Is rich in antioxidants and fiber.  The fatty acids are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.  We love baking with coconut oil and can’t get enough of Emmy’s Organics Dark Cacao Macaroons.
 
Check out our past article on coconut oil here.
5. Flax Seeds - Tiny powerhouses of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Flax seeds are easy to sprinkle into smoothies, oatmeal, and pancake batter.  We use flax seeds in all MySuperFoods products but we also love Dr Kracker Pumpkin Seed Cheddar Crackers
 

Here is a bit more about flax seeds.

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Fresh Picked: August Produce

Summer vegetables

August is here, and to make sure you get the most out of it, we wanted to provide you a quick list of in season produce to look for when shopping at the local farmers market or supermarket. Superfoods is located in New Jersey but if you are not from this geographical region, check out this link so you can see what produce is best by you!

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap

 

Fruits

  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

 

Vegetables

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

 

Also be sure to explore a little more about this August produce, here is a great article

http://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/apricots-the-seasonal-fruit-you-must-try/

 

Sources:

http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-shortcuts/seasonal-foods-august-82492

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Un-BEET-able

Beets are now in season, and it is the perfect time to start incorporating this summer vegetable into a few dishes! If you are not sure where to start, or have never cooked with beets this quick article will help to get you started. First lets explore some nutritional facts about why beets are a great addition to any diet!

 

  1. Beets are a low calorie vegetable that are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  2. They are a great source of naturally occurring folate or folic acid, which is important for a healthy pregnancy. For a woman of childbearing age, one should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid and a pregnant woman should consume 600 micrograms. By consuming the recommended amount of folic acid this will allow for healthy neural tube formation and brain development of the baby.
  3. Consuming beet juice can help lower high blood pressure and help increase stamina when working out due to the amount of nitrate

 

Some beet preparation tips are:

  • Grate raw beets for a colorful addition to salads or decorative garnish
  • Steam beets for 15 minutes to ensure they retain their maximum nutritional value and flavor
  • Marinate steamed beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs suggest to Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and bake them at 400˚F for1 and 2 hours, or until the blade of a knife slides easily in and out. After they are cooled slightly, the skins easily rubbed off with a paper towel. Cooked beets are like sponges, so soak in vinaigrette of woodsy sherry vinegar and virgin olive oil.

 

 

Here are a few recipes to try out

 

Beet Tahini

Adapted from Inventive Vegetarian

Ingredients

2 beets

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup tahini

Salt, to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F

 

1. Wash and trim, but don’t peel, the beets, then wrap each one in tin foil and toss it in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until a knife can easily pierce each beet.  Once the beets have cooled enough to handle, rub them with your thumbs and the skins should come off easily.

 

2.  Roughly chop the beets and the garlic and put both in the bowl of a food processor.  Give them a quick pulse to start breaking down the beets.

 

3.  Add the tahini and lemon juice and puree until smooth.  Taste and adjust salt as desired.  Serve cold or room temperature with crackers or raw vegetables.

 

 

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Roasted Beets, Chick Peas, Baby Spinach and Orange

Adapted from Gluten- Free Goddess, Serves 4.

 

Ingredients

3 cups cooked quinoa

2 beets, trimmed and quartered

Olive oil

Sea salt

1/4 cup fruity olive oil

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons organic gluten-free tamari sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon organic raw agave nectar or local honey

1 cup drained rinsed chick peas

2 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves

Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 fresh orange, peeled, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces

 

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

 

2. Here’s how to cook quinoa in a rice cooker. While the quinoa is cooking, roast the beets in a medium size roasting pan, by combining the beets with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. Place the pan in the center of the oven and roast until the beets are tender (roughly 45 minutes). Remove the beets from the hot pan and set them aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skin. Cut the beets into bite sized pieces.

 

3. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, orange juice, GF tamari, vinegar, and agave in a glass measuring cup and whisk. Set aside.

 

4. Combine the warm, cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl with the chick peas and baby spinach leaves. Pour in the salad dressing and toss lightly. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

 

5. Gently add in the cut up roasted beets and fresh orange pieces. Do not over mix or your entire salad will turn beet red. I think it’s more attractive to keep the staining to a minimum.

 

5. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh goat cheese, or slivered almonds, if desired.

 

 

 

Orange-Glazed Beets

Adapted from VegKitchen, serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

6 medium beets (or any size, as long as it adds up to about 2 pounds)

2 teaspoons arrowroot or organic cornstarch

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup fresh orange juice

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated orange zest for garnish, optional

Minced fresh dill or other herb for garnish

 

Directions

  1. To cook the beets:Rinse the beets and cut away all but an inch of the stalks. Combine in a large deep saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil, then simmer until just tender. How long this will take varies greatly upon the size of the beets; start checking after about 20 minutes, but don’t poke too many test holes into them, or they’ll bleed like crazy! When done, drain.
  2. No matter which cooking method you use, let the beets cool (you can plunge them into a bowl of cold water to speed things up), and when cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Combine the cornstarch and vinegar in a small container and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Heat the orange juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch and vinegar mixture, stirring carefully to avoid lumps.
  5. Stir in the diced beets. Cook over very low heat until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. If you juiced an organic orange, I highly recommend using grating some of the zest to garnish the beets, along with a sprinkling of dill or other fresh herb. Serve at once or cool until just warm.

Sources:

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442470253&terms=beets

http://theinventivevegetarian.blogspot.com/2013/03/beet-tahini.html

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2011/01/quinoa-salad-with-roasted-beets-chick.html

http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/orange-glazed-beets/

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6808&terms=folic acid

Be sure to check out for more about beets http://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/?s=beets&submit=Go

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Perfect Picnic

During the summer, few things are more fun than going on a picnic! We love to have picnics everywhere, from a park to the pool. Here are some great tips, recipes, and activities we rounded up to ensure that you have the perfect picnic.

Picnic Planning from Hoosier Homemade

Picnic

Liz from Hoosier Homemade gives some great tips for picnic planning. Her post features recipes as well as a list to make the perfect basket. She also manages to create a great layout with coordinating plates, napkins, and blanket, for a low price. A great resource for the early stages of picnicking!

Make Your Own Bubbles from Smockity Frocks

Make-Your-Own-Bubbles-2

This bubble recipe is super easy and quick, but is sure to provide hours of fun! Grab an empty bubble container and wand, and fill it up with this simple recipe.

Cut A Watermelon For Small Hands from Mama Say What

Print

Super easy, but also a completely different way to enjoy watermelon! Instead of cutting it into traditional triangles, try making it into long slices. Incredibly convenient, and perfect for small children!

Ants On A Log

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This age old favorite is a great choice for a picnic! For a traditional version, break celery into halves and layer with peanut butter. Top with raisins. For a twist, try almond butter and craisins, hummus and carrot pieces, or peanut butter and dark chocolate chips.

For even more great picnic snack ideas, check out our SuperEmployee Elizabeth’s article on Abe’s Market!

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MEGAN MONDAY: Malicious Mercury

leadMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

All references and information in this article is directly excerpted from “The Toxic Sandbox” by Libby McDonald.

To continue from last week’s article that focused on lead, I am going to highlight mercury this week, as it’s just as destructive to humans as lead.  In fact, it is considered the greatest heavy metal threat next to lead for children.  Oddly enough, while lead contamination amongst children is on the decline, mercury poisoning in children is on the rise, namely due to environmental influences.  Additionally, while lead toxicity has been studied for a hundred years, mercury toxicity has only been studied for fifty, which raises even more concerns about true long-term effects.

This “pervasive poison” (as author Libby McDonald refers to it in her book “The Toxic Sandbox”) is released into the air we breathe every day from coal-burning power plants.  As it travels into the atmosphere, it then makes its way into water through rain and windfall, where it then ends up in fish, which concentrate quantities of methyl mercury in their flesh.  If the fish are of predator type (meaning they are higher up on the food chain and/or of fatty tissue type and carrying the contaminants from all of the other fish/sea matter they have eaten) like tuna, swordfish, tilefish, etc., then they will contain the highest amounts of mercury.  This really stinks, for these types of fish contain high amounts of Omega-3 oils, which are VERY beneficial to our health, especially in children and pregnant women.  HOWEVER, these two groups are at the highest risk for mercury contamination and damage, so it’s a total double-edged sword.  Mercury contamination in fish has become so much of a concern over the past 10 years that women planning on getting pregnant, pregnant women, and children are advised to LIMIT the amount of fish consumed as to reduce heavy metal exposure as much as possible.

Why should we be so concerned about mercury?  Well, mercury has been linked to:

  • Memory deficits
  • Shortened attention span
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of coordination
  • Problems learning language
  • Poor vision and hearing
  • Loss of IQ points
  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder

According to scientific studies outlined by Libby McDonald, she notes that:

  • A child is dangerously exposed to mercury in-utero when a mother eats fish or seafood with a high level of mercury.
  • Mercury is MOST dangerous for children before the age of SIX.
  • Canned tuna and many kinds of sushi contain mercury.
  • Prenatal exposure to mercury is much more powerful in causing intellectual and behavioral problems than exposure after a child is born.
  • The Center for Disease Control estimates that 16% of U.S. women have blood mercury levels high enough to double their risk of giving birth to children with learning disabilities and/or neurological problems.
  • There is no documentation of what exact level of mercury exposure in-utero leads to demonstrable, lifelong harm.

OK, so many of you may be freaking out right now.  Some of you may have already been tested and show elevated levels of mercury in your blood.  If this is you, don’t beat yourself up thinking that you did your child harm.  Like mentioned above, there is no absolute level known from person-to-person as to what kind of harm can be done in-utero.  One particular level in one person may yield completely different outcomes in another individual.  However, there are some key points to also consider:

  • You can keep your children safe from high levels of mercury exposure by simply avoiding fish altogether, or at least eating fish known to be the least affected by mercury contamination. A list of those fish can be found here: http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/guide.asp
  • Today, vaccines contain little to no ethyl mercury (however, I am not stating this as being either pro- or anti-vaccine). Some vaccines (like the flu vaccine and some versions of DTaP) contain the preservative thimerosal, which is 49.6% mercury by weight and is metabolized into ethyl mercury (that is distinct from methyl mercury found in fish).  Ethyl mercury stays in the blood for a shorter period of time than methyl mercury (its half-life is a week or two).  In order to fully understand which vaccines contain any mercury-containing ingredients, you must read the ingredient label provided by the manufacturer to know for sure.
  • There were studies done around the globe (The Faroe Islands Study and The Seychelles Island Study) that showed interesting results regarding mercury exposure.
    • The Faroe Islands study showed that the effects of methyl mercury exposure on brain function are detectable at levels currently considered safe by the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (awesome!)
    • In contrast, The Seychelles Islands study showed that low levels of mercury exposure are not toxic (however there were other variants that affected this outcome).

With all of this scary talk about mercury, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to cut to the chase and explain how kids are exposed and put at risk:

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, the most common way children are exposed to methyl mercury is by either eating contaminated fish or being exposed in the womb when their moms eat the fish.
    • By 2004, the EPA reported that 48 states (all except Alaska and Wyoming) had issued fish consumption advisories due to mercury contamination in their lakes and rivers.
    • For 15 states, this applied to 100% of their waterways.
    • 92% of the eastern seaboard and 100% of the Gulf Coast is under close advisory.
  • Dental fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, contain large amounts of mercury that actually seep into your bloodstream from the tooth. Dental amalgam is 50% mercury.  The World Health Organization says that amalgam fillings release about one microgram (1/1,000,000th gram) of mercury into your body every day.  To put this in perspective, the EPA says that each of us takes in about five to six micrograms of mercury in our food and water daily.  Composite, or non-amalgam fillings are becoming much more popular as concern is rising over mercury leaching into one’s bloodstream from dental work.
  • Mercury occurs naturally in coal, in mercury contamination in children who live near coal-burning power plants. By far, the largest source of methyl mercury in the U.S. is coal-burning power plants.
  • Crematoriums release mercury vapor into the air when amalgam fillings are incinerated.
  • Purified mercury is used commercially in:
    • Fever thermometers
    • Fluorescent light bulbs
    • Some types of electrical switches
    • thermostats
    • energy-efficient light bulbs

Mercury vapor is also released into the air when mercury-containing products and items are destroyed and/or disposed of in landfills or junkyards.  Once mercury vapor is pumped into the air, it can travel on wind currents hundreds of miles from its source, raining down into lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans.  Once in waterways, mercury is taken in by bacteria in aquatic sediment and tiny plants called plankton transform the heavy metal into methyl mercury.  Small fish then eat this plankton and the beginnings of food chain contamination occurs.

For women considering getting pregnant, they should reduce their exposure to mercury a good six to twelve months before conception and ultimately get a blood test done to see if mercury levels are initially high, as once a women is pregnant and/or breastfeeding, a cleanse cannot be done to remove heavy metals.  As it is, the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that mercury above 5.8 parts per billion (ppb) in the bloodstream of a woman who is of childbearing age can harm babies in the womb.  Additionally, if a pregnant woman eats fish with a high mercury concentration, the metal is pumped across to the fetus and becomes concentrated in the baby’s umbilical cord blood, significantly upping the dose of mercury in fetal blood above the mother’s own mercury blood level.  The National Academy of Sciences estimates that mercury exposure in the womb is responsible for sixty thousand babies born in this country each year with neurological damage and mental impairments.  What’s even more alarming is The Learning Disabilities Association of America, the National Education Association, and the Arc of the United States all say mercury pollution is one of the biggest culprits in the rising tide of learning deficits.

So…what do you do now?  Here are some of my suggestions:

  • If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, test your own level of mercury beforehand. This link explains why some conventional blood, hair, or urine tests may not be the best gauge for accurate readings and what you can use instead: http://www.mercout.com/pages.php?pageid=42
  • Be aware of products you use, such as cosmetics, as many are found tainted with mercury: http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2012/03/12/dangerous-beauty-top-5-contaminated-beauty-products/
  • Limit and/or avoid fish if you are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or are feeding fish to small children. Check the link above for which fish have the lowest levels.
  • Obtain healthy levels of Omega 3 oils from fish through purified forms like Nordic Naturals fish oil, etc. You can also get plenty of Omegas from non-fish sources like chia seeds, flaxseed, etc.
  • Know your environment – if you are close to an industrial area and/or a coal-burning power plant, you should monitor your mercury levels.
  • Don’t touch mercury that could come from light bulbs, thermometers, etc.
  • Read vaccine ingredient labels to see which ones actually contain mercury and in what amount. There are different manufacturers of vaccines that have varying ingredients and preservatives.  Share your concern with your doctor.

We will cover “detoxing” and cleansing the body of heavy metals next week, as this is something that can be achieved and then maintained on a daily basis…and for every member of the family.  It’s up to us to take control as much as possible of the risks that these contaminants pose on ourselves and our children.  While it seems they will not leave our environment anytime soon, there are definitely measures we can take to try and keep them out of our bodies as best as possible.

Do any of you have mercury stories of your own?  I recall my parents saying how they used to play with the mercury from broken thermometers by rolling it around in their fingers.  Oh my….. :-/

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more:http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.

 

 

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