November 29th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Almost 43 million families will be making their own holiday gifts, cards and decorations this year, according to the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA).
“Crafting provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and family while creating unique, one-of-a-kind gifts that don’t need to cost a lot of money,” says CHA President and CEO Steve Berger.
The following project makes a great holiday decoration or gift. Organic wreaths are available at your local nursery and some natural/organic food stores. The remaining supplies can be found at your local craft store.
My favorite craft store, Joann, is offering OrganicAuthority readers free shipping on orders totaling $50 or more. Click here to take advantage of this holiday promotion.
Family Holiday Wreath
- Organic wreath
- Chipboard words
- Alphabet rub-ons
- Favorite family photos or holiday-themed stock photographs
- Heavy cardboard
- Metal saying
- Wire cutter
- Glue gun
- Attach metal saying with wire to center of wreath.
- Print or download photos. Those in this craft were printed in sepia.
- Adhere photos to heavy cardboard (same size as photos).
- Add rub-ons to photos (create names, messages).
- Glue chipboard words to wreath.
Project courtesy of www.terriocraftprojects.com. Photo courtesy of the Craft & Hobby Association.
Read More:Decorate an Organic Wreath
November 24th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
You needn’t be a TV chef to make a memorable Thanksgiving dinner. This crowd-pleasing stuffing bakes while your turkey (or veggie entrée) cooks.
Sausage pairs with dried cranberries and apple juice to create a sweet and savory side. If you eat meat, you can purchase locally made or nationally branded artisan sausages. Organic Prairie’s Breakfast Links or Italian Pork Sausage are widely available and work well, as does the company’s Italian Chicken Sausage.
Vegetarians can substitute organic meat alternatives like SoyBoy Breakfast Links. Also replace the chicken broth with organic vegetable broth.
For more stuffing recipes, check out:
Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing (with Vegetarian Alternative)
Makes 10 to 12 servings
1 cup dried cranberries
1⁄2 cup apple juice
1⁄2 cup chicken broth
1 pound uncooked breakfast or mild sausage
2 cups diced, fresh celery
1 cup diced, fresh onion
1 to 1½ cups chopped pecans (optional)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 package (10 ounces) herb-seasoned stuffing cubes
- Place dried cranberries, apple juice and 1⁄2 cup chicken broth into small glass bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2 minutes. Stir and place to the side (allowing liquid to be absorbed by dried berries).
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In large pot, brown sliced or chopped sausage, breaking up and stirring frequently until browned. Reduce heat to low.
- Add vegetables. Sauté until somewhat tender (about 3 to 4 minutes).
- Add chopped pecans (if desired), soaked cranberries (including liquid) and 3/4 cup chicken broth. Stir and remove from heat.
- Fold in entire contents of stuffing mix until well combined. Spoon mixture into a 9” x 11” baking dish that has been prepared with cooking oil spray.
- Cover baking dish with foil, and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove foil, return to oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered.
- Remove from the oven, and cool slightly while slicing turkey. Garnish before presentation with 1⁄2 cup pecan halves, if desired.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Mrs. Cubbison’s
Read More:Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing (with Vegetarian Alternative)
November 21st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Each year, the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission holds a Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest in conjunction with Louisiana Cookin’ magazine.
Last year’s winner in the Soup Category was Sally Sibthorpe of Shelby Township, MO, who wowed judges with her recipe for Ginger Thai Sweet Potato Bisque. This soup makes a zesty Thanksgiving starter, fusing Asian flavors with the natural goodness of America’s sweet potato crop.
All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store. Click here for more sweet potato recipes.
Ginger Thai Sweet Potato Bisque
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
4 cups cooked sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
1 can (15 ounces) coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon red curry paste
4 tablespoons minced cilantro
4 tablespoons shredded coconut
- Heat oil in a 3-quart saucepan or stockpot on medium setting. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until tender.
- Remove mixture to a food processor or blender. Add sweet potatoes and ginger, then puree until mixture is smooth.
- Return mixture to saucepan. Add coconut milk, chicken stock, salt, soy sauce, lime juice and curry paste. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of the cilantro. Simmer for 2 minutes more.
- Ladle soup into serving bowls, and garnish with shredded coconut and remaining cilantro.
Recipe and photo courtesy of the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission
Read More:Ginger Thai Sweet Potato Bisque
November 21st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
1.8 billion pounds.
That’s how many sweet potatoes were grown last year by the major U.S. sweet potato-producing states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. North Carolina led the way with 874 million pounds, followed by California (437 million pounds) and Mississippi (335 million pounds).
We’ve increased our consumption of the healthful orange tuber over the years. In 1999, the average American consumed 3.7 pounds of sweet potatoes. Last year, we averaged 5.1 pounds per person, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
We really should eat more. Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. A half-cup serving contains only 90 calories, with no fat or cholesterol and only 35 mg sodium. This serving size delivers 3 g fiber, 2 g protein, 380% of your daily vitamin A requirement and 35% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’ll focus on sweet potatoes over the next few days. Check out Bargain of the Week for shopping and preparation tips. In addition to the recipes already available on our organic blog (listed below), I’ll add some new ones for culinary inspiration.
Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Table
Photo courtesy of the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission
Read More:Stock Up on Organic Sweet Potatoes
November 20th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Americans have expanded their Thanksgiving repertoire in recent years. While many of us have fond childhood memories of the classic Sweet Potato Bake studded with miniature marshmallows, our adult tastes now run more toward organic Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Apples with Pecan Streusel Topping or Curried Sweet Potato.
In recent years, winter squash has replaced sweet potatoes on many Thanksgiving tables. The two are interchangeable in many recipes (see Candied Butternut Squash and Butternut Squash Soup with Sage), and both veggies contain high levels of cancer-fighting carotenoids.
The beauty of winter squash is its many varieties, flavors and preparations. Registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research, offers the following tips:
- Acorn squash is small, with a very hard rind. Your best bet is to cut it in half and bake it, without peeling it. Season with pumpkin-pie spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Butternut squash is sweet and moist, with a slightly nutty flavor. The skin is easy to peel, and you can roast cubes or add chunks to a soup or stew.
- Buttercup squash has a sweet flavor, but it can be dry. Use it in moist dishes to avoid drowning it in butter.
- Large squashes (like Hubbard) are also delicious and will provide lots of leftovers. Use what you need now, and freeze cooked cubes or purée.
- Spaghetti squash is a little lower in calories, fiber, and nutrients like vitamin C and potassium. Its preparation is unique, as strands of cooked squash are pulled from the flesh with a fork. As the name implies, it’s often served like pasta.
Read More:Organic Winter Squash Basics
November 20th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Virtually every supermarket and natural/organic food store is now offering sweet Thanksgiving deals on holiday sweet potatoes, including organic varieties.
My shopping trips have revealed mixed results. Some of the sweet potatoes have been blemish-free beauties, while others were moldy mounds.
When shopping for sweet potatoes, look for firmness, dark coloring and a smooth texture. Head to another market if the selection sports wrinkles, bruises, sprouts or decay. (Even if you cut away the decay, the flavor will be rank.)
Maintain freshness by storing fresh sweet potatoes in a dry, cool (55°F to 60°F) place, such as a cellar, pantry or garage. Do not store them in the refrigerator; they’ll develop a hard core and unpleasant taste.
Stored properly, sweet potatoes will keep for roughly 30 days. If you’re going to store them at room temperature, they’ll last about a week.
Never wash sweet potatoes until you’re about to cook them. Excess moisture promotes spoilage. When you’re ready to cook, wash them thoroughly. Whenever possible, leave the skins on, as they contain most of the vegetable’s nutrients.
Sweet potatoes with dark-orange flesh are moister, while those with lighter skins and yellow flesh are decidedly less sweet and plump. Yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes also require a longer cook time. Avoid mixing the two varieties when cooking, as you’ll encounter textural differences and uneven doneness.
Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission
Read More:Bargain of the Week: Sweet Potatoes
October 28th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I provided the basic recipe for Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.
Today’s recipe ups the flavor ante, with spices that will remind you of red pepper jelly—both sweet and hot.
If you’ve purchased a Halloween pumpkin, you’ll have the basis for a high-protein snack. If not, you may use raw pumpkin seeds from the snack or nut aisle of your local natural and organic food store.
Sweet-Hot Pumpkin Seeds with Autumn Spices
Makes 8 servings (2 tablespoons each)
1 pumpkin (or 1 cup purchased raw pumpkin seeds)
Canola oil spray
4 teaspoons walnut oil (olive oil may be substituted)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder or paprika (optional)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons water
- Remove seeds from pumpkin with a large spoon. To separate seeds from pumpkin fiber, place the mixture in a large bowl filled with cold water. Wash and dry them thoroughly.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with canola oil spray. Place seeds in one layer on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in small skillet, whisk together oil, spices, sugar, salt and water. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until seeds finish toasting.
- Remove seeds from oven, and stir into spice mixture, coating evenly. Cook on stove for another 5 minutes.
- Return seeds to baking sheet, patting into one layer. Bake about 10 minutes, until crisp.
- Remove from oven, and let cool. Gently loosen from baking sheet with tip of metal spatula. Store in a tightly covered container.
Recipe and photo courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research
Read More:Sweet-Hot Pumpkin Seeds with Autumn Spices
October 27th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite fall snacks. Companies like Eden Organic offer bags of dry-roasted seeds, including a spiced version. The seeds are a great source of protein, fiber, phosphorus and magnesium. Unlike most of the nonorganic brands, Eden’s pumpkin seeds are relatively low in sodium (75 to 100 mg per 1/4 cup).
If you’re carving an organic pumpkin this Halloween, toast your own seeds and flavor them with your favorite herbs and spices. The basic recipe follows. Tune in tomorrow for some kicked-up Sweet-Hot Pumpkin Seeds with Autumn Spices.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 small pumpkin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Remove seeds using a large spoon. To separate seeds from pumpkin fiber, place the mixture in a large bowl filled with cold water.
- Stir the mixture, and seeds will float to the surface. Remove seeds with a slotted spoon, and pat them dry on paper towels.
- Place seeds in a dry bowl. Coat them with vegetable oil.
- Spread seeds on a foil-lined baking sheet, coated with nonstick spray, and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Recipe courtesy of Pumpkin Masters
Read More:Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
October 26th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
At this time of year, formerly barren lots on even the busiest city streets are transformed into pumpkin patches.
Local farmers’ markets display a bevy of gourds, and kids go into hyperdrive as they suit up to turn their carefully selected finds into jack-o’-lanterns.
Pumpkin carving is much like driving: safety first. Thankfully, alternatives to serial killer-style kitchen knives are available at supermarkets, party stores and organic food stores. The Pumpkin Masters Carving Kit, for example, includes five tools and 14 patterns. The company also offers a children’s version.
As I’ve admitted in the past, I usually opt to cook with canned organic pumpkin puree—in particular, Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin. It’s a hassle-free base for Early-Morning Pumpkin Maple Oatmeal, Pumpkin Curry Soup, Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Bisque and Pumpkin Five-Spice Butter.
Tune in tomorrow for a new recipe: Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. In the meantime, check out some of my past posts:
Read More:It’s Organic Pumpkin Time!
November 23rd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Happy Thanksgiving from OrganicAuthority.com!
If you’re hosting today’s organic holiday dinner, you may feel as though you’re running a marathon. Planning for the unexpected will allow you to enjoy your own party. Here are some tips on reducing stress from the experts at Bed Bath & Beyond:
- Don’t cry over spilled wine. A microfiber tablecloth allows spills to bead up and wipe away cleanly.
- Have folding chairs on hand for extra seating.
- Use chair covers to protect your dining chairs from stains.
- An inflatable bed is the answer to that unexpected sleepover guest. When the guest leaves, simply deflate and store it for the next visit. Don’t forget the extra sheets and blankets.
Above all, relax and enjoy the company of family and friends!
Read More:Avoid Last-Minute Panic!