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The Organic Gourmet: Mollie Katzen

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Now, she cooks up a hearty lunch for you with her new line of organic soups, available in whole food stores' refrigerator cases in six ready-to-eat flavors:

  • Cashew Carrot Ginger
  • Hungarian Mushroom
  • Moroccan Red Lentil
  • Cuban Black Bean
  • Macaroni Minestrone
  • Russian Cabbage Borscht

Katzen recognizes that 46% of Americans eat most of their meals away from home or on the go. Her fresh soups, branded under the name Mollie's Natural Kitchen, are packaged in 12-oz. and 24-oz. heat-and-serve containers. Each soup is cooked in small batches, using organic and natural vegetarian ingredients. Containers are microwaveable and reusable.

"More than ever before, Americans are reading labels, insisting on fresh, healthy ingredients and searching beyond 'meat and potatoes' for solid nutrition," Katzen says. "Convenience foods are growing exponentially, but most give nutrition a low priority. Instead, they focus on low production costs, marketing and shelf life. For me, the need is clear for convenience foods with fresh, healthy ingredients, local sourcing and satisfying flavor."

Many prepared soups receive low marks from nutritionists because they are high in sodium, but Katzen's recipes aren't cause for alarm, according to Dr. Lisa Hark, director of the Nutrition Education and Prevention Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and coauthor of Nutrition for Life. Sodium content in Katzen's soups ranges from 500 to 740 milligrams (mg) per serving.

"At initial glance, this does not seem that high," Dr. Hark tells, "but if you eat the whole package-or about 3 cups-you will almost be at your limit of 2,300 mg per day. I usually encourage people to choose foods with less than 400 mg per serving, but this is very difficult for soups and frozen dinners-both of which I eat."

In a Pickle?


Regardless of whether you're pregnant, you may crave a salty, juicy pickle when you savor a favorite sandwich.

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From the Organic Authority Files

For those who follow a diet consisting of organic foods, Cascadian Farm has come to the rescue with a full line of organic pickle products:

  • Baby dill pickles
  • Sweet relish
  • Kosher dills (regular and reduced-sodium)
  • Sliced bread-and-butter pickle chips

Cascadian Farm pickles are grown and manufactured without the use of synthetic pesticides or chemicals. The company is a true working farm in the North Cascades mountain range of Washington state, and all cucumbers used to make pickles are certified organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

As with prepared soups, sodium is the greatest concern for pickle lovers. One Cascadian Farm kosher dill pickle contains 300 mg sodium, but the reduced-sodium version contains only 135 mg.

"Obviously, if someone is concerned about their sodium intake, the reduced-sodium version would be the better choice," says registered dietitian Cindy Heroux, owner of the consulting firm Speaking of Wellness in Orlando, Florida, and author of The Manual That Should Have Come With Your Body.

In lieu of jarred pickles, Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel, a board-certified clinical nutritionist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and author of The Whole Soy Story, prefers pickles fermented with lactobacilli instead of the commonly used vinegar brine.

"This would preserve the cucumbers, while improving the consumer's digestion and fostering the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine," she tells "Some whole food stores now carry locally made, raw, unpasteurized, fermented pickles, sauerkraut and other condiments made with organic vegetables in their refrigerated sections."

For the latest information on sodium intake and organic food, see Medical News You Can Use.

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