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Our favourite Christmas baking recipes

There’s nothing better than receiving a home-baked gift from your loved one at Christmas!

If you’ve decided to bake some treats for your family and friends this year, Foodsterr’s got everything you need, from dried fruit for your fruit cake, nuts for your cookies, and a wide variety of flours and natural sweeteners for all your baking endeavors.

We’ve chosen some of our favourite recipes just to get your creative juices flowing.

Gingerbread granola by the Minimalist Baker 

Chocolate almond bark with sea salt from Bon Appetit

Chocolate peppermint crunch cookies by Two Peas and their Pod 

Free range fruit cake recipe by Alton Brown

Holiday stollen recipe from the New York Times

‘Tis the season for… All things Cranberry!

What’s red, tart and festive, and goes perfectly with the holidays? Cranberries!

Our ruby dried cranberries are great in all kinds of dishes, from cookies and breads to salads and sides to go with your turkey.

If you’re in charge of drinks at your Christmas party, we’ve got you covered too – try our cranberry cocktail drinks, which are excellent mixers in your fruit punch and cocktails. If you want something more than just plain cranberry, we've got cranapple, crangrape, and cranberry/blackcurrant varieties to spice things up a little.

Here are just a few recipes to get you in the mood for some holiday cooking! 

White chocolate cranberry cookies by Trisha Yearwood 

Cranberry cheese bread by Guai Shu Shu 

Cranberry Apple Crisp from Epicurious

Holiday tossed salad from Taste of Home

Cranberry champagne cocktail by Olivier Cheng

All-Natural Snacks for Kids

Goldfish crackers and Cheerios are always popular with the little ones, and while they’re undoubtedly delicious, they’re still made with a long list of processed ingredients and artificial sugars.

If you’re looking for some natural alternatives for the kids, we’ve got you covered. Here are some healthy snacks from Foodsterr that your family is sure to love. 

Dried fruit

Dried apricots, plums, raisins and mango slices are perfect for snacking at any time of the day. They’re portable, keep well and are easy for little hands to hold. We carry both regular and organic dried fruit, as well as sugar-free versions to keep those pearly whites healthy and cavity-free. 

Nuts

Nuts and nut butters are a great source of protein and healthy fats, and make a good snack for kids if you take note of a few safety guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has changed its policy of avoiding ground nuts and foods containing nuts until age three. The AAP now says that parents can offer them to babies six months and up, as long as they aren't showing signs of other food allergies and don't have a family history of nut allergies. Of course, whole nuts or spoonfuls of peanut butter are still a choking hazard, so avoid them until age four. Instead, you can serve ground nuts or nut butters in baked goods. 

For more ideas, check out our Rosy Cheeked Kids Starter Pack which includes a cookbook with more than 55 recipes that are tasty, simple to prepare and free of refined sugars, white flours, preservatives, trans-fats and artificial flavourings! The starter pack also comes with a selection of organic ingredients and child-friendly snacks to get your creative cooking juices flowing.

Tips For Eating Organic On A Budget

Choosing to eat organic produce can be tough on your wallet, especially when you're feeding the whole family. Here are some tips for you to save money while still enjoying the great benefits of going organic.

1. Plan your meals.  Plan ahead so you can buy in bulk.

2. Have a meatless dinner at least once a week. Meat can be one of the biggest expenses at the supermarket.

3. Stock up on pantry items when you find them on sale. If you like a particular kind of grain or flour and you find it on sale, stock up.

4. Try to buy these foods organic as they tend to be the foods with the highest pesticide load. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) calls this the ‘Dirty Dozen’: Apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, hot peppers and kale/ collard greens.

5. To save money, you can buy these foods conventional as they tend to have the lowest pesticide load. You will note that most of them have a thick peel. EWG calls this the “Clean Fifteen:” Asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet corn, sweet peas and sweet potatoes.  

6. Buy online. For packaged items, you can save a ton of money buying online versus specialty organic shops.

 

 

J. Kang

Natural Sugar Alternatives

We all crave a sweet little something from time to time, but it can be hard not to feel guilty about the empty calories, blood sugar spikes and other adverse effects that come with processed sugar.

Thankfully, there are now many great natural alternatives to processed sugar with various health benefits. Here are a few alternatives to sugar to try. 

1. Agave Nectar

Made from the agave plant (which also gives us tequila), this syrup with notes of caramel has slightly more calories than table sugar but is about 25 percent sweeter, so you can get away with less of it. Plus: Agave nectar does good things for your gut. It contains a type of dietary fiber, known as a prebiotic, that nourishes intestinal bacteria. 

2. Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup is high in manganese and zinc: 100 grams of syrup provides 22% and 3.7% of their RDVs respectively. Manganese is necessary for several enzymes that are needed for energy production and antioxidant defenses while zinc is essential for optimal immune system function.  (For some variety, try our new blueberry and cranberry maple syrup flavours!)

3. Molasses

Molasses is a thick syrup produced when the sugar cane plant is processed to make refined sugar. One serving (2 tablespoons) of molasses has about 30% of the daily iron requirement for premenopausal women, as well as 14% of our RDV of copper, whose peptides help rebuild the skin structure that supports healthy hair. It is also high in vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants. 

4. Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar contains traces of iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, we well as antioxidants. It also contains a fiber called inulin, which may slow glucose absorption.  

5. Stevia

Sweet Stevia leaves have been consumed by humans for hundreds of years. While it is not a significant source of nutrition, the great thing about stevia is that it will not affect blood sugar levels at all, making it a great all-natural sugar alternative for diabetics. It is also calorie-free.

6. Raw Honey

Sweeter than sugar, get honey that’s been organically and locally produced to reap the full benefits. Packed with vitamins, honey also has antimicrobial properties. It does have more calories than normal sugar but because it’s sweeter you use less of it. 

 

 

J. Kang

Introducing Coconut Flower Cider Vinegar!

You’ve tried coconut milk, coconut flour and even coconut oil, but have you tried coconut flower cider vinegar?

Coconut vinegar is similar to other fermented vinegars such as apple cider and balsamic vinegars. It is a staple condiment in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines, where it is called suka ng niyog, and is also used in some regions of India.

Coconut vinegar is made by aging and fermenting the sap of the coconut flower, and bottling it as vinegar. It has all the same benefits of apple cider vinegar, but with fewer calories. It’s also slightly sweeter and not quite as pungent as apple cider vinegar.

Coconut vinegar is extremely good for your gut health because of the prebiotics and probiotics. It is also high in potassium, B vitamins, and 17 health-promoting amino acids, which are building blocks for protein and muscle tissue. Plus, like all natural vinegars, the coconut variety also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which help fight illness and infections.

You can use coconut vinegar the exact same way you would use apple cider vinegar. Try adding coconut vinegar to your favorite salad dressings, marinades, and sauces for an extra bite. As a morning ritual, practice mixing one tablespoon of coconut vinegar with a tablespoon of water and drinking it on an empty stomach. 

Coconut vinegar even has a place amongst your beauty products.  Brush it into your hair and let sit for 20-30 minutes before rinsing, leaving your locks shiny and soft. For your face, use a cotton ball to pat your already cleansed facial skin with coconut vinegar, which will act as a toner of sorts, killing bacteria and thus preventing acne.

5 Easy Substitutes for Peanut Butter

Peanut allergies are getting increasingly common, especially amongst little ones. But even if your or your child is allergic to nuts, or if there’s a strict no-nut rule for school lunchboxes, it doesn’t mean he or she can’t still enjoy a good sandwich spread like everyone else!

Here are some easy substitutes you can consider.

1. NotNuts Sugar Reduced Butter 

NotNuts Reduced Sugar Butter is made from nutritious pulse grains and is free of nuts, gluten, dairy and soy -- a great peanut butter substitute for anyone with allergies! Its main ingredient is mung beans, which are a good source of protein and dietary fibre, and high in essential minerals.

2. NotNuts Chocolate Spread

Yes, chocolate makes everything better. NotNuts Chocolate Spread has a delicious chocolaty, nutty flavor and a creamy smooth texture – but is made with mung beans instead of nuts, gluten and soy. We think it would be delicious on waffles, pancakes and apple slices too.

3. Sunflower Seed Butter

Try this amazing recipe for homemade extra creamy sunflower seed butter. All you need is roasted sunflower seeds, oil, a pinch of salt and sugar, and a mere ten minutes of your time! It’s so good, you won’t even miss peanut butter! 

4. Tahini

This Middle Eastern staple made of sesame seeds is great on toast and as a dip. It's perfect for those who don't like sugar in their nut butters, and if you prefer something sweeter you can always drizzle some honey or spread a little jam in your sandwich.

5. Hummus

Hearty, healthy hummus is chockfull of protein – giving you lots of energy to get through your day! This chickpea-based recipe is super easy to make. Just give the ingredients a whir in your food processor and season to taste. 

6 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Dried Figs

There’s nothing like the unique sweetness of figs. The delicate nature of the fresh fruit means it’s particularly difficult to export, but dried figs are equally delicious and are available all year round.

Figs are high in natural sugars, minerals and soluble fibre. They are rich in  potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper and are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A, E and K.

Dried figs have an almost jam-like quality to them that adds a burst of flavour to all kinds of dishes. They are just as versatile as raisins and dried cranberries – toss them into salads, turn them into elegant appetizers or turn them into beautiful cakes and baked treats,

Our Amphora Organic Dried Figs are wonderful ready-to-eat treats. We import only organic Turkish Aydin ­figs ripened on trees, handpicked and dried naturally, with no preservatives or colours added. The figs are then gently pasteurized and rehydrated with natural spring water, making them soft and moist.

Get a pack for yourself to snack on, or try these recipes at home.

Oatmeal, fig and walnut bars by Epicurious

Fig, almond and date smoothie by Reboot with Joe

Dried fig, goat cheese and arugula salad by California Figs

Baked brie with figs, walnuts and pistachios by The Mediterranean Dish

Pear crostata with figs and honey by Epicurious

Lemon-fig cake by Martha Stewart

 

Try a Taste of Brazil!

You love your almonds, pistachios and macadamias, but have you tried Brazil nuts?

This unique nut is native to the Amazon forest and is grown in South American countries like Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. Native Amazonians cherish these delicious nuts which provide them with protein, healthy fats and other important vitamins and minterals.

Here are four essential nutrients that make Brazil nuts both a healthy and tasty snack.

Selenium
Brazil nuts hold exceptionally high levels of selenium. Just 100g of Brazil nuts provide more than 30 times of your recommended daily intake of selenium, which makes them the highest natural source of this mineral. Selenium can help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis and cancers.

Healthy Fats
Brazil nuts are high in healthy unsaturated fat which, when used in lieu of saturated fat, can help to promote heart health.

Vitamin E
Brazil nuts are also a very good source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the health of your skin and protects it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

B-Complex Vitamins
Additionally, these creamy nuts are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and folates. These important vitamins help convert the food you eat into cellular energy that fuels your body’s many chemical reactions. 

We recommend that you store your Brazil nuts in the refrigerator for maximum freshness and flavour.

Check out these recipes by the BBC for ideas on how to enjoy your Brazil nuts.

10 Tips to Start Your Paleo Diet

 

The Paleo or Caveman diet has become hugely popular in recent years, with its fans saying they have become leaner, stronger and more energetic by eating just like our caveman ancestors.

The Paleo diet consists chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, and excludes dairy or grain products and processed food. Apart from weight loss and increased energy, Paleo eaters are said to also enjoy benefits like an improved immune system, better digestion, nutrition absorption and gut health, less allergies and less inflammation.

Curious to try it out for yourself? Here are ten tips to get your started, adapted from Paleoleap.com.

  1. Your Paleo diet should be high in fat, moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. 

  2. Eat generous amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter. Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food, but not for cooking.

  3. Eat good amounts of animal protein. Don’t be afraid to eat fatty cuts of meat.

  4. Eat generous amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of carbohydrates.

  5. Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts. Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts.

  6. Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat. If not possible, choose lean cuts of meat and supplement your fat with coconut oil or butter.

  7. Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet.

  8. Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oils including margarine, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.

  9. Eliminate added sugar, soft drinks, all packaged sweets and juices.

  10. Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. 

Foodsterr Paleo Friendly Products

- Joanna Kang

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