Mother Earth Living

Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

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8/19/2014

Editors PickPopcorn can be a healthful snack that is low in calories and chock full of nutrients, including fiber. But not all popcorn is alike. That extra-large tub of heavily buttered popcorn from your local movie theater will not offer such health benefits. In fact, a medium tub at Regal—the country’s biggest movie theater chain—has 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat, according to a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. So much for low calorie!

Other problems surrounding popcorn are the nasty culprits known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Studies have shown GM foods to cause allergies in some people, and a more recent study showed that GE (genetically engineered) foods may have detrimental effects on immune function. The majority of GM foods end up in processed foods, which can make avoiding them difficult—especially for corn. Corn is one of the five most-common GM crops (beet sugar, canola, soy and cotton are the other crops), as it’s estimated that 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is from genetically modified seed.

To help you healthfully get your popcorn fix, we’ve taste-tested a wide variety of natural popcorn and selected six of our favorites. Whether you’re a stovetop purist, prefer the ease of microwavable bags, or simply want a bag of pre-popped corn for traveling purposes, we’ve got you covered. Hit play on your DVR, grab a blanket and cozy up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn from one of these popcorn companies.

Best Natural Popcorn Products

Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Popcorn

Best old-fashioned popcorn: Many microwaveable bags of popcorn are loaded with partially hydrogenated oils and artificial flavorings. Ditch the microwave and embrace the superior flavor of air-popped popcorn. Using a store-bought popcorn machine or simply your stovetop, preparing these kernels is easier than it may seem: here is a great instructional article. We recommend swapping peanut oil with flax seed or coconut oil, and adding in a little sea salt. These GMO-free popcorn kernels from one of our favorite companies pop evenly and are fresh tasting. Best of all, it has a high nutrition score of 10 from GoodGuide, an organization that rates hundreds of companies on their health, sustainability and social attributes.

Cost: 1 pound bag; $3

Farmer Steve’s Microwave Popcorn

Best microwaveable basic: No need to worry about preservatives, artificial flavorings or hydrogenated oils with this GMO-free product. Produced on a small family farm in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Farmer Steve’s popcorn is certified organic. Lightly salted for extra flavor, these microwaveable bags are easy to use, and the popcorn makes a great base for any seasoning combinations you can come up with.

Cost: three 2.8-ounce bags; $5

Quinn Popcorn Parmesan & Rosemary

Best microwavable flavor: Like Farmer Steve’s, Quinn produces GMO-free microwaveable popcorn sans artificial ingredients. The bag is also compostable. Simply pop the bag in the microwave then, after it has popped, sprinkle it with the handy little seasoning packages that come in the box. We particularly like the Parmesan & Rosemary flavor. It’s addictively salty with just a hint of rosemary.

Cost: two 3.5-ounce bags; $5

Popcorn Indiana Sriracha Popcorn

Best pre-popped flavor: Spicy and satisfying, this bag of popcorn really captures the sriracha flavor with seasonings green pepper, red pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Best of all, this product scores fairly high on the GoodGuide nutrition scale (7.5) and is made with non-GMO canola oil. Full disclosure: Even though the company is committed to the Non-GMO Challenge by providing a transparent listing of ingredients, this particular flavor is not made with GMO-free corn. For a completely non-GMO treat from Popcorn Indiana check out their Fit Popcorn with sea salt, which is also delicious.

Cost: 6-ounce bag; $5

BoomChickaPop Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn

Best kettle corn: Crunchy with the perfect blend of sweet and salty, this lightly flavored kettle corn is a great snack for any on-the-go outing. You can also keep it in the pantry for an easy-to-reach snack for the kiddos. This Minnesota-based company makes this product with whole grains, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.

Cost: 7-ounce bag; $4

Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Puffs

Best take on popcorn: If you are craving something that seems a little sinful, then grab a bag of these vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO cheddar puffs. This puffy concoction is a cheesy delight—just make sure to wash your hands afterward! Pack them for lunch, take them with you on a road trip, or bring them along on a picnic.

Cost: 4-ounce bag; $4



8/8/2014

Food sustains us, quite literally. We have to feed our physical bodies, of course. But real food is so much more than that—we also want to nourish our family bonds by eating meals together. We want to tend to our land, caring for it to reap the bounty of produce in return. And we want to provide sustenance to our souls, by observing—and participating in—the cycle of life right in front of us as we move through the seasons.

Quick Fix Foods
Photo by Thomas Gibson

1. Mix It Up

Antioxidant Trail Mix

High Antioxidant Trail Mix stars a yummy blend of organic, non-GMO pumpkin seeds, almonds, goji berries, raisins and mulberries.

TO BUY: 1-pound bag: $13.50 from GrandyOats

2. Sesame Street

Whole Wheat Sesame Sticks

Switch up your snacking with Whole Wheat Sesame Sticks, free of synthetic flavors, colors, preservatives and additives.

TO BUY: $3.50 from NOW Foods

3. Choice Chips

Green Mojo Chips

Mild yet bursting with flavor, Mild Green Mojo chips are the perfect salty snack. Late July is a family-owned business and its chips are organic and non-GMO.

TO BUY: $3.50 from Late July Organic Snacks

4. Lil’ Sprout

Sprouted Wheat Bagels

With organic whole-wheat berries and no added sugar, protein-rich Sprouted Wheat Bagels make for a satisfying breakfast.

TO BUY: 6 bagels: $3.50 from Alvarado Street Bakery

5. Glorious Grains

Organic Grains

Table-ready in 60 seconds, these pouches of tasty organic grains, legumes, vegetables, spices and herbs are nutrient-dense, ideal for a weekday lunch.

TO BUY: $4 from Made in Nature



7/30/2014

As the summer season winds down, harvest your herbal bounty and use its fresh leaves in a tasty vegan dip. This Creamy Herb Dip is simple to make—and difficult to stop eating! Filled with protein-rich cashews and the health wonder coconut oil, this raw vegan dip can be ready in under five minutes. Use a high-speed blender, food processor or immersion blender to mix, then serve as a dip with Mary’s Gone Crackers Curry Pretzels or another one of your favorite gluten-free pretzels or crackers. This recipe can also be used as a spread for rice cakes, toast, pita bread or flat bread for wraps. Best of all? It’s gluten-free!

This recipe comes courtesy Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Creamy Herb Dip 

Creamy Herb Dip Recipe

• 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 3 hours and drained
• 1/3 cup almond milk
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 1/2 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
• 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
• 1 tablespoon fresh chives
• 1 tablespoon fresh basil
• 1 garlic clove, peeled
• Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a high-speed blender, combine cashews, milk, lemon juice and vinegar until smooth.

2. Add coconut oil and blend. Then add herbs, salt and pepper, and pulse briefly.

3. Refrigerate for several hours or until set.


Mary’s Gone Crackers is committed to manufacturing the best-tasting, wheat-free and gluten-free baked goods using the highest quality, organically grown ingredients.



7/24/2014

Dhaniya, more commonly known as cilantro, is a very popular garnish in Chinese, Mexican and Indian cooking. Versatile and pungent, this culinary herb can temper the spice of sauces, salsas and dips. Use it in this green, gluten-free chutney dip. Chutney is like the Indian salsa, and makes a great accompaniment with many snacks and meals. Whip up this gluten-free dip for guests who can handle the spice, and serve with Mary’s Gone Crackers Curry Pretzels or another one of your favorite gluten-free crackers or pretzels. Alternatively, you can use this dip as a spread for sandwiches.

This recipe comes courtesy Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Dhaniya Chutney 

Dhaniya Chutney Recipe

• 1 bunch fresh cilantro
• 1/2 bunch fresh mint
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup chopped almonds
• 3 small, fresh hot chilies (such as jalapeño or serrano), stemmed and seeded
• 1 large clove garlic
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/4 cup water
• Salt, to taste

Place all ingredients in a high power blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. If too thick, add more water.


Mary’s Gone Crackers is committed to manufacturing the best-tasting, wheat-free and gluten-free baked goods using the highest quality, organically grown ingredients.



7/17/2014

If you’re looking for a sweet and salty snack, try this travel-savvy recipe. These Sweet and Salty Trail Mix Bars make a perfect snack by the pool or on a picnic in the summer. They even fit nicely in your backpack for long hikes. Filled with nutritious ingredients such as quinoa, sunflower seeds and yogurt, this light and crunchy—and a little nutty—recipe is a healthier alternative to prepackaged, high-sodium snacks. Best of all, it’s gluten-free!

This recipe comes courtesy Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Sweet Salty Trail Mix Bar 

Mary's Sweet and Salty Trail Mix Bar Recipe

• 1 3/4 cups chocolate chips, divided
• 1 1/2 cups Mary’s Gone Crackers Sea Salt Pretzels, broken into small pieces
• 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
• 1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
• 1/4 cup brown rice flour
• 1/4 cup almond flour
• 1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (or any plain vegan yogurt)
• 4 tablespoons palm oil
• 3/4 cup sunflower seed butter
• 1/2 cup palm sugar
• 1/3 cup honey (or brown rice syrup, or tapioca syrup)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with an organic nonstick cooking spray. In a double broiler, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and pour evenly into the pan to create a chocolate base.

3. In a large bowl, combine pretzel pieces, quinoa flakes, cranberries, sunflower seeds, almonds, brown rice flour, almond flour and yogurt. Set aside.

4. Melt palm oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sunflower seed butter, palm sugar, honey and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

5. Pour palm mixture into the dry pretzel mixture and stir quickly to thoroughly coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan and press firmly and evenly. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.

6. After baking, immediately sprinkle toasted coconut flakes over bars. Melt remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate and drizzle over bars. Let the bars cool completely in pan on a wire rack in the refrigerator before cutting into bars. Keep bars in the refrigerator as they contain yogurt. Makes 35 to 45 bars.


Mary’s Gone Crackers is committed to manufacturing the best-tasting, wheat-free and gluten-free baked goods using the highest quality, organically grown ingredients.



7/11/2014

Am I alone in saying that family meals sometimes require several different versions of the same dish or a couple completely different dishes altogether? I think not.

That goes for just about everything. I’m sure everyone has had to prepare eggs at least three different ways for one breakfast at one point in their life. Or, make four different turkey sandwiches for one picnic. People like what they like. As a self-proclaimed “Super Mom”, I like to please them all.

Personally, I follow a mostly gluten-free diet. I still love traditional foods, but I currently love finding new ways to make the classics with gluten-free ingredients. My husband is not gluten-free and doesn’t really care to join me on this wagon. Almost daily, I make my Husband and I different versions of the same dish. For example: when making his all-time favorite Chicken Pot Pie, I make a version for myself with gluten-free biscuits and added greens. I do the same when baking or packing lunches.

The other day, I noticed I had a whole bunch of overripe bananas. As they say, “when life hands you spotted bananas, make banana bread!” Keeping with the trend, hubby gets traditional banana bread and I make a gluten-free and extra-nutritious version for myself. Here are my favorite recipes that I’ve created for both.

Banana Bread
Photo by Malorie Davis

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe with Blueberries

• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (or coconut oil)
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/4 cup coconut flour
• 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 mashed bananas
• 2 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease a loaf pan with butter or coconut oil.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, maple syrup, bananas and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and flaxseed meal by stirring with a fork.

5. Combine the two mixtures and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Fold in the blueberries.

6. Bake for 50 minutes or until the center is cooked through and tested with a toothpick.

Traditional Banana Bread Recipe with Walnuts

• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 3 1/2 extra-ripe bananas, mashed
• 2 cups all purpose flour (can sub whole wheat)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease two loaf pans with butter or coconut oil. I used muffin pans and paper liners here.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas until thoroughly combined.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg by stirring with a fork.

5. Combine the two mixtures and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Fold in the walnuts.

6. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the center is cooked through and tested with a toothpick. If baking muffins, bake for 25 minutes.


Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.



6/25/2014

Granola bars serve as the perfect on-the-go snack. And the options are endless: crunchy, chewy, chocolate, peanut butter, nuts…the list goes on. These yummy bars may seem to be healthy, but many conventional granola bars are loaded with added sugars and preservatives and the worst offender of all: high-fructose corn syrup. Steer clear of the bad guys and instead reach for one of these taste-tested and ingredient-approved healthy granola bars.

Granola Bars

Simple Squares Organic Snack Bar: Sage

With subtle hints of sage, this savory snack bar combines sweet honey with earthy elements. Simple Squares uses only five simple ingredients: nuts, honey, vanilla, sea salt and herbs. They are USDA certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. 1 bar, $2.49

Cascadian Farm Organic: Crunchy Peanut Butter

Perfectly toasted oats and creamy peanut butter pair well in these crunchy granola bars from Cascadian Farm Organic. They are free of artificial flavors and preservatives and made with certified organic ingredients. Box of 10, $4Editors Pick

Bobo’s Oat Bars: Original

Gooey and subtly sweet, these granola bars are a treat. Bobo’s Oat Bars are made with non-GMO, natural and organic ingredients and they are Kosher certified. 1 bar, $2.79

Annie’s Homegrown: Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookie

Made from gluten-free toasted whole grain oats and cinnamon, Annie’s Homegrown Oatmeal Cookie chewy granola bar tastes more like a cookie than the healthy snack bar it disguises as. You won’t find any artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives in these bars, just plain goodness. Box of 5, $4.69

Kashi: Chocolate, Almond & Sea Salt with Chia

These chewy, flavorful granola bars boast a perfect sweet and salty combination. Made with whole grains and nutritional chia seeds and sans high-fructose corn syrup, Kashi Chocolate Almond and Sea Salt is pure enjoyment. Box of 6, $4


Victoria Pitcher is Web Editor at Mother Earth Living. Find her on .



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