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Pinterest Contest: Your Ideal Week of Healthy Eating

As the harvesting season begins, we’ve been pinning some great food preservation techniques and recipes. From basic ferments to dehydrating, plus yummy recipes for all our comforting favorites, the possibilities are endless. Now, we’d love to see what inspires your table! 

Create a Pinterest board with your personal “Perfect Week of Healthy Meals” and fill it with pins of your go-to healthy recipes—or new ideas you want try as soon as possible—for a chance to win a prize package that includes some of our favorite kitchen tools, a cookbook full of new, healthy meal ideas and more. And don’t forget to check out everyone else’s boards to see our whole community’s favorite healthy meals!

healthy eating pinterest contest 

How to Enter:

1. Join Pinterest, if you haven’t already, and create a new board named “My Ideal Week of Healthy Eating.”

2. Fill your board with 14 to 21 pins of food and recipes (2 to 3 meals per day of the week), 5 of which must come from the Mother Earth Living website.

3. When you’ve finished, comment on this pin with a link to your board. We’ll choose a winner on November 1st!

The contest commences at 12:01:01 AM (ET) on September 19, 2017, and ends at 11:59:59 PM (ET) on October 31, 2017. All entries will be judged by the Mother Earth Living editors based on creativity, originality, and adherence to the rules. For the official rules and a list of the specific items included in the prize package, visit our Terms and Conditions page.

Prizes Include:

Mortier Pilon 5L Fermentation Crock – BPA-free and includes recipe booklet
Deluxe DIY Cheese Kit – Makes more than 30 batches
20 oz. Stainless Steel Mother Earth Living Tumbler – Keeps liquid hot for up to 5 hours and cold for 24 hours
Bee’s Wrap 3-Pack Assorted Sizes (S, M, L) – Reusable food storage that last up to a year
Almost Meatless: Recipes Better for Your Health and the Planet – 60 budget-friendly, easy-to-make recipes

Total Retail Value of all Prizes (not including shipping): $170

Best of luck to all our participants; now, head over to Pinterest and get to pinning!

10 Quick and Easy Back-to-School BBQ Recipes for the Whole Family

It’s hard to believe it, but summer is drawing to a close once again. Back-to-school sales are in every store, and kids are antsy to start checking much-needed items off their school supply lists. You’re also probably trying to find time to take the family to the pool one last time, or maybe hit the beach for a long weekend before the leaves start turning.

One thing that doesn’t have to end with summer is the joy of eating great meals with your family, especially those cooked on the grill. Eating food off the grill can extend well into autumn. As long as it’s warm enough outside, you can use your grill to make any food you like!

During this back-to-school season, try out some of these quick and easy recipes that are sure to become instant family favorites. You’ll spend less time planning for each meal and more time enjoying the last bit of warm weather summer has to offer.

fall family barbecue on patio
Photo by Adobe Stock/Monkey Business.

1. Hot Dogs on a Stick

Anyone who has young kids in the family knows hot dogs can be a lifesaver. You can fry them, boil them, microwave them or even grill them. To add a fun twist, grill your hot dogs with breadstick dough wrapped around them. When they’re skewered, they’ll make for a fun, easy-to-dip dinner with little cleanup.

2. Spicy Chicken Skewers

Hot dogs not your thing? Treat yourself and your family to some spicy skewered chicken. Your taste buds will go crazy for this recipe, and you can cool off the spice with a simple cucumber side salad. Or, just put the cucumber slices on the skewers.

3. Smoky Sweet Potato Wedges

A recent food fad had everyone buying their own fryers so they could deep-fry whatever was in their kitchen. To get that savory feel to your homemade fries without the grease, grill some potato wedges instead. Making a mix of sweet and regular potato wedges will make everyone happy, especially when they taste the kick from the pork rub seasoning that’s sprinkled on top. 

4. Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is another one of those foods that can be made a million different ways, so make sure you try grilling it, too. The vegetable will cook fast and have a warm, crunchy taste that’ll leave your family coming back for seconds. And, to make it even better, this recipe has Parmesan cheese as a topping.

5. Cheerwine Ribs

Do your kids know you as the parent who limits soda in the house? Surprise them with some Cheerwine ribs fresh off the grill. The tangy sweetness of the barbecue sauce, mixed with the sugary goodness of the Cheerwine, will make even the pickiest eater happy. Just make sure you have an oven handy for part of this recipe.

6. Double Chocolate S’mores

When it comes to raising a family, the food goal is always to try to serve the healthiest meals you can. That doesn’t always mean dessert isn’t an option! After eating some ribs or chicken skewers, have the kids grab some marshmallow sticks and grill up some double chocolate s’mores. By using chocolate graham crackers and Nutella, everyone’s chocolate cravings will be satisfied in minutes.

7. Miso-Glazed Chicken Burgers

For those moments when you find yourself craving some takeout, you don’t have to skip the grill and dish out your cash. Instead, bring the takeout flavor to your backyard by glazing chicken burgers with miso. It’ll only take a couple of minutes to grill these patties, which will go great alongside a cucumber salad.

8. Flattened Chicken and Grilled Romaine

Maybe you’re looking for something wildly different to throw on the grill. Chances are, you haven’t grilled a whole chicken or a head of lettuce before. This recipe only requires a few ingredients to make a complete meal, so don’t be intimidated! Grab a chicken on sale at your local grocery store and try it out.

9. Grilled Caesar Salad

When you picture yourself grilling foods, salad probably isn’t what comes to mind, but it’s a quick way to make a lot of food in one go! Grill up some Romaine hearts and put all the ingredients in a baguette. You can even toast the bread to give the entire dish a crispy bite.

10. Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Corn on the Cob

Say goodbye to summer with one of the most beloved summer foods of all: corn on the cob. Most of the time, you’ve probably made corn on the cob by shucking and boiling the corn you get from the store or a local farmer, but you should really try grilled corn. Make corn on the cob a complete meal for your family by wrapping each ear in bacon and letting them cook together. Top with some barbecue sauce and serve alongside a chicken or steak salad.

When summer ends, you have to say goodbye to some things you love and replace them with school carpooling, homework routines and busy extracurricular schedules that may leave you feeling like there’s no time left in the day. However, you don’t have to shake up your entire summer routine just because the weather’s changing.

Your grill can keep churning out dinners for as long as the weather’s warm enough for you to stand outside. When your family sits down and wonders what’s for dinner next, you can tell them they’ll get to enjoy their favorite summer grill recipe again, or a new warm dish for fall. Ultimately, there’s always a way to please your family when you’ve got a grill to use, so don’t feel confined to a single crockpot or the stove.

When you and your family all sit down together for dinner, get suggestions from them about their favorite grilled meals. They’ll love that they don’t have to say goodbye to the grill so soon, and you’ll love the happy memories that come from tasty food and full bellies.

5 Tips for Healthy Eating on Summer Vacation

A summer getaway is time to relax, re-energize, see new sites and try new things—including food. But if you’re trying to control your weight, your holiday plans might make you anxious.

It can be easy to put your diet on vacation too, especially if you’re unable to plan your own meals. After all, what difference will a couple of weeks of overindulging make on the bathroom scale, right? For some people, a lot.

But you don’t need to you deprive yourself during your summer holiday.

Whether you’re planning a road trip, sightseeing in Europe, or spending time at the lake, the following five strategies will help you eat healthfully on vacation—without passing up special foods and summer treats.

Stick to a schedule. On vacation, it’s easy to lose your usual routine by sleeping in, snacking more often and eating meals at irregular intervals. But if you stick to a regular eating schedule, you won’t become overly hungry and you’ll be less tempted to eat high-calorie snacks between meals.

Eat every three hours—three meals plus one or two snacks—to keep your energy level stable and hunger at bay.

Be prepared. If traveling by plane, train or car, be prepared with healthy foods so you won’t have to buy whatever is available. Pack portable snacks such as fruit (fresh or dried), whole food energy bars, and homemade trail mix.

On a road trip, pack a cooler with raw vegetables and hummus, yogurt, healthy sandwiches and plenty of water to stay hydrated. If possible, visit a local grocery store to restock your cooler with daily snacks and lunches.

enjoying restaurant meal
Photo by Adobe Stock/abelena.

Order wisely. When at home you know exactly what you’re eating, but in restaurants you usually don’t have a clue. Not surprisingly, research suggests that the more often we eat out, the higher our daily intake of calories, fat and sodium.

Consuming extra calories on one given day won’t make you gain weight, but doing so for two weeks straight won’t do your waistline any favours.

If you will be eating most of your meals in restaurants, order simply prepared foods, such as baked, broiled or grilled meat, chicken and seafood with vegetables. Ask for sauces and condiments to be served on the side. Share an entrée or order two appetizers.

Limit liquid calories. Sipping on a cooler or marguerita won’t break your diet, but if you drink a few each day you’ll do more than weaken your resolve to eat healthfully. Consider that one vodka cooler can add as many as 350 calories and 8 teaspoons worth of sugar to your diet.

Summer cocktails that are easier on the waistline include light coolers (80 to 110 calories), light beer (95 calories), wine spritzers (50 to 75 calories) and cocktails made with calorie-free mix (70 calories). Non-alcoholic options include unsweetened iced tea and soda water with a splash of fruit juice.

Indulge, don’t overindulge. When it comes to splurging on treats, moderation is the key. Every city has unique foods and treats you shouldn’t pass up. Preventing holiday weight gain is about how much you eat, not what.

Your best strategy: Allow yourself one treat per day. If it’s only a taste you want, enjoy a small portion. There’s no rule that you have to finish it all.

Plant-Based Diets 101

You may have heard a friend or family member say they’ve experienced an improved sense of overall well-being since opting for a plant-based diet. As they tout benefits like increased energy, clearer minds and better sleep, you’ve probably wondered: is there any truth behind these claims?

In contrast to years past, medical professionals are beginning to recommend reducing the amount of meat and upping fruits and vegetables in your diet to promote better health. According to US News, these diets can help prevent chronic disease, lower blood pressure and decreased risk of heart disease. In addition to these long-term health benefits, you can reap immediate rewards in the form of clearer, healthier skin and weight loss, if needed.

Now that plant-based diets are growing in popularity and have been doctor-approved, where do you begin? We’ve outlined a few of the most common plant-based diets and tried to debunk some negative assumptions.

fresh fruits and vegetables in store
Photo by Adobe Stock/Mat Hayward.

4 Popular Plant-Based Diets

Vegetarianism

Following a vegetarian diet means eating no meat, including red meat, poultry or fish and seafood, and avoiding food products that contain by-products from these sources, such as lard. While that may sound very much like a vegan diet, they are a bit different.

Within itself, vegetarianism has two forms—lacto-ovo and lacto. Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat, yet continue to include dairy products and eggs, which are commonly considered by-products. Lacto vegetarians go even further by excluding eggs, but still incorporating dairy into their diets.

Try these vegetarian recipes:
“Pulled Pork” Sandwich
Roasted Chickpea Tacos
3 Vegetarian Breakfast Recipes

Veganism

Vegans exclude all animal products and by-products from their diet, as well as all other areas of life. Although strict vegetarianism—the description above—does sound like veganism, someone following this diet doesn’t necessarily avoid non-food products that may contain animal by-products, such as clothing and personal care products. Veganism, while a dietary choice, tends to be much more of a lifestyle than vegetarianism.

Try these vegan recipes:
Plant-Based Pudding Parfait
Vegan Ratatouille
Thai Spring Rolls

Other –tarian Diets

In recent years, pesco-vegetarianism and semi-vegetarianism have become quite popular. Rebranding with much easier and useful names, we now know these dieters as pescatarians and flexitarians, respectively. Neither diet is fully plant-based, however, both limit the amount, and possibly the types, of meat eaten.

Learn more about these diets in Discover Your Nutritional Style and Save Money on Meat.

variety of legumes and beans
Photo by Adobe Stock/haveseen.

Common Misconceptions

Plant-based diets are too expensive. Many people think that choosing a plant-based diet will result in higher grocery bills or be impossible on a budget, but these diets actually tend to be cheaper. More and more stores offer non-meat products, such as tofu, and these specialty items can come with a “higher” price point. However, the cost of a block of tofu isn’t more than you’re likely pay for lunch meat.

It’s nutrient deficient. While this is certainly possible, most people adhering to a plant-based diet get all the vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients they need without ever having a deficiency.  With the exception of B12, which will need to be supplemented, choosing a whole-food, plant-based diet is perfectly safe and healthy.

Whether you want to avoid factory farms, prevent the risk of chronic disease or simply clean up your eating habits, plant-based diets are good for you and the environment.

Summer’s Bounty: 4 Fresh Fruits to Eat Now

Forget the bananas and oranges. Pass on the imported berries, too. At least for the next two months.

Now is the time of year we’re able to enjoy in-season, locally-grown fruit picked at its peak of ripeness, providing maximum flavour and nutrition.

If your diet lacks fruit, here are a few incentives to up your game. Eating more fruit has been tied to a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, may also help guard against Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of us could stand to eat more fruit. As a dietitian who evaluates people’s diets, I often find that fruit is a forgotten component in busy people’s diets.

Here are four in-season, nutrition powerhouses to include in your summer diet. But don’t wait. They won’t be around for long.

fresh summer fruit
Photo by Adobe Stock/pilipphoto.

Blackberries. Their dark colour signals their exceptionally high concentration of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants associated with heart health and improved cognitive function. They’re also a decent source of fibre (8 g per cup), bone-strengthening vitamin K, vitamin C and folate.

How to enjoy: Add fresh blackberries yogurt parfaits, toss them into leafy green salads or mix them (mashed or pureed) into a vinaigrette salad dressing.

Cantaloupe. This is one fruit you’ll want to include in your post workout snack. Thanks to its hefty water content—90 percent—cantaloupe helps hydrate the body.

It also delivers plenty of potassium, a mineral that gets sweated away during exercise. One cup of cantaloupe chunks provides 427 mg of potassium, equivalent to what’s found in a medium banana.

How to enjoy: Top fish and shrimp tacos with a salsa made with diced cantaloupe, minced onion and cilantro. Fill the cavity of half a cantaloupe with Greek yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Add balls of cantaloupe to a pitcher of water to infuse flavour.

Cherries. Dark sweet cherries are a good source of disease-fighting anthocyanins, providing roughly one-third of the amount found in blackberries. One cup of cherries with pits (about 17) also supplies 3 g of satiating fibre along with potassium, vitamin C and lutein, a phytochemical that protects our eyes from free radical damage.

How to enjoy: Eat them fresh out of your hand for dessert or a snack (the best!). Pit them (a cherry pitter works best) to add to fruit crumbles and berry pies. Freeze pitted cherries to blend later into smoothies or mix into muffin batter.

Watermelon. Made up of 91 percent water, watermelon helps quench your thirst on a hot summer day. Preliminary research, published in 2013, also suggests that watermelon can reduce post-exercise muscle soreness thanks to L-citrulline, an amino acid that’s used to relax blood vessels.

This quintessential summer fruit is also packed with lycopene, a phytochemical that’s studied for its potential role to protect against heart disease and certain cancers.

How to enjoy: Add diced watermelon to a spinach salad topped with crumbled feta cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. For a post workout drink, blend 2 to 3 cups of watermelon chunks until smooth (strain if desired).

The Science Behind Health-Food Trends: Bone Broth

Just in case it wasn’t clear, bone broth isn’t anything new: Chefs and cooks across the globe have been using otherwise wasted bits of vegetables, livestock and wild game to create nutritious broths for centuries. Yet, more modern claims about bone broth’s cure-all abilities, such as its anti-aging properties, seem far-fetched to scientists.

Although bone broth does contain gelatin and collagen, both of which are found in beauty supplements, there is currently little evidence to support the idea that bone broth will improve skin, hair and nail health. Paired with the numerous recipes for making bone broth, different types of bones used and various cooking methods, it’s hard to say with any certainty that all bone broths are created equal.

jars of homemade bone broth
Photo by Adobe Stock/casanisa.

As delicious and simple as these broths are to make, it appears that their healing properties may be limited. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worthy of being added to a well-balanced, wholesome diet. So, what can bone broth do for your health?

Support Healthy Immune Function

Bone broth—especially one made with chicken bones—may boost the immune system. A study published in Chest, found that participants with upper respiratory infections saw a reduction in inflammation after eating chicken soup.  Your grandma wasn’t feeding you an old-wives tale, after all.

Post-Workout Rehydration & Healing

The LA Lakers include bone broth as part of the team’s dietary plan. Why? The broth alone, or soups made using it, can rehydrate the body and replace sodium lost through exercise. The amino acids present in bone broth also aid in rebuilding muscle, which may improve the recovery time needed in-between workouts.

While bone broth certainly isn’t unhealthful, relying on it—or any health-food trend—to treat a litany of ailments is likely to leave you still looking for answers. The best way to enjoy the benefits of these foods is by creating a nutritious, well-balanced that includes them and to educate yourself on what they can truly help combat.

If you’d like to add bone broth to your diet, try this easy-to-make recipe as a base for soups or a cooking liquid for grains and beans.

Pinterest Inspiration: 4 St. Patrick’s Day Treats

Legend has it that wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day makes you invisible and allows you to bypass the leprechaun’s pinches. Green is also in Ireland’s tri-color flag and has been used in the flags of Irish revolutionaries throughout history; Ireland’s lush landscape is green; and many believe that St. Patrick utilized the (green) shamrock as a symbol of the holy trinity. All of these facts play a role in why green is the color of choice on this festive holiday.

In the US, the Chicago River is dyed green, as are many foods — from beer to eggs. Although the history behind green food isn’t as fun as we’ve made it, keep things light and continue the tradition with these simple St. Patrick’s Day treat recipes.

DIY shamrock shake

Homemade Shamrock Shake

Skip the trip to McDonald’s and save a little money. Make your own St. Patrick’s Day shake with this recipe. Sure, buying the beloved Shamrock Shake is easy, but making them at home guarantees quality ingredients. Plus, fresh mint is sure to add even more flavor than any syrup ever could. Via Wholefully.

lime bars

Lime Bars

If you’re a fan of lemon bars, lime bars will not disappoint. Their light green color makes them a great choice for St. Patrick’s Day, but they’re an equally yummy dessert throughout the year for citrus lovers. Via Yummy Healthy Easy.

mint chocolate chip baked doughnuts

Mint Chocolate Chip Doughnuts

Mint and chocolate pairs together so well! Topped with a chocolate glaze and sprinkled with chocolate chips, these baked doughnuts are less guilt-laden than deep fried versions. Fried doughnuts and other fried foods are usually made with partially hydrogenated oils which contain high levels of trans fats.  Via Sugar, Spice and Family Life.

green rice krispie treats

Lucky Charms Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie treats are easy-to-make and always taste good. This twist on the original recipe adds a little whimsy and St. Patrick’s Day charm to the classic dessert bar. Via Classy Clutter.