Archive for October, 2012

Honey Melt® Grain-Free, Gluten-Free Ginger Snap Cookies

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

These addictive Honey Melt® Ginger Snaps are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. Made with almond flour, these cookies are surprisingly high in protein and packed with minerals. While I made these cookies soft and chewy, you can also make them crispy by pressing them into flatter shapes and baking for longer times.

Ingredients:
1½ cups almond flour
2 T Honey Melt®, softened
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 T blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of fine sea salt
Little bit of water, if needed

Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until a thick batter is formed. Chill the batter for at least 30 minutes to make sure it’s nice and firm before scooping.

Preheat the oven to 350F and drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat, or parchment paper. Use a wet fork to flatten each dough mound into your desired cookie thickness.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until firm around the edges, but still soft in the center. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Holiday Honey Melt Sugar Cookies

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Sugar Cookies are a sweet and tender cookie with wonderfully crisp edges. Because of the light amount of vanilla and cinnamon, Honey Melt® is a perfect addition to any Sugar Cookie recipe for the holiday season. These cookies are delicious dressed simply with a sprinkling of colored sugar or frosted with Melt Organic® icing.

Ingredients for Cookies:
1 cup Honey Melt®
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
2½ cups flour

Ingredients for Frosting:

¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Melt Organic®
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
(Combine, beat until smooth, add coloring as desired.)

Directions:
Cream Honey Melt, sugar, and powdered sugar. Beat in egg.

Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Mix well.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Roll out on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Watch closely as they can burn easily.

Cool. Spread generously with frosting.

7 Things You Need to Know About Pesticides in Your Food

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

By any measure, organic foods are entering the mainstream American diet – and with good reason. Organic foods are grown without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, artificial hormones, or genetic engineering. They depend on cultivating healthy soil to grow healthy plants to produce healthy animals.

Headlines referencing a scientific review from Stanford University recently trumpeted that organic isn’t worth extra money. That same review also found a five-fold difference in pesticides and a three-fold difference in multi-drug resistant bacteria (plus significantly higher healthy omega-3 fats in organic food). The review didn’t even look at differences related to the use of artificial hormones or genetic engineering – or of artificial colorings, preservatives, and sweeteners in processed foods.

Perhaps you have seen Genetic Roulette, the documentary on the very real dangers of Genetically Modifed Organisms (GMOs)? It’s quite illuminating and if you haven’t watched it yet, you should – the alarmingly serious effects of eating Roundup-ready crops are discussed at length as well as the trend for increasing amounts of pesticides used on GM crops. It’s free to watch until the end of October.

NUTRIENTS
Organic foods have higher levels of nutrients and phytochemicals generally by 5 to 15%, and in some cases 30% or even 100% higher levels than conventional produce.

In the recent Stanford University review, which claimed that organic produce isn’t more nutritious than conventional, only half the studies compared the same varieties of fruits and vegetables grown in similar locations, which is the ideal way to conduct nutrient comparisons.

Organically grown plants have more beneficial compounds than conventional produce because of two key factors: the stronger natural defenses of organic plants, and a dilution effect in conventional plants from using nitrogen.

Organic food is less likely to cause food poisoning. Both organic and conventional foods can be a source of food poisoning out¬breaks. However, in an organic system, there’s a much higher level of microbial biodiversity with more naturally beneficial microbes in the system and soil. The biologically rich community of organisms that naturally occur either out-competes the pathogens or uses them for lunch. Pesticide use in conventional agricul¬ture reduces microbial biodiversity, both in the soil and on the surfaces of the plant, which allow pathogens to flourish; in addition, pathogens feed on nitrogen so it’s a vicious cycle that drives up pathogen levels.

PESTICIDES
Organic foods are nearly pesticide-free. Although organic foods are grown without using synthetic pesticides, they can pick up traces blown in the air from conventional farms or from water or packing materials in processing plants. The Dietary Risk Index (DRI) shown in the chart below measures pesticide residues found in conventional versus organic produce and shows that people get what they pay for.

Imports present the greatest risk to pesticide exposure in produce. Approximately 80% of the risk of pesticide exposure from food is from imports and only about 20% is from domestically grown food. Today, the highest-risk fresh fruits and vegetables almost across the board are imported. Americans are exposed to these mostly from December through April. This does NOT include pesticide exposure from pesticide-producing proteins present in GMO corn and GMO soy.

The recent Stanford University review found conventional produce is more than five times more likely than organic produce to have any pesticide residue. The study didn’t go a step further and consider that when pesticides are found on conventional produce, the pesticides are often more toxic, present at higher levels, and come as mixtures of different chemicals. The study also didn’t include the large body of literature about the toxic effects of some of these pesticides.

GMO crops have led to dramatic increases in overall uses of herbicides and pesticides. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe shows genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011. The crops were initially a hit with farmers who found they could easily kill weed populations without damaging their crops. But in recent years, more than two dozen weed species have become resistant to Roundup’s chief ingredient glyphosate, causing farmers to use increasing amounts both of glyphosate and other weedkilling chemicals to try to control the so-called ”superweeds.”

Today’s children, from infancy up to age 5, in the US have lost more than 16 million IQ points from exposure to organophosphate pesticides, according to another recent analysis. They’re exposed to these pesticides almost entirely through our food supply.

Today, almost all of us carry synthetic pesticides in our blood – pesticides that get there through our food. This is true even in babies at the moment of birth. A study with the Environmental Working Group analyzed umbilical cord blood – and found pesticides in every baby tested. To be more specific, 21 different synthetic pesticides were present in babies’ blood. We still have much to learn about their health effects, but higher levels of exposure have been linked to lower IQ, memory problems, developmental problems, and ADHD.

Choosing organic food can drop a child’s organophosphate pesticide exposure almost overnight. In another study, suburban Seattle children had their urine tested multiple times for evidence of organophosphate pesticides; it was present in all samples, suggesting exposure above what the EPA set as a safe level. Then the children were switched to mostly organic food where the pesticides disappeared. They were virtually undetectable in morning and evening urine samples for five days. Then the children were switched back to their typical suburban diet and the levels found in their urine shot back up.

CONCLUSION
Choosing organic – and non-GMO – is a choice for decreasing toxic pesticides in our air, water, and farms – as well as on our plates and in our children. Every bite of food is an investment in our bodies or a debt that will be repaid later. Good food – organic food – is a nutritious – and certainly more delicious – investment in the future of your family.

 

Nutrition Action Letter. October, 2012. Going Organic: What’s the payoff?.

Benbrook, C. 2012. Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. the first sixteen years. Environmental Sciences Europe 24:24.

Greene, A. October, 2012. Why Going Organic Matters For Your Family.

Dulce de Leche Bat Cookies

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Who doesn’t love Halloween? We all have many memories of choosing our costumes, riding sugar highs, and counting candy booty at the end of a hard night’s trick-or-treating. For your next Halloween party or simply to get yourself in the mood, this week’s blog includes a recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living with Melt® Organic Dulce de Leche Bat Cookies – crisp chocolate cookie sandwiches with a devilishly delicious caramel center. This batch makes 18 cookies and you will need an aspic cutter set to make the bat shape.

Ingredients

¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons Melt® Organic
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dulce de leche (igourmet.com or make your own)

Directions

Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Beat Melt® Organic and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.

Beat in egg, yolk, chocolate, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 36 rounds with a 2-inch cutter, and space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Using an aspic cutter set, cut a triangle, point side up, in the center of half the cookies, and then use the half-moon cutter to make one “wing” on each side of the triangle. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake until set, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool. Top each uncut cookie with 1 teaspoon dulce de leche and a cutout cookie.

Melt® Organic Lemon Curd

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I have few food weaknesses, but Lemon Curd is one of them. If someone asked me what the best summer of my life tastes like, I would say it tastes like this recipe of Melt® Organic Lemon Curd. Think of it as sunshine on a spoon. Lemon Curd is a sublimely rich and intensely lemony concoction not unlike the filling in a really good lemon meringue pie, but better. The English savor Lemon Curd eaten on scones and crumpets. I am quite happy eating Lemon Curd unadorned on a spoon. You can also combine Lemon Curd with custard or cream cheese frosting to fill a cake. While this recipe is certainly NOT sugar-free, we all deserve a break and this might be my favorite. This recipe is adapted from Holly Bower’s amazing cookbook, “With Love and Butter”.

Ingredients:
5 organic egg yolks
½ cup organic cane sugar
2-3 large lemons (producing ½ cup juice)
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup Melt Organic
Pinch of salt

Note: Store under refrigeration

Stir the egg yolks and sugar together in the top of a double boiler. Zest one of the lemons and toss the zest into the yolk mixture. Cut lemons in half, juice them, and add the juice to the yolk mixture. Stir well. I don’t have a double boiler, so I used a Pyrex mixing bowl over a soup pot with 2-3 inches between the bottom of the bowl and the boiling water.

Add the Melt Organic and pinch of salt and bring the double boiler to a boil, stirring the mixture often and with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to keep the water at a steady simmer.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon like a custard sauce, but still pourable, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, detach the top of the double boiler, and let the Lemon Curd cool for 5 minutes.

Pour the hot Lemon Curd into a sterilized pint jar. Leave uncovered until cool, then screw down the lid and refrigerate. If it lasts that long, this Lemon Curd keeps up to 3 weeks and makes about 1 cup.

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