Archive for January, 2015

Melt® Organic Love

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Cygnia Rapp, Founder of MELT® Organic, met with Mackenzie of Seattle, WA who has been using Rich & Creamy MELT for over a year as a part of his family’s health goal to adopt a dairy-free diet.

Could you tell us a little bit about why you chose to replace butter with Rich & Creamy MELT Organic?

“My girlfriend is allergic to dairy, so it was because of her that I began examining the effects of consuming dairy on my health. When I was playing college-level soccer, I didn’t need to count calories or be as concerned about food quality. Since I am no longer in “full burn mode”, I soon realized that I need to be smarter about what I eat if I am going to maintain the health standard I am used to. Since I like the flavor of fat, I want “clean” fat in my diet and that’s how I found MELT. I have been reading about how fats are not to be demonized and we need good fat in order to be healthy.

I love cooking – and cooking for my girlfriend. Since I am not making two meals, I prefer to experiment with food everyone can eat, especially food made with MELT because it is cleanly produced. I like to include fat in nearly everything I eat, including grains and oatmeal because it seems easier to digest carbs and protein with a little bit of fat. I add MELT to my oatmeal. I also love cooking eggs in MELT. I prefer MELT over other butter replacements because I like how it melts into the pan and I love the flavor. I also love sautéing – I love pan-cooking.”

Have you noticed a difference in how you feel since you started using MELT?

“I wasn’t really getting what my girlfriend was going through, so when we switched to MELT (and went dairy-free), I noticed she didn’t have the stomach and abdominal pain that she had before. Now that I have reduced dairy in my diet, I realize that I have a slight sensitivity to dairy since I no longer experience gas and bloating.

Switching to MELT started me on a path where I became more health conscious about all of my food choices, not just what to replace butter with. I have also become more health conscious in all other areas of my life.”

What are your favorite ways to use MELT?

“MELT takes the cake for making pie crust in chicken pot pies. I searched for vegan crust recipes and found one using a different vegan spread, and used MELT instead because I love the flavor. I also love using MELT for cooking my eggs and spreading on sun-dried basil bread that’s unbelievable. The chicken pot pie was my first experience baking with MELT.”

Parting thoughts?

“Speaking with you has deepened my appreciation of this process finding a healthier way to live. My girlfriend and I feel isolated at times because of what we need or choose to eat – so does my sister. Being able to discuss food products that you and I have a shared interest in opens up the conversation and is affirming for continuing to explore, sift, and refine my food choices.

When I am traveling, I often feel like McDonald’s is my only choice for food even though it represents everything I don’t want to support. It is worth the effort finding cleanly-produced and healthier food choices because of the long-term benefits even if it requires a little more upfront effort.

My journey started with MELT and finding more products like it has been a kind of joy, especially when you’re walking down a path where you don’t really know what you are getting into. It is a process that I am more motivated to continue as I experience new products, witness my girlfriend’s improving health, and talk to people like you.”

Watchdog Research Group Files Legal Complaints Against 14 Factory Farms Claiming Organic Status

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

In what The Cornucopia Institute is alleging is one of the largest fraud investigations in the history of the organic food industry, the Wisconsin-based farm policy research group announced filing formal legal complaints against 14 industrial livestock operations producing milk, meat and eggs being marketed, allegedly illegally, as organic.

Cornucopia contends that industrial-scale livestock farming illegally claiming organic status 1) undercuts ethical farmers and competitors that comply with federal organic law; and 2) takes advantage of consumers in the marketplace who assume that the animals producing their organic-certified food are being treated respectfully, and consequently result in higher food quality. Peer-reviewed published research indicates clear nutritional advantages in consuming milk and meat from cattle that are grazed on fresh grass, including elevated levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs and chickens from birds that are allowed (as the law requires)to engage in their instinctive behaviors as omnivores in foraging on grass and insects, produce eggs that are coveted as being more nutritious and more flavorful.

The family-scale farmers who helped commercialize the organic food movement in the 1980s did so, in part, because agribusiness consolidation and control of the food supply were squeezing profit margins and forcing farmers off their land. Consumers enthusiastically made organics a rapidly growing market sector by supporting farmers and processors willing to produce food to a different standard in terms of environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry, and economic fairness for farmers. “The inaction by the USDA places thousands of ethical family-scale farmers, who are competing with a couple of dozen giant dairies, at a competitive disadvantage,” said Kevin Engelbert, a New York-based dairyman, milking 140 cows who, along with his family, was the first certified organic dairy producer in the U.S.

There is nothing in the federal organic standards pertaining to the size of any given operation.

“The organic standards are scale-neutral,” said Kastel. “However, if properly enforced the standards are scale-limiting. At some point the magnitude of these operations becomes preposterous because their practical ability to meet minimum organic and humane livestock standards becomes impossible.”

Engelbert, who also previously served on the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), stated, “When serving on the NOSB, I was always reminded that the recommendations we made to the National Organic Program (NOP) had to be scale-neutral. I would like to see the Organic Food Production Act enforced on a scale-neutral basis as well.”

Without enforcement of NOP law, many traditional organic dairy farmers are in financial stress, with some selling their cows and exiting the industry. “Allowing these illegal dairies to continue to operate is a travesty and significantly undercuts the supply-demand dynamic that should be rewarding farmers in the marketplace and providing a decent living for our families,” Engelbert added.

In what Cornucopia claims has been years of inaction by the USDA, Cornucopia contracted for aerial photography in nine states over an eight-month period from West Texas to New York and Maryland. Consistent with earlier site visits, aerial photography confirmed a systemic pattern of corporate agribusiness operating industrial-scale confinement livestock facilities without legitimate grazing or access to the outdoors, as required by federal organic regulations. Cornucopia has filed formal legal complaints on the following industrial livestock operations with hyperlinks to the actual complaints and aerial photography:

Aurora Coldwater

Aurora Dublin

Burns Poultry (Herbruck’s)

Bushman Farms (Organic Valley)

Delta Egg Farm

Green Meadow (Herbruck’s)

Hilltop LLC – Boehning Dairy

Horizon Dairy (WhiteWave)

Idalou Egg Ranch

Kreher’s

Natural Prairie

Raymond Facility

Redland Dairy

Smart Chicken

In the chicken industry, the USDA allows corporate agribusiness to confine as many as 100,000 laying hens in a building, sometimes exceeding 1 million birds on a “farm,” and substituting a tiny screened porch for true access to the outdoors. The loophole, “porched-poultry,” was first allowed in 2002 when the NOP director overruled organic certifiers and allowed The Country Hen, a Massachusetts egg producer, to confine tens of thousands of birds in a barn with an attached porch that might, at best, hold 5% of the birds in the main building. “Quite frankly, even if Miles McEvoy, who currently directs the NOP, believes that a porch, with a floor, ceiling and screened walls, constitutes ‘the outdoors,’ and only 5% of the birds have access or can fit in that space, then 95% of the others are being illegally confined,” Cornucopia’s Kastel stated.

Beginning in 2004, Cornucopia filed their first legal complaints against these industrial operations with varying degrees of success. As a result, the largest dairy supplying the Horizon label (now controlled by WhiteWave Foods) was decertified, and the USDA placed sanctions against Aurora Dairy. Both WhiteWave and Aurora are still being investigated by the USDA for improprieties.

However by 2014, Cornucopia contends the USDA responds very slowly, if at all, to similar complaints undercutting ethical farmers and competitors that comply with federal organic law.

While the potential for large-scale fraud in the organic food industry is disillusioning, here’s what you can do as a consumer of organic products:

Support your local organic dairies, ranches, and egg and poultry farms. Neighborhood health food stores have advantages over large supermarket chains in their ability to carry milk products, poultry, eggs, and even meat from locally vetted sources. When your sources of dairy, meat, poultry, and eggs are local, it is easy to call the farm, or even better, arrange a visit with your kids to confirm the conditions the animals are kept in and the quality of their feed. Being connected to the source of one’s food has a satisfaction and gratitude that is impossible to have any other way.

Trust your senses. Your sense of sight, smell, and taste will confirm the quality of organic meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs, particularly after you have become accustomed to high quality food. If you have ever seen venison – wild deer or elk meat – then you will remember the lean, deep red color of the flesh, like a bold cabernet sauvignon. Truly grass-fed beef has a similar color and leanness. Only grazing on grass and sagebrush produces that leanness and color, which absolutely translates to the flavor of the meat. Anyone who has subsisted on venison or grass-fed beef for a year and then reverted back to conventional, store-bought beef can attest to “tasting” the corn and soy fed to conventionally farmed cows, elk, or buffalo.  Pastured hens lay eggs with a deep orange-colored yolk, yet the vast majority of eggs on the market have yolks that are pale yellow in color. That deep orange color is a testament to the chicken’s natural outdoor diet that includes bugs and therefore has higher levels of Omega 3s and vitamin A.

Rule of thumb: the lighter the color of the meat, egg yolks, butter, etc., the lower the quality of the animal’s diet and probably quality of life.

When you find sources of organic food you trust and love, then support them. As an example, I am a devout customer of Redwood Hill Farm and particularly their plain goat milk kefir. Far from “reasonably priced” at around $7 per quart, I love how their kefir makes me feel when I drink it, how they treat their animals, and the very high quality of their products. Because it is not cheap, I have to budget accordingly, but the goat milk kefir is a staple in our house and I love supporting that farm. I am not affiliated personally or professionally with Redwood Hill Farm and have nothing to gain by discussing this food company. I just love them and enjoy supporting them while supporting my health at the same time!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

This gluten-free Stuffed Bell Peppers recipe is a favorite in our house during the depths of winter: cozy, delicious, satisfying. Stuffed Bell Peppers shine as a side dish for a dinner party or can be eaten as a simple, filling supper. This recipe is adapted from Chef John’s Stuffed Peppers. Depending on the size of the green bell peppers, this recipe makes at between 8 and 10 servings.

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Ingredients

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

1½ cups water

1 onion, diced

2 Tablespoons of MELT® Organic

2 cups Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce

1 cup beef bone broth

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb lean ground beef

¼ lb hot Italian pork sausage (casing removed)

1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes

¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

4 large green bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

  • Bring rice and water to boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside the cooked rice.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Add the onions to a skillet, add the Melt and turn the heat on medium-low. Lightly sauté the onions until they begin to soften. Transfer half of the onions to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Add the marinara sauce, beef broth, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes into the skillet; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour the tomato sauce mixture into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish and set aside.
  • Combine ground beef, Italian sausage, diced tomatoes, Italian parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper into the large mixing bowl with the reserved onions; mix well.
  • Mix in the cooked rice and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  • Stuff the green bell pepper halves with the beef and sausage mixture.
  • Place the stuffed green bell pepper halves in the baking dish over the tomato sauce, cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove aluminum foil, sprinkle some extra Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top of the stuff peppers, and bake uncovered until the meat is no longer pink, the green peppers are tender, and the cheese is browned on top, an additional 20 to 25 minutes.
  • When serving, pour the tomato sauce over the peppers for added moisture and flavor!

What is the difference between Palm Fruit and Palm Kernel Oils?

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

frogWhile palm fruit and palm kernel oils have noteworthy differences, the most important question is how and where these oils are sourced.  The organic, non-GMO certified palm fruit oil we use in all MELT products is sourced from Columbia (South America) and certified Fair Trade/ Ecosocial by the RSPO and Rainforest Alliance (www.rspo.orgwww.rainforest-alliance.org).The palm fruit oil we source is not linked to the destruction of old growth rain forests, the release of greenhouse gases, the displacement of native people, or the extinction of orangutans or Sumatran tigers (which only live in Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia). Our certifications verify the palm plantations we source from are not developed by removing rain forests, but by converting pre-existing agricultural land to palm oil production. Because our supplier has several Fair Trade programs above and beyond the standards set forth by the RSPO, they are currently in the process of achieving Fair Trade certification by the end of 2015.

We often receive inquiries asking the difference between palm fruit and palm kernel oils, which we are happy to address. First, it is important to note that both palm fruit and palm kernel oils are better to consume than oxidized oils, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and other “bad” fats. We only use palm fruit oil in our products, not because palm kernel oil is “bad”, but because palm fruit oil contributes a better overall balance of fatty acids in MELT®’s Perfect Blend. The concept behind the Perfect Blend is balancing a variety of fatty acids in the diet for wellness.

Both palm fruit oil and palm kernel oil come from palm trees, but there the similarity ends.

Palm fruit oil comes from the palm fruit, the orange flesh that surrounds the palm seed. About 37 percent of palm fruit oil is monounsaturated fat, 50 percent is saturated fat, and 9 percent is polyunsaturated fat (see below). Unrefined, palm fruit oil’s reddish or golden color indicates the presence of carotenoids, which the body converts into vitamin A. Most importantly, palm fruit oil is high in tocotreinols, a form of vitamin E. We use palm fruit oil over palm kernel oil because of its monounsaturated fat content and high levels of Vitamin E.

Palm kernel oil is extracted from the palm seed and has a fatty acid composition that is almost identical to coconut oil (see below), high in medium-chain fatty acids (i.e., caprylic, capric, and lauric acids) and with a total saturated fat content of over 80 percent. For MELT Organic spreads, we use palm fruit oil over palm kernel oil for its monounsaturated fat content, which provides a better overall balance to the fatty acid composition of MELT Organic spreads.

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