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    Tips From Whole Foods Market To Help You Make 2016 Delicious

    Whether you are one who makes New Year’s Resolutions or not, Whole Foods Market can get your 2016 off to a tasty fresh start. Mine is to eat more greens and I love Whole Foods Market Fig Balsamic Dressing and their selection of fresh greens to make a variety of salads. Whole Foods Market offers […]

    Read More

    Tips From Whole Foods Market To Help You Make 2016 Delicious

  • chocolate chip cookies

    The Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie with Whole Foods Market Pantry Staples

    These Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies will have your friends begging for the recipe. I have to admit I love to bake and am a Whole Foods Market junkie.  I am thrilled to be working with them this month to share some of their baking tips, holiday time saving tips and my recipe for The […]

    Read More

    The Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie with Whole Foods Market Pantry Staples

  • quinoa stuffing7

    Create a Stress Free and Gluten Free Thanksgiving or Holiday Dinner with help from Whole Foods Market

    Whole Foods Market is helping me create a stress free, gluten free, egg free and dairy free Thanksgiving and Holiday Season. I’m sure the questions are crossing your mind as to Why I need a gluten, egg and dairy free Thanksgiving? How Can Whole Foods Market Help? Can it be done and still be delicious? […]

    Read More

    Create a Stress Free and Gluten Free Thanksgiving or Holiday Dinner with help from Whole Foods Market

IMG_8991

Tips From Whole Foods Market To Help You Make 2016 Delicious

Whether you are one who makes New Year’s Resolutions or not, Whole Foods Market can get your 2016 off to a tasty fresh start. Mine is to eat more greens and I love Whole Foods Market Fig Balsamic Dressing and their selection of fresh greens to make a variety of salads. Whole Foods Market offers […]

Read More
chocolate chip cookies

The Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie with Whole Foods Market Pantry Staples

These Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies will have your friends begging for the recipe. I have to admit I love to bake and am a Whole Foods Market junkie.  I am thrilled to be working with them this month to share some of their baking tips, holiday time saving tips and my recipe for The […]

Read More
quinoa stuffing7

Create a Stress Free and Gluten Free Thanksgiving or Holiday Dinner with help from Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is helping me create a stress free, gluten free, egg free and dairy free Thanksgiving and Holiday Season. I’m sure the questions are crossing your mind as to Why I need a gluten, egg and dairy free Thanksgiving? How Can Whole Foods Market Help? Can it be done and still be delicious? […]

Read More

Tips From Whole Foods Market To Help You Make 2016 Delicious

Whether you are one who makes New Year’s Resolutions or not, Whole Foods Market can get your 2016 off to a tasty fresh start.

Mine is to eat more greens and I love Whole Foods Market Fig Balsamic Dressing and their selection of fresh greens to make a variety of salads.

Whole Foods Fig Balsamic Dressing

Whole Foods Fig Balsamic Dressing

Whole Foods Market offers a variety of dressing to make any salad please your palate.

This dressing is the perfect accompaniment to my Roasted Butternut Squash Salad. This salad includes my maple glazed walnuts. These candied walnuts are made with just pure maple syrup with a sprinkle sea salt and taste as decadent as those higher calorie ones loaded with sugar!

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If you hosting a super bowl party, Whole Foods Market has everything you need to put on a great spread. Pick up some pre made salsas, guacamole and their addictive house made tortilla chips that are sure to please everybody without any of the work!

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If you are looking to be a little healthier and want to take a stab at the up and coming food trend of eating raw, Whole Foods Market website has a variety of recipes.

Below are some tips and recipes from Whole Foods Market to make your 2016 the tastiest it can be!

I’ve also included my Roasted Butternut Squash Salad recipe and wish to thank Whole Foods for supplying me with a gift card to purchase the ingredients.

The prepared foods in the produce section should include pre packaged butternut squash cut and ready to use.  Just open the package and toss with a little olive oil and salt and pepper then roast in oven.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

1 package pre washed spinach or greens of choice
1 pre cut package butternut squash
Goat cheese to taste
Maple Glazed Walnuts to taste
Red onion to taste
Dried cherries or cranberries to taste
Whole Foods Market Fig Balsamic dressing to taste

Toss pre cut squash with salt and pepper and olive oil. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Combine greens on a plate. Top with remaining ingredients. This should make two large entree salads or four side salads.

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Whole Foods Market tips, recipes and guide to make your 2016 delicious!

FRESH START FOODS:

Sometimes, the most daunting part about deciding to make a “fresh start” when it comes to food is knowing where to begin and what to shop for. Whole Foods Market makes is super easy, especially if you shop the store looking for our Start Healthy signs on foods we know are good tasting and good for you. Below are some other pointers on making that fresh start:

• EAT WHOLE FOODS – Keep an eye out for whole, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal, unrefined and unprocessed foods – at Whole Foods Market, our grocery department uses the above food attributes as the cornerstone of our offerings, making eating whole food effortless.

• HEALTHY FATS – Avocados, seeds and nuts are great sources of healthy fats and keep you full for hours.

• STOCK A HEALTHIER PANTRY – We know how easy it is to grab whatever you have at home to satisfy a snack craving. Make it a healthy no-brainer next time by keeping healthy, unprocessed foods at the ready. Start your year on a healthy path with these clean and delicious products, many of which are vegan and gluten-free! Please

These products are the top 10 new favorites.

1. 365 Everyday Value® Woven Wheats® Baked Crackers – Made with just whole wheat and salt!

2. 365 Everyday Value® Organic Pasta Sauce – Made with Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Organic Diced Tomatoes and no added sugar.

3. 365 Everyday Value® Sedona Sunset Fruit & Seed Mix Limited Edition – Sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, apple fruit drops.

4. 365 Everyday Value® Freeze Dried Fruits – Available in a variety of all-fruit flavors: Raspberries, Blueberries, Bananas, Granny Smith Apple, Mango, Strawberry, Pineapples

5. 365 Everyday Value® Organic Creamy Greek Yogurt Dressing – Found in the refrigerated section – not heat-treated. You may also like the following:
• 365 Everyday Value® Organic Creamy Caesar Dressing
• 365 Everyday Value® Organic Buttermilk Dressing
• 365 Everyday Value® Organic Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing
• 365 Everyday Value® Organic Sweet Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing
• 365 Everyday Value® Balsamic Vinaigrette

6. Whole Foods Market™ Organic 0% Plain Low-fat Greek Yogurt – No added flavoring.

7. 365 Everyday Value® Organic Quinoa with Vegetables – Organic white quinoa, zucchini, sweet potato and red quinoa. These are ready in a steamable bag within 5 minutes!

8. Engine 2 Plant-Strong® Organic Sprouted Ancient Grains Tortilla – Made solely from organic sprouted grains: Millet, Barley, Quinoa, Lentils and more. That means no flour!

9. Engine 2 Plant-Strong® Poblano Black Bean Burgers – Wholesome, non-GMO ingredients shine in these southwestern-style burgers that are gluten-free and free of cholesterol and saturated fats.

10. Engine 2 Plant-Strong® Traditional Hummus – Creamy and delicious, low-fat, low-sodium with no added oils!

RECIPES

Beet & Mint Slaw
Veggie & Tofu Scramble
Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing

RAW FOODS:

Eating raw means eating closer to nature – something we think we can all get behind in our region! Raw means foods that are both uncooked and unprocessed. Any while that might not sound too exciting, eating raw can be incredibly delicious while being well-balanced in nutrients.

Easy to find raw foods include organic fresh fruit and vegetables, sprouts, seeds and nuts, beans, dried fruit, fresh lettuce or seaweed, seasonings and natural sweeteners – this means almost endless possibilities when it comes to meal creation!

Below are some other tips on eating raw in 2016:

• EDUCATE YOURSELF – Being prepared and knowing what you’re looking for before you walk into the store will make eating raw easier. Better yet, ask any of the experts in Whole Foods Market and we’d be happy to show you around and help you pick out your best raw!

• EAT LOTS OF GREENS AND VEGGIES – Not only do greens and veggies contain the minerals your body needs, they also provide a great base for experimenting with recipes and meal planning when going raw

• LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE – If making a commitment to eat raw, do your body even better by making sure you get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and exercise daily. Living a healthy life in every sense of the word will make 2016 the best yet!

RECIPES:

Raw Vegetable ‘Pasta’ with Tomatoes and Herbs
Raw Berry Crisp
Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho

THINKING AHEAD TO BIG GAME:

With The Big Game happening on February 7th, let Whole Foods Market do the heavy lifting. As you gear up, remember you can be ready to host your fans in no time:

• PREPARED FOODS – From wings to salsas and house-made guacamoles infused with Sriracha, chiles and more, we’ve got you covered when it comes to “grab and go” game-day favorites in our Prepared Foods section.
• INSTACART – depending on where you live, Instacart’s delivery on demand is the ultimate in stress-free party hosting!

Below are some of our favorite game day recipes if you’re feeling a little bit more culinary:

RECIPES:

Killer Artichoke Dip
Herb Roasted Sweet Potato Skins
Roll Your Own Burritos
Black and Blue Veggie Nachos

The Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie with Whole Foods Market Pantry Staples

These Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies will have your friends begging for the recipe.

chocolate chip cookies

I have to admit I love to bake and am a Whole Foods Market junkie.  I am thrilled to be working with them this month to share some of their baking tips, holiday time saving tips and my recipe for The Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie.

This is the perfect time of year to stock up on Whole Foods Market Pantry Staples. The holidays mean a last minute scramble to whip up a meal or dessert for a holiday gathering or unannounced out-of-town guests. Having the Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value® pantry staples like flour, sugar, salt, butter, vanilla and eggs on hand also makes it easy for putting together DIY gift and making treats to give a s gifts or take to gatherings.

Whole food holiday essentials

My favorite homemade gift to give or treat to take or serve at a gathering is my Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies.

cookie gift

This makes 5 dozen medium sized cookies. The secret ingredient is French sea salt sprinkled on top of each cookie right before baking.  I have always gotten fluer de sel  sea salt in the bulk section at a local health food store close to where I used to live.

Fluer De Sel

The Whole Foods bulk section only had Sel Gris which comes from the same solar evaporation salt pans as fleur de sel but is harvested differently; it is allowed to come into contact with the bottom of the salt pan before being raked, hence its gray color.

Sel Gris

 

If you can’t find the French sea salt, any sea salt will work. If it is course, just crush it a bit while pinching your fingers as you sprinkle it over the top of the cookies. Adding the sea salt intensifies the salty sweet combination we all love!

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

4 sticks of butter

2 eggs

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 12 ounce packages of semi sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon French sea salt (reserved)

 

Heat oven to 375 degrees

In large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture a cup at time to the creamed butter mixture. Mix well after each addition of flour. Batter will be stiff after all the flour is added. Add chocolate chips and mix well.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using medium cookie scoop, place 12 cookies on baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with  a pinch of reserved sea salt.

chocolate chip cookies with sea salt

Bake 9-11 minutes.

Remove from oven and let set 5 minute before removing from cookie sheet.

chocolate chip cookies

Be sure to check out Whole Foods Market Top 10 Baking Tips here
Recipes:
· Classic Sugar Cookies
· Maple and Almond Butter Cookies
· Molasses Gingerbread Cookies
Top 10 Holiday Time Savers:

· Frozen Pie Crust – the crust is usually one of the hardest parts of pie assembly. Grab a pre-made crust so you can focus on the delicious filling and baking!
· Mirepoix & Pre-Cut Squash and Garlic – Mirepoix is the perfect “grab and go” item for your Crock Pot. And pre-cut squash and garlic will save you precious minuets of prep time in the kitchen
· Stuffing Bags – made-in-house stuffing bags from our bakery give you the taste of homemade stuffing without the time commitment.
· Frozen Rice in a Bag – makes rice cooking easy and worry-free, especially if you don’t have a rice cooker
· Frozen Rolls – fresh from the bakery department and frozen, so you can break these out and throw them in the oven when the dinner menu calls for rolls!
· Stuffed Cornish Game Hens – not only is all the work already done for you, but these hens are a wonderful alternative to turkey or ham for your holiday table
· Pre-made Appetizers – a wide variety of appetizers that are already plated and ready to serve can make attending a party while bringing something to share both easy and delicious
· Cocktail Shrimp Platters – again, ready to serve and be enjoyed!
· Instacart – depending on where you live, Instacart’s delivery on demand is the ultimate in stress-free shopping during the holidays
· Holiday Pre-order – shop online ahead of time and pre-order your turkey, side dishes, appetizers and even full heat-and-serve meals for pickup at your local Whole Foods market!IMG_3399

Whole Foods also has live trees and wreaths.  For every tree sold one gets planted! I also wish to thank Whole Foods Market for supplying me with a gift card to purchase the ingredients for the cookies.

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Create a Stress Free and Gluten Free Thanksgiving or Holiday Dinner with help from Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is helping me create a stress free, gluten free, egg free and dairy free Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.

Whole Foods Market

I’m sure the questions are crossing your mind as to Why I need a gluten, egg and dairy free Thanksgiving? How Can Whole Foods Market Help? Can it be done and still be delicious? What are you cooking? Do you have any recipes?

Keep reading to find out.

Why do I need it gluten, egg and dairy free?

My daughter has recently been diagnosed with some health issues and some food allergy testing indicates that eggs and dairy are giving her trouble and the doctor has recommended staying off gluten as well.

How can Whole Foods Market help?

Whole Foods Market will do the cooking for you this holiday season by preparing the entire feast or just a few sides. Whatever you need they have it, including dishes for alternative diets. They also have holiday appetizer and party platters as well as desserts. Need a Turkey? They have those too. Get pre-roasted, brined, uncooked or smoked! You can also get a variety of other cuts of meat including lamb, beef and more. There is also a selection of seafood available. Find a full list of options here.

For the recipes I’m preparing, Whole Foods Market carries vegetables and salads that are already washed and cut ready for use or roasting as well as pre roasted and cooked ingredients needed for my dishes.

Can it be done and still be delicious?

YES! The prepared foods are made with the all of the high quality products that are sold in the store and is a lifesaver at the moment. I have always tried to eat healthy but have never been forced to cook a certain way until now and Whole Food Market is saving Turkey Day!

I sampled the vegan mashed potatoes in the store and am going to order them for our Thanksgiving meal. They are creamy and delicious made with olive oil and coconut milk. I will also order the vegan pumpkin pie, which I have sampled as well. It is so good! I’m not sure the crust is gluten free but I am sure my daughter will have no trouble scooping out the middle.

What else are you cooking?

I have my 27 pound Diestel No GMO Turkey from Whole Foods thawing in the fridge as we speak! I will slather him up with my dairy free herb butter just before cooking. This butter is super simple to make and yummy to use as a spread for bread and rolls as well. Just make sure you make separate batches!

I have been inspired by Whole Foods Autumn Couscous and will be making my own version using quinoa, cranberries, pistachios, roasted butternut squash and a handful of the kale. This is going to be our stuffing alternative.

I’ll make gravy using gluten free flour and the broth from the turkey to go with those awesome Whole Foods Vegan Mashed Potatoes.

I make the best roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and dried cherries.

Do you have recipes?

Sure, I’ve included them below. Enjoy!

Whole Foods carries everything I need to make this holiday season healthy and stress free! I wish to thank Whole Foods for providing me with a gift card to purchase my dairy free, egg free and gluten free ingredients which makes me stress free! Thank you Whole Foods Market!

I would like to thank all of my readers as well and wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. Enjoy the recipes.

 

Herb Butter

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1/2 cup Earth Balance Olive Oil Spread
2-3 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well, then give your turkey a good rub down with it. I usually stuff the cavity of the bird with some fresh sage, thyme and rosemary along with a cut up orange, onion and a few garlic cloves. Bake turkey according to package directions and enjoy!

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Rosted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stuffing

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2 cups cooked quinoa
2 1/2 cups of roasted butternut squash chunks
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 cups chopped kale or fresh spinach
1/2 cup toasted pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

The prepared foods section at Whole Foods and salad bar should have pre cooked quinoa and butternut squash (you could also use sweet potatoes as they have those sometimes too) as well as chopped kale. You could also use fresh spinach. If cooked squash or sweet potatoes are unavailable the produce section should have either or sometimes both cut and ready for roasting. If all else fails you can peel, cut and roast your own.

If they don’t have cooked quinoa available, just grab a box and cook at home according to the package directions.

quinoa stuffing 1

Stuffing Preparation:
Add olive oil to skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and celery and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

quinoa stuffing2

Add vegetable or chicken stock. Let simmer 8-10 minutes until liquid is almost absorbed.
Add chopped kale and mix together until kale is slightly wilted.

quinoa stuffing3

In large bowl combine cooked quinoa, roasted butternut squash, vegetable mixture, toasted pistachios and dried cherries. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I like using Fisherman’s salt. It’s a new seasoning salt I have found that I have fallen in love with.

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Mix all ingredients together and place in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes

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If you wish to make this recipe ahead of time just assemble all ingredients, place in baking pan and refrigerate until ready use. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Yield: 6 1 cup servings

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts - Sharmin Meadows

1 1/2 lb Brussel sprouts cut in half (rinse before cutting and remove outer leaves if they look funky)
Handful chopped bacon, cooked (I just buy the pre-cooked bag)
Handful chopped almonds
Handful dried cherries
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Yield 6 servings

Combine sprouts, bacon, cherries and almonds. Toss with olive oil to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Place on shallow roasting pan and roast at 425 20-25 min. Take out halfway through cooking and toss around to get both sides roasted. If the sprouts don’t look like they are getting brown enough you can bump oven temp up to 450.

Yield: 6 servings

Crock Pot Beef Stew and Tips from Whole Foods Market

I’m kind of obsessed with the Whole Foods Market and shop their all time, so when the opportunity came about to work with Whole Foods Market, I jumped at the chance.

WFSharm

I will be sharing some recipes I’ve created using ingredients from Whole Foods along with some tips, tricks and specials provided by Whole Foods.  This months theme is Crock-Pot meals.

WFstew ingredients

Below is a recipe for Crock Pot Beef Stew using Whole Foods Beef Stew Meat from the meat case. These tender cuts of beef are already cut into bite size pieces for soups, stews and chili.

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The 365 Everyday Value brand of products makes it easy and affordable to get healthy ingredients for all of you dishes.

potatoes

For the stew I got the 365 Everyday baby carrots. We also love the Everyday 365 Multigrain Flatbread Crackers.

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These crackers are delicious and a perfect accompaniment to the stew. They are also great to use for entertaining by adding them to cheese trays and dips.

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This crock pot beef stew is perfect as the days start getting colder. Got a busy day ahead? This dish can even be made up the night before and stored in the fridge. Place in the crock pot on low in the morning and come home to a delicious home cooked meal.

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Using an onion soup mix helps add lots of flavor without the fuss and what I have always used in the this recipe, until I recently came across Fishermans salt. I found it at Gilbert Whitney on the Independence Square. It intrigued my interest so I thought I would give it a try. I love it! It is a great way to season soups and stews as well as meats and poultry. I actually don’t like fish so I can’t tell you how it tastes on that!

 

Crock Pot Beef Stew

1 lb Stew Meat from Whole Foods Meat Case
1 Bunch Celery, chopped
1 1lb Bag Everyday 365 Baby Carrots, cut into thirds
2 Medium Potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 Medium Onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons Fishermans Salt or Onion Soup Mix
2-3 Fresh Sprigs Rosemary, chopped
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 11.5 oz Cans V8 Juice or Tomato Juice

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Places stew meat, carrots, celery, potatoes and onion in crock pot.

Chop 2-3 sprigs of rosemary. Feel free to add more or less depending on taste.

Sprinkle chopped rosemary, onion soup mix or Fishermans salt over meat and vegetables.

Stir mixture.

Add vegetable stock and V8 or tomato Juice. For richer tomato flavor you can omit stock and use all tomato juice.

Place Crock Pot on Low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours

Serves 6

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Below are 5 tips for Slow Cooking Success from Whole Foods

· Go budget-friendly – ingredients like beans, whole grains, and spices available in Whole Foods Market’s bulk section, let you buy the exact amount you need and experiment with many products at once for a great price
· Trim the fat – too much fat left on meat will give you an unpleasant texture, and having to skim lots of fat at the end of cooking is not enjoyable
· Think ahead – keep “kits” of chopped fresh veggies and meats in the freezer. That way, you’ll be ready to toss these ingredients in the Crock Pot in the morning in no time at all, with dinner ready by the time you come home!
· Stay on Trend – save money while staying trending! Cheaper cuts of meat are all the rage at the top rated restaurants right now, and a crock-pot is the perfect tool to master these cuts at home. Thighs, beef chuck, brisket, shin, shoulders, oxtail; when cooked nice and slow these can be the most delicious bites.
· Sear First – don’t forget to sear your meat first. Browned meat taste better, and the slow cooker does not get hot enough to get that done. For optimal taste, sear first then slow cook to lock in the moisture. (Except when it comes to chicken)

Recipes:
· Slow Cooker Classic Pot Roast
· Slow Cooker Pork and Cider Stew
· Braised Beef Ribs

For more information on Whole Foods Market, additional recipes, weekly specials and locations visit the Whole Foods Market Website.

I wish to thank Whole Foods for graciously providing me a gift card to purchase the ingredients.

In Good Taste,

Sharm

Blythe Angus Ranch – Registered Angus Cattle in the Heart of Kansas

On a recent three day farm tour across Kansas that you can read about here, gave me the chance to visit Blythe Angus Ranch.

Debbie Lyons-Blythe

Debbie Lyons-Blythe

White City, Kansas is home to one of our own bloggers on the tour Debbie Lyons-Blythe. She owns Blythe Angus Ranch. Debbie writes the blog Kids, Cows and Grass where she shares the adventures of being a cattle rancher, recipes and a mom to five kids.

Debbie along with her husband Duane and family raise high quality registered Angus cattle on the same land that has been in Duane’s family sine 1890. Debbie and her family are passionate about sustainability and are committed to leaving the land better than when they found it.

The Global Roundtable of Sustainable Beef have guidelines in place that defines sustainability for the entire world and they are that the environment needs to be protected, the animals must be treated properly and there needs to be an economic increase.

Each continent or country can then form their own Roundtable group and Debbie and Duane are founding members of the United States Roundtable of Sustainable Beef and meet with all sorts of people in the cattle and beef industry.

Blythe Angus Ranch

Blythe Angus Ranch

By using these guidelines for the past 30 years the beef industry has decreased the carbon footprint of beef in a major way. To raise a pound of beef, the industry now uses 20% less feed, 30% less land and 14% water which adds up to an 18% decrease in the carbon footprint.

Debbie along with her mom, sister and very good friends hosted an amazing evening for us showing us the beautiful registered Angus cattle and feeding us dinner. It was truly an amazing experience to be so up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. It was truly a Grazing in the Prairie event that people pay big bucks for.

Debbie's Ranch

Sunset at Blythe Angus Ranch

Sunset at Blythe Angus Ranch

It is fascinating to hear Debbie talk about her passion for raising the best beef she can, the care and love she has for the cattle and the beauty of the prairie. We were lucky enough to catch a breathtaking sunset which gave us a taste of Debbie’s passion for this land and a beautiful way to end the day.

McCarty Family Farms – Supplying Fresh Milk for Dannon®

I recently had the chance to tour the McCarty Family Farms who supply fresh milk for Dannon Yogurt. This tour included some other farms in Kansas as well and you can read more about that here.

Located just a few miles from Colby you will find Rexford, Kansas which is home to the McCarty Family Farms, where we met Ken McCarty. He graciously shared the story of the his family farm which was started in 1914 by his Great Grandfather with eight cows in Pennsylvania.

McCarty Family Farms

McCarty Family Farms

Ken and his three brothers Clay, Mike and David are fourth generation dairymen who worked with their dad on the dairy farm in Pennsylvania. It came time to move the dairy if it was going to be profitable, so after searching throughout the Midwest, they settled in Rexford, Kansas in April of 2000.

They started milking 1200 cows which did not show much profit but plugged along eventually building another milking facility in Bird City, Kansas.

The McCarty’s big break came when they were approached in April of 2010 by Dannon Yogurt to produce milk for them. In order to do that the McCarty’s had to double their size and build a processing plant. They broke ground to build a new facility and had milk to Dannon in April 2012.

The McCarty’s now own four dairy’s with one in Beaver City, Nebraska and the others in Kansas including Scott City, Bird City and the processing plant/dairy in Rexford, where it processes all the milk from the 4 farms yielding about 650,000 pounds of raw milk a day. The farthest the milk travels to be processed is 80 miles which is milk from their Nebraska plant. There are about 140 employees between all the of the plants and business office which is located in Colby.

 

All the raw condensed skim milk goes to the Dannon plant in Dallas along with a portion of the heavy cream. The remaining cream is sent to the Daisy brand processing plant in Garland, Texas where it is made into sour cream.

McCarty Family Farms

McCarty Family Farms

If you check the bottom of your Dannon yogurt cup and it has plant number 48 stamped on it, most likely it is made from the McCarty’s milk which goes from the dairy to Dannon in 24 to 36 hours. I love eating local and knowing that a national brand I buy is using local milk from my home state makes me want to buy it even more!

All four dairies are certified by Validus, a major animal welfare firm that has very stringent guidelines on the care of dairy animals. They have also passed bio security audits, food safety audits and enviromental audits.

I was a bit concerned about going to a farm that produces milk for a major company thinking that the cows would be laying on top of one another covered with muck, but just as the case with the other farms on this tour this was totally not the true.

Newborn Calf at McCarty Family Farms Dairy

Newborn Calf at McCarty Family Farms Dairy

Spreading the cows over 4 dairies gives them the freedom to roam and the McCarty’s the space and resources to care properly for the cows. The baby calves are kept in separate pens to avoid being trampled, hurt or killed by any of the larger cows in the heard. Their spaces are kept clean and tidy with plenty of food and water. The larger cows are free to roam around in various pens around the dairy until they are taken to be milked.

McCarty Family Farms Calf

McCarty Family Farms Calf

The cows are milked three times a day. Once milked which only takes 11 minutes, are then out free to roam again. Clean, comfortable and happy cows produce more milk and the McCarty’s work hard to ensure the cows meet that criteria. The cows are checked daily, the holding beds are cleaned three or more times a day, the cows are given plenty of space to freely move around and are fed a nutrient rich diet. The cows are NOT given RBST and only an antibiotic if it is medically necessary. If a cow then happens to need one her milk is not used until the medicine is out of her system.

McCarty Dairy Cows

McCarty Dairy Cows

Finding out the McCarty Family Farms is considered a “factory farm” totally changed my perspective on things. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule but I certainly will not have nightmare visions anymore when I here the term factory farm. I have so much more respect for the farmers as they go above and beyond to ensure the cows are well taken care of and the procedures they go through to make sure the milk is the highest quality as possible.

Be sure to check out the videos on the McCarty Family Farms website where you can watch how the cows are milked and learn more about the farm.

 

Nu Life Market – Gluten Free in Scott City, Kansas

I recently had the chance to attend a three day farm tour across Kansas which you can read about here. On the second day of the tour we met Earl Roemer a fourth generation farmer in Scott City, KS. Earl runs Nu Life Market and grows non GMO sorghum or sometimes called milo which is a gluten free ancient grain.

NuLife Market Sorghum field

NuLife Market Sorghum field

The grain is used to make gluten free flour and other gluten free products some of which are used in some big name products. Did you know that you can pop the sorghum grain like popcorn? The popped grain is a bit smaller than regular popcorn and has slightly sweet almost kettle corn flavor. One of Nu Life biggest products is popped sorghum that is only produced for commercial use and is bought by some big brands for use in some of their gluten free products.

Nu Life popped sorghum

Nu Life popped sorghum

Nu Life Market also produces Sun Life sunflower kernel spread which is a great alternative for peanut butter for those who suffer with peanut allergies. I am not allergic to peanuts and eat peanut butter all the time, but I am also a big fan of the sunflower butter, I buy it all the time! If you like sunflower seeds I promise you will love this spread. It is perfect for dipping apples in and makes a great snack!

Nu Life Market Sunflower Spread

Nu Life Market Sunflower Spread

The sorghum crop does well in dry climates and the region of Kanas where the sorghum is grown actually has very little rainfall making Kansas the largest producer of grain sorghum in the United States producing about 200 million bushels per year.

Nu Life Market is in control of the sorghum from the time the seed goes into the ground until it hits the consumers mouth. This along with traceable technology and the FDA designed processing facility helps ensure the safety and allows the consumer especially those with celiac issues confirm that there has been no cross contamination of the grain.

Having the certification that there has been no cross contaminations gives Nu Life Market an incredible reputation for having the highest quality non allergenic gluten free flour on the market and has been accepted into Costco stores for consumer purchase.

I had no idea how diverse Sorghum was as it is not only used as a cooking grain or flour but China uses it to make a popular liquor in their county called Baijui.

Red Sorghum contains tannins and antioxidants similar to red wine and is the only grain that contains levels of tannins like this. Black sorghum contains antioxidants in fact it is eight times the amount of blueberries so lots of medical research going on right now on how to use sorghum for medical use. One study is looking at how it may help with pre cursor colon cancer cell and another is how it can help ischemic heart disease. Nu Life Market is the only company in the world that produces volumes of these colored grains for sale for functional foods, beverages and nutraceuticals.

Black and Red Sorghum

Black and Red Sorghum

The Nu Life Market staff includes cereal scientist Etsehiwot Gebreselassie who they call C.A. She continually works in the commercial kitchen testing products and recipes. Her along with the other girls at the office made us a traditional American lunch and traditional Mexican meal to show the diversity of the grain.

C.A. in the test kitchen

C.A. in the test kitchen

The American meal included a baked steak with homemade cream of mushroom soup with pearled grained sorghum, green beans with bacon, gluten free garlic loaf and a gluten free brownie.

Lunch prepared by Nu Life Market and products

Lunch prepared by Nu Life Market and products

The Mexican dish included a chicken pozole and a pork pozole. Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup with red chille peppers and hominy. In place of hominy they used the pearled sorghum. The Pozole is served with cabbage and lime and was amazing! Other dishes were home made gluten free chips, salsa, homemade pico de gallo with fresh avocado and pearled sorghum. I cannot say enough about how delicious everything was and the amazing hospitality Earl and the staff showed us a Nu Life Market.

Along with producing products for major companies to use in their gluten free products, Celebreity Chef Marc Forgione uses Nu Life pearled sorghum in his restaurant in New York City.

Marc Forgione

Celebreity Chef Marc Forgione

I cannot say enough about how delicious the lunch was, how amazing the tour was and the gracious hospitality Nu Life Market showed us.
Nu Life Market’s retail products including gluten free flour, pearled sorghums and baking mixes are available on-line on the Nu Life Market website and some retail locations.

Sawyer Land and Cattle – Raising Steakhouse Quality Beef and Soybeans for Feed

McPherson, Kansas is home to Sawyer Land and Cattle where Derek and Katie Sawyer grow soybeans and are raising cattle for steakhouse quality beef. I visited this farm while attending a three day farm tour across Kansas which you can read about here.

Sawyer's Soybean Field

Sawyer’s Soybean Field

The Sawyer family has been farming for 80 years and have benefitted from the technology advances of farming. They buy their soybeans from Pioneer which is a GMO seed. They compare Monsanto is to farmers as Apple is to consumers, meaning we don’t have to buy an iPhone or they do not have to buy a GMO seed but with all the all the work they have done to put the technology in place to make their crops better, it is hard not to take advantage of that.

Their soybeans are grown for mostly for feed which they sell on a global market. Being a GMO seed makes them a bit more pest resistant which means they are not treated with pesticides very often. Derek explained that if a pesticide is used there is a waiting period after the pesticide is applied before the plat can be harvested which helps ease my conscious a bit.

Those of us on the tour who are against pesticides and GMO grilled him on some issues concerning GMO, pollution and other environmental factors and asked how he felt about in terms of it affecting his own young family with another on the way and  if was he concerned about risks.

Soybean and pod

Soybean and pod

His response was “Obviously it hard to predict the future, but from what we knows now this is the best way we can produce food for the general public.” He did note that before having children he did not think so much about the food as it was feeding the masses, but now that he is feeding it to his own son does take more things into consideration. He notes that it is always going to be a challenge to prove anything is 100% safe but with what he knows now and the practices he uses, he would have no concerns that it is anyway unsafe to feed his family and does.

Just down the street is Derek and Katie’s cowherd where they raise beef for high end restaurants and steakhouses where you pay $40 to $50 for one steak.

Derek and Katie Sawyer

Derek and Katie Sawyer

We had the chance to meet their new heard he just received the day before we visited. The cows were a little fussy as they were just separated and wanted their Momma’s. This weaning process makes the calfs fussy for about 3 days and then all is good. It is also the best way for both momma and calf, as the momma would continue to nurse draining her of all her nutrients and the calf needs to learn to eat the grain to grow properly.

Although, the Sawyers grow soybeans for feed, they do not typically feed their soybeans to the cattle as they don’t possess the ability to grind the beans. The cattle are fed some type of mixture of corn, grasses, hay/alfalfa and distillers (an ethanol by-product). All of this except for the distillers is grown on their farm and remains on their farm from the field to the feed bunk. The exact feed mix is determined by the gender, age and nutritional needs of the animal.

Sawyers Cattle

Sawyers Cattle

Derek runs about 600 calfs a year and once the cows are around 600 pounds they are custom grazed throughout the spring and summer in small towns around Emporia, Kansas where they will beef up (no pun intended) to about 800 – 850 pounds. The cows are then taken to Ellinwood, Kansas to a feed lot for a 120 days where they will end up around 1300 pounds. The cows are then taken too Garden City or Dodge City for harvesting.

The calfs at Sawyer farms get a hormone implant in their ear that releases a small amount of estrogen that helps convert the feed to muscle. The controversy on the hormone use is it gets into the meat. Derek explained that a serving of a steak with estrogen will have about four nanograms of estrogen while the beef without only contains two. That seems pretty low for both as he mentioned cabbage has 15,000 nanograms! The hormone also helps the animal grow faster resulting in a more tender cut of beef.

As I mentioned earlier about the waiting period after pesticide has been applied to a crop, the same applies if an animal has been given antibiotics. The Sawyers take their responsibility very seriously about raising the best beef as possible and will never give a cow an antibiotic just for the heck of it but if a cow gets sick, it is their job to take the best care they can of that animal. If that means it needs an antibiotic on occasion to help the cow heal instead of just letting illness make it sicker and sicker they will do that. Kaite explained that taking care of the animal quickly also ensures the health of the others in the heard because just like kids can spread things at school the same can happen to a heard. Records and documents are also kept on which cow received what and when so there is never a question on anything.

Sawyer's Cattle

Sawyer’s Cattle

Just as it was at Good Farm (another stop on the tour), the Sawyer farm was clean and the cows had plenty of room to roam. I cannot say enough about the care the Sawyers give to the animals as they monitor them multiple times a day and during calving season it is a 24/7 operation so if a cow of calf needs assistance they are there to help. If needed, Katie even lets distressed calfs into their house and where she can warm them up with extra blankets and a hair blow dryer.

Family Farms Across Kansas Impacting the Nation and the Lessons I Learned

If you happen to catch any of my #farmfoodtour pics on Instagram a few weeks ago, then you are aware of the great time I had when I was invited by the Kansas Farm Bureau to spend three days traveling across Kansas visiting local farms. All of these farms are impacting our nation as they supply their goods all across the country and beyond. I also learned many lessons about how are food is raised and truly had an eye opening experience.

 

farm food tour pics

I love writing about local food and love meeting the farmers behind the food so I was excited to have the opportunity to experience this.

The trip consisted of a handful of writers and bloggers from the Midwest along with our hosts which was a representatives from Kansas Farm Bureau and The Kansas Soybean Association.

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There was a lot of talk on the tour about the GMO controversy and although, I get the need for GMO for world hunger, the need for pesticide and virus resistant crops, etc…, I am anti GMO in the foods I eat, against factory farming and am adamant that our food should be labeled if it contains GMO.

So before the tour I have to admit I am the one who only listened to one side of the story and spent too much on organic produce.

There is still much debate on this subject but after this tour I am a bit more relaxed about things. I learned there are only eight GMO crops; corn, soybeans, cotton, papaya, canola, sugar beets, squash and alfalfa. I also learned there is rigorous testing done to ensure safety.

In addition to what I learned on the tour, I have been scouring sources to make the right decision for what I want to feed my family. Each side has a great argument and I am not an expert by any means so it really has to come down to a personal choice.

With a daughter recently diagnosed with some allergy and other health concerns, I am probably still going to stick with buying organic and non GMO foods but won’t freak out as bad if we get a GMO in our diet every now and then.

There is research that states GMO’s don’t cause allergies there is other research that says certain allergies did not exist until GMO’s where introduced. While we are on the topic of allergies there is now talk of making a GMO peanuts that would remove the allergen. There is also talk of a GMO wheat grain that would remove the gluten. For people who suffer from gluten issues or have peanut allergies does that make GMO a good thing?

My daughter is having some gluten issues so as a mom is that something I would try to help my daughter although I have been anti GMO, I don’t know. I would certainly have to do my homework. Again so much controversy that you have to choose what is right for you.

If gluten is an issue for you, do not miss reading about day two of the tour where we visited NuLife Market in Scott City, KS. They have amazing gluten free flour as well as other products.

NuLife Market Sorghum field

NuLife Market Sorghum Field

The labeling issue was another hot topic. I think it is super important for people to know what is in their food but we also need to educate ourselves as well. If you are trying to avoid GMO’s, know what crops are modified so you don’t have to fear if that cucumber is a GMO or not, because it is not one of the eight.

Before the tour I was adamant that GMO foods need to be labeled. After the tour I learned how much labeling laws would increase food cost and no one wants that. I decided that if the labeling is not going to happen then I need to educate myself on what crops are modified, and buy organic when I am not sure. There is already organic and non GMO labeling available that can probably help make the decision I need, so I don’t know that I am such a stickler on that topic anymore.

Other hot topics included antibiotic use, organic produce and crops as well as grass fed beef.

What about grass fed beef? Well, all beef is grass fed because they graze in the pastures. How it is finished is the difference. This is not too much of a hot button for me as my father in law raised cattle and gave them grain and that is all we ate. He recently quit raising the cattle so now I buy organic beef, but do not necessarily focus on grass finished or not. Grass finished has more omega 3 than grain finished but not enough to make a difference in your diet, so if you are looking for more Omega 3 eat some salmon or take a supplement.

What about antibiotics? All of the farms we visited do not give their animals antibiotics just for the heck of it and Good Farm that raises pork does not use any at all. The farmers that do use them explained that they are only used if medically necessary. Just as we get sick and occasionally need one, so do the animals. I also learned that there is a stringent documentation process on what animal got, how much and when it was. There is also a waiting period before the animal can be processed after an antibiotic is administered to make sure it is out of its system.

What about organic? Before the tour I envisioned non organic produce being doused with chemicals and then picked and put on the grocery store shelves. After the tour I am a little less concerned. Farmers have guidelines they have to adhere too on many levels and pesticide use is one of them. There is a certain waiting period they have to follow before they can harvest the crop after a pesticide has been applied. Does this make the fruit any safer to eat? I don’t know but it makes me feel a little better knowing there has been time for rain-showers and other environmental elements to shake off some the residue.

I appreciate that Cal-Ann Basil Farm we visited on day one does not use any synthetic pesticides since that is the brand I buy. I was happy to learn about the waiting period process on harvesting after pesticide use but will still buy organic especially the produce listed on the dirty dozen list because that is what works for me. I will say that knowing what I do now will help me not be so concerned if I see my son eating a non organic apple or knowing my daughter is not getting organic produce in the dining hall while she is away at college.

Me photographing some basil

Me photographing some basil

The last issue we will tackle is Factory Farming. When I hear the term factory farm I envision hoards of pigs or cattle crammed into a tiny pin covered with gunk and who knows what else. The McCarty Family Farms we visited that produces milk for Dannon Yogurt is considered a factory farm and it was a total 360 from what I had in mind. You can read more about the McCarty Dairy on day three of the tour.

Newborn Calf at McCarty Family Farms Dairy

Newborn Calf at McCarty Family Farms Dairy

I cannot say enough about everything I learned and how compassionate these farmers are to make sure the crops they are growing and the animals they are raising meet the highest quality standards. It is truly is all about family and they care for their families as much as we do ours and are feeding them just like us so they want to produce the best food possible in the best way they know how.

I wish to thank the Kansas Farm Bureau and all the incredible farmers for this amazing experience. You can read more about the farms in the links below.

Day one: Cal-Ann Farms, Good Pork Farm, Sawyer Land and Cattle.

Day two: Nu Life Market

Day three: McCarty Family Farms, Blythe Angus Ranch

Good Farms – Raising Antibiotic Free Pork in Kansas

Good Farms is raising antibiotic free pork in Olsburg, Kansas and these little piggies are going places!

Good Farms was the second stop of the first day of the three day farm tour I took across Kansas which you can read about here.

Craig and Amy Good

Craig and Amy Good

Craig and Amy Good are the proud owners of this hog farm and incredibly gracious hosts. They raise pigs for Heritage Foods USA. The pigs are raised without antibiotics and are well taken care of. I have to admit I was a bit nervous as I envisioned seeing a bunch of dirty pigs all crammed into a pin covered in who know what but that was not the case at all.

 

After Craig and Amy graciously invited us into their home to tell us about the farm and made us an appetizer of Ground Pork Meatballs with Gorganzola on Greens, that were absolutely delicious by the way, they gave us some cute blue booties to keep our shoes clean and took us out on the tractor to visit the little piggies.

Pork Meatballs

Pork Meatballs

The farm was immaculately clean and the baby piglets are housed in a large barn area.

The children aged ones as I called them where free to run around in together in an extremely large covered pen carpeted with fresh hay. The grown adults have a separate area as well.

 

Craig and Amy are very conscious about producing the highest quality pork they can and to do that they keep the operation rather small to selling only about 1,000 pigs a year.

Heritage Foods is a company that connects chefs, restaurants and foodies that are looking for animals that have heritage genetics, are antibiotic free and raised on pastures to farmers that use these practices.

Good Farm

Celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Tom Colicchio use Good’s pigs as well as some pretty big name restaurants like Carnevino in Las Vegas and Fatted Calf in Napa Valley. Who knew that little piggy from Kansas was going to make it big time when he went to market. The market is close too, the pigs actually go to Paradise to be processed. Paradise Meat Locker that is, which is just up north in Trimble, MO.

You can order cuts of Good Farms pork and (beef once a year in the spring) at Heritage Foods USA. If you specifically want their meat you can request it, otherwise the order will be filled with whatever breeds Heritage chooses.  All the pork on the Heritage website is family farm raised and none of the pigs have been given antibiotics.

If you are looking for a whole or half hog they can usually accommodate that from the farm to a local locker, but do not sell single cuts or bundles. Contact Craig and Amy Good for more information on that.