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Spooky Ingredients and Candy Swaps

Posted on October 16, 2017

Just about everyone loves Halloween—there’s plenty going on from trick-or-treating to all kinds of costume parties, and of course, there’s the candy. Scary creatures and haunted houses are to be expected, but no one should have to deal with spooky ingredients in their foods and beverages!

It can be a challenge for your clients to recognize and avoid unhealthy ingredients in the foods they buy, especially when they appear in seemingly healthy options. It’s reasonable to assume that a food advertised as “natural,” “healthy” or even “organic” is good for you. Unfortunately, that’s not always true.

We all need to check the ingredient labels on food packages each time we buy it. Food manufacturers often change ingredients and may not note the change on the package. If product labels claim things like, “Now lower in fat” or “Improved,” or variations of similar wording, these phrases are signs to check the ingredients. When food producers lower the fat content, for example, they typically add more salt, sugar, and/or additives.

Parents should be aware of ingredients that sound like a chemical experiment or that are represented by acronyms. For example, preservatives such as TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) can cause nausea and vomiting; BHT/BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene) are possible carcinogens; polysorbates can suppress the immune system; and potassium sorbate can cause allergic reactions and DNA damage.

Artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners often are part of so-called healthy foods, such as nutrition bars, whole-grain cereals, fruit juices, and frozen foods that claim to be good for you. Remember: the more processed the food, the more undesirable ingredients it likely has.

When it comes to Halloween treats, your clients can avoid spooky ingredients and try dozens of non-candy options that are great for parties and to please their little goblins at home. When preparing these or other treats, organic ingredients are preferred! Barbara’s has perfect healthy treat options that kids can make themselves, such as Snackimals Banana Roll Ups and Chocolate Peanut Butter Puff Balls. Alternatives to Halloween candy for trick-or-treaters include temporary tattoos, stickers, LED finger lights or glow sticks, or mini packages of raisins, dried fruit, or pretzels.

Wishing everyone a safe, fun-filled, and healthy Halloween!

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Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

Posted on October 16, 2017

The crisp autumn weather has arrived and so have thoughts about Thanksgiving. Regardless of whether your clients are hosting their own holiday feast, bringing a dish to share with friends or family, or dining at a restaurant, thoughts are typically turned to two important dinner features: the turkey and the side dishes. Some of us are all about one or the other, while others embrace the entire eating experience.

The whole experience can get off to a healthy start by choosing an organically raised turkey, or for plant-based eaters, there are numerous vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Stuffing is a huge holiday favorite, and no one wants to be left out because of dietary restrictions. That means having several stuffing recipes on hand to cover all the bases: vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, and paleo. After all, no one will complain if there are several different stuffing options on the table as side dishes!

Speaking of side dishes, this is a great opportunity to get your clients— and their families—to eat their veggies! The traditional green bean casserole, candied yams, and mashed potatoes are typically far from healthy, but they can take on new guises. For example, a green bean casserole is loaded with fat, sodium, and calories, but substituting half green beans and half of another veggie, fresh onions instead of the high-fat canned ones, and fresh mushrooms stirred into a homemade white sauce using low-fat milk or a non-dairy alternative will reduce the calories, fat, and sodium significantly.

Rather than customary candied yams, the tubers can be sweetened with cinnamon, nutmeg, orange slices, and a few raisins, instead of sugar. Mashed potatoes can be substituted for whipped cauliflower as a nutritious alternative. Baked butternut, acorn, or banana squash filled with your clients’ favorite veggies, as well as herbs, nuts and/or raisins (according to preference) are tasty and healthy. Raw vegetables can be introduced in a slaw made of both green and red cabbage, carrots, yellow peppers, and onions with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
What’s Thanksgiving without pies? Pumpkin is always a favorite, but chocolate peanut butter Puffin pie could be a close second. Use of wheat-free, high-fiber Puffins cereal for the crust for both of these pies (Pumpkin Puffins for the pumpkin pie) helps make them more nutritious.

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From Brunch to BBQs: Healthy Tips for May

Posted on October 16, 2017

The fifth month brings more than May flowers; it offers the start of warmer weather and ample occasion to get outdoors and focus on good food, family, and friends— including fresh spring brunches to festive seasonal BBQs!
With a few simple recipes and a bit of planning, spring brunch can be delicious as well as nutritious, and attractive. Start with a bouquet of flowers on the table to bring the outdoors in or better yet, host the meal outside! Toast the festivities with freshly squeezed juice from organic fruits, and fresh water with slices of cucumbers or lemons.

For those who like eggs, Shreddy Eggs Benny are the perfect spring brunch starter, and they take only 15 minutes to make. A perfect complement to the eggs are Barbara’s Perfect Pancakes, which are naturally sweet and made with Barbara’s Oats & Honey Granola. If you are a waffle lover, whip up a batch of Puffin Waffles, which get their natural goodness from Puffins cereal, applesauce, flaxseeds, and whole-wheat flour (adding a nice amount of fiber!).

If you’re looking for something a little sweet to accompany the fresh brewed coffee or tea, serve Puffin Biscotti, made from multigrain Puffins cereal, whole wheat flour, and a touch of cinnamon. They are ideal for dunking, and kids love them too!

As the end of May draws near, we prepare for summer by pulling the covers off of our BBQs! The Memorial Day BBQ is typically the first one of the year, so we want it to be extra special. To help keep the BBQ on a healthy track, focus on fresh, organic foods for the menu, such as green salads, potatoes on the grill, roasted corn on the cob, and vegetable kabobs sporting cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions.

Every BBQ needs snack foods! Instead of sour cream, try dipping baked tortilla chips into homemade salsa, or try Barbara’s Cheese Puffs, a light as air, healthier alternative to traditional chips. Available in four fabulous flavors, they are made from non-GMO stone ground corn and are wheat-free. Put them out alone or prepare Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls Seasoned Snack Mix, which is a mixture of cheese puffs with three natural Barbara’s cereals.
Finish off your festive BBQ with Barbara’s Berry Greek Dessert Shots. Made from Puffin cereal, Greek yogurt, and fresh berries, these beautiful desserts will wow every guest so they won’t even realize they are enjoying a healthful treat. What better way to end a BBQ and the month of May!

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Dairy-Free December

Posted on October 16, 2017

If your clients are suffering from digestive issues (i.e. gas and bloating after they eat), inflammation (excess phlegm or acne), and/or skin issues (like eczema), it could be because their bodies aren’t too happy with dairy. If you’re working with them to reduce their intake or avoid it all together, they might feel as though it’s impossible to do so throughout the busy holiday month of December. Not only is it a month dominated by holiday cheer, eggnog, and butter cookies, it is also the time of year, weather-wise, for hot creamy soups, hot chocolate with warm milk, and steaming oatmeal swimming in milk or cream. Going dairy-free may seem like a challenge for your clients, but not to worry—we’ve got them (and you) covered!

Going dairy-free has never been easier. The main reason is the wide range of dairy-free beverages now available in traditional grocery as well as natural food stores. Although soy and rice beverages have been around for many years, they now share shelf and dairy case space with hemp, potato, almond, coconut, cashew, hazelnut, flax, walnut, macadamia, and oat beverages.

Most of these products come in various flavors: sweetened or unsweetened, low-fat, no-fat, and/or fortified with nutrients like calcium or protein. Another great feature of dairy-free beverages is that they can often be made at home—no cow necessary!

When choosing a dairy-free beverage, how your clients will use it is an important consideration. The good news is that these beverages can be substituted one-for-one in recipes. My favorite non-dairy beverage is coconut milk because it can be used for almost everything including coffee, baking, and cereal. If you aren’t a fan of coconut (it does have a coconut flavor), almond and cashew are also delicious.

Soy beverages tend to have a stronger taste and so may not be best for delicate desserts, while the nut beverages may be the perfect substitute because they are naturally slightly sweet. Rice beverages are not as thick as soy beverages and have a mild sweetness, which makes them better for desserts, cereals, or smoothies.

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without some type of nog. Try this dairy-free version at home:
• Two 10-oz packages low-fat or silken organic tofu
• 16 oz low-fat vanilla almond or rice milk
• 2 Tbs vanilla extract
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• ½ tsp ground turmeric
• Rum, brandy, or fruit juice to personal taste
• Nutmeg for topping

Combine all ingredients (except nutmeg) in a blender and process thoroughly. Chill and dust with nutmeg before serving.

When preparing recipes that call for milk (such as salad dressings, cream sauces, mashed potatoes, or cream soups), a dairy-free beverage can be substituted. Unsweetened hemp, flax, oat, or potato beverages are good alternatives. In recipes that call for buttermilk, an alternative can be made by adding one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to one cup of rice or other beverage.

You can also make a non-dairy whip cream using coconut fat. It is so easy to make and is decadent and delicious! I recently did a Facebook Live and topped this non-dairy version on homemade granola. You can watch it here. Yum!
Dairy-free December is a good time to start exploring milk alternatives. Since there are at least 12 dairy-free beverage options, there are enough to last an entire year!

Have a happy & safe holiday season!

Posted in Your Stories

Healthy Family Travel Tips

Posted on October 16, 2017

School is almost out and so are the road maps, suitcases, and lists of vacation destinations. The busiest family travel and vacation time of the year is finally here, and you’ll want your clients’ vacations to be as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible. That includes making sure everyone has healthy, nutritious snacks and meals while they’re on the road, in the air, and at their final destination.

Be sure to emphasize to your clients that preparation is key. With just a minimal amount of planning, your clients, and their families, can steer clear of fatty, sugary, empty-calorie foods and snacks and completely enjoy their food choices. They can even save money at the same time!

In the car: There’s nothing like an old-fashioned road trip! Be sure to recommend they bring along a cooler for water and all of their favorite snacks, including fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, and ready-made dips such as salsa and hummus. Also be sure to recommend that they prepare and pack a few snack mixes for the trip, including Yale Puffins Snack Mix or Barbara’s Mornings & Spoonfuls Fun Mix. They can put them in an airtight container so they’ll be ready for the road!

On a plane: Most airlines no longer offer anything more than ho-hum little packaged snacks, and buying everyone something from the concession stands prior to boarding can quickly put a dent in their vacation budget and their promise to eat healthy. Why not ask them to pack a few delicious treats in their carry-on bag, such as Shredded Spoonfuls Seasoned Snack Mix, Barbara’s Cheese Puffs, or Barbara’s Puffins Fun Mix? They can pack them in a sealed container to go through security so they can snack in style during the flight!

On foot and on the beach: Hiking, sightseeing on foot, and visiting the beach are vacation modes in which your clients will want to travel light while also enjoying some great energy foods. Barbara’s Better Granola Oatmeal Bars and Snackimals Cereal Bars are packed with protein and are easy to tote along. Be sure to emphasize the importance of bringing along plenty of water in reusable water bottles.

Eating out: Today’s technology has made it easy to investigate dining out options while on the road and once they’ve reached a new destination. Your clients can use their smart phone, tablet, or laptop to check out menus online, search for local farmers markets for fresh produce, and find grocery stores that offer healthy choices.
Here’s wishing you and your clients a healthy and delightful vacation and travel season!

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