Nibble some cacao nibs
By: Leanne Ely
If you’re a fan of bitter chocolate, chances are you’d quite enjoy snacking on cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are crushed cacao beans—essentially, bits of raw chocolate. They don’t taste sweet like chocolate that’s had sugar added to it, but they contain heaps of nutrition.
Chocolate comes from cacao beans, which are the seeds of the cacao fruit. These beans have been harvested and enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. The Mayans were the first to use these delicious beans as a course of currency, and we have the Europeans to thank for combining cacao with refined sugars.
When we hear about dark chocolate being such a superfood, we’re really talking about these cacao beans. That’s where the antioxidants are. The sugar added to natural raw chocolate really acts like an anti-nutrient, robbing the body of minerals and throwing off your blood sugar levels.
The process that cacao beans undergo to become sweet and creamy chocolate also destroys many of the nutrients in the beans. As one example, the tiny cacao bean is the greatest source of Vitamin C on the planet. But there is no Vitamin C in chocolate because it’s all destroyed in the heating, roasting, toasting and/or melting process.
Raw chocolate, like cacao nibs, eaten in its natural state, is chock full of minerals. In fact, cacao is one of only a handful of foods in the world that can be used as a mineral supplement. Cacao is the highest natural source on the planet of chromium, magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese and copper.
These amazing beans contain 30 times more antioxidants than red wine, 20 times more than green tea and 15 times more than blueberries.
Cacao nibs eaten out of hand tastes similar to coffee beans. They have a bit of a crunch to them and are more easily eaten when combined with other foods (I enjoy them with a handful of nuts and a cup of hot coffee). Cacao nibs can be used in baked goods as a healthier alternative to chocolate chips.
PS–Have you tried cacao nibs yet? One great place to have them is in your morning smoothie, and right now we have our Once a Year Get ALL You Can Sale! Get f*ree shipping on all our smoothie mixes, plus Fibermender and Daily Does it! Click here to order now, but don’t wait this sale ends soon!
Crockpot soup: Basic tips for a great pot
By: Leanne Ely
We are big on crockpot cooking over here. Many of our most popular menu mailer recipes and ebooks are based around this “Queen of Convenience” in the world of kitchen appliances.
We’re into the fall of the year, which means it is soup season. There really is nothing quite like coming home at the end of a busy day to the smell of soup simmering away on your counter.
Yes. I said counter! Soup on the stove is great, but soup in the crockpot is a lifesaver during the busy weeks following the kids’ return back to school.
If you have a favorite soup recipe that you’re not sure how to adapt to the slow cooker, or if you are new to crockpot cooking, keep reading because I’m going to share some basic tips with you here for turning a few simple ingredients into a delectable pot of soup that your whole family will go crazy for!
Top tips for making crockpot soups
Brown the meat. One of the most overlooked steps in creating sensational crockpot soups is browning your ingredients. Sure the crockpot will cook your soup just fine without taking this step, but if you do take the time to sear your meat before putting it in the slow cooker, you’ll be happy with the rich, intensely flavored results.
Cut ingredients uniformly. Take care to cut your vegetables in similar sizes so that they cook evenly.
Layer properly. Put your ingredients that take the longest to cook in the crockpot first. Root vegetables take longer to cook than meat so they should be placed on the bottom where they’ll have more direct contact with the heating element of the slow cooker. Meats, spices and onions can also be placed on the bottom. Veggies like cauliflower and broccoli can go in next. You’ll place your liquid on top of all the veggies before covering the crockpot and turning it on.
Watch your liquids. You won’t need as much liquid as your traditional soup recipe would call for, but just add enough to cover the veggies by about half an inch. (If you have too much liquid at the end of your cooking time, simply remove the lid of your crockpot 30 minutes before you plan to serve dinner and it will evaporate.)
Add ingredients in stages. Some ingredients don’t take much time to cook, so you’ll want to add them in during the last hour of cook time. Things like pasta, milk, peas, bell peppers and spinach would fall into this category.
Take the time to learn how to use your slow cooker and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it will be to get a meal on the table at the end of a hectic day!
PS–Okay, okay UNCLE!! So many of you have been asking, “What happened to Crock-tober?!” And well, because it’s still technically “Crock-tober October” we decided to open ‘er back up! Click here to get the best ever crockpot bundle of goodies NOW though, teeny tiny window here to fulfill of your crock cooking dreams!
Food For Thought
Liquid Lunch (or breakfast… or dinner)
By: Leanne Ely
Have I mentioned before how much I adore smoothies? Yes, yes, I believe I have!
I start each day with a big ol’ healthy blended drink. But guess what? Sometimes I have a smoothie for lunch or even for dinner. Let’s be honest . . . life gets hectic sometimes, and while I like to eat fresh, healthy meals, I don’t always have time to cook a big dish.
Thankfully, I can fit a square meal into a smoothie, and they are darn quick to make.
All you need for a delicious meal replacement smoothie is our All-in-One Smoothie Mix, chia seeds, Fibermender, coconut or almond milk, and berries. That’s your “base” smoothie. You can mess around with your fruits, veggies and liquid.
Here are some ideas for some delicious blended meals:
Smooth spring salad. Put some cilantro or parsley in your blender with lemon juice, some ground flax, carrot juice (or a chopped carrot if you have a high power blender), wheat grass, spinach, a few ice cubes and an avocado. Add some sea salt and cracked pepper and blend until smooth.
Orange kale-sicle smoothie. Blend up a couple of bananas, a few handfuls of kale and some vanilla Smoothie Mix with two oranges and a few ice cubes for a delightful dinner that you can drink on the go.
Berry salad smoothie. Blend a head of romaine lettuce and a handful of your favorite dark leafy greens with two frozen bananas, a cup of frozen berries, a scoop of vanilla Smoothie Mix and a splash of water.
Since we started offering our Saving Dinner Smoothie Mixes, hundreds of folks have become fans of these great all-in-one powders. If you’re big on smoothies but low on inspiration, try our Smoothie Mix! Click here to choose between Chocolate, Vanilla and Chai!
You won’t be sorry if you eat nori
By: Leanne Ely
If you’ve ever eaten sushi, you’ve eaten nori. Nori is a type of kelp that contains a myriad of health benefits. If you don’t currently enjoy sea vegetables in your diet, you are missing out on some amazing nutrition. As far as sea vegetables go, nori is a good starting point.
You can buy nori in thin sheets to use for sushi rolls or for snipping into soups and salads but you can also buy nori as small flakes or in powdered form.
Nori is chock full of minerals and vitamins including:
Two sheets of nori contain the equivalent amount of vitamin B1 and B2 as 50 grams of pork and double the vitamin C you’d get from an orange.
Adding nori to your diet reduces your risk of cancer by providing you with tons of antioxidants. In addition to nori’s antioxidants, the amino acids and iodine in nori can also reduce your risk of developing uterine fibroids and breast cancer.
Nori is easy to find in health food stores and in most grocery stores.
You can tell if nori is high quality because it’s dark black in color (that means it was toasted perfectly), almost brittle in texture, and thick enough that you can’t see through it. It should also smell faintly of the ocean.
A great way to enjoy nori is to wrap it around organic rice, veggies and fish for a simple and healthful sushi.
Why a high speed blender?
By: Leanne Ely
If you were to ask me which small appliance in my kitchen is absolutely my most indispensable item, you might be surprised at my answer.
I don’t use my microwave, I don’t need a toaster since I don’t eat bread and I don’t do a lot of baking so the stand mixer doesn’t get a lot of use. So what’s left?
I’ll tell you what’s left-my Vitamix.
There was a time in my life when I would have told you that a high performance blender was a waste of counter space. But now that I am addicted to fresh green juices and healthy smoothies (and the great feeling of good health that goes with those two things), I couldn’t imagine life without my Vitamix.
Now, let’s get one thing out of the way. The folks at Vitamix aren’t sending me any money (or free product!) for saying their product’s name. I’m only using the brand name because it is the one that I use, know and love. I hear that Blendtec is in the same league as Vitamix (these are the two main players in the high speed blender space).
These small appliances come with a pretty big price tag. You can pay anywhere from $400 and up for a Vitamix or a Blendtec.
So, why does one need a $500+ blender? First of all, the Vitamix is more than just a blender, thank you very much.These small appliances do cost a lot, but they can replace a dozen other items you have in your kitchen. And with the warranty behind them (5-7 years depending on the model), they are worth the investment.
Sure, your regular old blender can make smoothies, purees and dips, but can it make juice out of kale? Can it make milk out of almonds? Can it grind grains and nuts into flour? I rest my case.
I use my Vitamix multiple times per day to make:
• Milks (coconut and almond, specifically )
• Nut butters
• Spreads and dips
• Frozen desserts
• Frozen drinks (can you say margarita?)
A Vitamix can help with your food prep by chopping, creaming, grinding and kneading, and it can even cook a batch of soup for you, for heaven’s sake.
A high performance blender like the Vitamix is an investment not only in your kitchen, but in your health. You’ll find that when you have one of these guys, that you eat more produce—zero excuses anymore for wasting food scraps!—, providing you and your family with more nutrients.
If you have a very good quality blender, a very good quality juicer, and a very good quality food processor, can you live without a Vitamix? Yes. But if you can afford one machine that will take the place of all those items, and get you the silkiest smoothies blend possible for man, you won’t regret it.
Now, if you happen to be looking for great smoothie recipes for your blender (whether it’s a high performance blender or one of the less expensive models), you are in luck!
We have a great deal on our Saving Dinner Smoothie Mix from October 16 through October 29, where we ship it for free! Get the details here: http://savingdinner.com/s/smoothie-free-shipping/
Tricks, Tips and a Recipe
The ravishing watermelon radish
By: Leanne Ely
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?
Today’s focus is on: WATERMELON RADISH
If you’ve ever walked past a watermelon radish at the grocery store, you probably did so not knowing how pretty this vegetable is when you get beyond the surface.
The next time you encounter one of these unsuspecting round root vegetables, I encourage you to purchase one and give it a whirl.
A relative of the daikon radish, watermelon radishes are much larger, milder and sweeter than the common little red radishes that we’re used to. They are green on the outside, and are about three inches in diameter. Some watermelon radishes can weigh up to a pound, so they’re not teeny little veggies.
While they look pretty boring on the outside, when you slice through and see the bright watermelon-pink flesh, you’ll see what the fuss is about!
The watermelon radish is extremely rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
I’m a big believer in adding new veggies and fruits to your diet all the time to experience new tastes and textures, and to increase your nutrition. If you’ve yet to experiment with radishes, now’s the time! Watermelon radish is an easy one to love.
Now that you’ve added watermelon radish to your grocery list, it’s time for your Trick:
Watermelon radishes may be cooked and mashed like turnip, but when you do that, you lose their gorgeous color. Slice them onto salads or pickle them instead!
Watermelon radishes are generally harvested in the fall, but you can find them at most well-stocked grocery stores year-round.
And your Recipe:
Watercress and Radish Salad
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups watercress
3 watermelon radishes, sliced
In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, white wine vinegar, horseradish and salt and pepper. Divide 6 cups of watercress and radishes evenly among dinner plates; drizzle with dressing.
PS–Today’s the last day for our Crock-tober sale! This is the perfect opportunity to stock your crock—>learn more here!