Month: May 2014

Feeding Summer Campers!

It is the time of year moms have tears in their eyes as they watch their children complete one more year of school! Some are tears of joy, some are tears of “oh no… I must get summer camp registrations done ASAP”.  Most kids have been doing the countdown for the last 2 weeks already! Summer means no wake up time, no homework, and no projects. They focus on fun in the sun, camps and new friendships. Summer camps are great for kids to get involved in new sports or activities and making memories that last a lifetime.

To ensure your kids maximize their fun this summer, pack their lunches and snacks with the right foods that will provide long lasting energy. Just like for school lunches we follow some simple steps to double check for all food groups in each lunchbox; for summer camp they need an extra boost of energy and protein to endure the long days of physical activity and of course lots of hydration. Here is a check list and some examples of foods filled with the right nutrients:

  1. 3-4 ounces of lean protein: chicken, turkey, tuna fish, turkey jerky, hard boil egg.
  2. Plant based protein and healthy oils: handful of nuts, 2 tablespoons of Nut Butters, beans and chickpea hummus (made with olive oil).
  3. Fiber and micronutrientsonce again lunch box
    1. Fruits: 1 cup of grapes, mandarin oranges, pears, apples, berries, watermelon.
    2. Vegetables: ½ cup broccoli, tomatoes, celery, spinach, cauliflower, baby carrots.
  4. Calcium boost: Yogurt, 1-2 ounces of cheese, milk, fortified almond, soy milk.
  5. Whole Grain: Quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread, tortillas, crackers, bagels, pasta.
  6. Hydration: Water or coconut water.

Following this list will help you build up a variation of lunches to last a whole summer! Variety is key to ensure your kids will get a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Try to alternate different fruits and vegetables as much as you can. Use it for planning your grocery shopping lists too. Have key ingredients you can rotate and put together different sandwiches, wraps, dips, kabobs and other fun ideas that will keep your child nourished and ready to enjoy camp all summer long.

… pack lunches for success,

Carolina

Peanut Butter: Smooth versus Crunchy

Let the arguments commence!

It’s almost as controversial as chocolate versus vanilla, more scandalous than hot versus cold, and much more interesting than fat free versus whole fat debates. People have opinions, and they all must be heard!

american pbI’m not entirely qualified to write about this dilemma, as I was only introduced to peanut butter at the age of 16! Yes, my parents deprived me of such delectable food until my mid teenage years. In their defense, I was raised in South America, Brazil specifically, where peanuts are abundant, but no one ever thought of making butter out of them. They did however add them to the food processor with sugar, amongst other ingredients, to make “paçoca”. If you are a proud member of the “peanut gallery” (ha! Pun intended) add that food to your list of “must-try-before-I-die” because it is simply divine!

However, I will proceed by first looking at the question of nutrition, since after all, that is something I am qualified to talk about. Looking at the numbers, crunchy peanut butter has the slight edge since it has a tiny bit more fiber, folate and less saturated fat than smooth. But in the end, both kinds are winners because that they are a great source of plant based protein, have lots of vitamin E, and they are an awesome source of B vitamins, as well. So whichever side of this debate you are in, rest assured you have already made a great choice!

Now in terms of practicality, I am a working mother .  I have two kids under the age of 6.  I  have  to pack lunches, make snacks, and often prepare last minute party requests. I believe I am also a qualified observer. The smooth just works better. Now, no offense to you crunchy-siders, but how do you get it to spread it on a soft slice of whole grain bread without ripping it to shreds? Or better yet, how do you get it to blend it so effortlessly into a yogurt parfait, or smoothie for a quick breakfast favorite? So there you go this one goes to the creamy peanut butter fans.

In the end, it seems like a split debate in which we are all winners. I personally prefer smooth for everyday use, but I am known to appreciate the crunchy for recipes such as muffins, cakes and stir-fry dishes. So, I rule a tie; let’s take a break from this exhausting and delicious controversy and enjoy an American Classic peanut butter and __________ sandwich (fill in the blank with your favorite pairing, oh boy… I think I just started a new debate!)

… life is short, laugh out loud!

 

Carolina Lima Jantac, MS,RD,LD

In a Nutshell: What’s in Our Almond Butter’s Name Change?

Raw and lightly toasted

Our “Lightly Toasted” almond butter used to be called “Raw Almond Butter.” While we have changed the name, rest assured, we have not changed the recipe in any way. Our Lightly Toasted butter has the same great taste everyone loves. The single ingredient in Lightly Toasted Almond Butter remains almonds—and only almonds! So, why did we change the name?

When we introduced this product 12 years ago, “raw” did not have the same meaning as it does today. As you may know, most raw food enthusiasts prefer their food not to be heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. We have not changed the way we make your favorite almond butter, and we still use the same processes that many “raw” nut butter manufacturers adhere to at this time. However, we feel calling this product “raw” no longer reflects the new industry standard of processing almonds below 115 degrees.

According to the FDA, the term “raw” does not have regulated definitions or meanings. Therefore, Once Again has followed industry standards. In 2008, many nut butter manufacturers (but not us) recalled their products because of several salmonella outbreaks; thus, the organic industry began to pasteurize almonds grown in the U.S.A.. Once Again Nut Butter purchases almonds from both California and Italy for our Lightly Toasted products.

To promote food safety, we put our raw almonds through a drying process that helps reduce food-borne bacteria. This drying process exceeds 115 degrees; for this reason, we decided to change the name of our Raw Almond Butters to Lightly Toasted. We believe this change is a more accurate reflection of our formerly designated “raw” almond butter products.
In nature, nuts and seeds are exposed to contaminants before they are harvested. We’ve recognized potential food safety issues associated with this reality and also have witnessed several recalls within our industry for products like raw tahini, raw cashew butter, and raw almonds. For our consumers’ well-being, we choose to put our almonds through a drying process as an extra measure of food safety.

We test both raw commodities and finished products before releasing nut butters to the public. In essence, we look to find balance among all of our customers’ health needs. Holistically, we endeavor to achieve nutritional harmony for all of our customers whether they are healthy, have compromised immune systems, or more sensitive digestive systems, as in the case of small children and the elderly. Therefore, we choose to provide safe quality foods in both roasted and raw commodities, meeting the food and nutrient needs of all of our customers, as well as, encompassing the highest level of food safety product testing.

Raw Almonds are dried for two reasons: to reduce harmful food-borne bacteria, and to reduce the moisture content in order to mill almonds into a smooth and creamy butter. Our raw almonds are processed minimally to provide an as-close-to-nature almond butter as we can create. The drying process for our almonds is higher than the temperature threshold set by individuals who are on a strict raw eating plan, again wherein cooking temperatures must register below 115 degrees. Consequently, our name change is a matter of clarity: we have decided to change our product name from Raw Almond Butter to Lightly Toasted to inform consumers about manufacturing processes and criteria in a more precise manner.
The difference between our Lightly Toasted and our traditional almond butter rests in the roasting process. In our traditional almond butter, almonds are roasted and heated until the almonds caramelize. Afterwards, these caramelized almonds are ground into butter to provide a robust, dark color and flavor. For our Lightly Toasted Almond Butter, almonds are simply dried then milled into a naturally sweet-tasting butter.

Be Good, Do Good, Feel Good!

Most of us go grocery shopping at least once a week, and usually, as we wander through the aisles, we focus on nutrition labels and the ingredients of the products we pick up. Every once in a while, I am lucky to go to the store all by myself (yep, when you have kids even a trip to the grocery store alone seems like a mini- vacation). That’s when I do most of my research. I take my time reading labels and looking for new products to try.   I add new recipes to enhance my list of basic meals to get us through our many busy weeks!

But how often do we stop to think about how those products arrived on the shelves of our grocery stores? How many people did it take to get the products there?  How far did they have to travel?  For example, how many lives were impacted during the production of that single jar of honey or fresh coffee you can’t live without?

Injustice is an unfortunate certainty of our times.  The age of technology and industrialization has left this generation often disconnected from the behind- the- scenes realities of food production. Most of us know that honey comes from bees — and yes, not all know this basic fact — but only a few know how honey is harvested.  Few know where the bees collect their honey, or how many people it takes to bottle it.  In short, not many comprehend how the honey makes it from the hives into the neatly packaged bottles on grocery store shelves.

All people involved in the process are crucial in making sure we have a quality product to enjoy at our convenience, and for that, we are so very thankful. Likewise, we assume those involved in production are all being treated fairly and with ultimate equanimity.

I’m sorry to reveal that this simply isn’t always true.   Often, growers, small-scale farmers, international workers, and members of isolated communities endure unfair work conditions so that we can benefit from the goods they produce.

WFTD2014_POSTCARD_front-212x300And so, because of this, Fair Trade organizations have become a necessity.  Fair Trade organizations tell us that the word “fair” can mean many things to many people. Yes, it is about more than just paying a fair wage. It means that trading partnerships are based on reciprocal benefits and mutual respect; prices paid to producers reflect the work they do; workers have the right to organize; national health, safety, and wage laws are enforced, and products are environmentally sustainable and conserve natural resources. (Fair Trade Resource Website)

The study of nutrition has taught me so much about the human body, and it has also highlighted my personal sense of our collective connection to this Earth. We have a profound social responsibility to treat this Earth — and each other– with respect and kindness; therefore, when I have the choice of purchasing a product that bears the Fair Trade seal,  I consider this, a win-win situation. I know I’m getting the best product, and I can feel good about it!

fair trade seal 1fair seal trade 4fair seal trade 3fair seal trade 2

The next time you go grocery shopping, look for the Fair Trade seal: teach your kids about it, and feel good about giving importance to a practice that will ensure a better tomorrow, starting today.

May 10th was World Fair Trade Day, with worldwide events taking place during a full week of awareness celebration. To learn more about Fair Trade, visit the website: http://www.ftrn.org/ .

Once Again Nut Butters is the nut butter that “spreads integrity,” and is a major sponsor of WFTD this year!

… be good, do good, feel good!

Carolina

Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LDN

Want to help the cause? You can be involved and or donate here: http://store.fairtraderesourcenetwork.org/collections/donate

Try Vegan Nut Butter to Support a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet

One of the healthier life choices people can make, at least when it comes to food, is to go vegan. Although a vegan diet may not appeal to everyone, it can be a path to healthier living. Once Again Nut Butter’s selection of delicious and healthy vegan nut butters can add vitamins, minerals, and rich, decadent flavor to a vegan diet.

Like vegetarians, vegans don’t eat meat, but they also don’t consume other products that come from animals, like eggs or dairy products. A vegan diet consists mainly of plant-based foods, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Incorporating nut butter into a vegan diet for a source of healthy protein is likely to be a sensible option for many people.

Nut butters benefit a vegan diet

That’s why Once Again Nut Butter’s naturally vegan peanut butter—full of protein, vitamin E, fiber and magnesium—is a great choice to support a vegan or vegetarian diet. In addition to our peanut butter, Once Again Nut Butter also offers vegan nut butters like our almond butter and cashew butter. Our almond butter offers a great-tasting alternative for vegans with peanut allergies and provides many of the same nutrients as peanut butter. Cashew butter is another option for those with peanut allergies and includes nutrients like vitamin K, iron, zinc, phosphorus and potassium.

Check out our vegan nut butter in recipes

Our vegan nut butters can be used on a number of foods, including bread, cookies and snack bars. They can also be included in a number of vegan recipes available on our website!

If you’re looking for a delicious addition to your vegan or vegetarian diet, or if you just want to snack on something healthy, delicious, vitamin packed and indulgent, check out Once Again Nut Butter’s variety of delicious nut butters! Available in creamy and crunchy, natural and organic varieties, we have a nut butter for every taste and preference!

America’s Love Affair with the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Lives On

By Maria Jacketti

 

                 American children have clamored for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for more than a century.  During the heyday of the 20th century, as in the 1960s, when I was a child, this sandwich typically comprised a tutti-frutti combo we all knew by heart:  Take white bread, about two dollops of peanut butter and a good splish of really sweet jelly, usually but not necessarily, Concord grape.  Spread it all atop the slices, and then press them together into the ultimate kindergarten and hullabaloo of all sandwiches, which of course, many adults loved and still do, either secretly, or like me, with brazen abandon.

   Today, we spread those prairies of peanut butter across many splendid breads, multi-grain, oatmeal, cinnamon raisin, homemade or artisan loaves that reflect the creativity inherent in a work of pure and simple nourishment.  I have not outgrown peanut butter, and never will, but I have transcended white bread, well, for the most part.  Okay — I’m not too proud to dive into a loaf of pillowy, cloud bread when nostalgia calls.  After all, peanut butter is really packing all the nutritional muscle in the old sandwich, which lives in the museum of the American mind.  

           Yes, glorious goober butter is a culinary paradox, lending itself lusciously to both sweet – and savory renditions of the classic sandwich.  I’m thinking now of the spiced tomato or alligator-colored jalapeño jellies we made several summers ago. And let’s not forget Vidalia onion jam, which marries peanut butter best on an Everything Bagel. Peanut butter is a magnet for spice.  But how did the Earl of Sandwich’s favorite creation ever find its stick-to-the-roof-of-your- mouth soul-mate?

           The history of almost everyone’s favorite sandwich is a little obscure.  We know that around the 1880s housewives were using meat grinders to make their own peanut paste.  That had to be laborious, and the difficulty of making homemade peanut butter, probably led to its reputation in the early 1900s, as a delicacy, yes, served with jelly in fine tea rooms (as opposed to loud lunch rooms).  In fact, the 1904, World’s Fair established PB&J as a lavish, must- have sandwich for the beautiful people, rather than food for the grassroots folk.  During those days of old fashioned, long courtships, a jar of peanut was both rare and prized, as in “Dear, I could not afford a diamond, but would you accept this jar of peanut butter and be my wife?”

           In the background, you might hear collective swooning and giddy violins, “Why yes, dear.  Only my truest love could bring me such a treasure.”

           And they lived happily ever after, in a land of lip-smacking, peanut butter kisses.

 Of course, some things have changed.  And I would not advise peanut butter trumping diamonds to secure a relationship now.

           The American palate was still decades away from peanut butter’s ascension to every day American plate, and wildly imaginative, and not always so healthful inventions, such as Elvis Presley’s deep- fried peanut butter banana and bacon sammy.  

           Mechanization soon helped make peanut affordable, and as time the century progressed, very economical. (The invention of sliced bread in the 1920s also helped the sandwich to gain popularity.)  Suddenly, the opulent peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the darling of tea circles, became fast food and a soul’s banquet for the hungry masses.

           As the country approached mid-century, the need for hearty sustenance grew ever greater.  During the Great Depression, meat became the new delicacy, just as peanut butter, just decades earlier had been a health food spread priced just for the rich, or those willing to cough up fat pennies for a culinary splurge.  Many Americans turned to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to source their daily protein, as the spread now cost less than the animal-derived varieties. 

As the country entered World War II, and rationing became the norm for many staples, peanut butter remained abundant, and blessedly available to the average American.  Even soldiers drew strength and comfort from a sandwich that was now a tradition in most homes.  The American indispensable, peanut butter, was not subject to rationing.  Instead, it became a symbol of unwavering plenty.

           Today, the world of peanut butter is vast.  And while peanut butter and purple grape jelly may be your favorite in its most familiar form, you also may want to try a few newer versions.

           Take Elvis’ favorite, which I’ve renamed “The Heartbreak Hotel.”  This sandwich can be reinvented by using low fat bacon, such as turkey, or veggie bacon — my favorite.   Dip the sandwich in a  and egg whites flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, and you can have a healthy stuffed French toast version of the Elvis “Heartbreak Hotel,” either grilled on the stove top or baked in medium oven, let’s say at 350 degrees, for about 15 minutes.

           Or you may want to get gussied up for a garden party and serve “The Pimento,” derived from one of the first New York tea room sandwiches, peanut butter and pimento, crusts cut off, and served in neat circles and triangles.  Use fine bread, for example, elegant and firm white, a bread with some backbone – sorry, trampoline bread (the springy kind) just won’t work for these.  Spread with peanut butter, and then add pimento cream cheese.  The jelly can be a bit tricky with this one, but either cherry, or mint work well.  Add a flourish of alfalfa sprouts, and if it’s summertime, and your nasturtiums are in bloom, top with a flurry of the petals, which become a peppery garnish.

           Finally, if you are like me today, stranded in the middle of winter and dreaming of a tropical island, “The Piña and Peanut Butter  Colada” is easy and full of sunshine.  Spread peanut butter on Sweet Hawaiian bread (or a Hawaiian roll), top with toasted coconut and pineapple jelly or fruit spread.  Raisin bread also works well with this treat.

           While peanut butter and jelly sandwiches certainly formed a part of my childhood, my most intense memory of their sustenance happened during the 9th month of my only pregnancy, nearly twenty years ago.  As the time to have the baby approached, I slept most of the time.  While cooking is one of my passions, I had not even the energy to boil water, as I awaited this great moment.  My husband had to work all day, and we were hundreds of miles away from any family who might make me a traditional meal.  So my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks consisted uniquely of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!  During that month, I probably downed a hundred of them.

           I ended up having a very healthy baby, one who still loves this classic sandwich and makes one almost every day.  The tradition lives on with giggles and jewel-jellied faces, in most American kitchens, for as you might have guessed, our prototype, Miss America (having doffed her Victorian corset) married the love of her life, the Peanut Butter Prince, and together they created the chow – and the ambrosia — of a great nation.

  

Maria Jacketti is co-founder of Mountain Laurel Consultants, a professional writing company based in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

 

 

World Fair Trade Day

May 10, 2014

Nearly 1,000 World Fair Trade Day events  are planned around the USA and Canada.  Hundreds of Fair Trade festivals, fashion shows, speeches, food and drink tastings, film showings, sports games, neighborhood crawls, spa nights, concerts, and other events in North America have been announced to promote Fair Trade and campaigns for trade justice together with farmers, workers, and artisans around the world. Once Again is one of the major sponsors of the World Fair Trade Day events and activities that take place nationally.  The goal is to promote Fair Trade and campaign for trade justice together with farmers, workers, and artisans.   To learn more about World Fair Trade Day click here: http://www.ftrn.org/wftd/  The Fair World Project also has put together a great informational video that is just 6 minutes long and is worth watching.  http://fairworldproject.org/overview/fair-trade/fair-world-project-presents-free-trade-vs-fair-trade/