Organic Treats

Stop! Don’t let the temptation overcome you! There are so many healthy alternatives out there to satisfy the salty and the sweet tooth in all of us.  For those of you who have made any New Year’s resolutions or just simply follow a healthy lifestyle, try the following delicious recipes for a welcome substitute to the norm.  We’re talking chicken nuggets you can feel good about, the tastiest cream of broccoli soup (with a kick!), and a simple, sweet and savory dessert that will force you to exercise some self-control.  Let’s get cookin’!

Baked Chicken Nuggets
3 free-range, organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup oat bran
¼ cup wheat germ
1 tbsp coarsely ground flaxseed
¼ cup coarsely ground almonds
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp white pepper
Pinch garlic powder
½ cup water  or  low sodium chicken broth
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Prepare baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or lightly coating it with EVOO.  Cut chicken breasts into nugget-sized pieces.  Set aside.  Combine dry ingredients in a large container with a tightly fitting lid.  To grind the flaxseed and almonds, use a food processor.  Shake well.  Next, in a separate bowl, combine water and egg.  Dip each piece of chicken in this mixture and then thoroughly coat in the dry mixture.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.

These are the best chicken nuggets you will ever eat.  The best part is that they are super healthy!  You will enjoy them just as much, if not more, than your kids.  Just a heads up for those who love ketchup with your nuggets – if you’re not going to go the organic route, then make sure to double check your ketchup’s ingredient list in the store before purchasing it.  Usually the first thing you will see is high fructose corn syrup.  Although you may hear that high fructose corn syrup is no different than sugar, it is not true.  When it comes down to it, it is a genetically modified sweetening agent, meaning it is not found in nature.

Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup
1-2 onions, chopped
3 tbsp butter
Large bag frozen broccoli (or 2 lb. floret)
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp curry powder
½ cup light cream

This month’s recipe for broccoli soup is delicious without being loaded down with cheese.  Don’t get upset  – those of you who think that this recipe will sacrifice taste for the sake of our temples – that is simply not the case!  A little curry gives it the kick you need so you can say bye to the “this-is-the-only-meal-I-can-eat-today-because-it-is-a-2000-calorie-bowl-of-soup” and hello to healthy living.

In a large pot, cook onion in butter for 4-5 minutes.  Add broccoli, broth, curry powder, and about ½ tsp salt and pepper.  Simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Little by little, puree soup in food processor, blender, or using an immersion blender.  Finally, after pureeing, you may or may not add the cream, depending on your taste.  Personally, I do not use the cream because I find it perfectly creamy enough without it; however, it is only ½ a cup and it will not ruin your daily calorie count when blended into this whole pot of soup.  Make sure to measure the broth.  If you do not, your consistency will become watery.

Dark Chocolate Brittle
Box of your favorite granola or cheerios
1-2 large bars fair-trade dark chocolate
Pretzels
Almonds
Dried cranberries

No meal is complete, or day for that matter, without some chocolate. Super simple, enjoy this chocolate brittle any time of day, for a delightful little treat.  Get creative and substitute ingredients every time you make it to keep things exciting!  Go to the loose item section of your grocery store and check out the selection.  The amount of cereals, nuts, and dried fruits available should leave you with endless options, so feel free to take some liberties and swap in new components!  For those of you who prefer milk chocolate or sugary cereals, go for it.  It will absolutely up the calorie count and downplay the health factor, but that’s your prerogative.

First, combine all ingredients except chocolate in large mixing bowl.  The quantity of each ingredient is up to you depending on your preference.  Keep in mind that the more you put in the bowl, the more chocolate you will need to coat the mixture.  Next, prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Break chocolate bar(s) up into pieces and place in a small saucepan over low heat.  Be very careful to watch and stir until chocolate is melted.  It will happen fast and if you don’t pay attention it will burn.  Once melted, use a spatula to scrape chocolate from pan onto dry mixture.  Coat mixture evenly.  Use a spoon to scoop fist sized servings of mixture onto cookie sheet – make sure to space them out.  Place tray in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until chocolate is hardened.  Finally, the last and most tedious step…enjoy!

As usual, the use of organic ingredients is encouraged for the well being of your temple and our planet!  When considering the purchase of organic ingredients, remember that the prices reflect more than just the long-run benefits of a healthier body.  First, organic farmers do not receive subsidies like conventional farmers do.  This means that the cost of organic food actually reflects the true cost of growing.  Second, the price of conventional food does not reflect the cost of environmental cleanups that you eventually end up paying for with tax dollars anyways.  Finally, organic farming is more labor intensive because your food is being grown with TLC and not just doused in chemicals or run through factory conveyor belts.  Count the cost and go green!

If you’re on a budget, check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to what they call the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” at http://www.ewg.org/foodNews/ . Here you can see which produce you really should spend the extra bucks on to avoid the highest levels of pesticides and which produce may be okay to buy non-organic.

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