Natural Foods Expo East 2011 – Trends

Food — it makes our world go round.  At least here in the States, that is.  Though I’m the biggest fan for whole, unprocessed foods, there certainly is a place for certain food products in a busy life. I wanted to see for myself the wide array of new products that were coming out in the following months as well as connect with some of my favorite companies in person who have already support events that I’ve hosted.  It was, to say the least, incredible, exhausting and overwhelming all at the same time.

If you’re wondering what exactly a food product is, then you’re smart to ask.  Basically once something is packaged and processed in any way, you could consider it a food product.  Even salt or raisins in a box — those are food products.  They’ve got a brand that’s being built so that you’ll become a loyal follower and buy it regularly.

Just an FYI – I do not have any photos from the event.  Attendees were not permitted to take photos of products or companies booths.

Though I shall not recap all the moments of walking an enormous show floor and being completely unable to sample another bite of anything, this experience was definitely interesting.  It is my hope to also attend Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA in the spring which I’ve been told is even bigger.  However, we as consumers will start to see some major shifts in the way that we purchase food products.  The two biggest trends that really JUMPED out at me immediately – single serving packaging and gluten-free items.

Single Servings seem to be all the rage.

I believe that partially the idea is driven by the more mobile, dining out culture in which we all live where everyone under the sun wants to have the control to customize their meal.  For example, San-J food company which makes many gluten-free asian-esque products is pushing single serving pouches of their Wheat-free Tamari (a great alternative to Soy Sauce).  Real Salt is now making individual sized canisters filled with their Real Salt sea salt that can easily be carried in your pocket or handbag to salt your own food.  And many other companies are following suite re-packing their popular brands to be more accessible for you.

Companies are going gaga for Gluten Free.

It was quite surprising how many companies are either re-formulating their existing products or present a new line of products that are gluten-free.  Just about every other booth had a big sign displaying their status.  Clearly food companies are looking to jump into the expanding gluten-free market.  Though that’s all well and good, it does concern me.

1) The gluten-free community already has a difficult enough time not being viewed as a ‘trend’ that will eventually go bust in the way many other fad diets have.  It’s easy to understand this perspective seeing just how many companies are getting on board to provide me and others in the GF tribe something good to eat.  Perhaps journalists need to consider that the fad is within the food products industry and NOT in the actually customer base.

2) Consumers will have more options – however this increase will only serve to underscore the importance of learning to read food labels.  I cannot continue to stress enough that the ‘gluten-free’ label is not necessarily synonymous with ‘healthy’.  If you eat gluten-free, please educate yourself on the art of eating healthy in a way that just HAPPENS to be gluten-free.  Your quality of health will be directly impacted by this simple, yet powerful idea.

For me, I’m just spending this week detoxing from all the food that I tried.  Some good, some bad, but either way a new idea that a company would love to see you buy.  Stay tuned as I’ve got some great food reviews coming up from the show that I know you’ll not want to miss!

Review: Vega’s Shake & Go Smoothies

I’ve been a huge fan of Vega’s vegan protein powders for quite some time.  They’re incredibly high quality and worth the extra pennies spent because of how much nutritional goodness they pack into each serving (from which you obviously reap the benefits, yes?).  Accustomed to their Whole Food Optimizer, I love love love the Vanilla Chai, Chocolate and Berry flavors and have used them to make some really cool concoctions for breakfast which taste more like dessert than anything else.

Then, I was introduced to their new Shake & Go Smoothie line which is a crazy simple, yet nutritionally genius idea to get in a delicious smoothie anywhere, anytime using nothing but some water and a bit of arm power.  The reps at Vega were super awesome to send me some samples of their Chocolate & Tropical flavors to try out.  I wanted to share with you my personal experience with this nifty smoothie powder.

First, I want to tell you that I’ve had REALLY bad luck using a shaker and protein powder.  Since I travel quite a bit, I carry along with me whatever good protein powder I can get my hands on in packet form (to avoid spillage and the need to measure things out while on the road).  I’m not usually lucky enough to have almond or rice milk to use, so water generally will have to suffice in it’s place.  Honestly, I end up chugging down large chunks of dry protein powder that refuses to fully mix with the water/liquid despite how much I shake or blend with a spoon.

I walked into trying Vega Shake & Go Smoothie with that level of skepticism.  Seriously.

Starting with the chocolate, I combined the powder and water.  Then I opened up my smoothie container, certain that I’d find the same mess I’ve grown accustomed to.  However to my incredible surprise, I found no large chunks of dried protein powder clumped in the water after shaking up my single serving packet and about 1/2 cup of chilled water.  The directions recommend using between 1/2 cup and 1 cup – I found that the 1/2 cup mark allowed for a thicker texture which I prefer.  Perfectly sweet, completely smooth, incredibly tasty and convenient, I put the second packet into my handbag to use at some unknown moment when I needed a nutritional ‘pick-me-up’.  Perfect again!

Fat Types (Part III)

Many of you were really excited by my last post when I spoke about what type of Fats I eat and getting a sneak peak at what the more scientific result of that looks like – namely my bloodwork.   As a result, I received a lot of emails about explaining fats even further.  You know, really breaking it down for us to all easily ‘digest’ so to speak.

So, I turned to my friend Michael McCauley of Vitaerobics.com.  He and his wife Johnell head up the company and really focus on helping people like you and me understand how to eat less of the bad fats and more of the good along with other valuable nutrition tips.

In the following article, Michael does an excellent job of clarifying what fats are and how they differ.  Sure it’s basic information, yet SOOOO important to understand.  Michael and Johnell even helped me learn a good way to remember the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats.

Saturated = Solid @ room temp

Unsaturated = un-Solid @ room temp

Without further adieu…

The Skinny on Fats in Food

By: Michael McCauley of Vitaerobics.com

A lot has been written about fat in recent years. Some people portray it as a “super villain” while others actually encourage people to include more fat in their diets. So what’s the real story? The American Heart Association (AHA) says that a healthy diet should include no more than 30% of total calories from fat, and ideally no more than 20%. Some fat in your diet is essential to good health, but too much fat can lead to health issues. One thing is for sure – in today’s pre-packaged, fast food world, it’s very easy to have too much fat in your diet.

While the total percent of fat in your diet is important, so is the type of fat. There are basically two types of fat in food – saturated and unsaturated. In general, saturated fats are solid at room temperature (like the fat on your steak), while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (like cooking oils).

Saturated Fat

This type of fat is found mainly in foods from animals. Meats like beef, veal, lamb, pork, and poultry all contain saturated fat. Dairy products like butter, whole milk and cheese also contain saturated fat.  It is found in some plant-based foods, too. For example, coconut and palm oils (often called “tropical oils”) are high in saturated fat.  The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 7% or less of your total calories.

Unsaturated Fat

This type of fat is a bit more complicated. Unsaturated fats can be further divided into poly-unsaturated fats, mono-unsaturated fats and trans fats. Unsaturated fats are normally found in fish, nuts, seeds and some plant oils. Salmon and trout are good sources, as well as avocados, olives, walnuts and other vegetable oils.

Trans Fat

A third type of unsaturated fat has become an issue in recent years. It is called “trans fat.” Most doctors agree that trans fats should be avoided whenever possible. Trans fats can both raise your LDL (the “lousy” cholesterol) and lower your HDL (the “healthy” cholesterol).  For the most part, trans fat is artificially created by processed food manufacturers.

Trans fats are listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated (pronounced hi-DRAW-gen-ated) oil,” because it is created during the hydrogenation process that changes liquid oils into more stable solid fats. So, if trans fats are bad for you, why do food producers use them? They are mainly used to lengthen shelf life, enhance flavor and improve consistency. What’s important to note is that it’s NOT used to make processed foods healthier! In fact, it has the opposite effect. Many studies have shown that the consumption of trans fat contributes to increased cholesterol, clogged arteries and heart disease.

The bottom line is that you need some fat in your diet, but not all fats are created equal. Keep fat to less than 30% of your total calorie intake each day, and minimize the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet. Be an informed consumer and know what you’re eating.

Remember, knowledge and action set the stage for great health!  What actions will you take today?

About the author: A Nutrition Specialist, speaker, author, and teleseminar host, Michael McCauley is co-creator of Nutrition Unmasked™, Vitaerobics’ signature program that reveals the secrets of healthy, diet-free living without giving up the foods you love. Michael can be reached by visiting the Vitaerobics website at www.Vitaerobics.com.

Fat Thoughts (Part II)

Fat?  What?  Healthy?  Yes.  Seriously, yes.  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk.  Fat is an important part of your diet that many people spend countless hours micro-managing with the goal to avoid getting or staying fat.  To some degree, I can appreciate their struggle (I personally loathe trans fats.), but I think it’s high time that we start to re-evaluate our relationship with the big “F”.  While it can be pretty tasty (ok, downright delicious), up a meal’s ability to make you feel full, and some can even help cool the fires of inflammation burning in the body, there still seems to be a handsome swath of people who are hell-bent on eating as little fat as possible to avoid consequences like the dreaded “C” (aka. cholesterol).  Using myself as an example, it’s my goal to shed some light on why what our generally accepted truths on fat might be missing the mark.

I admit it openly – Fat is a decent part of my diet.  You can read my full disclosure below so that there are no mistakes about what types of fat that I personally consume and how they subsequently affect me via scientific bloodwork.  I’m sharing this because I believe part of what causes many in this nation to develop cholesterol issues isn’t the good fat that we eat.  It’s a combination of poor (or bad) fats in your diet and an overabundance of fructose (Do you eat a lot of fruit?) that create metabolic (aka. hormonal) issues bogging down your body’s ability to function properly.

You’ve got to understand- nutrition as a science is relatively new… say about 50+ years old.  There’s a huge amount of wiggle room and contradiction in the mix of things especially since we let industry decide for us what is good and bad to eat.  (You can check out Michael Pollan books for more info on that topic.)  Because of this, we follow diets, philosophies, eating rules, trends, charts, graphs, and range limits as if they are the end-all be-all of life.  The unique make-up of each person on this planet seems to be disregarded when it comes to all of this info-stuff.  It’s entirely plausible that one could be outside the normal ranges of things and still be, well, normal for him or herself.  That’s why we’ve always got to question what’s conventionally accepted whether we’re talking about fat or something entirely different.

My concern comes from the many people who still buy into the idea that fat makes you fat. However, there is a growing trend of professionals who are bucking the trend providing information that is startlingly relevant to our current obesity dilemma.  My nutritionist, Samantha F Grant, says that “Our cell membranes are made up of 50% saturated fats, like the fats found in oils from butter, eggs and coconut milk.  They give our cells necessary stiffness and integrity. When we’ve evaluated the fat in artery clogs, it’s been revealed that only about 26% is saturated fat.  The rest is unsaturated, of which more than half is polyunsaturated.” (Felton, C V, et al, Lancet, 1994, 344:1195)

Even my mentor, Andrea Beaman, lectures about the benefits of healthy fats for a healthy body and takes Samantha’s thoughts a step further.  “Every cell in your body relies on cholesterol/fat for communication. All of our cells are coated in cholesterol/fat and that is what holds the integrity of our cells. Even your entire brain is coated in cholesterol. When cholesterol is too low… [you can experience] memory loss, bone loss, muscle loss, and depression.”  We can all concur that the picture Andrea paints doesn’t look good!

Clearly fat is important in ways that extend beyond the anti-inflammation craze with fish oil.  We need fat for our body to properly lubricate itself all the way down to the cellular level and to send signals around to various areas.  Though it’s quite easy to take for granted all that goes into even the process of my fingers typing this article to you, fat is a key piece of the puzzle facilitating the actions.  That’s pretty major, yes?

Okay, so back to my most recent bloodwork results- I always like to use myself as a guinea pig.  I figure that it’s my own personal right to try things out on me before sharing ideas with others.  Plus, I use my own life as an example for personal change.  My last bloodwork before this recent one was completed over three years ago, prior to drastically changing my diet and removing gluten, dairy and eggs.  Over the course of time, I also began to eat more full fat food options as well.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my lipid panel (which illustrates your fat levels in the blood) came back better than they were in the prior test.  Even my Dad (the doctor) commented how good they were!

Now before I share my results with you, I want to disclose that I do not generally eat products that have the fat reduced or removed (ie. Skim milk, low-fat cheese, fat-free products that clearly contain oils).  I put full-fat coconut milk in my smoothies.  I use olive oil and other types of oils that haven’t been refined.  I love ghee (which is clarified butter) and, if I did consume butter, I’d opt for the full fat type.  I eat chicken that still has fat and skin on it and marrow from bones in stocks.  If I could eat eggs, I’d eat the whole egg (as I used to before developing a sensitivity).  I eat avocados and plenty of nuts and seeds.   And I eat chocolate (which is quite high in fat too, FYI!).  Anyway, you get the picture.

So here are the results from my lipid panel dated 4/1/11:

Cholesterol, Total                     150                          Normal Limits: 125 – 200 mg/dL

HDL Cholesterol                        70                          Normal Limits: > OR = 46 mg/dL

Triglycerides                              43                          Normal Limits: < 150 mg/dL

LDL-Cholesterol                         71                          Normal Limits: <130 mg/dL (calc)

Not bad, considering that you now know what I eat.  Food for thought.

Great follow up reading includes:

Is Sugar Toxic? – Gary Taubes, NY Times

Ominous New Warnings issued about Toxic Fat – Dr. Barry Sears

Toxic Fat – TV interview of Dr. Barry Sears

The Big Fat Cholesterol Myth – Andrea Beaman

Rethinking Saturated Fats – Dr. Andrew Weil


Looking to go Gluten Free? Register for my upcoming **FREE** tele-class “FIVE ways that Gluten *STILL* Sneaks into your Diet” on 9/14 at 7 PM ET. If you haven’t registered for the class yet, you can do so here.

What philosophy of fat do you follow?   Are you a low-fat person?   What’s your experience been?

Quick Peach Cobbler (GF, Vegan)

Every time I bite into a fresh, juicy peach, I think to myself how awesome the summer is.  Peaches, along with a few other choice fruits, bring memories of being a little kid in the summertime.  When it’s peach season, you can safely bet that I’ve got at least a few in the house and probably plenty more frozen to use to chilled smoothies and desserts.

I’ll admit, I do like a good dessert, but rarely will I buy one at the store.  My own dietary restrictions usually make it tricky, if not impossible to find something that isn’t entirely glorified, expensive junk food.  So, I great creative with what mother nature provides.  When I got in the mood for some peach cobbler, I stripped away the extra ingredients and made one so simple that 10 minutes was all it took in order for it to make an appearance at my table.

Ooo’s and Ahh’s all around the table to this light and simple dessert OR maybe even an occasional sweet breakfast.  Enjoy!

Quick Peach Cobbler (gluten free, vegan)

  • 3 large, ripe peaches, cubed
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (if you’re GF, make sure that it’s labeled as such)
  • Few dashes of Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup Purely Elizabeth. Original Ancient Grain Granola Cereal
  • (optional) 1 tbsp chia seeds

In sauté pan, heat EVOO over medium low and coat pan well.  Add in peaches and then the spice, salt and vanilla.  Stir peaches every minute or so to keep them from sticking to pan.  Cook for about 8 minutes, then remove peach mixture from the pan and place about 1 cup into individual serving bowls. Turn heat up to high for a few moments and then add cold water and scrape the pan vigorously with your cooking utensil to remove the excess peach that inevitably got stuck to the pan in the cooking process.  Evenly add this liquid to each serving bowl.  Finally, top each bowl with granola and, if you want, the chia seeds for some added fiber.

NOTE: extra peach mixture can be saved in fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container and reheated before topping it with cereal.

Serves 2.

The Great ‘Grain Free’ Debate – Pt. 1

If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve spent the last 3+ years gluten-free.  For most people, that’s a big step to take in changing one’s diet.  Recently, I’ve begun toying with the idea of going another step and removing ALL grains.  Crazy?  Not completely.  I know many people who live without any form of grains in their diet and sing to the high heavens how wonderful they feel.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on an even better slice of health than what I’ve currently got, however I’ve got some reservations (naturally, right?).

So, I turned to a group of experts who’s opinions and experience are well respected.  Please know that I value their commitment to their own personal diets and beliefs around food and hope that their wisdom will shed some light for you as it has with me.  In the following snippets of their grain-free expeditions, I’ve done my darnedest to focus on how going and/or being grain free has directly affected them.  It’s one thing to talk about going grain free and it’s a completely different matter to actually do it, right?  If you’ve ever undertaken a radical change to your diet, you know exactly what I’m saying.

Without further adieu, I’d like to introduce you to my panel of experts:

Samantha F. Grant, CN

I made the decision to go grain-free 8 years ago after reading Dr. Mercola’s “No Grain Diet” book.  I remained grain-free for about a year.  During that time, I lost weight and generally had more energy.  Then I became pregnant not long after that year of grain-free living and during the first few weeks, I could only keep down grains.  So, I got back into the habit of eating grains (really quickly, I might add).

Eventually, the Paleo Diet caught my interest.  I work with many CrossFit athletes and most of them are grain and legume-free in addition to dairy-free.  After much thought and research, mainly using Mark Sisson, Loren Cordain, and Dr. Mercola (my hero)-I decided to be grain-free again.

Being grain-free helps me manage my weight and decreases sugar cravings.  I use coconut and almond flour for all my baking/breading.  Also, I now tend to eat more vegetables to get the “bulk” in my diet – which is a good thing!

Samantha F. Grant is a celebrity nutritionist based in Los Angeles specializing in metabolic and hormone correction.  Featured on television and in national magazines, she has worked with many well known Hollywood personalities as well as some of the top medical doctors in the world.  You can visit her on the web at http://www.samfgrant.com.

Aimee Lyons

I went grain-free in December 2009, briefly stopped during my pregnancy, and am once again grain-free.  At first, I cut out processed food, followed by sugars, then grains, then dairy and then alcohol.  It was about a two-year process to slowly get to where I am today.  I feel a lot better now and don’t even crave grains at all!  Also, I’ve found that my athletic performance is better following the absence of grains which is why I continue to stick with the diet!

 

Being grain-free isn’t difficult for me to follow so much so that I don’t even have the desire to eat grains anymore.  I’ve tried pizza and pasta during times when I’ve been really strict and have felt very sick and lethargic as a result.  That said, I don’t think that everyone needs to cut out grains.  It all depends on what your goals are and how you feel when eating grains.  There are certain grains, when soaked and eaten properly (not processed), that some literature supports (and it’s hard to disagree).  Again, it all depends on personal experience.

 

Aimee Lyons is the owner of CrossFit KOP, a Certified Level 2 CrossFit Coach, personal trainer, and USA-Weightlifting Certified Sports Coach.  Aimee’s passion and dedication to CrossFit training has taken her physically and mentally to levels she never thought possible.  You can visit her blog at http://www.aimeesfitnessblog.blogspot.com/.

Margie King, CHC

I inadvertently become grain-free by cutting down on gluten and did notice a difference in terms of fewer joint aches and other pains. This change came into my life because I decided to try a very low carb diet for weight loss.  Ultimately it meant cutting out most grains.  Though I tried to hang on to my morning oatmeal, I soon realized that I couldn’t tolerate many carbs while still losing weight.

Aside from the oatmeal, it wasn’t that difficult to give up grains.  I had already gotten used to no bread and still don’t miss it. Though I am mostly grain-free, I prefer to think of myself as just very low carb.  It seems that some people do fine with grains properly prepared and preferably sprouted while others do better without them.  I don’t think that grains are essential to every diet, but they certainly provide benefits in terms of B vitamins, minerals and fiber in their whole form.

Margie King is a holistic menopause health coach.  She works with midlife women and busy professionals to improve their health, energy and happiness through individual and group coaching, as well as webinars, workshops and cooking classes.  Visit her on the web at http://www.margieking.net/.

Barry Sears, Ph.D

I have tried to reduce grains in the diet to very low levels since 1990.  The only grains that I like are oatmeal and barley because they are rich in soluble fiber.  All other grains essentially contain only insoluble fiber.  Upon going grain free, the first thing I noted was better weight control including less water retention.  Generally speaking, a grain free diet is a more difficult diet to follow, but I believe that the clinical benefits are worth it – better health and better mental and physical performance.

Grains are convenient, ubiquitous and incredibly cheap for number of calories per dollar.  One should be aware that anything in moderation (even grains unless you are gluten sensitive) is fine and more importantly a sustainable dietary program.  To maximize health benefits, grain consumption should be kept to a minimum as you increase vegetable consumption.  The glycemic load of a meal should always be balanced by adequate low-fat protein.

If one is talking about going grain-free, then you should also consider going dairy-free, corn-fed beef and poulty-free, vegetable oil-free and alcohol-free.  All of these food ingredients are recent additions to the human food supply, and our genes (especially inflammatory genes) are still having trouble adapting to them.

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the dietary control of hormonal response.  The impact of Dr. Sears’ revolutionary work in the dietary control of hormonal response began with the publication of his landmark book, The Zone which has sold more than 2,000,000 hardcover copies, and became a #1 best seller on the New York Times book list.  He has since published many other books.  You can visit Dr. Sears on the web at http://www.drsears.com/.

I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued!  Though I still have some questions which I’ll explore in future blogs, I am very persuaded to think that these individuals might be on to something.

Do you agree with them?  Have you ever gone grain-free?  Would you if you’ve not already tried? 

 

 

Review: Dr. Sears’ Toasted Sesame Oil

“Open Sesame” is a phrase which conjures up almost magical connotations from our childhood, but for adults, sesame seeds still offer this ‘magical’ smathering of nutritional goodness.  The oil of toasted sesame seeds has been known for centuries for it’s incredible anti-inflammatory properties especially when it comes to wrangling pro-inflammatory proteins.  Anyone with an autoimmune issue or even with food sensitivities needs to be paying attention.  Thus, the importance of toasted sesame seed oil is a serious matter, so listen up!

My experience with toasted sesame oil increased exponentially after I was contacted by Dr. Barry Sears, the creator of the Zone (TM) Diet, to explore the many nuances of his Zone (TM) Toasted Sesame Oil.  I took the challenge quite seriously and spent a lot of time incorporating the oil into as many different dishes of which I could possibly imagine.  Toasted Sesame Oil is to India and Asia what Olive Oil is to Mediterranean cultures – highly revered as a nutritional powerhouse.

Plus, Dr. Sears has gone to great lengths seeking out the highest quality sesame seeds for his oil.  Surrounded by dark glass, the Zone (TM) Toasted Sesame Oil is USDA certified Organic and an unrefined antioxidant-rich oil that looks like a beautiful dark shade of gold.

Though many oils and nuts are quite prone to going bad, you don’t need to hold the same level of concern for toasted sesame oil.  Unlike other oils (such as olive oil), Zone (TM) Toasted Sesame Oil is quite resistant to becoming rancid.  That’s great news!  You can cook and sauté with it, drizzle it over steamed veggies, incorporate it into dressings, etc.  The possibilities are pretty vast, so use your imagination and enjoy it’s deep, nutty flavor that’s incredibly distinct.

Great recipes to use your Zone (TM) Toasted Sesame Oil that were crowd pleasers in my house include:

Are you ready to grab yourself a stash of this delicious oil?  Shop here for your own bottles.

What dishes have you incorporated Toasted Sesame Oil in?

Blueberry Vinaigrette

It’s pretty common knowledge how incredibly nutritious blueberries are.  Since no one is disputing this notion, please go get yourself some freshly picked blueberries right now!  They’re finally in season and absolutely incredible.  There’s nothing quite like ’em, especially on a hot summer’s day.

Do you know why these little blue gems are incredibly nutrient dense?  Aside from being low glycemic, what makes them unique is their blue color.  Blueberries contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that saturates them with nuances of red, blue and purple skin.  These antioxidants are incredibly effective when it comes to inflammation, so enjoy them now while they are at the peak of their growing season.

I personally buy extra when they are in season (ahem!  I mean right NOW!) and freeze them to add to cold meals like smoothies during the hot summer months.  So get out to your local farmers market and pick some up from a local farmer.  If you can get them organic, that’s even better as conventionally grown blueberries are high in pesticides.  You can read more about that here in the Dirty Dozen list of “clean” and “dirty” foods in relation to pesticide content.

After coming home recently from the farmers market, I wanted to play around with adding blueberries to my salad and came up with this quick, but tasty vinaigrette that was rather airy and ended up with a whipped texture.  It’s perfect for the summer!

Blueberry Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup Blueberries, rinsed well
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 tsp Brown Rice Vinegar (or Eden Organic Red Wine Vinegar)
  • 3-4 dashes White Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme

Combine all ingredients in your food processor and blend until all ingredients are incorporated well.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serves 2.  Can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

Blueberry Tomato Salad

One of my favorite summer staples is a Tomato Salad loaded with sweet tomatoes, cooling cucumbers and fresh basil.  When I was a kid, my mom made this every night with dinner as I’d consider it a staple part of any Italian meal in the summer.  Fresh, light, sooo delicious!

As an adult, I’ve enthusiastically kept up the tradition each summer and, at times, I’ll play with flavors to create some new and exciting Tomato Salad experiences like the one I’m about to share with you.  It’s important that all ingredients are fresh and as ripe as possible.  If you’ve got produce that just isn’t ripe, give it time to reach it’s full flavor and then use it.

This version of my family tradition is actually quite fantastic!  I was nervous to pair blueberries with garlic, but it actually works together quite well!

Blueberry Tomato Salad

  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup blueberries, halved (or whole if you don’t feel like chopping ’em)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 1 half cucumber, chopped small
  • 3 tbsp diced vidalia onion
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar (Eden Organic’s Raw Red Wine Vinegar is my fav)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Garlic Powder, to taste

Place veggies, basil and blueberries in bowl.  Add EVOO and vinegar along with a powdering of salt and a dusting of garlic powder.  Mix and taste.  Adjust seasonings from there and enjoy!

You can eat this on it’s own, use it as a bruschetta, add it to some mixed baby greens or top a beautifully grilled piece of chicken or fish.

Let me know what you think of this recipe and what you would pair it with!