I love this time of year; the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and we are all spending more time outside. We are gardening, pruning, dusting off our outdoor sitting areas and – my favorite – eating outside more often. Like many of you, I spend my work days mostly indoors, and I love to enjoy my dinner (or any meal) outside on the front porch or in our backyard garden. Our summer rituals often include parties with friends, both planned and spontaneous, and today we’ll explore some healthier options.
The many choices we make for our party foods often come with ”bonus” ingredients. Our veggie trays often come laced with pesticide residues and our corn chips are often made with GMO (genetically modified) ingredients. Farmers use GMO seeds/plants for ease of growing, as they can spray plenty of toxic poisons such as glyphosate (as found in Roundup), killing the weeds without affecting the plants.
We often also include sugary beverages, and unhealthy fats in our chips and dips. No wonder we struggle to get up for work after our weekend of revelry, and gain so much weight!
I have written often about making better choices. We truly are what we eat – and, as noted author Michael Pollan says, ”We are what we eat, eats.” (Let that sink in a bit.) Choosing organic produce eliminates the toxic chemicals which science says we should avoid, and when we eat meat and dairy products, let’s make sure they come from healthy sources, not from the toxic feedlots and confinement dairies.
Always choose pastured meat and dairy products from grassfed cows. When choosing chips and dips, choose non-GMO and organic ingredients as well; the unhealthy fats contribute to inflammation and the GMO corn chips, for example, will have those ”bonus” toxins I mentioned above. My favorite chips are made by Jackson’s Honest, cooked slowly in coconut oil at low temperatures, and they taste amazing!
Here a couple of my favorite party treat recipes that are found along with many others on the Natural Grocers website. Remember: ”We are what we eat, eats.”
Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Yield 6 cups
1 cup buffalo sauce (I recommend Tessamae’s brand, or 3/4 cup of your favorite hot sauce, combined)
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed of stems and leaves and cut into 6 cups of bite-sized florets
Natural ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping, optional
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (You can use your covered gas or charcoal grill as well.)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine buffalo sauce and almond flour. Use a fork to break up any clumps of almond flour and mix into a uniform consistency.
Drop about a third of the florets into the batter and use the fork to stir until each floret is coated with batter. Transfer each floret to the prepared baking sheet, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl before doing so. Make sure the florets are spread evenly and not overlapping each other.
Repeat this process until all the florets have been coated and placed on the baking sheet.
Place filled baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove baking sheet from the oven and gently turn each floret over. Return the pan to the oven and bake another 10 minutes.
Serve immediately with your favorite natural ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
Yield 1 serving
3 ounces sparkling (unsweetened) cranberry juice
3 ounces cranberry kombucha
1 ounces peach nectar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 ounces mineral water
frozen cranberries, for garnish
Mix all ingredients together, stir well and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh lime and cranberries. Enjoy!
At Natural Grocers in Eugene, where I am the store’s Nutritional Health Coach, we offer free classes that include plenty of information about healthy eating choices, and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (call 541-345-3300). Please ”like” our Natural Grocers-Eugene Facebook page. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at: https://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-location/eugene/.