Thursday, December 12th, 2013

The Power of Pomegranates

Normally I’m not into food that I have to work for. Anything that has to be peeled, broken, extracted and/or scooped is frowned upon. I like simple and easy.

However, there is one exception, a food that even the laziest of eaters cannot resist. It’s a beautiful fruit that is worth the effort just to experience the amazing taste and health benefits of it. That fruit is pomegranate.

Despite the work, pomegranates are hands down my favorite fruit. Every year around November they start to pop up in the stores here in Michigan, and I buy them as fast as week can eat them, usually 1 or 2 a day.

And worth it they are. Pomegranates are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods providing a cocktail of antioxidants that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, increase heart and artery health, act as mood enhancers, increase bone mass and inhibit growth of cancer cells. I think that covers most of America’s health problems! Pretty great for a little red fruit.

And if the work still bothers you, I have the perfect solution. Introduce them to your kids. Before you know it they will be peeling and extracting the seeds for you, and you will all reap the benefits!

- Veronica

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate and Goat Cheese

About a month ago I was in a restaurant in San Diego that served roasted Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries. It was a delicious combination! I decided to mimic the dish using pomegranates and goat cheese. I loved it! In fact pomegranates can be used in place of cranberries, cherries or other fruits in your favorite dishes.

Serves 4
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends and outer leaves removed
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
3 oz goat cheese

In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with oil and salt until coated. Roast at 400 degrees until soft, about 20-30 minutes. Place roasted Brussels sprouts in a serving bowl. Gently mix in pomegranate seeds and sprinkle with goat cheese. Serve warm or chilled.

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

4 Easy Ways to Lower Heating Bills This Winter

Last week it was 55 degrees, and there were still beautiful signs of fall foliage around town. This week we have a foot of snow on the ground. Welcome to winter in Michigan! I do love the change of the seasons but I don’t love the heating bills that come along with the cold. As we transition into colder weather, here’s an infographic of some of my tips to make the sting of the heating bill hurt less, so you can concentrate on the holidays and enjoy the cozy warmth that winter brings.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

- Veronica

From the Entire Pure Family

We wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Kathryn Budig’s Quinoa and Roasted Veggies with Lemon Coconut Sauce

We are excited to share a healthy quinoa recipe from a special contributor who certainly subscribes to the Pure lifestyle. Kathryn Budig, one of the youngest and most widely recognized faces in yoga, is also known for her love of food and laughter. Kathryn’s Quinoa and Roasted Veggies with Lemon Coconut Sauce is as filling as it is fun to make. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Quinoa and Roasted Veggies with Lemon Coconut Sauce

Ingredients:
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
2-3 cups brussel sprouts, chopped finely
2-3 large tomatoes, diced
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
sea salt
red pepper flakes
1 cup red and white quinoa
1 3/4 cups ZICO coconut water
salt and small pat of butter

for lemon coconut sauce:

1 cup canned coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 T Lucini Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
good pinch sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place your cut veggies onto a cookie sheet and massage well with olive oil, sea salt and pepper flakes until evenly coated. Roast for about 25-30 minutes.

Soak your quinoa for 5 minutes then rinse well. Cook in coconut water, butter and salt for about 15 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and the quinoa is light and fluffy.

Blend coconut milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, chili oil and salt and pepper until fully incorporated. Place on the stove and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add all of your goodies into a large bowl and mix well. Place quinoa/veggie mix into individual bowls and ladle with lemon coconut sauce and don’t hold back!

*use extra virgin olive oil and red chili pepper flakes if you can’t find this oil

Pure is on Instagram

From recipes to behind-the-scenes glimpses of what happens at Pure, there’s something for everyone on our Instagram feed. Follow @purebarveronica, and be sure to tag PUREBAR in your posts – we can’t wait to see how Pure fits into your everyday life.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Cooking with Farro

Farro has finally hit the big time! I know this because I actually found it on the shelf of my local Michigan grocery store, which tells me that farro is now a food staple. I have eaten and enjoyed farro in restaurants for quite some time but never really thought about cooking it myself until recently. I have found it to be a really nice reprieve from pasta and a wonderful ancient grain to add to my repertoire. In fact, it can easily replace pasta and grains in your favorite recipes.

Farro reminds me of oversized barley and has what I believe is a really nice texture, similar to barley. I like the fact that it is hearty and I can chew it. Farro contains the grains of several species of wheat, and is usually sold in “pearled” form which means some of the tough part of the grain has been removed so that it cooks up faster and more tender.

Farro is higher in fiber than rice or pasta and also contains a good amount of protein, magnesium and vitamins E and B, which are all good reasons to take it for a culinary spin! Try my recipe below for a quick and delicious farro dinner, and check out my Pinterest page for even more farro recipes.

- Veronica

Recipe: Farro with Sundried Tomatoes and Baby Spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1-2 tablespoons for drizzle
1 large garlic clove pressed
1 cup farro
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Ground black pepper
Grated parmesan

In a saucepan sauté the chopped garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the faro, stir and toast for 3 more minutes. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a low boil for 15 minutes until faro is “al dente”. Drain any excess liquid. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes and spinach. Remove from heat, drizzle with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top with parmesan and serve warm.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Understanding GMOs

I first wrote about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) about 3 years ago. Since then several states have had measures on the ballot to encourage the labeling of food containing GMOs (see below for most common genetically modified crops) and there has been much more publicity about them. I still feel, though, that a general confusion exists about what GMOs are and why there is such controversy surrounding them.

As the founder of Pure, a company committed to organic and non GMO real food snacks, I feel it is important for us all to understand what GMOs are and why we should avoid them.

According to the Non GMO Project website, GMOs are defined the following way

GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

To me, the fact that over 60 other industrialized countries including the European Union, Japan, and Australia ban the use of GMOs is another good reason to be wary of them.

One of the main reasons why GMOs are more prevalent in the US is because Monsanto, a very large corporation based in the US, manufactures Roundup which is the herbicide that most GMOs are genetically modified to be resistant to. Essentially, farmers can drench their crops in Roundup and kill every pest but not the plant itself. Keep in mind that research has linked Roundup to Parkinson’s disease, infertility and cancer and it is currently being studied more in depth by the FDA.

You can help! If enough consumers reject the idea of GMOs, the hope is that manufacturers will stop making these products. How do you know if a product is non-GMO? Even though labeling laws are not enforced, seek out products with a non-GMO verified seal. Also, always buy organic meats and produce to avoid GMOs.

As more seeds are genetically modified, traditional farmers (non-organic) are left with very few options, causing them to buy more Roundup. To learn more about GMOs visit the Non-GMO Project website. For a list of the top GMOs in the US, see below.

- Veronica

Top GMOs in the US

  1. Soy -93% of soy is genetically modified. Buy organic or look for the non GMO seal to avoid genetically modified soy which is in almost every processed food in the form of oil, protein and emulsifiers
  2. Cottonseed -93% of cottonseed is genetically modified.
  3. Canola-90% of canola seed is genetically modified
  4. Sugar Beets -90% of sugar beet crop is genetically modified. Sugar beets are used to produce 54% of the sugar sold in America.
  5. Corn -88% of corn in the US is genetically modified. It is also very prevalent in almost every processed food we buy.
  6. Papaya -75% of the Hawaiian papaya crop is genetically modified
  7. Alfalfa –between 20 and 50% of alfalfa is genetically modified

List of supermarket products containing GMOs

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Gettin’ “Figgy” With it

Tell the truth, how long did it take you to realize that figs are a fruit, not just the gooey inside of a “Fig Newton”? The first time I ever experienced a fig was in Italy. I have to admit that I didn’t know what it was. They served these beautiful, soft, green fruits on a platter after dinner and luckily my husband correctly identified them. He looked at me with amusement and said “Have you never had a real fig before?” I laughed and said not only had I never eaten one, but I had also never seen one! What can I say? I’m a child of the processed food 80’s and surprisingly even my hippie generation parents didn’t introduce me to figs.

It didn’t take long for me to love and truly appreciate figs the fruit, and Fall is the best time to include them in your favorite recipes. When ripe they practically melt in your mouth and are a great complimentary ingredient in salads and desserts which is especially nice given their impressive nutrients. Figs provide calcium for strong bones, fiber to promote weight loss and control blood sugar, and potassium to help maintain a good blood pressure. Like other fruits, figs are high in antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer.

Figs are especially delicious served with soft cheeses, I like to broil figs and spread them with a local herbed goat cheese for a wonderful appetizer. They are also great on pizzas and in dishes with grains like quinoa. Drizzle figs with vinegar or lemon juice for a sweet and sour flavor in recipes. Since figs are in season now, they are terrific paired with local farmers market tomatoes in a fresh salad! See one of my favorite fig-infused recipes below!

- Veronica

Fig, Arugula, Heirloom Tomato Salad

Serves 4

8 ounces of arugula

2 medium sized heirloom or ripe garden tomatoes, sliced into large sections

4 figs, quartered

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

Place arugula in a salad bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss lightly to combine

Dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together in a measuring cup until smooth. Drizzle over the salad and serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Fend off Mosquitoes with Oils and Herbs

There are many joys to living in Michigan; mosquitoes are not one of them. Every summer and early fall they seek out innocent, outdoor-loving victims like miniature vampires. Heaven forbid one gets into your bedroom, or worse your tent! It will inevitably wait until you are just drifting away into a restful sleep to dive-bomb your head with a shrill piercing buzz that sends you into a panic of waving arms and sheets, only to be repeated over and over as your attempts to find the little pest are unsuccessful.

As humans do, we tend to overreact when we are threatened and angry. In the case of mosquitoes, we have created a substance that repels the mosquito very effectively but unfortunately is also extremely toxic to our own bodies. It’s called DEET. So as we ward off itchy bites, we run the risk of slowly poisoning ourselves and our family. At low doses, DEET can cause skin irritation, burning, and rashes. Prolonged exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, mood changes and even neurological damage. No thank you!

Luckily Mother Nature provides, as she always does. Now granted, you may have to be a little more diligent with natural solutions than with DEET, but it’s a small price to pay for one less toxin in your life. Below are two ways to naturally and effectively repel the little predators while keeping yourself and your family DEET free .

- Veronica

Repel Mosquitoes Naturally

  1. Create an outdoor environment that mosquitoes detest by planting these herbs around your outdoor patio or yard.
    • Lemon Grass
    • Lemon Balm
    • Rosemary
    • Basil
    • Lavender
    • Mint
  2. Make your own repellant by mixing 1 part essential oil (choose from the list below) and 15 parts organic soybean oil. These essential oils smell great to us but terrible to them, and soybean oil has also been shown to be extremely effective in warding off mosquitoes.
    • Peppermint oil
    • Cinnamon oil
    • Lemongrass oil
    • Citronella oil
    • Lavender oil
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Roasting Peppers

Peppers and I have never really gotten along. I have always wanted to like them, but many peppers, especially green ones, have a strong flavor and do not sit well in my stomach. I have tried various methods of cooking them and I have tried eating them raw, all with little success, until now. I finally learned how to roast peppers to my liking and it has definitely helped repair my relationship with them.

Roasting peppers, unlike other methods of cooking them, creates a unique flavor combination of sweet and smoky. It also softens them to the right texture so they are more easily digested, and no longer upset my stomach.

Suddenly I have a whole new array of recipes available to me! One of my favorite ways to prepare roasted peppers is to stuff them with a variety of beans, grains, herbs and cheeses. You can also roast them plain and use them as a pizza topping or blend them into your hummus.

See my basic roasting recipe below and start adding roasted peppers to your food repertoire!

- Veronica

Roasted Red Peppers

I like to use bell peppers, but this recipe works with other varieties. It is important to keep an eye on the pepper because different varieties will have different cook times. I like to scoop the seeds and gills out of my peppers before I roast them because they get too hot and mushy to handle afterwards. I also roast them cut side down because the internal juices steam and make the inside of the pepper softer than when roasting cut side up. I place them in an airtight container to further steam and soften them before stuffing.

Ingredients:
2 red bell peppers

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 ˚F. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stem intact. Scoop out the seeds and gills with a metal spoon. Place peppers cut side down on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish. Bake for 25-35 minutes on a middle oven rack, keeping a good watch on the peppers to get them to their desired consistency.

Remove peppers from the oven and immediately place in an airtight container for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove and stuff peppers with your choice of ingredients!

Note: to roast peppers for addition to hummus or other dishes, follow the same instructions except, increase oven temperature to 425˚F, remove the top stem before roasting, and wrap the roasted peppers in damp paper towels right after removing them from the oven. This makes removing the skin easier which is preferable for these kinds of dishes.

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Forbidden Rice in the Kitchen

Are you feeling naughty? Don’t let the name fool you. Forbidden rice, or black rice as it is also called, should be anything but forbidden in your kitchen. Research shows this little gem of a grain to be higher in antioxidants than super fruits like blueberries and blackberries, without the sugar. In addition, forbidden rice is high in fiber, contains lots of heart healthy vitamin E and…here’s the kicker…it is inexpensive compared to super fruits.

That’s not to diminish the importance of super fruits in your diet, but often we don’t think of rice as a super food. In fact many people avoid rice because they think it is high in carbs. But be aware that all rice is not created equal, and cooking with forbidden rice should definitely be encouraged!

Part of the reason forbidden rice is black in color is because it retains the outer bran that is removed from many other rice grains. The bran adds iron and fiber, but the distinguishing factor from other rice grains is in the vast amount of dark cancer fighting pigments, which give this rice its super food status.

Call me shallow, but another reason why I fell in love with forbidden rice, besides the fact that it makes me feel naughty, is because it is beautiful. It cooks to a deep and rich purple color that puts its bland relatives to shame, and compliments any dish; it’s the perfect plate accessory. Forbidden rice also adds a hearty and nutty, yet mild flavor to your dish of choice. I use it as I would any other rice or grain and serve it hot as well as cold in tabbouleh-like salads.

- Veronica

Forbidden Rice Pilaf

1 large onion chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup forbidden rice

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 carrots chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Juice from 1 lime

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil on low heat until it is soft. Add the rice, water, salt, and carrots. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low-medium heat for about 30 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Squeeze the lime over the rice and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Making Blogger Connections

One of the most exciting ways to grow your business, no matter what business you are in, is to connect with like-minded people in your industry. As a female entrepreneur, I get so much joy from getting to know other women who are also following their passions. For me, one of the best ways to do this is by connecting with influential bloggers who are passionate about what they do, and looking to bring good into the world.

This year I am hosting a series of Pure Blogger Breakfasts. The purpose of these breakfasts is to get ten or so woman around the table to talk about what we do, share our stories, and walk away with new friends and business contacts. So far we have had one in Chicago and one in Los Angeles. The women I have met are incredible. They are passionate, relatable, strong and amazing resources for me. We have continued to support each other with our individual goals and it has been great for me both personally and professionally. It’s like we’re all holding hands on this life journey.

So often we get wrapped up in our own busy world and forget that networking and developing relationships are the backbone to all successful businesses. So much of Pure was and is built on relationships, not just good business. So if you are looking to grow individually or grow your business, make sure to reach out to others around you. While you’re at it, have fun checking out these amazing blogs from the women I have met below.

*We are always looking to continue to partner with women-run businesses – if you would like to work together to partner on any upcoming initiatives, please email us at info@thepurebar.com

- Veronica

Blogs by Great Women

www.NutritionBabes.com

www.RealFoodMoms.com

www.MomsGoneZen.com

www.RockinMama.net

www.OCMomBlog.com

www.OrangeDragonfly.com

www.LaughingLindsay.com

www.AimeeBroussard.com

www.Sweeps4Bloggers.com

www.AnneHogan.net

www.MommyHasALife.com

www.MamaBee.net

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Mayonnaise for your Potato Salad and Summer Sandwiches

Most people think potato salad is bad for you, and rightly so if you buy it from the store or use store bought highly processed mayonnaise to make it. However, sans the dressing, potato salad is usually made with a bunch of delicious healthy vegetables and herbs. When combined with homemade mayo and organic whole ingredients, you actually have a very nutritious and absolutely delicious recipe. So, is it hard to do? Not at all. My homemade mayo recipe has only 5 ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make.

- Veronica

Homemade Organic Mayonnaise Recipe

Ingredients

1 large organic egg yolk

1/4 cup organic grapeseed oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh squeezed organic lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon organic ground mustard

Pinch sea salt

Paprika to garnish

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a glass Pyrex measuring cup (I use the 4 cup size). Using a fork, whisk the ingredients together until blended, about a minute. Using a hand held blender, blend the ingredients together in the measuring cup while slowly adding the oil, about 3-4 minutes. I like to use the small Pyrex container because it is tight and everything blends at once. When mayo is thick, use a spatula to place it in a serving or storing container. Garnish with paprika and use as you would any other mayonnaise.

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Simple Organic Cocktails

Isn’t there something about summer that begs for an icy cold cocktail? Think sunshine, warm deck, lots of friends, you get my drift. What’s interesting to me, is how those of us who seem to care so much about the food we put in our bodies (whole, organic, unprocessed) throw everything out the window when it comes to drinking. It’s bad for you anyway so why worry about it, right?

Luckily I had the opportunity to meet with Cocktail Chef Matthew Biancaniello who showed me a whole new way of thinking about drinking. What seems obvious but somehow never really clicked is that just like with food, when you use whole, real, unprocessed ingredients in your cocktails, they taste much better and you feel much, much better. That means more fun and less headaches. Learn Matthew’s tips along with a great drink recipe in the video below.

- Veronica

South Side of Sicily Drink Recipe

1/4 cup strawberries

1-2 leaves sweet basil

3/4 ounce (a bit less than 2 tablespoons) agave nectar

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) lime juice

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) watermelon juice

2 ounces (1/4 cup) tequila or sparkling water

Muddle strawberries and basil together in a cup. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well to blend. Strain over ice and serve.