Keeping Fresh Leafy Greens Part of Your Holidays!

During the holiday season, there is one type of leafy green in particular that is sought after by many: Collard greens. Due to a tough growing season this year in the US, we are faced with a shortage of Collard greens.

Don’t panic, friends. As your Leafy Greens Guide, we are here to tell you there are other leafy greens such as:

These three leafy greens are just as tasty and can easily be swapped out in your favorite holiday recipe. Need some recipe inspiration? We are here for you! Below are some delicious recipes from our cookbook for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacking and dessert.

Holiday Breakfast Ideas:

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Savory Stuffed Mushrooms

Holiday Lunch + Dinner Ideas:

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Kale Chia Chocolate Truffles

We hope you enjoy trying new recipes and flavors this holiday season!

Connect with us on Instagram or Facebook and tell us your thoughts on any recipes you try.

Happy Holidays!








10 Ways to Indulge This Holiday Without Overdoing It

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This season is a time to celebrate. But, you can enjoy the holidays in a healthy balance. Here are 10 tips for indulging without overdoing it, and finding time for some wellness-driven self care. 

1. Start each day with a nutrient rich breakfast.

This important meal can set you up for all day energy, and leave you less prone to oversnacking in the evening. It can be as quick and simple as a piece of fresh fruit paired with a few hard boiled eggs and cut veggies dipped in guacamole. Or, check out the breakfast recipes on our site for options like make-ahead frittata, savory egg muffins, and overnight oats. 

2. Drink plenty of H2O.

It can be easy to forget to drink during this busy time of year. But staying well hydrated helps to regulate appetite and support overall energy and good digestive health. Keep a water bottle with you to sip throughout the day. 

3. Rate your splurge options.

There are numerous opportunities to indulge throughout the season, but some are more special than others. Before reaching for a treat, rank it on a 0-5 scale with 5 being can’t-live-without and 0 being meh. If something doesn’t rate at least a 4, chances are you won’t regret forgoing it or feel deprived.

4. Fit in veggies.

In addition to being chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, and low in calories, eating more veggies is tied to better mental wellness. That’s key during what can be a stressful season. Stock veggies with hummus for snacking, and rely on easy breezy choices at mealtimes, like: ready to eat greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette topped with quick protein, like canned beans or salmon; fresh or frozen veggies quickly sautéed in low sodium veggie broth with minced garlic and Italian herb seasoning; fresh or frozen veggies steamed and tossed with jarred pesto. 

5. Find a little ‘you time’ each day, even if it’s just five minutes.

Go for a brisk walk, listen to a guided meditation, stretch, turn on some music, or dance! Taking a break to briefly focus on yourself can reinvigorate your spirit, and help you make intuitively healthier choices throughout the day.    

6. Imbibe strategically.

Pair every cocktail with a full glass of water. This will keep you better hydrated and slow your drinking pace. It may also help curb your calorie intake, and avert the alcohol-induced munchies.     

7. Bring some nutritious dishes to holiday parties

A veggie tray with healthy dips is always a good bet, or try our recipe for light but flavorful veggie stuffed mushroom caps. Filling up your plate with options like these can help balance out traditional, more indulgent fare.   

8. Stash better-for-you snacks in your bag for shopping excursions.

Opt for nuts, or a clean ingredient protein bar. Apart from keeping you fueled, a healthy snack can help prevent becoming overly hungry, which can lead to rebound overeating, and allow you to avoid less healthy fast food options.          

9. Slow your eating pace, especially at big holiday meals.

Try to put your utensil down between bites, take breaths, and remain mindful of both your food and your fullness level.

10. Practice gratitude.

Research shows that spending 15 minutes before bed writing down grateful sentiments improves sleep length and quality, another key wellness component this time of year. If you don’t have the chance to jot down your thoughts, simply run through them in your mind. Any time spent focused on gratitude is valuable now, and all year long. 

How do you stay balanced during the holidays? Please share your thoughts, tips, and favorite healthy recipes.  

Eat More Plants: How You Can Transition Your Lifestyle to Include More Plant Based Meals

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Shutterstock #726737797

Are you beginning to focus more on the types of food and the quality of food that you’re preparing in your home for you and your family to eat? Many people consider eliminating certain types of food from their diets or look into vegetarian and vegan lifestyles without realizing that there’s another option out there to pursue.

What is a plant based lifestyle?

A plant based diet, which is more of a lifestyle than a “diet,” could be a great option for you and your family to consider. It offers plenty of flexibility while still striving to incorporate healthy, minimally processed foods into your diet. According to Healthline.com, to eat plant based means that you are:

  • Emphasizing whole foods and decreasing the number of processed foods

  • Limiting or avoiding animal productsFocusing on plants including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts

  • Excluding refined foods such as added sugars, white flour, and processed oils

Not only are you improving your health and helping to reduce the risk or symptoms of several chronic diseases with a plant based diet, but you have the opportunity to choose exactly where the food you choose to consume comes from. At WP Rawl, we believe in supporting local farmers and doing so by partnering with them to help grow fresh veggies, as well as buying their products for our own families to enjoy. 

With weekly meal planning and meal prepping, transitioning to a plant based lifestyle is an easy transition to make. In the recipe section of our website, you can find an abundance of delicious recipes that you can easily work into you and your family’s day. Two such recipes that are great for this time of year? Our Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats and our Super Greens Soup.


Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats

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Our Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats (link to recipe once it is live on website) are a delicious addition to your morning breakfast routine this time of year. You can skip the Pumpkin Spice Latte and fulfill your pumpkin-craving with a more natural, plant-based choice in the morning. These overnight oats include rolled oats, pure maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, canned pumpkin, chopped kale, and roasted pumpkin seeds to create a delicious, quick breakfast for you. 

The best part? You can make these oats ahead of time so that they’re easy to grab and go in the morning.


Super Greens Soup

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If you want to be sure that you’re sticking to your plant based diet, skip the canned soup aisle at the grocery store and pick up ingredients instead to make your own savory soup. Our Super Greens Soup (link to recipe once it is live on website) is delicious, full of great nutrition, and comes together easily on a weeknight in less than 30 minutes.

We want to see how you’re incorporating a plant based diet into your life! Take a picture of you shopping for your plant based ingredients or of your meal, and share it on social media using the hashtags #backtofresh and #naturesgreens. We’d love to see what kinds of recipes that you’re cooking up in your kitchen!

Follow us on Instagram for more recipes and behind the scenes on the farm!

Eat This Not That - No Preservatives

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Shutterstock #750161494

When you’re walking down the aisles of the grocery store with your grocery shopping list in hand, do you stop to think about what you’re adding into your cart before you toss it in? Do you take the time to read the ingredients on the prepackaged food products that you’re planning to purchase? The next time that you’re in the store—take a minute to read through the ingredients printed on the outside of the package. You may find that there are more things found in your food than you previously thought!

You can find additives like MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, and trans fat as well as a number of preservatives.

What are preservatives?

According to www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org, the term “preservatives” refers to the functional name for a wide variety of compounds that help slow or prevent bacterial growth in a wide range of products, including foods. They help prevent your food from spoiling on the shelf in the grocery store and they also help prevent your food from becoming contaminated. Preservatives can be both natural or man-made, synthetic chemicals. Now more than ever, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely regulates the use of preservatives in foods and is continuously researching them to ensure they are safe for our consumption.

Why should you eat foods that have no preservatives in them?

While approved by the FDA, preservatives have been linked to asthma-related sensitivities and to allergic reactions in some cases according to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Some preservatives, even those labeled as General Recognized as Safe by the FDA, have the potential to become carcinogens, which can cause cancer, when digested.

How can you incorporate preservative-free foods in to your daily lifestyle and into your weekly meal plan?

The easiest and best way to ensure that you’re eating food with no preservatives in it is to prepare and cook your meals at home using fresh or organic ingredients. For any food that you eat that comes pre-packaged, make sure that you read the ingredients list to see what is included the food. Do you see things like sodium nitrate, sulfites, or sodium benzoate? These are three preservatives commonly found in pre-packed foods in the grocery store. At WP Rawl, we believe in eating as many meals preservative free as possible. On our website, you can find an abundance of recipes that use fresh ingredients and ingredients that are free from additives and preservatives. This month, we’re highlighting two of our newest recipes for you:

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Kale and Lentil Hummus

What You Do:

1. In a blender or food processor, puree half cup of lentils with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar until smooth.

2. Gently fold in whole lentils, kale, and freshly chopped basil leaves into lentil mixture.

3. Refrigerate and serve with celery and baby carrots.

Skip picking up a container of hummus in the grocery store and instead, pick up the ingredients to make your own hummus at home. You’ll end up with the freshest hummus possible and also one that’s free of preservatives that are included to extend the shelf life of the hummus at the store.

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Vegan Kale Nicoise Salad

What you do:

1. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, garlic, pepper, salt, and half of dried parsley. Set aside.

2. Place kale in salad bowl. Top with sliced potatoes, green beans, chickpeas, and olives.

3. Garnish with remaining parsley, and lemon.

4. Serve dressing on the side.

This salad recipe not only includes instructions for putting together the salad, but it includes instructions for making your own salad dressing. By making the salad dressing yourself, you’re ensuring that you’re not adding anything to your healthy meal that includes a preservative.


We want to see how you’re eating preservative-free! Take a picture of you preparing your meal or of the final product and share it on social media, using the hashtags #backtofresh and #naturesgreens. We’d love to see what kinds of recipes that you’re cooking up in your kitchen!

What Does "Clean Eating" Mean?

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Shutterstock #631739033

The first time I heard the word ‘clean’ in relation to food was back in the mid 1990’s. Supermarkets noticed that customers were beginning to look beyond info like calories, and towards ingredient lists. Health conscious shoppers were starting to pay attention to how foods were made, and exactly what they were made from. As a result, health food stores—which stocked fresh foods and simple ingredient products—were attracting more and more consumers, and traditional grocers took note.

Fast forward to today, and clean eating has gone mainstream, fostered by people from all walks of life, who want to feel good about what they’re putting in their bodies. This includes moms, who want the healthiest, most nourishing food for their children; millennials, who value natural living; and older adults who are motivated to maintain wellness and support longevity.  

The basic principle of clean eating is to let ingredients guide you. While it’s not realistic to never eat anything that comes out of a jar, box, or bag, it’s important to choose packaged foods with all natural, recognizable ingredients. For example, chickpeas from a can would be considered ‘clean’ if the only ingredients are chickpeas, water, and sea salt. The same is true for bagged greens with the only ingredient being kale, or frozen blueberries with no additional ingredients.

The idea is to slash your exposure to artificial additives and chemicals used in highly processed foods, as fillers, preservatives, flavor enhancers, colors, and the like. Recent research has shown that exposure to these man-made ingredients can harm health, from taxing immunity, to fueling inflammation, and possibly even contributing to obesity.     

But clean eating is also about how the foods we buy impact the health of the planet, and our ability to support an eco-friendly and sustainable food supply.  All of these vital issues are why clean eating is not a trend, but rather an important consumer movement.  

In addition to seeking out foods with ingredients you easily recognize, clean eating involves putting them together to make nutrient-packed meals and snacks. Some simple swaps to trade processed fare for fresh, clean food include: eating oats or a smoothie made with fruits and veggies for breakfast instead of a muffin or danish; snacking on nuts and fruit or veggies and hummus rather than chips; or whipping up a veggie-packed stir fry instead of microwaving a frozen entrée.

There are dozens of tasty recipes on www.rawl.net to guide you, and you’ll notice that many use simple, all natural ingredients—like extra virgin olive oil instead of margarine, and whole quinoa or beans in place of refined starches. That’s a big part of our Back to Fresh philosophy.

Tell us about the clean eating changes you’ve made and your favorite whole food-based recipes and meals in the comments or on social media @naturesgreens!

What to Expect When You Drive with WP Rawl

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How much do you pay per mile?

Starting pay is $0.46/mile with sign on bonus.

Where do you run?

We deliver to most major metro areas in the eastern half of the United States.

Do you have home time? How long will I be on the road?

On average, you can expect to be on the road an average of 3-5 days. Home every weekend or every other weekend.

What kind of trucks do you have?

Freightliners—fully equipped. Standard and Automatic available, years 2010-2018.

What benefits do you have?

We offer medical, dental, vision, and life. You will also be eligible for the 401k program where we offer a company match up to 4%.

Are your deliveries live unloads, or are they drop-and-hook?

Due to the nature of our product ( produce ) our outbound loads are live unloads.  Delivery dwell times can at times be frustrating, but we ask that you contact us when delayed so we can work with customer service to get you moving.  Inbound loads coming back to Pelion are not live unloads, and you are simply asked to top off the reefer fuel tank and then drop trailer on the yard.  Many of our backhauls delivering to consignees other than WP Rawl are live unloads.  We are consistently working on establishing a greater number of backhauls that are drop and hook.

Do you offer dedicated lanes?

Yes, we do.  Roughly 65% of our outbound loads shipped are based on consistent lanes.  We must always adapt to the needs of the business, but remain committed as possible to the dedicated lane structure.  Running a consistent lane allows a driver to establish a relationship with the customer.  That relationship then creates an environment which tends to lessen the time spent at the DC during the delivery.

Fill Your Child’s Lunchbox this Fall with Healthy, Nutritious Meals

Children across the country have traded in their bathing suits and beach towels for book bags and notebooks—the summer is over and a new school year has begun. With it comes new classes, new teachers, new lessons to be learned, and new lunchboxes to be filled with nutritious meals and snacks for your child to enjoy throughout the school day.

Making sure that your child is well-fed during the school day is extremely important to their academic success. If they’re eating regular, healthy meals then they are more likely to be well-rested, more attentive, and will likely retain more information from their classes each day. Packing a good lunch, or helping your child pack his or her own, is one of the very best ways that you can help them be successful in school.

Instead of relying on your child to make health-conscious decisions in the lunch line in the cafeteria each day at school, send a healthy, delicious, and nutritious meal with them in their lunchbox to refuel with in the middle of the day. We’ve pulled together two different lunch ideas that we know your kids will love. Plus, you’ll love knowing that they’re getting the proper nutrition that they need to make it through the school day! 

Four Food Groups Kid’s Lunch

For a lunch that packs in as many different food groups as possible, check out our Four Food Groups Kid’s Lunch. Your child will devour this appetizing lunch that includes an avocado, kale, hard boiled eggs, red bell pepper, and a seedless tangerine. It’s a good variety of food that’s easy to eat in the lunchroom and is filling enough to keep your child from being hungry in the afternoon.

Superfood Collard Roll-Ups

Our Superfood Collard Roll-Ups are easy to make, easy to pack in a lunch, and easy for your child to grab and eat for lunch! They’re full of all kinds of superfoods to keep your child’s mind focused throughout the school day and they’re delicious enough that we know they’ll eat them up!

What are you preparing for your children for lunch this school year to help them stay well-fed throughout the school day? We’d love to see a peek inside of your child’s lunchbox! Take a photo and share it on social media with us by tagging us (@naturesgreens) and by using the hashtag #backtofresh.

Family Meal Ideas for All Times of Day

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Shutterstock #1120735544

Throughout your pregnancy, we know that you did an outstanding job of eating the freshest, most nutritious foods to supply your growing baby with the best nutrition possible. But providing your child the best nutrition possible doesn’t stop once they’re born! As soon as they’re able to eat table food, it’s time to focus back in on what should be included in their diet to help them grow healthy and strong. 

Getting your child to eat what’s best for them—instead of the snack foods they see their friends eating—can be a challenge. We know that kids can be stubborn and incredibly selective with the foods that they choose to eat. However, we know a few tricks to adding in nutrient-rich vegetables and greens into your child’s meals without them noticing.

Our number one tip? Add in an extra veggie or two into a meal that they already love. They may not notice the addition, or they may absolutely love the new flavor. Either way, they’re getting the nutrition that their growing body needs! Here are our recipe suggestions that we know even the pickiest eater will enjoy:

Breakfast

With our Kale & Sausage Egg Muffins, you can help your kids start their day off right with a nutritious breakfast! This combination of eggs, all-natural chicken sausage, kale, and bell peppers is a tasty blend that we know your kids will gobble up in the mornings.

Lunch

Does your child love fruit? These Turkey Avocado Roll-Ups will satisfy their fruit craving with the inclusion of strawberries, but will also pack a nutritious punch with the addition of our Nature’s Greens collards and avocado. They’re easy for little hands to pick up to eat, and they’re easy to throw in a lunch box for your older kids to enjoy during the school day.

Snack

When you’re settling down for a quiet afternoon with your child’s favorite movie, our Sweet Greens and Seeds Popcorn snack is a healthy way to tide their hunger over until dinner time. It’s a crunchy, filling snack that won’t have your children asking for extra butter on top!

Dinner

Put a spin on your weekly Taco Tuesday, and introduce your family to these delicious Vegetarian Tacos.They can enjoy a healthier version of their favorite Mexican dish—the collards, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes, black beans, and corn make a great substitute for ground beef.

How to Help Your Kids Eat Nutritious Foods

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Nutrition is one of the three key factors that influence early childhood development, along with genetics and environment. Research shows that healthy eating habits during a child’s early years are connected to more optimal growth, as well as mental and physical health later in life, including academic performance, and a reduced risk of adult onset diseases.

One of the best ways to foster healthy eating habits early on is to involve your child with shopping for and preparing foods in age-appropriate ways. Even observing you joyfully cooking can boost a child’s interest in trying new, healthy foods.

Allow your little one to smell or touch ingredients, rinse produce, tear greens, sprinkle on herbs, stir, mash, and pour. Talk to your kids about what you’re doing in the kitchen, and share facts about how various foods were grown, why you like them, and how they help our health. Plant a garden, or even a few window pots, and involve kids in the process of growing, harvesting, and eating plant-based foods. 

Because toddlers and small children love finger foods, find healthful ways to incorporate produce. Cut casseroles into bit sized squares, like our Sweet Potato and Kale Casserole. And add vegetables to foods kids can eat with their hands, like our Savory Veg Power Pancakes. Stir pureed or finely chopped vegetables into other kid-friendly fare, like oatmeal, dips, soups, smoothies, popsicles, muffins, and even desserts. Try our Chocolate Cherry Kale Breakfast Cookies, Chocolate Avocado Pudding, and Crock Pot Stuffed Granny Smith Apples.      

 Savory Veg Power Pancakes

Savory Veg Power Pancakes

Last but not least, keep trying. Experts say kids may need to try a food 10-15 times before they will accept it. Continue to present healthy foods in new and positive ways. And most importantly, model healthy eating behaviors yourself, by allowing your children to observe you enjoying vegetables, fruits, and other healthy dishes.        

Gardening in the Fall: Thoughts From an Organic Farmer in South Carolina

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by Mark Spicer, Assistant Organic Farm Manager

Based on our experience at WP Rawl, we believe large farmers and small gardeners alike are presented with an ideal growing environment during the fall here in the Midlands of South Carolina. When most growers in the country are starting to think about winding down and preparing for winter, we Southern growers can start thinking about all the bountiful homegrown meals we can make for our friends and family. Ultimately, that’s why we at WP Rawl do what we do. Knowing that our family, friends, and neighbors are choosing our product when they go to the grocery store makes all our hard work worthwhile.

First steps

So what can you do to turn your plot of land or corner in your backyard into a bountiful harvest? Well, first of all you’ll need to prepare the ground by turning the soil over with either a tiller or a shovel. The goal is to break up the large chunks of sod or dirt so that you’re left with a smooth, weed-free plot of ground.  Turning the soil helps break up large clots of dirt, get rid of weeds, and creates a nice smooth seedbed ready for planting.

Next, you’ll want to take a look at your soil and think about how your vegetables will get the nutrients they need to grow. If you have sandy soil, you’ll need to fertilize and water your plants more often since sandy soils don’t hold nutrients or moisture well. If the soil is harder to break up and sticks together in clumps, then you’ll have to work a little harder to prepare your plot, but it also means that most likely you have better conditions to grow vegetables.

Compost

Compost is the greatest material asset we have to improve our soils here on the organic farm at Rawl. After just three years of mixing compost into our soil before planting, we have seen a massive increase in productivity and plant health. In my opinion, adding as much well-made compost to your garden as possible is the best thing you can do for the crops you plan to grow. There are local companies that sell or give away compost, and it is also sold in 1 to 3.8 cubic foot bags at most large hardware stores. The minimum I would suggest to add is 3” of compost on top of your garden. There are many gardening sites that do calculations for you, but an example would be: 2 cubic feet of compost covers an 8 foot by 8 foot garden plot with 3 inches of compost.

Fall Veggies

Now we get to the fun part: planting! Here in the Midlands, we have few limitations as to what can grow well in the fall. If your plot is ready mid-July to early August, you’ll have the largest selection of vegetables to choose from. We at WP Rawl primarily grow “leafy greens”: kale, collards, and mustard greens, along with cilantro, parsley, green onions, and leeks. They are incredibly popular, especially during the holidays, and this time of year is well suited for their growth. Along with leafy greens, lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes are perfect candidates for fall gardening; they all thrive in cool weather and even improve in flavor with a little frost. It’s even possible for backyard gardeners in this area to start late-season tomatoes in July and August if they’re ambitious. They require more care and knowledge than most vegetables, but there isn’t anything quite like eating a homegrown tomato fresh off the vine.

 Checking recently planted seeds.

Checking recently planted seeds.

Root vegetables, such as beets and carrots, should be started from seed in relatively weed-free soil any time from August 1st to mid-September. Spinach and lettuce can also be grown easily from seed, but planting them as transplants will also work. Vegetable transplants are generally 4 to 6-week-old plants grown in multi-cell trays or small pots started in a climate-controlled greenhouse. Most nurseries and hardware stores will probably be running sales on their transplants in the fall because they don’t want to keep these plants through the winter. Leafy greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, etc.) will grow better if you plant them as transplants.

Making It Grow

After you’ve prepared your soil, spread your compost, and planted your seeds and transplants, the most important thing you’ll want to do is keep the soil moist and weed-free. Hoeing or pulling weeds once or twice a week is ideal, and also a great family activity that gets everyone outside and involved with the bounty to come. Watering twice per day while it’s still hot should be enough to get your seeds to pop up and your transplants to take root. You want to keep the ground moist, but not so wet that you leave puddles.  As your garden matures and fall really sets in, cooler weather and more frequent rain means you won’t have to water as much.

If you see that your plants are slowing down in their growth, a tablespoon of organic garden fertilizer per plant is plenty to get them going again. If you’d like to fertilize your entire garden on a regular basis to ensure consistent growth, you have a couple options. The first: add about an inch of compost to your garden every 2 to 3 weeks; rake it into the soil around the plants gently and be careful not to get it on the leaves of the plant because the concentrated nutrient levels may burn the pllant if it sticks. The second option: every 2 to 3 weeks sprinkle your organic fertilizer of choice at the suggested amount (there are many options at the hardware store or nursery to choose from, but a standard organic vegetable garden fertilizer will work just fine).

Depending on what you grow and the conditions of your soil, you should be able to start harvesting the spinach and leafy greens after about 30 to 40 days. Picking individual leaves, instead of cutting down the whole plant, will allow you to harvest for several months or until a hard freeze sets in. For the root vegetables, radishes will be ready in 20 to 30 days, about 45 days for baby beets and carrots, and 60 to 70 days for them to fully mature.

 Summer/Fall Leek.

Summer/Fall Leek.

It is a big responsibility to care for a garden, but it doesn’t need to be seen as a hardship. I've discovered that all work is better and usually more enjoyable when shared with others. Everything from land preparation to planting to watering to pulling weeds offers the whole family an opportunity to get involved in an incredibly rewarding outdoors activity. Some of the best experiences I had as a child came from helping my mom cut lettuce for that night’s dinner. Here in the Midlands, nature has given us the gift of beautiful and often bountiful fall seasons. I would encourage families and individuals alike, to try a fall garden in the South at least once. I sincerely believe you’ll be amazed at what a little hard work and commitment can produce.  I encourage anyone with questions about gardening, or wanting to share their experience, to please reach out to me (mark.spicer@rawl.net). I would love to hear from you!

Happy growing!

-- Mark

PS: Are you growing a fall garden and posting about it on social media? Tag us in your photos so we can cheer you on! @WPRawl and @naturesgreens

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Pregnancy Nutrition: Eating Healthy While Pregnant

by Dr. Sonali Ruder (@thefoodiephysician)

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Pregnancy is truly a life-changing experience.  During pregnancy, your body goes through profound changes and certain nutrients are needed to fuel those changes.  Following a well-balanced diet rich in nutritious, whole foods is an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy.  It helps increase your chances of having a smooth pregnancy and also gives your developing baby the healthiest possible start in life.  Basically, a healthy diet helps make a healthy baby!

During pregnancy, you need to consume more calories and protein than before you were pregnant.  You also need to consume more micronutrients including folic acid, iron and calcium.  These are essential for the proper growth and development of your baby as well as for your own health during pregnancy.  It’s recommended that pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps.  But did you know that you can get these nutrients from foods such as leafy greens? 

One cup of chopped turnip greens provides a whopping 107 micrograms of folate, which is 27% of the recommended daily amount.  It also provides 105 milligrams of calcium, which is 10% of the recommended daily amount.  Other greens like kale, collards and mustard greens all provide these nutrients as well, in varying amounts.  In addition, leafy green vegetables also provide an array of other important nutrients including fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese and copper. 

Folate is one of the most important vitamins needed in pregnancy.  It’s essential for the synthesis of DNA and for proper cell division.  It’s especially important for the development of the neural tube, which forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord.  Folate is found naturally in foods like leafy green vegetables, lentils, asparagus, and beets.  Folic acid is a form of folate that is used in dietary supplements and foods.  In the United States, breads, cereals, flours, pasta, rice and other grain products are supplemented with folic acid. 

Iron is necessary for making hemoglobin, the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues as well as to your baby.  During pregnancy, you need much larger amounts of iron to support the growth of your baby and placenta.  Like folate, many grain products are supplemented with iron.  Leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard greens and spinach also provide iron.  However, the type of iron found in plant-based foods (non-heme iron) is not as easily absorbed by our bodies as the iron found in meat, seafood and poultry (heme iron).  A simple way to increase the amount of iron absorbed from vegetables is to eat vitamin C-rich foods with your meals.  Vitamin C greatly increases the amount of iron your body absorbs.  So the next time you’re sautéing some kale or mustard greens, sprinkle some lemon juice on top or throw in some bell peppers, which provide a good amount of vitamin C. 

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies.  Although 99% of it is stored in our bones and teeth, calcium serves many vital functions including maintaining a normal heartbeat, contracting muscles, transmitting nerve impulses, and clotting blood. It’s important for pregnant women to get enough calcium, especially during the third trimester when your baby’s bones are rapidly growing and their teeth are forming.  If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will withdraw calcium from your own bones to supply your baby’s needs.  Kale, collards, turnip greens and mustard greens are all a very good natural source of calcium. Calcium is also added to many foods like orange juice, plant-based milks, tofu, cereals and bread.

So how can you incorporate more leafy green vegetables into your diet?  Leafy greens can be added to a wide variety of dishes to add a boost of nutrition.  You can enjoy them raw in salads or add them to dishes like soups, stews, pasta sauces, and stir-fries.  Smoothies are another great way to incorporate greens into your diet.  During pregnancy, there may be times when you don’t have much of an appetite and cold drinks may be better tolerated.  To make a delicious smoothie, simply toss a handful of chopped greens to a blender along with your favorite fruit (like mango, pineapple, apple or watermelon) and some Greek yogurt or almond butter for a boost of protein and healthy fat.  Add ice and blend away!

More information and recipes can be found in my cookbooks, Natural Pregnancy Cookbook:  Over 125 Nutritious Recipes for a Healthy Pregnancy and Natural Baby Food: Over 150 Wholesome, Nutritious Recipes For Your Baby and Toddler

www.thefoodiephysician.com

 

Providing Nutrition to Your Child From Day 1 + Delicious Summer Recipes

Ensuring that you have a healthy diet that provides all of the nutrients that you need is always important for one’s health, but even more so when for a woman who is pregnant. She is the sole source of nutrition for her growing baby. The very best thing that she can do for her future child throughout her pregnancy is to ensure that she is eating healthy snacks and meals that include foods that are full of essential vitamins and nutrients.

Did you know?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, healthy eating is absolutely necessary and critical to a baby’s growth throughout pregnancy. It is important that any mama-to-be refine her eating habits to ensure that she is receiving adequate nutrition for not only the health of her growing baby, but for her health as well. This means eating from a variety of food groups including fruits and veggies, breads and grains, proteins, and dairy products and drinking at least 10 cups of fluids a day.

Luckily for you, many of the nutrients essential to a baby’s development are easy to find in some of your favorite fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens! Adding in a heaping handful of nutrients to your diet has never been easier or more delicious, especially with the recipes that we have put together for you.

Kale Yeah

One of the healthiest leafy greens that you can eat, kale, is super beneficial to the growth of a baby while still in the womb. It is a great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, in addition to folic acid, calcium, fiber, and iron. If you’re pregnant, one of the best ways to start off the day is with our Green Apple & Kale Smoothie Bowl, an easy-to-prep and delicious meal for breakfast.

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Green Apple & Kale Smoothie Bowl

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 0 Minutes

Our Veggie, Mango, & Pistachio Stir Fry is another recipe that is full of nutrients that a baby needs for development while in the womb and is a perfect meal to put together for lunch or for dinner. The veggies pack a powerful punch in this recipe by providing vitamins A, B6, C, and K as well as folate, fiber, calcium, and more.

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Veggie, Mango, & Pistachio Stir Fry

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

If you’re currently pregnant or hoping to grow your family soon, how have you changed your eating habits to get the best nutrients possible to your growing baby? We’d love to hear all of your tips and suggestions for incorporating additional nutrients into your daily eating habits. Take photos of your culinary creations that are perfect for mamas-to-be and share with us on Instagram and Facebook by using #backtofresh!

If you’re currently pregnant or hoping to grow your family soon, how have you changed your eating habits to get the best nutrients possible to your growing baby? We’d love to hear all of your tips and suggestions for incorporating additional nutrients into your daily eating habits. Take photos of your culinary creations that are perfect for mamas-to-be and share with us on Instagram and Facebook by using #backtofresh!

Easy Meal Ideas for Any Time of Day

One of the most difficult challenges with putting a fresh, healthy meal on the table is when you’re preparing the meal for just yourself. Most recipes that you come across are geared towards serving several people rather than one person. We know that it can make things difficult when you’re preparing more food than you can eat during one meal or if you’re spending hours in the kitchen to cook dinner for one.

We suggest looking for two types of recipes: ones that are quick and easy with just a few ingredients, or a recipe that prepares enough food that you can enjoy leftovers throughout the week. 

Recipes you want to avoid? The ones that call for ingredients that you rarely use, ones that take hours to prepare, and ones that will spoil faster than you can eat the leftovers. Save those recipes for when you’re hosting a dinner party with your friends or when you have family in town.

Breakfast

Our Wake Up to Kale” Breakfast Salad, ready in under 15 minutes, is a great breakfast to prepare for yourself in the mornings. It’s a quick recipe that incorporates many ingredients that you likely already have on hand in your kitchen along with a healthy portion of our Natures Greens® Kale Greens.

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Lunch

Ready in under 30 minutes, our Very Veggie Unfried Brown Rice is a healthier version of your favorite Chinese takeout dish. You can customize this recipe to your liking by adding or eliminating particular veggies or by adjusting the amount of each spice that you choose to include. Easily double or triple this recipe to make leftovers that you can dine on later in the week or pack for a healthy lunch option at work.

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Dinner

Sit down with an incredibly delicious dinner this week with our Kale Salmon Spring Quinoa Bowl which you can put together quickly after a long day of work. With fresh ingredients like kale and strawberries, and a helping of salmon, this tasty meal is one of our favorite healthy options for dinner.

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These cooking for one tips and recipes can help you eat at home more often, help you eliminate food waste from preparing too much food, and will help you choose fresh, healthy options rather than resorting to quick microwave meals for one. Looking for more healthy recipes? Browse through our collection of recipes on our website, http://www.rawl.net/recipes.aspx.

How do you cook for one?

Please share your own tips and tricks for preparing meals for one with us! Show us by tagging us on Instagram @naturesgreens and use #backtofresh. Your tip could be selected and featured on our account!

 

3 Tips To Better Meals for One PLUS 2 Delicious Recipes You'll Want to Make Soon

Do you make separate meals for yourself that are different from the meals your family eats? Or maybe you like to pack your lunch to bring to work? In either case, meal prepping that involves meals for one can be a bit different than planning multi-serving dishes. Based on the needs of an average healthy woman, here are a few strategies for planning solo meals that help create a healthy balance.

Think veggies first

Sandwiches and wraps are easy, but they can be too heavy in carbs and too skimpy on veggies, especially if you won’t be very active in the hours after your meal. Instead, start with a base of greens (like kale that’s been lightly misted with extra virgin olive oil and massaged), raw greens, or oven roasted or lightly sautéed veggies. Aim for about two cups, or two generous handfuls.

Pick a lean protein

Quick options include canned wild salmon, or canned pulses (beans, lentils, or chickpeas) that have been drained and well rinsed. Hard boiled eggs, pre-cooked and chilled chicken breast, or extra lean ground turkey are also healthy choices. For meat, poultry, or seafood, aim for three ounces cooked. That’s about half a can of salmon, or a quarter of a pound of raw poultry. For eggs, go for two. For pulses, stick with a half cup, or use smaller portions of a few different proteins.

Choose healthy starches and fats

Some of the simplest healthy starches include instant brown rice, or canned pulses (which serve double duty, since they can count as either a plant-based protein or fiber rich carbs). Oven baked sweet potatoes and cooked whole grains, like corn and quinoa, are also great choices. For beneficial fat, keep it simple. Stick with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, fresh avocado, nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, and tahini.   

Combining these staples in different ways--using the portions suggested--can help you create easy breezy single serving meals that will leave you feeling satisfied, nourished, and energized.

For a few delicious examples of meals for one that take just 15 minutes, check out the Very Veggie Unfried Brown Rice and Kale Salmon Spring Quinoa Bowl recipes at www.rawl.net. And if you’re pressed for time and need that solo meal even faster, here are a few super speedy ideas:

  • Drizzle a few handfuls of kale with a bit of EVOO and massage to wilt. Season with a bit of black pepper and sea salt. Top with three ounces of chopped all natural deli turkey slices, a quarter cup of walnuts, and a small, chopped apple.
  • Sauté a handful of kale and any other veggies of your choice, such as red bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, or mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil over low heat with a dash of Italian herb seasoning and a pinch of minced garlic. Add a few eggs to scramble, and serve with a half cup of heated canned vegetarian refried beans, and half of an avocado.

What are your healthy go-to meals for one, and how do you incorporate greens? Please tell us about your favorites and take a photo of your culinary creations to share with our community on Instagram and Facebook using #backtofresh!  

How to Mix and Match Foods for Better Meal Prepping

Why Meal Prep?

Meal prepping is a trending behavior, and there are so many reasons why. Devoting time to prepping meals is a smart way to eat healthier, saving both time and money, and gaining control over what and how much you eat.

There is no silver bullet to meal prepping, so if you’re just getting started, sample different ideas to find an approach that feels right for you. Meal prepping can involve making multi-serving meals to portion and store so they’re ready to re-heat and eat. But meal prepping can also mean pre-cooking, or even just pre-preparing ingredients, so you don’t have to start cooking from scratch. 

Prep on the Weekend

One savvy strategy that works for many people is to prep on the weekend for the coming week. This can be as simple as washing and chopping vegetables so they’re ready to cook, or pre-cooking a number of foods that can later be mixed and matched to create various meals.  

3 Core Meal Component Groups

Veggies

If you’re going to pre-cook several meal components, divide them into three key groups: vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy starches. Veggie prep can be as simple as purchasing ready-to-eat greens to stash in your fridge. You can also dress chilled vegetables or greens in herbed balsamic vinaigrette, pre-make healthy salad dressing so it’s ready to use, or sauté, grill, or oven roast a variety of vegetables to be re-heated when needed.

Lean Proteins

Prepping lean proteins can be as easy as stashing canned beans or wild salmon in the fridge, so they’re chilled and ready to add to salads. You can also cook and store hard boiled eggs, chicken breast, extra lean ground turkey, or seafood. Toss beans, chopped hard boiled eggs or canned salmon with jarred pesto, hummus, or seasoned tahini to pre-make quick protein salads. Or purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken for a meal prep super shortcut.

Healthy Starches

For starches, store pre-cooked whole grains, like brown or wild rice and quinoa, as well as starchy vegetables, including baked sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, and oven roasted butternut or spaghetti squash.

Mixing and Matching

When you have these components at the ready, all you need to do is decide how to put them together. For complete meals don’t forget to add a healthy fat, like extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or EVOO-based pesto, olive tapenade, avocado, nuts, or seeds. For example, toss a generous portion of roasted or sautéed veggies with spaghetti squash and diced chicken breast, served over a bed of greens. Make a grain bowl by topping a small scoop of quinoa with greens, roasted or sautéed veggies, lentils, and drizzle with a spoonful of pesto. Pair a generous portion of grilled veggies with black beans, brown rice, and a side of avocado. Stir fry pre-cut veggies in vegetable broth, seasoned with ginger, garlic, and chili pepper, paired with steamed shrimp over wild rice, topped with sliced almonds.

Another way to meal prep is to make a second meal at dinner time and pack it for lunch the next day. These simple and practical meal prepping solutions can help you avoid poor eating pitfalls and give you the tools to eat healthfully for the long haul.

How do you Meal Prep?

Please share your own tips and tricks--as well as the meals from our website you like to make ahead--as part of your meal prep routine. Show us by tagging us on Instagram @naturesgreens and use #backtofresh. Your tip could be selected and featured on our account!

4 Delicious Ways to Eat Fresh On the Go

With so many activities going on in the spring and summer, nobody wants to waste their daylight hours in the kitchen preparing or eating meals. You’d rather have something nutritious to be able to eat during your child’s baseball game, while playing by the water on your family beach vacation, or on a break during your family bike ride.

We know that you don’t want to fall into the habit of grabbing a quick bite to eat from a fast food restaurant when they need a meal on the go, but we know that many families do. How can you avoid doing that?

Last month, we walked you through the steps of how to meal plan and meal prep on Sunday afternoons to make putting food on the table during a busy week much easier. But did you know that you can easily incorporate a few meals on the go during your meal prep?

Breakfast

Have you ever needed to leave in the morning ASAP, but you really wanted something savory and filling to eat? These delicious Savory Breakfast Mini Egg and Veggie Muffins are clutch to eat when you don't have time to do anything else. Simply take a little bit of your time on the weekend or your days off to make the egg muffins, store in the refrigerator, and heat a couple up each morning to take with you.

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Lunch

Nothing says “on the go” quite like A Mason Jar Salad. Make your salad, store it in a mason jar in your refrigerator, and pack it in your lunch box before you leave the house in the morning. When you’re ready to eat it, all you have to do is shake it up to mix! How easy is that? You won’t miss a second of your child’s baseball game and you’ll still get a fresh, delicious meal.

Snack

Most of us struggle to find something good to eat for a snack, especially when we are on the go. We've got a recipe that helps you have something yummy to eat that also gives your body good nutrients it needs to make it to your next meal. Chocolate Cherry Kale Breakfast Cookies are the sweet snack you can indulge on and still feel good about your decision making abilities. Make a batch this weekend and taste your next go-to snack!

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Dinner

Sandwiches are a light and healthy way to eat a meal on the go in the evening. Our BKT (Bacon, Kale, & Tomato) Sandwich is a great one to try! Make a few sandwiches and pair them with some fruit or sliced veggies for a great picnic dinner. Enjoy your dinner at the local outdoor family concert series or during a break on your family bike ride after work. No matter where you choose to enjoy your meal on the go, we know that you’re entire family will love it!

Share your meals on the go photos with us on social media using the hashtags #backtofresh and #naturesgreens, and be sure to tag us! We’d love to see what you’re cooking in your kitchen, and how you’re incorporating our meals-on-the-go tips into your week.

4 Simple Steps to Weekly Meal Prep

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We know how hectic this time of year can be.

With the weather warming up, the extra hour of daylight each evening, and the flurry of spring-time activities, you want to spend more of your time with your family and friends and less time preparing meals in the kitchen. 

You’re looking for meals that come together quickly at the end of the day, but still provide plenty of fresh, nutritious, and delicious food for your family. The best way to achieve this goal is to take the time to prepare for the week ahead with a couple hours of meal prepping on your Sundays. 

Never meal prepped before? We’ll walk you through the process.

#1: Select your recipes.

What meals are you in the mood for this week? What fresh produce is currently in season? Visit our collection of recipes on our website and find inspiration for what you want to eat during the upcoming week. Take note of the recipes that you know you and your family will enjoy.

#2: Set the menu for the week.

Go ahead and map out your week. Who will be home each night for dinner? Which evenings will you be short on time?What ingredients or meals can you easily prepare ahead of time for the nights you need a quick meal? By setting your game plan, you’re setting yourself up for success. You’ll be able to grocery shop efficiently, cut out the last minute fast food decisions, and eliminate the stress of figuring out what to cook for dinner. Put it in writing and stick it to your fridge for a visual reminder throughout the week of your plan.

#3: Create your grocery list and shop.

Once you know what meals you plan to cook, create your grocery list and shop. You can use an app for your grocery list, such as Our Groceries, to organize your list and to easily have it on hand when you’re shopping. 

Pro Tip: use a delivery service like Shipt to shop at Publix, and save even more time each week without the hassle of going to the grocery store yourself. 

#4: Prepare ingredients and meals on Sunday evenings.

After you’ve completed your grocery shopping, start your prepping. Take a look at each recipe to see what you can prepare ahead of time. Are there dry ingredients that you can measure out? Is there poultry that you can go ahead and cook? What vegetables can you chop and store in your refrigerator? There will be some things that you can’t do in advance, but you’d be surprised at how many items you can go ahead and have ready.

Here’s how we’d meal prep on Sunday for our Mediterranean Collard Greens over Spaghetti Squash meal:

  1. Purchase our Versatile Veggies® Diced Yellow Onion and Nature’s Greens® Collard Greens.

  2. Measure out all of the dry ingredients, place in small container, and seal. We personally use mason jars for dry goods.

  3. Mince the garlic and chop the green bell pepper. Place in small Pyrex container, seal, and store in your refrigerator.

  4. Cook the spaghetti squash, remove from the rind, and store in your refrigerator in a sealed container.

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When it comes time to prepare dinner, all of your chopping and most of your measuring is complete! Your prep time is eliminated, and you can have dinner on the table in under 15 minutes. How great is that?

What do you plan to do with all of the extra time that you gain during the week thanks to meal prepping?

Share your meal prepping photos with us on social media using the hashtags #backtofresh and #naturesgreens, and be sure to tag us! We’d love to see what you’re cooking in your kitchen, and how you’re incorporating our meal prep tips into your week.

Becoming a Vegetarian is Easier Than You Think + 3 Vegetarian Recipes

 shutterstock, #640258210

shutterstock, #640258210

Go Vegetarian

Did you know? Between six to eight million adults in the United States choose to include no meat, fish, or poultry in their diets according to a Harris Interactive Poll. With the availability of year-round fresh produce and more vegetarian options at restaurants, becoming a vegetarian has become more appealing and accessible in recent years. 

Being vegetarian means abstaining from eating meat and some animal bi-products. Individuals are constantly choosing to live a vegetarian lifestyle for a variety of reasons including:

  • Health benefits
  • Concern for animal welfare
  • Religion

For some individuals, despite the reasons and benefits, it may seem like an impossible challenge to adopt a new way of eating. We believe that it’s possible! Here are a few ways that you can slowly begin to incorporate a vegetarian diet into your daily lifestyle.

Research recipes

Be excited about eliminating meat from your diet! Research new recipes that you want to try, look for ways to incorporate additional protein and iron into your diet, and talk to your friends that have already adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. Visit your local farmer’s market and explore different vegetable options that you haven’t tried before. Take a peek at our recipe collection online for a good source of vegetarian recipes that include plenty of nutrient-rich greens like kale, collards, and mustard greens.

3 Baby Steps To Becoming A Vegetarian

Go vegetarian for a day

Take a baby step this week and plan a day that doesn’t include any meat. Skip the bacon at breakfast, the turkey sandwich at lunch, and the chicken at dinner. Instead, choose to have Sweet Potato Kale Toast (http://www.rawl.net/recipes/sweet-potato-kale-toast.aspx) for breakfast, Modern Pad Thai (http://www.rawl.net/recipes/modern-pad-thai.aspx) for lunch, and Vegetarian Tacos (http://www.rawl.net/recipes/vegetarian-tacos.aspx) for dinner.

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Sweet Potato Kale Toast

For your next #ToastTuesday, try this sweet and savory vegetarian toast created by Cynthia Sass, RD.

Go vegetarian during the week.

If you liked going meat free for a day, try cutting meat out of your diet during the week. Go for five days, Monday through Friday, without eating any meat, fish, or poultry. Explore restaurants in town to see what vegetarian items you can find on their menus—more often than not, the menu will denote which ones are vegetarian or there will even be a section of the menu completely devoted to vegetarian options.

Go full vegetarian.

If you’re loving your meat free week days, go for a full vegetarian lifestyle! Take meat out of the final two days of your week and embrace vegetarian meals all day, every day.

If you’re adopting a vegetarian lifestyle or enjoying our vegetarian recipes, share your photos with us on social media using #backtofresh #naturesgreens and by tagging us! We’d love to see what you’re cooking in your kitchen and how you’re incorporating our greens and vegetables into your daily diet.

7 Benefits of a Dairy Free Diet

Dairy is a huge part of your life.

Don’t believe us? According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s research, each American consumes 154 pounds of milk per year (nearly 20 gallons!) just through drinking cow’s milk. This doesn’t include the amount of dairy that is consumed through other dairy products like butter, cheese, and ice cream. Milk is produced in all 50 states and from 2004-2014, the United States is the world’s third-largest dairy product exporter. 

  shutterstock, #520397872

shutterstock, #520397872

There are also 270 million dairy cows in the world, per the World Wildlife Foundation. 

Dairy, in the form of cow’s milk, is often one of the very first foods introduced into an infant’s diet.  But it’s also one of the most common food allergies among children and nearly 75% of the world’s population has some degree of a lactose intolerance. What’s the best way to treat either issue? … with a Dairy Free Diet.

What is a Dairy Free Diet and why should you consider one?

A dairy-free diet is a diet that is free of milk and milk products. To go completely dairy-free means  that you are eliminating primary sources of dairy from your diet including milk, cheese, butter, cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, custards, puddings, ice cream, gelato, sherbet, whey, and casein.

If you’re allergic to milk protein or if you have a lactose intolerance, going dairy free might be the best option for you.

What are the benefits of having a Dairy Free Diet?

  1. Less Bloating
  2. Better Respiratory Health
  3. Improved Digestion
  4. Clearer Skin
  5. Reduced risk of developing cancer
  6. Decreased oxidative stress
  7. Prevent milk allergy and sensitivity reactions

How can you get your nutrients on a Dairy Free Diet?

By excluding dairy products from your diet, you are putting three critical nutrient intakes at risk: calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

One of the very best ways to ensure that your body is getting the amount of calcium that it needs is by consuming calcium rich foods. You can supplement your diet with leafy green vegetables like collard greens and kale, with vegetables like broccoli and okra, and with oranges. You can also choose to drink a milk substitute like goat’s milk, coconut milk, or almond milk.

  1 cup of Collard Greens contains nearly 25% of the recommended Daily Value nutrition intake.

1 cup of Collard Greens contains nearly 25% of the recommended Daily Value nutrition intake.

Now what?

Now that you know what a Dairy Free Diet is and why someone might choose to go dairy free, here are a few recipes to help get you started on adding more calcium rich foods into your daily diet:

If you’re planning to explore a Dairy Free Diet, there are a multitude of benefits, especially if you are allergic to milk protein or  if you are lactose intolerant. Just make sure that you are adding calcium rich foods into your diet to make up for what you would typically receive from dairy!

Got (Plant) Milk? Tips on How to Live Dairy-Free

  image from shutterstock , # 356792147

image from shutterstock , #356792147

Whether you’ve decided to go dairy free due to an allergy or intolerance, a desire to eat fewer animal-based foods, or simply as an experiment to see how your body responds, there are a few things to keep in mind.

How do I make sure I am eating or drinking enough calcium and protein?

For many people dairy is a key source of protein, and calcium, but it’s not the only source of these nutrients. One cup of cow’s milk provides 8 grams of protein, an ounce of cheese contains 6-7 grams, and a plain single serve container of Greek yogurt or a half cup of cottage cheese can supply up to 15 grams. Dairy foods also generally provide 15-30% of the daily recommended calcium intake per serving. 

If you’ve been relying on dairy for these nutrients, and you’re now omitting dairy from your diet, be sure to include alternative sources. For example, two ounces of sardines canned in water provides 11 grams of protein and 15% of the recommended calcium intake. A half cup of canned white beans contains 8 grams of protein and 8% of a day’s calcium needs. An ounce of almonds supplies 6 grams of protein and 8% for calcium.

Dairy free “milks” made from plants, such as almond and coconut, are also commonly fortified with calcium, and can provide up to a third of your daily needs per cup. Plant milks are typically low in protein, however, so be sure to read Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods to be clear about which nutrients they supply.

What will I do without butter and cream for my recipes?

When preparing meals, snacks, or recipes, there are several simple substitutions for dairy-based ingredients. Instead of butter for sautéing and cooking you can opt for virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil (note: coconut oil works well when you want to mimic the richness of butter). Spread whole grain toast with almond butter or mashed avocado in place of dairy butter. Make creamy sauces, soups, and casseroles using almond or coconut milk as a base, thickened with pureed cauliflower. Dips and heavier sauces can be made with tahini (sesame seed paste), or pureed white beans, and flours made from chickpeas or fava beans work well as thickeners. Mashed cannellini beans seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and herbs offer an excellent replacement for cottage cheese in Italian recipes, like veggie lasagna. In omelets or tacos use sliced or chopped avocado in place of shredded cheese. Garnish cooked veggies and pasta dishes with chopped nuts or pumpkin or sunflower seeds in place of cheese. These days you’ll also find dairy free versions of yogurt, kefir, and even ice cream at most mainstream grocery stores made from plant-based milks.

Any recipe suggestions?

To experiment yourself check out the dairy free recipes on our website http://www.rawl.net/recipes/dairy-free . You’ll find creamy smoothies, dips, casserole, pancakes, and even chocolate truffles and pudding made without a drop of dairy. If you give them a try please share your feedback. Or let us know what your favorite trick is for swapping out dairy ingredients, or why you’ve opted to go dairy free.