Hi everyone! I'm Chrissy Bender, and I am the Healthy Eating Specialist at the Whole Foods Market in Mason, Ohio. This blog is your go-to spot for recipes, healthy eating tips, and more!

Questions about Organics?

At Whole Foods Market®, we are committed to bringing you high quality organically produced foods. This commitment reflects our concern for the health and quality of our lives, the improvement of our environment and the sustainability of our food system.

 

What does “organic” mean?

Organic products are grown without toxic or persistent agricultural chemicals. Organic agriculture emphasizes the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance 
environmental quality.

Why choose organics?

Organics work hard for you! Organic fruit and vegetable plants fight for their health—and yours—with a natural defense system of antioxidants and phytochemicals. They don’t rely on toxic and persistent pesticides. 

What about organic meat?

In order to be certified organic, meat must come from animals raised on organically-grown feed, fresh air and outdoor access. The animals cannot be given antibiotics or added hormones.Find tips for healthy meals at wholefoodsmarket.com/healthstartshere. Find tips for healthy meals at wholefoodsmarket.com/healthstartshere.

AVOIDING GMOs?

Go Organic! The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs.

An Awards Night Appetizer

Salmon Ceviche

Serves 6

This vibrant, fully cooked ceviche is made with simple poached salmon, but you could use leftover grilled salmon instead. And feel free to add serrano or jalapeño pepper if you like it spicy.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 white onion, chopped, divided
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped, stems reserved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 1 fillet wild Alaska Sockeye salmon
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup 365 Everyday Value Organic Lime Juice
  • 365 Everyday Value Organic Lightly Salted Tortilla Chips or Strips

Method: 

In a large, deep skillet, bring 3 cups water, all but 1/2 cup of the onion, cilantro stems and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add salmon, cover, reduce heat and simmer until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Discard skin and flake salmon into a large bowl; discard cooking liquid and solids. When cool, toss salmon with remaining onion, 1 teaspoon salt, chopped cilantro, tomatoes and lime juice. Serve with chips.    

Breakfast ideas

Breakfast is easy to skip or eat poorly.  Here are some of my favorite recipes that are simple, nutritious, and filling!  

BREAKFAST TACOS WITH SWEET POTATO HASH

Serves 4

These super-savory, veggie-packed tacos are an excellent breakfast or brunch treat. You can make the hash several days ahead and reheat it in a microwave or on the stovetop with a little added water or vegetable broth.

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small (8-ounce) sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Corn tortillas, warmed for serving
  • Salsa, for serving
  • Sliced avocado, for serving
  • Hot sauce of choice (optional), for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, whisk together tomato paste, lemon juice, honey, tamari, paprika, cumin and black pepper. Add potatoes, bell peppers, onion and garlic, and toss to combine. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the top third of the oven, until potatoes are tender and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and stir in cilantro. Serve with tortillas, salsa, avocado and hot sauce for diners to roll their own tacos.

APPLE OATMEAL IN A JAR

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 cups unsweetened apple sauce

Combine oats and spice mix, then stir in apple sauce. Evenly distribute oat mixture among 6 lidded jars (or other containers) and top each with 1/2 cup water. Cover the jars and place in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, heat the prepared oatmeal or enjoy it cold.

Healthy Pantry Makeover

The simplest way to make healthful cooking a breeze is to have the right items on hand. So what goes into a healthy pantry? We’re glad you asked!

Keep your pantry stocked with the following foods. They’re key ingredients for making healthy meals. Best of all, an entire pantry overhaul should only cost around $99! We’ve overestimated the cost of products — in your favor — but it’s always possible that things add up a little differently in your neck of the woods. To get the best value, choose our 365 Everyday Value®brand, Health Starts Here® frozen items and an abundance of our affordable bulk options. When you can, go organic!

You’ll need to shop for some of these shelf basics two or three times a month, depending on how many people you’re cooking for. Then, once or twice a week, shop for more perishable basics and recipe ingredients: fresh and frozen fruits and veggies; 100% whole-grain Health Starts Here breads found in our bakery department, plus whole grain flatbreads and tortillas; lean meat and seafood; low-fat dairy; and Health Starts Here prepared foods and premade meals.

  • 4 lbs dried beans (pinto, white, black & lentils)
  • 4 15-oz cans no-salt-added beans (kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo)
  • 4 lbs whole grains (1 quinoa, 1 pearled barley, 2 long-grain brown rice)
  • 2 lbs whole-wheat pasta of your choice
  • 2 lbs rolled and/or steel-cut oats
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 2 14.5-oz cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 32-oz box low-sodium organic vegetable broth
  • 1 32-oz box organic unsweetened soymilk
  • 1 32-oz box organic unsweetened almondmilk
  • 1 14-oz can organic lite coconut milk
  • 1 8-oz pkg organic mellow white miso
  • 1 2-oz pkg arame sea vegetable
  • 1 16-oz jar tahini (ground sesame seed butter)
  • 1 18-oz jar organic no-salt-added peanut or almond butter
  • 8 oz each organic raw almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds
  • 8 oz each organic un-sulfured apricots, dates and raisins
  • 1 8-oz squeeze bottle organic Dijon mustard
  • 1 32-oz bottle organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1 6-oz bottle Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 1 10-oz bottle reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce

Pantry stocked? Get cooking with some of our healthy recipes.

Do you love chili?  Stop by Whole Foods Market Mason for a Team Member Recipe Chili Cook Off on Saturday, February 22 from 12 - 4 pm.  Taste several chilis and vote for your favorite!  Split the pot raffle to benefit Whole Planet Foundation as well.  

Meatless Mondays in January!

Meatless Mondays are an easy way to jump-start your health in 2014.

Research shows that switching to a diet higher in vegetables and whole grains is great for your health.  Not to mention the positive environmental impact as well.  

If you’d like to learn more about Meatless Monday, check out these resources:

Every Monday from 4-7 pm, we will be offering an $8 flat rate for all-you-can-fit inside a plate with a lid.  Stop by and grab dinner with us!

Chrissy, Healthy Eating Specialist, will be offering lectures every Monday along with our Meatless Monday special.  Here is the schedule:

Monday, January 13, 6:30 pm: Carbon Footprint of Food

Monday, January 20, 6:30 pm: Label Reading

Monday, January 27, 6:30 pm: Easy Dairy Alternatives in the Kitchen

Please register for lectures by emailing MSORegistration@wholefoods.com

Scrambled Tofu for Christmas Morning

This is a delicious plant-strong breakfast scramble that is perfect for Christmas morning- the red pepper and the green cilantro and chives create a festive red and green dish!

 

Inspired by “My Beef with Meat” by Rip Esselstyn

1 block extra firm tofu

1 small sweet onion, diced small

1 red bell pepper, diced small

2 tsp. low-sodium tamari

1 tsp. curry powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. black pepper

½ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup chopped chives

½ cup nutritional yeast

Over a fine metal sieve, squeeze as much liquid out of the tofu as possible.  Crumble tofu into small pieces.

Heat a large non-stick pan to medium heat.  Saute onion using just a small amount of water (if needed) for about 5 minutes.  Add bell pepper and sauté another 3 minutes.  Add in tamari and all spices and cook about 30 seconds.  Add crumbled tofu.  Cook about 3-5 minutes, then stir in chopped cilantro and chives.  Sprinkle the nutritional yeast over and stir to coat.  Serve!

Persimmon and Pear Crumble

The holidays are a hard time to embrace healthy eating, so whenever you can, try and incorporate a new fruit or vegetable to keep your taste buds happy!  Learn to love persimmons with this deliciously easy crisp! The persimmon-cranberry combination is great for the holidays.

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

3 very ripe large Hachiya persimmons

3 pears

1/3 cup cranberries

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in warm water for about an hour

1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

3 pitted dates, soaked in warm water for about an hour

2 cups Engine 2 Plant-Strong™ Rip’s Big Bowl cereal

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Chop 2 of the persimmons and 3 pears place in a large bowl with cranberries and lemon zest and toss. Drain raisins, reserving the soaking liquid. Place remaining persimmon, drained raisins, lemon juice and vanilla in blender. Blend until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the reserved soaking liquid as needed to make a purée. Pour the mixture over sliced fruit and place the mixture into an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish and smooth the top.

Add drained dates, cereal, cinnamon and salt to food processor; pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and starts to form loose clumps. Spread the mixture evenly over fruit. Bake until topping is browned and crisp and filling is bubbling, ~25-30 min. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spring Salad with Strawberries and Creamy Orange-Avocado Dressing

 Spring Salad with Strawberries and Creamy Orange-Avocado Dressing

 Serves 2

Fresh spring fruits and veggies deserve respect and good company. This simple salad takes care of both and can add a wow factor to any meal. Feeling fancy? Drop the raw sliced asparagus into ice water for a minute or two and it will curl into ribbons. In a hurry? Cut the asparagus into thin coins instead. In the dressing, the avocado provides its natural healthy fats for smooth and creamy results. Nobody will know it’s a health-promoting, no-oil-added dressing!

Ingredients

3 green onions, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ounces spring greens or mesclun mix
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced into strips with a vegetable peeler

Method

Puree green onions, avocado, juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth to make a dressing. In a large bowl, toss greens, strawberries and asparagus together. Transfer to plates, drizzle with half the dressing and serve. Extra dressing will keep one day refrigerated.

Stock a Healthier Pantry

After the holiday indulgences, most will be ready to watch their waistlines and wallets. As we start the New Year, I hope you’ll consider Stocking a Healthier Pantry for $50. Whole Foods Market is making it easy to stock up and slim down with a list of 23 pantry staples – all for about $50. Having a pantry full of versatile ingredients gives busy families plenty of options to choose from to make quick, tasty, healthy meals so you don’t have to reach for the pizza menu or go out. Eating in, instead of taking out, is the new mantra for many – according to a Harris Interactive survey more than half (57%) of consumers report they are eating dinner at home and eating out less often. Shoppers can stock a healthier pantry that, with a few fresh ingredients, herbs and spices, will give them everything they need to cook t least 14 different healthy recipes, such as beef and quinoa meatballs and brown rice with chicken and broccoli. Here are the essential staples:

1 lb black beans

1 lb lentils 

1 lb quinoa 

2 lbs brown rice

3 (32 oz) boxes vegetable broth

1 (32 oz) box chicken broth

1 lb rolled oats

2 cans cannellini beans

2 lbs pasta

1 can black beans

1 jar unsweetened applesauce

1 (32 oz) box non-dairy beverage

1 (32 oz) box almond milk

1 (5-oz) can tuna

3 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes

1 package no-oil sundried tomatoes

1 jar pasta sauce

Want to win healthy staples for a year, or several of our $50 Pantry Stock Ups? Go to our Whole Story blog.