Archives for August 2013

  • Healthy Homemade Snacks | 08.29.2013

    Kids and adults need refueling — or to satisfy a food craving now and then — in the course of a day. Preparing healthy snacks ahead of time can help you and your family make easy, healthful choices when hunger strikes.

    In fact, developing a repertoire of healthy snacks provides the opportunity for you to boost nutrition while satisfying hunger. If your preschooler ordinarily won’t touch fruit, for example, offering her a banana smoothie or apple slices with yogurt dip when she comes home from school famished might just convince her.

    If your high schooler hasn’t gotten his share of calcium today, a yogurt parfait or some string cheese can be added to his tally during the course of the day.

    Snacks for Energy
    Keeping energy levels up requires frequent, healthful nourishment. Kids, in particular, need to eat often because they have smaller stomachs and quicker metabolisms than adults. For energy, choose snacks that are high in complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, and combine them with protein foods, like nut butters, cheese slices, and low-fat yogurt. Nuts are also good for a quick energy boost. Fruits, which are easily digestible, can provide energy in a flash, too.

    Bedtime Snacks
    Of course, there are times when energy isn’t what you’re looking for. Some snacks can actually help you sleep better. For bedtime snacks, choose those with healthful carbohydrates, such as fruits and whole grains, and calcium, such as milk or cheese. (Dairy is also a good choice because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that’s thought to be sleep inducing.)

    Avoid foods that are high in sugar, because these can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, making it harder to nod off and stay asleep. And a little protein is fine, but too much can interfere with sleeping because it takes longer than some foods for your body to digest. Good bedtime options include a whole grain cereal with milk, a glass of warm milk with fruit, and cheese and whole grain crackers.

    Snacks also provide the perfect opportunity for exploring unfamiliar foods like fruits (pomegranate or persimmon, anyone?), nuts and nut butters (expand your horizons beyond peanut butter!) and cheese (that local Gruyere or Edam), for example.


    Here are some ideas for snacks that deliver great flavor and nutrition:

    Popcorn* Air-popped popcorn: Sprinkle generously with nutritional yeast, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, a natural Ranch dressing mix, or pop in coconut oil (a staff favorite!).

    * Fruit kebabs: Include fruits like berries, melon, and pineapple. Serve with a dip, such as softened cream cheese sweetened with just a drizzle of honey and a drop of vanilla. Or slide on cheese slices (cut into fun shapes, like stars or hearts for young kids). Try rolling a banana in peanut butter and chopped nuts and freeze for a healthy popsicle!

    * Dips: Kids and adults alike love to dip, so serve up some hummus or white bean dip alongside some fresh veggies or whole grain crackers.

    * Quesadillas: Use whole grain tortillas to make quesadillas packed with cheese, beans, corn and tomatoes. Add cooked tempeh cubes or leftover cooked meat or poultry pieces, if you wish.

    * Homemade cookies: Cookies are hard to resist and some are more nutritious than others, so think about choosing recipes that include more wholesome ingredients like oats, dried fruit, and nuts.

    * Extra-ordinary nut butter and jelly sandwich: Transform the usual PB&J by using a variety of nut butters and fruit spreads (rather than high-sugar jellies). Use whole grain bread. Or simply serve a nut butter with fruit slices on rice cakes or whole grain crackers.

    * Fortified fruit crisp: Make a fruit crisp (sweetened with just a little honey or maple syrup), topped with wheat germ or granola and a dollop of yogurt.

    * Smoothie sensations:  Use any combination of fruit, yogurt, milk, soymilk, and fruit juice to make instant snacks in your blender. Add protein by including a spoonful of peanut butter (especially good with banana, and vanilla yogurt!). Add extra heft and calcium by including some milk powder. Toss in a couple of ice cubes to make the drink frothy.

    * Squirrel food: Make your own trail mix with an array of nuts and seeds, dried fruits and, if you like, whole grain cereal. Add a few chocolate or carob chips to for a sweet treat.

    * Ice pops:  Pour unsweetened fruit juice and/or leftover smoothies into molds or ice cube trays. Include fruit, like raspberries or blueberries, and yogurt for a dairy boost. You can even blend in a little peanut butter for protein.

    * Perfect pitas: Make your own pita chips: Cut into triangles, brush with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little something (like Italian seasoning, garlic powder, or nutritional yeast). Bake until lightly browned. Dip in hummus. Or stuff pita bread with scrambled eggs or tofu salad.

    * Fruit pinwheels: Spread cream cheese or nut butter on soft, whole grain tortillas. Add fresh fruit slices (or dried fruit pieces), then roll and slice.

    * Fruit and veggie muffins: Substitute applesauce for some or most of the sweetener in any muffin recipe. Banana can often be substituted for eggs and it’s easy to ‘smuggle in’ zucchini or carrots for a produce boost.

    * Fruit leather: Cut very ripe fruit into pieces and puree in blender or food processor. Add honey or maple syrup to citrus fruits (no need to sweeten other fruits). Pour into a cookie sheet that’s lined with waxed paper. Spread to edges. Bake in a warm (140 degree) oven for about four hours.

    * Mini sandwiches: Whether or not you serve tea (an herbal iced tea would be nice!), offer mini sandwiches because they’re special. Cut whole grain bread slices with a cookie cutter, top with hummus and a cherry tomato (or cream cheese and a cucumber slice), and serve open faced.




    Find it at the Co-op:  Watch our endcaps and Co+op Deals for savings on lunch items.

    Save time at the Deli Café:  If you need a lunch in a flash for you or your kids, our deli can quickly create a custom bagged lunch of sandwiches (see our kids’ sandwich menu!) or other healthy foods.  Call ahead and we’ll have it ready for you!

  • Drink Like a Roman | 08.20.2013

    romanThe tangible evidence of antiquity’s amphitheaters and coliseums dot the European landscape, but the influence of the great Roman society is felt all around us. It was a multifaceted culture covering much of the globe, fostering a great value in education and community. Their endurance and influence staged the foundation for much of the world’s language, politics, philosophy and art.

    This progressive lifestyle spread throughout the modern world via conquest and imposed example; winemaking was no exception. Romans believed that wine was a necessity of daily life, occupying religious, medicinal and social roles. As their empire grew, it became more important to understand the vine. They sought out to produce better quality grapes, vigorously planting new vines to compete with the growing population and demand for export. Wine grapes were planted throughout the empire, simultaneously establishing the fundamentals of wine making.

    Their blossoming society was centered around Rome and, like their majestic ruins, many of the wines have stood the test of time. Just south of the town of Rome lies the Frascati region of Italy. Geological evidence traces their cultivation of grape vines back to the 5th century BC. Frascati is and has been planted with grapes indigenous to the Mediterranean basin and is best known for producing crisp and refreshing white wine meant to be consumed through the afternoon heat. Or perhaps August in Montana.

    Find it at the Co-op :Pic - Frascati

    MEMBER PRICE $9.99
    August 1 – September 31
    Reg. price $11.99

    2011 Villafranca Frascati Superiore
    Produced by the Gasperini family in the prestigious area of D.O.C.*, Frascati has upheld the most modern technologies, with a great respect to tradition, since 1909.

    Made from 65% Malvasia, 15% Trebbiano, and 15% Grechetto (Greco). Intense yellow color with greenish reflections. Characteristic persistent fresh and fruity aromas of melon and almond notes. Excellent as an aperitif and paired with fresh fish, seafood or white meat.


    *D.O.C. (Denominazione di origine controllata) – a system regulating the details of wine production put in place by the Italian government. Similar systems can be found throughout the world.

    Written by Lena Olson of Winegardner’s Wines. Learn more at



  • Preserving Tips: Dehydration | 08.15.2013

    No added ingredients necessary! Air circulation and heat—from the sun or a dehydrator—are all you need to dry many fruits and veggies for storage. The dehydrated product is easy to store, too.

    Here are a few tips:

    • You can make simple drying racks out of untreated wood and screen. The racks, which can be stacked, are designed to keep the food off the ground and allow air to circulate underneath.

    • Placing cheesecloth on the screen under the produce will help absorb the moisture.

    • When drying produce in the sun, also cover with cheesecloth to protect from insects and birds.

    • You can purchase a dehydrator, which evaporates the moisture. These are made up of stackable trays that sit over a heating element. Stovetop dryers are also available. (While our ancestors would dry produce in the warming oven of a wood stove, using your oven isn’t an energy savvy method of dehydration, no matter how low the setting.)

    • Don’t dry food in the microwave; the food will usually burn before it dries.

    • To make fruit leather, dry thin sheets of fruit purée.

    parsley• Another simple dehydration method is to string and hang herbs, onions, and garlic.

    • To dry veggies, blanch them first, then dry in the sun or a dehydrator.

    • Store dried produce in an airtight container in a dark place.


    For more information on dehydrating, check out the Yellowstone County Extension Service and download their preserving guides.

    Dehydrating Vegetables (pdf)

    Dehydrating Fruits (pdf)

  • Preserving Tips: Freezing & Blanching | 08.05.2013

    Freezing is often the easiest method of preserving produce.  It’s an especially good choice for asparagus, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, corn, eggplant (in a casserole), green beans, lima beans, peas, peppers, pumpkin (puree), raspberries, rhubarb, snap beans, spinach, strawberries, summer squash, and wax beans.

    Blanch and Freeze Fresh VegetablesHere’s a few tips to get you started:

    • Choose fully ripe fruit and vegetables that are slightly immature.

    • Let cooked items (like sauce) cool to room temperature before freezing. When you first place in freezer, leave room around the container so air can circulate. Once frozen, stack with rest of items.

    • To “flash freeze” berries, place on a metal sheet, freeze, and transfer when solid to freezer containers or bags. This method retains the shape of the fruit nicely.

    • Prevent freezer burn by squeezing excess air out of freezer bags (but leave head room at the top of bags or containers for expansion of liquids).

    • To freeze pitted fruit, rinse and gently dry. Cut unpeeled fruit in half, remove pit, and slice into wedges. Place in freezer containers or bags.

    • Freeze fresh corn kernels simply by placing in a container or resealable plastic freezer bag.

    • Freeze tomato sauce or juice (rather than tomatoes).

    • To defrost fruit, run under cool water.

    • Store frozen foods at 0 degrees F or less.

    • Keep your freezer full for maximum energy efficiency (fill empty spaces with ice, if necessary).

    • Blanch veggies before freezing by steaming or immersing in boiling water. This sets the color, retains vitamins, and stops ripening.


    In the Co+op Kitchen:
    Blanch & Freeze Fresh Vegetables with Hilah Johnson

    Blanching is a great way to preserve peak color, flavor and nutrition in vegetables. Hilah Johnson takes us through the simple steps for blanching your fresh veggies. Once blanched, they can be added to salads or cooked dishes, or frozen for long-term storage.

    Find more Co+op Kitchen videos featuring information and easy recipes for making delicious meals at home, as well as handy hints from chefs and food enthusiasts who love sharing their passion for great food.