This light yet intense salad is bursting with fresh summer flavors and interesting textures. It is sure to impress your guests at a dinner party or Saturday afternoon picnic.

Mango, Jicama, Pumpkin Seed and Fresh Herb Salad (page 154)

Ingredients

2 cups sliced peeled jicama
1 cup sliced peeled mango
1⁄2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil
1⁄4 cup chopped parsley leaves
1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro leaves 60 mL
1⁄4 cup chopped basil leaves 60 mL
Pinch fine sea salt

Preparation

1. In a serving bowl, toss jicama, mango, pumpkin seeds, lime juice and olive oil until evenly coated. Set aside to macerate for 15 minutes. Add parsley, cilantro, basil and salt and toss gently. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Makes 2 main-course or 4 side salads.

Variation

Substitute the jicama with 1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced apple, 1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced pear and 2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame seeds.

Tips

To peel and chop a mango, cut a small slice from the top and bottom of the fruit to make flat ends. Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel away the skin. Stand mango upright on a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, run the blade through the flesh, taking approximately three slices from each of the four sides. When you are close to the stone, use a paring knife to remove any remaining flesh from around the middle.

Pumpkin seeds provide an impressive array of nutrients. They contain healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, thiamine (vitamin B1) and vitamin E — not bad for the seeds of a common squash.

*Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.*

Photo credit: Colin Erricson/www.robertrose.ca

Tres Leches or “three milks” is a classic Mexican dessert traditionally made with yellow cake drenched with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream; topped with whipped cream and a cherry. We make ours in individual dessert cups (no sharing required!) and switch out the milks for our creamy goat’s milk yogurt and tangy kefir mixed with a splash of evaporated milk and vanilla. The result is a light and refreshing fruity dessert that’s a feast for the eyes and taste buds.

Individual Tres Leches Cakes

Ingredients

2-1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup Green Valley Organics Sour Cream
Juice and zest from one orange

“Three Milks” Mixture

1 cup Redwood Hill Farm Mango Orange Pineapple Kefir
1 6-oz. container Redwood Hill Farm Vanilla Yogurt
1 cup evaporated milk or soy, rice or almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 individual dessert cups or glasses

2 cups whipped cream
3 cups assorted berries and sliced fruit (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi and mango

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom (not the sides) of a 9X13 baking pan.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer (hand or stand) until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, mixing well after each addition, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add orange juice and zest and beat for 2 minutes.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Test for doneness with a skewer or a toothpick; the tester should come out dry and clean.
5. While the cake cools, mix together the kefir, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract. When cake is cool, cut out 12 circles of cake using the glass as a guide.
6. To assemble, place one cake disc at the bottom of each glass. Poke holes in each piece using a fork and pour 3 Tbs. of the “three milks” mixture over the cake. Spread 3 to 4 Tbs. of whipped cream over the cake, sprinkle with fruit and top with a second cake disc. Poke holes in the second cake disc and carefully pour about 2 Tbs. of the “three milks” mixture over the cake. Top with whipped cream and garnish with fruit. Cakes can be refrigerated up to 8 hours before serving.

Makes 6.

Chef’s Quick Tip: Instead of baking a cake from scratch, grab a yellow cake mix (regular or gluten free) and mix in a 2/3 cup water, 1 stick softened butter or 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 3 eggs, 1 cup sour cream and the juice and zest of one orange. Bake according to directions for a 9X13 cake pan.

Make it Lactose-Free: Substitute Earth Balance Buttery Spread for the butter, Green Valley Blueberry Pom Açaí Kefir for the Redwood Hill Farm Kefir, Green Valley Organics Honey or Vanilla Yogurt for the Redwood Hill Farm Yogurt, and Soy Whipped Cream for the regular whipped cream.

*Recipes and image courtesy of Green Valley Organics and Redwood Hill Farm .*

Teaching Your Kids to Eat and Grow Organic Foods

Children are like miraculous sponges. They love to learn and the quicker that you teach them things, the longer it will stay with them; sometimes, well into their adult years.

So, when it comes to teaching your kids how to eat and grow organic foods, this essentially means that you’re instructing them on how to be proactive about their health as well as being sensitive about the needs of the environment. That’s definitely a set of tools that they can add to their lives that will pay off for years to come.

Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Eat Organically

There are many reasons why organic is best. Organically grown food is free of a lot of the pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals that are used with conventionally-grown foods. It’s not genetically modified. When it comes to organic meats, there aren’t synthetic drugs and other hormones that are oftentimes found in the traditional store bought brands. Because the soil is well-replenished, organic produce has been proven to be packed with more nutrients. And, if you ask a lot of people why it’s ultimately their first pick, it’s because all of these things combined result in organic foods tasting better.

How to Get Your Child to Eat Organically

If you start them on this diet from the very beginning, this really won’t be a hard sell. Therefore, the sooner you get them accustomed to an organic eating lifestyle, the easier for them it will be. But, if you have recently discovered for yourself the many benefits that come with going organic and your children are older, there are a couple of creative approaches that you can take to get them adjusted to the transition. Why not hold a taste test contest? Serve up some raw fruits and vegetables: one bowl filled with conventional foods and the other with the organic kind. Blindfold them and then ask them which one tastes the best. Another option is to have a cooking contest where everyone in the family has to cook one dish from an organic recipe. Have everyone write down their grocery list and take your kids shopping with you while you pick up the foods for the various meals. This will get them acclimated to not just seeing organic foods, but understanding how to make the best selections. Give a prize for the best dish and in no time, you’ll have your kids suggesting to you some organic meals that they’d like to try (or try again).

Gardens Are a Great Organic Family Activity

There’s a wonderful way to get in some quality family time while instructing your children on how to grow organic foods and that is to grow a garden. You can start out by having everyone pick a fruit or vegetable that they would like to grow. Then, you can either build one from scratch in your backyard or you even grow some in containers from the comfort of the inside of your home. TLC’s HowStuffWorks.com section has an article on how to grow up to 66 different foods in your house; everything ranging from apples and cherries to tomatoes, peppers and summer squash. If you would like to take on the great outdoors and you’re new to the food gardening experience, YouTube.com has a lot of videos that can walk you through all of the steps that you need. Just put “Grow a Garden” in the search field.

As you’re getting your children used to the organic way of life, remember that education is best for children when it’s fun. So, as you’re teaching about organic food, make sure, most of all, to make it a light and tasty (pun intended) experience. That will make them want to repeat it and that’s the most effective way that anyone can learn.

Have you ever had yeast infections, urinary tract infections or bacterial vaginosis? While it’s not a pleasant experience, more than 75 percent of women get such diseases due to an imbalance of bacteria. Luckily, the use of probiotics may help treat and prevent such infections.

Lactobacillus — a protective type of good bacteria — prevents bad bacteria from growing and producing chemicals like lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide within the vagina. If bad bacteria begins to overcrowd, the risk grows for UTIs, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even preterm labor.

To combat urogenital infections, many women use common over-the-counter treatments. Unfortunately several of these are not effective and can even be detrimental by increasing harmful bacteria. Instead, research has shown probiotics may be the solution.

Compared to international markets, the U.S. is far behind on probiotics, but we’re slowly catching up. For example, probiotic vaginal suppositories and probiotic tampons are used in Asia and Europe to strengthen women’s defenses against infection.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Do you feel the need to urinate often, experience pain during urination or have cloudy urine? These are all symptoms of a UTI. Usually antibiotics are recommended to treat the infection by fighting bad bacteria, including the most common bacterium to cause a UTI: E. coli. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, both good and bad, so taking probiotics promotes the growth of good bacteria faster if you’ve taken or are on an antibiotic.

Women are more likely to develop a UTI than men, and half of the women who do will have recurrent infections. Recent research shows recurring UTIs are reduced greatly by treatment with probiotic vaginal suppositories.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection. While antibiotics are again frequently prescribed for treatment, they only provide relief for 40 percent of women. Reports show taking probiotics in vaginal suppositories or by eating live-culture yogurt may be the new treatment for BV.

What to avoid in order to battle BV:

• Smoking
• Using IUDs
• Douching frequently
• Having sex with multiple partners
• Using spermicides

Any women with recurrent BV or yeast infections, or who are taking antibiotics, should add probiotics to their diet.

Yeast Infections

At least three in four women, particularly those with diabetes, will likely experience a yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. In one study, women who ate live-culture yogurt once a day had fewer yeast infections and normal vaginal balances. Those who ate yogurt without the live cultures had abnormal vaginal pH levels throughout the study.

You may ask, “When do yeast infections occur?” Most often after antibiotic treatment, steroid use, while using birth control pills, during times of high stress or with frequent douching. Instead of solely taking an antifungal medication, probiotics such as L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus and L. fermentum can treat and prevent future yeast infections.

Please Note: Always consult your physician before adding a supplement — including probiotics — to your diet.

Take care of your vaginal health, and start taking probiotics. Dr. Challa recommends the gourmet probiotic Probulin. Use promo code “Challa” on your order to receive 25 percent off at http://www.probulin.com/.

About the Author

Dr. Shekhar Challa is a board certified Gastroenterologist, Co-producer of probiotic video game Microwarriors: The Battle Within, and author of the new book Probiotics for Dummies. www.drchalla.com.

*Image: Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Fun to say and even more fun to eat, chicken tinga tacos are extra tender and moist due to a dip in Green Valley Organics Kefir and a slow roast in the oven (or crock pot). Short on time? Simply marinate the chicken for one hour, skip the oven and fire up the grill.

Chicken Tinga Tacos with Avocado Chile Crema and Chipotle Lime Slaw

Ingredients

Chicken

2 cups Green Valley Organics Plain Kefir
6 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped (divided)
2 tsp. salt
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 12-oz. Mexican beer (Dos Equis, Corona, Sol)

Avocado Chile Crema

2 ripe avocadoes, peeled and pitted
1/3 cup Green Valley Organics Sour Cream
Juice of one lime
1 tsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotles
Salt to taste

Crunchy corn taco shells or soft corn or flour tortillas
1 recipe Chipotle Lime Slaw*
1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack or crumbled cotija cheese (omit for a lactose free dinner)
1 cup prepared pico de gallo
Chopped cilantro and lime wedges
Your favorite hot sauce

Preparation

1. Mix together kefir with 3 chopped canned chipotle peppers and salt in a bowl. Add chicken. Make sure the chicken is covered with the kefir mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Remove chicken from kefir mixture and add to skillet, searing on both sides until browned, turning once, about 5 minutes, per side.

3. Stir together tomatoes and remaining chipotles and garlic in a 9X13 baking dish. Layer onions over tomatoes and place chicken on top of the onions. Pour the beer over everything, cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 1 hour.

4. While the chicken bakes, make the avocado chile crema. Place avocados, sour cream, lime juice, adobo in a blender and pulse until smooth. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

5. When chicken is done, remove from pan and shred using two forks. Add back to the tomato, onion, chipotle sauce and stir until well coated.

6. To make tacos, layer chipotle slaw, chicken tinga, cheese and pico de gallo. Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges and hot sauce.

Serves 4 – 6.

PER SERVING (2 tacos): 487 CAL; 29G PROT; 24G TOTAL FAT (8G SAT. FAT); 22G CARB; 87MG CHOL; 234MG SOD; 8G FIBER; 3G SUGARS

*Chipotle Lime Slaw

Ingredients

1 6-oz. cup Green Valley Organics Plain Yogurt
1/4 cup Green Valley Organics Kefir
2 to 3 Tbs. honey or agave nectar (to taste)
2 to 3 tsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotles (to taste)
Juice and zest from 1 lime (2 Tbs. juice)
1 14–oz. bag classic cole slaw mix (shredded red and green cabbage and carrots)
1 small bunch green onions, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Preparation

Whisk together yogurt, kefir, honey, adobo, lime juice and zest and salt to taste in a large bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste. Fold in cole slaw mix, green onions and cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.

Chef’s Tip: Add crunch and color to this zippy slaw with 1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

Makes 6 servings.

*Recipes and image courtesy of Green Valley Organics and Redwood Hill Farm .*

Naturally made from grains and vegetables, Field Roast Vegetarian Frankfurters are not just any old veggie dog! Crafting artisan, old-world style vegetarian dogs is what this company does best, and truly, the fresh ingredients make the difference! The blend of garlic, onions, sea salt, caraway and celery seeds gives these franks a bold taste. “Mom” has become a new fan and didn’t need to saturate the frankfurter in loads of ketchup to enjoy eating it!

Field Roast Vegetarian Frankfurters can be grilled on the barbeque, sautés in the pan, steamed in the oven or microwaved for those in a hurry. As the weather warms up, and backyard barbecues get underway, these delicious franks are a perfect addition to any gathering that will include those on a vegetarian diet.

To learn more about Field Roast Vegetarian Frankfurters, to locate a retailer near you, or to order online, visit
FieldRoast.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

No More Couch Potatoes – Keeping Your Kids Fit and Healthy This Summer

The summer holiday is a great opportunity to get your kids fit and healthy by letting them play outside to experience a bit of fresh air instead of being cooped up inside fixed to a games console or the internet. Yet sometimes they need a bit of pushing to get them across that threshold separating indoors from out. Here are a few tips for ensuring your kids get the most out of the good weather, ways to make sure they don’t turn into unmotivated, unfit couch potatoes.

Day Trips

While it can sometimes be difficult to get time off work, when you do have a free day to spare, think about taking your kids out on day trips rather than leaving them to their own devices. Summer is packed with outdoor events such as festivals, fairs and fêtes, and there is bound to be one close by that you can visit. With a host of activities and diversions usually on display, it’s an easy way to keep your child interested and active. Yet you don’t need to seek out a special event, a simple trip to the beach, the woods or other natural attractions will usually suffice. For the more culturally minded, why not think about a visit to a theatre or museum; in the summer these destinations often hold special sessions, open days and interactive exhibits that engage, delight and inform, meaning your child develops their mind as well as getting them out of the house.

Sports Clubs & Activity Groups

While most school associated sporting ventures close down over the summer months, plenty of independent sports teams and groups take up the slack at this time. Whether your child wants to play in a cricket league, hone their football skills under the tutelage of expert coaches or learn how to synchronise swim there are plenty of opportunities out there for both boys and girls. The more active can even seek out rock climbing, wind-surfing, mountain biking or kayaking groups, getting to grips with more intense and more adventurous activities that do not necessarily have a competitive element. This way boisterous children can stay healthy and learn a new skill without the pressure of wanting to be the best.

Chores

Okay, this isn’t exactly the most fun option, and kids, just like adults, hate doing chores. However, asking your child to perform basic household tasks at least keeps them busy. As an added bonus, when the prospect of chores is raised, it seems to have the uncanny knack of getting your child out of the house! The youngster who was slouched in front of the television or glued to a computer screen magically turns into an incredibly active, outdoor loving kid the very moment that you demand they clean their room. In fact they’ll do just about anything to get out of the house and away from performing chores. Funny one, that.

Summer Camps

Many adults who went to summer camps as a child cherish these trips as some of the fondest memories of their life. Whether staying in a camp just a few miles away or heading off overseas to more intrepid shores, summer camps can be one of the most rewarding experience’s a child can ever have. Think about an adventure camp for those kids with seemingly limitless energy, entrepreneur camps for the business savvy and sports camps for budding Wayne Rooneys and David Beckhams. Places such as Tignes, high in the French Alps offer this kind of youth camp, and much more besides, perfectly tailored for your child, letting them stay fit and active in a safe and pleasant environment.

About the Author

John is a travel writer who has written about everything from finding exciting youth camps for kids to seeking out the best slopes in winter.

*Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Cool, creamy and velvety on the tongue, our chilled avocado soup refreshes with a satisfying tanginess from our Redwood Hill Farm Kefir…even on the hottest summer days. It’s perfect for a quick entrée soup for the family, or portioned into shot glasses and topped with grilled shrimp for a party-worthy appetizer.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Roasted Corn and Pico de Gallo Garnish

Ingredients

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 ears of corn, roasted on a grill and removed from cob or 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen and thawed

1 large tomato, halved with seeds removed
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp. seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper (to taste)
Juice from 2 limes
Salt to taste

3 ripe avocadoes, pitted and peeled
2/3 cup frozen peas
1 cup Redwood Hill Farms Plain Kefir
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbs. chopped white onion
2 tsp. seeded and chopped jalapeno (to taste)
Juice of one lime
1/3 to 1/2 cup warm water or gluten-free chicken broth
Salt to taste

Preparation

1. To roast the corn on the stovetop, heat oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels and cook 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn is golden and toasted. Set aside.

2. To make the pico de gallo, chop tomato in to very small pieces and mix with onion, cilantro and jalapeno pepper. Stir in lime juice and roasted corn; add salt to taste and set aside.

3. To make the soup, place avocados, peas, kefir, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and lime juice in a blender. Puree until smooth. Add warm water or chicken broth to thin out the soup. Add salt to taste.

4. Divide soup between four or six bowls and top with Roasted Corn and Pico de Gallo Garnish. Serve with your favorite hot sauce.

Serves 4 to 6

PER SERVING: 285 CAL; 8G PROT; 18G TOTAL FAT (2G SAT. FAT); 23G CARB; 1MG CHOL; 134MG SOD; 12G FIBER; 11G SUGARS

*Recipes and image courtesy of Green Valley Organics and Redwood Hill Farm .*