Category Archives: healthy eating

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Lassen’s Started with a Brave Woman and a Problem to be Solved

Oda Saw She Could Help Solve that Problem

When I came into the Lassen family and learned that Oda owned and ran a Health Food Store, I just sort of thought, “Oh, that’s cool.” It wasn’t until about ten years ago that it really hit me how astonishing that was.

Oda was born in August, 1918 — nearly one hundred years ago. That means that when the first Lassen’s store opened in 1971, she was almost 53 years old. Fifty-three. At a time when most are thinking about the end of their careers, she bravely began one. But she was driven to do so because she saw a problem and she knew she could help solve it.

As mentioned in previous posts about Oda (read about her childhood, growing up, love of good, healthy food, during World War II in Denmark, immigration to America, and settling into a new country) she felt very strongly that quality food was extremely important.  She had lived through food rationing as a young mother during the WW II in Denmark, and knew what it felt like to not be able eat or to feed her children healthy food.

When the Lassens arrived in America in early 1952, the industrial packaged food trend was really gaining steam. Oda was appalled. She was horrified with much of American food — low quality, pre-packaged, tasteless, full of refined sugar, salt, preservatives and artificial ingredients, and definitely lacking in nutrition. This did not seem like progress to her. She knew how vital quality food was to overall health — she’d lived without it during the war and knew how detrimental that could be! She knew that families needed acess to more healthy foods as well as information about natural solutions to health issues. 

So once her youngest children were in school and more independent, she decided that she could do something to solve that problem. She took a job at a local Health Food store, and devoured as much information as she could. She took advantage of every opportunity, even questioning the way the owner ran the business. She was disgusted with much of what he did, from his product mix (junk food right next to the supplements) to his habits (smoking fat cigars in the office.) When he let her go in favor of a younger woman, she decided that losing the job was a blessing — that she could do better. She wanted to help her community to be knowledgable about natural remedies and have access to healthy, nutritious foods .

The idea to open her own store began to grow and expand, and as she discussed it with Hilmar, he said he would help her do it. They found a little store to lease on Pickwick Drive in Camarillo, and got to work. They made plans and recieved permits, then built and set up everything. The shelves were cleaned and stocked. They opened the doors for business.

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Forty-seven years ago this week, on July 6, 1971, Lassen’s Health Food Store held its Grand Opening. This ad ran in the local paper. People began to shop at the little store, and Oda gained more confidence. At first the divider between the selling area and the back room was close to the front of the store, but as her sales volume grew and as the product offerings expanded, that divider was moved back farther and farther. After a few years she moved across the street into a larger store, and that store has been expanded another time since then. 

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This was very much a family undertaking, as shown here with a teenaged Anna. All of the Lassen siblings spent plenty of time after school and during the summer dusting shelves, stocking product, bagging nuts and dried fruits, and helping customers. Hilmar did the produce run to LA and served as the handyman, while still maintaining his masonry business.  But Oda was the hub of the business, and her customers remained loyal to her well after her retirement. 

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It was a big step when Oda was able to hire her first employee, Jennie. She became a wonderful asset to the business, and almost part of the family. You can see that there is a lot more product on the shelves than in the previous photo!

Many people told Oda and Hilmar that the Health Food craze was just a fad, and would never last. But Oda knew that this wasn’t just a hippie thing — it was a basic, human, need to nurture bodies, strive to heal naturally, and to take care of the earth.

All along the way, Oda kept uppermost in her mind her purpose to provide families in the community with healthy,  nutritious, high quality foods and supplements. In those early days organic foods were difficult to find, but she sought them out wherever she could. And of course, the organic standards were not codified into law at that point, so she had to be extra vigilant in checking ingredients and manufacturing practices. 

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This article in the local paper appeared a few years later, when there were more supplements on the shelves! Oda’s friend Gerda is on the far right of this photo — even her friends helped when they were in town!

There were plenty of discouraging times, but Oda continued to build on her foundation of caring about everyone who came into the store. She learned more as she attended seminars and read everything she could so that she could help them with their health concerns. 

Now, forty-seven years later, we at Lassen’s strive every day to build on Oda’s foundation of caring about our communities. Our dedicated buyers constantly search for the highest quality healthy, sustainable, and ethically produced items.  We feel grateful to have so many great producers, many who live and produce locally. Our knowledgeable staff is trained and anxious to help you find solutions to your health needs. Those are traditions that Oda started so many years ago — supporting both suppliers and the community. 

Thanks, Oda, again for setting us on this path!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

Amy’s — a Natural Foods Staple for 30 Years!

Amy’s is a California Original!

When we visited Northern Califoria this year, we were excited to tour Amy’s Kitchen in Petaluma. We were surprised and impressed with their hands-on approach. I expected floor to ceiling stainless steel machinery doing all the work, but what we saw was hundreds of dedicated workers hand making and packaging Amy’s products. 

More than 30 years ago, Rachel and Andy were expecting a baby, and there wasn’t anything in the store to satisfy the need for healthy, convenient, ready-made meals. With Rachel on bed rest, they realized that there were likely many others in the same boat. Once their baby was born, they started making their first recipe, Pot Pie, to sell locally. Their daughter Amy and Amy’s Kitchen were born in the same year!

They launched their company, thinking that they would just make those delicious Pot Pies, but requests for more variety started coming in. They started adding other products, from Pizza to Canned Soups. They heard about people with allergies, food sensitivities, and special diets, so Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free offerings were created. Since Organic is also non-GMO, Amy’s is also committed to GMO-free ingredients.

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Amy’s has always been passionate and committed to organically grown produce, even in the beginning when there was no Organic Certification. They work closely with their farmers to make sure they have the best ingredients possible.

And now, thirty years later, Amy’s is a household name. You can read more of Amy’s story by clicking  here.

When I had busy and active kids at home, we almost always had Amy’s Burritos in the refrigerator for a quick snack before gymnastics or soccer. The cheese enchiladas were also a favorite, and it’s fun to see my grandchildren enjoying the same products!

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Amy’s has a desire to change the face of fast food, and in 2015 they opened Amy’s Drive Through in Rohnart Park. It’s a sustainability model, with solar panels and a living roof.

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They have delicious burgers, fries, shakes, pizza, burritos, and much more. I hope they bring their Drive Thru to Southern California!

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yummmmm… Chili Fries!

I love visiting the producers of our amazing products! Thanks, Amy’s for hosting us!

Love,

Lassen’s

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Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

 

spinach+salad, easy+salad, pear+salad, gorgonzola+cheese, easy+salad+recipes, Newman's+Balsamic+Dressing, balsamic+vinegar, delicious+salad, spinach+recipes

Pears to the Rescue!

Simple, Delicious, Nutritious!

Lassen's+Organic+Bartlett+Pears, Bartlett+Pears
 
I have always love Bartlett Pears.  They are sweet and the texture is just right.  We would eat them by the dozens when I was growing up.  But when I left home for college I learned that some people did not love them like I did!  
 
Maybe you are one of those who haven’t yet learned to appreciate the humble pear.  So here are some great facts about them!
 
A medium pear has about 100 calories, and no fat, cholesterol, or sodium.  They are nutrient dense; high in Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.  A single pear has almost 25% of the recommended daily amount of fiber!   Here is a brochure with pear facts and more recipes.
 
Pears are one of the few fruits that do not ripen on the tree.  They are mature, but still green, when they are harvested.  If you leave the green fruit in a bowl for a few days, you’ll see them begin to lighten to a nice yellow color.  Eat them before they get too yellow or start to brown.  Delicious!

Pears are Wonderful in Many Recipes! 

Lassen's+Organic+Bartlett+Pears, Bartlett+Pears
 
 
Many times when I am going out to eat I will find a spinach salad on the menu that appeals to me.  I often order it, and I’m always happy with my choice (I have no menu envy when I do!)
 
When I noticed that these salads often only have four or five ingredients, I realized that I could make them myself, and now I do–a lot!  
 
So instead of spending upwards of $15 for a spinach salad, make it yourself!  This recipe serves 3-4 (2 for a main dish salad).

Spinach Pear Gorgonzola Salad

 

You’ll Need:

  • 1 package of washed, organic, baby spinach 
  • 2 TBP organic raw sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup organic raw pecans
  • 1/4 cup crumbled organic gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 ripe organic Bartlett pears
  • Organic Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil, or your choice of Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Optional — Candied Pecans

If you’d like, you can candy your pecans.  I think it adds a nice crunchy sweetness to the salad, but it is optional.  If you want to do it, here’s how.

 

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In heavy-bottomed dry pan, pour 2 TBSP sugar.  Shake the pan to spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Turn the heat to medium and watch the sugar as it heats.  Be careful to not let the sugar burn on the sides, where the pan may be thinner.  You can stir it around.

 

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The sugar will melt.  Right when the sugar crystals have all melted, turn off the heat and sprinkle the pecans over the top.  

 

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Using a spatula, turn the nuts over.  You have to move quickly to coat the nuts with the sugar.

 

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Turn the nuts onto a plate to cool.  I try to separate them as much as possible as I get them onto the plate.
 
While the nuts cool, assemble the salad.  

 

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Place the spinach on a plate, core and slice the pears, sprinkle the cheese and nuts over the top of the salad.

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I twisted a few grinds of fresh pepper over the top.  
 
Then just choose your dressing!  Lassen’s carries a large variety of delicious balsamic vinaigrette dressings!  I like the Newman’s Own brand, but sometimes I just like to use plain Extra-Virgin Organic Olive Oil and Organic Balsamic Vinegar with some freshly ground salt on top.

 

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And there you have it!  A restaurant quality salad with your own, gorgeous organic ingredients, including the humble and delicious Bartlett pear!
 
Happy eating!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
waldorf+salad+recipe, waldorf+salad, apple+salad, grape+salads, easy+salads, easy+waldorf

Grapes–Those Little Orbs of Happiness!

I’ve Been Making this Salad for Years!

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I grew up in the Apple Capital of the World–Yakima Valley, Washington.  So I love my apples! (When they are good — I will reject a mushy apple with one bite, and there are varieties that I won’t touch.  Yes, I’m that spoiled.)
 
And putting them in recipes with other fruits is a real treat.  The summer grapes are so wonderful right now, so pairing them with apples makes perfect, fresh, delicious sense.  Grapes can be used in so many ways!  For a recipe of how to make your own grape soda, see this post from lassensloves.com.
 
Here’s a recipe that has been around for years, and I’ve been making it for a long time, too!

Waldorf Salad

 
 

 

This recipe was created in the late 1800s by the chef at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.  Traditionally made with apples, celery and walnuts, it now has many variations.  Here’s mine, which serves 8-10.

 

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You’ll Need:

  • 4 crisp organic apples, cored and chopped in bite-sized pieces.  I used two Granny Smiths and two Pink Ladies
  • 4 stalks of organic celery, chopped
  • 2 cups of organic red grapes, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup organic pecans, toasted lightly
  • 1/2 cup organic yogurt (I used Fage Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup organic mayonnaise (I used Spectrum Organic)
  • 2 TBSP fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice
  • a couple of twists of fresh-cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp organic nutmeg
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Procedure:

Chop the apples and the celery.

 

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Slice the grapes.  

 
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Mix together

 

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Toast the pecans lightly in the oven or in a dry pan over medium heat on the stove, and set aside.

 

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Make the Dressing

Mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper, and nutmeg together until smooth.

 

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When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the cut apples, celery and grapes.  Stir to coat, then add the toasted pecans and stir.

 

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This is a great salad for those outdoor barbecues and picnics!  Enjoy this fresh taste of summer!  

 
love,
 
Lassen’s
kids+in+the+kitchen, kid+friendly+recipes, cooking+with+children, cooking+with+kids, children+in+the+kitchen, kitchen+basics+for+kids

Flashback! Cooking as a Kid–or with one!

4-H In My Youth

I know that 4-H in this part of the country (and many others) means hogs and steers, but my introduction to 4-H was with a group of my girlfriends when I was about eight or nine.  One of the moms decided to start a 4-H club for us, so we spent lots of time at her house learning homemaking skills.
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Sounds old-fashioned, doesn’t it?

And I suppose it was.  But I was just having fun with my friends, learning some food basics, and gaining confidence in the kitchen.  I did lots of cooking with my mom so it wasn’t all that new to me, but I loved my 4-H time nonetheless.  
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That 4-H Club experience helped me to not be afraid of being in the kitchen or of having my children in the kitchen with me.  So my kids regularly made salad or peeled vegetables or measured ingredients or made dessert.  They assisted with everything I was doing.   When they went off to college I knew they wouldn’t starve — or live on fast food — because they were comfortable in the kitchen.

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Some of my favorite phones calls when they were away at school were the ones that started, “Mom, how do you make…?” asking for a recipe.  (I always knew when it was one son’s turn to cook for his dinner group!)

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One of the keys to cooking with kids is to make it fun, not a chore.  Kids are much more likely to eat healthy foods when they have had a hand in growing, harvesting, shopping, and preparing the foods themselves. 

I always loved to eat this side dish when I was a kid, because I got to make the bunny face!

 

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We didn’t have a lot of junk food around our house when I was growing up–no chips or sodas–but we always had the makings for this kind of a snack! 

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Invite your kids into the kitchen!  It will be fun for you and for them.  Teach them how to use the juicer and the blender, the oven and the stove.  Maybe you could be that mom who gets a bunch of giggly girls together to learn to be healthy gourmet cooks.  They will thank you some day!

I found a very simple kid-friendly hummus recipe here.  I think I’ll be making this recipe with my grandsons at Grandma Camp this year!  (They love to be in charge of turning the food processor on and off!)
 
Enjoy the kids in the kitchen!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
 
 
focus+on+local, local+producers, ojai+olive+oil, olive+oil, healthy+fats, organic+olive+oil

Focus on Local–Ojai Olive Oil

Ojai Olive Oil

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Ojai+Olive+Oil, Olive+Oil
 
I sure didn’t appreciate the beauty of the olive tree when I had one in the front yard of our first little house.  It was pretty, but I had no idea what was hiding in those little orbs.  The nutritional value of olive oil is vast.  From this website I learned that olive oil can improve the immune system and protect agains viruses.  Heart disease, cancer, strokes, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions can be beneficially affected by consuming olive oil.  (Very interesting information!)  Olives are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet — you can learn more at the balance me beautiful website — which is a super healthy way to eat!

 

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I recently spent an afternoon with Alice Asquith, who showed me around the Ojai Olive Oil company’s olive grove and pressing operation, and learned so much more about the amazing olive.  It was a gorgeous summer day in Ojai, and Alice was kind and gracious.  

A Little History…

Did you know that until the 1780s, there were no olive trees in California?  The Padres from Spain introduced the trees so that they could have their olive oil.  It took over 100 years before California farmers were interested in growing olives.  In fact, there are still not enough olive growers in America to supply America’s olive oil needs.  Only 20% of the olive oil Americans consume is produced in America, even though there are many climates that are suited to olive growing.  

 

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In 1982, Alice’s husband, Ronald, bought a ten acre orange grove as a retirement project.  They moved to Ojai from metropolitan Los Angeles, and eventually replanted the grove in olives.  In 1998 he bought 36 more acres, where they now have the center of their operation. This grove had been planted in 1880!  The original farmers made oil until 1910, but after that the trees just sat — for 78 years.  No oil was made from the olives–they just fell to the ground and rotted.  Ron began to give them lot of TLC, and after just three years, the trees began to produce beautifully.  In 2001 they made their first olive oil.    The entire grove is now certified organic. 

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They started selling their oil–in their signature blue bottles–at farmer’s markets.

Ron decided to plant other varieties, and now they have nine different olive varieties in the groves.  At first they blended all of the varieties into their blended oil, but now they make both pure and blended variety oils.  

 

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 Three years ago they started suppling their oil to a cosmetic maker, and they have lovely soaps and creams made from their oil.

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Ronald spent many hours studying and learning about olive growing, and he had some wonderful mentors to help him along his way.  The groves now have over 3000 trees, which are thriving, but Alice said that “the weather is the boss.”  From budding to harvest, the trees must be nurtured.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The olive trees blossom in late April or so, and it takes six months from blossom to first harvest.  The olives will stay green for as long as possible, and then they start to ripen in early October.  During the harvest time they have to constantly watch the olives to make sure they harvest at the right time.  They wait until most of the olives are ripe–have turned color–then they harvest, all by hand.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

It takes sixty pounds of olives to make one gallon of olive oil!  But if the weather has been very hot, the yield will be a little higher.  The olives are taken directly from the groves to be milled the day they are harvested. 

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First the olives are washed and the leaves blown off, and then the olives are crushed–chopped and pushed through a sieve. 

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You can see how the olives would be crushed as they moved down through this part of the machine and into the next step!  

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Once it moves into the drums, the olives are now the consistency of paste, and looks sort of like oatmeal.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The paste is stirred up slowly.  No heat or water is added.  It is protected from air to prevent oxidation.   

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The paste begins to separate, and then the centrifuge begins to spin to assist the separation by density and weight.  It takes 90 minutes from start to finish!  They can process up to 800 pounds of olives per hour.  The oil is strained and bottled.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has established standards for extra-virgin olive oil.  A sample of every batch of Ojai Olive Oil is sent to a lab for blind testing to make sure it meats the highest standards, and has less than 0.8% acidity.

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This Tuscan is one of the Ojai Olive Oil blends!

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

At the end of the process, there is a waste made of pulp, skins, and pits, shown above.  Ojai Olive Oil Company uses this to make compost.  

Some companies will add chemicals and apply heat to the waste so they can extract more of the oil.  However, these oils do not meet the “Extra-virgin” standards, and are often sold under the names, “Pure” or “Extra Light Tasting.”  These oils are about as far away from extra-virgin as can be.  (Do not be fooled by the “pure” label!)  And they do not have the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil.
 
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Ojai Olive Oil Company also gives free tours and tastings at their grove.  You can see the machines and taste the oils!  For times and more detailed information about their ranch and story, click here.

If you have a morning or afternoon to stroll through an olive grove and learn about olive oil–not to mention taste some delightful deliciousness–I recommend going to Ojai and take a tour.  But if you don’t have the time, remember that you can find this deliciousness at Lassen’s.  
 
Love, 
 
Lassen’s
gluten+free, gluten+free+baking+mix, baking+mix

Focus on Local–Arnel’s Gluten-Free Baking Mixes

Gluten Just Might Be Your Enemy

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This is Arnel, of Arnel’s Originals Gluten-Free Baking Mixes!  She was your average mom, but was concerned with some unexplained behavior and health issues with her two daughters.  They had nervous system issues–tantrums, anxiety, anger, stress, and skin issues–rashes, and eczema. She knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what it could possibly be, and didn’t know where to start.  After reading as much as she could find, she started to suspect food allergies.  So in 1996 she put her family on an elimination diet to see if they were sensitive to allergens.  (To see Arnel’s suggestions for going on an elimination diet, go to her website and find the Feb 2011 post.)  Sure enough, within a couple of weeks she learned that she and both of her daughters were highly sensitive to gluten–in fact, they have celiac disease, which is an auto-immune disease, not just an allergy. 
 
Arnel's+Gluten+Free
 
 
Of course this meant a big life-style change for Arnel’s family.  Everything with gluten had to be eliminated from the home and their diet.  Even a few crumbs can trigger a reaction.  You can imagine what that does to a little girl going to a sleep-over party!  In the early days there were very few gluten-free products on the market!
 
Eventually Arnel decided that she needed to take matters into her own hands, and started experimenting with gluten-free ingredients to make breads and cakes, cookies and pies for her family.
 
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 She had a wonderful mentor named Pippi, who helped her figure out what ingredients worked, and she fiddled with them until she got it just right.  She made her mixes for family and friends at first.  Then in 2009 she began selling her Gluten-Free Baking Mixes in Lassen’s, and today is in many markets.  At first she was blending her mixes by hand in her kitchen, but today the business has grown so much that she has a commercial factory that makes her mixes according to her recipe and specifications.

 

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With these four mixes–organic and certified gluten-free–you can make just about any baked good that you’d like!  Arnel has made the mixes without sweeteners, so you can add what you like–from regular sugar or honey to date sweetener!  You can make chocolate or white or spice cake from the Make-a-Cake Mix–just add what you like!  

 

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I got to bake with Arnel in both her home and at a commercial kitchen, where she bakes her bread for the Farmer’s Market.  In her home we made these yummy cookies!

 

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Moist and delicious!  Those of us who are not sensitive to gluten usually shun anything that is gluten-free, but these are cookies that I could eat every day!

 

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Using the Cake Mix, we also made a strawberry cake, split in half and topped with mashed fresh strawberries.  It was really good–my family ate it up!

 

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I met Arnel at the commercial kitchen to watch her bake some of her delicious buckwheat gluten-free bread.  

 

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Because gluten-free doesn’t have any, well, gluten, the texture of the bread dough was toothpaste-y, not at all like the bread dough I am used to seeing.  

 

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But I trusted that Arnel knew what she was doing (No kneading?  How could that be?) and the end result was a beautiful, golden brown loaf of deliciousness!

 

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Arnel even made me a delicious salmon-salad sandwich with the buckwheat bread.  The bread was everything a sandwich needed!  Light and toasty–just delicious!

 

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If you are sensitive to gluten, or suspect that you might be, try some of Arnel’s baking mixes!  You can have your cake and eat it too!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
pasta+puttanesca, kalamata+olive+pasta, easy+pasta+recipe, vegetarian+pasta+sauce, easy+pasta+sauce

Another Quick Dish–this one can be Vegetarian!

Kalamata Olive Pasta…Otherwise Known as Pasta Puttanesca

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I always have the ingredients for this easy Italian Pasta dish on hand for those busy days when I just don’t want to cook, but I want to eat!  This dinner takes only about 30 minutes, including the salad shown!

Kalamata Olive Pasta (Pasta Puttanesca)

(This recipe is adapted from one found on the Epicurious website)  Serves 6

 

 

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Pasta+Puttanesca,Kalamata+Olives, Caprese+Salad
 

You will need:

  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 5 cloves organic garlic, minced or forced through a garlic press
  • 1 TBSP Wild Caught Anchovy Paste
  • 1/2 tsp hot red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 28-oz can of Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup drained pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 TBSP drained organic capers
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh organic basil

Begin:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil
Puree the tomatoes in a blender (I used my small food processor because my blender was broken!  Boo! But it worked alright)

 

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Mince or press the garlic
Coarsely chop the olives
When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente
 
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat
Add the garlic, anchovy paste, and red pepper flakes, and stir occasionally until fragrant.  This only takes about 2 minutes.
 
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Add the tomato puree to the garlic oil 

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Stir and then add the Kalamata olives and capers, then bring to a gentle simmer and add salt and pepper to taste 

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Meanwhile, chop the basil, and check the pasta to see if it is done.  When it is al dente, drain.  You can toss the pasta into the sauce if you would like.  Or serve the pasta and sauce separately.   

Make the salad–this takes only about 5 minutes!

Easy Caprese Salad

 

This is one of my favs!

You Will Need:

  • Mozzarella Fresca (Fresh Mozzarella), drained.  I like the little balls–they are about 1/2″ rounds
  • Organic cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • Organic Basil, coarsely chopped
  • Organic Balsamic Vinegar
  • Organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh-ground salt and pepper, to taste
Just toss everything together!  I do about half the amount of Mozzarella Fresca to the amount of tomatoes (2 cups of tomatoes, 1 cup of Mozzarella Fresca), then add the basil, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to taste

Now Serve!

Stir the basil into the pasta sauce, and pass shredded parmesan cheese, if you’d like.  Everything is ready!
 
We like to have some Lassen’s Baked Rosemary Bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side.

 

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Seriously!  It’s dinner in about a half hour!

This is a perfect meal for a busy summer day when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen!  
 
Happy pasta-ing!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
avocado+recipes, braggs+liquid+aminos, liquid+aminos, lemon+juice, avocado+recipes, easy+avocado+recipes

THE 3 INGREDIENT POWER SNACK

Oh Avocados!
 
So many options! So many ways to transform their wonderfully versatile taste into brilliant works of art! At only 99ยข per Organic Avocado for the rest of July at Lassens, chances are you’ll be buying in bulk!
 
Of course there are those lazy summer days when the amount of effort you’re willing to put in doesn’t quite match up with the expectations of greatness that sits at the edge of your taste buds.
 
Fear not my friends, for I come armed with a little snack that’s not only packed with nutrients, but it is also as easy as 1-2-3! In fact, that’s exactly the amount of ingredients that go into this little creation. 
Here they are, are you ready?
avocado, Lassens, Lassensloves, organic, power snack
 

You’ll Need: 

1 organic avocado
+
1 organic lemon (juiced)
+
1-2 Tablespoons of Braggs Liquid Aminos
THAT’S IT!

avocado+snack
 
avocado+snack
 
avocado+snack
 
avocado+snack
 
avocado+snack
 
avocado+snack
 
avocado+snack
aaaaaaand….. 
avocado+snack
GONE.
 
If that sounds a little too simple to you, rest assured, the taste is NOT!
Of course it can be dolled up if you wish (I’d recommend Phony Baloney Coconut Bacon or pine nuts), but sincerely, this flavor combo can stand alone!
 
But why is it a POWER SNACK, you ask?
The secret lies in each ingredient’s list of benefits.
avocado+nutrition
 
 
lemon+nutrition
 
Bragg's+Liquid+Aminos
 
Some of the best things in life are simple – this snack is no exception.
Enjoy and have a lovely and healthy day!
Click HERE to pin this as an infographic!
Love,
 
Lassen’s
 
 
 

bliss+point, food+giants, salt+sugar+fat, michael+moss, junk+food, obesity+epidemic, food+addiction

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

This is Eye-Opening

There has been a great deal of press recently about how the big food industry has used unhealthy ingredients to hook us on processed foods.  New York Times Reporter Michael Moss has written a book called Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.
 
He was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air on Tuesday, Feb 26.  It was an eye-opener!

So I downloaded the ebook

Salt+sugar+fat,
 

Now, I don’t know how many pages the printed book had, but the e-book was substantial.  It has taken me a while to read it!  There was a lot to absorb.

We All Know There’s Too Much Salt, Sugar, and Fat in Our Diets, Right?

Michael+Moss
 
Well, Michael Moss tackles the “Why” of that statement.
 
He went inside the Processed Food Industry–interviewed the executives, the scientists, the marketing people–to get the real picture of how we got where we are.  
 
As early as 1999, the Processed Food Industry has been aware of the “emerging epidemic of obesity,” and wondered how it would affect their industry.  Several experts were pointing fingers directly at the Industrial Food Manufacturers.  The Chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, Walter Willett, said, “The transition of food to being an industrial product really has been a fundamental problem.  First, the actual processing has stripped away the nutritional value of the food.  Most of the grains have been converted to starches.  We have sugar in concentrated form, and many of the fats have been concentrated and then, worst of all, hydrogenated, which creates trans-fatty acids with very adverse effects on health” (from the Prologue, “The Company Jewels”).  Some in the industry were willing to talk about instituting self-imposed, industry-wide limits on salt, sugar, and fat in their products.  Some wanted to be a part of the solution to the increasing problem of obesity.  

But the Big Guys Weren’t Receptive.

And since then, Industrial Food has just gotten saltier, sweeter, and more fatty.

Salt+sugar+fat
 
Moss tackles the three big culprits–salt, sugar, and fat in three parts of his book. 

First, Sugar

Biology, Cravings, Convenience–all play a part in sugar’s allure.  I learned a new term–“Bliss Point.”  It’s that point of sweetness that leaves us blissfully content, but before we say it’s too sweet and stop eating.  And it is, dare I say it, addictive.  We come back to it again and again and again.  It’s our biology.  Moss learned that “the entire mouth goes crazy for sugar, including the upper reaches known as the palate.  There are special receptors for sweetness in every one of the mouth’s ten thousand taste buds, and they are all hooked up, one way or another, to the parts of the brain known as the pleasure zones, where we get rewarded for stoking our bodies with energy….  Sugar not only makes the taste of food and drink irresistible.  The industry has learned that it can also be used to pull of a string of manufacturing miracles, from donuts that fry up bigger to bread that won’t go stale to cereal that is toasty-brown and fluffy.  All of this has made sugar a go-to ingredient in processed foods.  On average, we consume 71 pounds of caloric sweeteners each year.  That’s 22 teaspoons of sugar, per person, per day” (Chapter 1).

Fat

On the other hand, we don’t have a bliss point for fat.  We just love it.  We can’t get too much.  Our bodies do not say we’ve hard enough fat–that we’re sick of it and it’s just too much.  Our bodies always want it, and want more and more.  And it’s magic–it “turns listless chips into crunchy marvels, parched breads into silky loaves, drab lunchmeat into savory delicatessen.  Like sugar, some types of fat furnish processed foods with one of their most fundamental requirements: the capacity to sit on the grocery store shelf for days or months at a time.  Fat also gives cookies more bulk and a firmer texture.  It substitutes for water in lending tenderness and mouthfeel to crackers.  It lessens the rubbery texture in hot dogs, deepens their color, keeps them from sticking to the grill….  It can mask and convey other flavors in foods, all at the same time….As I spoke with scientists about the way fat behaves, I couldn’t resist drawing an analogy to the realm of narcotics.  If sugar in the methamphetamine of processed food ingredients, with its high speed, blunt assault on our brains, then fat is the opiate, a smooth operator whose effects are less obvious but no less powerful” (Chapter 7).

Salt

Salt also can be tasted all through the mouth and even into the gut.  But we don’t have a natural desire for salt.  Babies do not like it, and have to be coaxed to eat foods that contain salt.  But once they get used to it, they are hooked.  That’s something that the Processed Food Industry has done well–coaxed us to eat foods full of salt.  The industry uses a staggering 5 billions pounds of salt per year.  Moss learned that not only can salt excite the taste buds, it “is the great fixer.  It corrects myriad problems that arise as a matter of course in the factory.  Cornflakes, for example , taste metallic without it.  Crackers are bitter and soggy and stick to the roof of your mouth.  Ham turns so rubbery it can bounce.  Some of salt’s power has nothing to do with the food at all.  In commercial bread making, salt keeps the huge, fast-spinning machinery from gumming up and the factory line from backing up: Salt slows down the rising process so that the ovens can keep up with the pace” (Chapter 12).  Salt also covers up all kinds of bad tastes associated with reheating foods, especially meats, a staple of processed foods.  

But It’s Not All About Salt, Sugar, and Fat.

 lassensloves.com
 
Yes, it’s about Washington, too.  Subsidies to corn and dairy farmers have made the raw materials for processed foods really cheap.  So the industry keep adding more and more to their products, and the government keeps subsidizing our overeating.  
 
corn
 
What crops should we be subsidizing, if any?
 
cows
 
Did you know that the US Government will buy any excess milk or cheese that the Dairy Industry overproduces?  So when people switched to low- or non-fat milk, all of that excess cream went into thousands of pounds of cheese, which the government bought.  Have you noticed a big increase in consumption of cheese?  There is a lot of it in many products that didn’t have cheese in them–or much of it–20 years ago.
 
cheese
 
Moss concludes by saying that the processed food giants will not be giving up salt, sugar, or fat without a major fight.  If one product comes under fire for having too much of the big three, they will come up with healthier-sounding products to lure the customers in, but often are not healthier than the original product.  They look at their industry as making food affordable.  But some have a different view: “They argue that the low cost of processed foods has been thwarting the development of healthier ways of feeding the world” (Epilogue).

The Bottom Line:

As I read this book I came away with eyes opened wider to a processed food industry that has engineered foods “to maximize their allure.”  I came away with a determination to buy and eat as little processed food as possible.  Pay more attention to ingredients, and make sure they are healthy and in healthy amounts.  Cook from scratch.  Resist the siren-song of excess salt, sugar, and fat.  Buy and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  Keep sweet treats just that–treats, not every-waking-hour snacks.  

 

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If we have to subsidize crops, shouldn’t we subsidize healthier options, like broccoli?

I found this book to be very enlightening.  It made me very grateful for the options that we have to buy and eat healthy, organic, fresh, un-processed foods.  

 
So let’s eat more unprocessed foods!  
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
 
 
 
kitchen+tips, how+to+cut+watermelon, how+to+cut+pineapple, cucumber+tuna+boats, patriotic+fruit+skewers, fun+with+fruit, party+skewers

Cool Kitchen Tips and a Fun Lunch

This is Something That Made Me Crazy for a Long Time

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While my family loved watermelon, I hated to get it.  Why?  I dreading cutting the darned thing.  The knife had slipped too many times and I was knife-shy!  How do you cut up a round thing without putting your fingers in mortal danger?  Every time I cut into a watermelon the thing would roll around and I would get nervous.

Someone Finally Showed Me How!

I was helping at a party, and someone had just the tips I needed!  So now, I share with you!

The First Cut is the Worst

You do have to make one dangerous cut–the first one.  But hold it firmly on the cutting board with one hand while you cut the melon in half.

 

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Flip it over on the cut side and then cut it in half again.

 

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Then you start cutting the rind off.  This is actually easier with a thinner knife, not a big butcher-style.

 

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You’ll end with a quarter circle of rind-free melon, which you then just slice into the size of chunks that you want!

 

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Slice one way…

 

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Then the other…

 

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Then into cubes…

 

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Done!  Right after I cut this melon I put it in front of a bunch of teenagers with forks and they were in heaven!  

Pineapple Cutting Tricks, too!

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We all love pineapple at my house.  I usually have one ripening in the fruit bowl, and when it smells just right, I cut pineapple in a similar fashion to the watermelon.

 

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First, cut off the top and the bottom.  Looks and smells delicious!

 

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Cut off the rind.  Don’t worry if there are some little pieces of the rind left–you can trim them afterwards with a small knife.

 

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Then cut the pineapple into fourths.

 

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Slice off the core of each…

 

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Put the flat sides on the cutting board, cut in half again, and then into chunks.  Done!

For a Fun Fourth of July Snack…

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Skewers some banana slices, chunks of watermelon, and blueberries for a patriotic snack!

 

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 Or sprinkle fresh red raspberries and blueberries into vanilla yogurt!

And Make a Fresh, Crunchy, Cool, Summer Lunch!

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Cucumber Tuna Boats!

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Make a couple of thick peels from the flattest side of a cucumber for the base (so it won’t roll around!)

 

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Take some thin peels from the sides (just to make it look nicer), and then cut a lengthwise wedge out of the top of the cucumber.  

 

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Scoop out the seedy inside of the cucumber.

 

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Discard the seeds, but chop the cucumber wedge and some green onions.  Slice some cherry tomatoes, and get some tuna salad ready (tuna, mayonnaise, salt and pepper) and then add the chopped cucumber and green onion to the tuna.

 

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Arrange the tomato slices and the tuna salad in the cucumber boat.

 

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Slice through the tuna, and enjoy your tuna-cucumber boat lunch, with fresh pineapple and patriotic flag fruit skewers!  Then have a little yogurt and berries for dessert!  Yum!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
summer+drinks, healthy+summer+drinks, make+your+own+soda, rosemary+cucumber+limade, fresh+grape+soda

Cool Summer Drinks–Healthy and Easy!

It’s Not All About Soda

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You can see I had to drink some of them!  And I ate a few grapes, too!
This morning I whipped up these babies–perfect for some hot summer afternoons!

So Different and Delicious!

I am not much of a juice drinker–I love my ice water–but for these I will make an exception.  Pure ingredients, healthy, fresh–Absolutely no guilt here!  

No Juicer Required!

I made these delicious drinks with just a blender, so let’s get started.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Summer+drinks, Rosemary+cucumber+limeade
 

Rosemary Cucumber Limeade

You will need:

  • 3 large organic cucumbers
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh organic rosemary, plus four springs for garnish  (This recipe could also be made with fresh organic mint or basil, for a different taste sensation!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh organic lime juice
  • 3+ TBSP organic Agave Syrup (to taste)
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Summer+drinks, Rosemary+cucumber+limeade
 
Score a cucumber lengthwise with a fork.  This will give your decorative slices a finished look.  Then cut 12 thin slices of cucumber for garnish.

 

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Peel and chop the rest of the cucumbers, place in your blender, along with the chopped fresh rosemary. 

 

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Puree until there are no chunks and the rosemary is well incorporated.  You’ll need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides.

 

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Pour the puree into a fine-mesh strainer which has been set over a bowl.  

 

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Push the solids a bit to get the juice into the bowl.  If you like a very clear juice, use cheesecloth.  I like more solids, so I pushed quite a bit through the strainer.

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Summer+drinks, Rosemary+cucumber+limeade

 

 
 
Squeeze the limes until you have 1/2 cup, then add the lime juice, the water, and the agave syrup to the cucumber/rosemary juice. 

 

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 Taste and add more agave if you’d like.
Fill four glasses half-way with ice, then pour 1/4 of juice into each glass.  Garnish with cucumber slices and a spring of rosemary.  

Make your own soda with healthy ingredients?  Yes!  

summer+drinks, grape+soda
 

Fresh Grape Soda

You’ll Need:

  • 4 Cups of organic seedless red grapes, washed and stemmed, plus more for garnish
  • 2 TBSP fresh organic lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP organic honey
  • 2 cups mineral water (I used Voss Sparkling Water)
summer+drinks, grape+soda
 
 
Wash and stem the grapes, and then puree in a blender until fine.  Pour the puree into a strainer, which has been placed over a medium bowl.  Press on the solids to extract the juice.  
 
 
 
summer+drinks, grape+soda

 

Add the lemon juice and the honey, and stir well until the honey is well incorporated.  
 
summer+drinks, grape+soda
 
 
Add the sparkling water, and mix.  Pour the mixture into four, ice-filled glasses, and garnish with a small bunch of grapes.
 
summer+drinks, grape+soda
 

Drink Some Fruits and Vegetables Today!

Have a great summer, and enjoy these delicious, healthy, and easy drinks!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s