Category Archives: Chocolate

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Can Fats be Healthy? Yes!

Times Have Changed!

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

It wasn’t that long ago that fat was a dirty word. I recall attending a gym class where the teacher advised choosing all-sugar treats (such as Starburst or Skittles) over treats with any fat at all.  Many were excited to see no-fat products on the market — cookies and cakes made without fat. It was easy to get caught up in the no-fat craze.

But just a few days of unnaturally cutting fats completely out of your diet leaves you feeling hungry, tired, and grumpy and, frankly, unhealthy.  The fats in those products were generally replaced with a real dietary villain — sugar — as well as other refined carbohydrates. So you ended up with the spikes and dips in energy that come with a high sugar diet. Not a happy place to be.

And it’s true, there are unhealthy fats — Transfats (fats that have been hydrogenated) can increase the risk of several chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, among others.) We want to avoid those, such as refined fats and oils (think margarine and corn oil).

There are also very serious possible effects of eating no fat. This article from Dr. Axe mentions poor brain function, compromised heart health, hormone imbalances (including fertility issues), overeating and weight gain, among other problems. I knew a young woman who desperately wanted to get pregnant, but had stopped menstruating when she turned to a practically no-fat diet in order to control her weight. Yes, things went this extreme.

Fortunately, the pendulum has swung away from that craziness, and we are in a much healthier place as it relates to dietary fat. In 2015 the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee sent recommendations to the Government that advised against restricting dietary fat, and had no upper limit on total fat intake.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

And that’s good news, because including healthy fats in your diet will help reduce hunger and cravings, help you feel satiated (satisfied), as well as help with energy and brain function. The supplements that you take will be better absorbed, as well as the nutrients in the food that you eat — all fat-soluble vitamin as well as calcium. Your liver will be protected from damage. Your “good” cholesterol will go up and your “bad” cholesterol will go down. You will even burn fat more efficiently! These reason and more are why the ketogenic diet has become so popular lately.

But we all have to careful about which fats to choose. The fats from raw dairy products, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, nuts, avocados, and much more are beneficial to our health. Here are some healthy fats to choose.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Butter (especially raw, but from grass-fed cows as well), Ghee (clarified butter), and Coconut Oil. The Danes have been right all along. Butter and Ghee contain healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential, and our bodies don’t produce them; we have to get them from our diets. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, high in antioxidants, is great for brain and cognitive function, and even lowering blood pressure. Make sure you choose Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, since processing can eliminate many of the healthy benefits.

Avocados, Full-fat Dairy, and Eggs. One of my favorite lunch go-tos is a half of an avocado, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, topped with a squeeze of lime and Mexican spices. If I’m extra hungry I’ll add some full-fat cottage cheese. If you prefer, add a hard-boiled free-range organic egg for even more protein! This lunch will keep me satisfied for the whole afternoon. An avocado has the advantage of being high in protein, as well as vitamin E, folate, and of course healthy monosaturated fat.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Nuts, Seeds, and Dark Chocolate. A handful of nuts is full of super nutrients, including healthy fats. Add a chunk of dark chocolate — at least 70% cacao (to reduce the amount of sugar) and you have an energy-boosting snack.

Omega-3s from Seafood, and Grass-fed Beef. Make sure you choose wild-caught, sustainable varieties, and Grass-fed, Organic beef for the best nutritional punch. Both are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, and high in protein as well.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Lassen’s carries many healthy fats in many forms and varieties — including brands such as Bulletproof, which are formulated to take advantage of the nutritional strengths of these fats. This is not a new bandwagon for us — Lassen’s has carried these nutritious and healthy (as well as delicious!) products since day one in 1971!  Come see our selection!



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Finding New Products at Expo East!

We’re on the Hunt for Great New Products!

September has brought us to Baltimore for the Natural Products Expo East Trade Show. We love attending seminars and meeting producers — it’s exciting to see the creativity and great new products!  Here are some of the fun and delicious things we’ve see at this show!

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I love DEET-free repellents!

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There are a lot of great new entrants in the drink category — this watermelon was delicious!

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Tasty new dressings!

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This brand has new offerings — Yum!

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New offerings in the Chip Aisle

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Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks are a lot of fun — and healthy, too!

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This company had these biodegradable cloths — one towel replaces 15 rolls of paper towels. And they biodegrade in less than 3 months!

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Want an easy side dish? Craving Tater Tots? Try these Cauliflower bites. From Freezer to oven to table. We are definitely bringing these into Lassen’s!

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Grain-free offerings were abundant at Expo East, and this one was tasty, for sure.

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Hu Chocolates’ new products feature cashews, almonds, and dried fruit. Delicious.

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Dahlicious has new Cashew drinkable yogurt, and their almond yogurts are smooth and creamy.

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This French Yogurt was very tasty — I liked the Pressed Lemon in the ceramic container. The flavors were very subtile and the creamy texture was divine.

Watch for the new products coming up soon at a Lassen’s near you! I didn’t get a photo of Justin’s new Cashew Cup, but it should arrive soon in the stores. It is delicious!






beet+brownies, healthy+brownies

“Love Beets All” Brownie Recipe for Valentines Day

Valentines Day isn’t for a couple of weeks but already we can see little tastes of it here and there.

Taste is something special. Sure, smells can bring you back to a time that you thought you had forgotten, but taste demands your attention to the present and can practically knock you breathless at times of extreme flavor.

Somehow taste can also echo the emotions of the person who is making the food,
hence the idea of putting a little love into your cooking.

Cooking for someone is just another way, in the infinite amount of options that we have, to tell someone that you truly love and appreciate them for who they are and what they do.

“There is no remedy for love but to love more” – Henry David Thoreau

There is also no recipe for love.

2 tablespoons of friendship mixed with 3 ½ cup of sweetness and a pinch of understanding baked at 350 degrees for 4 years will not guarantee a lifetime of spontaneous and romantic moments with the love of your life! We are all too different and too unique of individuals for there to be measurable and definite equation for love. That being said, let’s turn to something that we can measure and will never fail to make your heart sing on Valentines Day, or any day for that matter.


This is a recipe that my dear friend and work colleague, Jamie Tracey, Vitamin manager and specialist at our Lassens location in Thousand Oaks, brought into work one day.
 Jamie is one of the most talented and brave cooks that I’ve ever met. She’s not afraid to combine two opposing ingredients to create taste explosions the likes of which I’ve never known!

I’ve never really liked beets. Customers would try to get me into them, telling me that the flavor was “earthy” and “strangely addictive” and although I could definitely see the earthiness, the addiction never quite hit me. One beautiful morning she presented me with a little reddish-brown square on a napkin. “I made brownies last night!” she smiled.

“Aww, thanks James” I replied as I brought the little square up to meet my eyes. My first thought was that these are the prettiest brownies I’ve ever seen, a deep rich brown with a scarlet hue. I thought maybe they were red velvet brownies, but as I took that first bite the truth was revealed. What met me in that moment was an attack of deep, complex and unfathomably rich and unique flavors . My first guess was not beets but rather magic. I looked into her eyes, my mouth wide open and flapping with words that I just couldn’t manage myself to expel, as her face lit up – “They’re beet brownies!” she beamed.

My forehead crinkled with confusion but my taste buds continued to sing. 

Jamie strikes again! Like countless times before, I am forced to cross off beets from my “Foods that I will NEVER enjoy” list. Thanks to people like Jamie, this list is rapidly shrinking.

I’ve made some alterations to her recipe to make it a little more health conscious (Reducing the sugar and adding half xylitol and substituting the butter for Earth Balance natural vegan buttery spread), but the outcome is still savory, deep and beautiful.

These brownies are the new quintessential Valentines Day treat, encompassing all that we’ve come to know as Valentines Day! Chocolate, red, hearts and of course, what better way to say “I love you” than giving your honey something truly healthy?

I give you … 

“Love Beets All” Brownies


You’ll Need:

  • 2 large organic beets, peeled and sliced or 1 14oz can of sliced beets, keep the juice to the side
  • 4 Tbs of Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread or 1 stick of organic unsalted butter (try Organic Valley unsalted cultured butter)
  • ½ cup of organic sugar (try Wholesome Sweeteners organic sugar)
  • ½ cup of Xylitol (try XyloSweet natural xylitol)
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract (try Simply Organics pure vanilla extract)
  • 4 large eggs (Try Organic Valley organic cage free eggs or for a vegan option, try making chia gel by adding 1 Tb ground chia seed to 3 Tb of hot water = 1 egg)
  • ½ cup of all-purpose flour (Try Arrowhead Mills organic all-purpose flour)
  • HEAPING ½ cup unsweetened coco powder (try Dagoba organic coco powder)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of strong black brewed coffee (try Ravens Brew organic whole bean coffee)
  • ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips (try SunSpire chocolate chips)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Puree the beets in a blender or food processor until they reach a smooth consistency.


If you’re using fresh beets, add a little water as needed so that they can blend easier. If you are using canned beets, keep the liquid that they come in to the side and add a little as needed to the blender. Set the blended beets aside.

 3. In a large bowl mix together the buttery Earth Balance, coffee, sugar, xylitol and vanilla. Add the eggs one by one stirring intermittently. Slowly mix the beet puree into the butter and sugar mixture (this part is pretty! It’s so fun to watch the white swirl with the vivid red of the beets) and mix until fully combined.





4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, coco powder. Add coco mixture into the beet mixture and stir until smooth. Finally, stir in the chocolates chips.


5. Pour final concoction into a 9 x 9 baking dish OR into a festive heart-shaped cupcake holder like the one I used (will make 18 heart-shaped brownies) and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Brownies are ready when you can poke them with a toothpick and it comes out clean.


These brownies are really nice right out of the oven but they taste extra beety.
The flavor explosion really kicks in after they’ve cooled and sat for a couple hours.
For best results, bake them the night before and serve them room temperature the next day with a light sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Test these out on your friends and loved ones and watch their jaw drop when you tell them that the secret ingredient is beets!

Keep a look out for more delicious and delightful recipes and tips for Valentines Day and don’t forget to check out our Valentines Day display this starting February 1st throught the 14th at every Lassens location which will be loaded with goodies and gift ideas for your special someone.

beet+brownie, valentines+day

Good friends make good food!
Left to Right:
Lassens Marketing Director Ashley,
Lassens Vitamin Manager Thousand Oaks Jamie
and Lassens Art Director Mykey (me!)

Love, the Lassens team!