Category Archives: Healthy

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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

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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

 

 

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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
 
 
 

gaia+herb, know+your+herbs, gaia+farm, herbal+supplements, meet+your+herbs

Producer Spotlight–Gaia Farm Tour

What a Gorgeous Farm!

 
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Have you ever wondered how those herbs get in the extracts, the tinctures, the capsules, the bulk boxes, and the tea bags?  We had the amazing opportunity to visit the Gaia Farm in North Carolina recently.
 
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With the morning sun gently shining, we looked out over the ginko trees to survey some of the 350 acre farm.  The temperate weather influences and land formations of this area provide a unique habitat–ideal for growing many herbs for their products.  The diverse red clay to black loam soils also provide a fertile landscape.  Gaia Farms grow about 20% of their herbs right here in this beautiful farm.  For the rest of their herbs they scour the world for the best, most ethical, and “clean” producers and gatherers.  

 

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This is Ric Scalzo, the owner, CEO, Herbalist, and Naturopath at Gaia Herbs.  He took us throughout the farms for two days, explaining the herbs that they are growing.  Here he is showing us the Ginko trees.  Ginko is great for mental alertness (in fact, Gaia has a formula called “Mental Alertness” which contains Ginko!) 

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These leaves will be harvested for greatest potency when the edges begin to have a golden edge.

From Seed to Shelf

At Gaia, the herbs are cultivated carefully from seed to harvest.  

 

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Here are thousands of Echinaea seedlings in their greenhouse.  They beging to plant seeds in February. Once they get bigger and stronger, the seedlings are taken outside to the Hoop Frames where the plants get acclimatized to being outside, and are allowed to grow bigger and stronger.
 
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The plants in the foreground are ready to be planted in the fields.  
 
Everything grown at Gaia, as well as all of the herbs they get from sources around the world, is certified organic, according to Oregon Tilth standards, and recertified every year.  Gaia also does yearly soil analysis as well to be sure the soil has all of the nutrients needed for plant strength.  In the winter they grow crops to be tilled back into the soil to increase the nitrogen level in the soil, and it is amended in the spring with fish, kelp, and seaweed amendments, as well as compost, of course.  Pests and fungi are managed organically–no chemicals!  They use wasps to control the Japanese Beetle.

Knowledge

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Here is the group learning about Hawthorn buds and leaves, which were being harvested right behind us.  Hawthorn is a great source of flavanoids, which are extracted right at the Gaia plant.  Hawthorn is a great heart support.
 
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This was the view we had (perfect photo-op area!) as we walked to the fields.
 
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Experience

Ric actually had us taste some of the herbs as he explained their use.
 
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Some of us even planted some Gotu Kola plants from the trays and into the ground.  Here are a couple of rows that had just been planted.  Ric said that Gotu Kola can “calm an overanxious mind.”  Some of us who have a hard time turning off our brains at night could use some of that calming!
 
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We tasted some lemon balm herb, one of the ingredients in formulas for gas and bloating. 
 
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The fields were so well maintained are beautiful.
 
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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful herbs!
 
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This is Stinging Nettle.  Gaia farm is allowing it to go to seed this year so that they can harvest 500 lbs of seeds.  Stinging Nettle is an Anti-inflammatory, among other uses.  The seeds, the leaves, and the roots are all used in herbal medicine.  

Purity.  Integrity.  Potency.

Gaia Farms has partnered with several universities, as well as international groups to conduct research on herbs.  They recently did some research on Tumeric with Auburn University.  One thing that I was very impressed with was Gaia’s committment to quality.  They test their own products, as well as the herbs they recieve from other sources, to make sure that they have the purest and most potent products possible.  On their own herbs, they will take a sample to the lab to make sure the plant has the best potency before they harvest.  If it doesn’t, they will wait a few days or longer while the plant continues to grow.  They test again, and will not harvest until the plant has reached the target potency.  
 
Gaia does the processing of the herbs–they generally receive the herbs as raw material.  They test it to make sure that it is not only what the supplier says it is, but that it is the target potency.  They make sure there is no pesticide or herbicide residue.  Gaia has a beautiful lab and plant where quality is job #1.  
 
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Valerian Flowers–the root of the beautiful and sweetly-fragrant plant is a sedative for insomnia, as well as muscle pains and spasms.  It is found in the Gaia Sleep formulas.
 
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Gaia has an amazing website, where you can literally “Meet Your Herbs.”  You can enter the ID number on the box or bottle of product, and the website will give you the history of the herbs in your product.  You can also learn about herbs what they are good for, and how your health can be enhanced by using herbal products.  There you can see how Gaia supports local and global concerns as well.  You can find their website here.
 
Thank you Gaia, for a great tour!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
why+eat+organic, benefits+of+organic, earth+friendly, environmentally+friendly, organic+farming, pesticide+free+farming, herbicide+free+farming, organic+is+better+for+your+health, organic+is+better+for+the+earth, organic+is+more+nutritious, non+GMO, organic+is+non+GMO, orgnic+is+non+GMO+and+more

What’s the Big Deal About Organic?

I May Be Preaching to the Choir, Here

You may already be convinced that eating organic foods is the best thing for you, your family, and the planet.  But just in case you aren’t, here’s some information and some reasons why choosing organic makes a lot of sense.

 

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First, a Definition of Terms

“Organic” refers to the way in which food is grown.  This includes produce, dairy products, grains, and meats.  Farmers who grow organically do not use chemical pesticides or herbicides or drugs to control bugs, weeds, or diseases.  They are committed to using methods and practices that encourage healthy soil and water, as well as that reduce pollution.  Food that is not produced organically is termed “Conventional.”
 
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As you can imagine, an organic farmer has chosen to use methods requiring more labor and time.  For example, a conventional farmer will just preemptively spray crops for bugs and weeds.  But an organic farmer will examine the crops regularly for weed or insect infestation, and then pull weeds, use traps, hand-remove pests, or use friendly insects and birds to take care of the pests.  They may also use sophisticated crop rotation and organic fertilizers to encourage healthy growth and healthy soil, rather than chemical fertilizers.  They will spread mulch or manure to discourage weed growth.  Organic farmers also use targeted watering systems (such as drip or water tape) to make sure the water goes directly to the plants, rather than to weeds.  This also conserves water resources.   

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This is Burroughs Family Farms–Happy cows and happy chickens, and healthy soil and pasture grasses!

Organically producing foods generally takes more space, too.  Animals are allowed to have a large range to wander, rather than being grown in small-space cages.  Crops often have smaller yields, since the farmer is not using chemical fertilizers to spur growth.   

The United States Department of Agriculture has established strict guidelines for a food to carry the USDA Organic label.  Any product that carries this label must adhere to those guidelines, and be certified by the USDA.  There is an exception for those who produce less than $5,000 worth of produce per year, but if it is labeled “Organic” (even without the certification) it has to be grown according to the certification standards.  Lassen’s works only with reputable producers to make sure that what we carry in our stores really is the best quality organic food available.

What Does the Organic Seal Mean?

 

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“100% Organic” means that everything in the product is wholly organic.  “Organic” means that at least 95% of the ingredients meet the organic standard.  Products labeled with “Made with Organic Ingredients” have to have at least 70% of the ingredients organic.  If a product has less that 70% organically grown ingredients, it cannot use the word “Organic” on the label or include the USDA seal, but it can list the organic ingredients in the ingredient list.  
 
Organic regulations also prohibit or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing agents, and fortifying agents.  This means that organic processed foods (such as cereals and canned goods) will not have the preservatives, colorings, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, as well as chemicals such as MSG that conventionally produced foods may have.  Produce will not have waxes and dyes sprayed onto the foods to make them look better and may give them a longer shelf life.

So What’s the Benefit of Buying and Eating Organic Foods?

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No Pesticides.  I know that conventionally grown foods do not exceed the Government Standard for an acceptable level of pesticides in my body.  But I don’t really want to be voluntarily eating any poisons.  This link will take you to an article about the produce items that have the most pesticides in them.  Their premise is to cut back on pesticide ingestion by changing to organic on these dozen items, but although those are the worst, all conventional produce has pesticides and insecticides.  My goal is to eat as little as possible.
 
No Chemical Weeds Killers.  Ditto the above.  No matter how much I wash my produce, those chemicals are designed to be absorbed into the plants.  And they are still there when I or my family eats them.

 

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Taste.  I think organic just tastes better.  It is subjective, but a fun family activity might be to do a taste test.  Buy both conventional and organic foods and compare the taste.   We have found that apples are a good test subject.  And meats!

Nutrition.  The jury is still out on the question of if organically produced food is more nutritious than conventionally produced food.  There are some studies that suggest it is.   There is clear evidence of more phytonutrients in organically produced foods.  Click here for more information about some of the studies being done.

 

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Better for the Environment.  If more of our food was produced organically, we would not have the threats to our water and soils that we do now.  The residue of all of those chemicals is washed through the fields, absorbed into the soil, and spilled into our waterways.  Then the fish and other sea life are impacted by those chemicals. 

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You can tell this Burroughs Family Farm almond grove is Organic because there are grasses under the trees.  A commercial grove would be bare–the grasses killed by herbicides

Sustainable.  Many fertilizers are made from fossil fuels, on which I think we’d all like to reduce our dependence!  Soils are healthier when organic farming is practiced.   

No GMOs.  This is a big topic that will have to wait for another day.  There is some great information in this article (17 Essential Reasons to Eat Organic Food) on GMOs, as well as other great ideas.  
 
Better for Farm Laborers.  One day several years ago after riding my bike past some fields on the Oxnard plain, I developed a rash all over my skin that had been exposed to the air.  Legs, arms and face.  It was itchy and blotchy and took several weeks to go away.  I have no idea what had been sprayed on those fields as I was riding by, but can you imagine the exposure to dangerous chemicals that the farms workers and the neighbors are suffering?  

What About the Cost?

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Lassen’s always has several delicious–and always organic– produce items on sale!
There can be a concern about the cost of organic produce and other food.  As you can see, producing organic food takes more space, time, and labor, thus higher costs.  But we at Lassen’s are committed to bringing you the very best value in organic produce and other organic foods.  We also bring you local produce whenever possible, thus cutting down on shipping expenses (and, as a bonus, helping to reduce the carbon footprint.)  Click here for our website, and you will find a link there for our monthly sales newsletter, which always has great produce specials.  You can also find a link to the newsletter on the right-hand side of the blog.
 

This is a helpful article on organic eating.  And even TLC (the channel that brings us all kinds of shows about sugar–Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes!) has an article on why we should eat organic!  Click here to see their 15 reasons to eat organic food.

Come to Lassen’s and enjoy our beautiful, organically produced food and supplements!

love,

Lassen’s

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Hemp Seeds–What are They Good For?

They Sound Kind of Hippie… Really They’re Not.

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But They are Groovy!

Have you tried Hemp Seeds?  They are full of nutrition:

Protein–There are 11 grams of protein in just 3 TBSP!
Anti-inflammatory Omegas!
Phytonutrients and anti-oxidants!
All kinds of minerals!
Essential fatty acids!

So How Do I Use Them?

Hemp Seeds are so easy to add to smoothies, soups, and hot cereals, and to sprinkle on salads and vegetables.  They have a mild taste similar to sunflower seeds or pine nuts, so won’t overpower the flavor of any dish, and are smaller than sesame seeds.  I really like them!

Here’s the first recipe in which I ever used Hemp Seeds.  I found it in the LA Times Foods section (October 13, 2011, adapted from a recipe from BLD in LA).  When I want a filling yet healthy and light salad, I reach for this recipe.  I’ve changed it a little, but I think you’ll love it!

Chopped Vegetable Salad with Hemp Seeds

 

You’ll Need:

For the Dressing:

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  • 1 1/2 tsp grated organic fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarsely chopped organic shallot
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarsely chopped organic fresh rosemary
  • 2 TBSP organic tamari sauce
  • 2 TBSP organic honey
  • 3 TBSP sweet rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP fresh organic lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup organic extra virgin olive oil 
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In a food processor grind the ginger, shallot, and rosemary until fine.

 

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Add the tamari sauce, honey, vinegar and lemon juice to the ginger mix and process until fairly smooth.

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Add the oil a little at a time and process until blended well.

For the Salad:

  • 10 oz package of organic Cascadian Farms frozen, thawed shelled edamame beans 
  • 2 ears raw fresh organic yellow corn, cut from cob 
  • 1 cup diced organic turnip or organic jicama 
  • 1 1/2 cup organic green beans, blanched, shocked, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced roasted and peeled organic red bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup diced organic avocado
  • 2/3 cup toasted, salted organic cashews

For Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup organic hemp seeds
  • 1 bunch organic watercress
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Roast the pepper by spearing with a large serving fork and holding it over the flame of the stove.  
 
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The pepper skin will blister and pop.  Allow to cool and then peel and chop.
 
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To prepare the green beans, drop the trimmed beans into boiling water.  After about 2 minutes, lift out of the pan with a slotted spoon and drop into ice water.

 

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When cooled (it will happen quickly), chop the green beans.

Roast the cashews in a hot oven–watch them carefully, since they burn easily.  Salt as desired.

 
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Slice the corn off of the cob, chop the turnip (or jicama) and avocado, then throw all of the vegetables and the cashews in a large bowl and toss gently.

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Pour about 1/2 cup of the dressing over the salad and gently blend.  Taste the salad to see if you’d like to add more dressing or salt.  (The leftover dressing will keep in the refrigerator for several days)

Divide the salad into 4-8 serving plates (this recipe makes about 8 cups of salad), then garnish the salad by sprinkling with hemp seeds (about 1 1/2 tsp per cup of salad) and a few watercress sprigs.

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Enjoy this wonderful salad for a delightfully nutritious summer lunch!

And for more details on how hemp seeds are a great addition your healthy life, click here.

Love,

Lassen’s

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Joy’s Chia Smoothie

Ah… Here it is! What a good lookin’ smoothie!

Before we get too deep into berries and chia seeds, let’s meet the lovely creator of this healthy drink!
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This is Joy!

 
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Joy is Lassen’s Regional Marketing Director. She’s the sweet face behind all our interesting Facebook and Twitter posts. As a former Pilates instructor, Joy lives a very healthy lifestyle that she shares with her husband and two adorable Great Danes, Scout and Hunter (who just became a Certified Therapy Dog! Congrats Hunter!)

 
 

Once upon a few days ago, Joy and I found ourselves talking about our favorite super-foods when Chia Seeds came up.

Why do we like Chia Seeds?

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Well aside from the fact that when they are left to soak in a liquid for a small amount of time, they take on an amazing gooey consistency (reminiscent of Boba or tapioca pearls found in certain Taiwanese tea-based drinks), but they also contain a handful of wonderful health benefits including Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals and fiber! They have also been known to aid in weight loss due to their ability to satiate hunger cravings in between meals!

“I have a really good chia smoothie that I make in the mornings!” said Joy with a smile.
“Care to share?”

And share she did!
Now from Joy’s kitchen, Lassens is proud to present…

Joy’s Chia, Berry & Spinach Smoothie

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 You’ll Need:
  • Handful of organic spinach
  • 1/2 cup of organic frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of organic frozen blackberries (could use raspberries, blueberries)
  • 1 frozen organic banana
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • Approximately 2 1/2 cups of almond milk (or soy milk)

Instructions:

Place spinach in first, then chia seeds, then all other ingredients.
Pulse to desired thickness. For a thicker smoothie, use less almond milk. For a thinner consistency, use more almond milk.
Makes 2/3 servings

 

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This smoothie packs a health-lovin’ punch! It acts as a great breakfast or a wonderful snack or meal replacement any time of day!
We hope you try it and love it as much as Joy does! Cheers!

Love,

Lassen’s

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Focus on Local–Moss Botanicals

Natural Aid for Our Well Being 

Last week I had a delightful time as I met Stacey Moss of Moss Botanicals.  She lives and works in Ojai.  Her company has seven aromatic blends, each available in a roll-on oil for the skin, and an aroma mist for diffusing into the air.  
 
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Stacey has always been interested in the field of healing, and has dabbled in herbology.  She took lots of classes in natural healing.  She has some Native American heritage (Lakota), and she has always been fascinated by their belief in natural remedies and cooperative society.  Stacey attended the College of Botanical Healing Arts in Santa Cruz, and is a registered Aromatherapist.  She also has a BA in Social and Behavioral Sciences.  

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Stacey loves plants and herbs, especially natives.  She started to blend her oils for her own personal needs, and soon was sharing them with family and friends.  They started to call her “Medicine Woman” because they could see the benefits of her botanical oil blends.  She launched Moss Botanicals in 2008 as a hobby, but within the last year has started to branch out more.  

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Educating people about the science and art of Aromatherapy is important to Stacey.  She wants to teach people that Aromatherapy is complementary to every kind of lifestyle.  Her blends have names that match what they support in our bodies and lives, but she said that people should see how each blend feels to them as they use them.  Her blends are Ceremony, Balance, Transform, Clear, Relax, Euphoric, and Let Go.

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Stacey’s blends are complementary to Hindu Yogic Chakras as well.  Stacey said they can help balance and harmonize the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of life.  

Stacey is very careful with the sources of her oils.  She makes sure that they are organic and chemical free, and they are blended in a base of pure jojoba oil.  There are no synthetics or preservatives.  Her blends are simple–from 3-5 oils–and are hand blended in small batches.  She would like to try her hand at distilling the oils herself, and is working on making that happen.  
 
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Stacey loves this field because there is always something new to learn.  The science and scientific evidence is growing each year, which is very exciting. 

Stacey said, “I want people to find these [aromatic blends] because of what they can do to help them.”
 
It was such a pleasure to meet Stacey and her daughter Clrallyn, who even drew a portrait of me as I talked with Stacey!  

 

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You can find Moss Botanicals in our Ventura store, and Stacey comes there regularly to introduce her botanical blends.  

 
Thank you Stacey, for a wonderful time!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s