Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by John on November 24th, 2010

Remember to take time to give thanks for all the joys of your life this weekend.  And if you’re looking for a few extra calories, try our recipe for Marble Pumpkin Cheesecake.  It’s a tasty addition to any gathering.   

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Country Choice Organic!

 

Fueling the Flying Fin

Written by John on October 27th, 2010

It’s well documented that oatmeal is good for your heart due to its unique ability to whisk away cholesterol from our blood.  And especially this time of year, as thoughts turn to warming comfort foods, the airways are filled with grandfatherly characters touting the grammatically-challenged fact that “oats is good food”.

More recently, we’ve discovered that oats is also good fuel through our support of Roger Aspholm, a.k.a. The Flying Fin.  Roger, who is dominating his class of the 2010 NE Cyclocross season, fuels his days with Country Choice Organic Oats.   “I cannot emphasize enough how well Country Choice products nourish us as endurance sports athletes,” said Aspholm after a recent victory. 

Cyclocross is a fast-growing and physically demanding sport that combines elements from road, mountain and BMX biking into a single grueling race.  Think steeplechase on a bike…including the barriers.  A pack of riders race around a fixed course over hill and dale.  And according to Roger, it’s a lot of fun (although I’ll take him at his word).  You can check out The Flying Fin and the sport of Cyclocross here.

So we figure if oats can fuel Roger’s day, they can boost anyone’s performance, endurance athlete or not.  Find out for yourself by downloading a coupon here and visiting your local store.  Maybe you could ride your bike.

 

How Do You Sow Your Wild Oats?

Written by John on August 9th, 2010

At Country Choice Organic we try to live healthy, active lifestyles.  And like many of our customers, we’re always looking for new ways to stay motivated.  So this summer, we are hosting a Facebook photo contest to find out how our fans keep fit and eat right.

To participate (and earn a chance to win a year’s supply of Country Choice Organic products), oat fans can submit a picture that shows how oats fuel their active lifestyle.  Whether it’s a photo of a power-packed recipe or a pic of you and your friends refueling with an Oatmeal on the Run bar after a long run, we want to know how oats help you stay active and healthy. 

Submit your photo before September 10 for a chance to win. A panel of Country Choice Organic employees will select the winning entry.  To enter, visit: http://www.facebook.com/CountryChoiceOrganic

 

It’s CSA Season!

Written by John on June 9th, 2010

I received wonderful news yesterday…our CSA starts on Friday!  What’s a CSA?  Short for Community Supported Agriculture, some people refer to CSA as a produce subscription, a garden share, or a vegetable-of-the-week program.  No matter what you call it, each week throughout the growing season you receive a box of whatever’s ripe for market.  

Okay…so it starts out a little slow in the spring, with lots of green, leafy things that end up in the salad bowl.  But, as we move in to summer, each week blossoms into a rainbow of color (including the perfect tomato in August) and ultimately reaches a zenith of earthy goodness with bulbous root vegetables in the fall.

CSA’s exist to help small farmers plan better and capture more value for their labor.  By becoming a member, you share in the bounty (as well as the risk) of the farm.  I remember a few skimpy “harvests” some years back when summer floods ravaged southern Minnesota.  However, in any weather, a CSA is a great way to connect with your food.

To learn about CSAs operating in your areas, check out your local natural food co-op or go to www.localharvest.org/csa/.

 

An Ad for Earth Day

Written by John on April 20th, 2010

Earth Day is coming.  You can tell by all the commercials peddling ways to save the environment…buy a car and plant a tree…save box tops to protect the rain forest.  The possibilities are endless.  Unfortunately, what isn’t endless is a commitment to the environment and soon the marketing mix will shift to the Memorial Day selling season.

It’s a shame that Earth Day has been relegated, along with Christmas and Back to School, to an annual sales event.  Earth Day is a secular, multi-generational opportunity for everyone to contribute to a greater good.  The message for Earth Day is simple: the little contributions we all make add up to big changes for the environment. 

Here’s the ad I’d like to see:  “Happy Earth Day…Buy Less Stuff”.  I know there’s a recession and we’re a consumer-driven economy, but do we really need a new phone every two years or a 4WD Bushwhacker for our 3-mile paved drive to the mall?  Here’s another thought: align yourself with companies that do the right thing every day, not as a marketing gimmick once a year.  Chipotle, Patagonia and 7th Generation are all examples of mission-driven organizations having built sustainable, low-impact businesses.

So happy Earth Day.  Celebrate.  Eat a burrito or plant a tree.  Just don’t buy the car.

 

Look…Down in Your Bowl…It’s Super-Oats!

Written by John on January 26th, 2010

Health magazine recently named oats one of the healthiest super foods for women.  This should come as no surprise since we’ve known for a long time that oats can help lower cholesterol.  Now scientists say oats, rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, are also good for helping you feel full so you can control your weight.  This may explain why January is National Oatmeal Month. 

Whether eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack, oatmeal provides a warming, nutritious meal for everyone…male or female, children and adults alike.  Everyday, millions of Americans start their day with some variety of oats: creamy instant oatmeal, traditional old fashioned oats, nutty steel cut oats.  There are even “on the run” options for those who prefer their oats to go.

 You can check out other super foods at Health magazine.  Then download a money saving coupon for Country Choice Organic Oats to help you keep your New Year resolutions.

 

New Year Resolutions

Written by John on January 5th, 2010

January is the time of year when everybody’s thinking about food.  While some savor December’s holiday feasts, others lament their yuletide excess.  And for many, the New Year brings with it a steely resolve to “eat better”. 

It is thought that over 100 million Americans set New Year’s resolutions.  Sadly, most are abandoned by February, victims of weighty aspirations.  Too many resolutions focus on improbable dreams of “losing this” or “quitting that”, instead of smaller, easier-to-keep lifestyle changes that might actually survive Ground Hogs Day.

Recent research into longevity has uncovered simple things everyone can do to live longer, better:

  • Switch to 10” plates and skinny glasses
  • Put healthy options in plain view and hide the junk food…even in the refrigerator
  • Stop eating when you are 80% full
  • Avoid mindless munching by turning off the TV when eating
  • Take a short walk after dinner

These incremental changes are relatively painless and can have a profound effect on our wellbeing.  However, they won’t become habit overnight.  It actually takes five weeks of practice to make a new behavior a habit.  So resolve today to eat better in 2010.  Just make you’re still practicing until the next national food holiday…Super Bowl Sunday!

 

Holiday Food Traditions

Written by John on December 23rd, 2009

My daughters made Christmas cookies last night.  Not the “heat and eat” frozen dough variety, but the kind that leaves a light dusting of flour on the counters and the crunch of sugar sprinkles under foot.  This was significant because:

  1. it was their idea,
  2. they planned far enough ahead to allow for the dough to chill,
  3. they cleaned up everything (almost).

Achieving this milestone was appreciated almost as much as the first time we left them without a sitter.

Food experiences abound during the holidays.  In my family, Christmas brought a mix of old world Italian traditions and Midwest sensibilities…tortellini and broth chased with Tom & Jerry’s.  The actual menu was less important than reserving a place at the table for traditional holiday fare: JoAnn’s trifle, Ginny’s caramel corn, Norma’s turtles.  I once carried a marzipan fish across eight time zones to deliver a holiday tradition from my Italian aunts to their brother in Minnesota.  It was worth the Interpol APB to see my father’s face when that “fish” showed up on Christmas Eve.   

 Today, however, too many of our food traditions have gone the way of the Tofurky (really…tofu “turkey”), pushed aside by a new tradition of acquiring “must have” toys from China.  These new traditions are available at big box stores that lure shoppers to the glow of $400 flat screen TVs and then offer a complete holiday meal as a $20 impulse item. 

I submit that we should not allow retailers’ deference for high-margin electronics to interfere with our ability to bake real memories for our friends and family.  My wish this year is for everyone to spill some flour making a holiday food tradition.  Nothing fancy or expensive.  In fact, the best traditions are made from scratch.  Bake some tonight. 

 Merry Christmas!

 Nana’s Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
 

When Social Media Becomes Social Action

Written by John on December 18th, 2009

While much of the social media world is sharing the latest Tiger tale or LOL joke, there are places where your connectedness can do some good.  Country Choice Organic wants Facebook fans (ideally who love our stuff, but we’ll worry about that later).  To entice your “fan-ship”, we’re donating 5 bowls of oatmeal to area food banks for every new fan we get through January 15.  The offer is limited to 5000 fans, but that’s 25,000 bowls of oatmeal for people who may otherwise go without breakfast.  Get connected with the link below.  And while you’re at it, bring along a friend.  Your actions will speak louder than (cyber) words.

Heart Warming Support

 

An Apple a Day

Written by John on October 9th, 2009

An Apple a DayWhat if an apple a day really did keep the doctor away?  Not apple juice or an “all the nutrition of an apple” fruit snack, but a ripe, juicy apple.  Ideally you’d eat more seasonally from the local orchard (but that’s another blog).  Would it really change people’s eating habits?  Of course, it’s not just eating the apple that keeps the doctor away.  You also have get a little exercise and avoid other self-destructive behaviors (e.g., smoking, over-eating, etc), but you get the point.

So with all the talk about health care, why doesn’t someone write this simple prescription: EAT BETTER! Given the link between the food we eat and our personal well-being it seems pretty obvious.  It’s even more apparent when you consider the following: in the 1970’s we spent about 5% of our GDP on Health Care and about 15% on Food; today the numbers are reversed.  Think about it…over the past four decades our addiction to cheap calories has willingly led us down a path to obesity, heart disease and childhood onset of adult diseases.  It makes you wonder if that $1 Value Menu is really a value!

Why do we eat poorly?  Supposedly we’re all too busy to cook, although how then do you explain the celebrity chef phenomenon on Food TV?  Seems we have plenty of time to watch other people cook…just don’t ask us to put down the remote long enough to actually prepare something healthy for ourselves.

I propose a home version of Iron Chef, where family and friends compete to create healthy, fresh meals in under 30 minutes.  Sure, the appliances won’t be as fancy as Kitchen Stadium and you won’t have Alton Brown doing the play-by-play, but the final result will a satisfying and no-doubt healthier alternative to our current meals.  The first theme ingredient can be an apple.