Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie

Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie

Get ready to take your Fall smoothies to a spooky new level with our creamy, nutritious, and delicious pumpkin smoothie recipe.

Gather all the ingredients together – the secret here is using the Apple Cinnamon ZEGO bar.  It helps add fiber and protein to the smoothie, to prevent a sugar crash.

Get the kids, and let them help layer the spooky colors.  They won’t even know spinach is what makes it so green!  You can also play around with using chocolate protein powder instead to make it a creepy brown color – but we decided to go with goblin green.


Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Ingredients
Pumpkin Base
The Green Base
Servings: glasses
Instructions
  1. Blend all the ingredients together for the pumpkin base. Depending on how creamy you like your smoothies, add more or less of your favorite milk alternative. Pour around 2 cups of the base into a clean jar, and set aside.
  2. With approximately 1 cup of the pumpkin base left in the blender add the spinach and spirulina. Slowly add the milk, being careful not to add too much (you may not need the entire 1/2 cup).
  3. Have fun assembling spooky designs, and enjoy!
Nut Free School Wins ZEGO Bars for Kids!

Nut Free School Wins ZEGO Bars for Kids!

One of the daily challenges that almost every parent who has a child with food allergies deals with is food safety at school. It is a multi-layered issue that includes educating non-food allergy parents, teaching your child to self-advocate, and understanding the school policies and procedures for food allergies. As the problem grows, more and more schools are becoming nut free.

Another challenge can be simply finding snacks that are allergy safe and the kids will want to eat! Whether your own child has nut allergies, or you need nut-free snacks for your non-allergic child to take to school. That is why we decided to do our biggest giveaway ever – 132 bars to one school (a master case, if you were wondering). Our goal was to help promote discussion of allergy safe snacks, provide a conversation starter for allergy parents as they encouraged other parents to nominate their school, and reward a school with some great snacks!

Our Nut Free Allergy Friendly Giveaway Winner

So many people nominated their schools and helped to promote the giveaway. Thank you! We are excited to officially announce the winner – Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, MD! And, thank you to the teachers at the school for sending these adorable photos — we are so glad the kids loved their nut-free ZEGO snacks.

nut free Allergy Free School Snacks

Children at Temple Beth Ami School their ZEGO Fruit+Chia bars

We were even more excited that the winning school is a peanut and tree nut free school! Partnerships with schools like this can do a lot to help keep kids safe. So we wondered, what was the story behind going nut free?

Paula Sayag, director at the school, says “I have worked here for 9 years, and the school was nut-free when I came. Teachers who have worked here longer don’t even remember when they made that move. It’s been a long time! It was made when allergies seemed to be more common, and there was increased sensitivity to including children with food restrictions.” It is a part of their bigger focus on inclusion of all children. They pride themselves on being inclusive, welcoming children and families from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of unique challenges, including allergies and other food restrictions. Jill, one of the staff at the school said, “We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in our school, so they can make friends, learn, and gain confidence. Every child leaves our school with a “can-do” attitude and enters kindergarten primed for success.”

As stated in their official food policy: “Our policy regarding foods allowed in school is designed for the sole purpose of keeping children safe. Temple Beth Ami has students with food allergies, some of which may be life-threatening. For some children, mere physical contact with an allergen and/or the environmental presence of the allergen can evoke an anaphylactic response. We share a collective responsibility to ensure the safety of every child.”

So why don’t all schools follow a policy like this? Could more schools be nut free? One of the biggest challenges is the education of the other parents, as well as faculty and staff who may not be familiar with food allergies. As we in the allergy community start these conversations, let your school know about other schools that are being successful. Doing this can really help!

Paula said: “The biggest hurdle for schools just starting is helping parents find alternatives to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. And helping parents appreciate their role in being compassionate to other’s with allergies.” They work through this by providing the school food policy to all parents to help them understand the reasons why this is important, as well as discussing it in parent committee meetings, including it in their newsletters, and sending a mid-year reminder. 

While the ZEGO school giveaway was open to any school, we are excited that we had a chance to give it to a school that is doing such a great job of valuing their food allergy kids and families!

Did you miss getting your school nominated? We’ll be doing school giveaways throughout the year. Just enter your email address and we’ll let you know about future giveaways and sales. And, be sure to let us know in the comments section of this blog about how your school handles food allergies!

The Biggest Food Trends of 2017 and Our 11 Favorite Expo West Products

The Biggest Food Trends of 2017 and Our 11 Favorite Expo West Products

If you want to understand food trends, then Expo West 2017 was the place to be. My feet are bruised from walking on concrete floors and holding meetings in hallways for 3 days. I saw every one of a dizzying array of over 3,000 local, national and international companies showing their wares in Anaheim at the Natural Products Expo West show last weekend. It was amazing to see so many products all in one place! 

Overall, the message of the show was clear – our bellies hurt, and our kids (and some of us) have serious food allergies. Those two things kept showing up again and again in the products we saw and tried. 

Trend 1: Probiotics

To help our digestion and improve our gut flora, probiotics and fermentation were suddenly the #1 marketing angle of new companies – replacing last year’s coconut waters (the most clever put probiotics in their coconut water). And it wasn’t just naturally fermented and cultured beverages, yogurts and cheeses, it was everything from jelly beans to cookies to tortilla chips, drinking vinegar to pickle juice! I’ll cover the nutrition issues with the added probiotics in another blog, because today I want to tell you about the trends and our favorite new products.There are questions to explore about whether added probiotics more marketing than health.So, let’s move on to the other trend—allergy friendly food.

Trend 2: Allergy Friendly

Now, just like with gluten free, this will take some navigating for the allergen community – not every company could tell me how often they test for cross contact and some seemed puzzled by the question. We hope to convince them of the value of batch testing and reporting the results to consumers through the QR code on the product package like we do at ZEGO in the long run.But the fact that there were a lot more companies marketing they are free from problematic ingredients and allergens is good news nonetheless!

After all, now that buyers for grocery store see this trend growing, they are more likely to buy more free-from products for their stores. This will make it easier for all of us to meet the needs of our special diet friends and family. Maybe allergy friendly will follow a similar path to gluten free, with the next step being an “allergy friendly” section in the store.

Our Top Product Picks

Enough about the trends, let’s move the really fun part – the companies and foods we loved! We are picky at our house, despite our many food intolerances and allergies, so when we say it’s good, we really mean it. Here is what Kelsey, my teenage daughter, and I want you to know in new products. (Note: please call these companies to confirm their allergy situation in the facility, salespeople at food shows don’t always have the correct facts!)

Artisan Tropic

Artisan Tropic Cassava and Plaintain Chips

Cassava and Plantain Chips. Free of virtually everything! The only other ingredients in their facility are Palm Oil, Salt, Cinnamon. This was the first one I ordered when I got home. You have to buy in bulk, but they are worth it! You can order on their website: http://artisantropic.com/

Artisan Tropic Product Sample

Hu Chocolate

Allergy friendly chocolagePaleo Chocolate? Yes! And it is the best we’ve ever had and no soy/dairy/refined sugars!

They are in distribution so ask you favorite store to start carrying them if they don’t already. And, check out their restaurant next time you are in NYC. https://hukitchen.com

 

Happy Camper

Happy Camper Gluten Free Bread

Fluffy, true sandwich bread. Seriously. You don’t even need to toast it and it is delicious! Some versions have added pea protein so be aware of that if you have a peanut allergy or a sensitive stomach. Free from most everything else. (www.happycampersgf.com)

Also in stores in Washington Oregon, Nor Cal, So Cal and on-line.

WholeMe

Snack Clusters – seriously good baked soft cookie clusters. Very clean ingredients, grain/gluten/soy/dairy free, contains peanuts and tree nuts. Lower in sugars than most similar products. We ordered these last night on-line.  www.wholeme.com

Nu Life 

Gluten Free FlourAll purpose flour and sorghum grain you can pop stovetop.

The popped sorghum is PERFECT for people allergic to corn, delicious and fun.

We had a warm muffin made from the flour and it was fantastic, but it does have tapioca and potato starch which can irritate tummies.

Free from milk/soy/peanut/gluten. Check on treenuts if you are allergic, they aren’t listed on the packaging, but I think they are free of these as well. http://www.nulifemarket.com

Veggie Noodle Co 

Allergy Friendly Veggie Noodles

No time to spirulize your veggies for your paleo meal? No worries, Veggie Noodle has a beautiful array of pre-spiraled options for you. Find them virtually everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains but not out West yet (sniff sniff).  http://veggienoodleco.com/

Froozer 

froozer fruit pouchesVegan frozen pops made from fruit and veggies. I ordered these in bulk already! Seriously, I just ordered $125 worth (bulk sales only on-line) – they are that good and my food allergy daughter is waiting by the door for them to arrive.  Colorado, So Cal, PNW, Louisiana and some in the NE states. www.froozer.com

Millies

Millies Vegan Ice Cream

Organic Vegan Gelato – most delicious ever of all the companies we tried. Egg/milk/soy/wheat but free some flavors contain tree or peanut and equipment is shared. Find them in San Diego and LA County but not on-line. Hopefully, they expand to your hood soon or you can pick them up on your next visit!

Noka

noka fruit and veggie pouchesSuperfood smoothie from fruit and veggies—better than juice because they retain their natural fiber.

Shelf stable! Use coconut but appear otherwise free of the top 8 allergens. https://www.nokaorganics.com/

Nurture Me

“Tummy Friendly” brand of hot cereal and cookies with added probiotics, gluten/dairy/soy/egg free. National distribution. https://nurturme.com/

Because

Whole Me Allergy Friendly Food

Best cookie and brownie dough we’ve tasted. Soy/gluten free, contains nuts. LA only and on-line. www.becausecookiedough.com

Do You Want to Try These? Enter to Win!

If you didn’t get to go to Expo West, don’t worry, we will bring the show to you! We are doing a giveaway Friday March 23 at 7pm ET, 4pm PT on Facebook Live. Turn in a leave a comment about which of these new products you are most excited about and we will randomly choose a winner to receive a gift bag with a selection of these amazing products for you to try!

DONUTS!!

DONUTS!!

Go nuts for Donuts! My mom ate two right out of the oven the first time I made these.

Donuts
Print Recipe
We like our donuts as healthy as possible and SUPER tasty. These are delicious and are a bit more like a donut-shaped iced muffin because the recipe doesn't use binders or starches. The donut recipe is from Savory Lotus, the lemon curd from Savor and Flavor, and the Chocolate glaze from Against the Grain. We made a couple of adjustments to meet our food restriction needs.
Servings
6-8 large donuts
Cook Time Passive Time
12-20 minutes 0 minutes
Servings
6-8 large donuts
Cook Time Passive Time
12-20 minutes 0 minutes
Donuts
Print Recipe
We like our donuts as healthy as possible and SUPER tasty. These are delicious and are a bit more like a donut-shaped iced muffin because the recipe doesn't use binders or starches. The donut recipe is from Savory Lotus, the lemon curd from Savor and Flavor, and the Chocolate glaze from Against the Grain. We made a couple of adjustments to meet our food restriction needs.
Servings
6-8 large donuts
Cook Time Passive Time
12-20 minutes 0 minutes
Servings
6-8 large donuts
Cook Time Passive Time
12-20 minutes 0 minutes
Ingredients
donuts
Maple Glaze
lemon curd glaze
Chocolate glaze
Servings: large donuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350'F. Lightly grease your donut pan with ghee or coconut oil
  2. Combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir to combine.
  5. Place the batter in a piping bag or large ziploc bag with the end cut off the end so there’s about a ½-inch opening
  6. Fill each cavity in donut pan ¾ full. Give the pan a little shake or two to let the batter settle.
  7. Bake for 12-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean and edges are just beginning to brown.
  8. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes then tip over onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before adding glaze.
Maple Glaze
  1. Place all glaze ingredients into high speed blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Add more water a tiny bit at a time if it's too thick to pour.
  2. Pour into shallow bowl. Dip each donut into glaze with a twisting motion to let extra run back into bowl. Place back onto cooling rack.
Lemon Curd Glaze
  1. Zest the lemons. You may need 2. Squeeze the juice, measure ½ cup and set aside.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom. Whisk in the honey and lemon zest.
  3. Set over low - medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture is pale yellow and slightly thickened. If you have the heat too high, the eggs will start to cook too soon and become lumpy. But don't despair--If this happens, just turn the heat down, keep stirring and you'll be able to strain out the solids later. Be patient. This takes a while
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and the coconut oil or butter, one tablespoon at a time. Keep stirring to prevent it from scorching on the bottom. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture has thickened and is just beginning to bubble. You'll think it will never happen . . . but it will. Don't let it boil.
  5. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Don't skip this step. You'll be surprised at the solids that remain in the sieve.
  6. Dip donuts into glaze with a twisting motion or spoon glaze on top of the donuts.
  7. Store extra glaze in glass jars in the refrigerator. It will thicken as it cools and can be eaten on ice cream, in tarts, or in many other tasty treats. let sit for 5 minutes and then refrigerate for 15, allowing for the glaze to harden. (optional but recommend.
Chocolate glaze
  1. place all ingredients into a shallow bowl and whisk until smooth.
  2. Dip donuts into glaze with a twisting motion.
  3. let sit for 5 minutes and then refrigerate for 15, allowing for the glaze to harden. (optional but recommend.
Kettle Corn Coconut

Kettle Corn Coconut

This recipe is by far my favorite and it takes under 5 minutes to prep. Its wonderful as a smoothy topping, snack, and on top of ice cream. It tastes like kettle corn, but has all the nutrition of coconut, so its definitely a win-win.

Kettle Corn Coconut
Print Recipe
Sweet, crunchy, delicious
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour and 45 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour and 45 minutes
Kettle Corn Coconut
Print Recipe
Sweet, crunchy, delicious
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour and 45 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour and 45 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250ºF
  2. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until coconut is evenly coated.
  3. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread out evenly
  4. Put coconut into the oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes, stirring halfway through
  5. Take coconut out of the oven and let cool. This will allow it to become crispy
Recipe Notes

If you want coconut clumps, add more coconut nectar.

It is super easy to make variations of this recipe. Some Ideas:

  • Lemon: add lemon zest to taste
  • Cinnamon: to taste
  • pumpkin spice
Why You #Shouldn’tEatCerealEverAgain

Why You #Shouldn’tEatCerealEverAgain

I recently had dinner with an engineer who used to work at a plant that made cereal. He was a fascinating and engaging dinner companion but didn’t come across as a health nut. So he caught my attention when he decidedly stated he would never eat cereal and neither should we. Of course, being obsessed with food and processing, I had to ask for more info.

 

His plant made cereal for many different brands. He said they, and the other manufacturers, used the same method for producing all cereal, regardless of the shape, size or even texture. The grain was ground into a very fine white powder. Most of the grains’ nutrients are lost in this process. The powder is made into a batter and cooked at high heat for several hours. Then it can be turned into every cereal shape and color you can imagine—from flakes to crispies to stars to Os.

 

To make flakes, you bake the batter and roll it between cylinders; shredded-type wheat cereals are made by using a grooved cylinder to make the shreds. So, it may look like it’s a whole grain wheat product but it starts as the same white powder. To make crispies, you whip the batter and bake it so it forms the well-known shape that is intended to look like puffed, crisp rice. Other shapes require a thicker batter that goes through an extruder and is cut into shapes.

 

All nutrients have to be added back in because they are lost in the processing and cooking. They add them by spraying on synthetic vitamins or adding them into the batter. They also spray on and mix in flavorings, colors, preservatives, fiber and sweeteners.

 

The result is a high glycemic edible product with synthetic vitamins, colors, and flavors and sugars. Synthetic vitamins, as you can imagine, are not the most efficient, effective or safe way to get your nutrients. And, if you eat the cereal by the handful or with some skim milk or nonfat yogurt, you can’t absorb the fat soluble ones at all.

 

But what of alternatives like oats—granola, muesli, oat based energy bars, quick cook oatmeal? That’s worthy of a whole conversation on its own, so I’ll cover that in my next blog.

 

In the meantime, here’s the crib notes on some great non-cereal breakfast options. Let me know your favorites and I’ll add them add to the list.

 

  • the many forms of eggs mixed with veggies and/or fruit (you want to make sure you are getting some vitamin C with your eggs so you can absorb the iron in them—lemon in your water will do the trick too);
  • sprouted grain or sourdough bread with nut or seed butter, sausage or avocado and tomato;
  • a berry or banana smoothie with Greek yogurt and nuts, or if you really need that crunch,
  • Greek yogurt with granola—there are a few brands that have soaked oats but they can be hard to find (more on this in my next blog). You can get into the habit of making your own, it’s really easy and cheap. You just need a little time for the soaking and dehydrating;
  • for an allergen friendly smoothie, try adding freshly ground or micro sliced chia, sunflower or pumpkin seeds and coconut water or regular water with your banana or berries;
  • banana or pumpkin pancakes–1 smashed banana or 1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin or winter squash, 1 egg, 1 t vanilla, a bit of salt, cinnamon, and a bit of ground flax or GF flour to hold it together;
  • Leftovers from a previous dinner (I have a hard time with this because I like gentle flavors in the morning and spicy at night but I have a friend who swears by it); or
  • A carefully selected nutrition bar.  Take care in which one you pick or you could be getting the bar equivalent of cereal–fake food with synthetic vitamins, flavors, colors and sugars.  Look for seeds or nuts as the first ingredient, make sure the sugars are low (aim for 10g or fewer per 200 calories), and avoid bars that use puffed cereal as fillers or us puffed protein bits.

Can’t go cold turkey? No problem, wean yourself off or use cereal as a once a week convenience.  But believe me, you’ll notice very quickly the difference in your energy and focus when you eat healthier foods at breakfast.

Have a great start to all your days!

 

Colleen Kavanagh is a lifelong nutrition advocate. She is the Executive Director of A Better Course, a nonprofit aimed at improving child nutrition, and the co-founder and CEO of ZEGO, the only food company designing nutrient dense snacks that won’t hurt your stomach, trigger your allergies, or spike your blood sugars.

www.zegofoods.com