It’s a Date: Persian Rice Salad

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This month we featured dates as an alternative sweetner in our Sweet Solutions series. This savory recipe calls for them as well, creating a variety of flavors in one simple dish.
To make the Persian Rice Salad you will need:
1 1/2 cups of long grain brown rice
3 cups water
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
1/2 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup cashews, toasted and chopped
In a medium pot with a lid, place rice together with water. On high heat bring rice to a boil, uncovered. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done and most of the water has been absorbed. Drain and cool. In a large bowl, whisk together all other ingredients. Add cooled rice and toss to combine.

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Let’s Toast: Tamarind Ginger Cooler

Tamarind, or Indian Dates, are a member of the legume family. While tamarind is indigenous to Africa, it is widely used in cuisines around the world today, but mostly in Mexico and South Asia. Underneath the woody shell is a sticky flesh which covers big, thick seeds.  It is sour and sweet, which adds a great depth of flavor to curries and sauces. In this recipe, we have made a pulp with the flesh by boiling it with water and sugar and then paired it with a spicy ginger ale- creating a wealth of flavors for your palate. For those of you of age and not faint of taste buds, we recommend tossing in an ounce of your favorite tequila.
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To make this recipe you will need:
1/2 cup sugar
20 tamarind pods
ginger ale
tequila (for those brave enough and/or old enough)
Take outer shell off of tamarind pods. Place tamarind meat and sugar in a large pot with 32 oz. of water. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Let tamarind soak for an hour and a half. Once the water has cooled down, use your hands to squeeze the tamarind pulp and remove the hard seeds and the majority of the strings still attached to the pulp. Place mixture in a blender and blend until smooth.
To make the cooler, mix 2 tablespoons of tamarind mixture, 6 oz. of ginger ale and 1 oz of tequila.

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Meet the Makers: Nutritive Body Care

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The Co-op is excited to introduce a new skin care line- made right here in Moscow! Nutritive Body Care is handmade in small batches by Kristy Bonner using the best ingredients around. After a conversation with her mother about her frustration trying to find products for her maturing skin, Kristy decided it was up to her to make a natural, organic product line that led to healthier, younger looking skin.
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Kristy developed Nutritive Body Care, not only to make a safe skincare line for her family, but also to avoid the toxins and synthetic hormones that are in most conventional beauty products today. Kristy has been learning about natural, raw and organic ingredients for close to ten years and it is this knowledge that has led to creating products for her daughter’s eczema, natural salt toothpastes and face and body creams.
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“I have plans for a sunscreen/insect repellent lotion for this spring, maybe some lip balm, deodorant, and a rash/bite/scrape ointment,” says Kristy. Her latest ingredient obsession is red raspberry seed oil due to its significant content of nutritive components including essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Look for her expanding line of products in the Co-op’s Wellness Department!

Feel Good Mondays: DIY Cleaning Products

Making your own cleaning products may sounds like a huge time investment, but these simple recipes for everyday household cleaners are easy to make and are free of harsh chemicals and toxins. Because if you have to clean in the first place, why make yourself sick inhaling the nasty conventional stuff?

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All-purpose Cleaner
• 1/4 cup baking soda
• 1/2 cup vinegar
• 1/2 gallon water

 Floor Cleaner
To clean linoleum or vinyl, combine:
• 1 cup vinegar
• 3 drops of baby oil
• 1 gallon of warm water
Apply using a mop or sponge.

 To clean wooden floors, combine:
• 3 cups vinegar
• 3 cups vegetable oil

 Natural Disinfectant
• 4 tablespoons vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap
• 3 cups hot water
Pour into a mist bottle and apply as needed.

 Bathroom Cleaners
• To clean a toilet, add 10 drops tea tree oil and 3 cups white vinegar into the toilet bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
• To clean a shower, fill a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar. Add liquid detergent for extra strength. Leave the spray for 30 minutes before rinsing off. (Vinegar is an excellent ingredient for homemade cleaners used in bathtubs and showers because unlike soap, vinegar does not leave a residue.)
• A spray bottle filled with club soda makes a perfectly efficient glass cleaner.
• Remove rust stains with a paste made from water and cream of tartar.

 Kitchen Cleaners
For a natural, borax-free dishwasher soap, you will need:
• 1 cup baking soda
• 1/4 c. citric acid
• 1/4 c. coarse salt
• 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (optional)
Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil. Mix again.
• To hand wash dishes, use a liquid soap and add 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the soapy water.

 Oven Cleaner
To make a natural oven cleaner, you will need:
• 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
• 1/4 organic white vinegar
• 1.5 cups baking soda
• water, as needed to make a thick, but spreadable, paste
• 2-4 drops essential oil (optional)
Remove the racks from your oven. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Paint the paste over the entire surface of the oven (using an actual paint brush works well). Let the paste sit for 6-8 hours, or overnight. The paste should foam slightly. Fill a bowl with clean water and, using a sponge or scrubber, wipe away the paste. Repeat until there is no white residue and all the grime is wiped away.

CHEMICALS TO AVOID (from National Geographic’s Green Guide):

Ammonia: cuts grease
Why Avoid It: derived from petroleum and known to cause asthma
Green Alternative: vinegar

 Chlorine: disinfects
Why Avoid It: lung and skin irritant, lethal if ingested, releases mercury
Green Alternative: vinegar, lemon juice, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil

 Monoethanolamine: helps cleaners penetrate grime
Why Avoid It: derived from petroleum, irritates respiratory system
Green Alternative: soy, corn, or coconut-based surfactants

 Glycol Ethers: dissolve soil
Why Avoid It: causes nerve damage and infertility, air contaminant
Green Alternative: eucalyptus oil

 Alkylphenol Ethoxylates: helps cleaners penetrate grime
Why Avoid It: hormone disruptor, damages fish in US streams
Green Alternative: soy, corn, or coconut-based surfactants

 Phthalates: synthetic fragrances
Why Avoid It: hormone disruptor, damages fish in US streams
Green Alternative: essential oils, baking soda deodorizers

 Triclosan: disinfectant in antibacterial cleaners
Why Avoid It: forms possible carcinogen, builds up in soil and fish
Green Alternative: hot soapy water, vinegar

It’s a Date: Baked Apples with Dates + Walnuts

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This sweet treat uses Golden Delicious apples (which are on sale right now for $0.99/pound), dates and walnuts as its main components. It’s gluten-free and free of processed sugars. Dates are a great source of natural sugar for those looking to remove processed sugars from their diet.

To make this recipe you will need:

  • 9 a Golden Delicious apples, cored
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond meal or flour
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 4 dried dates, pitted and chopped into small pieces
  • pinch of fine sea salt, ground cinnamon and ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees  with the rack in the center. Core apples and squeeze a little lemon juice into each one. Melt coconut oil in a small pan. Stir in almond meal, walnuts, dates, salt, cinnamon, ginger and coconut milk. Heat for a few minutes over medium heat. Carefully stuff apples with the mixture. Place apples in muffin pans. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for about 45 min or until apples have softened and split.
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Sweet Solutions: Dates

Out Sweet Solutions series is back with information about dates! Dates are one of the most naturally sweet fruits, making them a great alternative to processed sugars. For all you’ve ever wanted to know about dates, keep reading!

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There are many varieties of dates, but medjool dates are used most frequently as sweeteners because they have a sweet caramel flavor, are large and soft, and are usually naturally dried in the sun on the date palm tree (no chemicals added).

Dates are used as sweeteners in a few ways:

  • Fresh dates can be eaten as a sweet snack
  • Dried dates can be eaten whole, roughly chopped up and added to a recipe, or made into a date paste/puree
  • Date syrup is close to the consistency of maple syrup
  • Date sugar is simply dehydrated and ground dates

How are dates different from other sweeteners?

  • 1 serving of dates (4 dates/100 grams) = 277 calories and 66 grams of sugar
  • Dates are one of the only sweeteners that contain a fair amount of nutrients. 1 serving of dates has approximately:
    • Fiber –28% RDA
    • Potassium –19% RDA
    • Copper – 18% RDA
    • Manganese – 15% RDA
    • Magnesium – 13% RDA
    • Vitamin B6 – 10% RDA
    • Iron – 4%
    • Protein – 3%
    • Vitamin A – 2%

(USDA and based on a 2,000 calorie diet)

  • Both dates and table sugar contain glucose and fructose. In dates, these elements are separate and easy to digest. In sugar, they are combined to make sucrose which requires our body to use more enzymes to break down and use it as energy.
  • Date sugar can be used as a 1:1 substitute for brown sugar as it has caramel notes that are more akin to brown than white sugar.

Pros

  • Dates are raw/unprocessed and naturally dry on the fruit trees
  •  The soluble and insoluble dietary fiber in dates offers both digestive and cardiovascular benefits. Soluble fiber acts to slow the pace of carbohydrate breakdown and lower cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber can help promote regular bowel movements.
  • Date puree and date sugar are quite versatile in use and can be made at home or bought prepared at the store.
  • Although there is a reduction in antioxidant content upon drying, dates are still considered a good source of antioxidants compared to other dried fruits.
  • Dates are also fat free.

Cons

  • The sugar in dates is absorbed very quickly, and there’s a lot of it. The blood sugar spike resulting from eating dates is almost as strong as eating a spoonful of sugar. This is great if you need energy, but can be troublesome if you aren’t readily using the energy.
  • Date sugar does not melt well, which results in flecks of brown in the final product – date puree melts/dissolves much better though.
  • Date puree can be a substitute for sugar or other syrup sweeteners such as maple syrup, but there is no set ratio. There is a great deal of experimenting that is required to replace traditional sweeteners in a recipe with this alternative.
  • The fruit naturally has a relatively high glycemic index, given the amount of sugar it contains. Those already afflicted with diabetes will have to really limit their consumption of dates or avoid it altogether.

Feel Good Mondays: DIY Linen Spray

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If you’re feeling like your home and everything in it could use a little refresher, then take notice! This recipe for a simple linen and room spray is the perfect concoction to get rid of the winter blues and usher in the bright light and fresh air of spring. While lavender has been shown to have a calming effect, if you absolutely hate lavender, then by all means use something that doesn’t make you ill! We like to use a mix of bergamot and lavender, for a nice note of citrus. To make this spray you’ll need:

a spray bottle
distilled water (make sure it is distilled, as water that is not distilled can leave spots on linens)
25-35 drops of essential oil (per 1 1/2 cups of distilled water)

This makes a great hostess or housewarming gift too!

Appy Hour: Grilled Almond Butter + Caramel Date Syrup Sandwiches

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Your typical PB + J just got a grown-up makeover! We used the Co-op’s Salted French bread, freshly ground almond butter and Date Lady Caramel Date  sauce, then grilled it with salted butter in a skillet on the stove. We also tested a batch with a new local Cabernet Sauvignon jam which was equally delicious.

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You can cut these into small triangles and serve them as an appetizer with grapes and cheese too.
To make the sandwiches you’ll need:
10 slices salted French bread (or other hearty white bread)
1 cup of freshly ground almond butter
8-10 tablespoons of caramel date sauce or wine jam
4-5 tablespoons butter

To assemble sandwiches, spread 2 tablespoons of almond butter on 1 slice of bread. Spread caramel sauce or jam over the almond butter and top with another piece of bread. In a large pan or skillet over medium heat, melt  two tablespoons of butter. Place assembled sandwich in pan and grill on each side until golden brown, flipping with a spatula halfway through. Cut into four pieces. Add more butter to pan and repeat until all sandwiches are grilled.

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Meet The Makers: Landgrove Coffee

 We are so lucky to have such passionate and talented local producers in our area and we’re thrilled to bring you profiles on them in our new series called “Meet the Makers”. Landgrove Coffee is roasted in Troy, ID by Hannah and Jon Binninger. Since 1998 they have been roasting the finest beans from Kenya, Ethiopia and Indonesia with a focus on sustainability.

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Landgrove is a family operation. Here are Hannah and Jon with their two kiddos, Flora and Clem (not quite coffee drinkers… yet.).

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Hannah says that one of the most important things they do is “making people aware that a good cup of coffee means something.”

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To learn more about the Binningers and Landgrove Coffee visit www.landgrovecoffee.com or come in to the Co-op and sample a cup in our deli.

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