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Smart Summer Eating Guide: How To Keep Your Meals Safe During The Year’s Hottest Season

Summer time is in full swing! At Good Food Made Simple, we love a nice picnic or barbecue. I mean, what’s not to appreciate about a warm, sunshiney forecast and some of the “coolest” foods out there? But as the weather gets warmer, there are more risks that come with outdoor eating and food prep. Leaving food out for too long at room temperature, for example, can cause all different kinds of harmful bacteria to grow.

As people who truly value eating, take from us these tips for how to eat safely during the summer season.

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1.    Keep Your Food Out of the “Danger Zone”

  • Keep hot food hot – at or above 140 °F
  • Keep cold food cold – at or below 40 °F
  • Never leave food out of refrigeration for over 2 hours
  • If the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out for more than 1 hour

2.    Keep Cooking Safe

  •  Raw meat and poultry should always be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. (Check out the helpful thermostat illustration below for details!)
  • When roasting meat and poultry, use an oven temperature no lower than 325°F
  • If you aren’t serving hot food right away, keep it at 140 °F or above

3.    Storing Leftovers

  • Since bacteria can be reintroduced to food even AFTER it is safely cooked, leftovers must be kept in shallow containers for quick cooling and kept refrigerated at 40 °F or below within 2 hours

4.    Reheating for Re-eating

  • When you get those cravings for some delicious leftovers, you should reheat the food thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 °F or until it is steaming hot.
  • If you are using the microwave to reheat the food, cover the dish and rotate so it heats evenly 

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Simplify Your Summer Palette

Summer: a time with lots to do and lots to eat! Considering all the beautiful produce and the seasonal warm weather snacks, no wonder it is such a unanimously popular season. But with all the fun to be had comes hidden dangers in some of our most treasured summer foods.

The perils of artificial dyes

While the FDA has not banned all food dyes, the remaining list of those approved by the FDA are constantly under speculation because of existing side effects other dyes are known to produce. Specifically, these dyes have been under speculation regarding the mental development of young children.

At Good Food Made Simple, we would never subject you to any of these artificial additives. Find more information on the strict ingredient exclusions we abide by here.

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Did you know these fun summertime foods are often altered beyond their natural color?

  • Chocolate
    • Oftentimes chocolate products have added colorings to make them look more “chocolatey.” What’s more chocolatey than just plain chocolate?!
  • Macaroni & Cheese
    • Many mac and cheese brands have fluorescent-colored orange dyes that poorly emulate the color of cheddar cheese. Ours, of course, does not!
  • Juices
    • It’s no secret that sodas are often artificially colored. But what about fruit juices? It’s important to note what’s “fruit-flavored” and what’s actually fruit, as well as what summertime beverages have added dyes.

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Natural dye alternatives

There are some great products on the market that utilize nature’s own resources to produce colorful foods. Likewise, when cooking at home it can be fun to experiment with already colorful foods in new and inventive ways to color-up the tabletop. Take these, for example:

  • Turmeric produces an orange-yellow dye
  • Elderberries are purple-blue
  • Black Carrots are peach-red
  • Saffron is yellow
  • Red Cabbage is blue
  • Carrot Oil is orange
  • Beets are reddish-purple

Keeping your summer colorful doesn’t have to mean keeping it artificial.

Tips For a Safe (But Fun) Independence Day

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With a long weekend ahead of barbecues, beaching, picnics, fireworks and other fun outdoor activities, we at Good Food Made Simple want to remind you how important it is to keep healthy throughout the festivities. Here’s a quick list of some pointers on how to make sure you’re taking care of yourself amidst the Independence Day weekend hoopla.

Sun Safety

  • While sun bathing is a popular summertime activity, the sun’s rays can leave long lasting and harmful effects on our skin. Before heading out to the beach this weekend, be mindful of these tips to help keep your skin healthy and safe:
    • Use Plenty of Sunscreen: Always use a water-resistant sunscreen with minimum SPF 30 and apply thirty minutes before sun exposure. Don’t forget to reapply every two hours!
    • Cover Up: Although using sunscreen is a great idea for long days in the sun, go the extra mile and cover your head, face and eyes with hats and eyewear. In addition to sunscreen, these items give you more all-around protection for the entire day.
    • Plan Your Excursions Accordingly: The sun is strongest between 10AM and 4PM so try planning outdoor events for later in the day.  And if you cannot escape the sunshine, take shade breaks and get out of the sun for bits of time periodically throughout the day.
    • [Source]

Hydration

  • Keeping yourself hydrated could be one of the most important things you can remember when going out into the heat. Our bodies are made up of so much water that it’s important we keep it replenished, especially when drinking alcohol! Avoid any prolonged dehydration issues by drinking six 6-8-ounce glasses of water a day, as well as one full glass of water between each alcoholic drink.

Healthy Party Foods

  • Remember to orient your cookouts and picnics around healthy foods.  Looking for ideas? Check out our blog post from Memorial Day Weekend featuring some fruity dessert ideas that will surely satisfy your sweet tooth, without going overboard on artificial sweeteners!

Firework Safety

  • Lastly, remember to enjoy the most festive of all activities this weekend by promoting safe and responsible use of fireworks.
    • Obey your local laws regarding the use of fireworks
    • Read cautionary labels before lighting them
    • Always have an adult around! (A responsible one…!)
    • Use fireworks in a clear area, and announce when you’re lighting them so people know to stay free of the space
    • Always have a bucket of water or water hose nearby. Juuuust in case!
    • [Source]

Happy Fourth of July!

Dad’s Day Breakfast 101

What better way to spend the holiday thanking your dad than cooking up a delicious breakfast with a few of his favorites! This Father’s Day, spend some time cooking for your dad (or even WITH your dad!) with these hearty, simple, and wholesome meal ideas.

Kick off this celebration of all things “dad” by giving an original breakfast meal a manly makeover. Instead of a Plain Jane egg dish, add some sliced, pan-grilled steak from your local butcher to create the perfect steak and eggs dish.

As always, we at Good Food Made Simple stress that knowing where your food comes from is important, so make sure to ask for your butcher’s recommendation when picking out your steak. Only the best for dad!

steak-and-eggs

Another option (and this one’s our favorite, if we do say so ourselves!) is a nice, hearty breakfast sandwich on homemade wheat flour biscuits complete with one of our wholesome egg patties.

  • Start with an easy whole-wheat biscuit recipe, like this one.
  • Once you’ve got your biscuits cooking, throw some turkey bacon on the skillet.
    • Not only is turkey bacon lower in saturated fat, it’s also fewer calories than regular bacon.
  • Heat up your Good Food Made Simple egg patties.
    • They’re the perfect size for a biscuit sandwich, and the perfect serving of high-protein, low-sodium eggs to kick off a day full of activity.
  • Once your biscuits are done, add your egg patty, top it with bacon, and throw on a slice of cheddar cheese and some greens for color (we love the look and taste of a few loose arugula sprigs!)

Voila! A scrumptious, wholesome and protein-packed power play to get dad on his feet and celebrating what’s most important on this special day – HIM!

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These recipes and food ideas will make for an unforgettable kick-start to this year’s Father’s Day. Check out an interview from last June with our co-founder George Gavris to hear about what meal he looks forward to on June 21st!

 

Fruity Dessert Ideas for a Pretty Sweet Memorial Day

Last Memorial Day Weekend, we posted a blog with some pointers on how to keep your spring and summer cookouts “clean.” This year, we’re following up with one of our favorite ideas from that blog post: the many ways, shapes, and forms that fruit can take to satisfy your summertime sweet tooth!

See below for some great picnic fundamentals, cookout necessities, and snack time must-haves – all starting with our favorite fruits.

From the Fridge

This great recipe for Raw Peanut Butter cookies (from food blogger Sweetest Kitchen) uses only four ingredients.

  • Almond Meal
  • Dates
  • Peanut Butter
  • Vanilla Extract

We love the way it keeps cookies simple! Instead of unnatural sweeteners, it calls for a cup of Medjool dates, which are a naturally sweet fruit. These cookies are simple to make, use clean ingredients, and are a great way to incorporate a serving of fruit into your Memorial Day dessert spread.

cookies

Cottage cheese and natural yogurts (with little to no added sweetener) make tried-and-true base dishes colorful with ripe, naturally scrumptious berries. Try a medley of the following for a patriotic (and probiotic!) feel:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Blackberries

MAY GFMS blog - yogurt and berries

On the Grill

Wrapping a banana in tin foil and throwing it on the grate makes for a delicious, fruit-based dessert when you’re grilling. It’s yummy, fun, and satisfies your sweet tooth without an overload of artificial sugars!

  • Start off by peeling your banana
  • Slice it long-ways
  • Fill the center crevice with an ingredient of your choice, such as:
    • Peanut butter
    • 75% dark chocolate
    • Berries and honey
  • Wrap in tin foil
  • Throw it on the grill until the “fillings” are gooey!

Fresh peaches are also great on the grill. Slice them in half and keep them over the fire until they’re hot and soft, then enjoy a naturally super-sweet fruit prepared in true Memorial Day fashion!

May GFMS blog Grilled Peaches

Frozen Treats

Homemade popsicles are a classic warm-weather treat and make for a great way to monitor exactly how much sugar – and what kinds of sugar – are in your summer sweets. Try mixing and matching 100% fruit juices (that aren’t artificially colored). We recommend the combos below:

  • Orange + Pineapple
  • Watermelon + Lime
  • Pomegranate + Apple
  • White Grape + Cranberry

Another idea to make your popsicles a bit creamier is to puree fresh fruits in a blender, add some all-natural yogurt, and pour the mixture into either ice cube trays or popsicle trays. They’re easy to make, fun to eat and a low-sugar alternative to traditional creamy desserts like ice cream.

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Lastly, frozen grapes are one of the simplest ways to make fruit more fun, and make dessert a bit friendlier to your health! Other fresh fruits are great frozen, too, and maintain their natural sweetness really well. Try some of the following to mix it up:

  • Mango Strips
  • Cubed Cantaloupe
  • Peeled Bananas
  • Persimmon Pulp

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The Hunt for the Best Easter Egg Designs is Over

With Easter right around the corner, we’ve begun brainstorming ideas for our favorite Easter day activities. Our list of to-dos may possibly be a little eccentric, but it is undoubtedly egg-centric. It goes something like this:

1. Dye Easter Eggs

2. Hide/Hunt for Easter Eggs

3. Eat Easter Eggs

As you can tell, we’re huge fans of eggs! Our egg patties, egg-based breakfast burritos, and egg-based breakfasts in a bowl all make for nutrient-packed, hot morning meals.

Speaking of nutrients, eggs contain high levels of quality proteins, essential amino acids, antioxidants, loads of vitamins, and are a great way to increase HDL (in other words, “good”) cholesterols, which lower the risk of heart disease.1 That’s why we encourage you, this Easter, to forego those plastic eggs and stick to the real deal! Dye ‘em, find ‘em, and eat ‘em.

Happy Easter-GFMS

Here are some fun, creative ideas for dying or decorating eggs this Easter weekend:

Swirly Look: Line a glass baking dish with shaving cream, drop a few colors of food coloring onto it, then run the tip of a skewer or other similar utensil through the drops of color, creating a loosely swirled design in the shaving cream. From there, roll your egg on top of the shaving cream where its designs are in tact (in areas that look smeared, re-apply shaving cream and add a new swirled design). Let the shaving cream dry for about 30 minutes, then wipe the excess off to reveal a beautiful swirled design!

Textured Eggs: Decorate your eggs with a glue gun but creating bumps or raised designs “drawn” in hot glue! Then dye your eggs in the traditional mixture of water and food coloring for a crafty twist on the classic technique.

Experiment With Paints: Why not decorate your eggs with paint markers, fabric paints, nail polishes, or even acrylic paints? With tiny paintbrushes or paints that have deliberate nozzles for detail application, there’s no reason you need to stick to water and food coloring to dye or to paint your eggs!

Faces: To add a little personality to your eggs this Easter, turn them into animals! Glue on googly eyes, decorative feathers and the like. Cut out construction paper ears, animal noses, beaks, or even paws, and then fold a small piece of the paper on one end of your cutout. That folded piece of the construction paper cutout will sit flat on the egg, which you can glue down, so that the animal “appendage” sticks out from the egg.

Tie-Dye: Just like you’d tie-dye a tee shirt, you can wrap tiny, rubber hairbands around your blank boiled eggs. From there, put your eggs into a colander. Release one drop of concentrated food coloring atop each egg, and give the colander a spin. The drops of color spread out and down the surface of the egg. Do this for a couple more colors, allowing each color drop to dry briefly between applications. Finally, remove the bands to reveal a striped, tie-dye look!

Eating Green

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‘Tis the day to wear green, and to pinch the folks who aren’t! But don’t worry, you don’t have to be Irish to participate in all the fun St. Patrick’s Day has to offer. Here at Good Food Made Simple, we believe that not only should we be wearing green today – we should be eating it, too!

In fact, as most of us probably know (and less of us probably put into practice), eating greens should be a part of our everyday diets. Nutrition and health expert Joy Bauer recommends eating at least five servings of vegetables every day, which equates to 2.5 cups of cooked veggies.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, check out some of our favorite herbs, legumes, leafy greens, and other delicious green veggies, along with a few ideas about how to incorporate them into balanced meals. Practice not only eating green – but eating clean!

Broccoli

Chop up some broccoli florets and throw them into your next serving of our Original Mac & Cheese. The complementary flavor profiles of cheese and broccoli make for a great and delicious pairing.

Lentils

With a texture profile similar to that of chickpeas, cooked lentils are great to puree in a blender, add spices and a bit of oil to, and use like a hummus dip! They’re also full of fiber, iron, and protein!

Green Bell Peppers

We use green bell peppers in our breakfast bowls to add a little crunch and a whole lot of nutrients to your morning. Try green bell peppers as a crudité, too, by slicing them up and eating them with dips as a chip alternative.

Mint

Some sprigs of fresh mint leaves in your GFMS Fruit and Berries oatmeal can really brighten your morning – not to mention your bowl!

Arugula

This peppery, leafy green is a great source of potassium. Try tossing a salad with arugula next time, adding a light vinaigrette and maybe some sliced fresh pear to complement the greens. 

Brussels Sprouts

Add shaved Brussels sprouts to your oatmeal, top it off with slivers of Parmesan cheese, cracked sea salt and some truffle oil for a savory, veggie-fied twist on your GFMS Original Steel-Cut Oats!

Butterhead Lettuce

Make a sandwich with one of our varieties of egg patties, and add some raw butterhead lettuce for a tasty, low profile dose of vegetables.

The Truth about (Processed) Turkey

With Thanksgiving next week, you might already be craving some turkey. While we love turkey (just check out our turkey sausage burrito or uncured bacon & turkey sausage breakfast bowl) not all of it is created equal. The keyword here is created.

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If you pick up cold cuts from your local deli, odds are you’re purchasing processed meat. Processed meats are, according to an article from Women’s Health, “anything more manipulated than cut or ground.” These meats can contain harmful chemical compounds like sodium nitrites that, when combined with amines in your stomach, can become carcinogenic compounds. If you consistently consume large quantities of processed meats, this could result in severe health consequences.

Here are some stats that might make you think twice about regularly consuming processed meats:

  • The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition found a link between processed meat consumption and increased chance of early death (including anything from cardiovascular disease to cancer).
  • Researchers in Sweden found that people who ate 3 oz. of processed meat each day had a 15% greater chance of developing stomach cancer than those who consumed two ounces or less.
  • The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and University of Southern California found in a seven-year study that participants who ate the most processed meat (bacon, ham, cold cuts) had a 68% higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate the least.

So, be wary the next time you go to the supermarket. Make sure that you are purchasing whole cuts (“a section of meat or poultry that has been cooked, possibly flavored with salt, spices, or sugars that is then sliced) rather than processed meats. So for your turkey cravings, choose options like fresh-roasted turkey breast, or choose to cook your own protein.

At Good Food Made Simple, we know the value of clean ingredients. It’s why we avoid hydrogenated oils, filler ingredients, and chemical preservatives in all of our products. After all, a healthy body is a happy mind!

Eat Clean this Halloween

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It can be hard to maintain your well-balanced diet when Halloween rolls around. While your buying bags of snickers, M&M’s, and skittles for the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood, it’s almost impossible not to indulge yourself with a few sweet treats yourself.

So, we’ve decided to put together a “Clean Halloween” list to help you avoid over-indulging in all those added sugars and unnatural ingredients.

1.    Buy your candy at the last minute:

If you buy your candy too early in the month, it will be lying in your house tempting you to eat it. If you buy candy a few days before the big night, you’re less likely to grab that handful of tootsie rolls.

2.    Buy candy you don’t like:

Candy corn, Mary Janes, and Good and Plenty are all in the ranks for the most disliked candy. Pick up a pack of something you don’t like and you’ll feel safe knowing that they’ll stay in your cupboard until Halloween.

3.    Try a satisfying alternative to over-processed candy: Dark Chocolate

Sometimes restricting yourself too much can lead to binge eating. Instead, allow yourself to have a few pieces of dark chocolate throughout the week. It’s full of antioxidants, is high in vitamins and minerals, and helps control blood sugar.

4.    Make your own nutritious confections:

There’s a good selection from this Pinterest board, some appetizers from POPSUGAR Fitness, and a list of healthy treats from Cooking Light.

5.    Keep some peppermints, sugar-free gum, or a bag full of trail-mix on hand at all times.

Whenever you get a craving, just whip out your go-to snack. Mint gum or tea is especially helpful, as it’s a widely known appetite suppressant. (Remember, our Good Food Made Simple products are ready in less than five minutes, so if you start to feel your willpower wavering, you can always grab a burrito or some mac & cheese and dig-in.)

Hope our tricks will keep you away from the treats this Halloween. :)

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Recipe

The fall season has arrived and with that crisp fall air, there is no better way to start the day with a warm bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Along with the brilliantly colored foliage, fall is a time for all things pumpkin: pumpkin picking, pumpkin pies, and pumpkin carving. So it’s not surprising that this orange gourd starts to symbolize everything we love about the season.

If you’re just as crazy about pumpkins as we are, you should check out this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal by acclaimed Food Network chef Aarti Sequeira. Don’t have time in the morning to pull this off? Don’t worry, we have you covered. We took this delicious recipe and converted it into an on-the-go version using our GFMS Steel Cut Oats. Check out our 5-minute Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal recipe below.

pumpkin pie oatmeal

 

On-The-Go Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1 puck Good Food Made Simple Original Unsweetened Steel Cut Oats

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice OR ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon honey OR pure maple syrup

Raisins, for serving

Directions:

Remove plastic from one puck from Good Food Made Simple Original Unsweetened Steel Cut Oats and place in microwave safe bowl. Heat 3 ½ minutes on high and stir oatmeal. If needed, place back in microwave until hot. Let stand for 1 minute.

Add pumpkin pie spice, honey, maple syrup, and/or raisins per preference. Enjoy!

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