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Schedule a Valentine's Day of Sweet Treats

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Feb 04, 2016 @ 13:02 PM

We don't know about you, but now that the month of February is upon us, our Valentine’s Day clock has really started ticking. Because of how the holiday perks up an otherwise quiet winter month, we always immediately – and gladly – associate Valentine’s Day with February. Whether you’re part of an “old-married couple”, newly married, engaged, dating, or single, we’re guessing there’s several people in your life you’d like to do something special for on Valentine’s Day – because hey, Valentine’s Day isn’t just about celebrating romantic love, it’s about reminding all the people in your life, whether it be friends, parents, grandparents, your children, nieces, nephews, or your favorite co-worker how important they are.

Identifying who you want to do something special for is the easy part of Valentine’s Day. The hard part is figuring out something really thoughtful to do to show your Valentines how glad you are to have them in your life. Regardless of the holiday or reason for a gift/giving action, we’ve always found that the gifts we’ve made ourselves are the ones that are the most appreciated and bring the biggest smile to our recipients’ faces. We know if we think back on the gifts we’ve received, the ones we cherish most are the ones that someone spent some good, quality time on – creating something special just for us.

So, in keeping with the “made with love” idea, and a holiday that’s so associated with sweets for the sweet, why not cook up, bake up, or stir up one or several tasty treats for your loved ones? Whether you want to make just one treat or keep them coming all day long, we’ve created a schedule of festive food for the whole day of February 14!cheesecake_photo_pinterest.jpg

6am – 10 am: Smoothie Time! Pour your sweeties a delicious and nutritious beverage like the blueberry banana with flaxseed smoothie recipe you can make easily with our mix. You’ll show your loved ones(s) how much you care by serving up lots of healthy nutrients along with yummy taste.

11am – 12:00pm: Belly-warming Bread Break! Even if your loved ones can’t be with you for a late morning break, you can still remind them they’re your Valentines during the day by packing up and sending them off with bread made with our easy, tasty lemon-glazed poppy seed loaf recipe.

1:00pm – 2:30pm: Savory Sweet Sojourn! So, we’re really talking lunch here, folks, but couldn’t pass on the catchy slogan. Keep the sweet Valentine’s treats going by packing this sweet & savory Mediterranean chickpea salad with lemon-herb dressing in your sweetie’s lunch pail. The onions provide enough sweet punch to make it feel Valentine-ish.

4:00pm – 5:00pm: Late Afternoon Nosh! Not only will your Valentines feel loved, but they’ll likely love you even more than they already do, when they open up and taste this sweet and Valentine-hued guacamole treat you packed with dipping carrots for them – cherry lime – hmmmm! Or, knock your sweeties out of their late afternoon slump with a festive candy apple that you made yourself. Make it simple and easy by using our candy apple kit.

6:30pm – 8:00pm: Dinnertime with Your Valentine! Dish out a main course whose sweet taste will remind them its Valentine’s Day – our honey lime chicken recipe.

9:00pm – 10:00pm: Semi-late Dessert Hour! Top off your sweeties’ day of sweet treats with a dessert that looks and tastes like Valentine’s Day! Use our glaze pouch to create a shimmering, strawberry-topped cheesecake like the mascarpone strawberry-glazed cheesecake in our blog photo – recipe brought to you by Dani at Food Recipes Headquarters.

Please Do Join Us and Share

We’ve already collected and will continue to collect some great ideas for special food treats you can make for your Valentines at https://www.pinterest.com/concordfoods/sweet-valentines-treats/.

We’ll be talking about sweet treats for sweeties using #cookforyoursweetie, #bakeforyoursweetie, #stirupsomethingspecial, #valentinesdaytreats, and #valentinesdaydinner on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear and see how you scheduled a day of sweet treats, so please do share!

 

Tags: Recipes, Valentine's Day

Host a Football-Watching Party That’s All Fun and Games

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 @ 09:01 AM


You know what we love best about playoff and Big Game football? It gives us something to be excited about in January and early February – a time when we are missing all the fun and festivities of the holiday season, and particularly all the get-togethers with family and friends. We always welcome the opportunity that football-game-watching brings to gather loved ones for a simple-pleasure activity during the winter that includes serving up and enjoying delicious, comfort-food tailgate favorites.

Even if friends and family members aren’t football fans, we find we can easily entice them to join in the festivities simply by offering yummy football food and the opportunity for some great conversation, a little heated debate/team rivalry – when there’s fans of opposing teams present – and lots of laughs and discussion regarding the advertisements shown during the game. We’ve got lots of ideas for both great grub and for making sure both football and non-football fans enjoy your party, so read on!


Designate a Snack Table and Room

We’ve found the best way to make sure your guests have plenty of room to spread out while watching the game is to create a designated snack table, preferably one that’s not in the same room as the T.V., and that doesn’t require guests to cross back and forth in front of it. Hey, when you’re hosting a tailgate party, it’s just tradition to have a designated snack table, and if you can place it where you’re not watching the game, it provides a place and reason for non-football fans to huddle about non-football topics without interrupting die-hard football fans’ concentration. It also leaves coffee table space for guests’ plates and cups that contain their choices from the snack table.

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Make It Grab and Go Food!

Okay, so now that we’ve discussed the critical-to-game-watching designated snack table, let’s move on to food. While your non-football-fan guests may linger around the snack table, your die-hard-football-fan guests are going to limit table trips to those made during commercial breaks or stoppages in play. They’ll want food they can grab and plate quickly. This means they won’t want to take the time to make their own sandwich or ice cream sundae. Who wants to miss a critical play because of putting together a savory or sweet treat?

To keep it “grab and go”, we suggest serving up food that doesn’t require a lot of assembly by guests. We think crowd-pleasing chips and dips are fine, but sandwiches, like meatball grinders or hot salsa turkey burgers should be pre-made and pre-cut into appropriate sizes, and desserts should be snach-able like a turtle brownie or a cinnamon cranberry shortbread cookie. You get the picture. We’ve collected a diverse group of crowd-pleasing appetizer, meal, and dessert recipes at https://www.pinterest.com/concordfoods/touchdown-tailgating/ as well as at http://www.concordfoods.com/football-tailgate-recipes#.Vp_Y30nSnwo. And, you can get more “grab and go” food ideas from our “How to Pack a Power Picnic” blog post.

Design and Play Your Own Games

Game winners don’t have to be limited to the team that wins their Conference title or the Big Game. Why not think up some fun games that will interest party guests of all levels of football-watching-interest. Sure, there’s no foul in offering the usual football squares, but why not introduce one or two new games that might engage all your guests – even the ones who have little or no football knowledge. For example, before the game starts, ask guests to jot down which companies they think will be advertising during the game, how many different ads a particular advertiser will air, and whether or not those advertisers will air the same ad more than once. Prizes awarded to winners can be small food-related gifts – of course, we think you can’t go wrong with our smoothie mixes or our guacamole and salsa mixes. As the host, we’re guessing you might welcome passing the party-hosting baton by giving the game winner(s) the foundation for food for the next football party.


Please Do Join Us and Share

And, here’s another great idea – thank you Hass Avocado – to ensure all your guests feel included and to break the ice among guests who haven’t met before, encourage guests to think of fun photo ops showing all of you eating guacamole recipes. Then, share them on social media using #guacgoal to help Hass Avocado achieve their goal of creating the largest online photo album of people enjoying guacamole. Learn more at http://www.loveonetoday.com/guacgoal.

We’ll be talking about tailgate party ideas using #gamechangingtailgating, #guacgoal #thebiggame, #afcchampionship #nfcchampionship and hope you’ll join in on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear and see how you pulled off the perfect tailgate, so please share!

 



 

Tags: Gamne Changing Tailgate

Hacks For Following the New U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 @ 13:01 PM


 

With the busyness that the first weeks of the new year brings, we’re guessing you may not have heard that the U.S. government has issued new dietary guidelines for all us Americans – something they do approximately every five years using current nutrition science findings. Even if you have heard, there’s a good chance you haven’t been able to make the time to interpret the new guidelines.

We’ve done lots of clutter-cutting to provide a simple list of “do’s and don’ts” – accompanied by easy actions to address the 2016 changes to 2010 guidelines as well as carry-overs (behaviors to continue).


Tactics for Tackling Three Tough Change Challenges

Before we go to our comprehensive list of do’s & don’ts, though, we want to provide tactics for tackling three of the biggest recommended dietary changes that should improve health and reduce health costs.

  • Significantly cut back on the amount of sugar we consume
  • Reduce our intake of saturated fat; men and teenage boys, in particular, are asked to be watchful of the amount of meat they eat
  • Cut back on sodium – whether it be the salt we add to food or purchase of high-sodium foods

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We Americans consume way too much sugar on a daily basis and that’s contributing to a variety of wide-spread chronic illness in our country, particularly diabetes and heart disease – the latter resulting from sugar-caused belly fat and weight gain. And, even if we and our family members haven’t been affected by heart disease or diabetes, all our bodies would benefit from reduced sugar-associated inflammation.

One of the simplest ways to reduce sugar in your and your family’s diet is to cut out sugary soda or other sugary beverages. Make water your go-to beverage at home and when eating out. Other ways to reduce sugar: limit sugary treats to special occasions like a birthday party, don’t bring sugary treats into your home, and inform regular visitors about your mission to create a sugary-treat-free zone. That way, the sweetest thing that your family and visitors will encounter in your home will be each other!

Because of the past popularity of high-protein diets like “Atkins”, and the fear of weight gain many Americans associate with carbohydrates, we’ve become a high-protein-eating nation, in addition to a high-sugar-eating one. As this piece from Harvard’s School of Public Health explains, even the healthiest forms of protein, e.g., nuts, seeds, and fish contain some saturated fat. You don’t want to eliminate these and lose out on health benefits, but why not reduce high-saturated-fat proteins like ice cream, meat, and cheese by replacing them with tasty, healthy proteins like almonds and wild-caught salmon!

Now to the last challenge – cutting back on sodium. Instead of viewing this as a negative, let it motivate you to do something you’ve always wanted to – check out new ways to flavor food such as spices, herbs, lemon and lime juices, and plant-based oils. You’ll bring a welcomed flavor variety to your cooking!

Do’s and Don’t’ To Meet New and “Carryover” U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Do!

  • Drastically reduce the amount of sugar in your diet by keeping bottled water in the house, signing up for a water delivery service/cooler, or keeping a cold pitcher of water in the fridge.
  • Eat “a rainbow” of vegetables (red, green, yellow, orange), and as many times a day as you like – unless, of course, too much of a good thing causes stomach upset or undesired weight gain.
  • Include fruit in your diet, but, because of sugar content, limit number of daily portions.
  • Continue to eat grains, particularly whole ones – learn more from American Heart Association.
  • Get more fiber (fortunately, this is an outcome of eating more veggies, fruit, and whole grains
  • Reduce meat-related saturated-fat in your diet. Meals need not include turkey, chicken, or beef. Pick 2-3 week nights where your meal’s protein comes from legumes (peas or beans), tofu (soybean), nuts, or fish.
  • Continue to eat dairy products (yogurt, cheese, and milk), but choose low-fat/no-fat versions.
  • Read food labels to determine sodium, sugar and Trans fat levels – guidelines ask you limit all.

Don’t!

  • Consume as much salt – consider removing salt shakers from the dinner table, along with our above suggestion to buy and explore herbs and other seasonings that provide great flavor.
  • Continue outings with family and friends that center around foods made with high-saturated-fat dairy, such as “going for ice cream or pizza”. Instead, how about a shopping trip for avocado, whole grain bread, and other healthy ingredients to see who can come up with the tastiest, healthiest, or most creative version of avocado toast like these ones? Or, a farmers’ market trip?
  • Use butter to coat every skillet or flavor every meal. There are so many great tasting and healthy plant-based oils to cook with – canola, olive, peanut, and safflower, to name a few – so test some out and see which you and your family like best.
  • Drink too much alcohol. Women should limit alcoholic beverages to one per day; men, two. And, of course, you and family members should only consume alcohol if you are of legal age.

The U.S. government recognizes that certain individuals have either personal diet preferences or health-related dietary restrictions that prevent them from partaking in all of the types of foods outlined above. They’ve shared vegetarian and Mediterranean diets that should be equally effective in ensuring that you and your family are eating in a fashion that best serves your health.


Let’s Be Sure to Support Each Other!

Throughout 2016, we’ll be sharing tips on how to successfully follow the new U.S. dietary guidelines. We very much want to hear your ideas for adhering to them too! So please do join us in using #produceup #producepusher #produceup #freshproduce and #dietaryguidelines to help other U.S. citizens interpret and follow the new guidelines to support optimal health.

 



 

Tags: New U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Brighten Up Winter Days With Soup & Salad!

Posted by Gail Moraski on Fri, Jan 08, 2016 @ 10:01 AM


As all the holiday fanfare fades, days become colder and darker – and let’s face it – life feels a bit boring, why not serve up “bright” meals that brighten spirits? Even if it’s not a day commonly earmarked for celebration, you can still make any winter day feel special when you serve, or bring food, that perks up body & soul. And, what’s a better meal combo for doing just that than soup & salad?


We were really excited to share both the benefits of eating soup & salad and our recipe ideas because it gave us the chance to talk about two of our favorite food items at once – fruit and vegetables. We can’t think of any type of dish that lends itself more naturally to pairing fruits and vegetables than a yummy, nutritious salad. Whether you use baby spinach, field greens/spring mix, romaine lettuce, kale, or some other lettuce as your salad base, greens are the perfect platform for piling on favorite fruit and veggies.

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Our salad recipes, like almond and blueberry salad with blueberry croutons and lemon & honey vinaigrette, provide great inspiration for making a salad that incorporates both vegetables and fruit – so you and your family get all the benefits of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that a diverse group of produce offers. Plus, creating and serving friends and family a salad with bright, beautiful colors will lighten both your and your recipients’ winter mood. We think you’ll find that the experimentation and creativity alone involved in devising your own recipe is good for your soul.

In addition to the “creativity” benefit, we all love a good challenge, right? That’s why another favorite reason for making salads is that they encourage us to make use of whatever produce we might have in our homes on a particular day. So, don’t be afraid to add in those strawberries, banana slices, or last night’s roasted vegetables. Then, tie everything together with a healthy dressing like a quick, easy one made by stirring a few squirts of our lemon juice into a teaspoon or two of olive oil.

Now, you’re probably thinking that all we’ve shared sounds great, but serving a salad on a dark, cold day just doesn’t cut it when bodies are calling out for warm, comfort food. So, that’s where and why soup comes into the equation. When you pair a delicious, filling soup with a salad, you’re giving your and your family’s bodies what they crave, while still making sure everyone gets the nutrients they need to function optimally in winter.

Winter, by its nature, can often make us feel sluggish. Doesn’t chicken tortilla soup combined with a field greens and raspberry salad sound energizing? As with salads, use our recipes for inspiration, and then experiment. Soup broths, like greens, provide a great foundation for being creative and making use of whatever produce you might have. We’ve often made our own soups by opening up a can of chicken noodle or rice soup and adding other vegetables we have in our kitchen. Or, we use a chicken or vegetable bouillon cube and water to create our own broth, add in vegetables, a starch like small pasta or rice, and lean protein like chicken or turkey.


Please do join us and please do share!

Throughout 2016, we’ll be introducing more great ideas and recipes that incorporate healthy, beautiful produce using #produceup #producepusher #produceup and #freshproduce, and hope you’ll join in the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We’d love to hear about and see your soup & salad creations at #sparklingsalads #slurpworthysoups #sensationalsoup&salad, so please do share!

 



 

Tags: Soup & Salads

Make Bigger Resolutions This Year

Posted by Gail Moraski on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 @ 09:12 AM


At this point in our lives, we’ve all read numerous online and off-line pieces that discuss the importance of setting personal new years’ resolutions. You’ve also likely read essays with rebellious-sounding titles like “Why I Refuse to Set Any Resolutions This Year” that tout the benefits of bucking this annual tradition. We’d like to throw out a third option for 2016. Instead of deciding whether or not to set personal goals for yourself, and then if applicable, creating a list of what those behavior-based goals will be, why not set goals that are bigger-than-you and your personal needs?


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We hope you’ll join us in our quest to outline and implement resolutions that are bigger-than-you – ones that will positively impact our loved ones, at a minimum, and maybe even our communities. We think you’ll find a lot more novelty in and energy for compiling a list of behavior changes – because, hey, changing behaviors is really what resolutions are all about – if those changes positively impact others, particularly those you love. In addition, we’re thinking that any resolutions we all come up with are more likely to be followed through on, when the welfare of others is at stake.

Let’s look at a couple of examples of setting resolutions under our proposed bigger-than-you resolution model. Traditional resolutions might be “I’m going to get to the gym more this year” or “I’m going to drink less soda.” Under our proposed model, those resolutions might look like “I’m going to get my friends, family, and neighbors exercising more, by regularly asking them to walk with me”, or “I’m going to serve less soda at and bring less soda to get-togethers”. You get the picture.

Now that we’ve set the bigger-than-you stage, we’d like to hone in on one resolution that is near and dear to our hearts – and we believe it will be to yours too – and that’s ensuring that we help and encourage others to get more fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. As a company whose mission it is to offer great tasting and easy-to-use products that pair well with a large variety of fruits and vegetables, we’d love to see 2016 become the first of many years in which Americans incorporate more produce in their food and beverages. Sure, it may sound a bit self-serving, but truly, we just want those we all surround ourselves with to enjoy the best possible health by taking advantage of the body-benefitting vitamins, nutrients, and fiber that diets rich in fruits and vegetables offer.

Wouldn’t it feel virtuous to be known as the one in your group who always shows up with or serves the fruit & veggie snacks aka “the produce pusher?” We’re big fans of Tom Rath, author of “Eat. Move. Sleep.” and “Are You Fully Charged?” We love how he encourages us to think beyond ourselves and to engage in healthy behaviors that help others, such as being the first to order healthy menu items when dining out, or by only serving friends, family, and co-workers healthy food. Be sure to check out his tips at http://www.rd.com/health/diet-weight-loss/how-to-start-eating-healthy/. You’ll come out with a different view of how your food-related behaviors impact others, and that’s a good thing!


 


 

Since we’ve regularly sung the praises of beautiful, healthy produce in 2015, we’re not going to reiterate its benefits, but rather, we’ll close both the year and this post by re-sharing favorite 2015 posts that reinforce why you should make 2016 the year to become your circle’s “produce pusher” and to set resolutions that are bigger-than-you. We’ll be introducing more great ideas and recipes using #produceup #producepusher #biggerthanyou, and hope you’ll join in the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We wish you and your loved ones a very healthy and happy new year!

2015 Posts That Reinforce Why You Should Both Become a Produce Pusher

and Set Resolutions Bigger Than You!

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/make-this-holiday-season-a-healthy-one

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/fortify-with-fruit

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/ape-over-apples

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/staying-strong-in-september

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/smoothie-love

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/lighten-up-to-slim-down-this-summer

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/become-a-pro-at-vegging-out

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/reap-the-benefits-of-playing-it-smooth

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/great-reasons-to-go-green-this-spring

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/conquering-kale

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/playing-it-smooth-part-ii

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/be-dynamic-this-summer



 

Tags: Healthy Holidays, Healthy Eating, Holiday Eating, New Years Resolutions, Produce Pushers

Make This Holiday Season A Healthy One

Posted by Gail Moraski on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 @ 10:12 AM


If you’re like most Americans, you are probably thinking about how you are going to survive vs. thrive this holiday season. We believe, and speak from experience, that it is indeed possible to come out of this fast-paced period with both your emotional and physical health well intact! We’ll be sharing activities that have worked for us as well as ideas from others. So, put down that pen you’re using to write your holiday cards or shopping list for a bit, and join us in our quest to make these holidays healthy ones.


Save the Special Treats for Special Events

In keeping with the nature of our business, we’re going to talk first about the food and beverages you consume during the holiday season – particularly those you eat and drink on days when you aren’t attending a get-together.

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We all like to indulge a bit at the holidays – and we’re not going to tell you to put down that piece of your grandmother’s fabulous walnut torte when you’re at Aunt Jane’s on Christmas Day. But, we do believe it’s not in your best health interest to eat and drink whatever you please on days when you won’t be attending a party. Maintaining healthy eating habits on non-festivity days will ensure you limit holiday weight gain, but also better fuel yourself for holiday errand-running.

Have a Plan, Fran

One of the simplest and best ways to keep holidays healthy is to plan ahead! Meeting your mom at the local outlet mall for a day of shopping? Start your day with a healthy smoothie like one made with our kale and apple smoothie recipe. Not only will it provide good energy for a long day of shopping, research shows that starting your day with healthy food means you’ll be less likely to indulge in unhealthy treats later in the day (think sugary Christmas cookies from the mall food court, or free candy found at store registers).

In addition to eating a healthy meal or snack before we shop, we’ve found it very helpful to “arm” ourselves against mall and store temptations by packing up our own healthy snacks such as walnuts and almonds, mozzarella cheese sticks, or a hard-boiled egg. We like to refer to it as “packing it up, so we don’t pack it on.” And, if you want to be even more adored by your shopping companions, pack up some guacamole along with cut-up carrots that you can all share during a much-needed break.

One more important food tip: if you’ve been following a specific weight loss program or have dietary restrictions due to a health condition, prevent holiday health mishaps by making food and beverage items for your own or others’ parties that support the diet you want or need to follow. Your guests and your host will be pleased to see you both enjoying and taking care of yourself!

Finally, before we move on to the emotional health front, here’s one more reminder on the physical one, and it’s simply this – plan out creative ways to get exercise. Park your car further from stores you visit, invite neighbors for a holiday walk, or squeeze in shorter workouts rather than skip them.

It’s Okay to Say “No”

You’ve likely heard this many times before in the context of reducing holiday stress, but it’s so critical to staying emotionally well during and after the holidays, we’re jumping on this mantra’s bandwagon – “it’s okay to say ‘no’”. Whether it’s to a holiday invite, or to the voice in your head or from a family member saying you have to buy or do such and such this holiday season, you have every right, and it’s healthy, to say “no”, when some activity is going to be emotionally, physically, or financially too much.

You’ll protect your mental health and that of loved ones by minimizing your “to do” list. For example, if limiting writing and mailing holiday cards to only those friends with whom you don’t stay in touch regularly or who most need emotional support means, this year, you’ll get to enjoy holiday cookie-making with your kids, we say go for the cooking-baking time. You’ll create priceless memories that will cause you and your family to look back at the holidays fondly.

Update Your Outlook

It’s so easy to look at all the demands and obligations of the holiday season and just see each as one more thing to cross off your list. But, why not update your outlook, live in the moment, and celebrate the good things associated with each activity? We believe you’ll spend and get through your holiday in an emotional state that is much more pleasing to you – and your loved ones – if you practice mindfulness as you go about your holiday errands and attend events. We hope you’ll find as much inspiration in this piece by Laura Vanderkam as we recently did. A good reminder to enjoy vs. endure!


Healthy Tips Should Be Shared

We welcome hearing how you make or made your holiday healthy ones, so please share with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (#havehealthyholidays)

May Your Holidays Be Safe, Peaceful, and Healthy!

 

 



 

Tags: Healthy Holidays, Healthy Eating, Holiday Eating

Serve Up Simple Holiday Pleasures

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Dec 03, 2015 @ 15:12 PM

Like a snow day or a long-weekend Monday, one of the many great things about the holidays is that they provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures. Whether you’re hosting a large family holiday get-together, or a small one with friends, we want to help you slow down and simplify, so you’re able to serve up and savor some simple holiday pleasures – in the form of both activities and food!


Drum Up Some Good, Clean Holiday Fun

Think about the holiday activities you enjoyed as a child at your aunt’s, your grandparents’, or a neighbors’. We bet the ones you enjoyed and remember most included activities like playing card games, watching a special holiday movie, or simply sharing family folklore. So, as a party host, why not initiate a card game like pig or spoons, charades, or some other game where guests need to act out, remember, or guess certain things. Choose games like those mentioned that allow a large group to play.

Or, ask everyone to bring a home-made gift for a Yankee swap, or purchase small gifts yourself that guests can pass (sitting in a circle on the floor) each time they hear a certain word like “the” sung in a holiday song that you play. And, speaking of music, you can ask a party guest with musical talents to bring his or her guitar, harmonica, or accordion to encourage singing, play some recorded holiday music that guests can sing along to, or pass out sheet music for acapella singing of holiday favorites.

We’ve found that activities like the above not only serve as good “ice-breakers” for guests that haven’t met before – think your nephew’s new girlfriend meeting your large family – they are also the ones our guests remember years later when they reminisce about a holiday get-together. And, you don’t have to wait until the official date of the holiday itself to gather loved ones for some good old-fashioned holiday fun. Throughout the holiday season, why not create lots of smaller moments to enjoy simple pleasures by inviting friends or family for an afternoon of baking holiday cookies and drinking hot chocolate, or take advantage of our rebate offer to mix up some magic with an evening of yummy snacks and watching Disney’s Cinderella. Don’t forget about short road trips to visit holiday light displays too!

Keep Things Simple to Minimize Stress

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Because of the holidays’ fast pace, and the variety and volume of food you’ll need to serve if hosting a large get-together, we suggest you save your more complex or unique recipes, particularly ones where you make everything from scratch (including sauces), for another smaller, calmer occasion such as a small dinner party at your home. Plus, let’s face it, whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, or some other holiday, guests are likely craving and expecting the traditional fare associated with it.

To help you keep meal preparation simple, so you can enjoy more time with family and friends – as well as keep your sanity – we’ve created lots of great recipes and mixes for making belly-warming breads and sensational side dishes. Whether it’s glazing carrots, yams, or sweet potatoes, seasoning your greens or potatoes, or filling your house with the scents of yummy banana, cranberry, or blueberry bread, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also got mixes to help you easily batter those mushrooms, create an elegant hollandaise sauce, and turn out beautiful desserts that call for glazed strawberries or banana pie filling. And, we’ve created some special holiday recipes that allow you to use our convenient lemon and lime juices to make some zesty appetizers, entrees, side dishes, desserts, and beverages!

In addition to holiday food preparation, it’s important to simplify other holiday activities, so you can really soak in holiday simple pleasures. You’ll find great ideas for “simplifying” in this Real Simple piece.


Good Food Should Be Shared

We’re sharing lots of great holiday recipe and party ideas on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so please join us and share there, and check out our new “Holiday Simple Pleasures”, “Belly Warming Breads”, “Fall Flavors” and “Fortify with Fruit” Pinterest boards for inspiration. #bellywarmingbreads #fortifywithfruit #givelemonstheirdue #givelimesometime

May Your Holidays Be Safe, Peaceful, and Simple!

 



 

Tags: Holiday Recipes, Holiday Entertaining

Fortify With Fruit

Posted by Gail Moraski on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 @ 09:11 AM


One of our most popular blog posts this year focused on how to incorporate vegetables into the meals you make) to enhance their nutritional value for you and your family. So, we thought our readers would welcome our thoughts on how to include more fruit in daily diets as well. With many U.S. regions beginning to experience colder weather, and therefore, having a greater risk of catching those nasty colds that seem to come with colder temps, we think fortifying beverages, snacks, and meals with fruit makes good health sense.


Arm Yourself and Your Family with Healthy Ammunition

As the Dairy Council of California explains in their great piece on the “Health Benefits of Fruit”, fruit provides many important nutrients your body needs to get and stay healthy, including potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the verb “fortify” as: to make strong; to give physical strength, courage, or endurance to; and to add material to/for strengthening or enriching. Based on the many health benefits of fruits we just cited, we think that adding fruit into daily food and drinks is both a fortifying act and an act of love! Won’t it feel great to know that by incorporating more fruit into your family’s diet, you might be sending them out into the world a bit stronger?

Make It Mission Possible

Now, let’s talk tactics. Never mind the fear that children often have of eating fruit, we know grown men and women who still shy from buying, ordering, or biting into a delicious and nutritious piece of fruit. And hey, you may be one of them yourself. As individuals on a mission to make both ourselves and our families healthier, we may have to be both a bit creative and a bit sneaky – to add some fun into it, think covert operation – to increase our and our family’s fruit intake. Here are our favorite techniques for ensuring victory:

  1. Add fruit to a sweet treat. Because of both fruit’s and desserts’ sweet nature, pairing the two is a no-brainer. Why not make a bread or muffins that include one or more fruits, like blueberry muffins or orange cranberry bread, bake a fruit pie or crisp, or top ice cream with fresh or frozen fruit such as raspberries or blueberries? Our products that pair with fruit for making yummy baked goods, and the recipes that accompany that product information on our web site, make it easy to add fruit to the comfort foods that our and our family members’ bodies crave in winter.
  2. Make a salad sparkle. Whether you use fields greens, spinach, or some other form of green or lettuce to make a salad, don’t you always find it both more enticing and flavorful when it includes bright, colorful fruit like raspberries, strawberries, or mandarin oranges? Get inspiration from our spinach, goat cheese and mandarin orange salad and almond and blueberry salad with blueberry croutons recipes.
  3. Sneak it into a smoothie. To us, smoothies are one of the world’s greatest culinary inventions for getting ourselves and family members to include fruit in daily diets. We find many individuals, including our children, who won’t go near the fruit bowl on the kitchen counter, but who need to get their daily smoothie fix. Learn how to make delicious and nutritious blueberry banana smoothies with flaxseed.

Dip, Dunk, and dress it up. What child – or adult for that matter – doesn’t love the opportunity to dip or dunk a piece of fresh fruit in a yummy caramel or chocolate dip or be served fruit like these from The Yummy Life that you can tell were dressed up with love? And, if you, your child or your significant other are big yogurt fans, why not keep cut fruit in the fridge that can easily be added to plain or vanilla yogurt?


Good Food Should Be Shared

We promise to keep sharing more motivating and creative ideas for fortifying with fruit on our Fortify with Fruit, Berry Sweet Baking and Apple Activities Pinterest Boards, as well as on Instagram (#fortifywithfruit). We hope you will do the same. We’ll love seeing and hearing all you are doing to build stronger bodies this winter!

 



 

Give More Than Thanks This Thanksgiving

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Nov 05, 2015 @ 08:11 AM


While many holidays and celebrations like birthdays cause us to do a bit of reflecting – whether it’s because they remind us that another year has passed or that a new year or chapter is beginning – there’s one holiday whose very purpose is to make us take stock of all that is good is our lives. And, that is the one just around the corner, Thanksgiving.


There’s so much to love about this holiday that causes us to pause and give thanks, but two of the things we love most about Thanksgiving are the aforementioned, and the fact that it’s a holiday that is focused on giving the gift of ourselves, the comfort of our homes, and the care we put into our favorite recipes vs. buying and sharing commercial gifts. In keeping with our two favorite reasons for loving Thanksgiving, whether you’re responsible for all, most, or only a small portion of the Thanksgiving meal, we hope you’ll consider how you might give more than thanks this holiday season by sharing the gift of your company, your home, and/or delicious, comforting food to those who may need it most.

 

Make It a Double!

Why not double your favorite recipe or make two batches of it this Thanksgiving – whether it be glazed sweet potatoes or cranberry bread – and drop your dish by the home, apartment, or other dwelling of an individual or individuals who would so appreciate receiving the special gift of a recipe made by loving hands. Perhaps, you have an elderly, disabled or ill neighbor, or a distant cousin that you know would be thrilled to receive a special holiday treat. Or, perhaps there is a shelter or church nearby that would welcome the addition of your dish to the holiday menu they’ll be serving those less fortunate. And, if you live near a cancer center, without a doubt there are individuals – for whom illness knows no holiday – whose spirits would be brightened by a yummy holiday bread or dessert. Lastly, your dishes made with love would surely warm the hearts of seniors visiting or living in senior centers or residences.

Break Out These Other Fall Leaves

Another simple, but so impactful, way to give more than thanks this Thanksgiving is to invite individuals into your home who you believe might be celebrating Thanksgiving alone, or not at all. It might be one of your co-workers whose family members live clear across the country, an elderly neighbor who recently lost a spouse, or a distant cousin who lives alone. So, in addition to the colorful fall leaves you use to decorate your Thanksgiving table, break out the table leaves, so you can set a couple of extra places this year. If your Thanksgiving guest list includes children, it will set a get example for them regarding how to give back at Thanksgiving, and encourage them to pay it forward when they are adults.

And, of course, in addition to, or in lieu of our two ideas for giving more than thanks this Thanksgiving, you and your family members can offer to help prepare or serve food, or clean up after a meal, at a local soup kitchen or shelter. You can use this tool to help you locate an organization serving free holiday meals to vulnerable populations.

How We Can Help

To help you give more than thanks this Thanksgiving, we’ve got a variety of mixes that will make serving up tasty, memorable, soul-feeding holiday favorites easy. Whether you want to deliciously season sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, or roasted potatoes, or you want to glaze some carrots, yams, or sweet potatoes, we’ve got the mix to help you make your side dishes taste extraordinary. We’ve also got a mix to make your kale & greens particularly yummy-tasting. In most U.S. grocery stores, you can find these mixes in the Concord Foods retail display rack located in the produce section. Don’t recall seeing our product display in your favorite store? Check out our store locator to see which stores in your area carry our products, and if you don’t see our display when you visit, ask a store employee to help you locate it.

In addition to seasonings and glazes for your holiday vegetables, we’ve created some extra-special holiday recipes for you to make and serve, including ones made with our cranberry bread mix.


Share This Season!

During this season of sharing, officially launched by the Thanksgiving holiday, we hope you’ll share with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram photos of the special dishes you make, time spent with family and friends, and/or things you did to give more than thanks this Thanksgiving. #givemorethanthanks

 



 

Tags: Thanksgiving

Have a Heavenly Halloween

Posted by Gail Moraski on Mon, Oct 26, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

While it’s been a while since most of us have gone trick or treating without children in tow, we all can still readily call up some of our most favorite Halloween memories from childhood. Right? Whether they be those of a favorite costume, a favorite group of friends and family that you knocked on doors with, the special treats that were handed out at a neighbor’s door or at a party, or making candy or caramel apples with friends and family, don’t you just love the good, fun feelings memories conjure up?

To make sure the special children in your life have the happiest of Halloweens that will continue to provoke lots of joyful thoughts throughout their lives, we’re sharing our tips to ensure your children, nieces, nephews, godchildren, grandchildren – and any other children near and dear to you – have a heavenly Halloween.

Make Sure Creepy Monsters Are the Only Thing That Frighten You

Before we get into the fun Halloween ideas, we think it’s important to talk about safety. Hey, if the children in your life don’t feel safe on this magical day, or you’re worrying about their safety, regardless of what you have planned, Halloween’s just not going to feel as special or be as memorable.

So, whether you’re making costumes, hosting a party, or serving as the chaperone for trick or treating at neighbors’ doors, be sure to read these tips from Travelers Insurance as well as watch this video from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Today’s TMJ4 to make sure any frights and fears on your part or those in your care are related to viewing scary costumes or decorations versus a safety mishap.

Take Advantage of an Easy, Inexpensive Excuse to Gather Favorite Ghosts and Goblins

One of the many things we love about gathering friends and family for a Halloween-themed get-to-together before, on, or after Halloween/trick-or-treating, is how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to host such an event. It’s likely that most of us have Halloween decorations from past years that we can pull out, and unlike Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter, friends and family don’t expect us to serve up a meal that is costly from both a money and preparation-time perspective. We know your lives are as busy as ours are, so why not use the fun and festive holiday of Halloween as a time to pay back friends and family for all the holidays you’ve celebrated at their homes, as well as to simply enjoy being together with your favorite people. We also know friends and family will love being invited to a get-together where gifts aren’t required and they can just bring their fun-loving selves to what’s sure to be a frightfully good time!

Make It Both Traditional and Memorable!

Whether you make food and beverage recipes in advance for your get-together, or gather friends or family together to make fall treats, it’s easy to create a memorable, but simple, menu. A few favorite Halloween snacks like special candy and caramel apples made with our kits and wraps, these yummy caramel brownies, and some apple cider and popcorn, and you’re good to go! And, if you need help making caramel or candy apples, visit our Facebook page, and scroll down for our series of tips for making caramel and candy apples. Plus, feel free to post any questions you might have there, and check out our caramel-apple-making video.

And, please do share your traditional and memorable moments and treats with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram (#apeoverapples). May your Halloweens be both happy and safe!

Tags: Caramel Apple Wrap, Candy Apples

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